Don't cry for me.
Gripping onto the pepper spray that sat discretely in my pocket I stood looking up to the front door. There were several dint’s displayed against the lower half and I guessed heavy boots had kicked the door with a great force. A window once sat in the upper half but it was now covered over with hardboard that had been nailed into the brown wood. Now that I was up close to Liams house I could see how it really lacked in maintenance, the white door frame chips in that exposed the brown wood underneath, they looked deep like they had been intentionally made with a crowbar or similar tool.
I slowly lifted my shaking knuckles to the wood, the voice inside my head arguing with the voice inside my heart. My heart won as my knuckles grazed the thick door echoing out three bangs. With my other hand I gripped the pepper spray tighter, imaging the tips of my fingers turning white under the pressure of my grasp.
The door flung open wafting a warm gust of air my way that radiated an unpleasant stench of stale alcohol. My heart quickened as a tall, built man stood before me wearing nothing but blue boxer shorts and a white see through vest top. His greedy eyes looked me up and down slowly, making me feel naked. He stumbled forward clutching a beer can in his left hand, showing off knuckles that had letters tattooed onto them.
He brought his right hand up, his jewelry display entering my clear vision. Across three of his middle fingers he wore huge gold rings, each ring looked intimidatingly big and heavy with a unique design. The middle had a big spiky skull, the end had a big sapphire opal and the index finger was just a gold square with an engraving of some sort. My breath hitched as I imagined how painful it would be to have them pummel you. I watched his hand edge towards my face as if it played out in complete slow motion.
“You’re a pretty thing aintcha?” He said through yellow, stumpy teeth as his hand stroked down the length of my cheek. I could smell the intoxication on his breath it churned my stomach and I wanted to run away, but I kept my mind set on Liam and my hand set on the pepper spray.
“Uh... is Liam around?” I asked sheepishly, not giving him eye contact.
“Inside.” He stepped aside waiting for me to walk in, I closed my eyes as my head pleaded with my heart not to make me do this. But I stupidly stepped into the house.
The air was so warm and stale, like the windows hadn’t been opened in a decade clogged up with cigarette smoke and alcohol. A warm glow pooled through the window lighting up specs of dust hovering in the air. The walls were tinged a dirty yellow to match the curtains and the carpet was brown with stains. I stood awkwardly in the hallway as the man sat back down in his dirty, blue armchair and continued eating kidney beans straight from the can.
“So that son of a bitch finally did something right, bringing a pretty girl like you back home. I can get you into the business like his mam, you got the body for it too” I swayed on my own two feet as this man openly undressed me with his eyes.
“Where is Liam?” I asked, getting more and more uncomfortable by the minute.
“In his room. Tell him when he’s done to give me a shout and I’ll have a go.”
He sent a cold shiver down my spine as he winked at me and I knew he was referring to me when he said he would ‘have a go’. I made my way up a creaking staircase that contained piles of dirty clothes draped over each step. When I reached a hallway at the top I could tell which room was Liams because there was a flip off emoji sticker on his door, the same one that he has on his bike. I knocked on the door, desperate to get out of this hallway but he didn’t answer. After three attempts I pulled on the handle and burst into the room.
“What the fuck” Liam jumped off his bed, completely startled by my appearance. “what are you doing here? I told you not to come here! I told you not to come in the house!” He seemed furious but at the same time he frantically looked me over, checking for injuries, I think. “Did he touch you? Did he hurt you?” He spoke through a shaky voice, filled with concern as his eyes glowed sapphire with anger.
“No. I’m fine, he’s just a little... unnerving.” I replied, shrugging off the intense discomfort I felt moments ago to ease Liams building frustrations.
“He’s more than unnerving Liv, he’s dangerous. You need to leave now and never come back.” His eyes calmed down now that he knew I wasn’t hurt. They faded back to blue slowly.
“I’m going to come here every day Liam.” I give him my most serious expression. “Every day you won’t talk to me, every day you tell me we can’t be friends.”
“Liv, you’ve seen what he’s like.” I knew he was worrying.
“I’m not going to give up on you Liam, if that means risking harm to myself every time I have to come here then so be it.”
