Imaginary Boyfriend

She still believes in me. I mean, she still knows I’m here. She just pretends she doesn’t.

Just once in a while, sitting in the armchair where our bodies used to curl together every evening, in front of the television, she’ll remember the feeling of me, holding her on my lap, or back-to-belly spooned against her. And in that moment, I’m there. I’m touching her. I can feel the warmth inside her chest as she lets herself melt again for just a moment. Then she’ll shift position, turn her head as if to toss me out of her mind, and it’s over.

It’s over for days or weeks or months. I don’t exist until she notices me again. When I say I’m nothing without her, when I say she’s my life, I don’t mean it the way humans mean it. I mean it literally.

But times come when she’s alone, and wishing someone understood, and I’m there. I always understand. I’ll stand behind her, wrap my arms around her, and she pretends she doesn’t notice; but for just a second, I feel her lean into me. ‘I love you,’ I whisper, close to her ear, and I know she hears me.

‘I’m not hearing anything,’ she’ll say, in the silence of her head, ‘and I’m certainly not talking to any imaginary people.’

But she is talking to me. I can hear the smile in her voice, her old smile for me.

‘And you love me. You don’t have to say anything. I know you do.’

And she doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t deny it. Her silence is enough.

It’s enough. Really.

It’s enough.

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