“Liam smashed up the spare bedroom.”
“Oh shit, why?”
“Liam has always been reckless, in high school he used to get into fights all the time and damage property. He had a fight with Liv and just went off on one.”
“Shittt. I made her steal his keys, did he catch her?”
“I don’t know but whatever happened must have been pretty bad, have you seen the room?”
I cleared my throat causing Tia and Lola to pull apart rapidly and stop their hushed whispers. I ignored their eyes following me around the kitchen as I poured myself some fresh orange juice. Funny how when it’s her own gossip she can keep it to herself. Liam walked into the kitchen and I stood up straight, trying to make myself look as presentable as possible.
The awkward silence was deafening, Tia and Lola watched the whole cold encounter waiting for one of us to breathe a word to the other but Liam didn’t even acknowledge me, he took a seat at the island and flicked through his phone with his grazed knuckles.
“You all ready? Who is riding with who?” Jordan shouted from the hallway.
Liam lingered back in the kitchen when everyone walked out, without saying anything he held his hand out for his keys.
“Are you not going to talk to me at all?” I asked as I dropped the keys into his hand.
“I can’t right now Liv, it’s too raw.” He looked sorrowful and my guilt climbed.
We joined the others out front and I climbed into Jordan’s car with Tia and Lola while Liam helped Reece onto his bike. I noticed the secretive glances been Tia and Jordan, the playful bickering over the music and how she pushed his buttons but he seemed to enjoy the challenge. I had never noticed the change in dynamic between them both before but now it was clear as day.
Jordan pulled up outside the diner and we all sat in a window booth. We’ve been here before, during the tournament. I looked over at the table we sat on the last time we were here. Things were much simpler then, or were they?
I think things have always been complicated with Liam.
A grey haired lady with a deep scowl came and took our orders but I kept my head lowered because the awkward tension between Liam and I was obvious to just about everyone sitting around our table.
“We’re going out tonight, I’ve told my guy to make you all fake IDs.” Jordan informed us.
I really wasn’t feeling it but almost everybody on the table started chatting about our evenings plans excitedly while I thought up excuses to get out of it.
My eyes floated towards Liam, only briefly because I didn’t want him to catch me staring. He was wedged between Ben and Reece but didn’t engage in any conversation about the evenings plans. Instead he gazed out of the window, staring into space like he had a heavy mind filled with endless thoughts. From the outside he looked at peace and I wondered if he had calmed down anymore.
Now I wanted him to look at me. I needed to apologize with my eyes, make things right. But he refused my eye contact on purpose. Not wanting to hear my apology.
“You guys from out of town?” An older gentleman on the next table struck up a conversation with us and while the others exchanged pleasantries and small talk I continued my attempt to telepathically communicate with Liam.
“Yeah we’re staying at the lake house up on Oak Wood Lodge” Jordan told him.
“You need to go up Mount Hyde, beautiful views that stretch for miles. Make sure you make it a priority for your trip.”
Liams face had visibly drained of colour, he looked grey and I wondered if there was something horribly with him. Judging by his complexion I wasn’t sure if he was going to vomit or pass out. He sat completely still, tense and stiff battling the demons inside his own head.
“You don’t sound like you’re local, where are you from?” Tia asked the man, oblivious to Liams change in manner.
He was dressed smartly in a grey suit and white shirt, he had a rough stubble of ginger facial hair and although his hair was a little tussled it didn’t look untidy. He sat with a newspaper in his hand and I made the assumption he was some type of salesman because he clearly possessed social skills.
“Aye, I’m originally from Scotland but I moved to America twenty years ago and I’ve been dancing through the different states ever since so trust me when I say Mount Hyde is something you don’t want to miss out on. Go at sunset.”
Liams pupils had swallowed him whole and his breathing had quickened to noticeable standards. Through the slither of silver he looked directly at me screaming quietly for help. His Adams apple bobbed up as he gulped down the fear.
A small ‘V’ appeared in the center of my forehead and my lips parted as I silently asked him ‘what?’ but he didn’t give me any indication as to what was wrong. He just sat looking broken, lost and utterly destroyed.
“So what brought you here?” Lola asked the stranger.
“I got a job teaching wee kids geography, I work in the elementary school just up the road from here.”
The table erupted in ‘awhs’ except for Liam who was frozen to the core fighting with whatever memory he was reliving in his mind. I couldn’t shake the feeling like he was screaming for help internally but nobody was listening. Beads of cold sweat appeared on his forehead, shining against the cheap diner lights and in all of the turmoil I have seen Liam go through I have never seen him looking this vacant and that scared me to my core.
“Well I better go, but make sure you go see that wee mountain.”
We said our polite goodbyes and watched as he walked towards the door. The table resumed in normal chatter, everyone completely oblivious to Liams silent freak out. He sat looking at me, I sat looking at him. He was telling me something with his fearful eyes but I didn’t understand what he was trying to say.
“Isn’t that right Liam?” Reece said as she patted his hand, Liam coiled back in horror. Lifting his hand away so frantically he hit Ben on the shoulder who sat beside him. All eyes were now on him.
Liam stood up and pushed past Reece without saying a single word to anyone. The whole group watched him leave the diner with haste. Then all eyes turned to me for an explanation, including Reese’s. I chewed on my bottom lip, suddenly feeling awkward.
“So who goes after him then?” Zak quizzed as his eyes flicked between Reece and I.
“What happened Olive?” Jordan asked with complete concern.
“I have no idea.” I admitted.
“God that boy has got serious issues.” Lola huffed.
“Umm... I think you should go after him Olivia. He’ll want you.” Reece said sadly.
I looked back towards the door, the bell was still swinging from the impact of his exit and I felt nervous to go after him. Would he actually want me to go after him after last nights fight? Did I cause his freak out just now?
He was with Reece now and as much as I hated to admit it, she seemed like a nice girl. I couldn’t keep getting in the way of them but that didn’t change the fact that I still cared for Liam and right now he was hurting.
I stood up and eased my way out of the booth, following in Liams footsteps.
I found him in the parking lot pacing backwards and forwards with his hands on his head, muttering abuse at himself. I watched him from the distance having a conversation with himself in anger and when people passed him they gave him strange looks.
“Liam?” I approached him carefully.
His bloodshot eyes turned to face me frantically and I desperately tried to read his facial expressions. Hurt, broken and crippled in fear. Oh Liam.