A past believed to be only friendship proves to be much more.
The vintage air-stream trailer gleamed in the bright Arizona sunlight. The reflection off the aluminum was in fact so bright Alicia Way blinked then reached back inside to nab her sunglasses off the dashboard. Once the glasses were in place she closed the car door to again stared at the trailer. She hoped with all her heart she’d done the right thing.
Walking up the small gravel path leading to the door she sighed. The heat out here in the desert was brutal. However the soft hum of the air conditioner beckoned to hurry her steps. At the door she paused only a moment then knocked.
Within seconds the door was opened just a crack.
Pulling off her sunglasses Alicia couldn’t help but stare at the face peering from beyond the door. “Holly?”
The door was pulled open and Alicia found herself enveloped in a tight hug. “What on earth are you doing here?”
Alicia returned the hug, “I came to find you.” She answered.
Holly Lintz stepped back quickly, “Well find me you did. Come in out of that heat.” She waited until Alicia stepped through the door then closed it tightly. When she turned she saw that Alicia was staring at her.
“Holy fuck at first I wasn’t sure it was you.” Alicia admitted.
Holly smiled, “Suppose I look a bit different than I did last time you saw me.” She motioned towards the sofa. “Sit. Would you like a glass of ice tea?”
“Oh yeah.” Alicia said as she sat down. “That would be great. God, it’s so hot out there. I swear I started to sweat just walking from the car to the door.”
Moving towards the small kitchen Holly laughed, “I’m sure you did. Last I checked it’s 95. This is unseasonably warm should only be in the seventies." She busied herself filling two glasses with ice before pouring the freshly brewed tea. “I just brought this in a bit ago. This Arizona temp is wicked but this weather makes great sun tea.”
Alicia was watching her friend closely. She was finding it almost impossible to believe this was the same woman she hadn’t seen in over four years.
“Here you go.” Holly said handing her the glass. She took a seat across from Alicia then smiled, “It’s good to see you.”
“Damn you look different.” Alicia said blurting out the truth.
Holly took a drink of her tea before answering. “Well I’ve lost some weight and my hair is longer.”
“It’s not just the weight.” Alicia said trying to put her feelings into words, “It’s your whole look.”
“Not the chubby nondescript woman you remember?” There was definite tone of hurt in her voice that was not missed by Alicia.
“You weren’t chubby.” She said shaking her head.
Holly sighed, “Yeah next to all of you I was.”
“All of us?”
Taking another drink of tea Holly tried to calm her nerves. The last person she’d expected to see today was someone from her past. Before she could reply Alicia spoke again.
“You mean all of us you hung with?”
This was really not something Holly wanted to discuss. “Yeah. You, Christa, Jamia. All of you always looked so good and I …well I certainly didn’t.”
This whole attitude came as a shock to Alicia. She studied her friend a minute before saying softly, “Well I think it’s just the way you dressed. I mean you were always wearing jeans and sweatshirts that were too big for you.”
What Alicia was saying was of course true. When Holly had first met Alicia she’d been in the process of losing weight but still had not been happy with her body so she’d hidden it in clothes that were always at least a size too big. Back then she’d also worn no makeup and her hair had been short and choppy. Now her hair was very long and very curly. Shaking her head to dispel those memories she forced herself to smile, “Okay I’m sure you didn’t come all the way out here to discuss how I used to look. What’s up?”
Alicia was still trying to come to terms with Holly’s new look and attitude. Suddenly the reason why she came seemed to be fading yet she knew she couldn’t let that happen. Still there was something she needed to know before she could continue. “Why did you disappear?”
Holly had been expecting the question since Alicia had walked in. “I didn’t disappear I simply moved on.”
Alicia took a sip of her tea trying to give herself a moment to gather her thoughts. The last thing she wanted was for this meeting to turn out badly. Finally she decided to simply speak from her heart. “It seemed to me like you disappeared. I mean when Projekt Rev started you were living in Jersey and when we returned you were gone. No one knew where you went.” She sat up looking directly into Holly’s eyes. “We were such good friends and then suddenly you were gone from our lives. Gerard was especially upset.” She missed how Holly’s hands slightly shook when she’d mentioned Gerard.
