So I Ran

What does the voice in my head sound like?

*  *  24  *  *

Run.

So I ran.

I ran and ran until I couldn’t run anymore and my legs collapsed into a jellied heap beneath me. It wasn’t until then that my better judgment began to kick in, leaving me wondering why I had started running.

Don’t worry about it.

So I didn’t worry about it.

I dragged myself across the park toward a water fountain on the far side. As the feeling returned to my legs, I was able to move faster. Eventually, I regained the ability to stand. By the time I reached the water fountain, my body felt almost fully functional again.

You’re not thirsty.

I realized that I wasn’t thirsty.

So I ignored the water fountain and kept walking.

“Heads up!” someone shouted behind me. I turned just in time to see the Frisbee heading straight toward my face.

Let it hit you.

So I let it hit me.

“I am so sorry,” said a girl who looked no older than ten but spoke with a maturity that contradicted her appearance. “I’m Leila.” She stuck out her hand. “Are you alright?”

You’re fine.

I shook her hand. “I’m fine,” I said, rubbing my face with my other hand. “Where’d your Frisbee end up?”

Leila reached down at my feet and picked it up. “Here it is!” The excitement in her face melted away when she noticed me still rubbing the point of collision. “Are you sure you’re alright, mister?”

You’re fine.

“I’m fine. I think your friends are waiting for you,” I said as I noticed the group of children huddled together, pointing at us.

“Alright. Bye!” Leila ran off to join her friends.

I watched them begin their game again, trying to discern some kind of rules. I finally decided that the game was either too complicated for me or there was far less structure than I was trying to generate.

It’s probably the latter.

I figured it must be the latter.

You’re hungry.

I was hungry.

I was just starting to look around for a restaurant when it struck me that not moments before, food was not on my mind at all. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wasn’t actually hungry.

You’re hungry.

But I was so hungry that I quit thinking about it.

It took me longer than it probably should have to realize the paradox. What was going on? Why was I hungry one second and not the next? Why didn’t I catch that Frisbee? Why did I go for such a long run?

Don’t worry about it.

But I did worry about it.

Don’t worry about it.

I started looking around as though I expected to find someone whispering in my ear.

I said don’t worry about it!

They were my thoughts. I was almost sure of it. They had to be if they were in my head. And yet, something about them didn’t sound like me. More importantly, if they were my thoughts, why didn’t I agree with myself.

You’re hungry.

“No I’m not!” I shouted. Leila and her friends must have heard me yelling, because the game came to a stand-still and all eyes were on me. The group of parents sitting on the benches nearby looked even more concerned than the kids.

Run.

“This time,” I muttered, “I think you might be right.”

So I ran.

I wasn’t really paying any attention to where I was going until I walked through the doors of a local burger joint.

Didn’t I say you were hungry?

“Shut up!” The whole restaurant was focused on me. I stared right back at them for a moment before slowly backing out onto the sidewalk. Then, I bolted down the street and ducked into an alley. “Alright, look, whoever-you-are,” I said, pacing back and forth, yelling at the fences around me. “This is my body. My brain. I control it.”

Sit.

So I sat.

“Dammit!” I shouted, standing up. “Who are you?”

“I’m you.”

I turned around to find myself staring at my own reflection. It wasn’t until it spoke again that I realized there was no mirror.

“I’m the part of you that you tried to get rid of. Surprise!”

“No,” I said, threatening it with a finger. “That’s not . . . you can’t . . .”

Forget me.

So I forgot him.

I looked around the empty alley, confused as to why exactly I had come this way.

You’re hungry.

I was hungry.

I remembered that there was a burger joint just around the block that sold the best, greasiest, most delicious burgers I had ever eaten. Or at least, that’s how I had described them the last time I had eaten there. I tried to ignore the fact that last time, I hadn’t eaten for over twenty-four hours beforehand.

You’re not hungry.

As I thought about it further, however, I really wasn’t that hungry.

Run.

So I ran.

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