Chapter 34: Friends forever? Don’t think so
“Hey Lucas, you wanna hang out after school? Frank’s coming over today, just a little heads up”, Gia said, catching up to the boy. She was on her way to her math class, and she was pretty sure he had geology.
“Um, not today”, Lucas mumbled. “Maybe some other time, okay? I’ll call you.”
Gia didn’t bother protesting. Somehow, even though Gia couldn’t really put a finger on it, Lucas seemed... sad. Depressed even? But one thing was for sure. Even if something was bothering him, the thought of being in the same room with Frank Iero, his personal golden god, should have cheered him up.
As she was wondering exactly what was wrong with her friend, another one appeared next to her. Well, Sherry was actually Lucas’ friend, but close enough.
“What’s eating Lucas today?” Gia asked curiously, hoping that Sherry would have the answer.
“He’s acting like that towards everyone. He’s just on his man period or something”, Sherry shrugged. “So don’t take it personal.”
But Gia couldn’t help but take it personal. Her paranoid nature took over and made her worried.
Days passed and Gia tried to talk to Lucas, but she had no success in her attempts. He would either ignore her or make a lame excuse about something he had to do elsewhere.
And Lucas wasn’t the only one acting like she was a ghost. Gerard was being awfully distant too. Then again, Gerard had a reason. He had a job. One that unfortunately required a lot of time and effort. Even Frank was too busy! Gia couldn’t tell any details even if she wanted to, because all Frank told her was that it was some sort of a ‘puppy disaster’ that may or may not anger his girlfriend. Gia didn’t want to know.
And because of Gerard’s hectic schedule and lack of time, Gia had no chance to talk to him about her grandparents. She really wanted to call them, but she figured that she should talk to her dad about it first. Too bad he was making it very difficult to talk to him.
One day, when she really couldn’t wait any longer, she decided to just... make him talk to her. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. She will stand her ground and demand some acknowledgment. Yeah. Otherwise it will never get done.
“Look, dad, I know you’re not happy about this, but I’ve given it a lot of thought over these past few days. I’m going to call Nora and Arthur and meet with them. I don’t care if you disown me and if you ground me for life, but I’m going to do it with or without your approval.”
Gerard stared at his daughter expressionlessly. He had just come back from doing very tiring and boring work stuff (the tour itself was mostly fun, but the post-tour time was just one endless meeting and rehearsing), and all he wanted to do was forget about all this drama at home and work and maybe drown himself in a pool of coffee. But obviously his daughter couldn’t allow him to relax. No, instead she decided to attack him the second he gets home. Good for Gerard for having offspring like this.
Gerard was really not in the mood for arguing at that moment, so he just sighed and tried to get past her.
“Okay, I will not allow you to ignore me too. You and I will talk!” Gia demanded, and if he wasn’t so tired, he would have probably been amused by the tiny blonde that was giving him orders.
“Gia, listen. I’m really tired, and I really don’t feel like doing this right now. Plus I have a really bad headache, which makes me angry, so I’d really like to hit someone right now, and I don’t want to do that to you. So go meet with those people, I don’t care. But can we have a little bit of quiet time now, okay?”
The girl watched in shock as her dad disappeared into his room and shut the door behind him. He didn’t care if she went to meet them? Well, in a way she was happy, but she was still expecting a fight. This was actually rather disappointing.
In a sudden feeling of courage, Gia quickly ran up the stairs to her room to call her grandparents. At least they didn’t ignore her. At least they bothered to pick up the phone when she had something to say, unlike that stupid Lucas. Who needs him anyway? If he wants to ignore her, then maybe she will do the same thing to him.
Nora and Arthur agreed to meet with Gia after school the next day. They seemed kind of excited about meeting her again. It made Gia happy, since basically everyone else has been too busy to see her lately.
And that’s why, at 3:30 PM on Wednesday, Gia headed to her favorite Chinese restaurant. When she had suggested that they could meet there, Nora had told her that she loved Chinese food too. That made Gia even happier, and she wondered if her mother had liked Chinese food, too.
The old couple was already sitting by a table in a corner of the restaurant when Gia arrived. She headed straight to them.
“Hello”, Gia smiled shyly as she approached them.
“Hi Gia! Sit down”, Nora greeted her excitedly.
Gia took a seat and placed her school bag on the floor next to her chair. It wasn’t a very fancy restaurant, so it was okay.
“So how have you been?” Nora asked. Like usual, Arthur remained silent. Gia hadn’t even heard him speak yet.
“Okay, I guess. You?”
“Oh, we were just thrilled when you called! We didn’t think you would, because of what we did all those years ago... But the fact that you did call and agreed to meet us, it just gives us so much hope!”
