She smiled and looked at me. She took a cigarette out of her small bag and lit it with a lighter.

“Sometimes when I look at you, I feel I’m gazing at a distant star,” I said. “It’s dazzling, but the light is from tens of thousands of years ago. Maybe the star doesn’t even exist anymore. Yet sometimes that light seems more real to me than anything.”

Shimamoto said nothing.

“You’re here,” I continued. “At least you look as if you’re here. But maybe you aren’t. Maybe it’s just your shadow. The real you may be someplace else. Or maybe you already disappeared, a long, long time ago. I reach out my hand to see, but you’ve hidden yourself behind a cloud of probablys. Do you think we can go on like this forever?”

“Probably. For the time being,” she answered.

“I see I’m not the only one with a strange sense of humor,” I said. And she smiled.

Haruki Murakami, "South of the Border, West of the Sun" (1992)