So, you probably know this, but it isn't mineā€¦

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All people, everywhere, want the same thing. Sure, they call it by different names, names like family and career and home. People claim to have unique desires, as if wanting something better than your neighbor wants somehow makes you better. But people are liars, and people are wrong.

All anyone really wants is to have something that is real and theirs, simultaneously.

Reality is hard to come by, these days, but ownership is not. So people collect and collect and own and own. Mountains of nothing. Palaces of it. And none of it is real, so the richest king and the poorest pauper will keep on desiring.

He was no different, being human, after all. And growing up in a veritable museum of crushed hopes and the finest nothings money could buy had not done a thing to alleviate his longing.

Death was real. Easy, too, in the scheme of things. But no one wanted to make it theirs. No one but loonies and sad souls who gathered and gathered their nothings together until they were too tired to pretend they were somethings.

He was tired, too. Deeply exhausted, but he didn't know how to quit.

He made jokes to take the edge off the reality of it. He laughed to make it all seem fake. And he went home at night to pour his whole being into believing that the flickering screen held something close to real. It kept him alive.

It was harder than it looked.

Armed to the teeth with dates and plotlines, titles and charm smiles, he did battle each day with what is real. Unalterably and undeniably. With what he loathed and feared and prayed for in turns.

He wasn't a miserable man. He wasn't even an unhappy one, not really. He had family and career and home. He was a good enough pretender to believe, sometimes, that they were real and they were his.

So sometimes, a lot of the time, the smiles weren't even pretending. And sometimes he was happy. Sometimes he could look at his life and be proud of the good he did and the people, honest and loyal people, who loved him back. Sometimes. Most of the time.

And those times were mostly enough to chase away the doubts that came as he looked death in the eye. Those occasional moments of uncertainty when the camera flash was bright enough to blank out the lies and leave knowing in their place.

They were always gone in an instant, vanishing with the light that brought them, and long hours pouring over the photographs showed only the empty remnant of another empty life. Truth could not be so caught out, restrained to a carbon copy of a moment. Truth was real and so he longed for it, almost desperately.

But truth would not be his.

In the wake of those moments of wide-eyed searching, he inevitably found himself mentioning some movie or other. Smile firmly back in place, stomach churning somewhere in the vicinity of his kneecaps, he watched the credits roll on his life. And he prayed. He begged for it to mean something. Anything. Please.

But he was no Pinocchio, and what is fake can not be made real.

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Hope you enjoyed my end-of-exam-week celebratory one shot! Please, please review, even if you hated it (I'm clearly not above begging.) thanks for reading!