The other morning, Wednesday I think it was, I awoke with a jolt.
I'd been dreaming about the past, as I often do, and my dream self had done something that went against every fiber of my being. Something so wrong that even dreaming about it jerked me awake.
As I laid there, reliving the dream, and trying to figure out where did that come from I felt something shift in my head. Some long-forgotten doorway, nearly rusted shut and completely covered by cobwebs, creaked open. The sound was palpable, and the scene revealed was blinding.
That thing, that horrible thing that I'd just dreamed about, had actually happened.
This particular dream had not been a metaphor for anything - it had been a memory. A reenactment. A playback of something so terrible that I'd somehow managed to block it from my consciousness for over a decade.
I laid there, staring at the ceiling of my bedroom, my heart threatening to leave my chest and go bouncing around the room, and I knew. I had the answer to the most important question I've ever asked myself.
What are you so afraid of?
Koko, having heard my pounding heart or my heavy breathing, rose from his own slumber and came into the room. It knew that late at night was always the best time to torment me.
It all happened so fast.
Just like that which I was remembering had happened so fast.
Koko stared at me for a few seconds, while I matched its gaze with more intensity than I'd ever mustered before, and this time, for the first time, Koko flinched first.
I didn't have to say a word. Koko could see it in my eyes. There was nothing it could ever do to sway me. Nothing it could ever do to lessen my resolve. I did have a reason for my fear, and it was as real as any fear could ever be.
Koko sighed, turned, and left my life as quickly as it had arrived, and I was left alone, completely alone, for the first time in months.
I don't know how exactly long this memory was suppressed, how long it hid dormant in my head. I don't know what triggered its sudden release during a dream. What I do know, what I do know, is that with its release I finally knew what it was that I was so afraid of that I was willing to sacrifice everything to avoid it.
That thing which I feared, it was not apathy, or laughter, or failure, or disappointment. It was not a fear of betrayal, or of disillusionment, or even of outright rejection.
That thing which I fear most, that thing which I buried for so long, that thing which I fought so hard to avoid happening that I even managed to forget it had already happened, that thing...
will have to remain my own secret.
Mine and Koko's actually.