At times he feared that he didn’t exist.
He looked in mirrors whenever he passed to be sure he was really there.
“Ah, yes – scruffy beard, green eyes, a hat to cover the bald head. I’m here. There’s proof.”
Worried that his feelings might be an illusion, he would glance at his reflection to check that he was frowning, or scowling or grinning nervously. He wasn’t imagining it. It must be true, it was there, visible, for all to see.
“I like your smile,” a woman told him one time, but he demurred and shrugged it off, scarcely believing it could be true. And, of course, he was embarrassed by the simple honesty.
Later he realised he should have returned the compliment but by then it was too late and he never saw the girl again.