Eliza goes to talk to Gerard to find out why he hadn't spoken to her, but Gerard is about to find out something shocking for himself.
The chapter title is Kids In Glass Houses.
Matters At All
If I could have had Gerard hold me in that very moment forever, I would have been happy. His arms seemed to fit so perfectly around me and the warmth from his body welcomed and embraced my cold skin.
The smell coming from his clothes made me feel giddy, yet it was a foreign smell to the one I associated with Gerard; a mixture of sweet, strong coffee and stale cigarettes. Along with everything else in the current situation swimming around my head, I found myself wondering why Gerard smelt like cigarettes, but these small inquiries could wait.
I reluctantly pulled myself away from his tight embrace and looked straight into his hazel eyes. I knew that my own eyes were rimmed with red and tear stained, but I didn’t care. Gerard had seen me looking worse in the past. Despite having so many unanswered questions I found that when I opened my mouth all of my words and thoughts had abandoned my voice as soon as I tried to speak.
A single one word question was all I could pull together and I was afraid that he wouldn’t understand, but the guilt ridden expression across his face told me otherwise.
“Eliza. I’m so sorry.” Gerard let his pain filled gaze fall to the ground as he shifted uncomfortably. “There’s a lot I need to tell you.”
“Okay.” I merely said. He looked up and our gazes were hooked once again, it felt as if I could see right into his soul as his wide eyes connected with mine, happiness and pure glee seemed to be shining from his moist irises and I hoped that was due to seeing me. But at the same time I could see so much hurt, so much worry and insecurity. Gerard was keeping a fair amount of distance from me now, he looked scared, and almost as if he was afraid that if he were to reach out and touch me again I would break.
I waited patiently to hear what it was he needed to tell me, his pale lips opening once or twice in the minutes we stood in silence, but nothing ever came.
“Gerard.” I started after a while of waiting for the boy to say something. I stopped for a few moments as I contemplated on how I would word my sentence without letting my emotions get the better of me.
“I thought I’d done something wrong.” I said each word slowly and carefully to control the way I felt like saying it. I felt like screaming and sobbing and pounding my fists onto his chest, but at the same time I just wanted him to hold me and for him to never stop. The sudden and rare feeling of bliss had now been replaced with the same anger, hurt and confusion I had been feeling over Gerard. It had been contained within my body through the previous months, forgotten, but now it was boiling through my veins once again. Even if I wasn’t crying and shouting like I felt like doing, I knew that Gerard could sense that I was angry by the way his eyes shifted away from my face and his brow creased. He let his head hang to the floor again and stuffed his hands into his coat pockets. “I didn’t want to upset you.” He chewed on his lower lip and glanced around as he, to my greatest horror, began to move apart from me.
“I’m sorry.” He muttered before turning is back to me and started to walk away.
“Gerard, please!” I called to him, baffled by his sudden departure, but he didn’t stop walking, he didn’t even turn to look at me. The last thing I wanted to do was push Gerard away. Just by spending five minutes with him made me realise how happy it was possible for me to feel. But I couldn’t ignore the fact that he hadn’t spoken to me for over a year now, and I couldn’t hide how that made me feel.
Before I knew it, Gerard was gone as quickly as he had come. I ran from the back of the school to the piazza, but he had already been lost in the sea of people. I couldn’t get over how close I was to having my best friend back.
I had ruined everything again.
I felt weak and pathetic as yet more tears started to spill down my face, maybe I had become a weak person.
I quickly wiped my cheeks with the back of my hand before darting across the piazza to the exit of the school. I didn’t care about my next class, I didn’t care that I had left my bag in the back of Alex’s car and hell I didn’t care about telling Kathleen I was going and wouldn’t be meeting her at the end of the day, I just wanted to go home.
It was dark.
I wasn’t sure of what time it was, but all I knew was that it was late. The only source of light spilling into my room was from the round full moon hanging from the deep, dark blue sky outside. I couldn’t hear voices, nor could I hear the faint hum of the TV or radio from downstairs, which meant mother must have been out, or asleep, depending on the time. I propped myself up with my elbows on my bed which I must have passed out on a good few hours ago and rubbed my eyes clear of sleep. Without even looking in the mirror I could tell what I looked like; my skin was paler than usual and thick, dark circles were rimming my tired green eyes. My hair was a mess of knots from its tips to its ends and my lips were red and sore from the cold weather.
I was a mess.
I grunted as I searched around my bed for my phone. It had escaped from my jean pocket sometime during my slumber and was now probably buried behind a wad of pillows or duvet. I almost fell out of bed and ripped the quilt and duvet toward me in hope to find my phone. It was there, thankfully, and I grabbed it quickly thinking that maybe Gerard had tried to contact me in the time that I had been asleep.
I did have three new messages and one missed call, none of which were from Gerard though. The sudden buzz of excitement quickly vanished and I sighed, sitting back on my bed and opened the first message.
It was from Kathleen.
‘Where are you?’ It read. I wrinkled my rose and moved on to the next message which was slightly better as if was from Ashley.
