“Selfishness is human nature.”
The words are stale, having been repeated and restated and reshaped a thousands time over. A few of the surrounding workers roll their eyes at each other, eating steadily through their breakfast, but that’s all they do. Their work will start soon, there’s no point in trying to stem the lecture now.
“Selfishness is human nature.” The young woman leans over the table, resting her weight on her hands and pushing forward. Her eyes are too wide, her smile too sharp, her words too rehearsed. She’s not completely mad, Lena thinks, but she’s clearly on her way.
“Putting your needs first, concentrating on what your mind and body demand above everything else, that’s just evolution,” Not-Quite-mad says, the words tripping out of her mouth, tangled yarn spilling outward in hopes of being untangled. Lena takes a bite of her cold oatmeal and listens, just like every other morning.
“Now, self-obsession, that’s the real problem. They’re different, you see! Completely separate. One is earned through years of self-preservation and instincts, but the other is a product of arrogance and ignorance. You steal the bread from another because of selfishness, but you pawn off the responsibility of that to the government due to self-obsession. If the government just did their job, you wouldn’t have to steal. If they just did their goddamn job, you would never resort to such things, because you’re such a good person.”
Not-Quite-Mad is halfway out of her seat, eyes watering from not blinking for half a minute.
Lena takes a glance at the clock mounted to the plain gray walls. Forty-five seconds, actually. No wonder the girl was going blind.
“Being a good person to some people doesn’t block out the bad you do to others. You don’t get to claim to be a good friend to everyone, then turn around and be an asshole to your best friend.”
“But what if you’re an excellent friend to everyone else?” Lena asks, pushing her oatmeal away. It’s nasty, as always. “You can’t base a persons worth on their treatment of one person, especially when it’s the odd man out.”
“Oh yes you can. People remember the ugly long after they’ve forgotten the pretty. The world will remember you by the worst things you did. And that’s why good people don’t exist. Only bad and s0-s0.”
“That’s a big thing to say,” Lena says, standing up and swinging her leg over the bench. Her work will be starting in a minute, the queue is building by the entryway.
“Only for those who call themselves good people. And you’ll find that most of them? They’re the worst of all. Because they actually believe it.”
Lena leaves with a flimsy wave, Not-Quite-Mad cackling shrilly at the empty table.