I started the shower, undressing and leaving my clothing draped on the counter. I stood under the spray allowing the water to cascade down my body and I let it wash away all of my apprehension. It washed away the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, and the sadness. I had nowhere to go, just like when my mom died, I was once again an orphan. It all hit me at once and I broke down, sitting on the floor, the tears blending with the water drenching my face
The loud bang of a door ripped me from my thoughts. Before I could get myself up from the floor, Silas was in the shower with me. He sat down next to me and gathered me up in his arms like he’d done on the couch. He was fully dressed and the water began to drench his clothes.
He didn’t say so much as a word as he rocked me back and forth under the spray. He was a quiet man, and I understood intrinsically that this was his way of apologizing to me. Maybe I wasn’t worthless like I’d imagined, maybe neither one of us knew what to do with the other now that we’d thrown together so dramatically.
We sat there like that, with his back against the tile and my body curled into the warmth of his. The spray coming down on him making the back of his shirt billow. Silas acted as if it were the most natural thing, me completely naked and him completely dressed, rocking together on the floor while he cradled me. He held me while I cried tears of relief into his chest. Once my tears ran out, he got up with me still in his arms, turned off the shower, and wrapped me in a giant bath towel.
“I’m sorry, Olivia, I’m so sorry,” he whispered softly. “Apparently, I’m not very good at this.”
“Are you sorry you brought me here?” I asked him. I needed to know if he regretted his actions.
“I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but I’m not sorry I took you in the least bit.”
He carried me to the bed, pulled the beige covers back, and placed me gently on the pillow, as if I were made from the most delicate crystal that might fall apart if he handled me roughly. He tucked me in and kissed me on the top of my head, while I reached out and lightly touched his broken and battered face. He closed his eyes when it happened and leaned into my touch, inhaling deeply as if to make sure the memory would remain forever etched in his mind. His reaction made me hope that maybe, Silas was just like me and he didn’t want to be alone.
“Silas, stay with me,” I said. My voice was barely audible and my words came out shakily. I never voiced my wishes or needs aloud when I lived with Paul, I saved myself the wasted breath because my needs came last on my stepfather’s list of priorities. For the first time in my entire life, I dared to ask for something I wanted.
My heart stopped. Three little words from her and my whole world tilted on its axis. She wasn’t pushing me away. She wasn’t scared of me. She was naked and vulnerable and she wanted me to stay, here, with her. Her soft hands were like a lifeline. In that moment, I felt like she saw the real me, saw past the monster I projected to the rest of the world. Up until that point, I hadn’t realized how much I truly wanted to be seen. I’d spent my whole life believing that hiding behind my rough exterior was what I wanted. But I think the whole time I was only crushing what little inside me was left alive. All it took was Olivia’s trust to break the spell. I didn’t want to hide anymore. The man I saw through her eyes was the man I wanted to become—the man I was meant to be.
“Please, Silas. Stay?” I could hear the fear in her question. Fear that I would leave her, fear that she would be rejected. How could she not know that I would never abandon her? That even if I wanted to, I couldn’t because she was my world, the only real and true part of it. The only levity in my world full of darkness. Darkness I chose to surround myself with. I opened my eyes and looked at her delicate and beautiful face and nodded. I knew I didn’t deserve her, but God help me, I wanted to. The monster in me wanted to stake claim, to be the first to touch her, to own and possess her. But I could take it slow, I’d pace myself until she was ready. She shifted then under the covers to make room for me, and I wanted nothing more than to succumb to the temptation to hold her and be close to her.