I know that they’re there. I can hear them, little, biting whispers in the dark that sting me. They talk, no, they mutter nonsense words at me until I can’t, I can’t do it any more. I collapse, broken and drowning beneath a sea of stinging whispers, a sea of black words. I can see how you look at me, full of disbelief and doubt hidden beneath an exterior of understanding. You understand me? How can you say that when I don’t understand myself, when I am confused by what I am saying, by what I am hearing, by what I see? What I understand is your refusal to accept me, to accept who I say I am. When you find me crouching in the bathtub, hands so tightly over my ears that it takes you an hour to pry them away, you don’t say anything, you just put me to bed and hand me pills. Even with the pills I hear them, I know you know I hear them, because I scream and kick in my sleep when I hear them, and in the morning when I awake at last, you’re in the guestroom and your side isn’t slept in. The pills the doctors give don’t work, and it hurts my chest to see your face brighten when they say “serious, but with the right medication, treatable”. Can’t you see they don’t know anything, that they are as confused by me as I am with myself? The pills, the tiny white capsules with long, complicated names are for your benefit, not mine, because while I’m crazy, you need hope, and the pills, they give it to you.