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I have been speaking to you for years.

Hearing your replies sometimes, other times not. Speaking to you in my head. Wondering to you in my writings. Not, you understand, because I was looking for what you might say to me. Not to find your advice about my situation in life.

I did not speak to you because I was thinking about what you were doing or where you were. I spoke to you out of habit. You left and I was there. I still needed someone with whom I could speak. Speaking to yourself is a sign of insanity some say, so I began speaking to you. Speaking to you in this way it was easier to bare my soul. After you left, you began to know me in ways and to depths that surprised us both. The years rolled by, life continued to pile up; lovers taken, children born, new jobs, new passions, new sunsets and new shores. I continued from time to time to check in with you. My secret life, housed in one sided conversations with the past.

Then, I dreamt of your death. A dream unlike any dream I have ever had in my life. It was so clear, from the smells to the amber color of the light. To each costume at the masquerade taking place in the barn after you were laid to rest. The barn, that was also the church. The church, that I stepped into, for your service. The service, that I learned of from a friend who gave me the newspaper. The newspaper with your picture on the front. A small picture on the right hand side of the page, it was you. The you, just as I knew you. That is how I found out in my dream you had died. By chance, I was in the same town. I just happened to be working on a job in the same small town where you had requested your service. Such a strange dream but so vivid, even now. At the ball in the barn, that was the church, I saw your ghost. I followed it up into the rafters, trying to speak to you. Then just as you were going to answer me, you turned your head as if someone else was calling you. You smiled at them, then to me and turned away before disappearing.

I started speaking to you more often after that. At least for a little while. The months past, then a year, our conversations had almost stopped. My writing no longer reflected our imagined dialog shared in my secret mind. That is when I received your first letter.

At first I did not know what to think. I was half afraid that I had written it myself in some deluded state. Searching my mind for hints that it was only I that had written the words I was attempting to read.

A fruitless search. I found nothing. It was from you. Nothing changed. Life went on.

I wrote back asking about the usual things you say when you have not heard from a friend for many years. Not a trace of the many years spent conversing showed. You wrote back with the simple answers to the benign questions. The thing that changed was again only inside me. When next I arrived to a point where a conversation with you was warranted, it could not happen. The realization came that I was only speaking with myself and had been all along. You were a distant memory.

The you I was now writing with was real. I could no longer find your old familiar face with which to speak. You could no longer be seen, since you began to exist once more outside my mind. That is the point in which the tears started to flow. For though we did not speak as much as we used to, I had come to cherish the conversations we had. Now, they are gone forever.

I will recover from this loss as I did the one all those years ago. The first time you left. This time however, it stings on a different level. The letter killed the you I have known these many years since you left. Now it is time to face that old sign of insanity and talk to myself.

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