You want kids?
I was suffocating under a tangle of body parts and the heat from my thick blanket, pushing it off me I glanced over at a sleeping Liam. He had his back facing towards me but I knew he was asleep thanks to his even breaths and heavy limbs. I loved having Liam sleep in my bed, I loved knowing he was here, safe from all harm. I lent in and inhaled the sweet smell of his chestnut hair, the same smell that lingers on my pillows after he has spent the night.
My eyes fell onto small circular scars scattered across his shoulder blade, they intrigued my interest because I had never noticed them before. He had several of them and now that I was looking for them I spotted even more, spread out all over his back. They were discrete and only visible when you were up close. I glided my thumb across them gently feeling the bumps under my skin. Liam rolled over to face me with his groggy eyes.
“What did I tell you about touching me when I’m asleep?” he wasn’t mad, he looked calm and sleepy. I thought he was maybe even slightly amused so I didn’t bother apologizing.
“What are they?” I plucked up the courage to ask, hoping my question wouldn’t pull him into the darkness.
“Cigarette burns.” his eyes clouded over as he relived a memory and I expected the conversation to end there but to my surprise he carried on. “Things were real bad when I was young, I was just a helpless kid. They would stump their cigarettes out on me, they would throw me in a crate for long hours without food, drink or bathroom breaks just so I wasn’t runnin’ around the house being loud. The bashing’s were harder too because my body could take less.”
Dark pupils threatened to swallow him whole but when I reached out and grabbed his hand some of the darkness subsided and he offered me half a smile. Although something was bugging me about the information he just shared. The word he used to describe Jax was ‘they’ and I wondered if he was also getting a beating from someone else too.
“They?” I repeated his word slowly and watched as a sad expression overwhelmed him making me wish I hadn’t pointed out that I noticed.
“Don’t think just because I protect her she’s any better than him. She’s no angel but she’s my mom and I can’t help but love her.”
He didn’t elaborate anymore than that and I didn’t push him to, I knew in his own time he would tell me more about his mom. That was the most sensitive subject to him, the hardest thing to talk about. He has an emotional connection with her unlike with Jax. I get it.
We loaded our sleeping bags and overnight bags into the trunk of Jordan’s car as well as the bags of alcohol Liam had bought yesterday. I was a little embarrassed riding with Jordan this morning because he knew Liam had spent the night with me and I expected him to fire inappropriate comments our way or ask us questions but to be honest he didn’t even acknowledge it.
“They are doing a locker sweep today so if you’ve got anything incriminating put it in Zaks locker.” Jordan announced looking back at us through his mirror.
“What would I have in my locker that is incriminating?” I asked completely bemused.
“I don’t know. Drugs?” Jordan replied.
“Alcohol?” Liam chimed in.
“A weapon?” Jordan added
“Test answer sheet?” Liam continued.
“Cigarettes?” Jordan’s turn.
“Condoms?” Liam pointed out.
“S.T.D positive med sheet?” Gross, thanks for that Jordan.
“Hey, that’s just you dude.” Liam held his his hands up in defeat but laughed at Jordan’s last suggestion.
“You never know, she could have one too after our date night.” Jordan scoffed.
“Why am I in the car alone with you people.” I laughed, looking out of my window.
When we arrived at school and I climbed out of Jordan’s car I felt like every pair of eyes was on me and I knew exactly why. It was an extraordinary sight me and them together, the whole situation felt foreign, even to me so I could only imagine what my peers thought.
“Later Olive.” Jordan shouted to me, slinging his gym bag over his shoulder and walking towards the soccer pitch. I rolled my eyes at the nickname but if I was being completely honest it didn’t bother me as much as it used to.
Liam lingered close by, he looked out of place and uneasy in his own body. Like he didn’t know how to say goodbye. It made me feel slightly awkward as well, do we hug? do we just say goodbye?
“Uh... I gotta get to soccer practice, the scouts coming today.” he finally plucked up the courage to say.
“Okay, bye Liam.” I said casually even though I really did want to give him a hug goodbye.
“See ya later Liv.” he turned and walked away while my heart argued with my head at missing my chance.
“Ta da” Harris shouted as he pulled the box off a cake that he spent a double lesson baking in home economics. He beamed at it with pride but Tia & I stared at it with wide eyes and a trickle of worry.
