There was only one shadow on the wall, but she wasn't alone in the bedroom. She lie on her bed, her back to him, and he stood behind her, watching as she breathed in and out. She knew he was there, because she was the one who had called upon him - created him.
He had no birthday, no family, no childhood memories, but he knew hers. Knew them as if they were his own. He knew her every wish, every dream, every private, embarrassing thought. He knew of every time her parents had fought while she was growing up, knew of every cut she etched into her skin, every pound she lost, every moment of sleep insomnia stole from her.
He was her friend - invisible to others, but real enough to her. He hadn't said anything in the fifteen or so minutes since she had begun to picture him standing behind her, but he would speak soon enough. She closed her eyes for a moment, and bit her lip, hard. When she opened them again, he was lying on the bed with her, his face in front of her own, her field of vision overtaken by it.
His hair was black, and his eyes dark blue. His teeth were clean and bright white, though he had never taken a toothbrush to them, never visited a dentist.
"Talk to me," he spoke, his voice deep, but soft and quiet.
She let go of her lip with a sigh.
"About what?" she asked dully.
"Anything you want. That's what I'm here for."
She mulled over her response in her head before opening her mouth. Speaking to him aloud always felt uncomfortable at first, concerned as she was that somebody would hear her. But she got used to it after a few minutes of back-and-forth "conversation". At least until she thought once more about what she was actually doing - then the awkwardness came back.
But it was either this, or kill herself, so what choice did she have, really?
"How was your day?" It was the first thing she thought to ask.
"Good," was his response. "I rode an elephant, then went out for chocolate sushi, and then swam with the sharks."
"I don't believe you."
"Hey, you're the one who thought of it." He smiled. "I don't make the rules." She didn't respond, so he asked, "How was your day?"
She spoke no words, but pulled up the sleeve of her sweater to show him the bandage she had placed on her arm. It covered a fresh wound, horizontal and deep. He quickly calculated the risks in his mind, as he always did when she had moments like these - horizontal cut, it wasn't a suicide attempt. Deep, but she cleaned it up. No more bleeding. He couldn't actually see the cut underneath the bandage, but knew what it looked like, anyway. "Imaginary friend powers", he called them.
"What happened?" he asked.
She blinked in the darkness.
"You know what happened." She was right, of course. He did.
"Why didn't you ask me for help?"
She gave another sigh. The awkwardness she felt sometimes kept her from going to him, he knew, but he also knew she needed him around despite that. She was in her twenties, an adult, and adults didn't need friends like him. But she couldn't let him leave.
"Can we talk about it in the morning?" she whispered.
"Yeah. You just try to get some sleep."
A single tear rolled down her cheek and became trapped within her messy hair.
"Thanks. Don't go anywhere tonight, okay?"
"Of course." She tucked her head into where his chest would have been, pretending she could hear a heartbeat, feel him breathing. Most nights, it was the only thing that calmed her enough to help her fall asleep. She shut her eyes, picturing him in her mind.
Thoughts of killing herself resurfaced, as they often did, but if she was gone, he would be gone, as well, and she couldn't let that happen.
He knew she needed him, and he needed her just as much.