She only met him in daydreams.
Deep down she didn't believe someone like him could exist, but she nevertheless would hope he did. Thinking about him helped pass the time, and distracted her from the rest of her life. She knew he wasn't real, and that brought her down a bit, but she told herself it was little different from people who found escape in movies or a TV series.
Over time, he had begun to take on more tangible qualities in her mind, like a memory of an old friend rather than someone she made up. She couldn't help comparing the real men in her life to the fantasy in her imagination.
They never measured up.
None of them could love her without limit and without qualification. None of them would see her faults as part of her perfection. Her disappointments sometimes drove her to dark places, and she would punish herself for the failure of her relationships, hurt herself.
She started to make lists. Criteria for everything she wanted. Nobody could meet every one of her criteria. In some ways it was protection. If there was no potential for failure, there was no potential for heartache.
She wanted to believe he could exist though. If not in this world, then in some other.
In what kind of world would she be able to find someone who would appreciate her for everything she was? Who would not see her as damaged goods even in the moments that she did? Her daydreams eventually turned into a world building exercise. The entire purpose of her universe would be to bring him into existence.
His childhood experiences would perfectly mold him into the person she wanted him to be. He would love and encourage her guitar playing even though he couldn't do it himself. Whatever she wanted him to be, she would invent a backstory for how he happened to arrive at that specific part of his life. She didn't want to force him to suffer, but sometimes she couldn't imagine someone who could love her without having gone through similar struggles, and so they became part of his backstory.
As the years passed, her world was spread out over multiple notebooks and random scraps of paper. Some of her imaginings were turned into songs she would sing to herself. Eventually she gave up trying to find him, or someone like him. She never met him, so she decided to go back and rewrite his story.
They would never meet in her daydreams either.
Instead he would give up looking for her, and settle down to a normal life. She didn't have the heart to make him suffer, so she decided he would find a decent family to spend the rest of his years with, even if he never could find the kind of passion she had imagined with him.
She would help him find closure, so she could find her own.
She put aside her story for many years, occasionally going back to edit a few things here or there when the mood struck her. She eventually began to dismiss her daydreams as the childish imaginings of a naive young girl.
She settled into adulthood, and found what she considered were realistic, mature relationships. They were satisfactory. She raised a family. The wild, turbulent emotions of her youth were replaced by a quiet calm and she moved on to other things.
"Yes, that's how I should end it," he thought, lifting his fingers off the keyboard for a moment. "I could always go back and revise it later."
He didn't have the heart to make her suffer, not the woman of his dreams, even if she did only exist in the wild imaginings of his novel.
"Maybe after I finish this thing, I can finally move on to the next thing."
He had been working on his novel for more years than he was willing to publicly admit, but he was grateful he did have some level of past success, which granted him a larger home than he could use, and a car he felt guilty about driving.
"Maybe I'll be able to send this in to the editor next month." He looked around his empty house and got up out of his chair. He closed the lid on his laptop. "Maybe I'll get takeout again."
"Maybe it's unrealistic to give him a mansion," she thought, but it was hard separating her own dreams from what she was writing. "If these are things I want for myself, surely he deserves them as well. I guess I could always go back and revise it later."
"Would it be silly to have him drive the same car I drive?" She looked out the window of the restaurant.
Evening had fallen and the parking lot was a mass of gray gravel. The headlights of a car foreshadowed its approach. The driver pulled along the side of the building toward the drive-through window.
She raised her eyebrows. "Funny," she thought. "Another Audi."
The thought quickly disappeared from her mind as she went back to her meal. By the time she left the restaurant, there was no one else there, but the restaurant staff waved a friendly goodbye to one of their favorite regulars.