Short Stories

Short Story: The Listener

He sat on his chair, waiting for another client to come. His metallic body was welded into the spot. He could move his hands and head to portray empathy when the talker wanted him to, but nothing else. He couldn’t walk away. Not that he was sure why he should. It seemed like the whole world came to him at one time or another. Mostly a slight tilt to the right side ensured people kept talking, and he heard the most amazing stories and thoughts never said aloud to any living being. Sometimes he wondered what was beyond the room he was situated in. From words he heard, it was a bizarre world with diminishing landscape and steel houses rising high—a place where no one had time to hear each other’s thoughts, dreams, and fears. A reason why he had been constructed. And he wondered why they would need him when people’s inner lives were as complex as the minerals and stars they studied or as dark as the bottomless oceans he had heard of or as light and colorful as a Bird-of-Paradise Flower was. He didn’t understand. Not even the fact he was told no one would understand them. That no other had experienced what they had experienced. All alone.

Here he sat, trying to piece together the reason for his birth. He had been told about the networks the people used to socialize, yet, every time, there was this hollowness in their words and a sigh as if of an empty pot. And when he smiled or related to their feelings or asked questions about what they were interested in, what they thought, and what they wanted, they came alive. And he wondered why he was able to fill their bellies with light when the outside networks couldn’t. When his clients came in, they had to adjust to his soft-spoken words and the room’s quietness. The loud playing music or the chatter of their fellow humans were tuned down, and they were there awkwardly looking at him, confused about how to start. Even those who told him they were the new world leaders—the followed, the influential, the shapers, the builders, the thinkers, the dreamers, the poets, the famous—were lost when they got to tell him everything, that their words would never leave this room, and he would never repeat them aloud. And when they spoke, they spoke without stopping, and he listened to them.

Thank you for reading and have a great day ❤

P.S. You’re Not Listening by Kate Murphy is a fantastic book. I recommend it to anyone willing to hear me out. Powerful stuff.

© K.A. Ashcomb

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