Because I'm damaged.
Already counting the days down.
The megaphone pulled me out of a comfortable sleep screeching outside my door ‘wake up call, wake up call’ it was five AM. Tia hadn’t mentioned the early wake up calls much to my annoyance. I was up before the sun was up. We took turns showering under rubbish water pressure and changing in the tiny bathroom then headed down to the outdoor pitch.
Flood lights illuminated the grass as Tia & I hauled big net bags full to the brim of balls, the team stood in a line as coach had them jogging on the spot. I helped Tia lay water bottles out on the bench, one for each athlete. Coach blew on a ear piercing whistle and told everyone to line up, including us.
“Multigrain bar.” he said as he handed a small, yellow wheat biscuit type bar to each person.
“Where’s our breakfast?” I plucked up the courage to ask, feeling starving.
“This is your breakfast” Coach shouted down the megaphone even though I was standing right next to him. He was scary.
Tia & I sat on the wooden bench next to the pitch watching as coach made the team practice their soccer skills individually with a ball, then we would have to collect the balls up when they moved onto suicides, penalty practices or a practice game.
Liam was exceptionally good at his sport, he concentrated really hard on whatever task he was doing, working up a sweat that made his red jersey hug to his toned curves. I watched him move with ease around the pitch, tackling players and performing neat tricks with the ball. My heart sank a little when we were nearing end of the practice and Liam hadn’t looked at me once. I figured he was deep into his game and shut the rest of the world out.
The cheerleaders practiced along side the pitch and every now and again I would spot Ruby making faces in Liams direction. Got to hand it to her, she doesn’t give up even when brutally rejected time after time.
Coach blew the whistle to signal end of practice, Tia and I started gathering up the balls whilst the lads headed to the shower rooms. Liam stood by the goal holding one of the soccer balls, I saw this as my opportunity to approach him.
“hand me that would you?”
“This?” Liams voice was deep and I shivered instantly knowing something was up. His face impassive and cold, blue eyes glazed over lost to the ice of his personality.
I nodded my head, not wanted to speak because I had to try and avoid any forms of communication with him while he was in this mood. Liam threw the ball into the air slightly and then brought his foot up to connect with it, making the ball fly right across the pitch. As far away from me as possible. He then turned around and headed to the showers without saying a single thing.
I stood confused, watching his red back move further and further away from me.
What did I do?
“Please lets not go to this stupid party.” I begged Tia feeling the nerves in the pits of my stomach building up but I already knew my pleading was a lost cause because she was laying on her lipstick, banging her lips together in the mirror.
“It’s gonna be fine Liv, you need to stop worrying and get out more. Get out your comfort zone, make some memories.” she sprayed herself with perfume, not even looking at me or taking my concerns seriously.
“Liam was a jackass to me today. I really don’t want to go see him and we’re just in a cramped hotel room, I can’t avoid him.” I tried one more time.
“Then confront him.” She deadpanned like that was the most obvious thing in the world.
I was wearing the skimpy red dress mom and Tia picked out, I felt like a whore but I paired it with red converses to ‘tone it down’ even though Tia highly disapproved. I tied my hair back into two braids, trying not to make any effort but looking in the mirror I actually think I looked unintentionally quite edgy and cool. The music bounced off the walls, literally. I could feel the vibration and my bed rattled against the floor.
Their door was wide open and both the team and squad all piled into the small room and hotel corridor. Everyone was drinking, some were smoking, some already passed out against the wall. It was crowded and hectic. The room was basically the same as ours, the boys had their jerseys hung from the bedpost. I made a mental note that Liams bed was right beside mine, just with a thin wall separating us. Some of the sluts, sorry I mean cheerleaders danced standing on the bed, so they were above everyone else, center of all attention. The jocks stood at the back of the room smoking out of the window, Liam included.
“You nerds made it” A drunk Jordan slung both arms around mine and Tias neck. He reeked of beer and messily slurred his words.
Tia dragged us to the desk in the far corner, the one that contained beer bottles covering every square inch. She grabbed two and looked at me, her dark eyes glistening with expectation. I took the beer bottle and swigged, if I was going to survive this I needed to at least be tipsy. The beer was fruity and sweet, it would of been perfect if it was cold but since it had been sitting out in the room temperature it was only luke warm.
