He walked to the mirror. He looked into his own eyes and hated what he saw there.
He’d been a man once. He’d fought in wars, hard as that may be to believe today, looking into that fat, weak face. A fat, weak man in a fat, weak world.
He looked at himself and wondered what had become of him. He’d been something once. At least, he imagined he had been. Maybe that too was an illusion.
Regardless…now, he was nothing.
A man can’t speak about such things clearly and openly. To do so only compounds the pain and humiliation. A man is meant to suffer in silence, or else to disappear.
And he wanted to disappear. He wanted to fade into the fold. He couldn’t, though. People were counting on him.
For the people counting on him he would go on. There are only two choices, really, and he’d not be one of those to take the other, though he never blamed those who did.
For him, though, there was but one choice, from the day he was born: Onward.
For that one choice, he’d have to rebuild himself. He’d have to find the man he’d once been, if such a man had ever existed.
And if that man had never existed? Well, then he’d have to create him brand new.
Because his life was not his own. It never had been. He had no right to loathe himself. Self-loathing is self-indulgence, and fat and weak as he might be, self-indulgence was a sin he’d not permit himself.
He turned away from the mirror, this man who wasn’t one. He looked out the window. Mountains loomed on the horizon.
To the mountains he would go and he would not return until he’d found the man he imagined he’d once been. Or, he would die out there, and he would be happy to die out there, for what is a man but his life and what is a life but the way it ends?
Hard wisdom, but life is only easy to those who accept fatness and weakness.
He walked outside and faced the mountains. They were far away. It would be days or weeks before he even got to their foothills. He started walking.
Behind him hung the mirror, empty now of everything but the room he’d once stood in.