The holiday is spent at Gerard's home.
Just as the door opened a huge clap of thunder announced the coming rain.
“Shit.” Lindsay said after opening the door then looking up at the darkening sky.
Holly clasped her hand over Molly’s mouth quickly causing Alicia to giggle. It was apparent both women were aware that the little girl was about to comment.
“Come on in.” Lindsey smiled at her guests. “Before you all get wet.”
“Hey.” Gerard said spotting them.
“Happy Thanksgiving Gee.” Mikey gave his brother a tight hug.
Holly followed Alicia as they entered the Spanish influenced home.
“Linds, this is Holly and Molly.” Alicia said taking it on herself to do the introductions.
Mikey laughed, “Holly and M. The other way rhymes too much.”
“Hello M.” Lindsey said bending down to the little girl’s level. “B will be so happy you are here.”
“Mes appy too.” Molly smiled.
Lindsey stood, “Welcome Holly.” She tried to hide her surprise. This woman was definitely not what she’d expected.
Holly wondered about the look on Lindsey’s face. “Thanks for inviting us to dinner.”
The group walked further into the house.
“Holly.” Donna cried out rushing to envelope her in a tight hug. “It’s so good to see you.” She took a step back, “But Lord I wouldn’t have recognized you. You’re so skinny and your hair is so long.”
“I’m not skinny.” Holly said automatically. “But it’s wonderful to see you.” She smiled looking down, “And this is Molly.”
Donna had cried when Mikey told her about Sonja’s death. She also understood that Holly was raising the little girl as her daughter. “Oh, she’s beautiful.” Suddenly when she turned back to Holly her eyes were full of tears.
Holly bit her lip to keep her own eyes from filling.
Again Donna moved to hug her while whispering, “I’m so sorry, Honey.”
For a moment it was impossible for Holly to speak. Memories of Sonja filled her mind.
The mood was broken by Bandit who toddled up and threw her pudgy arms around Molly.
“Oh, come on girls.” Donna said taking each of their hands. “Lets go back in here.” She slowly led the girls back to the carpet strewn with brightly colored blocks.
Lindsey clapped her hands, “Okay I need help in the kitchen.”
Alicia laughed, “Yeah, pretty sure that’s why we got invited to come an hour before everyone else.”
“Uh, Holly you can go in and sit with Donna.” Lindsey said slowly.
Holly smiled, “I’d be happy to help out in the kitchen.”
Lindsey nodded then turned to Gerard, “You and Mikey go set up the tables and chairs in the garage.” As she led Alicia and Holly into the kitchen she explained, “We were gonna set them up outside but it’s gonna rain.” She sighed, “Okay this is a mess.”
Holly looked around the small kitchen and had to agree. There were dirty pots and pans covering the counters. “What needs to be done first?’ She asked ready to jump in and help.
Lindsey glanced over at her. “The potatoes need to be peeled.”
“I totally call that one.” Alicia said.
Holly laughed, “Fine, so what can I do?" She asked her hostess.
“Well” Lindsey said looking around, “I hate to ask but all of these dishes aren’t gonna fit in the dishwasher and I’ve run out of counter space.”
“Say no more.” Holly laughed, “I’ve had years of practice washing dishes.”
Soon the three women were chatting while working. When Alicia finished the last potato and placed it in the pot Lindsey asked her to check on the guys progress. They hadn’t returned for the garage and she was worried they were out there talking instead of working.
Holly was washing the last pan when Lindsey laughed, “Thanks for pitching in like this.”
“No problem. I know preparing a meal like this involves a lot of work.” She glanced over and saw that Lindsey was staring at her again with that same look. “Uh, anything else I can do?”
Lindsey laughed, “I’m sorry I keep staring at you but I guess I’m just sorta shocked.”
Reaching for a nearby dishtowel Holly asked, “Why?"
“You aren’t at all what I expected. When Gee and I first got together they all used to talk about you. Holly this, Holly that. I remember asking what you looked like because to be honest I was curious.” She frowned, “I guess I just pictured you as a heavyset, older woman.”
“Well I am older than everyone and I was fat.” Holly said trying to hide the hurt in her voice.
“Hey.” We got everything set up Gerard said entering the kitchen.
Holly quickly turned back to the sink to release the water. “And I’ve got everything washed up to this point. I’m gonna go talk to Donna now if you don’t need anything else.”
