Holly admits the truth about Uncle Bob.
“Mommy can mes peas have milk?” Molly asked from her seat at the table.
“I’ll get it.” Mikey said heading for the fridge. He poured a large glass then placed it on the table in front of Molly.
“Oh Lord.” Holly said spotting the glass. “Way to over pour Way.”
Mikey gave her a confused look, “What?”
“She can’t drink that much milk and it should be in her mug.”
Molly frowned, “Mes can drink out of a glass.” Lately she’d been growing more and more unhappy with her drinks being placed in a mug with a lid.
“Yeah” Mikey said coming to Molly’s defense. She can drink out of a glass.”
Holly leaned against the counter and crossed her arms, “So Uncle Mikey are you gonna clean it up if it spills?”
Mikey leaned over and whispered to Molly, “Not gonna spill it are you kid?”
Molly gave him a serious look, “No.”
“No problem.” Mikey said sitting back up. “She’s not gonna spill it.”
Alicia laughed, “Uh, I think those two are gonna cause you trouble.”
Holly was pleased Mikey and Alicia both seems very taken with Molly. “Yeah, I think you’re right.” Suddenly her smile faded, “Just like Sonja used to get Gee to side with her against me.”
Alicia put down her plate and surprised Holly with a hug. She knew nothing she could say would take away Holly’s pain.
“So after breakfast I guess we’re heading over to Ray and Christa’s?” Mikey asked trying to bring Holly out of the past.
Holly and Alicia parted. “Yeah, that’s the plan.” His wife answered.
“Cool.” Mikey said once again he spoke to Molly, “So you like video games? Ray’s got lots of them.”
Molly gave him a confused look.
“She’s never played a video game, Mikey Boy.” Holly laughed.
“Oh.” He said frowning, “I thought all kids played video games.”
Holly pulled out a chair then sat down, “Uh, not really. I mean she’s only two…" When she saw Molly frown she added quickly “Almost three. Besides I’m not sure Ray’s games would be appropriate.”
Mikey could see her point. “Okay so I got an idea. On the way we will pop into a video store and buy one she’ll like.”
“Okay.” Holly said slowly giving it some thought. “And when we go home you’ll still have it for Bandit when she gets a bit older.”
Alicia spoke up quickly, “No talking about leaving.” She said before popping a bite of cinnamon roll in her mouth.
Holly laughed, “Well we aren’t gonna stay forever.”
“And why not?” Mikey asked.
“Mikey, really.” Holly tried not to roll her eyes. “Molly and I have a home you know.”
Molly nodded, “A twayler.”
“A nice trailer.” Holly felt it necessary to add. “A Twinkie trailer.”
Mikey grinned, “Yeah, Alicia told me. I like those old Air Steams they are cool as fu…” he snapped his mouth shut before the word could pop out. Unfortunately he saw that Molly was looking at him. “They are cool as fudge.”
“Good catch.” Holly said trying not to laugh.
“Wow that looks so good on you.” Christa said with a smile as soon as Holly walked out of the dressing room. “But damn, you’re skinny.”
For the past hour the three friends had been shopping but this was the first time Holly had found something to try.
Holly turned back in forth in the 3-way mirror trying to see the jeans from different views.
“Your butt looks great.” Alicia laughed watching her friend. “What size are those?”
“Two” Holly said craning her neck to see her behind. “I think the design on the pocket looks stupid.”
“Two?” Alicia and Christa exchanged a look that Holly missed.
“Don’t like them.” Holly sighed before returning to the dressing room.
“Hey, don’t you think she’s almost too skinny?” Christa whispered to Alicia.
Alicia nodded. “Mikey and I were just saying that last night.” She glanced at the dressing room to make sure Holly had reemerged. “I’ve been watching and she really doesn’t eat enough. I’m kinda worried about her.” She was about to say more but Holly walked out.
“You guys didn’t find anything to try on?”
Alicia shook her head, “Nope. Uh I think we should go have lunch now. Sound good?”
“I’m not really hungry but if you guys are it’s okay with me,” Holly answered.
“Good.” Alicia said linking arms with her. “We’ll eat then shop some more.”
As the three women walked down the mall towards the food court Holly decided to be honest with her friends. “I’m kinda worried. Do you think the guys are okay with watching Molly?”
“Why wouldn’t they be?” Christa asked.
“I’m just being silly but to be honest I’ve not left Molly with anyone before.”
Alicia was surprise. “Never?”
Holly shook her head. “No.”