“It was time for me to move on.” Holly answered softly. “And besides Gerard came back a married man. I’m sure he didn’t spend any time missing me.”
Alicia didn’t agree but held her tongue. Once more she reminded herself how important this meeting could be. So instead of pursuing the current conversation she changed the subject slight. “So you’ve been here since you left?”
Holly realized by the look in Alicia’s eyes and her tone something was wrong. “How did you find me?”
Slowly Alicia reached out and set her glass on the coffee table that separated them. “I hired a private investigator.”
Her answer brought a look of shock to Holly’s face. “Why on earth would you do that?”
“I wanted to find you.” Alicia answered quickly but then added, “I needed to find you.”
Holly was about to ask why when the soft cries of a child could be heard from the other end of the trailer. Rising to her feet she smiled nervously, “Hold on.”
Once Holly disappeared into the bedroom Alicia looked around the trailer. She hadn’t noticed before but there were toys scattered here and there. On the end table next to her she saw several framed photos. In one she recognized Holly’s daughter Sonja who was hugging a young man. The other photo was of a smiling toddler.
“That was Sonja’s husband, Jimmy.” Holly said softy as she walked back into the room. She took a deep breath. “And that” She said pointed to the picture of the little girl, “Is Molly their daughter who’s not quite awake yet but I’m sure you’ll meet her soon.”
Alicia looked at the photo again, “Oh she’s adorable. I can’t believe Sonja is a mom. The last time I saw her she was just a kid herself. So you’re babysitting?”
Holly took a deep breath trying to control her emotions, “Sonja and Jimmy were killed in a car accident. I’m raising Molly.”
“Oh God, I’m so sorry.” Alicia said in shock. She reached across the coffee table to touch Holly’s arm. “I didn’t know.” She had been close to Sonja during the time they’d lived in Jersey even though at times being friends with the troubled teen had been hard.
“You had no way of knowing.” Holly whispered. “It is still very painful to talk about. She was just eighteen years old. Like me she married young. Jimmy was in the service and they were living down in Georgia. A drunk driver smashed into their car.”
“Oh Holly.” Alicia said blinking back tears, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Me either.” Holly said softly just as they both saw Molly walk slowly toward them from then bedroom.
“Mes wants juice.” She said while staring at their guest.
Holly smiled, “Molly say hello then I’ll get you a drink.”
Molly stared a moment more then smiled, “Helwow”
“Hello Molly, nice to met you.” Alicia smiled.
Rising from her seat again Holly smiled while blinking back tears in her eyes. “Okay lets get you that drink then you can watch a movie while Alicia and I visit.”
Once Holly had gotten Molly’s tippy cup filled with juice she settled the little girl down in front of the TV then returned to her previous seat.
“She’s so cute.” Alicia said while glancing across the room at the toddler now sprawled out on the carpet watching a Disney movie.
“I think so.” Holly smiled. “Now tell me the truth why did you come here.” She said softly. Much to her surprise Alicia eyes filled with tears.
“I shouldn’t have. This is all so wrong but I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Holly quickly moved from the chair to sit by Alicia on the sofa. “I don’t understand.” She said reaching for her hand.
“Shit.” Alicia said then covered her mouth afraid Molly might have heard. “If I’d have known about Sonja I wouldn’t have bothered you. You have enough sorrow and pain in your life I’m sure.”
“Alicia I realize you didn’t know I’d lost my daughter. But I still don’t understand.”
“Oh everything is going to hell.” Alicia said swiping at her tears. “Mikey is on the brink of losing it again. I just wanted to do something, anything that could help.”
“What’s happening with Mikey?” Holly asked immediately alarmed. He’d been a good friend to her and hearing he was struggling tore at her heart.
“So much has changed since you left. The band is falling apart and Mikey is taking it so hard.”
