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Mali looked across the busy street, trying to find a shortcut to the other side, waiting for the sign to change. A young man with thick, blonde hair to his shoulders caught her eye. He had a way about him that she knew he was nice. She looked closer at him, he had good skin, and his blue eyes and slacking posture made her think of all those days they had let pass without doing anything. He looked tired, but was smiling, holding the hand of a young girl that reminded her much of herself years ago. They were looking at each other passionately, she wanted to look away, give him a private moment, but it had been so long since they had been this close. Like if he felt her eyes on him, he turned his head towards her. She could see his eyes searching, “have they always done that?” she wondered to herself, feeling safe in the middle of the crowd. Suddenly his eyes met hers, and he blinked shocked. She could see him mouthing her name stunned, it must have been like seeing a ghost.
She couldn’t take her eyes of him, do what she should and run, but something shifted in his eyes, and there were no more passion and love, just hurt anger and frustration. Mali shifted uncomfortably, her mind started to react again. She silently whispered “I am sorry”, conveying it with her eyes, and twirled around running as fast she could back where she had come from. She heard his voice calling after her, but did not dare to turn around or glance back. As soon as she was sure enough people was between them, she stepped out from the street and into a back alley. She was panting heavily, her heart trying to get out of her chest and her hands shaking. She fumbled around with her shaking hands in her bag, trying to find the little medicine bottle with the Spanish writing on it. She managed to get out a couple of pills, but before they had taken effect she was running again. It would be more difficult this time, she had been too long in one place. She took the long way home, peaking further away than she had planned to find a payphone. She knew the number in her head, too many times she had called it, and it was too important to write down.
“Dr. House searching Dr. Wilson” she said formally into the speaker.
“Anna Fitzgerald?” a husky voice asked.
“Yes” Mali said, smiling a little
“What do you want?” the voice wondered
“I want a life without running, but that doesn’t seem too likely” Mali laughed bitter.
“No, you just like me too much to do that” the voice joked.
“I need everything” she said sad, sighing.
“Anything particular?” he asked distant, like he was searching for a pen and paper.
“Lilly Andrea Southerly” Mali said, tasting the name as she said it.
“Cool, tomorrow too late?”
“No, that’s okay. I need to finish this life anyhow. Starbucks?” she tried to avoid thinking about what she had to do when she came home.
“Sure, see you at noon” he said and hung up.
Mali sighed, and let herself sink down on the sidewalk.
“Sofie, why did you do this to me?” she asked out loud.
Jake was lying on the sofa, Chinese takeout on the table and his cell phone in his hand. “I was just calling you” he said worried as she walked in.
Mali took a deep breath, and put her war face on, “For all you knew, I might as well have been lying dead somewhere!” she yelled from the hall, forcing her voice to sound furious. Jake straightened up, and looked strangely at her.
“You ok?” he asked cautious. Mali stomped her feet as she walked into the clean kitchen. She silently swore to herself for cleaning so thoroughly.
“You could at least have saved some food for me!” she yelled to him. Jake got up, “I did, I got you Indian. Chicken tandoori with naan-bread. It is in the microwave” he said cautious coming in after her. Mali had her back to him; she closed her eyes and actually got mad for being loved.
“Mali, honey. Are you alright? Did something happen today?” Jake asked, he took a step forward, Mali turned around furious, and she started hitting his chest with her trembling, hesitant fists. Jake did not say a word, he wrapped his arms around her and pushed her closer to him until she was unable to hit anymore.
Slowly she started crying, and Jake held her silently, waiting for her to collect herself again.
Her body eased, and she let Jake support her tired body.
She looked up at him, tipping her head all the way back. He looked cautious but smiled sweetly, worried.
“Are you alright?” he asked again, kissing her on the forehead.
“No” Mali whispered sad.
“Anything I can do?” he wondered loving.
Mali did not answer. She ducked under his arms, and walked away from him.
He looked after her, sighing and then followed her into their bedroom.
