Every person in life needs another person so that they can be heard out. The words departing from their mouth, each intelligible sound they make must be received by a willing ear, for that is the very purpose for which the words were uttered in the first place.
She learned early on in life that there was no one, would never be anyone, ever, who would listen to her. Her father could unload on her mother, and her mother could always rant and rave with the neighbours. All the kids at school seemed to be willing to talk and listen to each other in turns. But for her, there was no one.
Now if you ever said to her that she was alone, she would have regarded you with a mildly surprised stare. The word never occurred to her, simply because she always had been a lone, solitary figure, from as far back as she could remember. Like a child who is born blind is not even aware of its condition until told so. Even then, the enormity of the loss, of what is being missed, can only be appreciated by the one who has seen, who has taken pleasure in sight. Similarly, she had never had any friends, so she did not know exactly what was absent in her life, and what was keeping her from being spiritually fulfilled.
She was a normal teenager, as normal as they come. With the normal anxieties, issues and problems associated during the teen phase. She didn’t have any friends, she never tried and this fact never seemed to bother her either. Until she realized how badly she needed someone, anyone, to lean on, to lash out to, to scream at, but most of all, to talk to. She needed a listening ear.
So she began searching. Her mother did not interest her, with her endless gossip and sour breath. Her father was none the better, buried behind books and files, his nose always sweaty, no matter what time or temperature of the day, causing his large spectacles to periodically slip down to the level of his nostrils. The kids in school held no charm, for they were just like her, the same problems, the same troubles, only with different names and faces.
She tried talking to the walls of her room, but after a while she felt plain stupid babbling off to a cheap coat of chalky-white paint. She tacked up a poster of a summer carnival, only to find that the colours, the smiles and the laughing faces served to further alienate her.
Venturing out of the premises of her house, she experimented with the old maple tree down the road. Sitting in the shade under the branches, she let loose a bit of what was on her mind. But the words she had uttered just seemed to circulate around her, toying with her, swirling and swirling in the wind, until, finally giving up having found nothing to receive them, finally settled back heavily on her chest. She did the same in the park, out in her backyard, even on the bank of the river, but with the same results.
Now she was depressed, downright anguished, needing, begging for a way out, a way for her to expel all the thoughts from her mind before it burst from the stress of keeping herself together.
But then something happened. Something wonderful, fantastic. She had finally found someone, or something, willing to listen to her. It had always been there, but she had never looked hard enough. Indeed, it was there, just for her, just like her. It had the same thinking, the same actions. It went everywhere with her. It was completely in tune with her mind, body and soul.
She talked to it. Oh yes, you bet she did. Unloaded all her doubts, and fears and musings. She talked and it listened. All day, from morning, to afternoon and to sunset, she talked and chattered. But afterwards, she would not talk. Afterwards, when night came and darkness fell, she would be quiet, because it would go away. But she would not be scared or frightened or disappointed because she knew it would be back in the morning, with the first rays of light.
Many people would call it her shadow. But to her, it would always be her listening ear.