“A listener who can talk. I can’t believe it! What will they think of next? I like that poster, though. ‘Just keep talking. Express yourself. Change the world.’ It’s good. Bartender, we’ll need two drafts and a shot of whiskey. Thanks! Keep the change.”

“Oh, Anna. I enjoy talking to you so much. It’s so nice having someone who listens. All day long, it’s talk, talk, talk, but with you I feel like you’re only listening to me. It’s lovely.”

“It’s great progress. When listeners are given the ability to talk, the world will be just that much fairer. How far we’ve come! Speak up! It’ll change the world!”

“Thanks for meeting me, Mike. Sorry I’m so late. I hope you’ve been doing well. Just look at that! No one’s offered you anything to drink yet? Have you been waiting this whole time for some beer? I’ll get something ordered for you.”

“I can’t imagine a listener in my line of work! The other listeners don’t like following my orders– they’d expect leniency if the order came from a fellow listener! Nothing would ever get done! This craze’ll die out just about as soon as it started! You’d never do something so crazy, would you? Of course not. You’re sensible people. Want a refill?”

“Pop…. With the lips like this: Pop… Pop.”

“Baab…. Baab.”

“Did she say it right? No? Pop… Pop… Keep practicing. Pop… Pop… You’ll get there.”

“Speak up, girl. Just open your mouth. That’s right. Did she talk? No? She moved her mouth, though. That’s progress. Keep going, girl. Practise, practise, practise! Keep trying! Why should I leave? Would it help? Okay, but I expect to see her talking soon.”

“This will be a wonderful thing for us. Can you imagine what people will say when they realize that our little listener girl is going to be the first listener to talk! Go away? Why should I go away? Well, if you think it’s for the best, I suppose it couldn’t hurt. I’ll have you know, though, that I expect to be the first to know.”

“They’re everywhere now. The rich people trotting them out like signs of status. ‘Look at me, how with the times I am.’ It’s like the old freak shows, but we all feel better about ourselves afterward.”

“My question in all of this is with all the listeners learning to speak, who will take care of the children, cook, clean, do all the support jobs like nurses, teacher’s aides, note therapists, and, and bartenders!

“Give me a draft, please. I’m in the mood to talk. It’s been a rough one. My husband says I need to unload a bit before I go home. Heh. You know stay-at-home listeners. They don’t want to be dumped on going through the door. Thanks. Keep the change.”

“Most of my relatives are listeners. My cousins are about 3/4 listeners. I just look at my cousins and wonder if any of them are my mom’s miscarriages. Some families raise their own listeners. My mom, she’s the talker, she decided she wanted my dad to focus on the talkers.”

“Princess, thanks for listening to me. You’re always such a dear. Goodbye for now, dear. I’ve tipped you well, now, so remember me for next time. Bye, bye, sweetie.”

“Another drink, please, bartender. Point me to the restroom, will you?”

“It’s been a difficult journey, my friends, coming to management. We never thought it would be possible, but here I am! Here we are! I’m here to represent you, the ones who listen! Now, I am here to ask you to listen to the talkers! We do not want more incidents of listeners abandoning their talkers. This will not work! We need to continue working, brothers and sisters! Keep working and one day, we will join hands in equality. It is my dream, it is our dream! And, before long, we will be living that dream! Speak up! Change the world!”

“A drink, if you’ll be so kind, sir. It’s been a day, I’ll tell you. Long day.”

“Those false talkers have taken over our jobs! They’ve taken over our lives! There are no jobs available to us! It’s a travesty! Soon we won’t have any listeners and then what will talking matter? We live in a delicate balance!”

“Ha. What a charming slogan: Speak up! Change the world! I like that. Speak up! Haha. You like that, too, don’t you? Course you do. Raise your glasses! Change the world!”

“The statistics of talkers without work is just to be expected. The available jobs are those not meant for a talker. What sort of talker could care for children? Could be a nurse? Who could carry out the orders of parents, doctors, lawyers, politicians? Talkers are meant to give orders not carry them out.”

“It’s a wonderful step in the right direction. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you different. Ha! Don’t listen at all! Learn to talk. Speak up! Change the world!”

“With so many policymakers, nothing ever gets done. And of course, there’s no one to listen anymore. Here I am, talking, and no one is listening. If I were in charge, I’d make it different. I’d make people stop teaching listeners to talk. It’s not natural. We are meant to have listeners. I’m meant to be talking to someone!”

“The news is exaggerating as usual. I don’t think that there are that many jobs taken by listeners-turned talkers. Speakers, I think they’re calling themselves.”

“Hey princess, it’s been a while since I’ve seen you here. Care to listen for a while? I’ll buy some sandwiches and some beers. No? Oh, I see. You’re already taken for the night. Alright. I suppose an ear as lovely as yourself was bound to be busy.”

“These speakers will change the world. Just you wait and see. It’s so exciting to be at the forefront of something so exciting. Speak up! Change the world!”