I allowed myself time to take in my surroundings as Liam took in what I said. His room was much cleaner than the rest of his house but he didn’t seem to have any personal belongings, besides the leather jacket that lay across the bottom of his bed. In the middle of his room he had a white bed frame which was missing a headboard, two bedside tables sat on either side of the bed and he had a closet in the far corner of the room. There was nothing personal to him except his artwork. His walls were covered in drawings of different things, all things that made him happy and I wondered if art was a way for him to escape the reality of his home life. Painted on one whole entire wall was a mural of the winning moment from a soccer match, the team holding Liam high like he had scored the winning goal. The small wall space next to his closet showed a burst of artistic musical notes and drawings from the album covers of his favorite bands. On another space he had drawn his motorbike parked up beneath my tree house. Every inch of his wall space was taken up with exquisite, uplifting artwork but one in particular stood out, the one above his bed.
“Is that me?” I said pointing at the girls face.
Looking back at me was myself in art form. His use of colours and shade ensured that I had perfect features and happiness radiated from my face as I smiled down into the room, brightening it up. My pale skin was slightly kissed with blushed cheeks and he had drawn in my dimples that only appear when I smile that big. My long blonde hair fell softly around my face and my eyes gleamed different shades of green bringing the portrait to life.
“No” Liam answered quickly, his cheeks turning a delicious shade of scarlet.
“Yeah, she looks nothing like me. She’s beautiful.” I laughed, letting him off the hook.
“That is how I see you ... beautiful.” Liam smiled to himself looking up at his drawing and for a moment the atmosphere changed between us, things got a little shy and awkward. But the butterflies in my stomach had woken from their slumber and fluttered around causing a delicious tingle deep down inside.
“Don’t come here again Liv.” His voice got suddenly deep and he was issuing me a warning.
“Only if you agree to being my friend again?” I ask, hopefully.
“If it will stop you from coming here again I will.” My face lit up like the girl on the portrait, my cheeks hurt from the smile and warmth rushed through my body. Edging forward slowly I threw my arms around Liam relishing in his touch and closeness, in an instant the emptiness I was feeling had evaporated. Oud wood and fresh vanilla comforted me, making me forget everything bad that had just happened. He wrapped his arms around my waist returning the hug and melted into my body, I knew he had missed me too.
“C’mon, let’s get you out of here.” he said interlocking my fingers between his and guiding me back through the dirty hallway and down the stairs.
“That was quick.” The man said from his arm chair, we ignored him. “Is it my turn now, you little whore?” he stumbled over to me with wandering eyes and my hand reached inside my pocket latching onto my safety net.
“Don’t call her that Jax” Liam looked real mad and when Jax got close enough to place his hand on my ass Liam punched him, hard. Jax stumbled backwards holding a busted lip, blinking in shock. I glanced up at Liam, his whole body was tense but his eyes were silver as the fear consumed him. Jax regained himself and came for Liam, a drunken fist swaying in the air. I pulled out the pepper spray and directed it towards Jax, adding pressure to the pump I sprayed it right into his eyes causing Jax to coil over in pain.
“Ow, This fucking stings you bitch. You’re gonna pay for that” He groaned covering his eyes.
Liam and I darted out of the front door and down his unkempt front yard, getting distance between us and Jax. As we left his yard Liam halted on the spot.
“I’ll see you later Liv.”
“Wait, you can’t go back in there. Stay with me tonight. Please.” I begged, still listening to Jax screech profanities with the pain.
“Liv, this my house. This is where I live. If I don’t go back in there now and face it, I’ll have to face it tomorrow or the next day or the day after. I’d rather get it over and done with now. Plus my moms home soon, if she comes home and he’s mad and I’m not there -” He trailed off.
I felt my eyes pooling with water as I desperately tried to hold back the tears. I could see Liam was terrified but I knew he felt like he had no other choice. “Liam I’m so sorry, this is all my fault.”
“No Liv, this could of happened over a can of beans. I used to blame myself too but then I realized that nobody is to blame here, except him. I’ll be fine, you go home.”
My tears started rolling, I couldn’t bare to leave him. He reached up and swiped away my tears with his gentle fingers.
“Don’t cry for me.” he whispered. He grabbed my chin between his thumb and index finger forcing me to look at him “I’m glad we’re friends again.” he offered a faux smile and disappeared back inside the house, closing the door behind him ready to face whatever was coming his way.