“Thanks again.” Lindsey said as she watched Holly leave the kitchen.
Gerard waited until Holly was out of ear shot before turning to his wife, “Why did you say that to her?”
“That shit about being older and heavyset.’ Gerard said making sure to keep his voice lowered.
“Well it’s true.” Lindsey shrugged. “Hell I remember asking you about her and that’s pretty much what you said.”
“No.” Gerard shook his head, “That’s not what I said. I told you she was a few years older than me.”
Lindsey didn’t back down, “And you said she was chunky. I remember that but I thought heavyset sounded nicer.”
“It didn’t sound fuckin’ nicer.” Gerard answered taking a step back so he could see into the living room. Holly had joined Donna on the sofa and they were watching the girls playing with the blocks.
“Chill.” Lindsey answered angrily. “I didn’t mean anything bad by it.” Her eyes narrowed, “But that is how you described her to me.”
Guilt filled him because he knew what she was saying was true. Back when he and Lindsey first got together his anger towards Holly had made him describe her in that way. “Just forget it.” He muttered.
Donna reached over and took Holly’s hand in hers. “I really am so glad to see you. When Mikey told me you were going to be here I couldn’t believe it.” She gently squeezed Holly’s hands. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too.” Holly answered honestly.
“Honey, why did you leave without a word to anyone?” Donna asked lowering her voice. It had been a question that had plagued her for years.
Holly sighed, “It was just time for me to move on and I knew deep down how hard it would be to say goodbye to everyone.” While not telling the complete truth her words were true.
Donna shook her head, “I remember that morning I went over and knocked on your door. I’d tired calling a few times before that but your phone had been turned off.” She added quickly, “Land line and your cell. Sonja’s too.”
Holly wondered if it would ever become less painful to hear her daughter’s name. “Well the cell phones service was Gerard’s.” She reminded the older woman.
“Honey, he gave you both those phones.” She smiled, “He used to worry so much when you’d go to St Tim’s and not get back until late at night. He wanted you to have the cell if you had any problems.”
Holly forced herself to smile, “Yes, it was nice of him but since we were heading back to Wyoming I didn’t need it anymore.” She laughed, “Nothing much ever happened there.”
“Mikey said that’s were you went.” She had so many questions but wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to pry.
“Yes, we went back to Wyoming first but hated it.” Holly said sadly. “After a few months Sonja decided to go live with her father in Missouri. A few months after that I moved to Colorado.”
Donna looked over at the two little girls who were building little towers with the blocks. Actually Molly was trying to build them but Bandit was enjoying knocking them down. “She’s so beautiful.” Donna said speaking about Molly. “So was her mother.”
Holly spoke up quickly, “Mikey explained to you…”
Donna nodded, “Yes, I understand. You are Molly’s mama.”
“I just thought that best for now.” Holly whispered.
“Of course it is.” Donna said sadly.
“Holly can I get you anything to drink?’ Gerard asked suddenly appearing in front of them.
“A glass of water would be nice, thank you.” Holly answered grateful for the interruption.
\ “Nothing for me right now, son.”
He nodded then took off for the kitchen.
Donna’s eyes followed his progress. Softly she said to Holly, “I know Alicia is hoping you can talk some sense into him about what he’s been doing.”
Holly once again felt uncomfortable; “He’s a grown man with a wife and child. I’m not sure there is anything I can say he’ll listen to.”
Donna smiled, “He was a grown man the first time you too met and he listened. You helped him through a rough time.”
“Well he didn’t listen until it was almost too late.” Holly said then regretted her words.
Much to her surprise Donna laughed, “That’s true but you were there to help him. You and my son had a special friendship. Lord you drove him nuts sometimes.”
Holly grinned, “Don’t tell him but sometimes it was fun. When he would start to pull in his emotions and shut down from the world I needed some humor to lighten up the situation. Saying or doing something he didn’t expect worked well.”
“And it did work well.” Donna said patting Holly’s hand.
“Here you go.” Gerard said walking over to hand Holly the glass of water.
“Thank you.” She responded automatically.
Gerard laughed, “Don’t start being all polite again.”
Holly stared at him. “What?”
Immediately he felt like an idiot. Just because he’d been recalling memories of that Thanksgiving they’d shared didn’t mean she would remember. “Uh nothing.”
However as he started to walk away Holly called out. “It’s about time. I’m thirsty.”
Gerard pivoted around, his face covered with a smile. “That’s better.”
