All one had to do was dial a certain number and one would be connected straight away with oneself. The quality of the reception was so good that the voice on the other end of the line sounded as if it was coming from the very same room. Inevitably, there was some initial apprehension about using this phone, for no one quite knew what kind of a response they would receive when they rang themselves out of the blue for the very first time. What if their unexpected call was considered to be an impertinent invasion of privacy?
Eventually these fears subsided, as most found that they were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm and their calls were seen as a pleasant surprise. Talking with yourself was just like talking with a dear friend you hadn’t seen for a long time, and conversation flowed easily. People rushed to purchase the new invention, which was marketed as the “mePhone.” Suppliers could not keep up with the demand, and there were ugly scenes as customers fought amongst themselves for the last available units.
For mePhone to work properly, certain rules had to be followed, as set out in the Owner’s Manual. First, the reception only worked in particular areas, access to which required an extra fee. Second, there was a strict time limit on how long you could spend speaking to yourself. And third, when using the mePhone, one had to wear special, rather cumbersome apparel that was sold separately from the phone. Also, owing to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, the cost of a call was outrageously expensive, though some enterprising phone companies, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the mePhone, for a limited time only charged a local call rate. The high charge for using a mePhone was partly due to the technical complexities involved in establishing a connection, for there were many impostors who pretended, for their own twisted and devious reasons, to be the voice of your true inner self. Thus, a lot of specialist expertise was required to connect you to the real you.
The biggest technical obstacle to overcome, however, was circumventing getting a busy signal when calling yourself, for if you were calling yourself then that meant you were already on the phone and thus your line must, ipso facto, be engaged. It was an astounding technological achievement that the creative wizards behind the mePhone were able to somehow surmount this paradox and allow people to get through to themselves. How it was actually done remained, for obvious reasons, a tightly guarded industrial secret. There was speculation that it involved utilising the Many Worlds Quantum Theory, so that by using the mePhone a person was connected to themselves in another parallel Universe.
These inconveniences were more than outweighed by the benefits you gained from having a good chat with yourself, for no one had ever had the time to stop and take a good, honest look at their lives. Everyone was always rushing about, preoccupied with the mundane details of existence, trying to silence the nagging question of whether they were happy with their lives and if they were being true to their inner selves. It was an enlightening experience to be able to have a deep and meaningful talk with oneself. The users of the mePhone could now catch up with all the things in their lives they had never had the chance to think about before.
People found that talking with yourself was a lot like talking to an old confidant, with whom the most intimate matters could be discussed. Not infrequently tears were shed as truths one had been hiding from oneself for many years were conveyed in blunt and forthright terms. Conversations gained a confessional aspect, as darkest secrets known only to oneself were divulged openly over the phone lines. Quite often, surprises were lying in store as people discovered what they were actually feeling inside. At other times, the voice on the other end of the line would remind of long-neglected dreams, of desires and needs suppressed for far too long. Many found out they weren’t really happy in their places of employment. Some realised they had fallen out of love a long time ago. Others saw for the first time that they had deluded themselves as well as others into believing they had reached fulfilment, regardless of how they actually felt inside, recognizing that they had become so comfortable with being miserable and disenchanted that they shrank back in fear when contentment appeared to be within easy reach.
Boris Glikman is a writer, poet and philosopher from Melbourne, Australia. The biggest influences on his writing are dreams, Kafka and Borges. His stories, poems and non-fiction articles have been published in various online and print publications, as well as being featured on national radio and other radio programs.