A Faltering Facade
I lean against the wall, his face so close to mine. I try backing away, but nowhere seems far enough.Why was he doing this? This wasn't the same Uncle Niall from eight years ago. Was it because he knew that I did have feelings for him, or because he didn't know still? Could it be his feelings have never changed, that he just sees me as his 'princess' still?
He doesn't step away and I look towards the door frantically, Ollie would be back at any moment.
"Niall?" My voice says shakily.
"What, I'm not 'Uncle Niall' anymore?"
I roll my eyes as I struggle to continue, "Why did you come back, really?"
"I thought it was time to."
I swallow roughly, remembering the most important thing...the thing I had forgotten in the midst of drunken stupidity..."What about your wife?"
He steps back, finally, he steps back giving me space. Niall looks at me hesitantly, "Ems, I—"
"Found them! And mom said to bring up desert!" Ollie says bursting into the room, unaware of the tense atmosphere.
"Great, that looks good." Uncle Niall says taking the tray from Ollie's hands. Ollie smiles at him and takes his sticks off the tray. He heads to the drums right away.
"Eat your ice cream first, Ollie." I know he won't but I should at least try to get him to.
"I want to play for Uncle Niall."
I turn to look at Niall and say, "Niall isn't going anywhere, are you Niall?"
He nods his head and gives me the smile I had fallen in love with so long ago, "No, I'm here to stay."
After about two hours of hearing Ollie play (murder) the drums, and hearing Niall retell stories about the days the band was together, my little brother finally tuckered out on top of his bed.
Niall smiles to himself as he places a blanket upon Ollie and quietly leads me out of the room. I could hear mum and dad watching a movie downstairs, and knew that for now they were occupied.
I tilt my head towards my room and Niall nods and leaves the door open behind him. I turn on the light and immediately he looks around, astounded.
"It hasn't changed at all."
I sit on my bed, not really sure what to do as Niall walks around my room looking at pictures upon my wall and the awards I had received all throughout secondary school.
"Wow, my little over achiever." He says with a chuckle, "What about Uni, what are you studying?"
"Undecided for now."
"What a bullshit response." He says turning to look at me, "All your life you've always known what you wanted, and you can't pick a career?"
"It's going to affect my entire life."
"My point exactly, you go by instinct, princess. You shouldn't have to think it through." I nod, not wanting to get into an argument about this now. "Are you living at Uni?"
"Yeah, I'm only back for the summer."
"It's not far?"
"No, I just needed to get out while I could." He laughs, and I smile.
"Hmmm?" He's looking at the books I had lined up upon my table, and doesn't even bother to turn back and look at me.
"What were you about to say earlier?"
He sighs loudly and walks over to where I'm sitting. He takes a seat at a respectable distance and firmly holds my gaze.
"You remember when my father died Emma?"
It wasn't too long ago, maybe two years ago. I had avoided going to another familial event luckily, but had heard from mum that Niall had taken his father's death very hard.
"It was rough, Ems. Really rough."
"I can imagine."
"I hate to say it, but a lot of shit happened during that time. I just, I didn't think I could come back til I was...somewhat me again, you know?"
I immediately feel my heart pang for him, behind the chuckles and cheeky comments, he was hurting. Even now, even after some time has passed, he still couldn't go back to who he once was.
"It took a long time to get to the place I am now Emma, and well...My wife Leah, she just..." He pauses and smiles at me, "I didn't think it was fair to her. I didn't think that she had to be tied down...by me..."
"What are you saying?"
"She left, or well, I let her go. She doesn't deserve this shit Emma. I wasn't the person she needed me to be."
"Niall." I say taking his hand in mine, he was trying not to let his facade completely falter.
"I'm okay, Ems. I'm okay." He continues holding onto my hand and smiles at me, "That's why I came back."
"To be okay?"
"To finally be okay."
I'm not sure quite where I stand with Niall. There are moments I believe we are inevitably tied together. Our lives undeniably intertwined so strongly, that one could not be without the other.
But then there are moments like these, when I am merely a child once more. As I lay back on my bed, he joins me. Both of us talking, until there is nothing left to be said. The silence is enough after words are spent.
We don't touch, we don't speak, we simply lay shoulder to shoulder. And that was enough. Knowing his heart was beating next to mine, knowing he was here next to me, knowing that for now he was here.
Eight years, 400 miles, and my heart in the palm of his hands. And still, somehow, this was enough to make it up for it all.
"I love you." I whisper.
My heart freezes. It waits for his response.
I lift my head gently and see that he's fallen asleep.
"You'll always be the person I need you to be. No matter what happens, you will always be enough."
Perhaps it was the silence, perhaps it was his unconsciousness, but the words I had never uttered were suddenly spilling out.
I lay back down and curl up into myself, turning to the other side and facing away from him. Many a night he would sleep in my bed, nights I was tormented or afraid. Nights I simply wanted him there. But now, I don't know how to feel.
"Edie, should we wake him up?" Dad sounds furious outside my door, at least as furious as dad can sound.
The door was open, I knew Niall had done that on purpose.
"Harry, he's slept over before."
"Edie, she's not a little kid anymore, this isn't right." He argues in a harsh whisper.
He was right, it wasn't. My heart would get too attached, I would yearn for him more than I already do.
"Harry, she's a smart kid. And he's done nothing but protect her. Look, he even left the bloody door open." She pauses and I could already imagine her wrapping an arm around his waist, trying to calm him down. "Talk to him tomorrow, calmly."
"No, Edie. He has to learn there are boundaries now. She's not eleven and he's not her dad or uncle or brother. He's a family friend. There are things that are appropriate and things that aren't."
"At least don't wake Ems up."
I hear the creaks on the floor, and feel my stomach starting to form knots.
"Niall?" Dad says gently moving Niall by the shoulder. I continue feigning sleep.
"Niall, you fell asleep, you need to go home."
I feel Niall sit up, "Oh, sorry mate. Yeah, I'll go home." He sounds embarrassed, as if knowing he had done something wrong.
"I'll see you tomorrow, I'm glad you back." Dad says following him out.
"Yeah, me too. Night Edie."
"Tell Emma I'll be back tomorrow."
"Will do." Dad says.
He was making sure I knew he wasn't leaving me.
In all honesty, I don't think I could take it again.