“Well?” she asked, green eyes smiling under a mass of white hair. “Do you want the story… or the truth?”
The boy blinked. He hadn’t prepared for anything… profound. Most of the time, an adult (even a great-grandparent) had sat him down with the notion of “Alright now, listen to this and GO TO SLEEP.” He knew, for instance, that B always came after A; and that the hero was generally allowed to kill or break whatever got in his way, and that the girl was always waiting for him since she had nothing better to do.
But this? The story? The truth? He tried to concentrate as he nursed his glass of milk.
“Um… which one is more exciting?”
She pursed her lips and sucked at her teeth for a few seconds.
“Well now… that all depends on what excites you. There is Dark in the story. We revel in it. The Dark is engulfing, and comforting. It fills in the cracks and holes of life. When we sink into darkness, in sleep, our minds create and live in stories.
Yet there is Light in the truth. It illuminates and cleanses, and sometimes is uncomfortable. When we are awake, we argue the Light; especially our own version of it.
It is said that Light travels fast, little one. Faster than anything. But wherever the Light goes, the Dark is there. Waiting. This is not a battle, so much as a… balance.”
His eyes were wide as he contemplated the universe at large for the first time. He felt as though he was vaguely in trouble for something he couldn’t remember doing.
“So,” she said, “choose.”
Her mouth turned up the wrinkles in its corners.
“Which one? The story… or the truth?”
The boy looked at her for a few seconds, testing invisible waters.
“Why can’t we have both?”
Her eyes widened slightly.
Her head cocked back as she laughed.
“Oh!” she said, still chuckling. “There may be hope for you yet.”
He grinned and sipped his milk.
“I’ll do you one better than the story or the truth.”
He leaned in closer.
“I’m going to tell you what’s real.”