“Excerpt” – Özge Ada Uzman ’27

It began with the eyes. Not the anxiety from the ever present gazes of bystanders, but eyes that appeared where they weren’t meant to be. Eyes that appeared on the walls of my apartment, eyes that bloomed on the plants for which I used to care, eyes that made their way onto my own limbs. I could never see out of them, so they must not have been mine. Somehow, that prospect worries me more than anything.

Next came the voices. They started out harmless, merely whispering to me where I had left my keys or what the temperature was as soon as the thoughts passed through my brain. But the initial synchronization was painfully short-lived. They grew to be more violent, hissing to me evil threats and desires, things I cannot bring myself to repeat. The voices are so loud. I sob and beg them to stop, desperately clawing at my head, but to no avail. I am never given relief.

I was distracted at work. When my boss found me holed up in a storage room, banging my head against the walls in hopes of silencing the voices, I was fired. She told me I needed to see someone, because that behavior was unnatural. I didn’t disagree. As I walked through the halls of the workplace, ashamed, I felt all eyes on me. Not the nosy gazes of the other employees, those I couldn’t care less about. The eyes lining the walls and ceiling, however, made something vile churn in my stomach.

The voices told me I did good.

One day I woke up to screaming. I sat up, alarmed, wondering if a wild animal had found its way inside my house. The screams were incessant, and I covered my ears in panic, diving deeper beneath my blankets.

It was ten minutes later that I realized the screams were mine.I stayed in bed all day, shaking with the effort of keeping my body still despite the voices’ demands to look at the eyes. It will save you, they whispered. But I knew they were lying.