The phone rings for the fifth time.
Molly ignores it as she pulls open her drawer. She breathes deeper into the face mask as she works, pulling out clothes, one by one, throwing them into the box, hair sticking to her face.
All over her apartment lies a similar scene: drawers pulled out, clothes folded neatly but hastily into each. Boxes labeled KITCHEN, BATHROOM, LIVING ROOM stacked together, taped together messily, her things arranged as much as she can.
Picking up that phone is the last thing she wants to do. Not because she’s afraid of her aunt’s voice over the line, gentle and pleading with, Sweetheart, I don’t understand. This is crazy. Boston is so far away, why did you have to take that transfer when all of your friends are here?. Not because she knows that the pleading won’t work, and not because she’s afraid of spilling out secrets.
She does know that it’s because she’d be forced to be cruel, to lie in a way that she knows she’s not prepared for. Because lying to her aunt in such a way feels painful and twisted.
It’s much easier for her to sort her clothes in neat piles. A good distraction from continually wondering over this choice, over this disgusting urge in her to look over and over again at the immaculate Facebook pages of Fenwick, to stop obsessing over rows of red hair and smiles and birthdays and family.
She pushes down the clothes in the box, and swallows.
It takes five deep breaths before she stands, removes the mask, and bury her head into her hands.
The urge to scream wells up.
It exits in a groan, her fingers digging into her skin.
It takes five more before she throws the mask onto the bed, grabs her running shoes, and makes her way to the door.
Running can clear her head, if nothing else can. It might not purge the feelings of being unwanted, of being a secret, of rage out of her, but it can tire her enough out to sleep, and then finish packing.
She does not take her cellphone with her, and it continues to ring and ring as the door shuts behind her. Her feet hit the pavement harshly one after the other, desperate for relief.
When she comes home, dark is creeping up on her. Her hair is loosed from it’s ponytail, and her legs burn. Her heart hammers and hammers as she makes her way upstairs, plugging up the faucet and turning on the water. As exhausted as she felt, the run hadn’t done what she wanted, leaving her exhausted instead of purging her entirely of turmoil.
She curls up, hand pressing against her forehead, eyes drawn to the tile. “You’re crazy for doing this.” There’s no answer of course; but it feels better to say it outloud. “What are you going to do, showing up at their door like this?”
All kinds of scenarios have presented themselves: a messy, loud reunion; the satisfaction waiting on her tongue, the disgusting feeling deep in the pit of her stomach finally leaving; the coldness of a rejection or worse, the idea that there will be no recollection at all, only confusion and denial. None of it as bad as her mother’s flushed face, or her father’s embarrassed look when the secrets tumbled out.
Even thinking of their faces makes her angry. How could they have fed her a lie that long?
Molly squeezes her eyes shut, and puts her hand in the water. It’s hot enough to make her hand an angry red.
She welcomes it.
The bath finally does what she wants as she climbs in, hissing as she goes. It wipes away her thoughts as she sinks in, shutting her eyes as her skin pricks and warms.
The morning comes, and Molly can’t recall when she got out of bed and got dressed. Only that waking up felt better, that her decision didn’t at away at her, and it was easy to call her aunt and say, I just needed to change.