On her fourth week in California, when Gia was returning from yet another trip to the beach and the mall, Gia was met at her grandparents’ house with a surprise.
She was carrying three shopping bags in both of her hands, and her legs were tired from playing beach ball with Lucas, swimming and walking around town. She couldn’t wait to fall into her bed and fall asleep.
But as she got closer to her grandparents’ small suburban house, she noticed a big, black truck at the front of the house.
Wait, no. Not a truck.
As she walked closer, she saw that what she thought was a truck was in fact just a large bus, with the white My Chemical Romance logo at the side.
The second she realized who the bus belonged to, Gia’s slow steps progressed to running. The bags in her hands were jumping around wildly, but she didn’t care. In the house she threw the bags onto the floor, and ran straight into the living room from where he heard noise and smelled the familiar scent of cigarettes and coffee, which usually followed her father around where ever he went.
The peaceful chatter in the room halted abruptly when she burst into the room. The whole My Chemical Romance was packed into the crammed room with Gia’s grandparents, but the only person she saw was her father.
But of course, everyone saw her.
“Gia! Come to auntie Frankie!” Frank shouted gleefully, standing up and spreading his arms, expecting his niece to waltz straight into his sweet embrace.
But to Frank’s shock, he was pushed away from the way by Gerard, who dashed straight past him and wrapped Gia in a tight hug.
“Oh my god, what are you all doing here?” Gia asked after the hug of pure ‘you-don’t-need-to-breathe-just-hug-me-i-missed-you’ –energy.
“I have huge news,” Gerard announced. “But first, let’s discuss other things. First of all, I don’t mean to be racist but since when has your skin been so dark?”
“It’s called a tan, dad,” Gia answered, rolling her eyes. “That’s what happens when you’re in the sun.”
“I don’t like it, get rid of it.”
“Yeah, I missed you too.”
His face spread into a wide smile when he scooped her into another hug. “Of course I missed you.”
“Hey!” Frank shouted. “He gets a second hug and I get none?!”
“Get in here,” Gia laughed and parted with her father to give some much needed attention to her uncle. After Frank was satisfied with the proper greeting he received, Gia hugged Mikey, Ray and Bob in turns. After that she turned back to her father.
“So what did you want to tell me?”
Gerard smiled nervously. “Well, I know I promised you that you could stay here the whole summer, but… I think it would be better if you came with us now.”
“Uh-oh, Gee’s in trouble,” Frank giggled to Ray, who shushed him.
Everyone except Gia and Gerard quickly made excuses to leave the room. All Gia could think about was Lucas, and how she didn’t want to leave him yet.
“But dad, I’m not ready to go yet,” she argued, trying to think of an excuse. “My grandparents… They still have so much to tell me about my mom, I couldn’t possibly –“
“Nora told me that you hardly spend any time with them anyway. She told me how much you’ve been gone at the beach,” Gerard said. “And I think the outrageous skin cancer tan just proves my point.”
“But I really don’t want to leave yet.”
Gerard sighed. “Look, if you really want to, maybe you can come back next summer for a few weeks. And you can talk to your grandparents on the phone.”
She looked miserable, so he pulled her into another hug. “Don’t look so sad. You were excited to come on tour with us a few months ago.”
“I know. When are we leaving?”
“Tomorrow. So you can stay here for one more night. Me and the guys are going to a hotel. Frank bought a new swimming ring but he didn’t have a chance to test it yet. So you have some time to say good bye to your grandparents and that… Ludmila character Mikey told me about.”
“Yeah, Ludmila,” she repeated with a sigh. Lucas wasn’t going to like this at all.
Gia sat on the sand which was still warm from the hot sun which was now setting in the horizon. The sea was calm, but small waves still hit the shore, producing a soothing sound.
The girl buried her toes into the sand, and watched a few strangers walk right by the water, laughing and talking. A chilly wind blew past her, making her shiver.
“Hey, sorry I’m late,” Lucas apologized, running over to her. He threw his skateboard into the sand and sat down beside her. “Mom kept whining about how I always leave my swimming trunks onto the bathroom floor to gather mold.”
Gia smiled, but didn’t respond.
“Are you okay?”
She shook her head. “No. My dad is here. He wants me to go with them.”
Lucas took a while to answer. He wasn’t that stupid, he knew what she meant. Their time together was ending way before it was supposed to. “When?”
“Wow. That’s like… right after today.”
“Yeah it is. I don’t really want to go. At first I was really exciting about getting to go on tour with them, but then all this happened and… I’m just having too much fun. I don’t want to leave.”
“I don’t want you to go either,” he said. “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?”
“I don’t think so,” Gia sighed. “I mean, unless you can build an exact replica of me and then she could go on tour in my place. I don’t think anyone would notice.”
“I could give it a shot,” he answered.
“I guess this is goodbye then?” she said.
“It was nice having a friend. Thank you for breaking my comfort bubble.”
“Thank you for getting me through algebra.”
For over an hour, they talked on the beach, watching the sun go down. The sand was cold and the night around them was dark by the time Gia got the call to go back home. Usually the call would’ve come a lot earlier, but she figured that they just wanted to give her more time to say goodbye to ‘Ludmila’.
“So, I’ll be seeing you?” Lucas asked as they were on the road, about to leave. His right shoe was already on the skateboard, ready to take off.
“Yeah,” she smiled. On their talk tonight they had decided that they definitely weren’t saying goodbye. Gerard might try to stop them, but somehow they will get to hang out again.
“I’ll call you,” he said, and hugged her before rolling off on his skateboard. Even though they hadn’t said goodbye, she still felt like she was losing him when he skated off into distance. It just won’t be the same.
When she returned to her grandparents’ house, Gia went straight to bed without even washing up or changing. The night was spent rolling on the bed, not being able to sleep.
Having lost her only friend, Gia felt alone again.