“I have to admit I’ve not kept up with anything involving the band.” Holly told her and it was the truth. She had purposely made sure to distance herself from anything that would remind her of that time in her life, “What’s happening?”
“Gerard is what’s happening.” Alicia couldn’t keep the anger from her voice. “He’s drinking again.”
“Oh.” Holly sat back, “I’m sorry to hear that.” She said reining in her emotions again.
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, it’s like he doesn’t care anymore. I mean I try to understand. I know his marriage is on the rocks. Hell he spends more time in our guest bedroom than he does at home but still. He just needs to grow up.” The anger in her voice was loud and clear.
Holly sighed, “I’m sorry.”
“I just thought maybe you could help.”
“Me?” Holly said clearly surprised, “Why would you think I could help?”
“Because you and Gerard were so close. When he was going through all that crap with Eliza you were there for him. We all knew it. You guys were such good friends. Maybe he’ll listen to you. Maybe you can make him see what he’s doing to himself, his family and friends.”
Holly stared at her.
Alicia knew she was grasping at straws but she didn’t know what else to do. “I think he’ll listen to you. He did before.”
“Oh Alicia I’m sorry but I can’t help.” Holly said slowly fighting back memories she knew she must keep buried.
“Can’t or won’t?” Alicia asked through tears.
It hurt Holly to see Alicia like this. At one time they had been inseparable. “He won’t listen to me.”
“You can’t know until you try.” Alicia said quickly. “Look I know you’re doing really well as an artist. That’s really how I found you. I saw your work in an art gallery in LA and when I saw the artists name I freaked. I thought could this really be my friend Holly? The dealer wouldn’t give me any info so I hired someone who could tell me where the artist lived.”
“Just my name is all you had to go on?” Holly asked slowly.
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, I just knew, I mean it was just a weird feeling but I was sure the artist was you. I know how you always loved old things and when I learned that the wind chimes are all one of a kind made from antique stained glass I figured it was you.”
Holly laughed, “Wow, that’s sorta hard to believe.”
“No, not really. I remember so much about you. I mean when you think about it we were only friends for less than a year but we were all so close.” She paused then added, “I always knew you were an artist at heart.”
Holly smiled, “Not exactly an artist I make wind chimes.”
“Yeah, beautiful one. The gallery owner says he’s never seen so much interest in a new artists work.”
“I’ve been lucky.” Holly said trying to play off her success.
“They are beautiful.” Alicia reiterated. “The vintage stain glass you use, the designs are so unique.” She laughed softly, “They are so you.”
“Why are my wind chimes being discussed?” Holly asked feeling slightly confused.
“Because I just figured that since they are shown in that gallery that would be a perfect reason for you to come to LA and visit us. You and Molly can stay with us for a while. That would give you a chance to get to see everyone again. We’ve all missed you, Holly.”
“But I’ve made a new life for myself.” Holly answered more for herself than Alicia. The thought of being pulled back into one that had proved to be so painful was hard to imagine.
“Please.” Alicia whispered. “Just come and visit. That’s all I ask. Maybe you’re right and there is nothing you can say or do to help Gerard but you helped Mikey before. He’ll listen to you, Holly. It’s like he’s giving up on our life together, he’s letting everything tear him apart and I can’t bare it anymore.” A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Holly closed her eyes a moment trying to calm her nerves. This whole idea was more upsetting than her friend could ever know.
“Please.” Alicia said again. “I’m not just asking for Gerard. I’m asking for Mikey and for me. I’ve missed you. You and I were like sisters and then you were just gone. For a long time I thought maybe I’d done something that hurt you.”
Holly opened her eyes, “Alicia our friendship was something I’ll always treasure. My leaving had nothing to do with you.”
“Then say you’ll come out to LA.” Alicia pressed. “Just for a few weeks, maybe more. When I told Mikey I was going to ask you he was so happy.”
Holly had to know. “What about Gerard?”
“We didn’t tell him. We thought it would be best to find out if you’d come first.”
