When you are afraid of the day, the alarm goes off in your head minutes before the real one sounds. Your eyes open and you watch the seconds pass, piling fear on your dread.

You remember all the other times your day included a parent’s funeral, a child’s surgery, a speech too big for your ability, an argument bound to occur that very day. If you wake up and get up, it will only be a matter of time before the reason for your dread is holding your face in its hands.

But still you sleep. You are so practiced in the art of delay, so good at staging the frightful things. You know how to stave off dread. You sleep.

Nothing bad can happen when you are sleeping.

You reach for the person you are sleeping with and feel his back in the dark. He is not afraid of anything, so for that moment when you are touching his back, you are not afraid either.

If you wake, you see his chest rising and falling, his breathing the constant through everything that can happen. Nothing changes, no alarm sounds.

The sleeping protects you. Until morning, just before the alarm sounds, when dread rolls through the open window and settles over your just-awake head.

You were shielded in your sleep but now you are on your own.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream.”