Jayce places himself down on the toilet seat with me still in his lap, his hold on me strong enough to let me know he won’t let me fall but gentle enough it doesn’t hurt my aching limbs.
Al strips me of my clothes, making sure to bare the weight of me when she realises I can’t keep my arms raised above my head by myself for her to remove my t-shirt.
Jayce lowers me into the tub gently, the hot water stings like fuck though as it pierces its way into my skin. Everything that makes up my body shakes, until the moment I realise Jayce’s hands are under my thighs as he holds me in place and I freeze.
Fear rushes through me, memories I have long since pushed away resurfacing at the worst possible moment.
Al sees, she’s the only one that knows now Granny’s gone and she immediately leaps into action.
“Jayce, hands above the water, now.”
A tear I didn’t think I had in me runs down my face as I attempt to bury those memories down deep where they belong. Jayce pulls back quickly, but manages to capture my shoulders before I slip under the tubs mini ocean.
He looks back at Aleah. “I wasn’t.. I was just trying to..”
She kneels down next to him, putting her hand on his back before giving me a sympathetic look, wiping away the tears on my cheeks with the tenderness and understanding I love so much about her.
“It’s just Jayce Brie, it’s not him. Try to remind yourself angel. If you’re strong enough to sit alone, he can go.” She grips my hand looking for my will in my eyes but I shake my head, I know I’ll be under this water in an instant without him holding me up. Jayce looks at Al confused but she keeps her eyes on me, the pity I hate so much clear, even though I know she’s trying to keep it back. She glances at Jayce. “I can’t explain, she just can’t have someone else’s hands in her bath. Okay?”
Jayce nods, he never needs an explanation from her, he always just trusts what she’s saying as gospel and accepts it. I envy that about them more than they know.
Al turns on the shower head attached to the taps and starts to run it all over my body. The grease and dirt slip away but every part of me is so dry, it feels like the water isn’t getting the time to run down me before my pores are absorbing it.
As she begins to wash my hair my head feels so heavy it falls back. Jayce holds on to the back of my neck, he’s getting soaked as Al attempts to rid me of the filth coating my entire being. She doesn’t realise there’s not enough soap in the world to stop me feeling so dirty.
When she’s completely finished washing me she takes a glass of water from the side and begins to feed me little sips, it hits my empty stomach and makes me feel sick beyond belief but I try to stop the gagging until at least my tongue doesn’t feel so dry.
“Try this toast now.” She picks up the little piece she ripped off earlier and places it into my mouth. The cold butter soaked bread feels like a five star meal after all this time. Jayce takes the glass of water from the floor and feeds me sips between each bite of toast as they continue to take it in turns to look after me. I’ve never been so pathetic.
I try to finish it but I can’t, my stomach growling for more but my throat telling me I couldn’t swallow another bite.
They let me just sit in the murky water while the food settles, a small amount of strength returning as my body absorbs the food to replenish my reserves. Wiping the soap off my neck with a cloth, Al shivers as she feels my pultruding collarbones, her eyes darting to my prominent ribs.
“Can you stand or do you want Jayce to carry you?”
With Jayce’s assistance I manage to bare my weight through my legs for the first time in over a week. I’m wobbling so much he only let’s me take a few steps before pulling me back into his hold now wrapped in a deep navy bath towel.
Looking down I realise it’s the one with Lanzarote written across the back. None of us have ever been out of the country in my family but it was one of the ones Granny got from the church donations one year. May insisted on taking it with her to swimming lessons at school so she could pretend it came from one of our non-existent holidays.
Granny didn’t argue, she never did when it came to things like that. She just let the little puddings imagination run free as she spoke about all the adventures we’d have on our crazy trips.
“Should I put her back on her bed?”
My vision was clearer now, I could actually see how tired they both looked, I don’t think either of them have been sleeping very well with everything going on. Just another thing that’s my fault. This should be one of the happiest times in their lives and here I am ruining it, as I always do.
