Friends discuss their concerns about Holly.
Holly smiled, “Glad to help out.”
“We’ll start serving in a few minutes.” Jean nodded to Christa who moved to stand beside Holly.
Once Jean had walked towards the kitchen Christa took a deep breath, “Uh Holly I’m supposed to talk to you about something.”
Holly gave her a surprised look, “Okay.” She said slowly.
While Ray had wanted her to feel Holly out on something Christa felt better just coming right out with it. “I’m supposed to make sure you don’t go down to Safe Harbor to help out.”
Holly crossed her arms, “Let me guess. Gerard told Ray I’d mentioned the place, right? Gerard got his panties in a knot over it.”
Christa laughed, “Yeah well you know how Gee is when his panties are in a knot.”
“So what are you supposed to do? Tell me how dangerous it would be for me to go there?”
“Holly, it really is a rough area. Gee told Ray how you got lost the other day.”
“Oh hell.” Holly rolled her eyes, “Damn man can’t ever let anything go. Yeah, I got lost in that area it was no big deal. Nothing terrible happened.”
“He worries about you Holly.” Christa said softly. “Hey, Ray won’t let me go down there to serve.”
Holly usually did a good job of holding her temper but today it was difficult. “He won’t let you?”
Christa realized how that sounded. “Okay I mean he doesn’t want me to.”
Holly rolled her eyes, “You know this is one of those times I’m glad I don’t have a man. Seriously, I don’t want anyone thinking they can tell me where I can and can’t go.”
“Crap.” Christa muttered realizing she’d made the situation worse. “Look would you just promise me something? If you do decide to go down there, will you tell me?”
“Why?” Holly said narrowing her eyes, “So you can tell Gerard?”
“No.” Christa said shaking her head, “That’s not why. If you go down there to serve I want to go with you.”
“Oh hell no.” Holly answered, “Then I’d be the one in trouble for leading you astray.”
Christa looked down at the floor.
Holly sighed, “I’m not mad at you or anyone for that matter. It’s just when I saw Safe Harbor the other day, well it is in a bad neighborhood but at the same time I know there are really good people there who I want to help. I’ve never been afraid of going anywhere and maybe that’s not wise but that’s just how I am. But to be honest I really haven’t given any thought about going there, I haven’t had time.”
They both heard the announcement that it was time to begin serving so the conversation was soon forgotten.
Gerard was in the study working on his comic when Lindsey came in to get his take on an idea.
“I was thinking since Frank and fam are in town why don’t we have them over for dinner tonight?”
He sat back in his chair and stretched, “Sounds good.”
“Lets invite Mikey, Alicia, and Holly too.” She said sitting down across from him.
“Don’t forget Molly.” He smiled.
“Well of course Molly too. I didn’t think they we’re gonna leave her at home. I’ll call Holly now.” She wandered out of the room.
Gerard smiled watching her walk away. Things were definitely getting better between them.
A few minutes later Lindsey poked her head back in,”Uh, Ray and Christa are coming too. When I called Holly she was with Christa. They’d just finished helping out down at the shelter so I invited her and Ray too.”
“And what are we serving our guests?” He asked.
Lindsey smiled, “Lasagna.”
“Need help?” He asked with a smile.
“You know I do. I’ll have to make at least three for all these people.”
Gerard got up from his deck, “What time are they coming?”
Lindsey laughed, “Uh you gotta call your brother. I left that one up to you.”
“Okay.” He smiled, “But what time?”
“I told Holly and Christa around seven.”
Alicia wandered out to the garage to talk to Holly. She was worried because even though Holly had looked exhausted after returning from the shelter she’d immediately gone out to the garage to work.
“How’s it going?”
Holly looked up, “Slow, but good. Molly still napping?”
“Yep, but I think Mikey is trying to wake the poor kid up. I keep telling him to be quiet.”
“Why does he want to wake her up?” Holly asked.
Alicia laughed, “Well the movie we took her to today was a sequel. He wants to watch the first one with her before we go to Gee’s for dinner.”
Holly laughed, “That sounds like Mikey Boy.”
Taking a seat near the workbench Alicia watched Holly a few minutes then asked, “So your hand still hurt?”
“It’s a little sore.” Holly shrugged, “Not bad.”
“Are those pieces for the last tier?” Alicia asked nodding to the glass shapes Holly had cut and set aside.
Alicia looked up at the hanging wind chime. “Man, this one is so cool.”
“Gerard already called dibs on it.” Holly laughed.
Holly nodded, “Yeah, Lindsey liked it so he wants to get it for her for Christmas.”
