“For weeks I haven’t been able to sleep, for whenever I lay myself in bed, the consistent accompanying voice in my head is joined by many others. Myriad voices, loud and quiet and insightful and inane all at once. They talk so much. Like this:
‘Why didn’t you test the bike pump at the store before you bought it? That was rather impulsive.’
‘Exercise more, or eat less! You can’t have everything both ways.’
‘I wonder how many more lifetimes I’ve lived than my peers, because of how many more hours I’ve stayed awake.’
‘Study birds! They’re what’s most interesting to you. Why are you bothering with anything else?’
‘You need to go for a walk, right now. In the middle of the night. And nobody is going to know.’
‘Haven’t you learned the definition of this word yet? Here, let me use it in a new sentence so it’s clearer.’
Each cannot be ignored. Each may represent a strong, growing stem of my personality. And indeed, each seems to blend into one unified voice during the day, or even to disappear into the flow of my activities. But at night they all come out.”
“Do you hear my voice?” Collin asked.
He was my best friend. He understood me. He confided in me, and I in him. He bamboozled me constantly with his brain, and pushed me to be better. So many of the voices were his voice.
“Of course I do.”
“And what am I saying?”
“You’re telling me something. Something that’s supposed to help me find stability. Find some kind of way, in this world, on my own. A path through the woods. You’re telling me that I am supposed to make art, all the time. Ceaselessly, in fact. With every waking and dreaming moment. To make art with my life.”
“And how does this make you feel?” Collin asked.
I started to hear more people talking. I stood up and paced back and forth around the little room. There was a plant on the floor that caught my attention. Its leaves were a healthy bright green, but there were no windows in the office to let in the sun.
“And how does this make you feel?” The voice was now was my therapist’s voice.
How come this plant is so happy here? I thought. It can’t be getting enough energy from the artificial lights. I continued back and forth across the room again. There were sounds coming from everywhere. A powerful need to express myself washed over me and I burst into tears.
“There’s just no way I can live up to it. There’s too much to express. Life’s too much to express. It makes me feel impossibly outmatched.”
Collin was back. He smiled. It occurred to me that he appeared to have been just then replaced by what looked to be an exact replica of his body and visage, only as an android copy. The smile widened.
“That’s enough for today, I think.”