She entered the massive stone room, slipping down the stairs and past the pillars until she spotted him standing by the reflecting pool, grasping the edges and gazing into the water.
“You wanted to talk to me?” she asked as she drew closer.
He looked up, and she gasped when she saw the tears streaking his face. “Lasairian, what’s wrong?”
He laughed shakily. “I’m afraid I’m dying.”
“Dying?” She leaned against a corner of the pool. “Las, you’re imaginary; you can’t die.”
“Why aren’t you writing?”
She studied her nails as though they had suddenly turned green. “I…After the girls go to bed is when I have time, but I have…other stuff I want to do, too. I keep meaning to write, though!”
He looked down again, and fresh tears splashed into the pool. “What has taken away your drive? I’m the face, so to speak, of your desire to change the world, to do what you can, to share God’s love. I’m your belief that it’s possible. So what is it that has taken that away; why am I dying?” He stared into her eyes, the blue of his own blazing like the summer sky.
“I’m sorry!” She pushed away from the pool and walked away, getting only a few feet before turning around. “I could blame it on unemployment, the discouragement that brings; I could blame it on laziness; I could blame it on the fact that I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of big effing problems in the world and therefore don’t know where to start; I could blame it on me! I have felt the call, I have heard the words whispering, wanting to be written, and I haven’t. I don’t have a good excuse; I don’t have a good reason!”
He hung his head, and she saw he was under greater strain than she’d first realized. “I’m sorry, Laura, but as your conscience, I can only tell you what you yourself know to be true. I can’t say I don’t wish to upset you, because sometimes upset is the best frame of mind for getting up and getting something done. Worst case scenario is that I’m being selfish by wanting to preserve my life and my strange existence inside your head. A conscience having a selfish thought? I may have to implode now.”
She smiled. “No, don’t implode. That’d probably give me a migraine.”
“Can’t have that.” He finger-combed hair away from his face. “I remember looking into this and seeing what I thought were my memories. Now I look and I have no reflection. That, I think, is what really frightened me, that even though I’m written down, you’re forgetting me. I don’t mind being personally forgotten; I just don’t want to die, and have your hope, your Estela, die with me.”
She nodded. “It won’t. I’ll write, I promise.”
The smile on his face, though she knew it came from her own heart, warmed nonetheless.