She had already started to throw clothes all around the tiny room. Her black, oddly neutral suitcase was on the bed, half filled with clothes and her favorite things.
Jake stopped dead in the doorway. “Did I do something?” he asked after watching her fly around the room and pack for ten minutes.
Mali looked regretfully up at him. “No” she said truthfully.
“Then why are you running?” Jake squatted in the doorway, keeping his eyes on Mali.
Mali looked away, biting her lip. She did not answer. “Aren’t you forgetting something?” she looked confused up at him, “family photos?” Jake suggested.
Mali frowned, but before she could answer him Jake held up his hands in surrender and quickly said “I know, I know. You don’t talk about your family.” He looked her in the eyes, “Why not?”, Mali shrugged avoiding. “You have not talked or seen them in at least three months. Not even called them.” He pointed out. Mali looked steadily back at him, “Why not?” he asked again. “Does it make me a bad daughter?” her voice was thin and doubting. Jake fought the urge to come running and put an arm around her. “I don’t know.” Mali’s eyes flared with emotion, “Maybe I am not in such need to have my parents know everything I do! Like YOU!” she said, tears welling in her eyes.
“They don’t call you either” Jake pointed out carefully. Mali closed her eyes, she sank to the floor and hid her head under her arms, sobbing heavily.
Jake crawled over to her, but she wouldn’t let him comfort her.
“Where are you going, honey?” Jake whispered, leaning as close he could without being in hitting distance.
“Away” Mali sobbed pained. “For Christmas?” Jake inquired uncertain.
“Yeah…If you say so” she whispered.
Jake moved closer, and forced her hands away from her face.
“Will you come spend Christmas with me and my family?” he asked, putting as much love as he could into it.
Mali looked at him, searching his face for trace of lies. “Why would you want me there?” she asked genuinely wondering.
Jake smiled, “Because I love you, silly”.
“It is not that easy” Mali tried to point out. “Yes, it is” Jake laughed.
“It is a month until Christmas, you can see your family before, I can come with you, and I could meet them” Jake said eager, nodding his head.
Mali put up her guards again. “You can’t meet them.” She said final. “If you want to take a vacation with me, you can. But I am sorry, you will never meet my parents as long as I am alive” Mali said in a mystic, certain voice. Jake felt her tense mood, and decided to not push it.
“Why are you packing?” he asked, remembering that she had not answered him.
“Because I am leaving” Mali said, she pushed herself off the floor and resumed packing. When she ran past him, Jake wrapped his arms around her thin waist and pulled her down on his lap.
“That is not an answer. And neither did you answer my proposal.”
Mali took a deep, uncomfortable breath, “Jake…” she struggled to find the words.
“Christmas is a month away. I don’t know if I will be here in a month. Things change, things happen. And sometimes I have to leave, like now. I don’t know when or if I will be back” she spoke slowly, being as honest as she could.
“Will you tell me what happened?” Jake asked after a brief silence.
Mali shook her head.
Jake sat in deep thought for a while. “When will you leave?” he muttered distantly.
“Tomorrow morning” Mali breathed out, she had got up again, and was folding clothes and stuffing them in her suitcase.
Jake got up on one knee, he studied her; the way her blonde hair waved down her back, how her thin figure moved with ease as she walked, and how beautiful her crystal blue eyes where. “Mali” he said, making her turn towards him.
Her face lit up with shock seeing him kneeling in front of her, but it quickly grew distant as she became confused.
“I love you” Jake said, his voice almost making it a question.
“And I love you” Mali whispered before she could think.
“I have only known you a couple of months.” He took a pause to think about what he was going to say, “You are the most fascinating, distant and guarded person I have ever met. But you are the loveliest, most beautiful and incredible girl I could ever dream of. There are not anyone I would rather be with” he said slowly, honest and serious.
“Jake, I am leaving” Mali said with tears in her eyes even though she did not want to, her voice barely audible.
“I know that. But you don’t want to. And I want you to come back to me. Always come back to me.” He smiled, almost smirking.
“Will you marry me?”