The city became toxic to me, and I knew there was only one thing that I needed to do. Run away. For Alicia to tell me I was falling in love scared the crap out of me. So much so that I called my mother. She was going to be picking me up from the train station in Philadelphia later that night. My bags were packed, all of my appliances were turned off, King was under the watchful protection of Alicia, and I took one last look around my apartment. I didn't know when the next time I would see it would be. After my little breakdown at work, my boss allowed me to take as much time as I needed, which was greatly appreciated. As I got downstairs, I knew I couldn't just leave Max without letting him know I didn't die. I'm sure he would have figured it out on his own anyways, but still I couldn't just leave without letting him know I was okay. Hopefully the time we spend apart, he will find some new girl, and let me fall back into my old lifestyle of being sure of what I want in my life.
I stopped at the Starbucks, grabbing my usual. I pulled a pen out of my purse and quickly scribbled a note to Max on a napkin. 'Max, I'm sorry, but I'm running away for awhile. Don't know when I will return. Lil.' I kept myself from writing 'P.S. I'm leaving because I might be in love with you', just thinking of the word was making my stomach weak. I walked to his apartment and wanted to throw up as I rode the elevator up. I stopped in front of his door and for a moment I was questioning what I was doing. Why was I running away? The door behind me opened and snapped me out of my trance, I bent down and slid the napkin under his door with the help of a bobby pin. I quickly headed back to the elevator, which Max's neighbor nicely held open for me. "Suitcase, note under Max's door, are you breaking his heart?" the guy laughed and I looked over at him. "I'm only doing what's best for the both of us," I smiled then looked back at the numbers ticking down. I wanted to kick myself, were those tears I felt on my face? I quickly wiped them away with my sweatshirt sleeve, but that didn't stop them. I felt the guys arm hit mine and looked down to see he was offering me a tissue. "Thank you," I mutter. "This must be the first time you've fallen in love, and you're scared. Sometimes getting away to think about it, outside of your element is the best thing to do. Hopefully Max will understand," he explained to me and I could only look at him and smile. What the hell does this guy know?
A seven hour train ride gave me plenty of time to think of what I wanted to tell my mom when I saw her. I never went home voluntarily, so I'm sure she's twiddling her thumbs wondering what's wrong. I didn't know what to think on the ride to Phillie, at some points I regretting going to my parents instead of going somewhere else, alone. I knew I was the child that fucked up in my mother's eyes. My older sister was her angel. Married with two beautiful children that were housing Lucifer inside of their bodies. I was the black sheep of the family. Dyed my hair black right after I graduated high school, moved to Pittsburgh and started getting tattoos. I'm pretty sure my mom was more pissed off about dying my toe-head blond hair black then she was the tattoos. Then of course, I didn't go to college. I was the failure, and my mother blamed it on herself. That's why I left the city. It tore me apart hearing my mother beat herself up for me not wanting to be in the 'norm'.
"Miss, miss we're in Philadelphia," I heard a man whisper to me all while shaking my shoulder. I opened my eyes and saw that most of the people on the train were already gone. Oh damnit, I fell asleep. I didn't have time to mentally prepare myself for my mother. I grabbed my bag, and the gentleman handed me my suitcase. I climbed off the train and headed into the station. I looked around and didn't see her anywhere. Wonderful, she probably forgot. "Lily!" I turned around and saw her come out of the bathroom. At that moment I wished she really did forget. "Hi mom," I forced a smile on my face and pulled her into a hug.
The moment I get back to Pittsburgh, I'm going to knock on her door and tell her how I feel. I was just hoping that when I saw her, I would be able to decipher all of the feelings going on in my body and translate them into words for her. How does one describe the feeling of your stomach being rung out like a wet rag? Twisted and turning, making you double over in pain. How can I talk to her though when every time I see her I lose my breath and have to gasp for air? How do I tell her she makes me feel like I'm suffocating in a zip-lock bag that's sitting on top of a stove? How does one take those feelings, turn them into words and make it sound somewhat romantic. Most of all, how can I hear how she replies when every time I see her all I can hear is Diana Ross singing ballads in my ears!? I had two hours before we touched down in Pittsburgh to come up with something good to say.
I started writing out a script, but when I read it back to myself it sounded so fake. This was not going to be easy. "What's this?" Flower asked as he snatched it out of my hands. "Fleury, don't. Please," I pleaded clenching a fist. "Talbot, relax if anyone knows how to truly win the heart of a woman it's me." He looked down at the napkin I had been scribbling on for the first hour of the flight. After a few dreadful minutes Flower handed the napkin back to me and just shook his head. "I'm happy for you Talbot, but this, this won't do. You're making it sound like what women want to hear, but from what you've told me, she's not like other women. You need to throw that away and just tell her everything when you see her. Tell her what she puts you through. Ask her if she feels the same way. You have to throw everything out there, or you'll regret that you didn't." I hung my head and crumbled the napkin in my hand. Who was I kidding, I was a playboy, I wasn't breed to fall in love.
The roads felt empty, fresh snow blanketed over the city and there were still New Years decorations hanging up throughout the streets. Something felt missing though, what was wrong with the city? I sped home because I wanted to shower before I saw her, I didn't feel presentable. I jogged into my building and caught the elevator just as the doors were shutting. "Hey Dave," I greeted my neighbor. "Dude, you're like 30 minutes too late." I looked at him confused. "She had a suitcase, looked like she was leaving town." "WHAT!?" My heart was pounding through my chest. She was here? She had a suitcase? I felt like I was going to hyperventilate. The elevator was moving in slow motion and I felt like I was getting dizzy. "She stuck something under your door though." The minute the elevator open I gasped for air and ran to my door. It took me a minute to get my key in the door as my hands were shaking. I opened the door and saw a Starbucks napkin lying on the ground. I dropped my bag and picked the napkin up.
I found myself speeding through the city once again, I hated that Flower moved out of downtown, it took a whole extra fifteen minutes to get to his house. I pounded on his door, this was an emergency, knocking wouldn't cut it. He swung the door open looking pissed off then saw me and motioned for me to walk in. I sat down at his kitchen table and handed him the Starbucks napkin. "What are you going to do?" he asked after reading it. "I already tried calling her on my way over here, but it went straight to voicemail. I keep playing it through my head, what did I do to make her run away?" I dug the palms of my hands into my eyes. Now I was the one that wanted to run away. My head popped up. "I have to go get her, I have to tell her how I feel. She ran to see if I would chase after her!" Flower took a big deep breath and got up from his seat. I watched him walk into the kitchen and he pulled out a bottle of Jack. "You can't go after her Max. She probably needs time to think about what she wants, and you have hockey to play. Anyways, how will you know where she went?" He poured me a glass and slid it across the table to me.