All of the sudden, Lauren broke out into sobs. She rolled over and leaned into Max. He put both of his arms around her.
“Hey, hey, what’s wrong? Lauren it’s okay,” he said, frantically trying to reassure her.
“I don’t know what to do” she sobbed.
“What do you mean?” asked Max as he ran his fingers through her hair.
“I don’t know how to be braver, or stronger. I’ve been this way for so long and I don’t know how to be any other way. I came on this trip trying to be this adventurous person and I just can’t do it.” She didn’t know what had come over her. It was like everything hitting her all at once. She had come on this trip to try to become a different person; someone confident and strong. When she met Max she could feel herself getting to that point, but there was still something holding her back.
“You don’t have to be anyone but yourself,” Max spoke in a gentle tone. Lauren appreciated his patience, considering her outburst had come out of nowhere.
“I don’t like being this way,” said Lauren.
“Because this isn’t really you. You’re letting things get in the way of you being who you really are. You don’t have to be adventurous, or brave. You just have to be confident and love yourself, and the other things will come into place.”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“I’m just trying to help you see how great the world can be, that’s the first step. I’m sorry that I took it too far.” Max tenderly rubbed her back as she continued to cry. “You’re going to be fine. I know it’s hard sometimes but I can see you opening up. Your eyes are so much better than when I met you. It’s a process, but I’m here for you.”
Lauren hoped that Max was right; that she really was doing better than when they had met. She also hoped the last part was true, that he would be there for her; but she wasn’t sure how much longer their traveling would last, and she was beginning to be afraid of when it would end.
After a few minutes, Lauren’s sobbing slowed. Max’s hand rubbing her back calmed her, and her eyes soon became too heavy to keep open. She fell asleep wrapped in his arms to the soft sounds of his breathing.