‘Hey, Alex gave me your bag today do you want me to bring it to yours? Are you OK? x’ I then saw that the missed call was from Ashley as well. I was relieved that she had my bag and that it wasn’t still sitting in the back of Alex’s trashy car, but the time was late, twenty past twelve in the morning to be exact and I didn’t expect Ashley to come round to my house at this hour.
‘Sorry I lost my phone. Thanks, no it’s OK can you give it to me tomorrow?’ I typed in reply to her. I waited to think about how I would answer her question of if I was ok. I decided not to tell her about Gerard.
‘Yea I’m fine now thanks see you soon. x’ I pressed send on my phone and gently dropped it onto the quilt in front of me.
The moon was still lighting up my room giving everything a dull, blue tint. It casted shadows of the nearby trees against my wall and made my skin look luminous.
I looked down at my arms. I had been wearing a vest top that day covered by a thick red hoodie. I had always covered my body up recently so I was relieved that the weather had been so cold. But now the hoodie had been discarded under the heat of my duvet and I was left with nothing but ivory, bare arms. The harsh light from the moon made my skin look even whiter, creating a great contrast between my undamaged flesh and the sharp, black cuts and scars. It had been a while since I’d cut, but the deep slashes across my body still seemed fresh and raw to me.
My lip trembled at the sight of my foul skin. I leaped out of bed and pulled on the nearest garment of clothing I could find which would cover me up. It was a black and white striped sweater which came down to my wrists. I flicked my bedside lamp on and I moved to my mirror, I looked, as I’d imagined, an absolute wreck.
My hair was a bigger mess than I had expected it to be and my eyes did not only look tired and heavy but were also swollen from the amount of crying I had endured before finally falling asleep earlier. I turned my head back towards the phone which was still sitting on my quilt. I then strangely found myself wondering if Gerard would answer my call if I decided to phone him. I also wondered if Gerard even had the same number as the one I had saved to my phone. I knew the answer was that Gerard wouldn’t answer, he hadn’t answered any of my calls before, so why would now be any different.
I let out a sigh as I stuffed my phone into my pocket, making my way to the door of my room.
I needed to talk to Gerard.
I must have been mad, stupid, or deranged.
It was freezing outside, and the walk to Gerard’s house would take almost an hour, but I still found myself pulling a pair of boots on and leaving my home at quarter to one in the morning.
I stepped out into the bitter fresh air, the only noise I could hear was the distant call of nocturnal birds in the night time sky. I looked over to our drive for mother’s black car, but it wasn’t there. I pursed my lips, realising that she must have been with Gregg instead of sleeping in her own bed. She wouldn’t miss me if I left the house, so without another thought I quickly walked down the garden and started to make my way to the central town of Belleville.
I was beginning to wish I had taken a torch with me, although the moon was still emanating light and the sky was clear from clouds, the thick trees towering over me blocked out the light leaving me in almost total darkness. Every single noise I heard seemed to get louder with each step I took as if something was following me.
I began to walk faster as the wood surrounding the road I was travelling on continued to creak as the wind blew through it, making the branches sway above me. I had been walking for about forty minutes now, and in front of me I could see street lights from the town shining brightly in the near distance.
I stared to run as I felt the noises around me start to grow louder and nearer. I could see the small houses getting closer and closer to me as I ran, my destination nearing. I kept on running through the town and I didn’t stop until I was in front of the bungalow which was the Way’s house.
I could see now that Donna and Donald Way’s large silver car was parked behind the small red car which meant they were definitely still living there, all I had do was to get Gerard’s attention without waking the rest of the family, I really hadn’t thought this plan through. I quietly crept around to the back of the house.
Gerard’s room was in the basement of the bungalow, so the only way of getting to his room from the outside was through a small rectangular window. I groaned, getting down on my hands and knees to tap on the window which was so low down on the outside wall it seemed to be sitting on the pavement surrounding the area of the house.
There was no answer, so I wrapped my knuckles against the window a little harder. I now felt incredibly stupid as I looked around cautiously to make sure no one was watching me. To my relief, the window shifted slightly, soon followed by the movement of someone shoving it open. I heard a muffled voice coming from below the window as I peered into the almost pitch blackness of Gerard’s room.
“What the fuck. Frank, is that you?” I heard someone grunt angrily from beneath me.
“What? No, Gee it’s me.” I whispered through the window as I tried to focus my eyes to see where Gerard was.
“Eliza? What the hell are you doing? It’s almost two in the morning!” He hissed back at me. I now felt even more awkward as I realised that I must have seemed rather desperate; trudging all of the way to his house this early in the morning just to talk to him.
“Yea, I know I’m sorry.” I said gingerly, my embarrassment now clearly shining through my voice. “But I really need to speak to you Gerard.” There was a moment of hesitation between our interactions before Gerard spoke again.
“Okay.” He sighed. “You can come in, just be quiet.” He pushed the window out as far as it would go, giving me just enough room to squeeze myself through the tiny window. I felt a pair of hands grab me firmly around my waist, pulling me gently to the floor as the window was quite high up against the wall on the inside of the room. I looked up to see the very faint outline of Gerard’s pale face in the dim light coming from outside. My cheeks flushed a deep crimson as I realised how close our faces and bodies were, and although it was so dark in the room I was sure Gerard could tell that I was blushing.
