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Seeking Solace

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"You have NO idea how loyal Julian is. He would do anything to protect who he loves. He would never hurt you like that. [...] Has he ever told you how we became friends? Why he calls me brother? I bet he didn't [...]. He didn't turn his back on me Lívia, so don't you dare turn your back on him." Julian is a loyal friend and a dedicated brother who dreams of becoming a dancer. But he hides something from his past. Something he doesn't want to remember. Lívia is fighting her own battles, counting the days until she will be able to leave her house. Her lonely life gains a little spark of light when she meets the boy she once drew at the café. This is a story about friendship, love, trauma and self-discovery Please, read with caution since this approaches subjects that might trigger some readers such as; mentions of su1c1d3, violence, alcohol, sexu4l 4ss4ult, amongst other things Best ranking 🎖️ 6# soulsearching 09/07

Drama / Romance
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:

Prologue: Never again

He bit down on his nails to the flesh, his fingers tasted like soap, and his legs bounced under the wooden table as he looked at the door of the interrogation room. He grew tired of staring into the two-faced mirror to his left, where he could see himself nervously fidgeting in his seat.

His reflection showed hair pointing in all directions, a red nose from crying – just like his eyes – and misaligned clothes. The baggy shirt he didn’t remember putting on this morning almost hung over his left shoulder. Around his neck, his headphones sat still, the music it had been playing almost completely forgotten. The low beat of the drums from some random song on his playlist was one of the few things keeping him from getting up and sprinting out the door.

His heart rammed against his ribcage, taking his breath away, making it impossible to calm down his short breaths.

He remembered when the police came. They handcuffed him and explained the situation, but their words were in one ear and out the other because the entire time he had his eyes on his friend, who was also being handcuffed while standing next to the unconscious body of his father.

Julian was only 14, but he knew they should have gone to the hospital first. Elijah had nearly been strangled to death, the red marks around his white neck were a telltale of what was happening seconds before Julian stepped in.

He coughed, remembering the pressure he felt against his neck once he got the man off his friend.

Shadows moved behind the tiny space under the door as police officers and other employees walked around doing their business.

Even though he was expecting someone to get into the room eventually, he still found himself jumping in his seat when the door opened to reveal a woman around her thirties, with brown eyes, dark hair cascading down her shoulders. Her small face carried a carefully concerned expression on her features.

She had a folder in her hands she smiled kindly at Julian as she held the door open, so a man could enter.

He wore a black blazer over a white shirt, and his detective badge hung around his neck. The man thanked the lady and closed the door behind him as the woman took her seat on the chair next to Julian. The man chose to sit opposite to the boy.

It might have been the trauma of today’s events making him imagine things, but the boy could smell the faint stench of whiskey when the man took his seat.

He had watched enough movies to know what was about to happen, but it didn’t leave him any less nervous about the situation. His 14-year-old mind wanted to look brave and confident, but in reality, he just wanted his mom, who must be waiting somewhere outside in complete distress.

“Hello Julian, my name is Aileen. I’m a social worker. Do you know what that is?” She asked softly.

Julian nodded slowly, shooting her a look while he fidgeted with his fingers.

“This is detective Lee Anderson. The case has been assigned to him.” She explained, pointing to the detective, who nodded slightly at the boy and leaned his elbows on the table.

“Do you know why you are here?”

Julian swallowed around the lump in his throat, grabbing the edges of his seat to try to stop moving so much. He knew what was going on, but he dreaded having to talk about what happened just a few hours ago.” I know this is hard for you, but it is especially important that you tell us exactly what happened back in that apartment.”, she pressed gently.

“Is he dead?” He asked suddenly.

Aileen put her folder over the table, sighing.

“We don’t have that information yet. The last thing we heard was that he was going through surgery.” The detective spoke for the first time.

The man joined his hands over the table. “Why don’t you walk us through what happened?”

“Where’s Elijah?” The boy inquired again.

His friend had been taken away as soon as the police arrived. They put him in another car and drove away with the sirens blaring.

Both adults in the room exchanged glances. They must have expected him to have questions and seemed to be patient to get to their point.

“He is in our custody and testifying as we speak,” said the detective.

“Listen, Julian, we just want to know what happened. We need to put some pieces together and you can help us with that.”

“How long have you known Elijah?” Asked the detective.

“Four years.”

“Do you remember where you met him?”

“We go to the same school.”

“Right,” the man acknowledged, “And how is your relationship with him?”

The interrogation went on for what seemed like hours before Aileen asked if he needed some water, to which he said yes. He tried not to shake while he took the bottle of water to his mouth.

“So, you helped him get his emancipation?”


“How did you come to know of this option?”

Julian took a moment to answer. The truth was he started noticing how Elijah would show up with bruises over his body that had nothing to do with their sometimes aggressive play. When he asked if his father used to hit him, Julian almost got a fist to his face, but his friend ended up admitting it.

