What of the goodness in this world?

Iris sipped the coffee. “I suppose. But entering your own heart… well, isn’t it different from entering someone else’s?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Because you know yourself.”

“Do you really?”

“Well…” Iris looked down into the thin abyss of dark liquid.

Lewis laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “People think that of all the things in the world, they know themselves best. But let me ask you this. You spend every waking hour in your own mind, in your own thoughts— how do you know that you aren’t just fooling yourself? When I was a young boy, I used to tell myself certain things, like ‘it’ll get better.’ Positive thoughts. And then none of it came. I didn’t realize my own hopelessness until my mother spoke to me one day, the day before she died, and said, ‘It will not get better unless you do something. You have to leave.’ And so I stopped fooling myself and I did something. And things got better.”

“I’m sorry,” said Iris. “I didn’t know.”

“No need to apologize. It was typical. Drunk man beats his wife to death, nearly gets away with his son. There are millions of horror stories in this world and millions of people who live within clear sight of those horrors and they don’t see. I went marveling at their abilities to create fantasies. I wanted to do the same. I wanted to live in magic and marvel at reality, because I thought that magic couldn’t possibly hurt as much as reality. Dragons, fairies, shapeshifters. I believed in them because I had nothing else to believe in.”

“What of the goodness in this world? It has its terrors, but then again, even the dark has its bit of light, however faraway.”

“You’re right,” said Lewis, half smiling. “It was only a guise. Every year, I tried to return to reality, to search for smidgens of light, and in my shed I painted the walls with hopeful news. ‘Man saves child from train tracks,’ ‘woman donates kidney to daughter,’ those rare gems. I bought poetry books that spoke of beautiful things, like Rilke’s poems. But the world was always ahead of me, and it rarely spat out goodness. Terrorism, shootings, violence, a trail of broken people. Oh, Iris, what I would give to be able to see the world as you see it. The questions, the wonder, the lovely thinking—oh, the beautiful, naive thinking.”

Writing month, day sixteen, word count: 14,829


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