The loud clanking noise echoed through the house. The girl with long blonde hair woke up with a start, and pushed away the covers from her body. She had been clinging on to them, as the room was freezing. It was midwinter, two weeks since Christmas, and her father had forgotten to pay the bills. It was like living in a freezer.
Gia sat on the edge of her bed for a moment, breathing heavily. She looked around, not understanding her surroundings. Where was she? This wasn’t her room.
The noise stopped, and Gia sighed in relief. She looked around in the room, trying to understand. She picked up the photo frame from the nightstand. It was a photo of herself and her parents from when she was two.
The noise came back, and Gia stood up. The floor felt icy against her bare feet, but she slowly walked through the house, following the sound. The house was a mess. Gia stumbled through the beer cans and bottles, dirty clothes and cigarette butts that littered the floor, and stopped right in the shadows of the stairs.
Her breathing got heavy. The house was quiet once again, but fear ran through her in shivers. It was a bit too quiet now.
For some reason, Gia had the odd feeling that the noise was somehow a relief, but also it brought her uncertainty – was it friendly after all?
Gia gulped and stepped down from the stairs. As she did, she stepped on a piece of glass and it broke the skin on her foot. It left a bit of blood on the floor, but somehow it didn’t bother her.
“Hello?” she called out into the house, and stared into the dark living room.
A loud bang, and the clear sound of glass shattering, and Gia sighed in relief as her father stumbled out of the kitchen, falling on the couch.
“Dad?” she asked quietly, wondering why he was acting like this. There was something very familiar about it, but also she knew that this was wrong.
She couldn’t stop herself from going over to him. Gia struggled to get a good hold of his arm so she could pry him up from the couch.
“Where have you been?” Gia asked him. His long black hair was matted against his skin and he reeked of alcohol.
“What?” he slurred.
“I haven’t seen you in a week. Where were you?” Gia asked, and she realized she was worried. How she could still bother with worrying about him baffled her, but she did. He was her father.
When he didn’t answer her question, she sighed and attempted to help him up. This annoyed him, and he swatted her away like she was an irritating fly.
“Fuck off,” he grunted and pushed himself up from the couch. As he swayed and staggered his way to the comforting darkness of his room, Gia watched him with a lump in her throat.
It was hardly a rare occasion that he would be gone for weeks and then come home, wasted or drugged up. Still, it always managed to shake her.
Before he got to the room, he tripped over some of the various kinds of litter on the floor and fell.
Instantly Gia rushed over to him, wanting to help him. But Gerard let out an irritated groan and pushed her away. The alcohol had taken away most of his energy, but the push had enough power to make Gia fall down on the floor.
Gerard rose, and stumbled his way into the room. Gia watched the door slam shut, closing him away from the rest of the world, and from her.
She sat there on the dusty floor, surrounded by empty beer cans, feeling hopeless and alone.
Gia woke up, her eyes opening suddenly. She took a quick look at her surroundings, and sighed in relief when she saw her own, familiar room.
For a long time she just laid on her bed, thinking about the dream. It was a memory of what had happened before Gerard sobered up, when Gia was only about 12 years old.
It was strange, she didn’t usually have dreams of that time anymore.
“Gia?” Gerard asked, peeking into the dark room. “Are you up?”
“Yeah,” she answered.
“It’s almost 10 o’clock, start getting ready okay?”
He disappeared, and Gia smiled when she realized what day it was. Before her moving to go live with her mom, Gerard had demanded that Gia and he spend some father-daughter time together. This was the day for that quality time.
With the dream slowly fading away from her memory, Gia crawled out of her bed and started getting ready.
An hour later Gia was sitting in her father’s car, ready and prepared for whatever he had planned for them.
“Where are we going?” Gia asked curiously. She had allowed him to make all the decisions concerning today, after all, it had been his idea.
“I thought we’d pick up some Chinese food and then I’ll show you my art studio.”
