Gerard looks pale and sick and Mikey is normally too drunk to know what’s going on. I guess everyone deals with things differently. Amber is worried about Mikey and wants to get him help. Donna figures that once Amber is back in school Mikey will sober up again.
As Friday rolls around Amber is beyond jumpy. Her mother still hasn’t returned from her ‘business trip’ and I can tell that both my mom and Donna are keeping something from my best friend. I just wish I knew what it is.
We take two separate cars to the court house. My mom and I take my car while Amber rides alone with Donna, Gerard and a very drunk Mikey. At least the kid can hold his liquor. If not he’s be a puking mess.
The second we park Amber has her hand in mine. The poor girl is shaking like a leaf with her sweater sleeves pulled down over her hands. Amber’s lost a lot of weight so most of her clothes hang off of her making it appear that she’s shrinking into the bland sky that is forever covering Belleville. Then again, there is nothing plain about my wild red head.
It’s freezing in the court room so I shrug out of my suit jacket and hand it over to Amber. Sure she looks less professional and I’m now cold but at least she is a little warmer.
As promised I sit right behind Amber, holding her hand through the wooden railing that divides the public section from those that are testifying. I was told I might have to speak. It’s not something I’m against I just don’t know what I’d say. The memories, like deep wounds, are just starting to scab over. Talking about them would rip open the wound, causing it to sting and require the healing process to start all over again.
I can’t imagine how Amber feels.
Despite my promise I have to leave while Amber is retelling her story. I’m not the only one. A few seconds after I sit down on the bench Gerard joins me. He throws up his lunch in the garbage can before joining me.
“First time you’ve heard the whole story, huh?” I question, handing him a water bottle I’ve been carrying around with me.
He drinks for a minute, “What kind of sick fuck would do that to her? She’s seventeen for God’s sake. He broke her. He took things away from her she can never get back.”
Gerard hurls my water bottle down the hallway, “Goddammit!”
The tough decisions start now. I could tell him that Garry didn’t steal anything from her and that it was me, or, I could keep my mouth shut. Sometimes I wish I’d learn to keep things to myself.
“Gerard…Garry didn’t take Amber’s virginity,” I say softly after he’d sat back down and looked fairly calm.
He turns to me, hazel eyes on fire, making me a just a little bit uncomfortable, “Then who did?”
I gulp, closing my eyes and try to imagine Gerard not hitting me. Praying that maybe, just maybe he’ll be glad it wasn’t Garry. I let out a breath.
“I said then who the fuck did Iero,” Gerard says causing my eyes to fly open.
The world stops. I don’t get punched which is a plus but Gerard looks at a loss for words. What feels like days pass before either of us moves.
“Like five days before the assault happened. That’s why she was mad at me. We were both really drunk,” I answer still expecting to get hit.
Instead Gerard just pats me on the back and walks back into the court room. I follow behind just a little confused. Amber’s face lights up when she’s see’s me. She’s the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. Even if she can’t see it I can…I’ve seen it forever.
Taking her hands again I press my lips to her cheek, “I love you Amber.”
“You left,” she whispers back as Garry talks. “You promised you’d be here.”
“I’m sorry, Ambo, it’s just…” I stop, trying to hold the tears that threaten to spill out.
She waits patiently for me, keeping a straight face although I can see her bottom lip quiver and know she is trying to not cry. Always so brave, it’s been Amber against the world for a long while. She’s used to it by now.
“It’s difficult. I understand it’s difficult for you too but…. Can I explain things later on?” I ask hoping to God she says yes.
Her slight head nod allows me to sigh in relief just as the court sentences Garry to twelve years in prison with no chance of bail. The judge also says Garry will be subject to chemical castration. For some reason that sets Amber off causing her to stand and object.
Why, I have no clue but the judge eventually gives in. So Garry will be locked away for twelve years with no bail. Amber seems satisfied with that.
Gerard steers her away from me, the two of them walking along the curb outside of the court house as Donna and my mother talk. I know something is up. They are never that secretive. I almost wish they’d just spit it out.
Amber shrieks and I whip my head around in time to see her holding a frog in her hands. Gerard is laughing as she tries to get it back to the ground safely. Once it’s hopped away Amber pushes Gerard off the curb both of them laughing like little children.
Sighing I sit down next to a sick looking Mikey. Ignoring him I lit up a cigarette and just think. Where should I tell her, how should I tell her? Amber seems to be really into the songs I sing, I could always do that. Then again those songs are all unplanned, spur of the moment things, would it be the same when planed out? Even if it was a sweet how and where would I do it?
“Well fuck,” I grumble, dropping my cigarette and twisting it under the toe of my red converse. I know I can’t smoke around Amber. She’s got asthma…it’s bad for her lungs.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” she says looking down at me.
“Smoke, it kills people,” she answers sitting down next to me. “We’re all going out to dinner. Your mom is going home but she said you could join us.”
I stand pulling Amber close to my chest still trying very hard not to cry. She’s been through hell and come back. I just don’t know how things will be now. Amber is starting school which will pose a whole new set of problems and this court case. I’m just waiting for her to shut down again. Of course I don’t want it to happen but I’m scared it will.
“Yeah, I’ll come then I’m spending the night at your house,” I answer as Amber looks up at me with large green eyes.
“Frank….” She says as we both help Mikey up and over to the car.
“Don’t ever make me a promise you can’t keep,” Amber responds as a single tear slides down her pale cheek.
Note: Should be quite a few chapters up today mainly cause all I've done is sit around and type. :)