Holly reveals part of her past that was unknown to Gerard.
“Oh, he said Lindsay’s at home and making dinner.” Mikey answered as he put his phone back in his pocket.
Alicia knew by his tone something wasn’t right, “So what’s wrong?”
Mikey laughed, “God, you always know don’t you?”
She placed her arm around his shoulder. “Sure I do. I can tell when my boy’s upset. So what is it? Did Gee say something about Thanksgiving?”
“No. I didn’t even have time to ask him about that. I just said that Holly was making that round steak and gravy for dinner and asked him if he wanted to come over. At first he said how much he loved it but then I could hear Lindsey in the background and she didn’t sound too happy. Gee ended the conversation pretty quick after that.”
“Oh, so you think they were fighting?”
Mikey sighed, “Yeah, it sounded like it.”
As they started towards the front of the store Mikey got a text from Gerard asking him to leave the deadbolt off the kitchen door. He knew that meant that Gerard would be coming over later tonight and would use his key.
“Yeah, think they are fighting.” Mikey said showing Alicia the text. They both knew when Gerard came over late it was usually to spend the night in their guest room.
“Shit.” Alicia shook her head, “What’s going on with those two?”
“I thought it sounded like they were fighting. I just hope he doesn’t go somewhere else before he comes to our house.”
Alicia realized he was worried about Gerard going out drinking. “Hey he’s smart enough not to drink and drive.”
“I hope to fuck he is.” Mikey said as they reached the check out counter. “But anymore I’m not sure about anything where Gee’s concerned.”
“God I’m stuffed.” Mikey said as he plopped down on the sofa. He grinned over at Molly who had climbed up next to him. “Glad you wanted that for dinner.”
Molly smiled, “Was dood.”
“It sure was.” He smiled, “So wanna watch a movie?”
Before she could answer Holly spoke up. “Uh it’s time for her bath then bed.”
“Mes kean.” Molly said quickly, “Mes had shower.”
“The shower outside today doesn’t count.” Holly laughed, “But nice try.”
Molly was looking at Mikey in hopes he could say something to change Holly’s mind. He shrugged, “Sorry kid. She’s the boss.”
Reluctantly Molly climbed off the sofa to follow Holly down the hallway.
A few minutes later Alicia walked out of the kitchen to join her husband, “So I don’t wanna harp but we really need to figure out Thanksgiving. I mean if Gerard and Lindsay are having problems probably the last thing they want is to have a big dinner at their house.”
“I’ll tell Gee that.” Mikey nodded.
“Uh, another thing.” Alicia lowered her voice, “If they are still gonna have it we have to make sure it’s okay if we bring Holly and M.”
Mikey looked surprised, “Well of course that’s what we’re gonna do. I mean we invited them here for the holidays.”
Alicia tried to soften her words, “Mikey you gotta remember Lindsey’s never even met Holly. She might not like a stranger and her child coming to a family dinner.”
Mikey’s face clouded over, “Holly is family to us. If she’s not welcome then we’ll just have our dinner here.”
“Don’t forget your mom’s gonna be at Gerard’s too.” Alicia reminded him.
“Yeah and believe me she expects Holly to be there.’ He sighed, “The only thing I’m really worried about is if they do still plan to have dinner who are the gonna invite other than the family.”
“Oh you mean their friends?” Alicia asked.
“Yeah.” Mikey nodded, “I mean I like most of them but I realize that they can get pretty loud and well you know.”
Alicia did know, “Yeah, I get what you mean. I’m pretty sure Holly wouldn’t be too happy with Molly being around a lot of the language and shit.”
Mikey laughed, “And shit? Man if M was here she’d be going “Omm Alicia just said a bad word. But you do get what I mean. It’s hard enough for us to remember to watch the language and you know if a bunch of their friends are there and they start drinking…”
“Yeah.” Alicia agreed, “Could be a problem but with Bandit there maybe everyone will sorta tone it down.”
Mikey raised his eyebrow, “Uh, you really think that? Remember the last party they had?”
Alicia did remember, it had turned very loud and one neighbor had threatened to call the police over the noise. “Well they need to remember pretty soon B is gonna start talking and I don’t think Gee or Lindsay is gonna want her to be using some of the words she’d been hearing.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, having a kid does change things.”
