Memories of Christmas Eve past
Lindsey was preparing to walk out the door with Bandit when he walked down the hallway. “Where are you going?” He asked.
Lindsey smiled for Bandit’s benefit. “Me and B are going shopping. Alicia called and asked if we wanted to tag along.” She reached for the doorknob wanting to get out before he started in on her about last night. She’d gotten home very late and knew he’d make a scene.
“Hold on.” He walked towards her. “We need to talk.”
“Not now.” Lindsey said quickly. “They’re waiting for us.”
“I suppose Holly’s going too?” His tone was chipped.
Lindsey nodded, “Well yeah, her and Molly.”
His anger was growing. Holly didn’t have time to be his friend anymore but she obviously had time to hang with his wife. “Whatever.” He muttered throwing up his hands. “Just go.”
She did without a backwards glance. As the door closed Gerard sat down heavily on the sofa and tried to sort out his thoughts. Part of his brain understood what Holly had told him last night. It was an awkward situation for her but his heart didn’t want to understand that. It just wanted the Holly who had always been there for him. The Holly who, no matter how bad things seemed, could always make him smile.
Dec 22rd 2006
Holly opened the door to find a very hung over man glaring at her.
“So how come you don’t answer you phone?" He demanded.
Gerard brushed past her walking quickly to the table. He lifted the phone receiver. “Uh no dial tone." He said in surprise.
“Really.” She walked over and took it from his hand. Holding it up to her ear she smiled, “Yep, you’re right.”
His head hurt and his temper was thin, “I’m pretty fuckin’ sure I just told you that. Did you think I’d gone deaf and just couldn’t hear it?”
“My, my, someone is cranky this morning.” Holly said shaking her head. “I bet Sonja’s phone is off the hook in her room.” She ran up the stairs. A minute later she was back. “She must have knocked it off the hook and didn’t realize.”
By this time Gerard had settled himself on the sofa.
Holly walked over and looked down at him, “Oh Gee, please make yourself at home.”
He opened one eye to glare at her.
“So why were you calling me?” Holly asked talking a seat across from him.
He sighed, “Was calling to apologize for last night.”
“Which part?” She asked sweetly. “The part where you were trying to embarrass me and Troy about my age? Or maybe when you were acting like a jackass because you didn’t want to leave. Wait, maybe it was because you were acting like a whiny brat all the way home because you didn’t wanna leave the party.” Without taking a breath she continued, “Oh no I bet it’s because you called me fuckin’ bossy. If not that then perhaps because you were taunting me about wanting to undress you.”
“Shut up.” He yelled then cringed in pain. “God woman what the fuck did you do? Did you come home and write all of that down?”
Holly smiled, “Nope got it all stored in here.” She pointed to her head.
“Oh whatever.” He closed his eyes again. “Okay I’m sorry for all of it.”
“Apology accepted.” Holly said. “So have you taken anything for your headache?”
“Yeah but it ain’t working.” He opened one eye to glare at her, “Suppose you’re gonna say it serves me right?”
“I would say that if I wasn’t so nice.” Holly smiled brightly, “But I’m nice so I won’t say it even though it’s true.”
For several minutes the room was silent. Finally he asked, “So I’m not bothering you am I? Where’s Sonja?”
“Out with friends.” Holly answered softly. “And nope you’re not bothering me at all. I was just working on some Christmas gifts.”
“Working on them?”
She nodded even though he couldn’t see because he’d closed his eye again. “Yep I’m making some presents. I like to make gifts for people.”
“What kind of gifts and for who?”
Holly grinned, “All kinds of different gifts. The one I’m working on now is for a friend of mine. He’s kinda sweet sometimes but he does have his cranky moments. I just hope I got the right size.”
Gerard opened his eyes then sat up slowly. He knew she was talking about him but size? Surly she was kidding. She wouldn’t make him a sweatshirt? When he saw her face he knew she was teasing. “Oh funny. You want me to think you’re making me one of those God awful sweatshirts.”
Holly pretended to be hurt. “God awful?”
“Funny, Holly.” He rubbed his forehead. “Anyway I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry about last night.”
“So what brought that on?” Holly asked.
“What?’ He shook his head slowly realizing that having a conversation with her was at times a very confusing thing. “What brought what on?”
“Well obviously something upset you before the party. I mean it was pretty noticeable when I got in the car you were upset.”
“Oh.” He sighed, “Nothing really.”
Holly crossed her arms and waited.
“Okay, so me and Eliza had a fight except it really wasn’t a fight. She won’t fight with me and then I feel all guilty.”
“A fight that wasn’t a fight.” Holly said slowly. “Gee, you are a confusing man.”
