…I cannot stop listening. It is a truly monumental flaw in the human psyche. No matter how immunized we may feel we are, we always listen.
If a tree fell in a forest and there was no one around to hear it, it would nonetheless make a sound. People have replayed that sound thousands of times from memory alone. If there was no one around to hear that tree fall as it did so, they would undoubtedly hear it fall upon discovering it having fallen.
If no one ever discovered the tree that had fallen…then, there would be no sound. That sound could never exist, because there would be nothing to suggest there was ever a tree to make it.
I cannot testify that these voices exist, however. Yet still I listen to them. They talk as if there is no end. Perhaps there is none. Surely I have heard the same sentences repeated, over and over again, yet I cannot truly remember. All I can do is listen. All I ever do is listen.
Some of them are familiar to me. One is female, and talks in the clipped tones of command. I cannot remember where the accent is from. It is severe, like a cliff’s edge, yet I know somehow that she would not watch me fall. I hesitate to suggest she would not cause it, though. There is no warmth in her words.
Another feels more distant, and sprightly. A youth, perhaps. These words seem faded, as if aged by time and distance, a memory that holds little value now. Time has killed the speaker. Time alone knows where they have fallen to.
Then there is one that incites in me anger. I feel it pulsate through my being like a furnace in my veins. I cannot stop the acid that builds inside my throat, nor the tensing of my limbs. Part of me wants to fight, for whatever reason, the originator of this voice. It’s very existence burns at the edges of my own.
Yet all I can do is listen…
Perhaps that is all I have ever done.