A strange real life experience with an imaginary person! Her name is Jenny. I realized how intimate I am with her.
As I wrote my collection of stories, the scenes I created ran in my head like a movie. I created numerous characters, many based on real life people. They, in my mind’s eye, looked like themselves.
Other characters were totally fictional, Sadri for instance, the hero in On The Night Bus To Fethiye, or Gita in Appassionnata, two major ones. Jenny was also fictional, entering as support cast into the first of my three Jarvis stories. She was unique in that all others in this plastic surgery story were based on real people, the story inspired by my own exploits as an intern in at the University of Chicago in the 1980’s.
I imagined Jenny as a slim, medium build young woman, dark hair in ponytails, dark eyes, small chest, not a flashy bombshell type, but lithe and lively. She was playful and naughty, like Jarvis, the hero. She stayed out of the first sequel to the plastics story, but returned in a bigger role in the second, still true to her character..
I didn’t realize how well I had gotten to know Jenny until I stepped off the elevator at St. Joseph’s, my main hospital in Stockton. There in front of me a young woman glided by in green scrubs, her hair in a ponytail, flat chested, slim and lithe. I stopped dead in my tracks.
Jenny! I exclaimed.
The woman I had imagined in so much detail was in front of me, a fast, fleeting apparition, a phantom walking past me swiftly toward the cafeteria. I felt an impulse to run after her, to greet and tell her how well I knew her.Then I held myself.
I didn’t know who she was, possibly a new employee in radiology or E.R. I was amazed at her uncanny resemblance to my Jenny. The moment passed fast, as if in a dream. I was left with an unsettling feeling of a split second juxtaposition between real life and fantasy. I suppose this is another predicament of the fiction writer.