"That was a long time ago.
I’ve changed. I am not the same person you knew," she said.
"I don’t believe that. People don’t change; they just become more like themselves. I know you. I believe you are still the same person," he said.
"I am not. I have done ... I do things you would not approve of," she said.
"Do you do them because they are right?" he asked.
"Do you do them because they are good?" he asked.
She lowered her eyes, "No."
"Do you do them because you are hurt, angry, upset and frustrated? Lashing out at an unfair universe?"
Her eyes moved to look into his. Searching him, probing the years, his convictions. They no longer shone with the brilliance of youth. There were wrinkles around them and gray in his eyebrows. He was older. She was too. Everyone was. The idealism and hope and optimism of youth a long and distant memory. As she searched, the years between them seemed, for an instant, to vanish and she was back in a happier and more innocent time and place; a place where hopes and dreams of the future abounded.
He continued, "You did not act. You reacted."
He took her hand and drew it toward him, "If I prick you, if I pinch you, will you not react? Will you not pull your hand away from mine, through no volition of your own?"
She smiled a sad smile, the smile you give a child who innocently persists in hoping against hope. "Life changes us."
"No, we get confused. Deceived. We hurt for so long that we confuse our reactions for actions. Some can confront their pain longer or better than others, but keep the pain up long enough, increase its intensity or severity and we all stop acting and begin reacting."
Writing fragment #137 (actually, no, I don't number or track my fragments).
[Update on 06-November-2007 @ 22:14 to fix a typo.]