Holly catches up with the others when she arrives in LA.
Mikey sighed, “I don’t know. He said they’d be here twenty minutes ago.”
“Shit.” Alicia muttered as she poured cola into an ice filled glass. “I really wanted to explain to everyone about Holly before she gets here.” She glanced at the clock on the wall. It had been almost a week since she’d seen Holly and happiness filled her knowing her friend would be arriving soon.
“I know.” Mikey said softly. “God, I can’t believe she’s really coming. I’m so stocked about seeing her again.”
“Hey Alicia.” Christa said wandering into the kitchen. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Yeah, grab a few glasses.” Alicia answered.
Christa nodded. “Sure. Oh, I wanted to ask you about that wind chime you have hanging by the patio door. Jamia and I want to know where you got it, it’s beautiful.”
Alicia laughed, “Let’s get everyone their drinks and I’ll explain.”
Christa looked slightly confused but nodded. Soon everyone had a drink and Alicia decided she couldn’t wait any longer. “Hey guys Mikey and I sorta invited you all over for a special reason.”
“It wasn’t just for our wonderful company?” Frank laughed.
Sitting down by Mikey before continuing Alicia grinned, “Well of course that’s part of the reason.”
“Hey any reason is okay with me.” Frank answered with a smile, “Not often Jamia and I get a chance for an evening out alone.”
“Aww does Frankie need an evening away from his baby girls?” Ray teased.
“Love the girls but a guy can only get spit up on so many times a day.” Frank said with definite love in his voice. His twin daughters were the love of his and Jamia’s life.
“Does it have to do with the wind chime?” Christa asked remembering the answer Alicia had given her in the kitchen.
“Yeah, where did you get that?” Jamia asked glancing towards the patio door. “It’s beautiful. Oh, wait. Did you make that?”
“Oh hell no.” Alicia laughed, “I’m not talented enough.”
“I love it.” Christa smiled. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like it.”
Alicia took a sip of her cola then began. “It was done by an artist named Holly Lintz" As she’d expected the room grew silent.
“Holly Lintz?” Ray repeated. “You don’t mean the Holly Lintz we know.”
“Yeah, I do.” Alicia said nodding.
“Holy shit.” Frank spoke up. “Have you talked to her?”
“She’s living in Arizona.” Alicia explained, “And yeah, I went out there and talked to her.”
Suddenly she was bombarded with questions.
“Why the hell did she just up and vanish like she did?” Ray asked.
“Yeah, what happened to her? We got back after the tour and she was gone. Shit, I still remember how upset Donna was about that. She said Holly just packed up and left without a word.” Frank added.
Alicia was sure she still didn’t really understand what had happened but she knew she needed to explain some things to her friends. “She said it was just time she moved on. She and Sonja first went back to Wyoming.” She said recalling the rest of the conversation she’d had with Holly before leaving.
“Hey, how’s Sonja?” Jamia asked innocently.
Alicia looked down at the glass in her hands, “Sonja is dead.” She answered softly. “She had married and had a little girl. Holly is raising her little girl.”
“What?” Jamia was clearly in shock. “Dead? What happened?”
“She and her husband were killed in a car crash by a drunk driver.”
“Oh shit.” Christa said sadly. “She was so young.”
“Oh poor Holly.” Jamia whispered. “So she’s raising Sonja’s daughter?”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah. Sonja’s husband Jimmy had no close family.”
“Oh, God.” Jamia shook her head, “That’s so sad. I still remember Sonja as a young teenager, so full of life. How old was her baby when it happened?”
“Just a few months.” Alicia answered. “That’s why Holly is raising her as her daughter. She plans to explain to Molly when she’s older but for now..”
“Yeah, I can understand that.” Christa said nodding. “So how is Holly?”
Alicia smiled, “Well now we come to why we invited you all here. She should be arriving any minute.”
“Holly is coming here?” Frank asked excitedly.
Mikey spoke for the first time since sitting down. “Yeah, we invited her for a visit.”
“That’s great. God, it will be good to see her again.” Jamia smiled. “She was always so much fun and so positive. I really hated that she’d moved away.”
“I always hated that she left like she did.” Christa added. “It was so weird. I mean it was like a part of our lives was suddenly gone and we didn’t know why. I remember calling her a few times when PR first started and she seemed fine.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” Jamia nodded in agreement. “I still remember the last time I talked to her. We made plans for when the tour was over. A few weeks later when I tried to call her number was no longer valid. Then we heard from Donna that Holly had left town.”
“And that she hadn’t told anyone where she was going." Frank added.
“Oh one more thing.” Alicia said waiting a moment for the conversation to die down. “You’ll all be really surprised when you see her. Hell I didn’t recognize her at first.”
“Why?” Christa asked.