Gia said nothing, but glanced at him in surprise. His art studio was like his private sanctuary. Gia had never been there. In fact, he hardly ever even spoke of it. He had offered to give it up when Bandit was born and move his art to the house, but Lindsey had very firmly told him not to, even though she herself was doing her artwork in the house.
Gerard and Gia got their food and drove to the other side of town. They drove up to a large building that looked like it was about to fall apart any second. They went inside, and took an elevator all the way up. Gia was a bit concerned that the elevator will fall and kill them both; at least judging by the screeching sounds it made, crashing down to her doom seemed very possible.
“Here we are,” Gerard said when they got to the right floor. There were only two doors in the short hallway, one on the left and one on the right. Gerard opened the one that was on the right, and let Gia in first.
The place was a mess. Gia nearly had a heart attack when she saw the large, spacious room. It seemed to be just one huge room with drawings and paintings scattered all over to floor and hung on the walls. It was still noon, so the sun shone straight into the room through the wide window.
Gerard headed straight to one of the corners where he had a couch and a table, which actually were the only real furniture in there. He started taking out the food from the plastic bags for them to eat, but Gia remained standing.
Gia felt weird being in there. She had never thought of this place, as she hadn’t found it interesting to the slightest. Gerard had had this place for as long as she remembered, but she had always sort of accepted the fact that it was a part of his life that wasn’t hers to be a part of.
Since he had sobered up, he had mostly stopped coming here, because he wanted to include Gia in his life more. As a result, his bedroom had turned into a place to do his artwork in. Still, he kept this place in the sidelines.
“So… As a parting gift, you decided to give me a heart attack?” Gia asked, looking at the mess.
Gerard laughed. “I know it’s a bit messy. Sorry about that. I would’ve cleaned up a bit but I only thought of coming here this morning.”
“Why did you bring me here, anyway?” she asked.
He was quiet for a while, and then shrugged. “This might sound weird but I had this dream last night… Or actually it was more like a memory. You were there, you were about twelve. And I came home in the middle of the night, completely drunk, and…”
Gia stared at him silently. She had had a similar dream, after all. Or was it the same one? What are the chances?
“Anyway, it made me realize that I may have not included you in my life as much as I would’ve liked to,” he continued. “I lost a lot of time, being drunk, and now time is just slipping through my fingers. It’s not enough, Gia.”
“I know,” Gia sighed, feeling guilty. To change the subject, she went to look at one of the walls that were covered in all sorts of art. The ones she looked at were definitely not made by Gerard. They were clearly drawn by a child on pieces of white A4 paper with crayons, and Gia saw that at the bottom of a few of them she herself had written her own name with shaky handwriting. “I made these?” she asked him.
“Yeah,” Gerard said, standing next to her. “Those are all the drawings you made for me when you were younger.”
“But why are they here?”
Gerard shrugged. “I like having them here. They’re quite inspirational.”
“Wow, I really sucked at drawing, didn’t I?”
He laughed. “Oh come on, you were just a little kid!”
Gia noticed that the pictures were mostly in the order that she drew them. Starting from the very first ones up to until she was four and her mother died. That’s when she had stopped drawing, playing, and overall doing what kids do.
“I kind of wish you had continued to draw,” Gerard admitted. “You really liked it back then.”
Gia rolled her eyes. “Wishful thinking. I’m not artistic like you are, you know that.” She left the pictures and moved on. She looked at some of the paintings her dad had made, noticing that many of them were awfully dark. Then again, it did seem fitting. She realized that this was probably the way he vented, like a form of therapy.
While she walked around the large room, Gerard sat on the couch, munching on the food and watching her. He couldn’t believe she was leaving him already. He wasn’t ready to let go. No, she was supposed to leave when she’s like 19 and is going away to college to study something fancy like medicine or better yet, art.
When Gia finally plopped down on the couch next to him, Gerard was half through his own food.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” he asked her when she didn’t even touch the boxes of food.
“I’m actually not that hungry, I’ll eat a bit later.”
“Okay. In that case…” Gerard got up and went to pick up a large sketch pad and a pencil, and gave them to Gia. “You can draw something for me.”