Ray and Christa were the next couple to arrive. Christa took a seat on the sofa on the other side of Holly. By this time most of the dinner preparations were underway so Alicia joined them. Most of the conversation centered on how the aroma from the turkey was making everyone hungry.
Soon Mikey, Gerard and Lindsey also took seats in the living room. Holly tried to avoid looking over at Lindsey and Gerard. He had placed his arm around her shoulder and while she was happy the couple seemed to be getting along it still hurt to see them together.
“So my plan for tomorrow is to go shopping.” Alicia announced when there was a lull in the conversation. “My friend Simone and I are meeting up early.”
“Oh Lord.” Donna shook her head, “You couldn’t pay me to get caught out in those crowds.”
“Hey, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.” Alicia said happily. “I love all the sales. It’s a great time to start Christmas shopping.”
“Yeah but you tend to buy yourself stuff not Christmas gifts.” Mikey said smiling at his wife.
“Not true.” Alicia pouted. “I start my Christmas shopping.” She looked around, “So who else wants to go with us?”
“I’m working at the studio tomorrow.” Lindsey answered.
Gerard frowned, “I thought you’d decided not to.”
“Yeah, well I changed my mind.” She answered shortly. “Besides Donna already said she’ll watch B.”
“I’m volunteering down at Helping Hands.” Christa said breaking into the conversation.
“What is that?’ Holly asked.
“It’s a homeless shelter.” Christa answered. “I’ve been helping out down there since we moved out here.’ She smiled, “You know Holly you are really the reason I started going there. I remembered all the time you spent down at St Tim’s and it made me want to do something to help others too.”
Holly had fond memories of working at the food kitchen in New Jersey. “Is it like St. Tim’s?” She asked.
“Much bigger.” Christa answered. “And with the economy like it is there are so many people.” She sighed, “Sometimes I come home from there and feel so…” She searched her mind for the right word. “Sad that I can’t do more.” She finally admitted.
“Hey I’ve got an idea.” Alicia said. “I’m sure Donna wouldn’t mind watching M tomorrow too.” She glanced over at her mother in law.
“Of course I wouldn’t.” Donna assured her.
Alicia smiled, “So that would me you can go shopping.” She said to Holly.
Holly was conflicted. “I really should work on my wind chimes.”
“Oh Holly take the day off. You can work on them all day Saturday.” Alicia said.
“And I really would love to watch Molly too.” Donna added.
For a moment Holly thought it over. Finally she said, “Donna I would appreciate it if you would watch Molly for a few hours.” She smiled at Alicia, “But instead of shopping I’d really like to go with Christa to the shelter.” She glanced over at her, “If that’s okay?”
“Of course it’s okay.” Christa said quickly. “They can use all the help they can get.”
Alicia sighed, “Damn you two are making me look bad.”
Holly laughed, “No we’re not.”
“Yeah, you are.” She frowned, “And if I hadn’t already told Simone I would go shopping with her I’d go with you guys.”
Gerard was watching Holly closely realizing he hadn’t been at all surprised by her decision to help out at the shelter. While she might look like a totally different woman, inside she was the same beautiful person she’d always been.
Soon the whole house was full of guests. Dinner was laid out on the large dining table where people could fill their places then find seating. Since the rain had indeed arrived many chose to eat at the tables in the garage.
Holly filled a plate and sat down with Molly at a small table inside. Beside her B was in her high chair and Donna was seated on the other side.
Gerard was walking around making sure all his guests had everything they needed. He stopped by the small table. “Ha ha, ma. You’ve got to sit at the kiddie table.”
Donna laughed, “I suppose it’s only fair. I made you sit at the kiddie table until you were twenty one.”
“Yeah, you did.” Gerard smiled. He looked down at the table. “So where’s your plate?” He asked Holly noticing only M had a plate in front of her.
“We’re sharing.” She answered.
“Oh okay.’ He nodded, “Well make sure you get enough to eat. There’s still plenty.” He started to walk towards the garage when Alicia caught up to him. She’s been refilling her plate and had overheard part of the conversation.
“Gee.” She said causing him to stop. “Why did Holly say she’s not eating?”
Gerard gave her a surprised look, ‘Oh she’s eating she and M are just sharing a plate.”
“What?” Gerard asked sounding confused.
Lowering her voice Alicia said, “Pretty sure she’s not eating much.”
“What do you mean?”