“I researched online.”


“Because I knew his father was beating him.”

“Did he tell you that?”


“And you believed him?”

“Yes. I saw the bruises he would get sometimes,” He explained, aware that he started to sound defensive.

“And you didn’t tell anyone else. Correct?”

“He didn’t want me to.” The boy shook his head as he stated that fact. He felt stupid for not telling any adults, but back then he was sure no one would believe him if he did.

Elijah lived in the poorest part of the town. The place was known for drug dealing and gang activities. Most teenagers in that area would drop out of school and choose crime as their path because sometimes it would offer the validation no teacher could.

When Julian had suggested to Elijah that he should tell his mom about the abuse, he’d made him promise he wouldn’t. Deep down, the older boy expected his father to change, and that his mother would suddenly show up again, so they could go back to being a family.

Even though it was stupid to think that way, Julian also didn’t want to ruin his best friend’s possibility of having a family.

And look where it got you now, he thought.

“Why were you in that apartment today?”

Julian looked at his hands, picking at the cuticles.

“He was there to get his belongings. I was going to bring him to my house so he could stay there,” he paused, but neither of the adults interjected, so he kept talking. “I was there for moral support. He told me to wait inside, near the entrance, so I stayed there for some time. I put my headphones on and waited for him for about ten minutes. When he didn’t come back after fifteen minutes, I decided to go up the stairs to the second floor to see if maybe he needed help. When I got to the front door, I noticed it was a bit open and I could see shadows moving behind it. I knew something wasn’t right so I opened the door and then...”

He trailed off, feeling breathless because narrating all that had taken the air from his lungs. His vision turned blurry and he blinked hard to clear it. His hands grabbed the water bottle just so he could have something to do with them as he tried to control the dread spreading across his chest because, as he spoke, he could see it again.

“What did you see?” Aileen’s voice coaxed him.

“I—He was,” he pressed his hands against his eyes, “His dad had his hands around his neck. They were both on the floor and Elijah was drooling and I—He didn’t stop when I came in, he just kept doing it so I just—” He started to rock his body back and forth on his seat, trying to soothe himself.

“Julian, hey,” Aileen called for him, watching the boy grow uncomfortable, “It’s okay. You are safe here. Nothing can hurt you.”

Then why did he feel like he was suffocating?

He moved his hands to take the damn headphones off from around his neck.

“I tried to stop him. I—I ran to him and kicked him on the ribs and tried to knee his face. He let go of Elijah but then he turned to me.”

A chill ran down his spine when he remembered how Elijah’s father turned his attention to Julian as his hands let go of the older boy’s neck.

“Then he got up and punched me,” his cheek hurt when he said that, “I fell

back and he—” he touched his neck and swallowed hard.

“He tried to strangle you?”

Julian closed his eyes and nodded. He could feel large hands squeezing his throat as he did it, so he immediately opened them again, “Yes.”

Silence emanated in the room for a moment as both adults analyzed the situation and exchanged a glance.

“What happened after?” The detective asked gently.

“I—I blacked out. When I woke up I—Elijah was beside me sitting on the floor and he was looking at—his dad was on the floor and there was b—blood I—” He reached for the bottle of water, but his hands were so shaky that it was impossible to drink from it.

His stomach hurt, and he heard Aileen say something, but suddenly it was too much.

Julian breathed in shortly and turned around. He knew there was a trash bin near him. He got to it just in time to not make a mess on the floor of the interrogation room and bile shot out of his mouth along with all the water he’d managed to drink.

He was mentally and physically exhausted when they got out of the interrogation room. Aileen had her arm around his shoulders helping to support him as they walked towards where his mother was waiting for him.

He saw her while they were still in the hallway. The boy felt so relieved upon seeing his mom that his legs almost gave out, making Aileen grab him in her surprisingly strong grip.

Clarisse got up immediately after seeing her son, but Julian broke eye contact with her when the door on his left opened and Elijah emerged from the room in handcuffs.

He looked as distraught as his best friend, if not more. His hair was matted to his forehead with sweat, he was abnormally pale and his shoulders slouched forward.

The boys looked at each other in surprise, but as soon as Julian trailed his eyes over his friend’s body, there was no way Aileen could hold him from falling anymore.

When Julian looked at his friend’s clothes, his mind went on overdrive. His heart jumped so hard inside his chest that he lost his breath.

The white t-shirt Elijah was wearing had gained a rose tint to it where dried blood had splattered. The jeans on his knees were 3 shades darker from the blood they had soaked in.

Even though Julian had seen it before. Even though Elijah was right beside him when he came back from unconsciousness, the sight of the blood-stained clothes was enough to make his brain short circuit.

He only remembered his mom screaming before he blacked out.

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