“And you’re a confusing woman.” He shot back. A moment later he explained. “She’s upset because I’m not inviting her to mom’s for Christmas.”
“Well I can understand that.” Holly said.
He leaned back against the sofa cushions. “It’s not that I don’t want to see her it’s just…” He paused trying to explain, “I guess its cause for the last six years I was with Kat.”
“And you’re kinda sad you won’t be this Christmas?” Holly guessed.
Holly shook her head, “That really doesn’t make sense.”
He frowned, “You just said it so I thought you understood.”
“Oh I understood what you meant I just don’t understand why you mean it.”
Gerard sighed dramatically. “Look, maybe I just don’t like change.”
“Then why’d you change girlfriends?” Holly asked.
“I didn’t change my girlfriends.” He shot back beginning to get angry. “It wasn’t like that. Kat and I had drifted apart.”
“And you drifted right up to Eliza.”
He glared at her. “No, that’s not what happened.”
“Well sure it is. You broke up with Kat to be with Eliza.”
“No I didn’t.” He crossed his arms angrily. “I broke up with Kat because we’d drifted apart.”
“And Eliza was there.” Holly added.
“Look you don’t get it.” He retorted even though he knew she was right. “I’m with Eliza because I want to be.”
“So why aren’t you spending Christmas with her?” Holly asked.
“Because I don’t want to.” He answered then added quickly, “I just want some alone time. Is that bad?”
“No, alone time is good. I like alone time occasionally.”
“Yeah but she don’t get that. So she says things that....”
“Make you feel guilty?”
He nodded, “Yeah, that make me feel guilty.”
Holly thought a moment, “Gee, guilt is a funny thing. No one can really make you feel it. You either let yourself feel it or you don’t.”
He considered her words. “Yeah that’s true.”
Holly stood, “So while you’re deciding if you feel guilty or not I just decided I want some hot cocoa. Want some?”
He had to smile at the way she shifted gears, “Yeah, I guess.”
“Oh” She added happily, “I’ve got some of those baby marshmallows too? Should I float some in your cocoa?”
Gerard laughed, “Never heard anyone offer to float them in my cocoa but yeah, I’d like that.”
“Be back in a flash."
As he watched her leave the room he smiled. Yeah, there were tons of things he was supposed to be doing right now but he didn’t care. Right now at this moment all he wanted to do was sit on Holly’s sofa and drink cocoa with floating baby marshmallows.
Gerard’s gaze had settled on the Christmas tree while he’d been lost in thought. Now his anger was fading. He’d realized thinking back that Holly had always been there for him but she hadn’t just been one of those people who agreed with him to make him happy. She’d tried to make him think, make his own decisions. She’d tried to make him take responsibility for those decisions and for his actions.
His eyes moved slowly up the tree where he spotted the clay Yoda figure. The night Holly had given it to him he’d been in one of his “cranky” moods as she called them. He and Eliza had talked on the phone for hours. The call had left him feeling hurt and angry. He’d almost decided to call her back, to try to get some things straight but fear had stopped him. Deep in his heart he knew he didn’t love Eliza about he wanted to so damn badly. He had believed she understood him and he needed that. He had made himself believe that no one really understood what was deep in his soul except her. Looking back now he realized he’d lied to himself. It wasn’t that so much as the fact that he was simply afraid to be alone. All his friends had someone who loved and understood them so why shouldn’t he?
Slowly he stood and walked over to the tree. He reached out and touched the ornament causing it to slightly sway. Holly had done an excellent job molding the figure. The attention to detail was amazing. He smiled sadly remembering that night, it was a bittersweet memory because it was the first time he’s ever seen Holly sad.
Dec 24th 2006
Gerard sat lost in thought, his mood as dark as the sky outside. This Christmas Eve was no doubt going to go down as one of the worse ones in his life. He’d sat here at his mom’s all night trying to pretend he was having such a good time. He’s watched his baby brother nuzzle his girlfriend all night. He sighed, well the fact he’d been alone tonight was his own fault. His girlfriend could have been at his side but he hadn’t invited her.
Getting up he walked into the kitchen and opened the cabinet he knew contained his mother’s stash of liquor. Pouring a drink he downed it in one gulp then looked at the clock. It was just past midnight, the house was quiet and he’d never felt so alone in his life. Suddenly the emptiness in his heart was too much to take. He had another quick drink then went for his jacket. Maybe he just needed some fresh air to clear his mind. Yeah, that was what he needed. He’d call Eliza back when he returned.
