There is an ocean in my heart. It’s vast and dark and frightening, and it’s always there.

I hate the ocean. In winter, when I wake up shivering in the middle of the night, it throws its freezing hands around me and won’t let go. I want to tell it to go away, go away please, but I am too dizzy to cry out against the rushing torrents.

Most of the time, I don’t actually notice the ocean. By day it is covered with islands of laughter, and my friends light the sky with dazzling stars. Flowers spring up around me as I twirl my toes in the sand. My islands stretch on and on. The darkness won’t find me. The ocean is far, far away from sight.

But at night, the islands vanish. The midnight sea swallows up my heart and spills out of me and fills my little room, and I’m helpless, lost, drowning in the angry water, no laughter left to cling to or stars to follow. Everything is gone, I’ve been abandoned, there is nothing to believe in that might save me from the crashing waves. . .

The covers are pulled up over my head now, but the ocean won’t stop echoing in my ears. I’m still drowning. The waves tower even higher.

I bury my face in a pillow and run down the hall. A soft tapping sound floats out of the room at the end, and the door is partly open. “Oh, hi,” says my older sister, surprised to see me suddenly appear. I inch my way around her and clamber onto her bed. Her room is warm and bright, the blanket smells sweet, and my ocean is gone.

“Fine, stay the night if you want.” She turns back to her work. I am already drifting off. There is no water anymore. When I look down at my feet, I smile. I think I am standing on the mainland.