They were huddled in the same room, as if in a crooked nest, some scribbling away, some, admittedly, were typing on small keyboards. At seemingly regular intervals, they would silently squabble as if their worlds mattered more than any of the others. It was a peculiar circle, with more sharp angles than you might envisage – you could feel the tingling tension zig-zagging around the table. There were some lights, but their warmth felt unsure, tentative, even scared of shining too bright, as the shadows would only grow deeper as a result. The trickling noise of tapping on the tables, the clicking of pens, keyboards, thin fingers scuttling across the surfaces, was only interrupted – almost as if on a loop – by a peculiar but all too familiar moan. It would hang in the air for a handful of seconds, haunting all present company, lingering just enough to become uncomfortable, only to slowly dissipate into the incessant scritching on paper, the constant clicking sound of keys.
No eyes looked up, no contact made between the figures in the circle, no movement other than what required for the production of more work, more words, more paper, more screens, more, more, more. Lines building upon lines, stories stacked up precariously and vanishing to other rooms, to other – much wider, much louder, much livelier – worlds.
Outside the building, in the growing chill of that autumn night, people passed by, entirely oblivious to the figures inside. It was as if they weren’t really there after all.
Hello? Is anyone there?
Oh, good! I thought I was alone here.
I can’t really see what’s going on, and that was starting to creep me out. My eyes don’t seem to want to adjust to the darkness. Have yours? Are you alone?
I mean here, of course, not in the universe, or in life. I mean, that too! God, I hope I’m not boring you.
It’s just, I think I’m really freaking out now. Everything’s dark, I don’t know where I am, where we are, who brought me here I just woke up man just woke up like this here and I have no idea no idea what.
I’m sorry. It’s ok, I’m breathing, calming down. Whew. But it is all very strange, unsettling, just finding myself here. I don’t know where here is even, I don’t know what I did, what happened, how I got here. It’s fine to freak out right? I’m sure you’re freaking out too, over there.
Why aren’t my eyes adapting though? I’ve been here for ages. I’ve rubbed them, blinked, there’s nothing in the way. Should I try touching them? Would that be bad? I might infect them or something, I touched something slimy earlier. Maybe I should leave them alone.
Maybe it’s a bad dream, right? All this, just a dream…
Jeez, I haven’t even let you say anything yet! I’ve just been rambling on along by myself. Sorry sorry. What is your story?
Are you still there?
Is anyone there..?
I write words every day.
I don’t know where I’ll go
I know I could stay silent.
Those who know, don’t speak.
Mute in the womb of time
where people even cry.
will be enough to understand and say
what the voice cannot.
I touch every instant, every day
the cry and the thunder. I live around.
I could stop and wait.
[Original Italian by Margherita Guidacci, ‘In silenzio’.]