Do you ever have one of those moments,
When you're walking down a crowded street or, maybe squeezing through the rush hour of human traffic on your way to work, your absent mind whirring over recycled thoughts, body trudging forward on autopilot - when your hand drops to your side, idly, innocuously, and just for the briefest of moments, catches the hand of a complete stranger?
And in that split second, the whole world seems to freeze at the sudden unexpected intimacy of that warm touch between two completely unknowns, which both experience, yet neither acknowledge.
Funny, isn't it?
For those ensuing seconds after the unexpected invasion you smile, perhaps muse a little inwardly at the boundary you both so unintentionally broke, tearing open a passage from bubble to bubble when social convention dictates you simply ignore the existence of others when on public transport.
And then as quickly as it happens, as quickly as you smile about it, it just as quickly slips your mind, you carry on your routine, and it becomes nothing.
From a very young age, she knew that to her, that didn't mean 'nothing'.
Because to her, every little brush of the touch of another would bring with it an entire universe beneath her eyelids. Thoughts, dreams, visions, at just the touch of a strangers' skin, suddenly their mind was hers. She couldn't explain why or how it happened, but even then she knew she was special.
It wasn't long before she realised all that she could do.
The foot of a stranger resting against hers and suddenly she could hear the music singing into his ears from those tiny little white earpieces.
The jostling shoulder of the girl next to her on the train against hers, and suddenly she could see the silent words she read on each page of her book, even with her own eyes closed.
And it wasn't long before she became addicted.
She'd fill her days with the pursuit of sensation, standing still and statuesque in a thronging mass of commuters and shoppers, letting people brush past her, each one bringing forth a sentence, a picture, an emotion - snippets of other peoples' lives assaulting her senses at lightening speed, transporting her to places far beyond the reach of her own mind.
And she would fill her nights as a collector of dreams, luring in conquests with questionable motives from dingy bars and sordid nightclubs, staying up til dawn, sitting in on their dreams once they'd rolled over and fallen asleep into a whisky-soaked slumber, herself not quite sleeping, yet not quite awake.
She'd always managed to retain a level of subtlety about what she did, a carefully crafted mask of an ulterior motive forever shading what she really wanted. But she had over-indulged. She could not longer bare the torturous emptiness of being left with no thoughts but her own. And as her desire grew stronger, her tact began to fall away.
One evening, this incessant need to for sustenance having reached fever pitch, she found herself on a sparsely populated night bus to the middle of nowhere. She'd spotted her victim early on, hours before when he'd first boarded, and now itched her hands in agitation watching him snooze with his heading lolling against the condensated window.
She'd been trying to fight it, to see if she could face temptation and exert the last of her self-control and willfully abstain, but as this minutes ticked by it was as if the focus of her eyes had become over sharp in anticipation, and she could almost see each hair upon his head as it swept away a ghostly shadow of condensed window-water to the rhythm of the rambling journey.
When she could take no more, she stood, and slowly approached the man.
But her desire had clouded her judgment and as others watched with mild curiosity, she sat beside him, placing her pale shaking palm against the cheek of the sleeping man.
She was instantly relieved as the colours and shapes exploded beneath her eyelids and a scene began to take form. She could faintly hear the protests of others, but it was too late, she was already lost well inside his mind.
Her ecstasy was fleeting however, after a matter of moments she was torn abruptly from the dream as the man awoke in horror. The surrounding people pressed in on her, tearing her away from the terrified passenger. There was anger, shouting and wild confusion, and she could do nothing but flee, sprinting into a darkened emptiness only mirrored by her heart.
She had finally broken.
For weeks she isolated herself, letting the now haunting nothingness of her own mind almost consume her. The days were dark and long, and it seemed impossible to her that she would ever find any form of normality ever again.
After so many years, thriving off of other people's minds had turned into a tool essential to her survival, to a point in which she deemed herself entirely incapable of creation, of thought, of imagination alone. She truly believed she had been born as half, simply a receptacle to cherish the fruit of others', bound to be nothing but a exhibitor of someone else's artwork.
But one morning, she awoke to find a little spark inside of her. Only small, but still present. That morning, she felt a tiny little bit less of nothing.
And from that day onward, little by little, the flame gradually began to re-ignite.
And in time, she was able to take that first step back into the light.
In her darkness she had grown to understand that her mind had just as much value as others. That she was not empty. Inside of her, as with the others, was a pretty little universe of complexity and uniquity, perhaps even a little more special than all the others. She had just been overlooking her own worth by putting her perception of others on a pedestal.
And as she walked slowly into the sunshine again,
only then could she truly see just how destructive it was,
to constantly dwell on the thoughts of others.
- T h e - E n d -
< PREVIOUS STORY - NEXT STORY >
To find out more about what the 30 Day Writing Challenge is click here. Got an idea for something you want me to write about? Get your entries in now by emailing me with your prompt, your name and your twitter handle!