Liam seemed nervous to be alone, I sat with him while he slept for a few hours. Watching his eyelids flutter peacefully. There was something so sated to me about watching Liam sleep, I knew he was away from harm and that warmed my heart. But after he woke up he didn’t seem any calmer. On the outside he looked completely normal but inside he was going through emotional turmoil, Liam always was good at hiding his feelings.
“I’m going to go help them set up for dinner.” I told Liam.
He grabbed my arm back frantically, pulling me to his body and then pressed his forehead against mine taking me by complete surprise.
“Shower with me.” He suggested.
“What?” I released a small giggle at his joke, there was no way he could possibly mean what he just said. In a shower cubical, completely naked, pressed up against on another. Even I knew he was not up to that.
He looked towards the bathroom, the door was ajar and he could see the cubical just sitting there unused. He was contemplating his suggestion, trying to work out in his mind how he could make that work. After a few lingering moments he turned back to me and screwed his eyes closed, almost looking pained. It wasn’t convincing me anymore that he wanted this to happen.
“Shower with me.” He repeated, with fear croaking his voice.
“Liam...” I lifted my hand up slowly and rested it on his cheek, he let out an exhausted sigh. “I’m here, I’m not going anywhere. You are safe now, he’s not going to hurt you again. He’s not going to get anywhere near you again.”
“I just don’t want to be alone.” He admitted.
I looked towards the shower cubical and then back at him. He was really shaken up by the events of the last twenty four hours and understandably so.
“You want me to sit with you while you shower?” I offered, feeling a little awkward.
He exhaled largely, like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. I think he was relieved I knew he wouldn’t handle showering together but understood that he didn’t want to be alone.
“Yes.” He replied with blushed cheeks.
I followed him into the bathroom and took a seat on the toilet lid. He hesitated before removing his clothes and I knew it wasn’t just me feeling awkward about this whole thing.
“I’m sorry, I know this weird.” He said as he dropped his t.shirt to floor and I could see the embarrassment on his face.
“Don’t ever apologize for asking for help. It’s okay not to be okay.” I tried not to make eye contact with his body, I felt like I needed to give him some privacy. I don’t know why I felt so strange about this, I’ve seen Liam naked before. We’ve had sex before but something about this whole scenario felt different. There was a certain shyness in the air coming from us both.
His body was like a road map of bruises, scars and cuts. He was covered in different splodges of purple and blue, green and brown and it troubled me. I didn't understand why Liam had chose to hurt himself like that again and again. Some were lingering bruises that I had seen from the night we went to the waterfall, others were fresh and I knew he had gained them over the last twenty four hours.
I wanted to ask him about it but it didn't feel like the right time. He was already naked and vulnerable in front of me. I didn't need to make him feel self conscious as well.
Liam stepped into the shower, letting the gathered condensation on the glass shield contain some of his modesty. It made me feel more comfortable. As the water cascaded around his body I drew love hearts on the bathroom mirror in the clinging steam.
After about ten minutes he popped his head out “Hey, I’m good.”
“You are?” I asked skeptically.
“Yeah, you can go help them set up for dinner, I’ll meet you down there when I’m done.”
I wasn’t sure what brought on his sudden surge of confidence but I didn’t linger to question it either. I followed the trailing smell of food to the kitchen.
“How is he Olive?” I carried mash potatoes into the dining room and set them out in preparation for dinner. Tia had cooked us all a meal, she was the only one of us that could cook and for tonight we didn’t want to drink and we didn’t want to eat junk food. We were going to sit down together, eat a nice meal, watch some lighthearted movies and call it a night. After the past few days that we all had we were thankful for something simple.
“He seems better, he’s in the shower.” I told Jordan though I wasn’t entirely sure he seemed better. I didn’t know what was going on with him.
We all sat down in front of our full plates and made jokes about Tia poisoning us but realistically the dinner both looked and smelt delicious. Liam walked into the room with wet hair and everyone stopped talking and laughing instantly just to watch him. I felt bad for him because the awkwardness was obvious. It felt like someone had died and it was inappropriate to talk or tell jokes. I needed to say something, anything.
“Zak is an exotic dancer.” I blurted out.
All eyes turned to me with huge smiles on their faces, I cut through the awkward tension with a knife and ripped it apart. Liam looked at me with a thankful expression but he was also intrigued.
“It’s true, he told me during our seven minutes in heaven and he even did the dance... Kind of, it was a bit cramped but he made his pecks dance for sure.”
“Yeah thanks for that Liv, remind me never to trust you with any of my secrets again.” Zak teased as the whole table erupted into an uncontrollable laughter.
Once the laughter settled I sensed Liam tensing beside me and he looked at me for confidence.
“So I guess I owe you all an explanation.” He said shakily. Everyone stopped what they were doing and gave Liam their full undivided attention. He took deep breaths and I reached over to hold his hand, he gave it a squeeze.
“I had a rough childhood. That man from the diner...” Liam paused, swallowing down the darkness that clawed at the back of his throat and threatened to take over him completely. Nobody spoke around the table, they waited for Liam to compose himself and talk at his own pace.
“When I was kid he used to come into my bedroom and abuse me in the worst possible ways. It’s something I’ve never really dealt with before and nobody really knows this about me, well except Liv and recently Jordan so I’d really appreciate it if you wouldn’t spread it around. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is ... seeing him again... it really messed me up.” Liam looked down at our intertwined hands, gripping me tightly without even realizing.
At that moment everyone’s faces softened and their natural instinct was to rise to their feet and offer Liam some form of comforting touch. But I held my free hand out to stop them and shook my head. They all slowly lowered themselves back in their seats.
“We’re here for you bro, any day, any time.” Zak told him sweetly.
“Liam I had no idea, I’m so sorry that happened to you.” Reece consoled.
“This explains so much Liam.” Ben offered.
“You’re so brave, it must have been really hard to say that.” Tia said softly.
Lola and Jordan kept their heads bowed and I could see that Jordan was physically upset and I figured Lola wasn’t passing comment because she didn’t know Liam well enough but his admission was accepted with love and support, nobody questioned it any further, allowing Liam to divulge as much or as little information as he felt comfortable with.