The walls are paper-thin.
I can hear them talking about me on the other side, the sound of their voices a little muffled but their words – and intent – perfectly clear. I search for the source of the noise for a few moments before I realise that they are speaking to one another on the other side of the wall.
As I listen, I notice things.
I notice how they say my name, with an air of disdain curling around the final syllable. I notice the sneer in their words, the way that they talk about me as though I am below them, a worm that they can step on and squash if they only wish. I notice the words they use to describe me: slow, dull, stupid, dumb, and how they are all things that I have heard from them before.
When they pretend to me that they are joking.
I notice that the walls are grey and the paint is peeling off to reveal wallpaper underneath, decorated with clowns and childhood toys. I notice the way that the walls themselves seem to quiver with every bad word said about me, as though they are threatening to crumble under the onslaught of cruel comments. I notice how my emotional welfare is irrelevant as long as I can be the subject of a few nasty jokes.
Then I notice that the walls are only in my head, and they are stood talking about me on the other side of the room, making no efforts to keep their voices down. Chipping away at the grey mask coating my lonely childhood.
They are painfully close to bringing me tumbling down.