You can feel someone watching you without seeing them. It's the sixth sense we all joke about because we don't know what it means. Every kid riding in the back seat knows he can make the people in neighboring cars look just by staring. It never occurs to anyone something intense may be going on. It's just the way people are.

Anna is made up. She's a conglomeration of all of the beautiful women I have ever known, and some I'd like to meet. Anna is made of big pieces of my wife, small pieces of some friends, and imaginary chunks I threw in to make sure the model was inhumanly perfect. She belongs to me. My creation. She is the offspring of my thoughts.

I've never seen her except in my mind. Except in a ballroom in the Hilton hotel in New Orleans two days ago.

Anna had no idea she was a character in my stories and that I'd written novels, poems, a screenplay, and numerous short stories about her. I didn't even see her until I felt her staring at me from across a reasonably crowded ballroom at the annual Dataquest meeting. I was walking toward the bar and had that barely perceptible weird feeling. She was walking across my path, staring at me as if she knew me and couldn't figure out why. She made eye contact long enough to crash into someone.

I didn't crash into anyone because I stopped walking and started counting my heartbeats, figuring that having been given the sign from my creator that this would be the end of my useful life.

I was trying to figure out how to meet her without having it seem like a come on, but I didn't even have to try very hard. That was provided. It turned out she was there with a very dear friend of mine who had no idea she was pal-ing around with an avatar.

My friend Lynda (with a "y") was very glad to see me because we hadn't seen each other in years. We hugged and got misty-eyed and made ingenuine promises never to lose touch again. And then Lynda introduced me to Anna, who hadn't stopped looking at me as if she'd known me.

I shook her hand gently, and she told me her name was Anna, which, of course, I knew. So I acted like I didn't.

The next day Lynda and Anna and I went out for drinks. I found out Anna was twenty-four years old. A college fresh out working her way up the ladder as a public relations manager of a small company in Wisconsin. She was as forward and fearless as I knew she would be. Stunningly beautiful so that men and women alike had to stop their conversation when she walked past. But where I was expecting a sort of soul mate connection having lived with her in my head for the past ten years or so, I felt something quite different when I sat next to her.

She toed my calves under the table, but not seductively. Rather, it was like something one of my kids would do unconsciously--something like a cub would do to a mother bear, or a puppy would do nuzzling its momma dog.

And that's when I realized that if any of the synchronistic weirdness had any meaning it had to be something else. It was only moments before she supplied the something. Because that's the way the universe works.

When I was nineteen and learning about life there was a brief time my girlfriend and I thought we'd made the mistake of biology and classical-Greek stupidity. I remember praying she wasn't pregnant, and she was doing the same.

It turned out to be a freak occurrence. Where before she was certain, somehow she just wasn't pregnant. It was the stuff of alien abduction stories. The doctors said that sort of thing happened all the time to athletes, even though it had never happened to my girlfriend before. We started breathing again and went on with life and it wasn't until Anna said something that I made the connection to the time in my past.

Playfully, under the influence of a couple of beers, she said that if I wanted she'd tell everyone we met that night she was my daughter.

The first thing that went through my mind was that I was too young to have a twenty-four-year old daughter. The second thing was that I wasn't.

I asked the the obvious question and got the obvious answer. When you're in the grip of a bizzare universal synchronicity it's senseless to ask what you already know.

Anna was born the month and the year I thought my teenaged girlfriend and I would become premature parents.

It doesn't matter to me that all of it is coincidental. It doesn't matter if there's anything I can verify. This is the way the universe works.

I didn't invent it. I just live here.

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