Snow muffled the start of a new day. The river was frozen, and the view from Anita’s window was reliably gray.
Slowly she unwound and stared at the ceiling. Then she grinned at her fat, sleepy, ginger cat.
"Where’s my breakfast in bed, Joshua?"
Joshua wasn’t the cat. The cat was called Whiskey. Joshua was a fantasy boyfriend she had created.
Anita was a photographer. She took pictures of abandoned spaces. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she moved, after art school in the Midwest, to Germany impulsively. She lived in a lofty flat, big enough to use as her studio. She was regularly invited to parties, and she had time to visit galleries and museums for inspiration. All considered, there was nothing she needed to worry about.
But Anita created Joshua on a day when three times in a row a stranger in the street didn’t return her greeting, a boy didn’t show up for a date, and her mother asked her when she would finally get married. The invention of an imaginary companion helped her deal with her parents’ insistent concerns about her still being single but was also a way to mitigate her solitude and fantasize about what she wanted in a man. Even if he was unreal, Joshua halved the weight of Anita’s worries.