“Well I’m sure they’re fine.” Christa said wanting to put her mind at ease. “By now she’s probably beating Ray playing that Dora the Explorer game.”
Holly laughed, “It’s nice Mikey bought that game.”
“He really likes Molly.” Alicia said smiling. “Gotta say I’m glad. Uh I’m hoping he’ll come around soon.”
“Come around?” Holly asked as they continued towards the crowded food area.
Alicia sighed, “Yeah, you know starting a family.”
Christa slowed her steps. “You want to start a family?”
“I do.” Alicia said softly, “But Mikey doesn’t.”
Holly could see the unhappiness in her friend’s eyes. “He’s probably just a bit unsure. It’s a big step.”
“Yeah but I really thought that once Gerard had a kid Mikey would warm to the idea but he hasn’t.”
“Have you told him how you feel?” Holly asked.
“Yeah but he always finds a way to change the subject. Last time I brought it up he said things are too unsure with the band right now.”
Christa understood Mikey’s feelings. “Well they kinda are I guess.”
Holly suddenly felt out of the loop. “What’s going on with the band?”
They arrived at the food court and postponed the conversation until they had gotten their food and found a table. Once seated Christa started to explain.
“The new album isn’t doing as well as we’d hoped.”
“And Gerard, being Gerard, seems to be putting all the blame on himself.” Alicia added. “You know how his is.”
Holly did know, she knew well. “He really shouldn’t do that. And I’m sure the fans love the album.”
“Sure they do.” Alicia nodded, “But all it takes is one bad review to set Gerard off.”
“He can’t make himself stop striving for everyone’s acceptance.” Holly said looking down.
Christa and Alicia nodded in agreement.
“Have you heard the album?” Alicia asked Holly.
“Just a few songs on the radio.” Holly answered before taking a drink of her water.
“Really?” Christa was surprised. “God, you listened to The Black Parade all the time. I would have thought you’d have a copy of the new one.”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, I know the running joke back then was how I listened to my CD of the Black Parade every day.” She smiled sadly, “And I really did. I thought it was brilliant.”
“It was.” Christa said softly. For a moment she debated wither she should be honest but decided it was something she wanted to do. “The new album is great, don’t get me wrong. But it’s different. The sound isn’t what a lot of people expected.”
The songs Holly had heard had made her think the same thing. “Yes, it really is different.”
Alicia felt she should come to the bands defense. “But they couldn’t just keep the same sound forever.”
Holly shrugged, “That’s true.”
Christa found herself not able to let it go. “Sounding new and fresh is good but…”
Alicia could see she was struggling, “Just say what you think.”
“I don’t know.” Christa said looking down at her hamburger.
Holly hated that Christa didn’t feel comfortable enough to speak her mind. “I think maybe what you mean is that the new songs are great but they lack that special MCR sound.”
Christa nodded, “Yes, exactly.”
Alicia sighed, “Mikey said almost the same thing when they were recording but Gerard was so gung ho about the new sound.” She lowered her voice. “And lets be honest we know just what band the new sound emulates.”
Holly was about to ask Alicia what she meant when her phone rang. Picking it up she glanced at the screen then stood quickly. “Be right back, I need to take this.” She moved away from the table to a seating area across the corridor.
“Wonder who that is?’ Alicia said to Christa while watching Holly.
Christa laughed, “Knowing you, you’ll ask her when she gets back.”
“Damn straight I will. I’m curious.”
A few minutes later Holly returned to her seat.
“Everything okay?” Alicia asked.
Holly placed her phone back in the bag at her feet. “Yep.”
Christa shot a look at Alicia.
“So who was it?” Alicia asked bluntly.
For a moment Holly continued to look down at her plate. Finally she answered, “Just a friend.”
“Oh, someone from Arizona?” Alicia asked hoping for more information.
Holly placed her fork down and sighed, “No, he’s not from Arizona.”
“He?’ Now Alicia was really interested.
“Yes, he.” Holly laughed, “God, I’d forgotten how nosey you can be.”
Her words caused a hurt look to cover Alicia’s face. “Sorry. It’s just that before you always answered every question I asked. You didn’t keep secrets.”
“Alicia, let it go.” Christa said softly seeing the look on Holly’s face.
“It’s okay.” Holly said knowing she’d hurt Alicia’s feelings while at the same time knowing how wrong Alicia was…she had kept a lot of secrets it was just that no one had ever noticed. “That was my friend, Bob. He was just checking to make sure Molly and I had gotten here okay.”
