It was a fine Saturday morning. You know the type. Birds singing, sun shining, teenagers all over the country sleeping until noon. Gia thanked heavens it was the weekend. She wouldn’t have been able to stand the other kids at school for one more day.
When Gia stumbled down the stairs, wiping the sleep off of her eyes, Gerard was already in the kitchen, devouring his first cups of coffee like his life depended on it.
“Why are you up so early?” Gia asked, glancing at the clock on the wall. It wasn’t even seven yet. Usually Gerard sleeps until noon on weekends.
“We’re having a meeting”, Gerard answered.
“Oh? What about?” Gia filled the water boiler to make herself some tea. Jersey walked around the kitchen with his leash in his mouth, waiting for Gia to take her for his morning walk.
“About the upcoming tour.”
Gia didn’t answer after that. She really didn’t like it when he went away. And besides, they just started to get along again, and now he wants to leave? What’s up with that?
“Are you okay with it?” Gerard asked.
Gia shrugged. “Sure.”
“Hey I can’t help it, it’s my job.” When she still ignored him, he sighed. “Tell you what. You can come with us for a while after your summer break starts.”
Surprised, Gia stared at him. “Huh?”
“I mean, I’ll have to check up with the others but it should be okay. So don’t get too excited yet, okay?”
But the damage was already done. Gia was happy that she might be able to go. Usually when Gerard goes away for weeks or months at a time, Gia has to stay with her grandma. Gia had never traveled. When she and Lucas ran away, it was the first time Gia was outside of New Jersey.
Jersey growled at the kitchen door and wagged his tail. Gia sighed, turned off the water boiler and took the leash from him. “Fine, let’s go then”, she said to the dog and he immediately started to bark from happiness. Gerard got up too. He had to go anyway, so might as well leave now.
Gerard waited for Gia and Jersey to get outside before he closed the door. Jersey dragged her to the sidewalk and Gia desperately tried to stay up and stop the dog from running.
“Bye dad!” Gia said and waved before she nearly fell over and realized that she should keep both of her hands on the leash.
Gerard shook his head and got into the car. Sometimes it scared him how Jersey dragger her around like she was a rag doll. Gia was so small and Jersey just didn’t seem to understand how strong he was.
The meeting went on like it normally did. They talked about where they would play, about the songs and all that. The meeting was nearing its end when Gerard decided to talk to them about taking Gia with them, and he knew that while Frank would practically start dancing his little happy dance, the others wouldn’t probably be so thrilled.
And what do you know, he was right.
“That’s a great idea! Ooh, I can share my bunk with her and we can watch movies the whole night! She can come on stage with us and we’ll have so much fun!” Frank immediately announced, excited about the idea of her coming with them.
“First of all, Frank, over my dead body”, Mikey said, “and second... Not to rain on your parade or anything but do you really it’s such a good idea?”
“I have to agree with Mikey, the tour bus isn’t necessarily a good place for a kid”, Ray said.
“Yeah, exactly”, Mikey nodded. “It’s not that we don’t want her to come... it’s just that...”
“I know”, Gerard rolled his eyes. “You think I didn’t realize that? But I can’t really just leave her here. I don’t think she likes it when I go away for months and leave her here with her grandma.”
“Gerard, you don’t have to do as she tells you to! She’s not gonna run away if you say no. She learned her lesson.”
“Yeah, and I learned mine”, Gerard argued.
He and Mikey had both leaned forward in their chairs and everyone else was just listening to them with wide eyes. Even though Gerard and Mikey were brothers, they rarely fought (with each other). They stared at each other challengingly, clenching their fists and gritting their teeth.
Finally Mikey sighed. “Fine. But if something happens to her, remember that it was your decision. And Frank, she’s getting her own bunk.”
Frank, however, had other, more pressing topics on his mind. “Lol, I’m a walrus,” the guitarist announced, shoving straws up his nose, mouth and ears.
“Did he just say lol?” Ray asked, not believing his ears. Sure, they were all quite young still, but not lol young.
Mikey was just as astonished as the rest of them. “Okay we can bring Gia, but do we have to bring the walrus guy?”
When Gerard got home, Jersey ran to greet him with loud barking as usual. After petting the dog for a moment to calm him down, Gerard said: “Where’s Gia?”
And as always, that question made Jersey go crazy. He started barking again and started running around the house, trying to find the girl. To Gerard it was kind of funny. Whenever he asked the dog that, Jersey was like ‘Don’t worry, I’m on it! I’ll find Gia!’ Sure, he was a dog, he couldn’t really say that, but if he could speak, that’s what he would say.
“Gia! Come down for a sec!” Gerard yelled into the house. Gia was most likely up in her room, and he wanted to tell her that she could come with them to tour.
“Gia!” he shouted again and went up to her room. She wasn’t there, but Jersey was. He was chewing a paper ball and growling.
Gerard rolled his eyes and groaned. “Jersey, stop eating paper. You could choke on it and then Gia would kill me.”
When Gerard took the paper from him and lifted it, a sticky orange candy fell from inside it. Jersey immediately took the candy and ran out of the room. Gerard would have run after him and tried to stop him from eating the candy, but the half-eaten, wet paper kept him occupied.
The words ‘career day’, and a phone number were the only things he was able to read from the badly chewed blue paper, but it was enough. This was one opportunity he would not miss.
“Dad, I’m home!” Gia shouted and before she could even take off her shoes, Gerard was already standing in front of her. And he did not look happy.
