The Outsider

Maeve Cullen

Prose

Mount Temple Comprehensive,

Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a lonely world, where I live. Full of light and bright colours but silent, always silent. I am surrounded by people and yet I am the most alone someone could ever be. I am stuck. Stuck between worlds and although I can interact with things from your world, I am never heard nor seen. Never fully anywhere. No one knows that I live, that I exist. I feel nothing. I don’t tire, I don’t feel hunger nor thirst and I don’t feel physical pain. But I hurt. I love, and I care and I long for company and acknowledgement. I wander the world free of charge but at a cost so large, it breaks my heart like glass. Each day filled with new things but to me it is like a repeat. I am stuck.

My purpose in this ‘in between’ world is to do small deeds that help people, this is something that I have learned over the years. The thing that brings me the most joy that anything could where I am. I am the one who watches you. I move your glass from falling off the table. I put your keys somewhere obvious when you have been looking for them for a while. The shaky ladder that you stand on is held by me. I put my foot on your scarf before it blows away, so you can catch up. I blow out that candle that you left lit beside your bed. I listen to your hopes and dreams, your innermost thoughts when no one is around. I try to help you as much as this world allows me. However, all these deeds go unrecognised and unappreciated. I am tired of being the outsider looking in. I want to be seen, to see the look in someone’s eyes as they greet me causally. I want to shake someone’s hand and to know that they know I am real. Am I real? Does any of what I do make a difference? Am I truly influencing things or have I merely fooled myself into thinking that I help people, that I am needed. Maybe if I just stopped interfering, everything would go on perfectly without me.

I am stuck, but now I have no purpose. My days blend and all I do is watch. I watch as other people’s worlds and lives continue, and I watch as no one has any idea that I have stopped helping. Day after day, nothing changes, and each new day confirms my suspicion that I am not needed.

My glazed eyes focus for the first time in days. My gaze lands on a woman walking along the path. She is walking towards a man painting the front of a café. As she approaches him, his phone rings. In his surprised state, he moves to the left to step away from the shop window. His hip bumps the step ladder that stands next to him. A can of paint wobbles on top and tips over. The woman’s face shows her surprise and she is unexpectedly drenched entirely in blue paint. Across the road a man locks himself out of his apartment, with his head in his hands, he steps backwards, staring at his door in disbelief. A woman chasing her blown away scarf accidentally runs into to him and consequently knocks him down. A screech of brakes draws my wide eyes back to the scene of the woman covered in blue, where a bicycle has slipped in the paint and skids out into the road. A passing car swerves to avoid the cyclist and drives towards the fallen man and woman who are busily collecting themselves off the ground, unaware of the speeding vehicle that is coming behind. The car fortunately stops just before hitting them but purely from the driver’s eyes, it was very close. His white knuckles contrast with the black steering wheel and an eerie sense of calm settles over the street as people stop to survey the damage. I hear voices surrounding me, thanking some higher power for saving those two people just in time.

I am momentarily stunned, regret grips me as I think of how easily it could have been avoided. I watch as the police assess the situation and declare no one hurt badly. No one notices me standing in the middle of the street gaping at the mess in front of me. For the next 7 months I am meticulous. I help every and anyone so to avoid another event like that. Even just to blow on someone’s coffee to cool it down. I do it. Or hold a door open slightly longer for someone to easily walk through. The guilt rattles around my body every day, working its way up to my throat and sending shivers down my spine. But so does a new curiosity and self-belief, a small bud of hope growing inside me. There’s a new lightness to my heart. Maybe I am needed? Maybe people would notice somehow if I were to go away and leave them alone. Maybe to them it would just be a bad week or a day where nothing went right. They would go to work and talk to the others saying how it was ‘just one of those days’, a day where nothing seems to go smoothly. That is when I am recognised, when I am appreciated. That is when I will go back to helping and the ‘momentary blip’ that was my absence will have ended. Their lives will go back to normal.

I am stuck, but I matter. I am alone, but I am surrounded now by the fulfilment from what I do. I may never shake someone’s hand or touch someone’s arm as if we have been friends for a lifetime. But I have touched lives. I have made an impact. I have this chance to put a dent in the world, to make a difference to someone. Anyone. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant. There is a place for me here now, in this in between life.

I am alone, I am stuck, but I am happy now.  

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