“Oh.” Alicia wanted to ask more but didn’t.
There was a strained silence at the table. For several minutes the friends ate their lunches without speaking.
“Oh hell." Holly said throwing down her fork. “Look if I tell you guys will you just keep it between us?”
Both women were surprised by her outburst and more than just a little curious as to what was going on.
“Sure” Christa answered. Alicia nodded in agreement.
“The call was from Bob Bryar.” Holly said softly.
“Bryar?” Alicia said in shock.
Holly had expected this kind of reaction. “Yes, Bob Bryar. Uh remember I was friends with him too back in the day.”
“Well yeah.” Alicia said frowning. “I know that.”
“So why is it so strange to believe he and I are still friends?” Holly asked.
Christa felt she should say something, “I guess we’re just sorta surprised. Does this mean you’ve been friends with him this whole time?”
“Yeah.” Alicia said finally overcoming her surprise. “When you left Jersey did you stay in contact with him?” She didn’t wait for Holly to answer before continuing, “Shit the whole time we were all wondering what had happened to you, Bryar knew?”
Holly sighed, “Slow down at let me answer. No, Bob had no idea where I went when I left Jersey and no I didn’t stay in contact with him at first."
“Well then how is it you guys are friends now?” Alicia asked feeling hurt. With everything that had happened between Bob and the rest of the band she didn’t like thinking Holly had chosen to maintain a friendship with Bob and not them.
“This is exactly why I wasn’t gonna mention this.” Holly said looking down. “I knew this would cause drama.”
Christa reached across and touched her arm, “It’s okay and don’t worry about the drama. None of us have the right to decided for you who you should be friends with.”
Holly looked over and saw that Alicia was staring down at the table looking very upset.
“Let me explain.” She said to her friends. “When I left Jersey I didn’t tell anyone were Sonja and I were headed.”
“So are you gonna tell us why you really left?’ Alicia was unable to stop herself from asking.
For a moment Holly stared at her. “Alicia I told you why. I wanted to make a new life for myself. As much as I had loved being a part of all of your lives it was time. Most of you were getting married or were already married. I didn’t fit in anymore.”
“Did we make you feel that way?” Christa asked hearing what she believed was hurt in Holly’s voice.
“No.” Holly answered. “And I knew none of you would ever have tried to make me feel that way still it was happening. I wanted a life for myself. I didn’t want to be the friend who tags along alone because she had no one.”
“I’m sorry.” Alicia said looking up. “I’m sorry you felt like that.”
“Don’t be.” Holly smiled, “It was no ones fault but things change and they did. I will always treasure the time I hung with all of you. I have great memories.”
“Like holding my hand backstage before my wedding and telling me it would be okay?” Alicia asked remembering that day clearly. “Shit I was so scared but you were there for me.”
Holly was about to respond when Christa spoke up. “Holly was always there for all of us. No matter what came up I remember thinking ‘oh Holly will know how to make this right.”
Christa’s words shocked Holly, “I wasn’t like that.”
“Sure you were.” Christa nodded, “And for the most part I think we all took advantage of you. We didn’t mean to but we did.” She said realizing the truth. “Holly you were always doing so much for others. Like volunteering down at the food kitchen, or shoveling the snow for all your neighbors.” She was about to go on but Holly started shaking her head.
For a moment she didn’t know what to say. She had never imagined she’d meant so much to these people. “I was just a helping people out. I was just being a friend.”
“A damn good one.” Alicia said softly. “And now I feel like shit for finding you. Instead of thinking about you I was being selfish. I just wanted you to come back and fix all our problems again.”
While Alicia hadn’t admitted that to Christa she’d been sure that was what had been the motive behind her actions. “You wanted Holly to fix Gerard." She said in a whisper.
Alicia looked over at Christa blinking back tears. “I wanted her to fix him and Mikey.”
Holly was growing uncomfortable with the conversation. She gave a quick, fake laugh. “Uh, you make it sound like they are broken.”
“Gerard is broken.” Alicia responded unable to stop herself “and you know it. I know you could smell the alcohol on him. He’s drinking again, we all know that. But Holly you’ve only been here a few days and you haven’t really seen how bad he is.” She ran her fingertip under her eye to catch a stay tear, “And I’m afraid Mikey might start drinking again too.”
Suddenly Christa felt such sadness for Holly. Alicia was laying so much at the woman’s feet. “Holly can’t fix everything.”
Holly knew she couldn’t continue this conversation. She had to change the subject. “Look we’re off track. I want you both to understand about Bob.”
