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The Oddity of an Autumn Day
William Georgescue shifted uncomfortably in his seat for perhaps the hundredth time. As a nervous man with nervous habits he began to gnaw absent-mindedly at his thumbnail while his right foot briskly thumped the floor as if trying to leave a permanent print in the hardwood. He was an unassuming man of ordinary talents and down-to-earth means. He often had the feeling of placidly floating through his days like an unseen phantom with nothing but a wistful eternity ahead of him. His face had a complexion of constant awe and subtle worry as if the slightest breeze or ray of sunshine left him silently gasping with amazement. His childhood was simple and lively, lonely but warm. Those innocent years were filled with the whites and greens of Virginia’s American dogwood. He excelled at school and academic affairs, but found himself inept with social matters. He kept to himself mostly, an intelligent introvert with a fondness for the mystical worlds presented to him in the texts of heavy, leather-bound books.
He never had problems, he never was a problem. On this chilled and perplexing November day however, William Georgescue had a serious matter at hand. He called upon a close friend, a mental health professional of sorts to garner guidance and advise.
“I’ve trusted you for a long time and today I need your full expertise to help me with something that’s been bothering me for quite some time”. William unfocused his gaze toward the lone frosted window of his dreary studio apartment as he prepared himself for the inevitable judgment he felt sure he was going to receive.
“Go on, I’m listening,” came the affable reply.
“Well, I suppose the beginning is always the hardest part. So I’ll jump right to it. I’m afraid I’m losing it,” he said with noted seriousness. “My sanity that is; my grasp on whatever reality may be. You see, I find that I… talk to myself… more than I talk to other people”. He used the most tender and soothing voice he could muster, as if cooing an infant. “I’ve read that talking to yourself is an indicator of insanity! I prefer to think of it as perhaps an indicator of nothing more than loneliness. Who’s to say? That’s just the problem, you see: I don’t know what to make of it”. William held his breath in preparation for a reply filled with terror and alarm; he could feel himself becoming a pariah in the moments that hung in the air then quickly dissolved into the past. William quickly decided his confession was an unmistakably bad idea. Who could possibly understand such odd tendencies? He could feel the tight hold of a straight jacket beginning to seize him.
“Hmm, that is admittedly strange. My best guess though, is that you are indeed very lonely. My guess is only that I’m afraid, a guess. Do you think you’re insane? Are you delusional? Do you believe you are talking to another person when you know that you are in fact only speaking with yourself?”
These were not the harsh judgments William expected, it seems his trust was well-placed for the moment. Perhaps a solution would be found today after all. William hesitantly continued to describe his peculiar habit, letting his fear float away ever so slightly.
“I suppose not… most of the time. I do notice myself subconsciously creating responses as if to simulate a conversation. It will start as a thought spoken aloud and turn into a full dialogue that can last hours. But I don’t believe I’m some crazed homeless man you see marching the streets, warning the public of the approaching rapture, muttering to themselves about cats or tin cans or God knows what else! I simply like to think out loud. On the other hand, this all seems so absurd! I just don’t know what to do!”
“Absurdity is in the eye of the beholder, William. I have no doubt that whatever your reasons may be for speaking to an invisible entity, you seem rational enough. What purpose does this behavior hold for you?”
“On the contrary it holds very little purpose whatsoever. When I do this, usually it’s to work out some sort of issue that becomes clouded and daunting when locked away in my head. Getting the problem into the air, even if it falls on deaf-inexistent- ears, almost solves the problem itself. But my main concern is that it’s become more than that. I truly fear that one day I’ll cease to speak to others at all, having found all the banter I need within my own mind! Is this not the mark of a truly demented individual? That’s the issue! Will I become a stark-raving lunatic? Should I be locked away for my own safety? Will I be a danger, a menace to others? Oh God, the questions I can’t answer! What do you think? Have I completely lost it?”
In spite of himself, William was able to laugh at the small outburst he knew he couldn’t prevent. It seems his worrisome nature again got the best of him. He stood up and stared longingly at the ceiling as if the answer to all of his questions were etched in the gruesome pattern of the plaster. He lit a stubby, white cigarette with the lighter in his breast pocket, the wisps of smoke threading through the air like small, gray fingers. He inhaled profoundly, closed his eyes and waited as his nerves began to settle.
“William, listen to me closely. It’s indeed possible that your mind is in a problematic state. I’m concerned for you, my dear friend, and you should be too,” he said with a tone of ironic pity. “Even now, you are only discussing the matter with a mirror”.
With an inaudible gasp, William’s cigarette slipped from his hand to a silent plunk on the floor. He opened his eyes and realized the undeniable truth. It stared at him from the small, round mirror nailed to the mutely white wall. It held the sunken face of a quietly insane and immensely disturbed young man. For this entire conversation, he was utterly and unquestionably alone. For the first time in a long while, gripping silence filled his mind and the world beyond.