There's no place like home.
‘There’s no place like home’ people often use that phrase to describe a happy place, filled with fond memories that nowhere else in the world can compensate for. Home to Liam was something entirely different.
The prospect of returning home loomed over me. I was worried about everything. I didn’t want him to return back to Jax and his mom.
As the day neared closer I seen less and less of Liam, he threw himself into the escapism of soccer practice which pleased his manager who wanted him training day and night. Soon he is going to announce to the world that he is playing professionally and then everything will be official, he is just waiting on word from the manager to do so.
But there’s a small piece of me that thinks Liam has also been avoiding me because that is classic Liam. When something is troubling his mind he pushes people away. He will push even harder when he knows the fear is slowly creeping back in and he doesn’t want to show his weakness on the outside.
And you know what?
I’m willing to give Liam his space because he’ll come back to me when he’s ready, when he needs me and I’ll be there.
“I can’t believe I’m not going to see you for six weeks, I got used to having you around.” I complained to Lola as she layered lipstick over her lips and blotted loudly.
“Well it’s not quite six weeks because we have that camping trip at the end of summer.” She swiped at the skin around her mouth to make sure no lipstick had smeared but she didn’t even give me the satisfaction of eye contact. I don’t think she was going to miss me as much as I would miss her, she’s just excited to get back home. Apparently she’s close with her mom which is nice.
Our door sprung open and Liam walked in, he eyed up Lola’s snack bowl and I shook my head discretely because I knew what he was about to do. Lola continued to fuss with her face in the mirror, not even looking up to see who just walked into our room.
“You ready?” He asked as he dunked his hand inside the bowl, he pulled out a chocolate bar and started opening the wrapper. Lola looked up at him with a death glare as she heard the wrapper sounds.
“Liam! Fuck sake! What have I told you about eating my food?” She stood up with a stamp of her feet and snatched the bowl away.
“I don’t know.” Liam said with his mouth full of chocolate.
“Spit it out.” Lola growled. She grabbed the trash can and hovered it under Liams nose. Liam bit back a chocolatey smile.
“What?” He played innocent.
“Spit it out.” Lola repeated forcefully.
For a few minutes they stared at each other in silence. Liam kept his lips pursed and Lola narrowed her eyes. It was like a showdown found only in the wild west. Each player armed and dangerous. Then the unthinkable happened, Liam swallowed.
Lola’s eyes widened and she let out a loud growl. She backed up a few feet and grabbed the snack bowl, launching chocolate bars and chips at Liam as he dove in different directions to catch each one.
“Oh I got it.”
“hey, I like that one.”
“Ahh peanut butter.”
“Next one, I’m ready.”
“God you fight like kids.” I complained. “Liam give Lola her snacks back and Lola don’t throw food. Make sure you both use the bathroom before we hit the road.” I had become the parent between my boyfriend and my roommate and I wasn’t loving the new role but both children did as they were told and we were able to leave fairly quickly.
Liam didn’t say much, or anything at all during our journey and by the time we pulled into our home turf I felt Liams body tense beside me, his warmth was replaced with a cold aura that sent off waves of discomfort from his whole body. His face was blank, completely drained of any emotion and all the barriers he knocked down during the few months we had been gone were instantly put back up. Standing too high to climb.
Our neighborhood hadn’t changed much at all, every tree was the same right down to the seasonal shade, familiar stores opened for business as usual and perfect houses lined a quiet road, each one looking immaculately maintained and very homely. All except one.
I sat in the back of the cab looking at Liams side profile, trying to gauge what he was thinking as he looked out the window with a dreary expression. I was looking at the old Liam, the one I knew in high school. Gone was the Liam who was lighter, accepted that people loved him and didn’t need to have the constant fear. This Liam was guarded and waiting for something bad to happen to him.
“Stay at my house.” I said, breaking through the silence. I reached out and clutched his hand. Liam instantly flinched at the contact, something he hasn’t done for me in along time besides when he got that phone call. The cab driver made eye contact with me in his central mirror, Liam closed his eyes and sucked in the air aggressively. He was mad at himself for flinching.
“I gotta go home.” He eventually replied.
His beautiful eyes that were drenched in fear searched my face, he was seeing the concern I held for him so he offered me a smile, it was the smallest of smiles and it wasn’t a sincere one. I knew he was secretly telling me not to worry but he was worried himself so I could I not be.
“I’m not a kid anymore Liv, it’s gonna be different this time.” He didn’t have much confidence in his voice or his face but I couldn’t argue with him if this is what he wanted to do.
“Liam, on the beach you said -”
“I know what I said.” He glanced over at the cab driver and furrowed his brow. “Not here.” He concluded and I nodded, accepting that he didn’t want to talk about his private business in front of a random stranger.
The car pulled up outside my house and I felt the bile rising up to the back of my throat. In a few moments Liam would walk off towards his own house and I could not imagine the horrors that are waiting for him behind that door. My heart hurt and I didn’t want him to go. The cab driver got out and lifted our bags out of his trunk but I didn’t rush out the car or rush to grab my bags, I wanted to prolong Liam leaving as long as possible.
“Can you help me in with my bags?” I asked him. He gave me a side glance because he knew what I was doing but he picked up my bags anyway and carried them to my door.
Walking up the path to my childhood home felt strange, so many things happened in this house, so many memories but also so many feelings. I expected my parents to already to be at the door to greet me but I had to use my key to let myself in.
“Mom?” I shouted in the hallway. “Dad?” I called out.
There was no reply to either. Liam feasted his eyes around the house, remembering everything that happened here. The nostalgia was oddly comforting at a time when my heart was pounding but in confliction the empty walls made me remember how lonely it was here.
“They must not be home.” I told Liam as I led him through to the kitchen. He looked out of the patio doors at the tree house and a sad expression crossed his face. Maybe he was thinking the same thing as me, that he’ll be needing it later. He sat down on the kitchen stool and took a deep breath in.
“Liv, I’ve never faced my fears. I’m scared death of going home and seeing Jax and mom but I can’t be helpless anymore. In order to move on from my past I need to face it and regain control. I’m going to be free.”
Liam stood up and kissed me on the forehead, he stroked his hand down my hair and then let go. I didn’t know what to say to him, he offered me a lot of food for thought and I couldn’t process his words as fast as he wanted me to. Before I knew it Liam was walking down the hall towards the front door and there wasn’t a single word I could muster up to stop him.
Liam was going home.