“It should change things.” Alicia said softly, “But having a child is a wonderful thing that’s totally worth the changes.” Much to her disappointment Mikey suddenly turned his attention away as he flipped on the TV.
A few hours later Holly, Alicia and Mikey were watching the end of a movie when they Gerard walked out from the kitchen to join them.
Holly knew immediately by the look on his face he was upset.
“Hey,” He said taking a seat.
“What’s up?” Mikey asked lowering the sound slightly.
“Nothing.” Gerard shrugged.
“So how was your dinner?’ Alicia asked. “Ours was so yummy.”
Gerard nodded, “Yeah, Mikey told me what you were having.” He said as he turned his eyes to the TV trying to make it seem he was interested in what they were watching. The truth was he’d hoped he’d waited long enough for everyone to go to bed. He didn’t feel like talking.
For several minutes they all watched the movie. When the ending credits started to roll Alicia stood. “Okay, I’m beat. Bedtime for me.” She kissed Mikey before heading towards their bedroom.
Holly too stood but she went towards the kitchen. When she was out of earshot Mikey asked his brother, “So you wanna talk?”
Gerard shook his head, “Got nothing to say. Really I just came to crash.”
Mikey tried to hide the hurt in his voice, “Okay Bro. Well I’m gonna head off to bed too then.”
Gerard nodded before returning his attention to the TV. He was surprised a few minutes later when Holly set a plate down in front of him on the coffee table.
Holly smiled, “Dinner.”
As good as the food smelled he didn’t want her to think he hadn’t eaten even thought he hadn’t, “Hey I had dinner at home.”
Holly knew he was lying. "Oh okay I’ll just take it back to the kitchen.”
Before she could reach for the plate he said quickly, “But since you already heated it up I might as well eat it.”
Holly hid her smile, “Yeah you might as well.” She turned but his voice stopped her.
“Where are you going?”
“To bed.” Holly answered, “Why do you need something else?”
Suddenly the whole day came crashing down on him, “Yeah, I need a friend.” He said before he could stop himself.
Holly hated the look of desperation on his face. She sat down on the end of the sofa by his chair, “What happened?”
He didn’t even question why he couldn’t talk to his brother about his. “My life is going to shit and I don’t know how to fix it.”
“Okay you’ve got to be a little more specific than that.” Holly smiled, “Tell me everything that you think is going wrong.”
He stared at her a moment, “Holly I don’t think it is, I know it is.”
She could tell there was anger just beneath the surface of his words, “Okay then Gee, tell me.”
Now that he had a chance to but it into words he found he couldn’t. “You wouldn’t understand.” He muttered, “Never mind.”
Holly sighed, “Oh boy here we go.”
His knife clanked as he set it down angrily, “What?”
“Gee this is what you do, this is what you always do. You tell me your life is going to shit but when I ask you won’t explain. I’m sorry but I can’t give you the sympathy you want without knowing why I’m giving it.”
“I didn’t ask for your fuckin’ sympathy.” He ground out.
Holly stood her ground, “No, you said you needed a friend, you asked for my friendship.” She sighed, “Gee you’ve always had that.”
His anger faded as quickly as it had flared, “I’m sorry.” He whispered.
“Okay then, as your friend I’m asking you what’s wrong? Is it the band, is it your marriage? What?”
He looked away, “It’s everything, every fuckin’ thing in my life is wrong.”
The one thing Holly had never let him do was wallow in self-pity. “That’s a stupid thing to say.”
Again his anger flared, “What?”
Holly was trying to control her own anger. “Gee you have a daughter. She’s beautiful and healthy. Thank God for that, concentrate on that, always remember that.”
Gerard saw the tears in her eyes and knew she was thinking about her own daughter she’d lost. Before he could say anything in response she continued unable to stop herself.
“Let me tell you, if you really want to know what it is like to have your life go to shit, well that’s losing your child. That is a pain that I pray you will never understand. Nothing can compare to that.”
He reached out and grabbed her hand, “Holly, I’m sorry.” He said softly. “So fuckin’ sorry. You’re right. Bandit is the best part of my life.”
Holly wiped her eyes in the process smearing her eyeliner. ‘Damn, she said realizing what she’d done.”