“Were you going to tell me about this?” Gerard asked, showing her a paper.
Gia’s eyes widened when she read the big, bold letters on the paper. It was the information about career day. “Where’d you get that? I threw it away!”
“Jersey was eating it. I don’t always go through your trash. But I am curious. I want to talk to your class about what I do!”
“Dad, no!” Gia said and started to walk up the stairs to her room.
“But why not?” Gerard whined.
“Because I don’t want you there.”
Gerard froze. She knew he did, because she turned to look. She felt bad about saying that, but it was the truth.
It didn’t take Gerard long to get over the shock and follow her. He folded the paper and put it in his pocket as he ran up the stairs to her room.
“Why don’t you want me there?” he demanded to know. “Are you embarrassed or something? Is my profession not fancy enough?”
“No, of course I’m not embarrassed”, Gia sighed. “You just... you don’t get it.”
“Well, explain.” Gerard went to sit next to her on the bed. She hesitated, but eventually decided that it might be better to just tell him. He could be very determined and stubborn when he wanted to be. He’d shake the information out of her one way or another.
“It’s just that... They know who you are. And I was kind of hoping that they would just... forget about it and leave me alone. But if they actually see you, it would just boost it up and then they would never let me be!”
Gerard sighed. “Okay, you’re not stupid. So I’m going to tell you honestly what I think, okay?”
“It’s not going to stop. The damage is done. You’re going to have to learn to live with it. Yes, they’ll stop talking about it eventually but they won’t forget. It’s not one of those problems you can solve. Instead, you ignore it and live with it. I’m sorry, it’s cruel, but it’s true.”
Gia looked down and nodded. “You’re right. I just have to cope with it somehow.” In a way, Gia was happy that Gerard could tell her the truth, even if it hurt. He didn’t lie to spare her feelings just so she can face the truth later and then get hurt. No, it was better this way.
“That’s my girl”, Gerard smiled and ruffled her hair. “Now, does this mean I can do this career day thing?”
Gia pretended to think about it. “Um, no”, she said with a grin. “I still don’t want you there.”
“Oh come on! Career day is one of those things fathers do! I’m trying my best to be a normal dad, but you’re making it really difficult”, Gerard complained.
Gia shook her head. She couldn’t believe how easy she was to persuade. “I’m gonna regret this but... Fine.”
“Yes! I’m gonna be the best damn career-person there is!”
“That’s great”, Gia grinned. “Now get out of my room, I have homework to do.”
The girl played with a strand of her hair nervously as she looked around the crowded classroom. It was full of students who were embarrassed about their parents and adults who talked excitedly to each other. Every time a parent tried to approach their son or daughter, they would flinch and hiss at their mom or dad to go away and not embarrass them.
Gia figured that she wasn’t the only one who didn’t want her dad there. And speaking of Gerard, he still wasn’t there. He dropped Gia off at school because the first class was normal, and then went off to do some work stuff quickly. And now he was late.
Okay, he wasn’t really late. But in three minutes the career thing would officially start and then he would be late. Gia kind of hoped he had forgotten about it.
Fat chance that would happen, right?
“Am I late?” Gerard asked, out of breath, wiping oil from his hands on his jacket. It was black, no one would notice.
“Unfortunately not”, Gia mumbled.
“My car wouldn’t start so I borrowed Ray’s. Hey, is Lucas here?”
“No. We’re not in the same homeroom class.”
“Thank god. I don’t have to see Tina”, Gerard sighed in relief and made Gia scoot over so he could sit next to her on the chair.
“Tina doesn’t work, so you wouldn’t have to anyway.”
Gerard rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Believe me; she would come here talk about the joys of being a housewife or something.”
Gia shrugged and started looking at the people around her again. A few students were staring at them, but mostly everyone was too occupied by keeping their own parents from telling embarrassing stories about them to notice.
Their teacher entered the room and started by making a speech to the students, then to the parents. “—And now, if we could start... Who would like to go first?”
A few parents were about to raise their hands and get up, but they were all immediately pulled back down by their kids. No one wanted their parent to be the first one.
Gerard shrugged and got up. “I’ll go first if no one else wants to”, he announced. Gia didn’t try to stop him. It was inevitable that he would do it, so might as well get it over with.
“Great!” the teacher said and clapped her hands. Some of the parents clapped too. “Now, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us what you do.”
Gerard, who had gone to sit in front of the teacher’s desk and half-sat on it, did as he was told. “Hello, I’m Gerard Way, Gia’s dad, and I’m a musician. I sing for the band My Chemical Romance.”
In the end, it wasn’t so embarrassing. Everyone listened to him talk without saying a word, and some of the students looked interested. After he was done, Gia tried to listen to the doctors, firemen and others talk about what they do, but Gerard couldn’t stay put.
“This is so boring”, he mumbled so that only Gia could hear him. Because the chair was too narrow for two people to sit, Gerard sat on the chair and forced Gia to sit on his lap. Reluctantly she had obeyed.
“Well you didn’t have to come”, Gia shot back quietly.
“You just wait until you go to high school. That’s the real hell. This is just... You know that place you go to if they don’t know whether to put you in heaven or hell? This is that.”
Gia smiled. This wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. Of course some of the students looked at her dad curiously, but that was it. Or maybe they just didn’t do anything else because their own parents were there.
Meanwhile, Gerard was enjoying one of the rare moments when he got to be a normal father. His only regret that he hadn’t done this before; he only wished that he had had enough sense to do this years ago.