The Protected Heart

Lydia was so cute. The way she laughed at everything, her radiant happiness and carefree attitude filling the room with positive vibes. Besides she was just crazy beautiful. Silas felt his stress, anxiety, and tension leave him every time he was with her. But what did he talk about with her? His work, his hobbies, his life, stories from his past… anything but his feelings. All she did was clean the office, but her bright personality left an impression that was impossible to shake.

Today she came in, and when he apologized about the overflowing trash can she just laughed. Lydia laughed at everything. As she tidied the place, he made a joke with his coworker and he heard her chuckling. He had known for a long time that he only told jokes to overhear that quiet chuckle. She had become important to him. Too important. He cleared his throat and settled down to focus his mind on only his work. He was good at his work. He was the best. That used to be all that it took to make him happy. He always strove to be the best. If he did something, he was the best at it. He never settled for mediocre. That was what brought him happiness… or did it? There had always been a vacancy, an emptiness that he strove to fill with some new hobby, some new job that he could refine until he was the best at that too, an endless cycle… that did not complete him.

Suddenly he was aware that Lydia was right behind him. He turned and looked up. She looked down at him, her cute puppy-dog eyes looking slightly troubled. A new look for her.

“What’s bothering you?” She asked. Innocent question. Who would fault her for that? But he felt himself bristling.

“Nothing!” He almost exclaimed.

She stayed there, her eyes still troubled.

“There’s something wrong, I can tell,” she said. “Why don’t you get it off your chest, I’m a good human for that.” Her smile flashed. He felt his insides lurch. It was a delicious but painful feeling because he instantly repressed them every time.

“You know, you never talk about how you feel,” she said, musingly, “And I think I’ve known you long enough to be nosy about that department.” That smile.

“There’s a reason I never talk about how I feel. I’ve given my heart away 6 times. Every time it made me weak, vulnerable. Then they could hurt me. And they did. Every time. That’s why I never talk about how I feel. And if I did, I wouldn’t talk to you! You mean nothing to me! Nothing! I have a life. Full of people I love and care about. You mean absolutely nothing to me!”

Her face revealed a little hurt which cut him, but she responded, calmly,

“That’s fine! If that’s the case, good! I mean, it’s ok.” She smiled and began to walk away. He felt panic rise.

“You know, I hate you! I’ve never liked you, and I hate you! I hate your attitude and I hate the way you walk and I hate having you in the same room with me! I wish you didn’t work here! You mean nothing! Absolutely nothing! To me.”

She looked slight paler but remained calm. With a gentle smile, she left the room.

His head fell on the desk and real sobs, dry ones, wrenched his chest.

A moment later, she softly returned.

His head remained down for a few seconds before he looked up and said, huskily and jerkily,

“I don’t hate you.”

“I know.”

The curve of her lips formed a familiar smile.

But now it was his.

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