Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.
"You know you don't belong here," the mysterious voice insisted.
Milton froze and stood for a moment on the crowded city sidewalk. Horror etched its way across his face.
Please don't return, he thought to himself. Oh God, please don't return.
Milton had every reason to worry. It had been three days since he earned his freedom from the psyche ward. He had been interred for hearing imaginary voices. And now, as he was using that new found freedom to rediscover the world he had not seen since 1988, he feared that the voices had returned.
"Come on man!" the voice continued.
Milton closed his eyes tightly and shook his head. Just my imagination, he thought.
He started walking, again. Maybe, he surmised, he can pretend to be normal.
"Come on man!" the voice continued.
Milton closed his eyes tightly and shook his head. Just my imagination, he thought
"I said you have no clue!" The voice screamed.
Milton had it. He swung around in the midst of the crowd, ready to roar and thrash the source of that imaginary voice. But when he turned, he nearly ran into a man in a three-piece suit talking loudly to seemingly no one. Worst yet, he was oblivious to his surroundings.
The suited man looked up at the last minute and realized he was about to run into Milton.
"Excuse me," he said politely.
Milton watched the man pass by and heard him carrying on a conversation with an unknown entity.
"Ah that was nothing!" the man yelled. "Just some guy who doesn't know where he is. You know, just like you!"
Something caught Milton attention. There was a small device with a blinking light in his right ear.
He heard voices; dozens, maybe hundreds. He peered at the passing faces. Each one, engaged in a conversation. Some had the same device in their years, others had some weird devise resembling a cordless phone. All of them were talking to themselves.
Milton was dumbfounded. He spent nearly a quarter of a century in the ward only to emerge in a world where his affliction was the norm.
The nervousness lifted and he started walking. Maybe, he thought, he wasn’t crazy after all. Maybe the world had to catch up to him. As he walked down the street, he engaged himself in a conversation.
Extra: My Dealings with People Who Talk to Themselves
Growing up, the idea of someone talking to himself was considered looney (even if "normal" people did this every so often). However, by the time, I reached my 30s that concept began to evaporate. The proliferation of Bluetooth ear-pieces and cell phones made this seem mundane and "sane".
In the beginning, I'd see someone seemingly arguing with him/herself. Then, as I passed by them, I'd see the small little device in the ears. In some cases, it was well hidden by a hat or hair, thus giving the allusion that the person was seemingly talking to some voice inside his/her head.
That was the first inspiration for the story. The other has to do with two students I had.They were diagnosed with a condition, in which they heard voices in their heads. One student would often answer it. I didn't mind too much, considering that the "voice" seem to push the student forward and give him positive feedback. The other student used a dead cell phone to mask the conversations he had with himself.
The latter, had a developmental disorder -- and this trait was uncommon (also, I have a feeling that he was trying to fit in and noticed that other people were always talking on the phone. In response, he copied them).
Either way, they left an indelible impression on me.
In many respects, the story presented can be inspired by the latter student. He was in a world he didn't understand, yet used a common device to mask his disorder.
Person Talking To Himself (and conversing well)
© 2014 Dean Traylor