He’d always spent too much time inside his own head.
It had gotten to the point that he started referring to himself in the third person. Bitterness and cold emptiness gripped him like the snow that covered the ground.
When he was a kid, after the lights were turned out, he’d lay awake, the sheets pulled up over his head, and listen to the indecipherable murmur of the voices he heard from the far reaches of the darkened house, and he’d wait for the warm hum of the furnace blowing heat through the registers or the familiar rumble of a distant train to drown them out. He had trouble distinguishing between what was real and imagined.
Now the voices had gone silent. The house was empty. Empty days faded and bled into one another, shrouded in a fog of fatigue.
Then she’d be there, and every once in a while he’d say something and she’d smile, and the fog would lift, and the years fall away, the emptiness consumed. It occurred to him that her smile was neither real nor imagined; because nothing real could be as perfect, and its perfection and beauty was beyond the boundaries of any landscape he could construct from the murky depths of his shallow and narrow mind.
In the middle of the still and black night he woke and felt her in his arms. He realized that it didn’t matter if she was real or not, because she was all he had, and that was everything.