“There is of course the chance he won’t care. He may not even want to see me.” Holly said slowly.
“I can’t believe that. I remember how you two were together. You were always bossing him around, telling him to straighten up and he listened to you. Hell you are the only one he’s ever let do that. I know he’s missed you.”
That was something Holly highly doubted but it was something she could not admit to Alicia.
“Holly he’s really bad.” Alicia said deciding to reveal the whole truth. “He’s drinking almost every day. The guys are so fed up with the way he’s acting but he won’t listen to anyone and if we try to talk to him about it he just gets pissed.”
“He’s married. It’s his wife’s place to do something.”
Sitting back Alicia frowned, “Look I like her, I really do but I don’t think she gets what’s going on. It’s like she just looks the other way. She pretends everything is just fine.”
“Maybe it is fine.” Holly said softly.
“No, if you’d see Gerard you’d understand. He’s been down this road before and each day it just gets a little bit worse.” She sighed, “I know during the time you and Gee hung out together he was really messed up about his failed relationship and then all the shit with Eliza. All of us knew he’d started drinking again and we all knew it was you who made him stop.”
“I didn’t make him stop.” Holly said shaking her head. “He had to do it himself.”
“Yeah but you pushed in the right direction. You’d tell him he was being an idiot but he didn’t get mad at you. He listened to you.”
“That doesn’t mean he would now. A lot has changed.”
“But it doesn’t mean he wouldn’t.” Alicia pushed, “Please just come and visit. We all want to see you. Mikey especially needs you. You always knew what to say to keep him from freaking out about shit.”
This whole conversation seemed surreal to Holly. Never had she imagined she’d been an important part of their lives even though they all had been very important to her. “I’m not sure it would be a good idea.’ She finally answered.
“Why not? Don’t you remember what it was like? I look back and that time was so happy for all of us. The album had just come out, Mikey and I got married and you straightened out Gerard.”
“I didn’t straighten out Gerard.” Holly sighed.
“Yes, you did. You were just what he needed at that time.” She felt guilty laying this on Holly but desperation made her add, “He needs you now. He needs a friend to tell him the truth, one he won’t get pissed at.”
Holly took a sip of tea while trying to get her emotions under control. Finally she said slowly, “I will come and visit but I can’t promise anything good will come from it. Gerard is not the man I knew then and I’m not the same person. And it’s not my place to straighten him out. He’s a grown man with a wife and child.”
Alicia smiled, “Yeah he is and he needs to hear that and I really believe you are the person to tell him.” She laughed, “God I remember that time you called him a jackass because he’d yelled at Mikey. Mikey and I sat there holding our breath thinking he’d get pissed but he didn’t. He just looked at you then apologized.”
Holly remembered the incident well. Gerard had been moody all day and had taken out his anger on his brother and anyone else who’d been within yelling distance.
“Just a visit.” Holly reiterated. “When did you have in mind?”
Alicia smiled, “As soon as possible. Stay with us for the holidays.” She smiled, “Uh, I mean unless you have someone here you were going to spend them with.”
Unfortunately there was no one here. “It’s just me and Molly.” She said softly.
Alicia smiled, “Okay then. Wow remember that Christmas we spent together? It will be just like that. Well except in LA instead of Jersey.”
Memories of that Christmas were bittersweet for Holly. “That was a long time ago. We’ve all changed so much.”
Alicia couldn’t let her change her mind, “We’ve changed but deep down we are still the same people.” Impulsively she leaned over and hugged Holly tightly. “This will be so great. Thank you.”
Once Alicia had left Holly sat back down on the sofa and closed her eyes. A voice in her head was asking her why she’d agreed. Why she had agreed to return to a place in her life that had caused so much pain.
Molly crawled up on her lap and settled in to watch the end of her movie. Absently Holly stroked her curly hair while closing her eyes. Was this all a mistake? She had no answers but vowed to herself that the woman she was today would never be hurt like she’d been hurt before. No, she would never let Gerard hurt her again.