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They've always been nice, but we worry they'll suddenly decide we are around too much. Taking up space. Maybe we could come up with how much we should buy per hour, so they don't ever question if they should let us stay so long. Let's run some numbers...It's settled then. For the good of everyone, we'll wait. All afternoon if we have to, though we probably won't make much progress in our book.It is our thoughtful time, and best enjoyed when we let it consume us! Why would someone use their staring eyes just to jolt us out of a beautiful dream? Even a horrible dream, it is still ours.
[[The world already has too many distractions.|5J]]
[[We are jolted when we least expect it, so now we always expect it.|5K]]I don't know...it's like someone is watching us. Peering orbs, examining us. That strange twinge of awareness. Just take a quick look?
[[No, I'm alone!|2A]]
[[I'm ok, people look at everything.|2B]]
[[Just a quick glance, ok?|2C]]Hey, pssst. Where are we right now? Something feels weird...
[[Yeah...hmm...|1B]]Are we alone? Should we be alone?
[[There are plenty of people around.|2B]]
[[We're alone. At least, as far as we know.|2A]]Where light just bent around us. We read they were working on stuff like that, so people could be invisible. They probably want to use it for spying and all that...
[[...but we would use it in the middle of everything!|6J]]We feel very alone around all these eyes. And now we're just reading the same sentence over and over again.Just a quick look with a somber expression. Then whoever has the staring eyes will see that they should take their piercing gaze to someone else. We will not be taken from our comfortable place, or skip back pages of our book like a scratched record.We sound so sure, but maybe to convince us, not to tell us the truth.
[[I wouldn't lie to us.|6F]]
[[Ok, we're right.|6G]]But we already are. Like a burning, a magnifying glass focusing a spot of sunlight right on us. Do they WANT us to look?
[[Then let's not give them the satisfaction.|4D]]
[[We'll just look then, and it'll be done!.|2C]]It's only paranoia if we're wrong. Isn't thought followed by action? If they are thinking about us, what will they do with us?
[[We have to live with uncertainty. React as best we can.|4C]]
[[We'll look really quick.|4B]]We don't know! That's why we're worried! Take just a quick look.
[[I can't. We don't want it to KNOW we know.|4A]]Uncertainty might be the most comforting...just in case we can sense it. We might need the solace of unknowing, or we'd be burned to death by all the staring eyes.Then I guess we wait...we'll be completely surprised and there's nothing we can-THERE!!! Did we HEAR it? There was a creak, a distinct CREAK.
[[I don't remember locking the door...|6A]]
[[STOP JUST STOP.|6B]]Why can't we just be left ALONE. Reading a book in public...
[[...isn't an invitation.|4I]]
[[...doesn't mean we have anything in common.|4J]]We can think of many terrible things.
[[...|6E]]Exactly. We'll lure them out.
[[The bathroom is contained, safe.|6C]]
[[We can escape from the kitche.|6D]]Ah! Did we see that? There WERE eyes looking at us!
[[They were staring...|8E]]
[[...or did they just turn to look at us because they noticed us turning to look at everyone?|8F]]Yes, a yelp, we gave ourselves away. We don't think we can even move! Creeping darkness, our whole body tingles with eyes. We feel smaller and smaller, maybe we'll disappear entirely.Yes, to calm us down. Cool drink. Is it too quiet?
[[That's not a thing.|8C]]
[[The calm before...?|8D]]Yes, more mustard. We aren't looking at the window, but we see it. Our periphery watches. Ah! Ah-ah-ah! We saw, a motion, a thing? Outside the window!
[[We can take a quick look...|8A]]
[[...and bring this kitchen knife.|8B]]Except...we didn't close the door when we left to investigate...now they COULD be inside, anywhere! The car. It's small, and safe. We need to be safe. We'll stay in here until we can be sure...until morning.No eyes to stare at home, right?Who can say...but there definitely aren't now. Every creature outside knows the watcher but us. Yes, we should close all the blinds and stay in the corner. The morning will eventually come.Like "why are you wearing that", or "I heard that book isn't very good".
[[Or "you've been here too long, and only ordered coffee".|4H]]Eyes That WatchDo we believe in scopaesthesia? Actually being able to tell if someone is staring right at us? How do we even remember that term?
[[I think we watched a special on weird science...|4E]]
[[Maybe it is a real thing.|4F]]Oh, we have been doing that haven't we. Stuck on the same sequence of words, and starting over because we weren't paying attention.
[[We have to look, or we'll never get anywhere.|6H]]
[[Maybe we should just stop reading. Pretend we're done.|6I]]We have learned that we can't just trust anyone. Especially when we don't know who they are! A movie, book, restaurant...this means nothing to us. We like it here, but don't like everyone here.