The night was very cold causing his lungs to burn as he started walking. He welcomed that feeling; it was better than feeling nothing at all. As he moved up the sidewalk he looked up into the night sky smiling sadly. Christmas eve should be a time to feel happy so why didn’t he?
He walked all the way up the block then crossed to the other side of the street intent on walking back home. Yet he knew deep down why he’d chosen this side of the street. He’d be walking by her house.
As he neared Holly’s his mood shifted again. What the fuck was he doing? He needed to go back to his mom’s, have another drink and crash. Time to put his holiday to rest. He’d call Eliza tomorrow; enough was enough and today had been enough.
“Looking for Santa?”
Her voice started him. She was sitting on the top step, wearing that ridiculous coat. While he couldn’t make out her features he was sure she was smiling.
“What the fuck are you doing outside?” He asked leaving the sidewalk to carefully make his way towards her steps.
“Well I came outside because that’s what I always to Christmas Eve.” She answered.
“You always come outside in the cold on Christmas Eve?”
“Yep, ever since I was a little girl. My mama told me that there was a possibility I’d see Santa up in the sky as he flew over. I thought it was neat she told me that. I mean most parents try to get their kids to go to bed on Christmas Eve, they tell them that if they aren’t sleeping then Santa will pass by. But not my mama, she and I would go outside together and scan the skies.”
As he got nearing he saw her face. For once she wasn’t smiling. “So you’re sad you haven’t seen him?”
“No, I’m sad because I miss my mama. She died four years ago.’ She paused, “When Sonja was little she and I had the same tradition.” She paused again, “Well we didn’t come outside and look every year but most of them when she could. We’d look for Santa and we’d listen really heard for sleigh bells.”
Gerard frowned realizing if he’d only really listened he would have realized she was in a way telling him Sonja had health problems. But he hadn’t picked up on that at all.
“So where’s Sonja?” Gerard asked shifting from foot to foot trying to find some warmth.
“Fast asleep.” Holly answered softly. “She’s too old for this kind of silliness now.”
Her sadness was the last think he needed, he had enough of his own. “Yeah well.” He said, “I’m sure she is.”
Holly lifted herself off the cold steps. “Yep she is.” She started to turn to go inside.
“Uh” Gerard struggled to find something to say.
She turned, ‘You could just say you want to come in.”
“Who said I want to come in?” He asked not liking her attitude.
Holly shrugged, “Okay if you’d rather freeze you ass off that’s up to you.” She moved towards the door.
Gerard was shocked by her attitude. Where was the terminally happy Holly he’d expected? “Man, now who’s cranky.” He said stopping her.
She turned around, “Not cranky.” She said softly. “Are you coming?”
If she wasn’t cranky then what was she? He quickly moved up the steps. She was already inside struggling out of her coat when he walked in and shut the door. The house was dark except for her small Christmas tree’s lights. She walked into the living room not bothering to turn on a lamp and sat down.
Gerard threw his jacket down on a chair in the hallway and followed her. He sat down on the sofa when he saw she’d taken a seat in the chair. For a moment he thought she was crying, her eyes were so shiny but he told himself it was just a trick of the Christmas tree lights. He did however see the bottle of wine clearly.
“You’ve been drinking?” He asked.
Holly glanced over at the bottle. “Yeah and so have you.”
“Now how the fuck would you know that?”
She shook her head, “Haven’t you ever noticed when it’s cold that your sense of smell is so much sharper? As soon as we walked in the house I could smell the alcohol.”
He really didn’t give her comment any thought. “Yeah, so I’ve been drinking, so what?”
Holly reached over and lifted her wineglass. She took a sip then spoke, “So what, indeed?”
Now her attitude was really getting to him. Here he’d been all ready to react to her bitching at him about drinking and she was acting like it made no difference to her. “So why are you drinking alone?” He challenged.
“Well because until now there was no one here.”
He gave her a surprised look. “What about Sonja?”
“She’s at her friend’s house.” Holly answered softly. “Kelly’s family has huge dinner Christmas eve, it’s their family tradition and they invited Sonja.”
“Oh.” Gerard answered, “I thought when you said she was fast asleep you meant here.”
“She called me about a half hour ago and told me goodnight.” Holly sighed, “This is the first Christmas eve we haven’t spent together.”
The sadness in her voice made him pause. “Oh.”
“Anyway, so why were you drinking?”
“Well cause it’s Christmas eve. Mom and ha few relatives over, you know.”
Holly did know that. What Gerard didn’t know was that his mom had invited her too but she’d declined the invitation. “But you weren’t drinking then. Your mom doesn’t serve liquor around you.”
“How do you know that?”
Picking up her wine glass she took a sip before answering, “Because she told me.”
