Conrad was working hard on the latest set of figures when he noticed his good friend Anna attempting to tell their boss something important. She looked good today, he thought, smart yet understated. Those ferocious brown eyes were glaring to emphasise her words, but only Conrad noticed. The boss walked on. Anna walked over to Conrad’s desk, fuming.
“Did you see that?” she said. “He just ignored me, walked right past. Why doesn’t anyone recognise me? Why doesn’t anyone pay any attention to what I’m trying to say?”
Conrad smiled at her and sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh.
“I’m sorry Anna,” he said. “It’s because you’re not real. You’re just a figment of my imagination. You’re how I keep myself happy when things get tough. You’re my companion when I’m working late and the office is empty and lonely. I picture you interacting with my colleagues, but it’s late and they’ve all gone home to their families. It’s just you and me here now.”
“I feel quite real,” she said. “I have a pass, they let me in through the door.”
“I imagined they did. Of course I made sure you fit into the surroundings. In many ways you are my greatest creation, not that anyone will ever know.”
“If I’m not real,” she said, “who are you talking to? Do other people think you’re crazy?”
“They probably do,” he laughed. “But no, I’m currently staring at a spreadsheet and my mind is wandering.”
“Do you have a family, Conrad?” she asked, tilting her head so that her hair coiled distractingly on her shoulder.
“You know I don’t,” he said.
“Never found the right girl.”
“So I’m a substitute for a real woman?” she looked disgusted. “You know, I would have thought I had a problem with non-existence,” she said. “But I think the one without real existence is you. It’s nearly midnight, Conrad. You shouldn’t be here working. You should be out there, maybe somewhere warm and cosy with,” and she lent forward to whisper, “a real companion.”
“You’re probably right,” he said. “Perhaps you come from the wiser side of my nature.”
“I do,” she said. “And you don’t listen to it enough. Now go find your soulmate.”
“Where?” He said. “Where could she possibly be?”
“On a train,” said Anna. “Just pulling into South Widsley station.”
Anna broke from her daydream as the train pulled into her station. What a strange series of thoughts. Maybe there was a man like that, out there somewhere, thinking of someone like her.