It was at that moment the doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it.” Mikey said jumping to his feet.
All heads turned towards the front door.
“Holly.” Mikey said throwing the door open wide. “God, it’s great to see you.”
“Hey, Mikey.” Holly smiled while struggling under the weight of Molly who was sleeping in her arms. “Uh, I need to put her down. She’s exhausted from the car ride.”
“Sure, sure.” Mikey said standing back so that Holly could enter.
By this time Alicia had joined them. “Come on. I’ve got the guest room all ready.”
As she passed the living room Holly could see all of her old friends watching. “Hi, guys.’ She smiled softly trying not to awaken Molly.
Alicia led her down the hallway.
Back in the living room it was Christa who spoke first to Mikey who had rejoined them. “That’s Holly? Man, does she look different.”
“Yeah, like Alicia said she almost didn’t recognize her.”
“She’s lost a lot of weight and her hair is so long.” Jamia said. “She really doesn’t look like the same person at all.”
“Uh” Mikey glanced back to make sure his wife and Holly were still in the guest room settling Molly in. “Alicia kinda mentioned that Holly is kinda touchy about how she used to look.”
“Touchy?” Christa repeated, “I don’t understand.”
Mikey explained softly, “Alicia told me that Holly said back then she was a chubby nondescript woman.”
“Well she did weigh a lot more.” Jamia said remembering how Holly looked, “But she wasn’t fat or anything. I remember how I used to try to get her to dress in clothes that were smaller.”
“Yeah and Alicia and I were always trying to get her to wear make-up and changer her hair.” Christa added, “Oh shit, do you think we made her feel bad about herself?”
“I did feel bad about myself but that was my fault.”
They were all shocked to see that Alicia and Holly had reentered the room and that Holly had heard Christa’s last comment.
“Holly I’m so glad you’re here.” Mikey said standing up and walking over to pull her into a tight hug.
“It’s good to see you too, Mikey Boy.” She said returning the hug and calling him by the pet name she had given him.
Next it was Jamia turn. As soon as Mikey released Holly and stood back she hugged her. “You look great.”
“Thanks you too.” Holly answered. “And congrats on your daughters.” Alicia had filled her in on the birth of the babies.
“Thanks.” Jamia said releasing her. Suddenly her face fell. “Uh, Alicia told us about Sonja. I’m so sorry.”
Immediately Holly blinked back tears. “Thank you.”
After another round of hugs by the rest of the group Holly sat down. Alicia placed a glass of tea, which she knew was Holly’s favorite drink in front of her. She also placed a small monitor on the table at Holly’s side.
“See I thought of everything. Went out and bought a baby monitor so no matter where we are in the house we can hear Molly.”
Holly was touched by Alicia’s thoughtfulness. “Thanks.” She smiled, “But poor Molly is so tuckered out from the trip I’m sure she’ll sleep till morning.”
“Tuckered out.” Frank giggled. “God I’d almost forgotten how you talk."
Holly glanced over at him.
For a minute Frank was afraid he’d unintentionally hurt her feelings. Before he could say anything else Holly laughed.
“Yes, I said tuckered out. Don’t tell me a man with two baby daughters doesn’t understand the meaning of tuckered out.”
Frank was relieved, “Oh fuck yeah, I understand the meaning of that word.”
“You really do look great, Holly.” Christa said getting her attention. “But you were always so pretty.”
Holly snorted, “No, not really but now when I look back at that time I realize I was a work in progress. I’d started to lose weight but was still terribly uncomfortable with the way I looked. I had very little self confidence so it was easier to try to hide myself.”
“Well you must be full of self confidence now.” Ray said speaking for the first time since Holly arrived, “Because you look great and Alicia was just telling us how your wind chimes are being sold in a gallery here in LA.”
“The Hughes Gallery.” Alicia put in feeling very proud for her friend.
Holly grinned, “I’ve been lucky.”
“So how did you start designing wind chimes?” Jamia asked.
After taking another drink of her tea Holly explained, “Well I’m not sure how much Alicia has told you all but when I first left Jersey I went back to Wyoming.”
“Were you were originally from.” Christa said remembering that from the past.
Holly nodded, “Yes, I very small town. But as they say you can never really go home again. Sonja was miserable there and so was I. She was there only a few months before she bolted. She went to Missouri to live with her dad.”
“I didn’t realize your ex-husband lived in Missouri.” Alicia said.
Holly was about to say that no one knew because they’d never really asked her but she held her tongue. “Yeah, he does and that’s were Sonja went to live and that is where she met her husband Jimmy. A few months later I moved to Colorado.”
In the kitchen Gerard had just entered through the side door, which he knew Mikey always left open for him when he was coming over. He stopped dead in his tracks when he heard Holly’s voice.
