The Short Story Experience: OUR INNER VOICES

Just get it.

I sigh, slipping a finger into the space between my jeans and my belly. I should stop this delli escapades, stress-eating will not help my degree. Nor the fitting of my clothes.

Come on. Who cares? You could use a few more pounds, anyway. Just get it.

I sigh again as I pay for the chocolate muffin and latte. My inner voice always wins, somehow. That and the chocolate muffins of the coffee shop in this corner. They make the half-mile walk from my apartment totally worth it.

I slowly stroll down the street, enjoying the sun. I have so much to do, but I’m in no hurry to get home. Great, stuffing my face and procrastinating, University is going absolutely great.

What about a walk down by the river?

I don’t have time for this! The river is way off the path home. I have 300 hundred pages waiting to be read by tomorrow morning. Just get your shit together.

But it’s such a nice day!

That is true… Ugh!

I turn around and take the long way back. And I don’t regret it. The winter sun reflects on the water like silver glass. The light is so bright I can barely keep my eyes open. I sit down on one of the benches, taking in the cold air and the calmness of the view. This is what I was supposed to be doing with my life, not locking myself away in a 2-feet bedroom killing all my brain cells with pointless theory.

Okay, calm yourself down.

I chuckle. There’s no middle ground. I’m in that point of the course where I stress either about wanting to finish it or about wanting to drop it. I started out so sure that this is what I wanted to do, but now… I know everyone goes through this, I know the academic environment takes its toll on everyone, that this format of studying is more harming than helpful, I’ve read the researches. Knowing the facts doesn’t help the feelings.

But I’m close. I’m so close. In six months it will be over, I’ll be getting a world-class job and becoming the best professional this field has ever seen.

Don’t flatter yourself.

Hey! That’s harsh! Probably good advice, but harsh, anyway.

I meant it.

Okay? Jesus. The tone of this annoying inner voice starts to concern me. Am I finally losing it? Is this the sign my Master’s are finally taking the best of me?

Please, just leave me alone.

Yep. It’s happening, I’m losing my mind. I look around to asses if there’s any witness to my meltdown. And then I see her.

“You’re unbelievable!” she yells at her phone. She’s sitting under a tree, a few feet away from me. It looks like she’s crying. “Don’t ever call me again!”

I watch her wipe her face and throw her hair to one side to the other. As the seconds tick away, I start to second-guess myself. I didn’t hear it right. I’m just stressed, tired, too full of sugar. Still, I stand up and walk towards her. I don’t know what I’m going to say, but I need to be sure.

“May I help you?” she asks harshly when I stop in front of her, staring as psychopath.

“I’m not sure…” I say and watch as her eyes widen. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude, but…”

“Do I… do I know you?” she asks, and now I’m sure — it’s her. The voice inside my head. Coming out a real person’s mouth.

“I… I don’t think so,” I answer, more steadily, to see her reaction.

Her expression is a mirror of mine. She recognizes me, too.

Photo Credit: Donna Mulholland, Our Inner Voices

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