The CD player had played through the Green Day CD a long time ago and music no longer hid the sound of raindrops hitting the roof. A half full cup of cold Earl Gray tea stood forgotten on the night stand, and a girl was sitting cross-legged on the bed.
Even after reading the letter over and over again so many times that Gia was sure she could cite it from beginning to end from her memory, the words written with faded blue ink still made no sense.
Her hair was uncombed, her eyes tired, and her head was hurting from staying up all night. It was a school day, but Gia had decided not to go. Her father had knocked on her door at about 9 AM, asking if she was planning on going to school and if she was okay.
When he got no answer, he left.
Since then, no one else had attempted to make contact with her. That was five hours ago. School would let out in two hours, and Gia knew that Lucas would be bringing her homework.
‘One more time,’ Gia thought, and picked up the letter in front of her.
The neat handwritten words didn’t become any clearer as she read it, but instead only raised more questions.
“I can’t even imagine how you must’ve felt, and I can only hope that your father was able to give you a better life. “
Gia’s eyes started to water as she read on. The paper was already spotted with tears, the text was starting to get blurry here and there.
“I am so sorry, and I hope you will be able to forgive me. I wish I had more courage to be there for you, and I realize that making excuses is useless…”
And then, she got to the part that she just couldn’t understand.
“That night when I attempted to take my own life, something miraculous happened. I still don’t understand how, but at the hospital they managed to revive me. At first I was angry, I was supposed to die. I was prepared to give up everything. But I didn’t die.”
Gia had to stop reading so she could dry her eyes to the sleeve of her shirt.
“I don’t know how old you are now that you’re reading this letter, but I’m sure that if your father thought you were mature enough to handle this, then you must be. My only regret is that I can’t be there to see you grow up. There aren’t enough words in the world to justify my actions to you, so I’m not going to try. It wouldn’t even make a difference. But you must know that I am sorry, and I love you so much.”
For over ten years Gia had lived, thinking that her mother was gone for good. But in reality, she was out there somewhere, alive, most likely not even thinking about the life she left behind.
But what Gia couldn’t understand was why everyone let her go on, believing that her mother had died. And first of all, how could she abandon her own daughter?
Once again, the flood of tears threatened to fall down her cheeks, and Gia curled up under the sheets to try to get away. Before she knew it, her pillow was moist from tears, and her eyes were all dried out. All that remained was the feeling of hopelessness.
Gia woke up with a start to the sound of someone knocking on her door. She glanced at the alarm clock on her night stand. 5 PM. She realized that she must’ve fallen asleep. Her headache was even worse now, and she felt like she was hungover. Instead of answering to the knock, she just pulled the covers over her head.
“Gia? Are you there?” she heard her father’s voice call on the other side of the door. “Can I come in?”
When he got no answer, he opened the door. Gerard wanted to give her privacy, and he understood that she wanted to be alone, but he was worried.
“I brought you some food and tea. Gia, you need to eat,” he said, setting down the tray on the nightstand before sitting down on the bed. “Gia?”
“I’m not hungry,” the girl mumbled, the top of her head poking from underneath the covers. Gerard smiled when he saw the faded pink hair. This was the most she’d talked since they got back from Newark.
“Lucas came by to drop off your homework. He also said that Hazel told him to tell you that if you’re not at school by Friday to do the history presentation with her, she will slaughter you.” When he got no reply, he continued: “I didn’t tell him what happened. I just told him you were feeling sick. Gia, talk to me, please.”
Gerard sighed. He hated seeing her like this. Well, he would’ve felt better if he could actually see her, but he didn’t want to force her up from her bed if she really felt like staying there all day. He looked around the room, and noticed that the trash bin had been moved from next to the writing desk so it was closer to her bed. The bin was overflowing with tissues. Either she had a really bad flu or she had been crying since yesterday.
It didn’t take long for the paper on the foot of the bed to catch his attention. He picked it up, realizing that it was the letter from Stella, Gia’s mother.
Gerard had imagined that what was in that box at the bank would be some sort of a desperate attempt from Stella to justify taking her own life to the daughter she left behind. Just like a more personal suicide note, a way to say goodbye. But he had not expected that Stella would reveal the truth in it.
“Did you know?” Gia asked with a shaky voice. While he was reading the letter, she had sat up, revealing to him the messy nest of faded pink hair and red eyes.
Gerard could only nod. He couldn’t lie to her anymore. He should’ve told her, this shouldn’t have happened.
“I don’t understand,” she choked out. “I- I saw the body, she was dead.”
