I was walking home from school. Mikey had told me to go straight home, for some reason. Well, there’s really nothing else for me to do anyway so I didn’t care. It’s not like I could go to Blake’s anymore, what with him getting arrested and dad telling Mikey about my ‘hobby’.
I was still a bit angry about that to dad by the way. What right does he have to butt into my life? He’s never shown any interest before. Or at least, not for a very long time. And the last time he actually showed me that he cared about me, well... That was such a long time ago.
He was just being a total hypocrite.
But that’s just how the adult world works. You don’t have to live as you preach. And don’t even get me started on keeping promises.
I was just a fourteen year old girl. Even if Gerard didn’t exactly act like it, he still was my father, and there was nothing I could do. I just had to obey him. And that was unfair. It only made me dislike my dad more. It might sound cruel, but it’s the truth.
____________________________ Gerard’s POV
I walked slowly into the room and stopped to stand in the middle. I just looked around for a moment.
For at least seven years not once had I been in Gia’s room. It was like a whole another world. The rest of the house was always messy, but this room was so tidy and empty that if I had to guess, I would’ve thought that no one lived there.
I sighed and sat down on the bed. There was just one item on the nightstand. It was a framed photo, taken on Gia’s second birthday. She was standing with me and her mom sitting on the floor behind her. She was looking at the camera in confusion, her hand reaching for it. I didn’t remember that day at all.
When I picked up the photo, my hand touched something on the back of the frame. I turned the frame around and saw that there was a piece of paper between the photo and the back, and I could only see one corner of the paper. I took off the back from the frame and unfolded the paper.
The paper was already a bit yellow and old, but when I looked at it, I instantly remembered. It was the drawing that I made her one day when she was five. I had drawn Gia, standing in the rain, with an umbrella protecting her from getting wet. She wore a big raincoat and rain boots. Gia really liked playing outside as a kid, even when it rained. And even with all that equipment she always managed to get soaked, and then she’d run inside and get the whole house wet too.
I smiled to the drawing and eventually put it back inside the frame, where Gia obviously wanted to keep it. Hidden, locked away from others. Just like she had to keep her heart, to stop it from breaking.
I missed those days when we were happy, a family. Everything was so much better then. But I could only blame myself for not seeing that. I was the one who started it; Gia just adapted to the new me and changed herself to be able to deal with it.
I was so deep in my own thoughts that at first I didn’t even hear my cell ring. When I did wake up and answer, Mikey was already frustrated.
“Gerard, where are you?” my brother asked. “Gia will be home any minute.”
“I’m on my way”, I answered and hang up. Sighing I stood up from the bed and walked out of the room. I looked one more time at the simple furniture and the empty walls before I closed the door. Then I went downstairs, grabbed my luggage, keys and jacket, locked the front door and went to my car.
“Is she here already?” I asked him nervously when he came to the door.
“Not yet”, Mikey answered. “But she should be here soon.”
I had left my luggage in the car. No use dragging it in if I was just going to leave right away. At first I was going to leave without saying anything to Gia because I knew what she’d think. I basically ignore her as my family for most of her life and then when I finally gain some sense, I run off and leave her again.
But then I realized that Gia deserves to know what’s going on. And I wanted her to know that I really did care about her and that this was just my way of trying to make everything better for her.
Mikey and I went to the living room and I sat down, but Mikey remained standing. “Do you mind if I go to the store while you talk to Gia? I mean, I want you two to talk in peace anyway, so...”
“You don’t have to”, I told him, even though I knew that he’ll leave anyway.
“Well I’ll still go”, he announced and turned to leave, but I stopped him.
“Sit down. I have to talk to you too.”
My brother might be the main reason of my annoyance most of the time, and yeah, we fight, but what siblings don’t? He’s also stuck by me even though I told him to mind his own business. When I couldn’t admit that I had a slight problem with drugs, Mikey was the one who pulled me back on earth by taking away the one person who I couldn’t bear to lose.
I explained to Mikey all that and exactly how much I owed him. I swore to him that I will pay him back somehow.
“Gerard, you’re my brother. You don’t owe me anything”, he said. “It’s Gia you have to make it all up to.”
“Mikey, you’ve done so much for me already, but I have to ask for one more thing...” I started, looking at my hands.
“Well, you’ve been taking care of Gia for a long time now, so...” I couldn’t finish my sentence, and luckily I didn’t have to. Asking Mikey to let Gia to stay here for a few more months is a big deal, and it’s difficult to ask from someone who’s already done so much for you.
