Your eyes were dark when we met. They were sharp. My fingers twitched as I shook your hand, wanting to clasp more tightly around it. I took my hand back as soon as I could, resisting the urge to cradle it in my other hand. Trying to tell myself I didn't want to hide the touch of your skin from the eyes of the world, and keep it for myself. I didn't.

I couldn't.

Two weeks later your eyes were darker. The shadows under them were deeper. That sadness had become pain. I wanted to cradle you in my arms and protect you from the world. But no, I didn't- I couldn't do that. So I ignored it- ignored you.

A month after we met, I heard those words. "So you broke up". So few words. So few words, but my heart leapt and took flight at them, trying to break free from the bars of iron I had encased it in. But the bars held. I had built them well. The silence that had anticipated my astonishment fell flat, and became mere silence again.

Two months went by. Two months of my heart beating away at those bars- tearing itself to shreds on them, wings in tatters now, trying to get to you. Trying to heal you. To hold you. I wanted to open the cage, to let it go, to let it fly to your side and keep you from harm. The world was cold and I wanted to keep you warm. But I the world was cold, and the cage was safe. I was scared to open that cage. So scared.

Too scared.

Today, I opened the cage. I opened the cage, and my heart flew out. For a moment, I was so happy to be free to love that I forgot that the world isn't kind to little birds with tattered wings. The arrow came out of no where.

"So... you guys are dating now?"

The frail rib cage of my heart had no defense against that arrow. It flew straight and strong, piercing me through. The pain caught me by surprise- so much so that I couldn't even cry out for the shock that pervaded my body. My heart stopped, its wings frozen.

"Yeah. I guess we are."

It plummeted to the ground, wings breaking as it hit. I gathered up the shrunken, dead body of my heart and put it back in its cage. I closed the door slowly, locking it with a key that I then placed in the hole where my heart had so briefly flown.

I should never have opened that cage.