Charles never knew it could be like this, that the mountains could be as blue as the sky or the oceans a deep, unfathomable rosy hue that reflected everything that shone on it with an ambience that begot happiness.
It seemed to Charles that the quality of life that he had sought for twenty-seven years was right there in the middle of his head, it wasn’t anywhere else, not at the ends of the world after a twenty-four-hour, cramped, economy class flight; not at the top of the tallest building that tested his fear of heights as the glass elevator ascended and ascended through clouds.
No, it was always with him, together when he slept, when he walked. And soon he would spend most of his time in that internal world of possibilities where anything could happen and indeed most days, something did, something marvellous more often than not, though not always something good.
You see being the type of person Charles was, he didn’t feel he deserved the happiness his mind was presenting to him and so he would, as with a swipe of the hand or as a rubber erases an impermanent chalk board of wise teachings, constantly erase the good bits and focus on the darker, bad bits.
‘Ah yes, that’s much better. Don’t you think Charles?’ said Charles to himself as he saw a large hole opening up behind him in the looking glass. But as he looked behind it disappeared; this unnerved him somewhat, that the unshakeable belief that his mind could, and in fact did dream up possibilities which did not always transfer into real life.
‘What are you doing still up?’ said Lisa, his imaginary wife in the mirror.
‘I’ll be there soon honey,’ said Charles.
‘What?’ mumbled Tracey, his real wife asleep on the bed.
Tracey and Lisa were very much alike, they looked alike, spoke and dressed alike, except Lisa in the mirror was a lot meaner and nastier than Tracey on the bed.
‘Nothing honey,’ said Charles.
‘Well hurry up then, fool!’ said Lisa in the mirror.
The next day at breakfast he inadvertently caught his reflection in the mirror and it seemed odd to him that someone like him would have gone through life for so long without noticing the thing that now glared back at him.
For staring back at him in the mirror, smiling as though it were about to produce right there on top of his head was the largest, most beautiful golden goose he’d ever seen. But no matter how he danced, and tried to grab it, he couldn’t shake it off. He decided to leave it there and see what other people would say but nobody said anything because nobody saw it. But it bothered him. Charles went through the day on edge, anticipating the dropping of golden eggs from above his head or something even worse. He went to the bathroom mirror at work and there still perched on his head was the smiling, golden goose, and behind him stood Lisa, his imaginary wife.
‘What are you still doing with that ridiculous thing on your head! Get it off this second you idiot!’ said Lisa.