“I was so happy when the family took me in. I love all of you. It’s been crazy, learning to talk and becoming the first listener to have a talking position. The talkers said that it could never be done, but the listeners tried and the talkers helped give me the sounds to imitate. It’s funny how listening helped me talk faster than most talkers usually learn. You have to listen, you see, to learn how to talk. It’s hard for the talkers. But for me, it was easy. At first, anyway. The thing about talking is that you forget how to be silent. You forget how to listen. You can’t hear when you’re talking. I know you come home for silence after a long day of listening. I’m sorry for coming. I thought I could do it. I thought I could be quiet. Let me take my stuff and leave. I love you. You’ll see me again, I promise.”

“I can’t believe my eyes! The President has accepted a speaker into his staff! Doesn’t he appreciate the danger?! And putting her in charge of the new marriage problems.”

“At least it seems like the speakers don’t keep their old listening habits. They simply become talkers. That isn’t as bad as I had… can you imagine someone doing both? Ha! What nonsense.”

“I’m glad you’re still here, sweetheart. Pull up a chair. I’ve got some drinks. Today was rough. My boss says that I have two weeks to sort things out. They found someone to replace me. I’m so low-level that I suppose it was inevitable. Businesses are hiring speakers left and right to bump up their numbers. My boss said that he had to look at the numbers. The shareholders want the stock boost. Like that excuses or justifies anything. Pull up a chair, dear. I’ll tell you all about it.”

“In a relationship, would they be the talker or the listener? I can’t imagine marrying a speaker. What would it be like if there’s no one to listen? Who would care for the children? It’s been shown that a child needs both parents. That’s the only way they will grow well-adjusted. And if the parents are a speaker and a talker? I hope no child has to suffer that.”

“The speakers have been mostly young and unmarried men and women. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a spouse suddenly start talking! What would the children do? I need someone to listen to me and so does every talker child! And the listeners need a good example to follow!”

“Stop that wide-eyed gaping, man. I pay you to listen, not to react like a fish!”

“That boy the other week. He’s gone. Must have traded his hears in for a tongue and a listener bride. Damn legislation.”

“No wonder they told me they didn’t need me at work. Too many speakers, not enough jobs.”

“Machines, machines, machines! These stupid bartender machines are ridiculous. A few years ago, they were a stupid investment. Now, they’ve become super popular. Machines are replacing any listener job. Everywhere I go, it’s machines and “Listeners Wanted” signs. They reject me even before they can see my resume!”

“My job, my listener of choice, and now my bartender. Next there won’t be nurses or teachers.”

“You’re the only listener for miles who can be seen without ridiculously high fees. I can tell you’re busy so I’ll be brief: I’ve been talking for a week without anyone to hear me and now that I have you here, I can’t think of anything good to say. My mom was the listener in the family and she passed away a few years ago. I’ve worked through it with my therapist, of course, but now my therapist started speaking, and I worry that he’ll talk about my secrets. There are vows, of course, but I worry. I wanted to see another therapist, but they’ve become so expensive and exclusive. I haven’t found one I can afford that I trust. And I miss being listened to. I know time’s running low. One more second. There was an effort to have the talkers in the area email each other, but I never really learned how to write well. I can read just fine, but it’s just hard, you know. And the other people are so whiny it’s hard to be heard. And no one ever sends a helpful reply. We’re not used to reading much. The news is mostly images and basic words. I wish I could write how I talk, but I tried and I haven’t learned how to do that. Okay, okay, I’m going. I’m gone.”

“Hello, oh, I’m glad you have time. My cousin died last week. He was a listener, and he was usually the one I could talk to. He always made time for me. He was a teacher’s listener, and a really good one. He enjoyed having an adult to talk to him for a while, and I needed him. My father died when I was younger and so my cousin was good for me after I finished school and didn’t have an assigned listener anymore. I never realized how important he was until suddenly, he wasn’t there. There’s been a lot of anger about the whole speaker thing. A group of talkers beat him up real bad. I don’t know if they realized he was just a listener or not, but it was rough. I keep wondering who it might have been. I think about my neighbors, about everyone. Don’t they realize how much we need listeners right now? Time’s up? Already? Okay. Thank you.”

“Hello. Thanks for the time. It’s been a rough week. Hey, you’re not looking so good. Long day? I get that. I’ve been working a lot lately. My boss just piles more and more work on me. She gets away with it, too, because the job market is so competitive right now. If I don’t work hard, she can replace me with almost no problems. Corporate found a work-around so they can identify speakers as either talkers or listeners and it helps them get around the EEO requirements. It’s easier for them to hire speakers and listeners to fill all the roles. Being a talker in these times is tough. Time’s up? Already? I remember a day when you had access to a listener all the time. Used to be, that was a right. Alright, alright, I’m heading out.”

“The news is always depressing, but these riots take the cake. Talkers attacking speakers, listeners going up in demand; it all started with the speakers. It was meant to be equality, but now we’re equally screwed.”

“Look at that suicide rate!”

“Annnother, pleaasse. Ssspid massheen. Beerr!!”

“Ha. Speak up. Ha. Save the world. Ha.”

Image by Karen Arnold from Pixabay