Earnest stood in front of the full length mirror admiring his reflection. He had just bought the mirror. It was held in a pine frame by two hinges, and could be titled at an angle. The little shaving mirror in the bathroom only reflected back his face. Now he could see his whole body. He was surprised at how slim he looked.
Suddenly he noticed a hole. It was a small black hole of an indefinable shape, just over the space where his heart was.
"A black spot on the mirror," he thought, as he licked his finger and rubbed the offending mark. It remained. Twisting his head downwards, Earnest fixed his eye on the black spot. Tentatively he touched it, gasping as his finger disappeared inside.
Anxiously Earnest called his mother on the telephone. He greatly admired her wisdom, and was sure that she would know what to do. She always had the perfect solution for holes in his socks and in the elbows of his jumpers.
"Mum, I have a hole," Earnest got straight to the point. He wasn't one for small talk. "It's not a hole in my socks or in the elbow of my jumper. It's in me."
"Oh Earnest," said his mother, "I hoped that you wouldn't notice it. Lots of people have them. It is best to ignore it - just cover it up with something. It won't go away, but it's nothing to get worried about."
Lots of people have holes? Earnest had never noticed, but then he rarely looked very carefully at anyone. Despite his mother's wise words, Earnest was worried. What if the hole got bigger? What if things fell into it?
Earnest was scared. At work the next day he was careful not to bump into anyone. He stared at the people he worked with, seeing holes in everyone. One lady, who worked behind the reception desk, slapped him because she thought he looked too long at her ample cleavage. More than one of his colleagues commented that he was behaving very strangely.
That evening after work, Earnest decided to go to the library. He hadn't used his library ticket for a while and it took him some time to find it in his wallet. There were shelves full of books that had been written by people who had tried to fill in their holes. Some climbed high mountains, or sailed over stormy oceans. Others played sports, collecting medals and trophies, one after another. One lady wrote about travelling to a monastery in Tibet, twisting her legs into an uncomfortable position and mediating for hours on end. A young man wrote about the films he had starred in and his acting awards.
Filling his hole wasn't going to be easy, thought Earnest. He was not like any of these people. Earnest couldn't find a single book that he thought might be of help. Sadly, he left the library, tucking his unused ticket back into his wallet.
Earnest walked carefully along the road and down some stairs into the subway station. Normally Earnest strode confidently along, ignoring the buskers plucking out tunes on battered guitars, and the homeless people curled up on blankets, holding out paper cups. That day Earnest was carefully looking at everyone he saw. He was looking for just one person without a hole.
He couldn't just cover it up as his mother suggested, and finding something to fill his hole looked to be impossible.
The train rumbled through the labyrinth of tunnels, beating out a noisy rhythm against the tracks. "No hope. No hope. No hope. No hope."
Earnest felt the trickle of a tear falling down his cheek. Embarrassed he rubbed his eyes, quickly glancing about to see if anyone had noticed. A man just across from where he was sitting was looking at him intently. He wasn't looking at Earnest's tear stained face, but at the hole. Earnest blushed deeply and felt very ashamed.
"I know someone who can help you fill your hole," the man said gently. "I used to have an empty hole, just like yours." He pointed to the place just above his heart. Earnest looked. Instead of an empty hole, this man's heart was overflowing with kindness and love.
"Let me tell you about the man who can help." With this he took out a small dog-eared Bible from his pocket and began to turn the pages.