“Sorry.” He murmured, prising his hands away from my waist.
I couldn’t see his face anymore or feel the warmth from this body. He had gone somewhere else in the room so I waited in the darkness until the space I was standing in suddenly lit up. I turned my head to see that Gerard had switched his beside lamp on, giving my eyes access to my surroundings.
My breath hitched in my throat as I took in the sight of Gerard’s room. Nothing had changed. Drawings and quick paintings were still spread out across the floor, walls and over the desk, along with abandoned items of clothing. The desk was also over crammed with Gerard’s belongings, and so were the many shelves which seemed to cover the room’s walls which hadn’t been smothered in pieces of art.
I breathed in; the familiar smell of his room invaded my lungs. I let out a sigh, before tilting my head back to Gerard who was standing by his bed. It was still situated in front of a wooden chest of drawers near the window. He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out, so instead he gestured for me to sit down on his unmade bed. I did so. I felt the plush mattress sink slightly under my weight and I could feel the warmth from his duvet through my jeans and sweater. Gerard sat next to me on his bed, the golden light from his lamp shone on us, revealing his ghostly pale face to me. He looked almost as tired as I did. He was wearing an oversized black hoodie, he too had deep grey circles hanging from his sleepless eyes and his almost shoulder length dark hair was sticking out in all directions. Despite the fact he clearly wasn’t looking his best, something seemed beautiful about him, something so perfect. I almost felt envy for the fact that he managed to look attractive after being woken up at two o’clock in the morning.
“You okay?” My thoughts were bought to a stop as Gerard spoke. I noticed that I had been staring at him for at least a minute now and I bowed my head, feeling my cheeks begin to blush yet again.
I shouldn’t have been thinking those kinds of things about him. Neither of us spoke for a while after that, so I tried to break up the silence between us.
“So, who’s Frank?” I asked with a small smile.
“Oh, you don’t remember Frank?” He responded, smiling back to me. “He’s that short kid who lives across the way from me.” Gerard contiued. "We never used to talk to him much cos' he was kinda' shy. He goes to the Catholic school across town now.” I nodded, vaguely remembering the small boy with dark hair who lived down the same road as Gerad.
Again the same quietness returned to us.
“What did you really want to talk to me about?” Gerard asked, piercing the silence. “I don't think you came all this way to ask me about Frank, but I think I can guess what it’s gonna’ be." I peeked up at him, my hair falling across my face as I wondered how I would go about speaking to Gerard. “I need to ask you some questions.” I began. “I don’t really know where to start.” I pulled my hair to one side so I could see Gerard properly. “I know.” He sighed. “Where were you?” I asked quietly, watching as Gerard turned his head and glance at me. “I was in Newark, visiting family.”
“No, Gee, I mean, where were you when you didn’t answer my calls or my messages? Were you ignoring me?” There was only a deafening silence in response.
“Gerard?” No reply.
“Did I do something wrong?” Still no answer.
I could hear the anger bubbling up as I raised my voice, no matter how much I wanted to control how the situation made me feel I couldn’t help myself.
“Or did you just forget about me like I never meant anything to you?”
“No I didn’t!”
He suddenly cried out, his voice cracking as he did so. “You have no idea how much I missed you. I just wanted to have you back hear with me.”
I stared at him, slightly stunned by his sudden outburst and by what he had said.
He had missed me. I had wanted me home. There was nothing more that I could have wished to hear, but it all still didn’t quite make sense to me.
“Then why didn’t you talk to me?” I carried on, my voice still frantic. “Surely if you had missed me you would have answered my calls at least!”
“Listen to me!” Gerard took hold of my wrists which were still covered by my sweater and I winced at his tight grip on my cut skin. I tried to cover my facial expression of pain, but he had already noticed. He was about to tell me something when he had taken a hold of my wrists, but was now distracted by the way I had reacted to him touching me. I bit my lip with desperation, pleading that he wouldn’t see why my face had been so quick to crumple at the slight pressure on my sore flesh.
“Eliza?” The sound of his voice had changed so quickly from an exasperated tone to one which was filled with concern and worry.
“What is it?” I shook my head at him, silently begging for him to ignore what had just happened, but I knew he wouldn’t. His eyes fell away from mine to my wrists which were still buried within his hands and he let my left wrist free before moving his right hand to the sleeve of my sweater, letting his eyes link with mine again as I continued to shake my head. He saw how scared I was when his hand threatened to remove the material hiding my self-abuse; this only made his already large orbs grow wider.
“Eliza, you haven’t…” His voice trailed off into a breathless mumble as his face slowly began to fill with terror.
“Please don’t.” My voice came out so quietly I could barely hear it. It should have been so easy to break away from Gerard but I felt paralyzed underneath his clutch, so I simply shut my eyes tightly as I began to feel my sleeve being peeled away from my arm.