Some nights, as the writer’s about to go to sleep, she hears a voice. Something random. A snippet, a tannoy announcement, a passing comment, an opinion from a radio presenter. It invades her thoughts loudly, briefly and unannounced and is then gone. As time goes on, the voices become more frequent. More direct. They form sentences. People she doesn’t recognise. At first it’s one, then two, then three people are talking. Conversing. Sometimes arguing. They don’t wait until night anymore. It’s day time now. At work, on the bus, in the car, walking down the street. They’re shouting to be heard. They have opinions on politics, culture, society. They have a past, desires, regrets and hopes. They have fears and wonders. She feels it all. The empathy. As they talk amongst themselves about that accident, that illness, that day their kids were born she listens, eavesdropping in her own mind, feeling the joy, and heartbreak and concern. On social occasions she suffers from disassociation, a low throb, apparent deafness. People talk and say things. They make comments, ask questions, probe her about her life but she can’t properly hear them. The plates clatter, but from a dulled distance. The lights are bright, but obscured by grey noise. Everything she touches feels like rubber. The words people say are proper words but don’t make proper sense. She can’t filter, assimilate the information, she can’t engage because she has the conversations going. And going. And going. At first, it’s a concern. A mental illness? A brain issue? But she doesn’t think so. It’s something else. Because it has a burn attached. A physical urge to do something with the information, the stories, the tales, the fascinating lives. It’s a delicious secret in some ways. This other world, these other people, this other universe where strangers meet to exorcise, to explore, to vent, pontificate, relieve the burden of their conscience. And then one day it’s too much, too loud, there is no room to think, no space to talk, no chance of work. She must do something, address this crowd and see what it is they want. And it soon becomes obvious. They want to be recorded, to be listened to and written down. To be put into context and order. They want their lives to have a meaning, a story to be told, a chapter of their existence allowed into the physical world. She begins with a line. The first line she hears. It seems the best place to start. As the room goes silent and the white noise of reality is blocked out she listens, and she hears it, and records.