Voices

He sits on a train. He has slightly spikey gelled hair but when he leans forward to read his book you can see he’s beginning to thin on top. He’s reading to distract himself not just from all the people listening to music and jabbering away, he is reading to distract himself from his own head – from his own voice.

The train goes round a corner and squeaks in a rather alarming way. He looks up distracted for a second and even in that moment he hears his head say, “you’re worthless”. He puts his head back down and tries to focus on his book. But he’s lost his place and his eyes are wandering all over the page. The voice is getting louder and more cross while this is happening. It is simply, for once, just repeating the same phrase again and again. Once it used a word he didn’t even know, which made him feel really bad. He’d always wondered afterwards how that could be possible. But he still hadn’t quite brought himself to look it up, it might be too depressing.

Suddenly there was a hand on his knee, a woman’s hand. He followed the arm up and saw a beautiful face looking at him – really examining him. She looked into his eyes and he blinked.

“Sorry,” he said, “was I in the way?”
“You,” she paused and looked excited, “fascinate me”
“Me?” he resisted the urge to look over his shoulder.
“Yes you. Every day I see you and you never seem to see me. Every day you’re reading and when the train squeaks you look up, and then you always look so worried. I’ve started worrying about why you’re so worried.”
“I…” the words wouldn’t come, the voice started swearing at him in his head, but he ignored it and looked at her. He’d never really seen anyone as beautiful as her before in his life. Maybe in a magazine or a movie but she didn’t look fake she was breathing he could see that. She kept his gaze the whole time.

“You can tell me, I promise, and you don’t even know me yet”

It was the word “yet” that convinced him.

“I hear voices,” he said, “telling me that I’m useless. Telling me that I can’t do anything.”
“Well you can’t be useless. I think you’re brilliant.”

What had changed? Something. Something had changed. The voice had stopped. Was it because he’d admitted it or was it because of what she’d said?

“It’s stopped,” he said.
“Right then, now we can be friends.”

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