My Heart is a Fortress


Nora Lafferty '23, Editor-in-Chief of Creative Writing

The mazes and walls I have built have done their job for years. They stand steady in the face of adversity, stable in the wake of disaster. They took years to build, but the investment was long worth the effort, as I find myself hiding within these walls and their crevices. 


Now, I feel footsteps padding along the cold stone. There is a stranger in the fortress. They explore the hallways donned with memories, the bedrooms filled with regrets. They look over the empty kitchen and dark basement. They sift through each and every diary in the library. I feel their footsteps like I feel the beating of my own heart, sense their presence in each painful memory and thought. 


This place has been empty for eons, untouched by human hands and unaltered by human hearts. There was a time once, when these rooms bustled with activity. They hosted parties and dinners, extravagant get-togethers and rambunctious couples. Now, they host spiderwebs and mice, lonely ghosts and empty closets. I wonder, sometimes, if I made the wrong decision by closing my doors. I miss the music, the cheers, the vibrance. 


But then, I remember the screaming, fighting, burning. I remember all the pain and sorrow that I do not miss. Yes, this place has been untouched for years, and I think it’s for the best. In the years of silence, the broken walls were repaired. Stained glass windows are no longer shattered, grand halls no longer trashed with lingering signs of life. The fortress itself is nicer than it has been in years. I am not embarrassed of the pretty masonry or decoration that I have adorned recently. I am frightened of the idea of it all being torn to shreds again. 


There is someone in the fortress. He is not a stranger, I realize. He knows me, and I know him. I was welcomed into his fortress long ago, led through the halls and ushered towards the diaries and locked chests. Now, he sifts through the journals, makes his way from room to room. 


There is someone in my fortress. He does not shatter windows or trash my rooms. He does not scoff at my handwritten stories or my watery memories. He reads with intent, looks with fascination. He picks up the empty notebook, cover engraved with his own name. He does not toss it into the flames. 


There is someone in my heart, and I think I would like for him to stay.