Well, naturally, when I said I would “keep my word,” I didn’t specifically mean that I would “keep it exactly to the letter.” What I meant was, all things being equal, etc., etc., I would try very hard to do what I said I would do. It’s just that things don’t always turn out just the way you anticipated, you know. It’s a sad fact of life, but sometimes promises have to be broken. I mean, it’s a matter of personal survival. I have to do what’s best for me, after all. And I simply can’t be held responsible for this situation.
The truth is, you shouldn’t always believe everything that you hear. People say things, sometimes, with the best of intentions, without really expecting to be kept to them. It’s a sad fact, I know, but one you’ll have to get used to. Has no one ever told you it’s a vicious world out there? Everyone is just looking out for themselves, ready to tear your throat out if you get in the way of what they want, ready to eat your liver right through your shirt. There is no mercy, no forgiveness. I didn’t make it that way, but I have to survive in it just the same.
Look, when I was younger, I had the same foolish ideas you do. I would throw myself in front of bloodied jaws to save another. I would put my arm around the shoulders of the wounded, the lonely. But then the scars started to appear, one after another. Every morning I would wake up and look at myself in the mirror, and another pale scar would be etched into my skin.
Some people will tell you that the children we were are just smaller versions of who we are now. On my best days, when I don’t think about things too much, I believe this is true. I like to believe that. But on my worst days, I think perhaps that child was a complete person in himself. And I’m so afraid that that child who painted pictures and saved earthworms from drowning, and who believed it was important to keep promises was himself a promise that was never kept, a promise put off and put off and finally… gone. And in his place, in front of the mirror, stands a man covered in scars, carefully explaining what is and is not possible.