“She was alive. Just barely. The paramedics managed to keep her alive until they got to the hospital, where they saved her,” Gerard explained, and all the while his heart was screaming at him to stop. Gia was fifteen, but she was still so small, so young… But his brain told him otherwise. She needed to know. “I’m so sorry. You were never supposed to find out. After she woke up and found out she was still alive, she was furious. She tried to commit suicide again, but once more, she survived. Twice she tried to take her own life, and she couldn’t understand why it didn’t work.”
He saw his daughter’s eyes water, and she pulled her knees to her chest and hugged them, but he didn’t stop speaking. As long as she didn’t tell him to stop, he wouldn’t.
“Gia, your mother… She was sick. Mentally. She was diagnosed with severe depression, and she was admitted to a mental hospital after the second suicide attempt. But she knew that she couldn’t be around you. I didn’t know what to tell you during that time, it was so confusing. Because you already thought she was dead, and you were coping with it, Stella told me to keep pretending like she was dead. She didn’t want to come back to mess you up even worse. She didn’t want anyone to know, even her own parents.”
“That makes no sense!” Gia shrieked. “She should’ve come back!”
“I know. I’m sorry. It was her decision, not mine.”
“I can’t believe it. All this time she was alive and I thought… And she never even wanted to see me.”
“Your mother loved you. She just couldn’t live with how much pain she caused you. I didn’t want to go along with it, but I did anyway.” Gerard paused. If he continued now, he’d come across as the bad guy. But in a lot of ways, he already was. “And there’s something else. When she was released from the mental hospital, you were already seven years old. She… She wanted to see you.”
“What? I don’t remember seeing her,” Gia said.
“That’s because you didn’t. For months she begged me to let her meet you, gave me things to give you, letters, toys, cards… She wanted to come back to your life.” He took a deep breath. “But I didn’t let her.”
“What?” Her voice was lower than usual, a sure sign that she was getting angry.
“Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t keep you two apart just because of my personal feelings for her, but because I didn’t want her to mess up your life again. You were already traumatized enough, I didn’t think it would do good for you to see her. After a few months, she gave up trying. I guess she finally decided to move on.”
She was taking this surprisingly well. Or maybe she was just in shock. The thought only made Gerard more worried, and he already felt horrible enough as it was.
“She’s alive,” Gia said, more to herself than to him, but he nodded to confirm it. “And… Where is she now?”
“I don’t know,” he said, shaking his head. “The last I heard of her, she was moving to Canada. You were nine then.”
They sat in silence for a little while. He examined her, realizing how hard this had hit her. Knowing that your mother was dead was horrible, but finding out that she was alive but didn’t love you enough to stick around, that was a terrible feeling as well. As Gerard watched his daughter, all he could see was the little girl who had just witnessed her mother lying dead on the ground. He felt just as hopeless as he did eleven years ago on that day that he became this little girl’s only parent.
The silence in the room felt thick, and Gerard suddenly found it hard to breathe. His chest felt heavy when Gia looked at him.
Gerard and Gia didn’t have many similarities, personality wise at least. But Gerard knew how he would have reacted in this situation, so it made him worried that she may do the same. He would have wanted to forget, and drunk as much alcohol and taken as many drugs as forgetting demanded.
But what she said next was at the very bottom of the list of the things he thought she could say.
“I want to see her.”
“What? Gia, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” he replied, trying to change her mind. He didn’t want her to meet the woman. It would just cause her more pain.
“I want to see her,” she repeated with such a demanding voice that it left no room for arguments. “I don’t mean to talk to her, I just… I want to see her. She doesn’t even have to know I’m there.”
“I don’t even know where she is.”
“I don’t like this.”
“Dad, if you love me at all, you’ll find her for me. I want… No, I need to see her.”
Gerard nodded hesitantly. He didn’t want to do this. This is why he didn’t want her to know the truth.
Gia couldn’t explain why, but she needed to see her mother. Her brain told her not to, that it would only bring more pain and misery, and bring back all the old demons that she had fought off. The nightmares, the numb feeling, the fake smiles… They were all the result of her mother’s actions.
But in her heart, Gia knew that if she didn’t see her mother and get some confirmation of the fact that she was alive, she’d always keep asking herself what really happened. She had to know.
But would it be enough?
Gia wasn’t sure if she could just watch her from afar. Would she eventually want to talk to her? Would she want her mother back into her life?
There was only one way to find out.
A/N: I don't know when the next update will come out. It might take a while as I'm going through some stuff. But I'm going to try to get it out as soon as possible.