The house was silent, I hated it.
For months I lived in a dorm, surrounded by noise. I got constantly disturbed by parties down the hall or arguments in the corridors. I knew the intimate sounds of my neighbors thanks to the thin walls and fell asleep most nights to the tapping of Lola's laptop keyboard.
But this house, this familiar silence was louder than I remembered. I drummed my finger nails on the kitchen counter, trying to create some noise but it didn’t comfort me anymore.
Inside I was a wreck, overthinking every possible outcome of Liam going home. I looked out towards the tree house, it stood just as before.
A huge cedar tree with a small wooden house on top, only really big enough for two adult sized people. It had dark brown walls and a green roof, complete with a window and door. Nothing particularly fancy, just extremely sentimental
I wondered how long I needed to wait before I text Liam for an update. I wanted him to update me every second of every minute he spent in that house of horrors. I just needed to know that he was okay but I knew I couldn’t pester him or be that clingy.
I opened the patio doors and walked towards the tree house, feeling the warm breeze on my skin as I climbed up the planks on the trunk. It smelt so familiar and comforting, it smelt like my childhood back when my parents were always around and my biggest concern was what doll to play with on which day.
I crawled up and leaned against wooden wall, remembering the vulnerable moments I spent comforting Liam in here. I hoped being in here would calm my nerves but it just reminded me of how much they broke him. There were drawings still taped to the walls and I took my time to admire each one.
‘A grey vase with three red tulips - Olivia aged 7’
‘Tiana and Olivia BFF - Tia aged 9’
‘My birthday cake’ - Olivia aged 7′
‘Princess Liv - Olivia aged 5’
But then my eyes found one that said ‘Liam aged 5’ and I pulled it down to inspect it properly. It was much neater than the others, still at child-like standards but you could see even from a young age that he had talents in art.
It was me and him, drawn in crayon. There was a circle of black darkness around him but around me was a circle of yellow. We held hands and there were love hearts scattered in the background. It was a child’s representation of us and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before now. I haven’t looked at the pictures on the wall since they were drawn, they were always just there.
A distant siren pulled my head up and away from the drawing. It seemed to be getting louder, getting nearer. I shuffled myself to the door just in time to see it zoom past my house at a high speed. My stomach went suddenly sick, I knew instantly where the ambulance was going.
“Liam.” I spoke out loud and quickly found my footing down the planks.
I didn’t stop, I ran as fast as my feet could carry me. The ambulance had pulled up outside Liams house, still flashing lights all over the street. The door was open wide and I didn’t hesitate to go through it, following the voices up the stairs.
“Oh my God.” I exclaimed, my eyes glued to the terrifying sight in front of me.
Liams mom lay on the floor, lifeless. Her limp body was drained of colour and a maroon liquid poured from her body, spreading everywhere. The paramedic had unbuttoned her blouse and was trying to electrify her heart to beat again. After each jolt the machine would beep to a flat line and they would try again. Desperately trying to save her.
“Liv, what are you doing here?” He wasn’t happy I was here, only now did I remember I promised him I would never come into this house. Sometimes you need to break your promises.
I couldn’t take my eyes off his mom, she looked to be slipping further and further away from life. Her body was deteriorating right before me. I have never seen anyone die before, not right before my eyes.
“I saw the ambulance and thought it was for you.” I answered him
“I told you not to come into the house.” He wasn’t reacting to his mother’s fate. He wanted to argue with me about something that didn’t really matter right now.
Did he not care? Should he care? Did I care?
They aggressively shocked her chest, making her whole body jolt. I expected her to open her eyes but she didn’t react.
“If the roles were reversed you would have done the same thing.” I answered him since he was staring at me with moody eyes, waiting for a response.
“We’ll talk about this later.” He muttered.
“We have a heartbeat.” The paramedic called out.
In the moment I heard those words I felt disappointed. I stared at his mom, her eyes remained closed over and she didn’t look anymore alive now than she did seconds before, without the heartbeat. I wanted her to die and for that I was a terrible person, I just knew if she was gone then there was nothing linking Liam back to this place. He could truly be free, move on completely and never look back.
“We will be taking her to Raysen Hospital, the officer will want to speak to you so do you want to travel with us or are you going to meet us there?”
“Officer?” I asked, not really building the whole picture in my mind of what went on before I got here.
“This lady has been stabbed, you can’t stay here either because it’s a crime scene now and the forensics are on their way. Is there anyone else who lives at the property?” The paramedic lady continued.
“Yeah, Jax.” Liam answered, saying his name like it was poison on his tongue.
“I will let the law enforcement know. We gotta get moving now, your mom needs surgery.”
“I will ride with her.” Liam told them. I slipped my hand into his and he flinched away on contact. The paramedic gave us a strange look but then preoccupied herself with Liams mom. Liams hand then found mine and shot me an apologetic glance.
We watched them place his mom on a stretcher and move her downstairs into the ambulance. It took them a while to hook her up to the oxygen monitors.
“Liv, go back home. I’m going to speak to the officers and then I’m going to stay with her until she’s out of surgery. I could be there a while.” My brow furrowed at him in confusion, absentmindedly, I didn’t mean to react in that way.
“You’re staying with her?” I asked, almost not believing it. He didn’t seem upset about his mom, in fact he seemed completely impassive about the whole situation and if it was an act it was one I couldn’t see through.
“She’s my mom.” He said quietly, his cheeks turning pink.
I looked at the ambulance and then back at him. I honestly didn’t feel like he owed her anything, certainly not comfort at a time she needed it the most. She wouldn’t have done the same for him so why did he care so much about her?
“I’ll see you later Liv.” He started walking towards the ambulance but I grabbed his hand back and he flinched again.
“Sorry.” I said coyly. I had gotten used to touching him whenever I wanted and mostly he could cope with that unless it caught him really off guard. Things were clearly different here and now I needed to retrain myself to not touch him.
“I’ll come with you.” I told him.
“You don’t have-”
“I want to.” I lied.