Gerard smiled as he reached out to gently run his fingertip under first the right eye then the left. “There.” He said sitting back.
“Thank you.” Holly whispered.
He sat back then started to eat his dinner. For a moment he was surprised that he suddenly felt ‘comfortable’ for lack of a better word but then that’s how Holly had always made him feel.
Holly got her emotions under control the said, “Okay, now that we have established that Bandit is a wonderful part of your life lets talk about what’s not so wonderful.”
As he chewed he thought a moment, ‘Okay”
“What would you say is the biggest problem you have right now?”
“Everything but Bandit.’ He muttered.
Holly laughed, “Not a good answer because you have a brother who loves you dearly. Can’t forget about Mikey Boy.”
Gerard scooped up a fork full of mashed potatoes, “Yeah, that’s true, I’ve got a great family.”
“Who love you.” Holly said softly.
He nodded, “Yeah and I love them.”
Holly smiled, “Okay so you’ve got a lot of love going.”
His face clouded over, “Except my wife don’t love me anymore.”
His words caused the smile to leave Holly’s face. She paused a moment then asked, “Do you love her?”
For some reason that wasn’t what he’d expected her to ask and it caused him to stare at her in silence.
‘You thought I’d tell you how sorry I was to hear that, didn’t you?” Holly challenged.
He realized it wouldn’t do any good to lie to her, “Well yeah.”
“So?” Holly pushed “Do you love her?”
“Yeah.” He lowered his head, “When we first hooked up we were so happy, really happy. We did everything together, it was like it was us against the world.”
Holly tried not to let the pain in her heart show, “And now?”
“All we do is fight. Fuck, I’m so sick of it. I love her but I don’t know what’s wrong with us. It just seems we always end up fighting and saying things to hurt each other.”
“Marriage is never easy.” Holly said sadly, “It takes a lot of give and take, it takes a lot more than just love. You can love someone but still not be able to be with them.”
Gerard didn’t realize just how much she was speaking from her heart. He paused a moment then asked, “Holly what happened with your marriage?”
Holly hid her anger, “My marriage? Why?”
“Well I just realized you never talked about it.”
Before she could stop herself she responded, “You never asked, Gee. Not once.”
The anger and hurt in her voice was loud and clear. “I didn’t, did I?” He said realizing it was the truth.
Holly sighed, “Doesn’t matter.”
“No, it does matter. You were always listening to my problems, you knew everything that was going on in my life…”
She cut him off, “Because I asked, because I wanted to know.”
“And I never did that for you.” He whispered feeling ashamed.
“We were discussing your problems.” Holly said wanting to end this topic.
He sat back, “No, I want to know. What happened with your marriage?”
Folding her arms Holly leaned back against the sofa cushions, “What does that matter?”
“It matters because friends should know shit like that about each other.” He responded.
“Fine.” Holly decided to give him a quick version; “I was married for twelve years before he traded up.”
“He wanted a newer model,” Holly said trying to remain calm, “That newer model much younger than me. Oh and in much better condition. I was a fat, frumpy mom and she was a beautiful, thin, nineteen year old college student with blond hair. He traded up.”
Gerard honestly didn’t know how to respond. Finally he said “Nineteen?”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, Gee. He married a girl that was closer to his daughter’s age than his.”
“He married her?”
“As soon as our divorce was final.”
“That’s fucked up.” Gerard muttered.
“You think so?” Holly asked. “His friends didn’t. They thought he was pretty fuckin’ lucky getting rid of his fat old wife and marrying a young beautiful girl.”
He realized that was the second time he’d heard her use the word fat. “You weren’t fat.”
“Oh yeah I was. When you first met me I’d lost fifty pounds by that time. After Sonja was born I started gaining weight. I’d tell myself that I’d diet and exercise but I never did. I was too busy…” Suddenly her mouth snapped shut.
“Too busy doing what?” He asked knowing she wasn’t telling him something.
Holly started to stand, “I’m going to bed.”
“Oh no you don’t.” Gerard stood and grabbed her arm. “You are gonna tell me what happened. Like it or not right now I’m being your friend.”
Slowly she sat back down, “Gee, I really don’t wanna talk about this.”
“But I think you need to.” He said softly. “I think you’ve kept this inside for too long and I was too much of a jackass to ever realize that before.”
