Mick got back to his desk to find a hand-written note sitting in his in-tray.
“Mick,” it read, “That mobile phone headset isn’t fooling anyone: we all know you’re talking to yourself.”
There was no signature.
Mick sat down and hid behind his computer screen.
He re-read the note. They all know, he thought.
For a moment, for the briefest of moments, Mick wondered if they could hear the voice that spoke to him.
Of course not, of course not, of course not.
“Of course not,” Mick said aloud.
Someone in an adjacent cubical suppressed a laugh.
Mick took the headset out of his ear and placed it on top of the note. He pulled a brown cardboard box out from under his desk and began filling it with his personal belongings.
Every eye was on him as he walked, slowly-slowly, towards the exit. Mick stopped in the doorway but didn’t turn around.
He wanted to say that he hadn’t been trying to deceive them. He wanted to tell them how much his life had changed the day he’d found that broken headset. He wanted to tell the room – the whole world – what it felt like to be different, to be aware that you’re different; to be watched; to be watched but not loved. He wanted to say that he knew he was broken.
He was broken.
But Mick was tongue-tied and left without saying a word.