I can start a war or end one. I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless. I might be snared with a glance but no force can compel me to stay. What am I?
He managed to do it! But this world is better off not knowing how, so I won’t tell you who he is or where we were that night. As for what he did, that is the most important thing you can ever know. “I can teach you if you like” he said to me. To explain the deed, you need to know who he was, before. This man loved and hated. He was elevated with his wins and crushed underneath his losses, until now. You see, he managed to extract his emotions. No joy or empathy or hatred. Just this. Just a Tin Man. And if only he had a heart.
“Are you kidding me” I exclaimed. “You sold your soul! Just to be soulless! Why in God’s name would I want that!? Why do you even want to teach me? I thought the heartless couldn’t want”?
“Greater purposes call for greater numbers. I need you to be just like me. And you do too” explained The Tin Man.
He was completely insane! So I said “You aren’t going to understand this, but the idea makes me sick to my stomach. You’re not happy or elated or even blue! You’re just…white”.
I could see The Tin Man’s vapid eyes registering what I said but being numb to the sentiment. “Tell me,” he retorted quickly “have you never wanted all those insanities gone? Pain hate loss guilt.”. I thought to myself ‘Of course not…I mean, other than mom dying, which still hurts. Then there are the times I think of the mistakes I’ve made. And sometimes life just keeps piling up problems.
Shamefully, my silence was his answer. Maybe life is easier like him. Maybe what’s beating in my chest is beating me down. Maybe…”No” I said. “No, we need to feel. You’ve lost your love for the little things. Like buying a big chocolate bar for yourself. Looking at art. Fuck it, looking at seagulls. You may not be able to feel it, but you have my pity”.
“I am the apex of humanity,” replied The Tin Man calmly “so why would I buy a chocolate bar”?
I wanted to say to him “Case and point” but he wouldn’t understand. There had to be a translation from my world to his. It was then that the riddle came to mind. So I made a deal with him. If he couldn’t answer my riddle, The Tin Man would leave and never return. But if he could, I would slice out every speck of my soul, becoming a functional nothing. He agreed so I began. “I can start a war or end one. I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless. I might be snared with a glance but no force can compel me to stay. What am I”? As he paused I considered would losing my emotions hurt? Then I thought to myself ‘only when I’m losing them, not when they’re lost’.
“…Nothing has that kind of power” said The Tin Man.
“One thing does” I said with a grin. There was a pause and his head tilted to the side, like being wrong was a new concept to him.
After a few seconds he said “It…it’s a trick. The riddle has no answer. You are lying”.
“The answer”, I said “is love”.
Because I had the answer to the riddle, I mourned when we parted.