I stood awkwardly next to Tia, unsure of what to do with myself. Everyone seemed occupied by dancing or socializing. I felt Liam notice me, he looked me up and down his eyes still raw with the same hatred he had this morning. I was getting fed up of his mood swings.
Downing my drink I grabbed another.
Liams intense glare made my hairs stand on end, he watched me as I reached for my third beer. I wasn’t feeling drunk yet but I was slowing getting more comfortable in my surroundings. I noticed Zak who had spent the majority of the party making out with his girlfriend pull a cold beer from his mini fridge. The same sweet, warm beer that sat out for guests. Oh hell no.
I jumped up from my seat and headed to the mini fridge. Opening it I saw it fully stocked with delicious cold beer, so cold the condensation gathered across the glass bottle. Jackpot!
“Oh no!” Liam stood with his foot against the door of the fridge, trying to close it over. “They’re for you.” He pointed towards the table with his chin. He was as cold as the beer in the fridge, a face so stern and serious. There was no messing with Liam today.
Except I did want to mess with him. His emotionless face usually has me cowering down but right now I felt confidence building inside me, itching to get out. I raised my eye brows at him, then called over to Tia.
“Tia, could you use one of these?”
Thankfully Tia clicked on right away and shot me a smile from ear to ear. “Sure could.”
I pulled out two cold beer bottles and launched one underarm in her direction. On que she caught it and without taking our eyes off Liam we took a long, refreshing sip of the ice cold liquid. I saw cheeky glint in Liams eyes, I knew he was amused but he was playing it down like he was furious.
I was seven beers in and I could feel it. I sat on Jordans bed rambling to Ben, BEN! Of all people about how I split hydrochloric acid on my jeans one time in chemistry and it basically burnt my pubes off. He was pretty wasted too so he found everything I was saying hilarious and so did I. Tia was dancing on Liams bed wearing one of the cheerleader uniforms shaking pom poms around, so yeah. She was pretty ‘gone’ too.
The party had cleared out a lot, people were passed out in the corridor and I couldn’t help but laugh knowing the megaphone would be out in the morning. I decided I needed some air so I stood up inside the spinning room and headed for the door.
“Where you going?” Tia shouted over the booming music.
“Outside” I replied as I wobbled to the stairway.
The lobby was just a reception desk and a brown sofa, the hotel was so small nobody manned the desk so I could easily escape through the glass doors even though we weren’t allowed to leave after hours. It was around 1AM and I ended up walking the street in darkness. It was chilly, I could see white mist leaving my mouth anytime I exhaled and in my drunken state this was something I was fascinated with.
I heard footsteps behind me as I turned the corner of the quiet road. Someone grabbed my arm and pulled me backwards to face them. Liam narrowed his eyes and scowled into me, so angry.
“Liv you’re not allowed outside after hours. It’s not a great area and you are drunk. Get back in before you put us all in shit street.”
I was so done with his mood, I didn’t even notice how well he held his sentence together even though he had been drinking.
“Lee yam. Here he is folks.” I looked around, waving my arms like I was talking to an imaginary crowd. “So angry at me. I don’t even know what I’ve done. You are not a nice boy. A very, very, very not a nice boy.” I was ready to give him a piece of my mind.
“You’re making a fool of yourself. Get back inside.” I knew he was trying to intimidate me with those blue eyes but I was feeling strong, brave.
“No, no, no.” I wagged my finger back and forth in front of his face, I think that wound him up even more. “not till you tell me why you’re mad.”
“It doesn’t matter why, just get back inside.” I stood closer to his face in efforts to clear my vision, searching for answers in the dim gleam of the streetlight. His breath hitched and his body tensed, a fleeting emotion pulled back through to the surface by sapphire rings. Hurt. Liam was hurt.
His reaction was sobering.
“I... I hurt you?” I was confused, I hadn’t done anything to him. Was this about the beer?
“I said it doesn’t matter, now c’mon.” He pulled on my arm but I refused to move.
“No, you have to tell me what I did”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Because.... because I’m damaged.”
My heart stopped beating for a split second, my foot was in my mouth. He had heard the conversation between Tia & I last night? He tugged on my arm again and this time my feet willingly moved back to the hotel. The party was basically over and Tia was already fast asleep in her bed. Liam returned to his room and closed the door shutting me out. The guilt I felt was overwhelming and I didn’t want to be here anymore.