Chapter 71

Maya packed her bag, sadly looking at how little she had left now. She could mentally inventory everything she had. 

Three pairs of pants.

Nine pairs of socks.

Nine t-shirts.

One hoodie.

One sweater.

Two pairs of shoes. 

One dress. 

Nine pairs of underwear. 

Four bras.

One jacket.

Three knit caps. 

Computer and charger.

Phone and charger.

Tablet and charger.

Hand gun and ammo.

Rifle and ammo.

Gun cleaning kit.

Toiletries bag.

Makeup bag.

Towel.

Pashmina.

It all fit into one small suitcase. And she could drop it all and run if she had to. Her phone and wallet stayed in her pocket at all times. It could all be disposed of at any time. 

Someone busted in through the door, letting it clatter against the back wall. It was Alex.

Maya smiled, letting the familiar warmth fill her chest. Alex flicked a blonde trees over her shoulder and strode in, smiling. 

“You doing okay?” She sat on the edge of the bed, carefully missing everything Maya had laid out. “You looked rather angry.”

 “I'm fine.” Maya tried to smile, unconvincingly, and turned back to her packing. 

“You sure about  that?” Alex leant into her field of vision.

“Yeah.” Maya looked up at her friend and caught the pitying look on her face. The hot sting of tears hit the rims of her eyes and she looked down.

“You're not are you?” Maya could only shake her head. 

She couldn't stop the tears. They came, without permission, ruining a very difficult under-eye shadow and liner. She covered her face, taking a deep shuddering breath. She'd almost got it under control and then she felt  Alex arms around her. The girl just hugged her, standing at her shoulder, her face in Maya’s hair. 

Maya let it out, then. Letting out all the sorrow and the fear. She felt the loss of Parker and almost losing her sister and Alex. And it hurt. It all ached in her gut and made her feel like she may barf up her own heart. 

It really hurt. 

Alex’s breath was hot on her ear but Maya didn't want her to leave. She grabbed Alex's arm across her chest and held her there.

She lost track of time. She didn't know how long she sat there, submerged in her own feelings. It felt like being trapped under the water of an active washing machine. 

She finally emerged, opening her eyes and turning to look at Alex. Alex lifted her head  and smiled at Maya. 

“Feel a little better?” Maya only nodded. 

“I don't want to talk about it, though.” Maya said, rubbing Alex’s arm. 

“That's fine.” Alex perched her chin back on Maya’s shoulder. “I'm pretty sure it's what's freaking me out, too.”

“Do you need me to hold you while you cry?”

“Nope.” Alex said, suddenly letting go of Maya. “I'll do my crisis later when everyone else is asleep.”

“Why?” Maya took a good look at Alex, who wasn't looking at her anymore. Alex very carefully started rolling Maya’s jeans, placing them in the small suitcase. 

“Because I'm not allowed to.” Alex said. Maya thought she heard a small quiver in her voice. She couldn't be sure. “Because I have to be the rock and get us all through this.”

“Ray says your PTSD night terrors have gone away.” Maya took the rolled pair of underwear from Alex's hands and began helping Alex pack her own suitcase. “You're almost liking this, aren't you? This is fulfilling some need in you?”

“That sounds like a load of head-shrinking bullshit.” Alex smiled an alligator’s smile at Maya. Maya had crossed a line, the temperature in the room had just dropped about ten degrees. 

“Sorry I prodded.” Maya kept putting her clothes away. The silence rang in her ears for several minutes, until they were done with her suitcase. 

As Alex turned to leave, Maya hurried to stop her. 

“Do you need help getting packed for New York?”

“I think I've got it, thanks.” Alex said, without turning around and she sped out the door. 

Fuck. 

Maya went and sat down on the edge of her bed, the twisting feeling of regret pulling her gut and chest apart, ringing in her ears like a group of children chanting, “You fucked up. You fucked up.”

Zoe FleischerComment