I'm doing alphabet ficlets over at my LJ and this one is for a prompt from Anniehow. :)

S is for silence, Toby, The Listener.

Most people take silence for granted - those moments of quiet solitude, where you can think and order your thoughts.

For Toby, it felt like he was never completely alone. He liked to say the secret wasn't in hearing people's thoughts; the secret was in making it stop.

If he relaxed and stood down his self control, the whole world would rush in and it felt like drowning. His personal thoughts were so easily washed aside by those of the people in his immediate vicinity, let alone the thousands of internal voices in a city the size of Toronto. He couldn't count the number of nights he awoke to a neighbour's nightmare or the many times he let his guard down at work. An accidental hit off someone feeling less than well could leave his stomach feeling queasy for hours.

Now and again, when keeping himself together started to feel like too much, Toby would escape. It was Ray's idea originally. Back when he was a frightened boy coming to terms with a lot more than any kid should have to. They'd take a tent and basic supplies and camp in the middle of nowhere, or, in colder weather, they'd find a cabin with cheap rent and the barest of facilities.

There, standing alone under the open sky, with miles of nothing but leaves and rocks and wildlife, he could finally relax, open up his mind to the silence and just be.