“You know you don’t even have to ask”, Mikey told me, grinning. “Of course Gia’s welcome to stay here as long as she needs. Me and Alicia love having her around.” He stood up to leave again, but before he left, he said: “Oh and about the album and the tour... Don’t worry about them. We’ll deal with that stuff when you get back. There’s no hurry.”
I nodded, and all I could say was: “Thanks.”
“I’ll call you”, he said, and those were his final words to me before he left. No goodbyes, no soppy ‘I love you bro’ hugs. But who needs those? Words aren’t always necessary.
Fifteen minutes passed and during that time I started to get nervous. What should I say to Gia? How will she react? I had to go find Mikey’s liquor cabinet so I would have something to relieve my nerves. I did find it, as my brother was kind of predictable. I only took one bottle of whiskey, and drank one class, only enough so I would forget about my wrecked nerves, and the rest of it I went to put in my car. I thought I might need it later. Mikey won’t need the liquor anyway.
I was sitting in the living room again when she got home.
“Mikey? Alicia?” I heard her call into the house. “I’m home!”
When no one answered her, she of course started to look for them. When she came to the living room and saw me, she instantly frowned.
“What are you doing here?”
I would be lying if I said that tone didn’t hurt, but I suppose I deserved it. “I just want to talk”, I said to her.
Gia’s mind was set on disliking me, though, so she scoffed and rolled her eyes. “I don’t have to listen to you.” She turned to leave.
“I can’t leave before I talk to you”, I said, now a bit louder. Gia had only taken a few steps, but now she stopped and looked at me over her shoulder. I knew that Gia couldn’t walk away without knowing what I wanted to say. She was too curious. It took her a while, but in the end she gave up and stomped back into the living room and plopped down on the armchair.
“What?” she asked, sounding indifferent.
I didn’t start talking right away. I still had that little problem. I had no idea what to say. Finally I sighed and without looking at her once, I started to talk.
“Okay, first of all I want to apologize.” I heard her scoff, but I ignored it. “I know that an apology won’t fix things, but I suppose it’s a start. And I have to admit that when I was getting drunk or doing drugs or whatever, I didn’t even think about how it might affect you. I know it’s selfish, but it’s the truth. So, I apologize for creating this big mess and ruining your life. I never meant to.”
At this point I dared to glance at her. Gia was just looking at me thoughtfully. Because of the absence of an angry expression, I took this as an encouragement to continue.
“If I could, I’d take all that back. But what I can do is make things better for the future.”
“And how are you going to do that?” she asked me quietly.
“I’m going to go away for a while, but I promise, once I come back, everything will be better. We’ll be happy again and I’ll take you to a carnival and buy you a flying pony, anything you want.”
This time I waited for her response. I wanted to know if she knew what I meant. And she did. “You’re going to rehab?”
“Yeah”, I nodded and gave her a small smile.
Gia sighed once again and her shoulder slouched and she admitted: “I don’t want a flying pony. I just want you to get better. I don’t forgive you and I still don’t like you, but I suppose that I support your choice to go to rehab.”
“Thank you”, I said. “That’s all I can ask for. And maybe after I come back, you’d come back home with me?”
All she said was “Yeah.” But even though she didn’t smile or show any other sign of happiness, her eyes told me that she liked the idea of going home. I’m sure Gia was perfectly happy with Mikey and Alicia here, but it’s still not quite like home.
“I’m gonna leave right away”, I told her, and she nodded.
“How long will you be gone?”
I shrugged. “A few months maybe. As long as it takes.” Then I glanced at the clock on the wall. “Actually I should be going right now. I can’t miss the plane.”
“Yeah, of course.”
I just stood there awkwardly for a moment before I went to leave the room. I wasn’t sure how I should act, and Gia didn’t seem interested in saying anything else, so I decided to just skip over the goodbyes and just leave. However, before I got to the front door, I heard footsteps behind me.
I turned to look at her. When I saw my daughter, I had never before felt so broken. The indifferent girl was gone, and an absolute wreck had taken her place.
Gia stood there in the hall before me, tears on her cheeks and her eyes red. I wanted nothing more than to beat myself with an axe for causing her to cry. But I had no time for self-pity.
I took those few steps between us and wrapped my arms around her. I didn’t even realize at that point that this was the first time in many years that I’ve hugged her. It just felt comforting to hug her, because even if she didn’t hug back, she didn’t protest either. Gia just stood still and cried silently.
Even if at that moment my heart was shattered to pieces and I felt miserable, I somehow was also hopeful. And I knew that everything will be okay again.