“It’s the past, Gee.” She whispered.
“And sometimes the past keeps fuckin’ with you if you don’t let it out.” He looked into her eyes, “Please Holly let me be a friend.”
Once more she leaned back against the sofa cushions. “When Sonja was born there were complications. For the first five years of her life she was in and out of the hospital. At one point they told me the chances of her living past the age of six were slim.”
Gerard reached for her hand, “I’m sorry.”
Holly continued, “But I never gave up hope. When one doctor would tell me there was no hope, I’d find another. I wouldn’t gonna give up on my baby.”
“What about your husband? Was he there for you and Sonja?”
Suddenly it was impossible for her to hold back her emotions, “He was angry she’d been born with so many problems. I think he blamed me. I took her to the doctors alone. Eventually it drained all our savings because the insurance would only pay so much but I didn’t quit.” She paused a moment, “And I was right. I finally found a doctor who finally diagnosed her medial condition correctly. She suffered from Hunter Syndrome Type B. The diagnosed was missed so many times because it’s rare for female children to suffer from the disease. Actually it occurs in 1 in 100, 000 births. Sonja was lucky her symptoms were mild.” She paused “It can be a devastating disease. She had to have physical therapy everyday and the right combination of drugs helped. Still by the time she went to live with he dad she was losing her hearing, one of the disease’s symptoms.” She smiled sadly, “Her husband Jimmy was so supportive of her. She was blessed to have found such a caring man to love her.”
Gerard thought back to the young girl he’d known back in Jersey, “I never knew she’d had anything wrong with her.”
Holly smiled sadly, “By the time you met her she we had it pretty much under control and she seemed just like any other normal teenage girl. She was able to live an almost normal life.”
“She was even able to bring a beautiful child into the world.”
Holly sighed, “Yes.”
“Sonja was beautiful.” Gerard whispered. “A daughter to be proud of.”
“I was proud of her.” Holly sighed, “She was my world. When she was young everything I did, I did for her. I didn’t care about what I looked like; I didn’t have time for that shit. I worked at night so I could take are of her during the day. Al was at home with her at night.”
Sadly he realized this was the first time he’d ever heard the name of Holly’s ex-husband.
Holly took a deep breath then decided to tell him everything, “I knew Al was having affairs but I was afraid to confront him about it. I needed him to stay with Sonja while I worked, I knew that if our marriage broke up it would be hard on her. So I ignored the truth.” She let her head drop, “And when he finally told me he wanted a divorce I begged him to stay with me.” Her voice broke. “Yeah, I pathetically begged him not to leave.”
“You were better off without that fucker.” Gerard said angrily.
“He was Sonja’s father.” She whispered.
“God Holly, I don’t know what to say.” He admitted feeling his heart breaking for her. She’s done so much for her daughter only to lose her to a tragic accident, “Other than I’m so fuckin’ sorry you never told me any of this before because I was too selfish not to realize I knew next to nothing about your life.”
She looked up and tired to smile, “It’s okay, Gee. This really isn’t something I would have told you before. Sonja didn’t want people to know about her condition and I wouldn’t have said anything bad about my ex. It seemed wrong to me. No matter how he hurt me, he was still Sonja’s father and she loved him. That’s why she went to live with him and his wife.”
“It must have been painful for you when she went to live with him.” Gerard once again wiped away a single tear that rolled down her cheek.
Holly smiled, “Thanks. Yeah, it was painful but I tried to understand.”
“I wish I’d been there for you when that happened.” Gerard said from deep within his heart, “I wish I’d been with you when you needed someone.”
The conversation had taken its toll on her. “It’s late.” She said getting up. “And I’m pretty wiped out. I’m sorry we didn’t talk about your problems.”
“My problems aren’t going anywhere.” He kidded.
“We’ll talk again?” She felt guilty believing she’d failed him as a friend tonight.
“Yeah.” He nodded, “Get some sleep.”
She started to go but turned before leaving the room, “You get some sleep too, okay? Things will look better in the morning.”
Gerard smiled, “You always used to tell me that.”
“Yeah, I know. And a lot of times I was right, wasn’t I?”
“You were right about a lot of things, Holly.” He answered with a catch in his voice. “I just didn’t always listen.”