Alicia looked down at her place. “I’ve been watching her since she arrived. Holly doesn’t eat hardly anything.”
“Really.” Alicia nodded, “And it worries me. She’s so thin.”
Gerard took a step back so he could see the small table where Holly was seated. “She has lost a lot of weight.”
“Gee, she’s wearing a size 2. I’m just worried because I’m afraid something is wrong.”
“You mean physically?”
Alicia sighed, “Or mentally. Several times I’ve noticed by shit she’s said that she hates the way she used to look.”
“Fuck.” Gerard muttered. “Yeah, I think you might be right.” He ran his hand through his hair nervously, “And what Linds said didn’t help.”
“What Lindsey said?” Alicia asked confused by the statement.
Gerard looked around and saw that his wife was seated at a table with several of her band members. “Yeah, she told Holly that she was surprised about how she looked. She said that she’d been under the impression that Holly was and older, overweight woman.”
Alicia frowned, “Why’d she think that? I mean Holly is older than you but she was never all that heavy.”
Once gain Gerard felt guilt. “I dunno.” He muttered. “But we need to keep an eye on Holly. We don’t want her endangering her health.”
After dinner the rain finally stopped and people started making their way outside to the back patio. Gerard followed the sound of their voices when he realized where some of his guests had gone.
“Damn.” He muttered as he walked through the master bedroom. He hated that people had to go through the room to get out to the patio. He also hated that Lindsey, who had assured him she’d take care of it, had not even made the bed.
“Gee. Take a seat.” Tom, one of Lindsey’s art friends, called out, “Great dinner, man.”
Gerard reminded himself to play the part of a good host. “Sure you got enough to eat?”
Tom nodded, “I’m stuffed.” He held up his glass. “Great booze is always right after a meal.”
It was easy to see that Tom was really enjoying the liquor. Gerard saw Lindsey pouring drinks for several people gathered around their outside bar.
“So sit.” Tom said again. “I wanna talk to ya.”
Gerard nodded, “Okay hold on a sec.” He walked over to Lindsey who smiled and handed him a drink. He kissed her on the cheek before returned to the table. “So what’s new?" He asked Tom as he pulled out a chair and sat down.
“Not much.” Tom answered then took another long drink. “So I’m wondering about that friend of Mikey and Alicia’s.”
Gerard took a drink feeling the whiskey burn down his throat. “You mean, Holly?”
Tom shrugged, “If that’s her name. Thin, long hair, got a kid.”
“Holly." Gerard responded before taking another drink. “What about her?”
“Not a bad looking woman.” Tom said, “What’s her story? She married?”
“No.” Gerard answered, “She’s divorced.” He wasn’t about to tell this guy any more about Holly than necessary. He could tell Tom was sniffing around for information and he didn’t like it.
“And she’s staying with Mikey?”
“She’s visiting for the holidays.” Gerard looked around noticing the crowd outside was getting louder and the alcohol was flowing. Inwardly he cringed at the some of the language he was hearing. Not just Bandit and Molly were here but several others had brought along their kids.
Lindsey walked over placed two more drinks on the table then wandered off.
“So.” Tom said slowly, “Think I should ask her out? I mean she’s sorta older but I’m willing to take a chance on her.”
Anger flooded Gerard but before he could answer Holly walked outside. She spotted Gerard and smiled.
“Hey.” She said walking up to the table. “I just wanted to thank you for inviting us to dinner but Molly’s really getting tried so Mikey’s gonna drive us home.” Her smile faded when she noticed his hand was cradling a drink.
“You’re leaving already?’ Gerard asked.
Holly looked around, “Well Molly is tired and Donna’s already getting B ready for bed.”
“Hey have one drink with us before you go.” Tom smiled, “I’m Tom by the way.”
“Nice to meet you Tom By The Way.” Holly answered turning her attention immediately back to Gerard. “Thanks again.”
As she walked towards the house Tom laughed, “Frigid bitch, ain’t she?”
Gerard who had been taking a drink slammed the glass back down on the table. “She ain’t just Mikey’s friend she’s mine too. Don’t ever want to hear you say anything like that again about her.”
“Chill, dude.” Tom said raising his hand in surrender. “Sorry.”
Gerard finished his drink then stood. He grabbed the second drink than looked around for Lindsey but she’d disappeared. He went back inside the house suddenly wishing everyone would leave. Thanksgiving was over as far as he was concerned.