The Silence In Between
As I place my hands on the smooth oak surface of the desk, I lean forward within close proximity of the microphone. The unpleasant humming of the dead-air through my headphones reminds me that people are listening to nothing. This is my opportunity, and I’ve yet to speak. The question, so piercing and rhetorical in structure that up until my awkward moment of clarity, I had all but dismissed it. My comfort level quickly fading, I turned towards my familiar soundboard to start a new musical track, but no images were detected. The brightly-lit LED monitor was now dead; what remained was an inconvenient herald that I should no longer evade inquiry.
My chair swiveled in place, and I heard the echoing voice repeat its question. The accusatory tone of the faceless female brought red to my face as she delivered her query.
“What is wrong with you?”
I laugh it off nervously, and respond with a defensive form of sarcasm.
“A lot of things are wrong with me. I’m hungry, for one. I feel slightly sexually deprived, and I don’t have enough happy-thoughts in my life. Does that answer your question?”
I’m met only by the cold, isolating static from the opposite end of the call. Believing her to be annoyed, I crack a grin and return to the mic.
“Well, I guess that wasn’t what you were looking for, was it?” I ask smugly while spinning in my chair. I attempt to provoke a response from her.
“For asking such a broad question, you sure don’t sound as if you want it answered! I mean, come on. You want to know what is “wrong” with me? Well, assuming that your standards are as ridiculous as I think they are; I think I know exactly what is wrong with me, by your definition.
1) I use too much profanity.
2) I take a perspective that is a bit too realistic for your taste.
3) I undoubtedly speak on topics that offend you quite often.
Last but not least, I’m more than certain that you’re one of the self-righteous lunatics who thinks if people don’t live by your definition of morality, then they must fall under some lesser category of human. Did I get that right, sweetheart?”
I lean back against the black leather of my chair, and wait for the tears to flow. However, much to my surprise and dismay- I still have no audience. White noise feeds into the tiny pentagonal room, causing me a relative sense of uneasiness. My frustration mounting, I scoot forward in my chair, ever closer to cold silver of the studio microphone. I don’t feel like a wonderful personality anymore, though. The mic turns into a shiny metallic betrayal-receiver that awaits my every word and action. I’m not having a good time, and as much as I wish for her not to know that, I won’t be able to control my tone on the air as well as I should hope. I fold my left leg over the top of my right knee, and take a moment to steady my thoughts. Did she hang up? Is the communication so terrible, that she believes she is talking to me right now, and I just can’t hear her? Is she deliberately holding out for some type of profound answer that isn’t coming? Whatever the reason, it’s up to me to bring this silly charade to a close.
“Look, I don’t really know what sort of social-experiment you’re attempting to complete here, but I do know that I’ve answered your idiotic question to the best of my abilities. If you can’t handle that, then it’s not my problem. Besides, if you don’t like me then you shouldn’t be tuning into my station in the first place. You do realize you have the illusion of freedom at your disposal, don’t you? I highly recommend you try it sometime. The way it works is:
You don’t listen to my broadcast.
I don’t say things that make you call-in.
You don’t ask me stupid things.
We don’t get in this awkward position we’re in right now.
Now, isn’t that much faster than spending hours trying to think of something potentially intriguing to ask me? Now you can leave, and I can get back to what I was doing!”
Satisfied, I leaned onto the left armrest, resting my cheek inside my left palm. I didn’t want to hear her response. I just wanted the person screening my calls (whoever they were), to do their job and get rid of the little mouse. She had grown beyond the point of humorous; my patience was draining quickly and the only thing I could think of to give me some peace was the fact I still had the power to cut her off. It seemed though, that regardless of what I wanted to do, I would be forced to endure another long, dramatic pause. As if the static wasn’t bad enough, now I was having an internal revolution. The lady had brought this on herself. If she wanted an actual answer to her question, she was going to get it.
I quickly vaulted from the seat of the chair, and kicked it to the back wall. As I leaned forward, I could hear the thump as the rolling stopped suddenly against the soundproof wall. I clutched the base of the microphone, shifting it upwards so I wouldn’t have to be stuck in such an uncomfortable position while on my tirade. I gripped it like a vocalist at a heavy metal concert, wanting to vent all my rage out on my aggressor. As innocuous as the original question had been phrased, I now took it as a personal attack on my character. An anonymous ad hominem of astronomical proportions that I would not tolerate from some whiny, spineless female with a phone.
“Well, Ms. moral-compass…I don’t exactly know what is wrong with me. I can give you a handy list though, so that you can draw it up on a fine piece of paper, laminate it, and distribute it to the one friend you do fucking have! Let’s start here. I am stuck living in some twilight reality that I’ve gone and expunged all optimistic views I had about the world around me. I don’t like the people in it, because I view the majority of them as a swarming mass of pseudo-moral loving troglodytes who are pining away for some world of lore that only the mind of Huxley could’ve conjured. I don’t want to anesthetize myself to things around me, because it’s a lot more enjoyable to be depressed that most of the things I don’t like about my setting are obstacles I can’t change from my end. My only useful skill that I’ve used in the past five years has on some level made use of continuous self-loathing, and everything else I can do somehow never seems to quite live up to a standard I view as acceptable. I want to be social and the moment I step out to do it, I remember exactly why isolation was my only choice from the start. I can’t take any pertinent actions that I’m happy with, because if it has to do with something that matters I’m stuck in a suspended form of self-doubt, where I don’t want to take a risk if I know it could fail. Everything seems like a doomsday clock that is growing ever closer to a point where I break, but it never quite seems to get close enough to strike midnight.
…But you know what’s really wrong with me, lady? I don’t like you. I don’t like having to listen to the sound of my own voice, and I don’t like me. I’m done.”
I slid my headphones off, and shoved the microphone so hard the opposite direction the shock-stand vibrated in place. I put my back against the opposite wall, and edged down to have a seat. I put my head between my knees, and watched the studio lights dim as the static faded.
Then I woke up.