Sitting on the table before us was a very sorry looking sponge cake that had many layers, some of them were burnt, others beautifully golden and then some still looked like raw dough. Something for everyone, I guess. The cake leaned one way and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to do that. There was a messy display of heavy buttercream and jam falling from the sides, like legit falling onto the cake board before our eyes, making little plopping sounds on impact. As my eyes ogled this cake I thought to myself, poor cake, even your fillings don’t want to be with you.
“Please don’t make us eat that.” Tia said, causing me to hide a smile behind my hand.
Harris placed his hand across his heart in a wholly dramatic fashion and played his best hurt expression. “You’ll try some won’t you Olivia?” He fluttered his eyelashes at me to try and win me over.
“Uh... it looks like the leaning tower of Pisa, only messier.” I giggled.
“Thanks, that is exactly what I was going for.” Harris cut three slices and placed them into napkins, handing them to each of us. The napkin got soggy and sticky practically straight away but the cake tasted much better than it looked, thankfully.
During the rest of our lunch Tia quizzed me on why I hitched a ride with Jordan this morning. I didn’t even tell her about it but obviously the rumors were already flying. I also avoided telling her Liam spent the night. She has been skeptical of my friendship with Liam since the whole wrist incident and I still think deep down she believes he had done it intentionally. I made a mental note to get Liam to hang out with my friends, that way they could all get to know each other and Tia wouldn’t think he was a threat. Tonight during the lock down was a perfect opportunity, all together with no escape. A cunning smile tugged at my lips as I watched my friends bicker over hot dog toppings.
“You nervous about the scout tonight?” I asked Liam as Mr Hibbert talked about nothingness up front of the social studies classroom.
“Nah, soccer is what I do. When I’m playing soccer I don’t feel nervous, I don’t feel angry, I don’t feel hurt I just feel the game, I switch off from everything else. If there is one thing in my life that I’m truly confident about ... it’s soccer.” I searched for any hint that he was just putting on a brave face for me but there wasn’t one. I knew Liam was being completely truthful.
“So what’s your plan then, for the future?” I wasn’t sure if this question was in bad territory or not but I asked it anyway.
“I wanna become a professional player, this scouts from Stanford University. That’s one of the best colleges for soccer players and if I could get a full ride then it will give me a foot in the door for my future.” Liam spoke so passionately about his plans and I was honestly in awe.
“Wow, I never knew you even thought about college. You’ve spent high school being so reckless, I always thought you didn’t care about college or school work.”
“Of course I do. It’s all about the money, Liv. I don’t wanna have to worry about money in my future, I’ve been there and done that. I’ve gone hungry, I’ve sat in darkness with no heat because the bills were not met, I’ve seen what people do just to get money. That’s not gonna be me. I’m gonna make a shit load of money so my kids don’t have the same worries as I did or do.” Liam spoke to me like his reason was the most obvious thing in the world and I guess it was, people want a good job for the money. But I knew for Liam it ran deeper, it was personal. He wanted the money because he knows what it is like to live without it. I didn’t want to dwell on the negatives of his situation so I focused on the positives.
“You want kids?” I don’t know why I was surprised at that.
“You picked up on that out of everything I said?” Liam laughed “I mean sure I do, someday.” For some reason I could see fear fleeting in his eyes as he said that last part but as quickly as it arrived he shook it away.
Liam might not have been nervous for this game but I sure was nervous for him. I sat on the bleachers watching him huddled up with the team. I’ve never really paid attention to how good he looked in his uniform, red really was his colour. Muddy cleats sat on his feet and long red socks hid the bruises on his legs, some probably from soccer, others just a melancholy reminder of his heartbreaking home life. His shorts hung just above his knees, teasing a slither of leg and his jersey clung to his toned body, proudly displaying the number ‘10’ in white across his chest and ‘Maines’ across his back.
I traced over the people sat in the bleachers looking for someone who looked important enough to be a scout but nobody in particular stood out to me. The game had seven minutes remaining, they had played well and were, of course winning. Liams teammates seemed to be passing the ball to him a lot during this game and I knew it was because of the scout. I smiled to myself watching how much these guys supported him. Throughout the game I noticed little quirks that they would do before passing the ball to one another, like scratch their nose or tap their hands against their hips in a really quick, fleeting motion that most people probably wouldn’t catch. I wondered if it was some form of secret code or their way of communicating mid game.
When the final whistle blew the tannoy instructed everyone to gather in the gymnasium to commence the lock in.