Enlightened Nihilism

“In the end,” the young philosopher asked his mentor, “would you say there is hope for humanity?”

As the old philosopher opened his mouth to answer, he spotted a young woman moving down the sidewalk toward them in bouncy steps. She wore a bright yellow jacket and carried a black umbrella angled across her shoulder, and she glowed through the mist like a promise.

Suddenly, in her, he could see all the hope of humanity, all the dreams and ambitions, every plot and plan.

As she passed the bar, his gaze came to his own reflection in the window: beard going gray in ragged streaks, hair grown wild, black eyes sunken beneath a wrinkled brow. He flinched at the visage, and tequila shook from the glass over his fingers.

The young woman passed without a glance, and the yellow of her jacket receded quickly into the rainy evening, slipping away like the memory of a dream, a testament to wasted youth.

“Professor?” the young philosopher asked. “Do you—”

“No.” The old philosopher gritted his teeth. “No hope at all.”

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