You are listening to a person.
You note the creased fabric of their shirt. A slanted ray of light flickers on their cheek as words flow from their mouth. Their breath doesn’t quite reach your side of the table.
The story told to you is arbitrary and composed of details that do not leap from the mundane. The cast seems to be mainly limited to the teller. The plot is unpredictable, the editing choppy and the themes yet a mystery. The information will be saved directly into the “Supplementary” file, not to be clicked unless insisted by the primary source.
The person has been talking for 4 and a half minutes. Although you are attentive, the temptation to switch to your personal channel begins to build. There are far more important things that your brain cells could chew:
Your index finger feels wet but you don’t know why.
The couple next to you is speaking German and their random English sounds like crackling glass.
The waiter doesn’t seem to remember you, even though you have been here twice in the past month.
You catch the end of a story branch, which finished with an unexpected combination of words. You chuckle but immediately regret doing so. It’s too late to request repeating the joke and your acquaintance moves on to another stream of consciousness.
Begin to take steady breaths that naturally escape your body.
Let your lungs expand like wings, flapping waves of oxygen into your blood.
After a few more breaths, the air will reach your brain.
Your mind begins to sharpen. Every detail becomes slightly more present and obvious. Now you can pull them apart. That screaming voice inside you demanding recognition lulls down for a moment, and the voice of your acquaintance becomes clear.
You notice how their acute note sometimes dips into a satisfying tenor when they say the word “absolutely”. Their eyes change shape when you make an encouraging smile.
There is something perfect in the way they touch their ear. The movement of their eyebrows is mesmerizing. Their lashes are as fragmented as the configured events that lead them to this room. The small lines on their skin intertwine with each other, weaving a living tapestry of imperfections. The chances of receiving this facial composition are astronomical.
You listen to their mind like you listen to a piece of music – past experiences, future aspirations, current opinions and immediate impulses of a human unravel before you. None has sat here, with this person, at this time, hearing words in this precise order. Suddenly you wish to ask questions. You wish to bury your mind into another interpretation of reality, another experience of life. You notice how kind provocation gives this person a sense of importance. Your nodding makes them feel understood. Your presence makes them forget the single most petrifying fear – the fear of being forgotten.
After another longwinded minute, the other person may look at you with admiration. You find this baffling since you haven’t said a word about yourself.
“How about you – how do you feel about plums?”
Now it’s your turn to talk.