“I have to say the last couple of days have been nice. It’s good to see them together and happy.”
“Yes.” Holly said softly without looking up.
“Mikey said that yesterday at lunch Gee didn’t order a drink.” Alicia said smiling as she remembered how happy that fact had made her husband.
“That’s good.” Holly nodded slightly.
“Uh Holly, M’s awake now.” Mikey said suddenly appearing in the doorway. “So we’re gonna watch a movie, okay?”
Holly looked up and smiled, “Sure thing.”
Alicia laughed, “Guess I’ll go watch it too.” She slid off the stool. “Uh we’re gonna leave for Gee’s around 6:30.”
“Okay.” Holly nodded but she’d already decided she wouldn’t be going. Her head was pounding and her hand was throbbing. She just wanted some time alone.
“Hey come on in.” Lindsey said as she pulled open the door.
“Wow something smells great.” Mikey said in greeting. As he, Alicia and Molly walked in Lindsey frowned.
“So where’s Holly?”
Alicia answered in a way that wouldn’t upset Molly, “Oh she was sorta tired so she begged off.”
Gerard who had just joined them wanted to ask about Holly but instead squatted down in front of their small guest. “So M, Bandit is watching TV, wanna join her?”
Molly smiled, “Mes does.”
He took her hand and led her into the living room.
Lindsey waited until they were out of earshot. “Is Holly okay?”
“She said she wasn’t feeling good.” Alicia answered. “I told her just to take a long bath and relax. Made her promise not to work anymore tonight on her wind chimes.”
“Yeah, but will she listen?” Gerard said rejoining them.
Alicia frowned, “You know Holly she can be pretty pig headed.”
Holly poured the tub full of hot water then added some bath salts. As her tired body sank down into the water she leaned back and closed her eyes. This felt heavenly. Soon however memories of another time, another life, filled her head.
Dec 20th 2006
“Mom, Sky’s here.” Sonja yelled through the bathroom door.
“Okay, Honey. Be careful and call me later.” Holly called out. When she heard the front door close she sighed. Christmas vacation, Sonja was out of school for the holiday but so busy with her friends she didn’t have time to hang with her mom. Holly leaned back in the tub ready to let all the sadness she’d been keeping inside finally be released. She didn’t cry in front of people but she cried when she was alone. Placing the ear buds in she turned up the music and closed her eyes.
Gerard saw Sonja climb into a car with another girl then tear off down the road. He shook his head remembering what he was like at that age. Boy at times he felt sorry for Holly having to deal with that.
As Holly’s tears began to fall she let herself release all the pent up emotions she kept buried deep inside. Mostly she was worried about Sonja. Yesterday she’d had to repeat herself several times to get her attention. Holly’s heart had sunk realizing that it wasn’t just a teen ignoring her mother. Sonja’s hearing was slowly worsening. While the doctors had told her this was likely to happen because of Sonja’s illness she’d tried to convince herself otherwise. Then there was her job. Her feet ached from standing on them all day, she’d been picking up extra shifts trying to get extra money to buy Sonja’s something special for Christmas but had almost gotten herself fired today. It had taken ever ounce of willpower she’d had not to react to the customer who’d called her a fat lazy cow because he’s lunch order didn’t come fast enough. By now she was sobbing and she didn’t care. She was alone…
Gerard knocked on the door and waited. He frowned looking over at Holly’s car in the drive. She was home so why wasn’t she answering? He pulled out his cell and called her number. When it went to voice mail he started to worry. Reaching out he tried the doorknob.
“Holly? He called out walking inside. He thought he heard the sound of sobbing coming from upstairs.
Holly’s eyes flew open when she felt a gust of cold air. “Gerard” She screamed as she pulled the ear buds out then quickly slid under the water.
Gerard stood in the doorway wondering what the hell was going on. A moment later when her head reemerged he sputtered, “Are you okay?"
“What are you doing in my bathroom?” Holly made sure her body was completely submerged under the water and bubbles.
“I thought I heard sobbing.” He explained.
Holly shook her wet head, “Nope, just taking a bath but still wondering why you’re standing in the door way.”
“Oh sorry.” He started to move back to close the door.
Once it shut Holly sighed in relief. Good Lord the man had almost seen her sobbing and nude.
His voice came through the door, “Uh, I came over because one of my favorite Christmas movies is coming on and I was wondering if you wanted to watch it?”
“Uh sure. What movie?”
Gerard smiled, “A Christmas Story.”
Holly groaned, “I’ll watch it with you if you promise not to compare me to Randy when he falls down in the snow.”