“Yeah, I waited until they were gone and ma went to bed.” He admitted. “I dunno I just wanted one, you know?”
Holly was sure he’d had more than one but didn’t voice that opinion.
He waited for her to answer but she remained silent.
“So why are you so sad?” He finally asked.
“Who said I was sad?”
He rolled his eyes, “Pretty obvious. You’ve been drinking alone, and you’re not yourself."
“Not myself?” She repeated. “I suppose that means I’m not my usual annoying self.”
He frowned, “I never said you were annoying.”
“Didn’t have to say it, I know I am. Fuck, I annoy myself.”
Gerard honestly didn’t know how to handle the situation. He’d never seen Holly like this before and it bothered him. He liked the other Holly, the happy, goofy one. This Holly seemed wrong. “So you didn’t answer my question. Why aren’t you your normal self?”
She took another drink before answering, “Because sometimes I get tried of pretending.”
He was about to say something when she suddenly sat up straighter.
“Okay, so what’s got you all upset this beautiful Christmas eve?” She asked completely surprising him with her sudden change in attitude.
He stared at her face a moment trying to make out her features but the colored Christmas lights made it difficult. “What’s going on?” He asked softly.
She smiled slightly, “Nothing. I was just having a few minutes of pity but I’m better now.”
This time she laughed, “Gee, come on. Everyone has sad moments. I’m really just like everyone else. I was feeling sad because Sonja wasn’t here. I miss her. But I understand she’s growing up. It’s just that sometimes just because you know something doesn’t make it any easier to accept. So I was feeling sorry for myself but that never accomplished a thing. Now, tell me what’s wrong.”
For the first time since meeting her he was reluctant to tell her how he was feeling. It somehow seemed wrong to burden her.
“Gee.” Holly said softly, “I really want to know.”
So slowly he told her about his latest conversation with Eliza. He told her how Eliza had accused him of not loving her and how she had sounded so depressed. Holly listened until he grew quiet.
“So she’s ruining your alone time?” Holly asked.
“You told me that you weren’t gonna invite her for Christmas because you wanted some alone time.”
“Well yeah, that’s true.” He nodded.
“So she’s ruining it for you.”
He frowned, “You know sometimes you make me sound like a real bastard who only cares about his own feelings.”
“I don’t mean to.” Holly said softly. “I don’t think that about you.”
“Yeah well that’s how it sounds.” He said refusing to let go of his anger. “Whatever.” He stood. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected but it wasn’t her making him feel worse.
“Gee, sit down.” Holly said before taking another drink.
He glared at her, “Why?”
“Because I don’t want you to be mad at me, not tonight.” She said so softly he almost didn’t hear her words.
He sat down but as soon as he did Holly stood. “I’ll be right back.”
He watched as she left the room. Now what the hell was she doing, he wondered.
Several minutes later she walked back into the room stopping to switch on a lamp. “Here.” She said handing him a small gift bag. “I want to give you this now.”
“I got you something but I was planning on giving it to you tomorrow.” He said taking the bag from her hand. “You are still coming to mom’s tomorrow, right?”
Holly nodded, “Yes, Sonja and I will be there.”
“So I should wait to open this until tomorrow.” He said wondering what was in the bag.
“No, open it now.” Holly smiled, “It’s not much so I’d rather you open it now.”
He slowly pulled out the tissue paper and saw that something was wrapped up in the bottom of the bag. Carefully he lifted it out. “Oh cool.” He smiled as Yoda suddenly was freed from the paper. He looked at it closely. “Where did you find this?” He asked believing she had purchased it because it was so nicely done.
Holly sat down by him on the sofa. “I told you I was making you something.” She laughed, “You did get you were the sweet yet sometimes cranky friend, didn’t you?”
He laughed, “Yeah, I knew you were talking about me. Holly, this is fantastic.” He said studying the clay figure.
“So now The Force can always be with you.” She said softly.
He looked into her eyes, “This really means a lot to me that you made this.”
“Well money is a little tight.” She shrugged.
“This gift means more to me than anything you could have bought.” He told her honestly. “I love it.”
She smiled, “Merry Christmas, Gee.”
Impulsively he leaned over and hugged her, “Merry Christmas Holly.” Reluctantly he moved back, wrapped Yoda back up carefully then leaned back against the cushions. “Can I ask a favor?”
Holly nodded, “Sure.”
“Can we just sit here a while and look at the tree?”
“Sure we can.” Holly said. She got up, snapped off the light then sat back down beside him.
The lights of the tree filled the room. In the shadows Gerard reached over and took her hand. “Thanks.”
Holly understood how he felt. Sometimes you just needed to be with someone, words weren’t needed.