“No, I want to let some air in there and change the sheets... take her to Granny’s room?”
I hardly recognised my own voice it had been so long since I last heard myself speak. Both their heads snapped to me but I just kept shaking my own at them. I didn’t want to go in her room.
“I’ll take her downstairs, do you want to sit with her while I do it? Or just bring me some clothes for her when you’re done?”
Al leans up and kisses Jayce’s cheek. “I’ll get this done and bring her something. See if she’ll eat something else.”
It was becoming increasingly obvious that they had got used to me not being around, they were talking like I wasn’t even here with them. I knew I should feel loved but it was mostly just pissing me off, or maybe it was just my inability to do the shit I want to do for myself that was getting to me.
Jayce took me down the stairs, firstly stopping at the couch but hesitating when he saw it and placing me on the armchair instead.
He grasped one of the blankets from the box and tucked it around me as I sat in my towel, droplets of water slowly fell from my legs into the cushions of the chair below me and I ended up sitting in my own self-made puddle.
Jayce lent over to the coffee table and passed me my phone. “I found it on the floor a few days ago. I charged it for you but I haven’t turned it on so there will probably be loads of messages, just open it when you’re ready.” I nodded. “Do you want something else to eat? Or I can make you tea?”
I just wanted to be left alone now, I appreciated what they’ve done here but now the blanket I’ve been hiding myself under has been ripped away I feel so raw and exposed around them.
Al came down the stairs at that moment, throwing a pile of sheets to the bottom first then waddling down each one until she reached the end. She came over with a tank top and some of my old dance shorts in her hand for me to wear, I could already tell they were going to fall down on me now.
“Here babe, let me help you.”
I snatched the clothes from her hands as my patience drew thin. Why are they still here? I don’t want them all here, I just want to be left alone. Is that so hard to do?
Al didn’t look upset, in fact she looked like she was expecting it, like she knew the change that was happening within me and what that meant for her before I even did.
“Brie? Just let Lee help you and I’ll go make you some te-”
They both finally stopped trying to comfort me at the sound of my harsh tone.
“Babe, I don’t think you should be alone right now. We won’t bother you but just let me remake the bed then you can-”
Enough of this shit. They have a fucking kid on the way, they need to stop treating me like I’m the fucking trial run for their brat.
“I said, get the fuck out of my house.”
Jayce steps forward. “Brie, I know you’re in pain right now. I know you’re hurt and you’re angry but you can’t just-”
Why won’t they just fucking listen?! The phone in my hand launches across the room, Jayce snatching it in mid air at the last second before it hits his face, as I force myself to stand on my feet.
“I DON’T WANT YOU HERE! I NEVER ASKED YOU TO COME! GET THE FUCK OUT BEFORE I THROW YOU FUCKING OUT!”
I know my threats mean little as my legs vibrate under the weight of the rest of my body but I don’t care. If they don’t leave I’ll have the cunts arrested for fucking trespassing or something.
Jayce goes to say something else but Al captures his arm, shaking her head at him and pulling him back. She knows any more pushing will result in me snapping.
“Okay babe, we’ll go. We’re gonna spend the night at the new house, there’s furniture to put together there anyway. I’ll come in and see you in the morning, okay? Just leave the latch off the back door and call me or walk down if you need us.”
I can see Jayce doesn’t want to go, the anger he had a second ago wavering completely when he notices how much I’m swaying trying to stay on my feet.
“Brie, just call. Please. I’ll be here.”
Al has to pull him away and the second the back door closes I collapse back onto the chair, every ounce of energy was drained by my attempt to show dominance, I feel the final drop soak away as I pull the blanket around me to warn off the chill.
I don’t even have anything left in me to get on my clothes before the darkness takes me, my eyes caught at the last second by the empty red couch before me, the one where I last saw her beautiful face before I fall into a nightmare riddled sleep.