I sat on the edge of the bed and watched Max shower in the bathroom. We had to leave within the next thirty minutes to make it for my check in time at noon. It was 10:45 AM. My time with him was dwindling away. It wasn’t the end of the world though, I had to keep reminding myself that. It was only two weeks. Fourteen days, and I’d be home. When the shower turned off, I got up off the bed and walked to the bathroom. I stood in the doorway and leaned up against the door jam. He stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist, water dripping down his body, making me miss him already. “I have a stupid request,” I blurted out, running a hand over my stubbly head. “Nothing you request is stupid baby,” he smiled as he grabbed another towel and ran it over his hair, sending water drops everywhere. “Can I borrow it? Just until I get back.” He stopped moving and looked over at me. Confusion washed over his face. When the color of his eyes seemed to brighten, I knew right then that he knew what I was talking about. “Why?” I bit my bottom lip and looked down at my hands. “I’m taking some of your things with me, so I’ll have you with me in a way, but that . . . it’s us. It represents us, or at least it will, sometime in the future. It’s like hanging a bikini on your door in the winter time to get in shape for summer. It’s motivation.” He pinched his eyebrows together and walked up to me. I wish he wouldn’t stand so close in just a towel when we had to leave. “You need motivation to marry me?” He asked in a quiet, somewhat disappointed voice. I shook my head, and looked down at my hands. “It’s motivation to get better and come back to you. It’s strange I know, but it’s just . . . if I see it, I know what I’m doing and what I’m coming home to. I want to marry you Max, I realized that while I was in the hospital. I just have to wait, okay? I need to get my shit together.” A smile began to form on his face and he leaned down and kissed the corner of my mouth. “You can wear it on a necklace.”
I sat in the passenger seat of his car in silence, holding his hand. My parents, in the back seat, were chatting with Max, but I couldn’t exactly understand them. Actually, I didn’t have the energy to understand them. I just rested my forehead against the window and watched as the city turned in to country. My right hand reached up to play with the engagement ring hanging from Max’s silver chain. I wanted to smile when I looked at it, it really was beautiful, but again, I didn’t have the energy. I was extremely irritable and growing more and more angry with Max with each mile marker we passed by. I didn’t need rehab. I didn’t need detox. I was angry, mad as hell. Not at him though, I can’t be mad at him. I needed to be mad with myself. I put myself in this situation. I bit back a scream, not wanting to frighten my parents. ‘Think rationally,’ I mumbled to myself. Think? I can’t think. My brain was shutting down, I could almost feel it slowly start to shutdown. Just go to sleep. That’s all I needed to do. I felt my eyelids grow extremely heavy, and within seconds I was out.
All of my boxes were packed and sitting in the driveway. King was attached to his leash, that was then tied around the tree in the front yard. Attached to his collar was a note in Max’s handwriting. Have a good life. Fuck off. I inhaled sharply and fell to the ground on my knees. He’s kicking me out. After everything I went through. Clean and sober and he’s tossing me aside?! I felt a thumb brush over my cheek and I opened my eyes to see we were sitting at a red light. It was just a nightmare. “You okay? You’re crying,” Max asked concerned. I looked over at him and sucked my lips in, feeling my nose flare out as I fought back the tears. I shook my head side to side and looked away from him. I didn’t want to look at him. Was he really going to be there for me when I got out? Was I really worth it? I felt a tear roll down my right cheek and land between my lips. I tucked my chin to my chest and pinched my eyes shut tight. He’ll be there, right? When I’m released from this prison, he’ll be standing there waiting for me. “You’re picking me up in two weeks right?” I nearly shouted, interrupting their conversation. “Of course, is that why you’re crying? You don’t think I’ll come back for you?” He asked with a low voice. I nodded my head and took slow steady breaths. I suddenly had this image of Max bringing girls home from the club. That’s how he was before me right? I obviously proved we could all turn back to our old habits. “Why am I worth it?” I shouted, water now obscuring my vision as I turned to look at Max. “Lil, calm down, okay?” He asked with a soothing voice as he pulled through large gates. Prison. I really was going to prison. When the car came to a stop, I ripped my seatbelt off and jumped out of the car. Almost looking to run away. That’s what I did best anyways, run away from responsibility.
