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We've Lied

Admit it, the idea has occurred to you before. Maybe this entire world revolves around you. Maybe everything is an intricate illusion. Maybe you're the only actual person on a show about your life that the universe watches. You quickly dismiss the thoughts, never vocalizing them. Only sociopaths and narcissists would think such a thing.
That was Rick's idea. It's not egotistical at all to have those thoughts. They're right. The clues are all there. But Rick suggested that we make such a thought seem self-involved. We created platitudes about humility and instructed our craziest characters to articulate similar theories so that you would be ashamed of forming your own. Rick turned out to be right.
We even got so bold as to make a movie about the exact details of this lie, and you still didn't get it. We all had a good laugh about that one.
You've doubted yourself for other reasons, too. You think your life is boring. If someone was going to be the subject of a show that the universe watches, she'd be an astronaut or a heroic cop or a human cannonball or something, you've decided.
That one was Shirin's idea. Astronauts are boring. They just float around space all day. All of those cop and doctor shows that everyone but you seems to watch? No one watches them. We created them and created people to watch them to throw you off of our scent. Cops and doctors are boring, too.
Nothing is so interesting to us as those little moments that you take for granted. We are fascinated by the facial expressions you make as you try to figure out the name of an old acquaintance before he realizes that you have forgotten it. We squirm in delight and sympathy when a waitress says, "Enjoy your lunch," and you reply, "You too," before beating yourself up for it for the next twenty minutes. The moment you noticed that the look of love in your partner's eyes had been replaced with a blank gaze just shred us to pieces. (We were surprised it took you two seasons to recognize it, but we also adore you for your unwavering hopefulness.)
You can never know any of this, of course. We can shout it at our screens, but nothing else. We have voted in the twist of self-awareness for a subject before and it ruined everything. We'll never make that mistake again. Some of us are torn up about the secret, but we all know it is essential. Still, during times like this, we wish we could be there to talk to you, to cheer you up.
As you walk out of the conference room with your head down, you wonder if anyone has noticed the embarrassing flub of words you made ten minutes ago. "We all noticed," we want to say. "And it's okay."
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 24th, 2016

Author Comments

Ever since the Truman Show was released (and probably before that), it seems like everyone has at one point entertained the idea that he or she is the unsuspecting protagonist of a television show about their life. Usually this thought is followed by "But my life is way too boring." I've always been fascinated by this contradiction. We all think we are super boring and yet we all secretly feel that there is something super special about ourselves that no one else can see. So I attempted to create a world that provides a logical explanation for this irrational but very human dichotomy.

- Bob McHugh
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