A man is talking to someone — or is he?
Maybe I just imagined it? That’s possible, it felt like I was talking to someone, but no. There’s nobody here. Letters go unanswered, screams cannot be heard. There is a deep silence inside my head, a void of nothingness.
“Seems like you have come to the right place,” a voice spoke.
“Maybe I did, I don’t recall.”
“You don’t recall what?” the voice posed the question.
“I don’t recall who I am, or what I’m doing here.”
“But you found it. And now you want to call it home.” The voice was quite insistent.
“Home. Yes, maybe I found it….”
He held that thought. Two possibilities — home, maybe he found it. Most usually thoughts just crossed his mind and vanished. He never questioned how they arose, where they came from. Perhaps someone else initiated them. It wasn’t important. They just floated in the air like the dust in the sunlight, and like the dust, there were thousands of thoughts. Millions maybe.
Because he’d never paid any attention, he couldn’t know how many thoughts had been and gone. Now though; now there was a voice.
A voice that commanded attention. You can’t easily avoid someone talking to you. Even if you can’t see them.
The voice provokes thoughts. It was so close, but invisible. It was as if the voice was inside his head. He heard it clear as a bell.
Why would anyone start speaking to him? Would he even bother to talk to himself?
Yes, in answer to the second question.
“You’re wondering who I am,” there was the voice again.
He didn’t know if he should answer. Was it right to hold a conversation with someone you couldn’t see? Was it right to talk with yourself?
Yes, in answer to the second question. We talk to ourselves all the time.
“Are you going to ignore me?” The voice asked.
“I’m not sure,” he replied.
“Why aren’t you sure?” The voice wanted to know.
“Because… because, I’m not sure if I’m talking to someone real. Perhaps, I’m talking to myself?”
“Is that a question?” The voice asked him.
“Is what a question?”
“Hmmm…” the voice seemed perturbed. “Are you asking me if you are talking to yourself?”
Now he felt he was in a bit of a conundrum. If he was talking to himself, then he was asking himself to confirm that there was only him here. He was the only one home.
“No.” He almost shouted the word.
“There’s no need to loose your temper,” the voice told him.
He looked around his home. It was his home; he had found it. The voice was silent. He wondered if he had, in some way, offend the voice by shouting.
“What are you looking at?” the voice asked.
Was it following him, or watching him?
“I think we should stop this conversation,” he told the voice.
“Hmmm….” The voice had no immediate reply. “I will leave you then.”
With that the voice was silent, although he had no way of knowing if it had left.
He didn’t know if it was there when he arrived, or if it accompanied him. Perhaps it was with him all the time. It’s just that mostly it was quiet.
He focused now on the small pile of letters. They had been posed, stacked, on a small round-topped wooden table. The table was pleasant, nicely inlaid with a contrasting wood in an agreeable design, if a bit ornate for his taste.
Thoughts came racing into his head to fill the void. But just as when he had first arrived, he mostly ignored them.
He did, however, wonder about the letters. Because these must be the letters he’d written, but which were never answered.
From somewhere in the back of his mind he pulled forward an important thought. Had he ever sent them?
“Now your confusing yourself.” The voice was back.
“That didn’t last long!”
“Hmmm….” He noticed the voice had a habit of replying in this fashion when it appeared not to have any suitable response.
He wondered why the voice didn’t just stay silent. What compelled it to speak, only to find itself stuck without words?
“They’re your letters.” The voice told him.
“Yes, I know.”
He walked over to the table and stood looking down at the small pile of letters.
“Are you going to read them?” The voice asked very matter of factly.
He had the distinct impression that the voice was trying hard to promote an air of disinterest. As if it didn’t care either way.
“I’m not sure,” he replied. “Would you like me to?”
He thought that was a clever question. It would need to answer, and the reply would tell him just how interested in the letters the voice was.
“Hmmm…” the voice replied. “If you want to know what they say you will have to read them.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.”
“What do you mean, maybe?” He felt the voice was sounding a little edgy.
“I already know what they say,” he replied. “I wrote them.”
“Hmmm… but you don’t recall.” The voice seemed quite pleased with itself. It had pointed out the need to read them as being the only way to know what he had written.
“But it doesn’t matter,” he told the voice. “They were never answered.”
During this conversation he had picked up the small pile of letters which he played with, turning them in his hands. Was he at all interested?
“I think it does.” The voice interrupted his thoughts.
“Hmmm….” he replied, mimicking the voice.
“Hmmm… indeed,” the voice was unperturbed.
He suddenly tapped them against the table top. A loud smacking noise was emitted as the small pile of letters made contact with the ornate table top. He observed his own action from a slightly distant point of view. Almost as if he was a spectator watching his own actions.
He carefully placed the letters back on the table.
“I don’t think I will,” he told the voice.
“Well… please don’t let me influence you,” the voice had a hint of irritation about it.
He looked back down at the small pile of letters and picked up the one that was on top. He carefully opened the envelope.
“You’ve won,” he told the voice, who was silent.
He removed the single sheet of paper from the envelope. He regarded the envelope.
‘For You’ was written on the envelope in blue ink.
He didn’t recognise the writing.
“Well… are you going to read what it says?” The voice was here again.
“I’m not sure if I should. Perhaps it’s meant for someone else. Perhaps it’s private and I would be prying.”
“Don’t be silly,” the voice replied. “It says, ‘For You’ so it’s obviously for you.”
“How do you know what it says on the envelope?”
“I was looking over your shoulder,” the voice told him.
“Hmmm…” he replied, not convinced that was true.
Nevertheless, he unfolded the single sheet, placed the envelope back on the table, and held the letter by both edges. Bringing it close, he read out loud — for the benefit of the voice, “Welcome Home.”
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This story is Copyright © 2016-2023by William King; the image is Copyright © 2017-2023by Colin Kelly; the original images are Copyright © 2015 by GDJ | OpenClipArt #219389 and Copyright by by George Bailey | Adobe Stock #3187528. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.
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