[[We will look quickly and deliberately...to discourage the stare.|5K]]We THINK we're alone, but WE don't, so who's right? That feeling, like we're a subject, playing a role in another mind. We didn't agree to that.
[[You mean, we think someone IS here?|3A]]
[[We're-no, you're being paranoid. People can think what they want.|3B]]Yeah, but usually they are background, white noise. Someone here isn't just looking around. Invisible lines, tendrils tickling the back of our neck.
[[Just stop it.|3C]]
[[Ugh, it's moving down my neck...|3D]]We're too afraid! If we look and they see us looking, they'll know we know.
[[And then make some comment that ruins my afternoon...|3E]]
[[...or worse, want to chat about something.|3F]]We are complex. Probably capable of much more than WE even realize. That scares us the most.
[[It's probably best we don't know.|5F]]Why can't they mind their own business. Why can't we just like the things we like, and be ourselves without their eyes telling us we aren't good enough?
[[I try not to care, but we still hate the judgement.|5H]]
[[I wish we could be a blind spot.|5I]]Yeah, maybe they'll give up. Maybe they'll think you didn't notice and not stare at anyone anymore.
[[We'd be doing everyone else a favor.|5E]]
[[I don't know how long I read the same page over and over again though...|5G]]Yes, that was it. We felt like they left it open ended...inconclusive, but maybe the show was more about entertainment than science.
[[Maybe it's ok that we don't know.|5F]]Did we see anything? An empty room, but outside the window, a movement???
[[I...might have been. They saw that we saw?|8A]]
[[We are alone. Just us.|5D]]But we can anticipate. Be ready for whatever they want, so we can stop them, or hide.
[[Stop them from what?|5C]]We didn't think of that...we must tread lightly. What if we do something that isn't suspicious, like get a snack, or go to the bathroom?
[[And see if they follows us...|5B]]
[[Wait-no. We're being silly.|5A]]It's too late then, no corner is empty, and all shadows are watching.Ok, ok! We're right, WE'RE just getting carried away. Now that we think about it, we're sure we locked the door. Maybe we'll be ok.Yes, then we'll be safe. Nothing can look at us there. We'll just wait in the bathroom until it's gone, hopefully by morning. The tile is cool, but safe.The kitchen lets us look around, and they won't suspect. We'll pretend to be tired, or bored.
[[I'll make a snack.|7A]]
[[...no, I'll grab a drink instead.|7B]]For instance, they could-AH! Did we HEAR that?!? There was a noise, just as we were starting to list all the terrible things. Do they KNOW?
[[Or heard us? Did we make a sound?|7C]]
[[The front door? Did we lock it?|8A]]We lie to us all the time! How can we trust us!? WE are probably being watched and we are IN on it. WE aren't speaking to us anymore!At least we admit it. We will take care of us, no matter what happens tonight.We did lock the front door, that's good. The knife makes us feel safe, that is also good. Let's just wait by the door with the knife until we can be sure.Isn't it? When it's quiet but even the crickets stop singing? The wind ceases? No more percussion of leaves?
[[Were there crickets before?|9B]]The busiest places! Reading, writing, thinking...and no stray eyes to interrupt us. This is a daydream we enjoy very much!We did lock the front door, that's good. The outside seems quiet. As quiet as outside ever is...maybe they left when we came out.
[[Back inside...|9A]]Oh, that is plausible. Sometimes we see people move and we look, but we aren't staring. The tingling is gone at least, for now. Let's try to read some more.Yes...we know the rest. Or are we already in the eye of the storm? Either way it is inevitable now. Let's just read our book, the same page, over and over until morning.We better go. Anything could happen now. They might try to speak to us and all we want is to read.
[[Yeah, let's go home.|9C]]...ok. If we're sure. We'll do it. Really quick, just a look to see if they are looking at us. We'll pretend we heard a sound, or had a thought about something we read.
[[Here we go...|7D]]Everyone seems to always want so much from us. So many questions, even about what it is we want. But we don't want much, and we don't want what we want to be so important to all of them! We want the secret things that we can only give ourselves. Peace from their eyes, and words, and motions. We will close our eyes, and look back towards the stare in our mind until the burning gaze ceases. Then we will be alone again.Just set our book down, and take a few sips. Taking in the world around us. It looks ok...we can't see everyone, but we do feel a little better. Let's close our eyes to be alone for a moment, then maybe we can read again.[[Jerry Belich|https://jerrytron.com]] ([[@j3rrytron|https://twitter.com/j3rrytron]])[[Written for the A MAZE Magazine No. 0|https://issuu.com/independenceamazing/docs/independence_amazing_nr0_2014]]