Small Talk

by Anonymous

I wonder who invented British small talk.

‘How’s it going?’

(I woke up this morning and I felt so anxious I couldn’t get out of bed for an hour and a
 half and looking at my phone watching it get later and later made it worse because 
every minute that ticks by is one I could and should spend working or doing something 
with my life that isn’t just being a lazy little shit who can’t get anything right and –)

‘Yeah, not too bad, thanks; how about you?’

I wonder how it cottoned on, how it became so ingrained in our culture.

‘I haven’t seen you for ages; we should catch up soon!’

(You haven’t seen me because I can’t face talking to people right now
 because I just know that they’ll take one look at me and I’ll be revealed for
 the fraud that I am pretending that everything is fine and that I know what 
I’m doing and where I’m going and why I’m here and I can’t I can’t I can’t –)

‘Yeah, just been super busy recently!’

I wonder when it became a script we had to follow, a dance shared between equally stoic partners.

‘Lovely weather today, isn’t it?’

(I’m too busy trying not to throw up as I run between everything I’ve signed myself 
up for as a distraction to look at the sky and see how blue it is or feel the sun on my 
skin and just breathe for a minute but you don’t have time for that remember there’s
 always things to be done so I just put my head down and walk on autopilot –)

‘Yeah, nice to have some sunshine for once!’

I wonder what it would be like to deviate from the norm,
 what the response would be to an unexpected stimulus. 

‘How’s the work going?’

(I’m so organised it’s a joke no one would ever believe me if I said I sit down to write an essay and I 
can feel my limbs freeze tying me to my chair until it’s done because I’ve blocked out that time to
 do it and it has to be done otherwise everything will fall apart and the classes are just me constantly
 embarrassing myself with my incoherent babbles – I can’t believe people have to listen to me –)

‘It’s a bit tough, but the content is interesting.’

I wonder where an honest, unafraid answer would take me.

‘Hey, you alright?’

(I’m so sick of wearing a mask and following a script and not living but surviving to
 get from one checkpoint to another and counting time through essays instead of
 through memories and existing to be so perfect and put together when in reality I
 just want to snap and shatter and not worry about cleaning up the mess left behind –)

‘No, not really.’

I wonder why I waited so long.

‘Come on, let’s talk about it.’

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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