“Okay be out in a few minutes.” She said.
“Holly are you sure you’re okay?” he asked.
She shook her head no but answered, “Gee, go on down to the kitchen. There’s some microwave popcorn.”
“Okay.” She heard his footstep walking down the hallway.
“Holy shit.” Holly whispered to herself. All she’d wanted to do was have a good cry. However a moment later when she heard Gerard’s voice singing in the kitchen as he prepared the popcorn she smiled. The cry could wait because the day had suddenly got better.
After dinner the girls wanted to go outside. Frank and Jamia carried the babies out for some air and to watch Mikey and Ray play “Statues” with Molly and Bandit.
In the kitchen Lindsey was stacking the dishes as Alicia, Christa and Gerard brought them from the table.
Christa handed her a stack of plates then looked around at the others. “I didn’t want to say anything earlier but something happened at the shelter today.”
“With Holly?” Alicia guessed.
“Yeah.” Christa nodded, “She almost passed out and had to sit down a few minutes.”
“Shit, I knew she was sick.” Alicia said.
Christa sighed, “She said she was just a little dizzy because she’d forgotten to eat breakfast.”
Lindsey turned to Gerard and a look passed between them.
“What?” Christa said not understanding.
“We think.” Lindsey said drying off her hands. “That Holly has an eating disorder that’s getting worse.”
“Shit, I think so too.” Alicia said, “I was just hoping I was wrong but since she’s been here I’ve watched her. She hardly eats anything.”
Lindsey sighed, “Gee and I talked about this last night. Someone needs to talk to Holly.”
Alicia leaned against the counter. “I will.” She said softly. “But I’m just afraid she’ll deny it and to be honest I’m sorta afraid that if she gets upset she’ll leave and I don’t want that to happen.”
Gerard spoke up. “I think I should talk to her about it.”
Alicia gave him a surprised look. “You?”
He nodded. “Yeah, Linds pointed out to me that a good friend don’t worry about making someone angry if they know what they are saying is for their friends own good. And besides Holly’s done the same for me many times. She never let fear that I’d get mad at her keep her from telling me what I needed to hear.”
“I agree.” Lindsey nodded. “I think you should talk to her.”
“I need to figure out in my head what I want to say.” He said softly. “And I’ll call my therapist and have him recommend someone Holly can talk to because I really think that’s what needs to happen.”
Alicia sighed, “I can’t image Holly talking to a therapist.”
Gerard understood what she meant, “Yeah but she needs to and we all have to make her realize that.”
As Holly was drying off after her bath she cried out in pain. Her hand was red and the cut seeping. “Damn it.” She’d kept it bandaged tightly all day because of her work at the shelter and now it was really painful.
“Stupid hand.” She lowered herself to the rim of the tub and sat. Bowing her head she was surprised a moment later when her cheeks were wet with tears. “Damn." She muttered. She hated crying when it wasn’t planned.
“Well at least Gerard isn’t standing in the doorway.” She whispered trying to cheer herself up. Her words had the opposite effect, she wished with all her heart he was waiting to watch a Christmas movie with her.
By the time Molly, Alicia and Mikey got home Holly’s emotions were under control.
“Have a nice dinner?” She smiled as they walked in.
“Berry dood.” Molly answered. “And mes gots to see the babies.”
“Frank’s little girls?” Holly said, “I bet they are pretty.”
Molly nodded, “Yep.”
“Lindsey sent some lasagna home for you.” Mikey said. He had no knowledge of that had been discussed about Holly. Sadly Alicia realized she’d have to clue him in.
“Oh that’s nice.” Holly said taking the container. “I’ll just put it in the fridge.”
When she returned she told Molly it was time for a bath then bed.
“I’m gonna turn in when she does.” She told Alicia, “I’m pretty tried.”
“Okay, Holly.” Alicia said softly. “Hope you feel better tomorrow.”
Holly surprised her by saying, “I was wondering if we could go shopping tomorrow.”
“Sure.” Alicia nodded. “Are we taking M?”
“Uh, Uncle Mikey you busy tomorrow?” Holly asked.
He laughed, “Busy babysitting.”
‘Mes wants to go.” Molly frowned.
“Oh Christmas is coming and mama’s gotta do some shopping without Molly.”
Molly considered her words a minute. “Otay mes and Uncle Mikey will haves fun.”
Mikey smiled, “Sure we will M. Tons of fun.”
Later in bed with Molly sleeping beside her once again Holly found her face wet with tears. “Damn” she whispered. “I’ve got to stop this.” Sadly she had no idea how.