a short story by Sha’Tara
Well hi Diane. Haven’t seen you in ages.
I was actually looking for you. Let me buy you lunch. I really need to talk to you Elise.
Yeah? What about?
First off, the family is worried about you.
Worried about me? Why?
They worry about your lifestyle, living alone and well, quite free-wheeling if you get my drift.
It’s how I live my life, how I like to live it. Simple, uncomplicated, nobody really to worry about and it’s nobody’s business but mine. Years ago I figured that “the family” and associated friends were actually my jailers so I broke out of jail.
Well thanks for that. Do you have to live alone?
I do, but I am not actually alone. I have those friends of mine in my head. They don’t try to control my life and don’t ask for much, just a bit of time now and then you know, to touch base.
Touch base? How?
They talk to me; what other “how” is there?
You hear voices in your head?
Of course, don’t you?
I don’t have entities in my head telling me how to live my life, no!
Are you sure about that? No one, ever, insisting you pick up a tabloid at the supermarket checkout, which you do to find out later there is an article in it you’d been dying to read?
That isn’t someone talking to me, that’s me making a personal decision!
Would you say the same thing if you’d been with a friend and she’d suggested you buy the magazine because it has something in it the two of you had been talking about and you could read about it?
That’s totally different. You’re talking about someone real, someone standing right beside me.
So someone standing beside you is more real to you than someone inside your own head?
Of course. She wouldn’t be an imaginary friend as would be someone in my head.
This is interesting. You would find someone separate from you speaking to you audibly in actual words more real than another living right inside your head speaking to you directly without the use of words?
I don’t have imaginary friends.
Let me try something here. You are seven months pregnant and you meet your friend, say her name is Rosa, pushing a baby carriage with her six month old baby boy in it. Is her baby more real to you than your own whom you are carrying within you?
That is a really stupid comparison. I know my baby is real, I can feel it; I can see how he’s changing my body as he develops.
But someone inside you who does not take up space; doesn’t demand energy from you and doesn’t need to be seen, can’t be real because of that?
Look, this is ridiculous. The only person in my head is me. There is no one else there.
So you do admit there is someone in your head?
Yes, me. I talk to myself and that’s perfectly normal. Everybody does that sort of inner dialogue.
Why do you do it if the ‘you’ whom you are engaging in your head is purely imaginary, i.e., non-existent? Why would you or anyone knowingly engage a conversation with no one and if no one answers why do you listen? What are you expecting from the exchange?
Nothing, it’s just what people do.
If you do something, should it not serve some purpose?
I’m not going to dignify this topic any further. I actually wanted to ask if you’d come to Danny’s birthday party this Saturday?
Danny? Who’s Danny?
My son! Your nephew! It’s his sixteenth birthday, do you think you can make the effort?
Sure. Still in the duplex on Alexander?
My God you’re hopeless! When Graham got his promotion we moved out of that dump. We’ve been living on Mount Thom for two years now. I’ll text you the address.
You have my cell number, Diane?
Yes, got it from Gram. You gave it to her when you did the home care for her through her hip replacement.
Gram? Oh you mean mom. Yeah, of course, it’s what the grandkids call her I suppose.
I should have called you but thanks for doing that for her, I couldn’t have done it with the redecorating and Danny’s sports – I’ve been run off my feet, literally.
Don’t sweat it, I’ve done it for lots of people.
Like it doesn’t make any difference to you that it’s mom we’re talking about?
People need my help, they need my help, why should it matter to me who they are?
If you weren’t my sister Elise, I think I would hate you.
Don’t be jealous of my freedom, Diane. You exercised your own brand when you chose redecorating and your son’s sports over your mom’s convalescing needs. See you Saturday.