Alex had always been good at keeping secrets.

Her mother's drinking.

Her father's indiscretions.

It's part of what makes her a good lawyer.

Lawyers keep secrets for a living.

Like priests with the penitent, they collect the burdens of their clients and carry them for life. Some secrets keep her up at night. Others allow her to sleep more soundly.

People have all sorts of secrets, she's discovered.

They all have their reasons too, for keeping them buried.

She tries not to think too much about those motivations. It unravels the threads of her carefully woven self-protection mechanisms. When she lays bare the greed, the selfishness, the tangled mire of human emotions… She tries not to pull on those loose ends.

Once you try to get inside of someone else's head, you're asking for trouble.

She has enough trouble of her own to deal with that.

And she has her own secrets, and her own motivations, and she wouldn't want someone else digging too much into those.

Her secret, that one big one that she suspects everybody has, is not nearly as dark as the clients' burdens she carries.

Guilt, innocence, truth, lies, dark, light… they all mix together.

But her secret, her burden, it sits like a stone at the bottom of her ribcage. It nestles there beneath her lungs and stops her from ever breathing too deeply, resting too much, feeling too settled.

She worries about what will happen when someone finally sees through her.

What will happen when her secret is discovered.

The girlish, unrealistic part of her thinks she could find happiness.

The adult, the weathered and worn litigator, the secret-keeper… that part of her knows better. Knows that like all secrets, she keeps hers in the dark to protect herself.

She knows that there are people who keep secrets to protect others. They hide indiscretions and couch the truth in vague terms that border on lies to keep from hurting the ones they love.

But in the end, they're really trying to protect themselves. To protect their lives and relationships from the consequences of the mistakes they've made.

Her secret is like that.

It's protecting someone else.

But ultimately, it's protecting her.

It's shielding her heart, her life, her feelings.

Because she could risk it.

If she were stronger, better, braver…

She could throw her secret into the light, turn the silence into speech, and live with the consequences- whatever they might be.

But she's not that brave.

Not that strong.

She's always been good at keeping secrets.

Why stop now?