“Anyway.” Holly continued out in the living room. “I moved to Manitou Springs it’s a tourist town and I loved it. During the season it’s filled with people from all over. I got a job in a gift shop and found a small apartment over another shop. One day I was walking to work when I happened to look into the front window of an antique store. The owner was curing a blue streak. Someone had knocked into a beautiful stained glass lamp and had broken the shade. I watched him throw the broken pieces of glass in a box and suddenly I just felt so sad that something so beautiful had been lost. So I went inside and asked him what he planned on doing with the broken pieces. When he told me he was going to throw them away I asked if I could have them.” She took another sip of tea then continued. “So now I had a box of broken antique stained glass. For a couple of weeks the box just sat on a table but then one morning I was walking to work and I saw some wind chimes, just ordinary ones the gift shops sell and an idea formed in my mind. I thought why not cut unique shapes out of the glass I had, add crystals and sterling silver pieces?” She laughed, “The first one I made was pretty but heavy and not at all something that could really be put outside. So I asked the owner of the gift shop where I worked if I could put it just inside the store. When she saw it she thought it was so nice that she hung it in the front window. That same day several people wanted to buy it. I kept saying it wasn’t for sale but then a man came in and wanted to know more about it. I explained that I’d made it using salvaged stained glass. He seemed pretty impressed and suggested I make another. At first I just thought he was being nice but when he gave me his card and explained he was an art dealer from LA who was on vacation I started to think maybe he was right. Maybe I could make these and people would really buy them.”
“Wow.” Christa said getting caught up in the story. “That’s so cool.”
Holly smiled, “No, the cool thing was he offered me a thousand dollars for the one I’d made. At first I thought he was joking but he wasn’t. The only stipulation he had was that I had to sign the piece for him.” She paused, “That man was Arthur Ravenell the owner of the Hughes Gallery.”
Gerard was still standing in the shadows of the kitchen were he was out of sight. While he’d been listening to Holly’s story he couldn’t help but stare at her. She looked so different it had shocked him. Still he’d know her voice and those beautiful large green eyes anywhere.
“So how many have you made?” Ray asked.
Holly thought a minute. “I just finished my eighth.”
“That” Alicia said pointing to hers, “Is number seven.”
“Yeah, she snapped it before I could send it to the gallery.” Holly kidded. She had given it as a gift to Alicia before she’d left Arizona.
“Ray, I know what I want for Christmas.” Christa said looking at her husband.
“Yeah, me too.” Jamia said to Frank.
Both men rolled their eyes. “I’m not sure I can afford one.” Frank laughed. “I’ve seen the prices in those galleries.”
“Fear not.” Holly told them. “I brought my supplies with me so I can work while I’m here. If you are serious I would love to make each of you one as a Christmas gift.”
“Oh Holly, no.” Christa said. “I couldn’t accept that. That is how you make a living, you’re an artist and like Frank said I’m sure they are expensive.”
Holly smiled feeling better than she had in a long time. She’d missed these people so much. “Well that’s the only way you’ll get one. Right now the last one just sold so there are no more for sale right now. If I can’t give it to you, you don’t get one.”
Gerard sighed softly. That was the Holly he remembered. She was always doing so much for everyone, giving whatever she had away. She was a kind soul. Suddenly that thought for some reason made him angry. He silently crossed the kitchen and pulled out the bottle of whiskey from the cabinet. Splashing a generous amount in a glass he had just taken a swallow when Holly spoke.
“Hello Gerard.” She had walked into the kitchen to refill her glass of tea refusing Alicia’s offer to do it for her.
He turned to face her. “Holly.”
She glanced at his glass then back to his face. “How are you?”
Her whole nonchalant tone angered him further. “Just fine, thanks. So what brings you here?”
In the living room the others were laughing and talking unaware that Gerard had arrived. However Holly had known, it was almost like she had sensed it when he’d entered the house.
“Mikey and Alicia invited me to visit.”
“How nice.” He sneered. “Well it’s always nice to see an old friend.” The way he said “friend” dripped with venom.
Holly stared at him. “That is what I am, isn’t it?”
Gerard took another drink, “You mean to me?”
She nodded slightly.
“Well” He paused to finish the last swallow of alcohol. “I’m sure that’s what they all think.” He nodded towards the living room.
“And what do you think?” She challenged. Her heart was racing seeing him for the first time in over four years. Alicia had been right, while he had lost weight, his eyes looked haunted.
“Hey, it’s just us, let’s be honest. We’re old fuck buddies.”
Holly stepped back as if she’d been slapped. For a moment the tension in the room was thick. “I see not much has changed.” She said taking a step back. “You can still be quite a jackass.” With that she turned and fled the room.
Gerard watched her go feeling his anger fade. Why the hell had he said that? Turning he walked out using the same door he’d entered. The others never realized he’d been there at all.