Nora rambled on and on, and the shy smile on Gia’s face turned into a confused one. That lady sure could talk. That’s one thing that they don’t have in common.
After they had gotten their food, Gia took a deep breath and said: “I was hoping that you could tell me a little bit about my mom.”
Nora and Arthur glanced at each other, and then looked back at Gia. “Of course. Whatever you want to know.”
“I want to know everything! What was she like? What was her favorite food? Favorite color? What were her hobbies, how did she do in school. Just everything.”
Gia watched as Nora stroked her chin with a finger as she thought about her daughter. “Your mother was... Well, simply put it, difficult. You see, Arthur is a priest, and we raised your mother to accept God in her heart as well, but from an early age, she just... fought it. Always questioning everything we tried to teach her, refusing to believe something that couldn’t be explained with cold, hard facts. She was so smart. She did well in school, especially mathematics. You know how kids want to be astronauts or rock stars or presidents when they grow up? Your mother always wanted to be a teacher.”
Gia couldn’t help but feel happy. That explained so much. Gerard had so much imagination, he was into art and music, something Gia could never understand. But her mother... She was more like Gia. A realist. No imagination what so ever.
“How did she and my dad meet?” Gia asked.
“Your dad hasn’t told you? Well, your parents had been in school together for a few years, and we never liked Gerard. He was an odd boy, always alone, his face buried in a book and wearing black clothes. Your mother was rebellious and she knew that we would never approve of the two of them being together. So, just to make us angry and shocked, she started spending time with him. And when we found out she was pregnant... We knew that she had ruined her life over something as ridiculous and stupid as rebelling. We couldn’t take the humiliation. Now we’re embarrassed about leaving, but back then we felt like we had no other choice. She had gone too far.”
Gia still didn’t understand why they did what they did, but she was happy about one thing: She got answers. Gerard refused to talk about her mother, so there had been so many questions unanswered. Now she knew. The truth hurt, but oddly, it was just what Gia needed.
It was a beautiful day in New Jersey, Belleville. Birds were singing, the sun was shining. Spring would turn to summer in only few short months, and students all over the country were ripping their hair off because of exam stress.
“I hate this!” Lucas shouted, banged his head on to the table top and kept it there. Gia had finally managed to get a hold of Lucas and convinced him to be study-buddies with her. In reality she just wanted to hang out with him again.
“Come on, it’s not so difficult”, Gia groaned. “You just have to remember it for a few weeks, and then no one will care. Let’s go over it again. In year 1776 –“
“Let me guess, some dudes did something fun just to torture me”, he mumbled.
Gia frowned. Now she was wondering why she wanted to hang out with him in the first place. Something had happened to Lucas, and she didn’t like the change. He used to be so much more fun. Now he just complained and acted cold towards her.
“You’re never going to learn it if you act like that”, she told him.
“I don’t want to learn!” Lucas shouted, slamming his book shut. “Who cares about exams?! There’s more important things to life than school!”
“How can you say that? You know that education is important!”
Lucas rolled his eyes. Sure, she was his best friend, so of course he liked her, but sometimes Gia was just too responsible. “I’m sorry, but do you know the word ‘fun’?”
“I can be fun. But right now, I have to study. Gosh, you’re so irresponsible. And not only that, but you’re lazy too”, she scoffed and turned the page of her history book.
“Well excuse me for wanting to have a life. Seriously, this stuff is boring! I want to do something else; I’m tired of studying all the time!”
Gia glared at him. “You might not care about your grades and future, but I want to get into a good college some day. So either you study with me or you can fail on your own.”
“Well if it keeps me from looking at you, then maybe I’d rather fail”, Lucas snapped, crossing his arms over his chest.
Gia just stared at him for a moment. Then she shrugged, gathered her stuff and stood up as well. “Fine then. I’ll go study to my house. But don’t come crying to me when you fail your exams.”
“Fine. And you better not come crying to me when you’re lonely and all you have is a fancy college degree.”
It wasn’t until Gia had walked out of the house and slammed the door shut that they both realized that they had just had their first real fight. Why they both got so heated up by such a trivial thing, was something neither of them understood. Stress, probably, but one thing was for sure: Neither of them were going to admit that they were wrong.
Gia was in an extremely bad mood for the rest of the day. She tried to study, but every time she started reading, Lucas’ words came into her mind. The stupid fight was all she could think about. The study-buddy thing just didn’t go the way she planned at all. She had tried to make him stop ignore her, but she just made things worse.
And as a cherry on top, Gerard was still ignoring her. She hadn’t even seen him in days. Sure, she understood that he was busy and whatnot, but a call or even a simple ‘good morning’ would’ve been nice.