I did enough research online to know that what she was going through was the symptoms of the withdrawal. One minute she’s crying, the next she’s yelling and then back to crying. This wasn’t her typical mood, this was her four days in without any drugs. I was scared. I really was. I didn’t know what to expect at this place. I felt like I was on the verge of breaking down just watching how Lillianah was, but I had to be strong. I had to be strong for her as well as for her parents. I climbed out of my car along with Steve and Molly, and I got Lillianah’s suitcase out of the trunk. She stood by the passenger door playing with the ring on the necklace. I was hesitant about giving it to her, but she had a good point. I can only hope that she keeps it close to her heart while she’s here to know that I’ll be her backbone if needed. Right now I’m just acting as the crutch, something for her to lean on, but if she needs the full support, I’m there. I always will be. I walked up to her and linked my hand with hers, feeling the sweat pouring out of her pores. We followed behind Steve and Molly up to the front doors and stepped inside. The walls were painted a bright yellow, and I noticed a few of the hallways looked like a lime green. “I can’t do this,” she whispered to me grasping on to my hand hard. “Yes you can Lil, you have to.” The four of us stepped up to the counter and were greeted by a skinny man with glasses and white hair. “Checking in?” “Yes, Lillianah Jenkins,” I answered and he typed away at his computer and glanced up and looked at Lil quickly before looking back down at his computer. “Alright, we have a room all ready for you. Um, visiting hours are on Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 10 AM til 3 PM. So if you want to say your goodbye’s, I’ll give you a few moments than I’ll take you back,” he smiled at her and I felt a twinge in my stomach. “I’m not going to be able to visit you,” I mumbled to her and she shook her head. “We’ll talk? We’ll talk. It’s okay,” she said and with each word her tears fell faster.
I dug my face in to her neck, tightening my grip around her. I didn’t want to let her go. I never wanted to let her go. I was scared of what was going to happen. In two weeks time. Will she be the same? Will she change? For the better? Or for the worst? I pressed my lips in to the crook of her neck and felt her fingers thread through my hair. “Don’t forget about me,” she whispered in my ear. “There’s no way. I love you, okay?” I felt her nod her head and I pulled away from her. “I love you too.” I kissed her hard on the lips one last time before I turned and walked away from her. When I reached the door, I looked over my shoulder to see the old man dragging her away. She looked over her shoulder and gave me a weak smile before turning back around. I headed outside and met Steve and Molly by my car. Steve was standing by the driver’s side, holding his hand out. “Why don’t you sleep on the way to the airport Max? You look exhausted.” I hung my head and fished my keys out of my front pocket and handed them over. I walked behind him and opened the back door, throwing myself in to the backseat, laying down like I did as a kid on the way to 5 AM hockey practice. I felt like a kid. One that just had the candy jar taken away from him. The door shut behind me and I flipped on to my back. “Tell me she’ll be alright. I just need to know she’ll be alright.” Molly twisted in the passenger seat and took my hand in hers. “She’ll be better Max. She’s going to get healthy.” I felt her squeeze my hand and I closed my eyes, fighting back the worst of ideas in my mind. She’ll be better.
