Once upon a time there lived a woman who, instead of hearing what people actually said, heard thoughts that swarmed in people’s heads. In her youth, this woman did not even know that what she heard were other people’s thoughts. Only much later, in adulthood, did she understand what was happening, why she got headaches when she talked to people and why it was so unpleasant for her to be around people who said one thing and thought the opposite. Finally, she realized what was happening and decided to stop talking to anyone, just to take a break from other people’s thoughts. For several years she lived in complete seclusion, like a nun, despite the fact that she lived in a big, noisy city. But then Facebook turned up, and although all communication on FB was virtual, she was again pestered by thoughts that were floating around in her FB friends’ minds. There were so many of these unexpressed thoughts, and they spoiled her mood so much, that she decided to turn them into something she could like, and since this woman was very fond of cats, she turned other people’s thoughts into kittens.  As soon as she had completed this transformation, her small house was filled with hundreds of kittens jumping, running, and fighting not only with each other but also with her two favorite cats, the ones that had been cats from the very beginning, that is, the cats that had never been anyone’s thoughts. So, she said her magic formula and ordered the kittens, which previously had been other people’s thoughts, to stop running around and to sit still.

Now, instead of kittens jumping all over the place, she had hundreds of kittens that looked like ancient idols shaped as cats, and this seemed to the woman an ideal solution. This is the thing to do with other people’s thoughts, she said to herself and went to bed. Waking up in the morning, she saw that instead of motionless cats, her house was now teeming with cockroaches. The woman did not like this at all, and she did what any of us would do in this situation. Guess what she did? She decided to kill them, poison them, and that’s just what she did. She went to a store, bought a box with the words “Roach Killer” and poured this Roach Killer into every nook and cranny: under the sink, under the refrigerator, behind the garbage can, etc. Then she waited. As soon as someone else’s thought crawled out in the guise of a cockroach, the woman generously poured Roach Killer powder on it, and the thought immediately put its cockroach belly up and also its paws up, and no longer moved. Thus, by the end of the second day, the floor in the woman’s kitchen was strewn with dead cockroaches, and no one would have guessed that they had been other people’s thoughts on Facebook. The woman took out a broom which she had not used for so long that it took her a while to remember how to sweep the floor. An hour later, the floor was almost clean, and her cats, the ones that had always been cats and not people’s thoughts, happily walked from one end of her small house to the other, feeling like winners in their war with fake cats that had treated them so badly. The woman decided to rest, so she sat down in a chair, enjoying complete silence. Now she had only her own thoughts in her head, and since this felt just right for her, the woman decided not to open Facebook for a while, so other people’s thoughts would not start bothering her again. She spent three happy days in complete tranquility. On the fourth day, she broke her promise to herself and again opened Facebook, and again other people’s thoughts fell on her, but this time she did not turn them into cats, because she knew that other people’s thoughts turned into cats would sooner or later turn into cockroaches. The woman took out a textbook that she had been using for her transformations and opened it on a chapter titled “Transforming Other People’s Thoughts into Objects.”

“That’s what I had to do from the start!” exclaimed the woman. After reading the instructions set out in the book in great detail, she turned other people’s thoughts into nail polish, but since she did not paint her nails and did not have any use for nail polish, she threw the bottles of varnish into the trash, but, having learned her lesson with cockroaches, she threw the nail polish bottles not into her own trash can but into a garbage bin outside. Quite pleased with herself, the woman went to bed. The next morning, she was awakened by a loud knock on the door. She opened the door and saw a policeman.

“Ma’am,” said the policeman. “You are under arrest for disturbing public order — for throwing other people’s thoughts into the garbage in a public place.”

He handcuffed her and took her to а police station. At the police station, the woman was taken to a room the size of a closet and without windows. “Sit here,” she was told. The woman spent the whole day in this closet and when she was finally released, she realized that she had changed. She was like everyone else now. She could no longer hear or even notice other people’s thoughts, and even when the police officer, releasing her, jokingly advised her not to throw other people’s thoughts into garbage cans in a public place, she read nothing in his head except emptiness.

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