Guarded heart

“We need to talk” His father says as he leans a shoulder against the doorframe to his room.

He hates those words. There is no conversation in the entire world that ends good after starting with “We need to talk” It doesn’t matter if they’re delivered harshly or softly, the person you say it to will automatically brace for disaster.

“About?”

He crosses his fingers and prays to a God he’s not sure he believes in that this won’t be something horrendous. Because he knows this is what people say  before delivering bad news. It’s what his father started with the night his mother died in a car crash three years ago.

His father crosses his arms over his chest and leans more heavily against the frame before he takes a deep breath. “It’s about the person you’ve turned into lately” He sighs in disappointment. “Going out with a different girl every weekend. That’s not like you, Ben”

“That’s not how we raised you”

He cringes inwardly. Not just in embarrassment to actually have this talk with his own father, but also in shame. Because his father is right; going out with a new girl every weekend is not him. He is better than that, and they both know it.

“You know you’re hurting Nina when you do this, right? That girl is so in love with you it’s almost painful to watch. I though maybe you were in love with her too.  What happened?”

“I know I’m hurting her, I just- I don’t know. ” He drags a hand across his face, leaning back into the chair with defeat. “What if I let her in and she decides I’m not worth it? I don’t think I can handle another heartbreak”

He keeps his eyes on the ceiling, not wanting his father to know how much it affects him. His mother was the only one he showed his weaknesses and faults to. She’s the one he talked to about his problems, his fears, dreams and hopes. But she’s gone now, and while he knows his dad is there – it’s not the same.

“You’re so much like her sometimes” His father tilts his head slightly, a soft smile forming on his face. “Your mother was the exact same way. I used to joke about how I had to practically jailbreak her heart out of the guarded prison she’d put around it. Only it wasn’t a joke. Your mother had barb wired fences planted firmly around her heart. That and military men with machine guns, ready to shoot every intruder who dare come too close”

“What changed?” He asks.

He won’t ever tell his dad, but he loves hearing stories about them, about their love. It gives him hope. It gives him something to strive for. If he finds a love like theirs he’ll be the luckiest man out there.

“I have no idea. Whenever I asked her about it she just smiled and told me that she’d fired a few guards or that she’d cut a hole in the fence for me” He chuckles lightly, shaking his head a little at the fond memory. “I think it was her way of telling me to not lose hope, and that she was really trying to let me in”

“So that’s your advice? Let my guard down?”

“No. I’m saying you should stop protecting yourself from something that has the potential to make you happy”

He pushes off the doorframe with his shoulder then, turning slightly to walk away, his fatherly advice given for the day. But then he stops and turns again. “It will hurt like hell, but it will be worth it”

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