“Thank you Max, for everything. You already are a son to us in our eyes,” Steve smiled as he pulled me in to a hug. I swallowed hard and nodded my head as I pulled Molly in to a hug. “Thank you, that . . . that means a lot to me,” I managed to smile as I choked up. “Take care of yourself okay? Two weeks will fly by.” I looked down at Molly and smiled. “I will.” I waved goodbye to them as they disappeared in to the airport. I hopped in the drivers seat and left the airport, only to pull in to the parking lot of a Holiday Inn. I sat there, my eyes going in and out of focus. My head was spinning, I felt my breathing pitch. I pulled my cellphone out and called Flower. “I need you to pick me up. I’m at the Holiday Inn by the airport.” “Alright, we’ll be right there.” I hung up the phone and threw my head down on the steering wheel losing all control of the emotions I had manage to keep inside all day. Twenty minutes later there was a tap on my window and I looked up to see Sid. I climbed out of my car and he pulled me in to a hug, shocking me at first, but I wrapped my arms around him and he patted me hard on the back. “You up for a beer?” He asked as he moved past me and climbed in to my car. I looked over my shoulder to see Flower in his SUV waiting for me. “Or two, yeah. Thanks Sid. I appreciate this. A lot.” “Hey, don’t sweat it.” I turned around and took the seat in Flower’s car that Sid was once occupying and shut the door behind me. “You gonna be okay?” Flower asked carefully and I sucked my lips in as I nodded my head. “Yeah, she was tripping out this morning Flower, you should have seen her. Scared the crap out of me.” We hit the highway and headed in to downtown toward the brewery. “She has the ring.” When he pulled up to a red light he turned and looked at me. “I’m sorry, did you just say she has the ring?” “Yeah, she said it would be motivation to get better. Knowing that I’ll be what she comes home to. She’s wearing it on my silver chain around her neck.” The light turned green and we parked right in front of the brewery with Sid right behind us. “What you two have is really good Max. Don’t lose her.”
Dragging my suitcase behind me I glanced over my shoulder one last time at Max as the old man had a firm grip on my upper arm pulling me away. I smiled to him one last time before turning my attention back to the long hallway in front of me. I ripped my arm out of the old man’s grip and walked side by side with him. We stopped in front of a room and I looked in to see a girl about my age painting her toe nails on a bed. Janis Joplin was playing quietly in the background and my eyes fell on the empty bed on the other side of the room. “This is all you. So I will let you get settled, and then Mark will be by shortly to take you to the sauna.” I nodded my head and stepped inside the room. “Hi, I’m Clarissa, what’s your name?” she asked in a very high pitched, nearly cartoonish voice. “I’m Lillianah,” I smiled to her as I lifted up my suitcase and threw it on my bed. I unzipped it and threw the top open, smiling when I saw the framed photo of Max and I laying on top. I picked it up and ran my finger over his face, mainly over his Fu Man Chu mustache. The best thing about the photo? I was sober in it. “Who’s that?” Clarissa behind me asked as she jumped up from her bed and walked over to me on the heels of her feet. “Oh my boyfriend, Max,” I smiled handing her the frame. “You’re dating a Penguin?” “You . . . you know who he is?” I don’t know why I was shocked but she didn’t have that vibe of sports fan about her. “Well my brother is a huge fan, and actually has a Talbot jersey. Max is his favorite player.” “Oh,” I nodded my head as she handed the frame back to me and I placed it on the table next to the bed.
Once most of my stuff was unpacked and Clarissa told me all about her heroin addiction and how she had been in rehab for three weeks now, there was a knock on the door. I looked up to see a rather handsome, tall, well-built, Frank look-a-like. I had to do a double take thinking that it was in fact Max’s brother, just a little taller and jacked up on steroids. “Are you Lillianah?” He asked me and I nodded my head. “Hi, I’m Mark, I’ll be your best friend and sponsor while you’re here. We’re gonna start with a few sessions in the sauna, so if you wanted to change in to something comfortable, we can head on out. I’ll wait right outside.” I nodded my head and turned to Clarissa. “So what’s with this sauna business?” I asked her as I pulled some shorts and a tank top out of the drawer. “Detox. The sauna helps get the toxins out of your skin. The first time I went, I balled my eyes out, so just do what you need to do.” She nodded her head enthusiastically and I quickly changed and stepped out to meet Mark. “So Lillianah, tell me what you do,” he smiled as we began our walk. “Well, I use to be a DJ, but my boyfriend put an end to that after I overdosed at work.” A smile came over his face as he looked over at me. “Sounds like a good guy.” “Great guy, I just hope he’ll be there when I get out.” We stopped in front of a door and he placed his hand on the handle but before opening he turned to look at me, “you’re a beautiful girl, and you’re getting help, any man would be stupid not to be there when you get out.”