“What? I can’t draw!”
“Yes you can! I don’t care if it’s nothing fancy, just give me something. Daddy wants a new drawing on his wall before you go, is that too much to ask for?”
Gia rolled her eyes, knowing very well that he was using her departure as a way to guilt her into doing things. She picked up the pencil and started to draw aimlessly.
“You know you don’t actually have to go,” Gerard started.
“No, listen, you could just see her every now and then, like on weekends maybe? Or when I’m on tour!”
“Dad, it’ll be okay. I’m gonna go, but you’ll get over it.”
Gerard sighed. He hadn’t given up the fight, but he knew it was no use. “It’s easy for you to say. You’re not the one who has to deal with Frank after you’ve gone.”
“Oh right, sorry about that… Promise me that you’ll take care of him, okay? He likes to be taken out for ice cream once a day and he likes it when you call him a good boy and scratch him behind his ear.”
“I promise. As long as you remember that you can always change your mind and come back home.”
“I know, you keep reminding me,” Gia said.
“Well, at least there’s one good thing that comes out of this whole disaster.”
“What’s that?” she asked curiously.
“I won’t have to worry about you seeing Lucas.”
Gia got silent. She hadn’t quite gotten over the whole fight with Lucas, and he was one of the reasons she almost didn’t want to go.
Noticing that she got quiet, Gerard glanced at her. He realized that he probably shouldn’t have mentioned that bastard who made Gia cry. For some reason, which Gerard couldn’t figure out at all, Gia liked the guy. “Sorry,” he finally said.
“You really like him?”
Gia grinned. “I’m not going to talk about boys with you, sorry.”
“Because you’re my father! And you hate Lucas! You nearly beat him up, for god’s sakes!”
“Hey, I didn’t do anything he didn’t deserve!”
“Right. Because kissing me is such a horrible sin.”
“It is! I should’ve taken you to church more. Teach you some good catholic values… I swear, if you weren’t leaving, I’d put you in a convent!”
Gia smiled. “Ah, yes, that’ll make me want to stay.”
Hours rolled by, and Gerard dropped multiple hints (more like downright demands) that she changes her mind during the conversation, but Gia simply smiled to him and changed the subject.
“I’m finished,” Gia finally announced, chucking the sketch pad on the table for her father to see. She had been just mindlessly drawing while they talked, not even really thinking about what she was doing with her hands.
Gerard leaned over to retrieve the sketch pad. When he saw the picture she had drawn, he was absolutely shocked. She had drawn a surprisingly realistic-looking portrait of Gerard holding Bandit. The facial features were dead-on, the shading was just right…
“Wow, you really were lying when you said you couldn’t draw,” he said.
“Shut up,” Gia said, blushing a bit.
“I’m serious, this is really good. See, why can’t you just make me happy and do stuff like this more?!”
“Dad, I think Bandit will be more than happy to do draw plenty of more pictures for you.”
“Yeah but if you did that too, we could be like the Kelly Family, except instead of singing, it’s art!”
Gia raised an eyebrow at him, wondering if he was going crazy.
“Fine,” Gerard frowned. “But how about –“
Knowing very well what he was going to say, Gia interrupted him: “I will not sing!”
“What are you doing?” she asked when he rose from the couch and walked up to the spot on the wall where he had all those drawings made by Gia when she was just a little kid.
“Putting this one on the wall, of course.”
Gia watched him tape the picture on the wall next to the other drawings. She’ll miss him the most. It’ll be weird not having him around 24/7, telling her what to do, sending spies after her when she’s out of the house.
Gerard attached the picture on the wall and stepped back to look at it. Another thing to remind him of her, of all the things he missed and will miss in her life. Gia was only fifteen, and he wasn’t ready to give her up. But he knew he had to.
“Dad?” Gia said, interrupting his journey on misery lane.
“Do you wanna go get coffee and buy comic books?”
Gerard nodded with a sad smile. He knew she was just trying to make him happy, but he was ready to cling on to any chance to spend time with her while it was still possible.