I just sat there. What else was I to do? I just sat ... not breathing, not talking, not moving - I may have blinked once. My rationale had disappeared. All of these people so many of them, a standing room only crowd, all of them staring. Just staring. They weren't just staring at me, but reading me like a book. They understood what I was thinking, they understood my every desire, my every hatred, my every emotion.
Someone began to laugh. I don't know who it was or why, but it was a deep throaty laugh that had a sharpness cruel enough to cut through iron (I know this because it cut through me quite easily). Then, like a wave of a monsoon, the audience all began laughing. AT ME! They were laughing at my very thoughts - each and everyone, laughing hysterically ...
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a small crumpled piece of paper near the large red curtain. Without thinking (thinking is hard to do when you have a few thousand people laughing at you), I picked up the paper and began to read. On it were the words:
"Use your terror to protect you.
You can be alone.
Build up your defenses."
This otherwise cryptic message made perfect sense to me at the time. Very slowly, cautiously, I was able to silence the audience. The wave of the monsoon receded patiently. Person by person, I shut them all up.
Finally, all were silent. I sat in a euphoric daze feeling absolutely secure. Nothing, not even an iron-cutting laugh could get me now. I was safe. The audience had vanished. All was good.
Seemingly only for the purpose of destroying my reverie, a voice from the back of the theater (or was it the back of my mind?) called out to me, with a real sense of urgency, "Stop! This must be stopped!"
The cry ended abruptly. Things became so quiet again that the silence could have killed. Instead, it resumed.
"You have built a false frontier! Don't do this to yourself!"
With that, the walls came down,
They all came down ... on me. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.