In my imagination I walk with a tall, lanky man. He has wild blonde hair and likes to write. We usually go everywhere together and he quietly observes my life. He never speaks to anyone and no one ever seems to notice him. Sometimes he goes away and I have a hard time finding him. It always worries me when he does this because I’m afraid he won’t come back and I’ll be lonely. But he never fails to return eventually. His name is Richard.

We don’t usually talk much, and when we do, I do most of the talking. He likes to listen. I don’t mind talking either. The most he ever says is a few words here and there and always when we are alone.  We aren’t lovers and though he is old enough to be my father, he isn’t. We are simply companions. He’s there for me when I need him to listen and he does a good job. Sometimes we sit quietly at the park across from my apartment. We like to watch the sunset over the pond. Sometimes he will bring a fishing pole. He never can catch a fish.

Ours is a quiet existence, mostly. He watches over the cat when I am not home. I will find them curled up in my grandfathers’ old arm chair. It’s a sad old chair, torn up by claws from several cats over the years. The seat cover has been torn right down the middle and the ugly orange cushion underneath is visible. But it is a well-loved chair.

Richard first came to me in the form of a poem. He was given to me by an old friend from college. In an hour Richard had become an old friend too. I felt like I had always known him, always will know him. The next morning, I sought him out. I found him on a shelf at the books store. There were many parts to him. I began to put him together until he was one person. Then one day I came home from work and found Richard in the kitchen. He was eating something from a pot. I can’t say I was surprised.

“How long have you been here, Richard?” I asked.

“A while,” he answered. “You just couldn’t see me.”