Chapter 17

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Where can you run to escape from yourself?” - Dare You To Move by Switchfoot

My whole body was shaking, the glass of water in my hand moved too much for me to drink any of it so I set it back down on the table. I busied my twitching fingers by messing around with the clothes I was wearing, adjusting the gray beanie on my head to sit perfectly. I rubbed my sweaty and shaking hands along my jean covered thighs, creating a warm friction that made my legs heat up instead of the strange numb feeling they had before. I was in a cold sweat, a numb feeling all over as a result of fear. I shouldn't have felt like that, those feelings are for people stuck in a horror movie and all alone in a abandoned forest. I was in a library, the kind of place that was my safe haven in high school. Yet, I was terrified.

The back room were I was currently waiting was dimly lit and meant to be a place to relax, have some coffee or something. I wished I could have relaxed, but it was impossible. The muffled noise of a crowd outside could be heard through the quiet walls, a painful reminder of the cause for my fright.

Crowds. Noise. Tight spaces.

It's surprising I've lasted this long in New York before running for the hills.

Personal space is very important, my one person apartment always allowed for that. Maybe that's why I could survive in the city though I could never see myself here for the rest of my life.

I just kept hearing the voices, my mind estimating how many people were outside those doors. Then, I started to pace the room.

My resentment for Elliot was growing the more anxious I became. I shouldn't have blamed him so much, he didn't have a clue about how I react to crowds and tight spaces. No one handed him a giant instruction book when he got the job, it wasn't his fault. I just didn't have anyone else to blame.

Madge, the woman who could have been my hipster-grandma, knew exactly how to handle me. She prepared me for signings or tours, alerting me months in advance so I had time to mentally prepare for the occasion. My panic wasn't nearly as bad, though it still was relevant. She would calm me, massage my shoulders beforehand and make me some hot chocolate, lull me into a sleepy stupor and then have me meet the crowd. Elliot was dropping me into a shark tank, all covered in dead and bleeding fish.

The door opened and Elliot stepped in, his suit cleaner and crisper than I'd ever seen it. He looked nervous but not in the same way I was. He was the buzzing mom moments before the family leaves for vacation, nervous they would forget something and things would go awry. I was a whole new level of nervous, the one where you're glad you don't have anything in your stomach.

"Just a few more minutes 'till we let them in, are you ready?" he asked, checking his watch for the second time since entering the room.

I stopped pacing to sit back on the lumpy couch in the corner and bring my legs to my chest, after closing my eyes I began to breathe deeply and crave French vanilla hot chocolate so much I could almost smell the warm aroma.

Elliot's inquiry had completely slipped my mind and the sound of his quick footsteps coming to me were the only sound in the room. The couch moved when he sat down next to me but I stayed still and kept my steady breathing. The warm pressure of his hand came to my shoulder and still I didn't move an inch.

"Are you... okay?" he whispered lightly, hand moving to massage circles in my arm. "You feeling alright?"

I took a deep breath in and out and opened my eyes to stare at the blank white wall on the opposite side of the room. "No,"

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