I shrug: "Fine." Because mornings can be tender I am at my most guarded.
"You were talking in your sleep," she says, equal dollops of sweet and worry in her voice. "I tried to ask you questions."
"Oh?" I jot a mental note: build a taller fence. "What did I say?"
Now it's her turn to shrug. "Nothing much. I couldn't really make out what you were saying."
"Good." God, what an asshole. But I mean it: good that she couldn't see my dreams, good that she doesn't know who I was talking to. That colorful world belongs to me.
"Oh, honey," she says, reaching over to touch my hand. "I wish I could take away your nightmares." Out comes the mental notepad: Fence? I meant wall. A fucking wall a hundred feet tall.
I am surprised how quickly I can construct the emotional ice barricade — the slightest display of affection and I go cold inside as I build the wall. It isn't something I intend, or even necessarily want. But it is instinct now, brutal and unyielding. When someone draws close, I pull away — not because I want to, but because I have to. I know no other way right now. It's the only right thing to do. I listen for the melody to stir me from behind the walls, but no one sings the song that only I can hear.
It reminds me of my experiment from last summer, when I decided to test a theory on dating and future relationships. I suspected then I was retired from the game. I had a hard time accepting that fact then, but the internal walls refused to yield and I eventually resigned myself to a life behind them. They don't seem any more apt to fall now; if anything, they are taller now, taller and thicker and colder than before. Which isn't fair, and it isn't right, but it's honest.
Faced with an opportunity forward, a way out of the walls' shadows, I instead turn my face to a distant sun, one that no longer provides light or warmth. Once again the bells ring and my world is in sync. The cold from that once-hot star is a perfect fit for the glacier inside me.