“The world builds walls,” said Mr. McGuirk. “Brick by brick, between you and magic.”

She didn’t know what he meant, not in second grade, but she felt it, felt the bright glow within her that she knew was belief. I won’t take that wall, she promised herself, and imagined knocking down the bricks as fast as they could come. Her fingers curled into her palms, the middle finger on her left hand red and swollen from filling in the D’Nealian book.

She grew older.

Years: in high school, on the wide stage at the back of the auditorium, when they call her name she saw the wall, felt the light dimmer. How has it happened? Again, her fingers flexed, hidden inside the wide sleeves of her gown. Her head inside the mortar board felt too large, and too full.

And older.

In college she drank and laughed and smoked in small, dim rooms, high and tight on the springs of a crowded bed, and felt at those moments that the wall was shaking. Swamped with poisons the next morning she would shudder against the memories of those nights, and grew queasy to feel that light shining from her dreams.

She visited her parents, walked past the walls of the school, now weathered and bright with graffiti. The world builds walls, said the wall, and she read, but disbelieved. In her ginny dreams she placed no faith.