I had a name once. Not that I could tell you what it was, of course; far too much time has since elapsed. Even so, as I sit here wallowing in the miserable depths of my existence, I can’t help but listen to the indiscernible whispers of my past. They call for me, beg for me to return. Believe me, I’ve tried.
Buzz. The silence tears jarringly through my skull as I stare blankly at what they have shoved before my eyes. Rule, after rule, after injudicious rule. Thousands of them, so it would seem, soaring out from the bulletin like bullets from a gun, straight through my brain and making a swift exit out the other side. ‘Don’t do this’; ‘don’t do that’: it makes me want to scream! Though of course I can’t scream, can I? That’s against the rules too. They have illegalized freedom. Forbidden any form of leisure, enjoyment or right of speech, all for their own pleasure. Ironic, don’t you think?
As I sit here, leisurely cross-legged on the dull white tiles beneath me, I stare up at the mountainous hierarchy and squint in search of the ostentatious moguls at the summit, bathing in their glory. Politicians; plutocrats; professionals with far more power than they truly deserve. It all makes me sick. You know, I remember a time when the idea of a hierarchy was just a myth. Preposterous! Now I’m just a pain, a nuisance pest humming in the ears of the rich. The lucky. No, I’m not jealous. Well, perhaps just a little, but then I have things that they could only dream of. Things only obtainable down here, at the foot of the mountain. Hope.
I don’t meet people like you very often: people who listen rather than telling me to shut up. It’s a lonely life down here, you know, locked in the damp, dark cell of secrets with no way of escaping without being truly imprisoned. Or maybe you’re not listening, how am I supposed to know? I wouldn’t blame you; who in their right mind would talk to me? Nobody, that’s who. I convicted myself, locked myself away and swallowed the key. The rumors are true: I really did do this. Rather this cell than a prison, or so I’d thought, though now I’m having difficulties telling the two apart. I’m afraid I’ve sentenced myself to death.
Stop! Stop it! Stop labelling me! It hurts so much, having the needle-sharp wires of labels shoved carelessly through my skin. They brand us like criminals, a court of alleged “honour” passing false judgment on each and every one of us. His eyes still bear down on me like lazers. His words echo through my brain, a distant yet incomprehensibly close memory that refuses to leave me alone. A bothersome child. This is your life now. Oh, how I screamed at him that day. I told him he was wrong: wrong about my job; my feelings; who I am… I’m not a monster! In fact, I’m a neologist, and no I didn’t make that up. I invent words for a living, and I must say I consider myself quite the “jovaphile” – I’d tell you what that means, but I’m afraid that quite defeats the point. You see, neologism isn’t a talent; it’s pure genius! I’m pure genius! With every word I create I begin to forge a new language: my own, personal language. I am the owner of a glimmer of individuality in a world where individuality has ceased to exist. I am an anachronism.
Or am I?
In all honesty, I don’t know. Who am I? What am I doing here? I ask myself the same questions every day of my life, but every time I come within an inch of grabbing hold an answer I find myself falling. Falling miles and miles towards the end of a bottomless pit. It’s endless. Who are you? What do you want from me? Why does my label say I’m a monster, and why do we wear labels in the first place? Labels are for clothes, not people. Every time we label ourselves our immune systems fight it, only labels are permanent. Without the scissors of an openhearted society we have no way of cutting ourselves free, and believe me this is not an openhearted society.
So, why is it that my label reads “monster” in your handwriting? Come on, Doctor, tell me your diagnosis. Am I diseased? Is it so desperately wrong to for me to conform to so few of the millions of stereotypes that shape our civilization? Tell me, because I really am curious.
Oh, I see: you’ve read my mind. You’ve seen my secrets. So how was it? I like to think of my brain as a living embodiment of Hell, that is, if the brain really is living. I wouldn’t know, I was never entitled to an education in Science. Inside my head rages a vicious wildfire of sins, burning every remaining sense of innocence I once had to a crisp. I don’t know how it feels to be guiltless anymore, in the same way I have forgotten the taste of freedom. Perhaps once upon a time things were different; surely I can’t have always seen my actions as so horrifically unforgivable. So what is it that makes me eligible for such a title as “monster”? Is it the many times I have broken the law by speaking out of turn? Or perhaps it’s because I slept with someone of the same sex.
Doctor… Personally I see you as nothing more than a pretentious dignitary. A judge, just like everybody else in my so-called life. You think you know everything about me, how I came to be the “monster” I am now, when in fact your title is just as meaningless as mine. We’re all human. No one is better, or more important than anyone else – but life is a game of chess to you. Rather than accepting the fact that us pawns are just as human as you, you play us off as a living, breathing sacrifice, all to make yourself better off. You don’t think for a second that, perhaps, it hurts. It’s all just part of the game to you. That’s right, Doctor, I can read your mind too: I guess that’s just another thing we have in common.
You see, I had a name once. Long before this corrupted dystopia arrived, Prisoner 7785 had a life, just like you. Then again, I suppose I can’t really call this a dystopia anymore, not now that I’m here living in it. This is nothing but a corrupted reality in which there is no such thing as respect unless you have the money to buy it, and mark my words I do not want to be part of it.
But I have no choice do I, Doctor? Oh, how it nauseates me to call you that. You’re not a real doctor; if you were, you’d know full well what I truly am. A person, not a monster. A person doesn’t choose who they are; they are born that way and learn to live with it. To force somebody to change who they are would be inhuman, and that is exactly what you’re doing. You are the monster. I had a name once. I had a name, and you stole it from me along with every other tiny fragment of my character that did not conform with your idea of a perfect race. So tell me, who am I? Who do you want me to be?
(June, 2016: GCSE English Language Monologue)