They both nodded.
“I’ve told you both before, Sonja and I left Jersey and went back to Wyoming. We both hated it. After only a few months Sonja decided to go live with her father and I made it a few more months more before I took off for Colorado.” She paused for a drink then prepared to start again when her emotions took over. “I will always regret what I did. If I hadn’t insisted on leaving Jersey Sonja wouldn’t have been so unhappy. She wouldn’t have gone to live with her father, she wouldn’t have met Jimmy.” Tears filled her eyes, “And she wouldn’t have been with him in that fucking car.”
“Oh Holly.” Christa squeezed her arm. “You can’t let yourself think like that.”
“I can’t make myself stop." Holly whispered looking down.
For several minutes the friend sat in silence each lost in thought. It was Christa who finally spoke. “You said that Sonja loved Jimmy, right?”
Holly used a napkin to blot her eyes, “Yeah, she really did and he loved her. They were so happy.”
“Well she never would have know that happiness or had her beautiful daughter if she’s never met him.”
Holly smiled sadly, “Yeah, I know your right. It’s just…I miss her so much, you know? The pain never goes away”
Again they sat silently for several minutes.
Finally Holly gained control of her emotions. “Anyway Bob remembered that I’d said my ex lived in Missouri. He looked up the number but when he called Sonja answered. She told him where I was and gave him my number.”
“When was this?” Alicia asked.
“It was in November of 2007.” Holly answered.
“So he knew where you were all that time but didn’t tell us?” She still sounded hurt.
“Alicia I asked him not to mention he’d talked to me. I was a mess. Sonja leaving me to live with her dad really upset me. There I was a 35 year old woman alone, scared and angry about that. I wanted to get my life in order. I was mad at myself that I couldn’t seem to do that.”
Something dawned on Alicia, “So that’s who Molly was talking about? Uncle Bob?”
Holly smiled, “Yeah that’s what she calls him. Bob has been a very good friend even when I thought I didn’t want him to be. After that first time we talked I thought I’d convinced him I was fine. I told him I was doing great.”
“But it was lie." Christa said softly.
“Yeah, it was a lie. I felt so alone. But Bob hadn’t believed me for a minute.” She willed herself not to let her emotions take over when she told them the rest of the story. “So there I was in Colorado. It was Christmas Eve and I was alone. I remember it had started to snow and I was having a real pity party for myself. I’d pulled up a chair to the front windows of my apartment and was just sitting there wondering what I’d done in life that had brought me to this place. And then there was a knock on the door.”
“Bob?” Alicia guessed.
Holly smiled, “Yeah Bob. I remember staring at him standing in the hall holding a sad looking little potted Christmas tree. I finally said something like what are you doing here? He just smiled and said no one should be alone on Christmas Eve.”
“Oh that’s so sweet.” Christa said softly.
“I couldn’t believe he was there. I just kept staring at him, probably with my mouth hanging open.” Holly admitted with a smile, “But damn I was glad he was there. He spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with me. We made a pact not to talk about anything from the past. We watched old Christmas movies on TV and popped popcorn.” She paused pulling herself out of the memories, “He’s a wonderful friend and that is why I didn’t want to talk about him. I know there was trouble, I know he left the group but he never talked about it. Even when I told him I was coming here to see all of you again he never said one bad thing against the idea. I hope that you guys understand. He’s my friend.” Her voice began to quiver, “He has helped me though so much even when sorrow and pain made me curse life he stayed at my side.” She took a deep breath, “He held my hand as they lowered Sonja into the ground. He’s my friend,” She said willing herself to be strong, “ just like all of you are my friends. I won’t let myself be made to chose between any of you.”
“And you shouldn’t have to.” Christa said with a determined tone.
“I agree.” Alicia nodded. “He’s your friend and I’m good with that.”
“Yes but I’m sure we all know that Gerard would probably not be good with it.” Holly said sadly. “Gee would look at my friendship with Bob as being disloyal, wouldn’t he?”
As much as Alicia wished it wasn’t true she knew it was. “Yeah, he probably would but maybe if he knew the truth…”
Holly shook her head, “I can’t deal with anymore drama.”
“So we just don’t mention it.” Christa said looking at both women.
Holly smiled, “Thanks.”
Alicia looked down at her barely touched burger. “Shit now my foods cold. I think we should get back to shopping.”
Christa and Holly agreed. As the women left the food court they had no idea about the utter chaos that would soon happen at Rays.