Sequel to Fly Away, Dance on the Milky Way. Over a year has passed, and Gerard is reunited with his daughter Gia. She has a lot to hide, and Gerard finds that she has grown up and changed.
Chapter 17: I’m no longer yours
The whole experience had a huge effect on Gia. The little excitement she had about returning to Belleville disappeared completely, and she would’ve rather been anywhere else.
Shame was what she felt the most.
Gia had sworn on her life that she won’t end up like her mother and father, a parent at a young age, lost and depressed. And that’s what nearly happened. She found herself being thankful about the miscarriage, glad that Thomas had done what he did.
But she wasn’t sure how she could deal with seeing her uncles, her friends, her mother… Frank might be the most understanding, but even he would surely begin to resent her to some extent.
Gerard especially seemed distant. When he drove her home hours after the operation and escorted her safely to the house and up to her room, he didn’t speak one word. He didn’t even look at her, and Gia wasn’t surprised. She wouldn’t want anything to do with herself either if she had a choice.
As days passed, Gia’s depression and loneliness grew. She stayed in her room, glad that she wasn’t forced to go to school as it was the end of the school year anyway. She hardly ate, barely drank anything, and only left her bed to use the bathroom connected to her bedroom.
Before she knew it, nearly a week had passed since the operation, and nothing had changed. It was like she was dead to the rest of the world.
Gerard’s mood matched hers completely, but for different reasons. Most of the time he merely sat around the house and stared at the TV screen.
He knew that upstairs was his daughter, who was going through a difficult time. He knew he should’ve gone up and talk to her, try to fix it, but he couldn’t. All he really wanted to do was go find his wife and younger daughter, but that wouldn’t be any help. Lindsey was dead set on not talking to him until he got his shit together, and Gerard couldn’t blame her. The woman had been his rock, the one who had to stay quiet and keep him sane while he dealt with his own, and Gia’s problems.
And as if there wasn’t enough crap on Gerard’s shoulders as it is, Gia’s mother decided to add some more to it.
Ever since the incident with Thomas, Gerard had been dreading the moment that Stella decides to come by and pick up their daughter in order to return her back to Connecticut. Judging by their last phone call, Stella hadn’t believed a word of Gerard’s story. But despite the events of the past few days, Gerard still didn’t want his daughter to go back to the mouth of the lion. Even if she did disappoint him, she was still his daughter.
Gerard had nearly started to wish that if he just ignored the whole world, then it would disappear around him. But no, people just couldn’t grant him the simple joy of being alone for one lousy lifetime.
Groaning, the man rose from the couch and left the TV on. He hadn’t really even watched the show that was currently running, just stared at the screen with a faraway look in his eyes. And what had interrupted his staring contest with the inanimate object? The doorbell, of course.
Oh, he did recognize that urgent, deadbeat way of ringing the doorbell. Only the suicidal mother of your firstborn daughter can ring a doorbell in such an agitated manner. Before he even opened the door, he knew who it was.
“What do you want?” he asked the woman with dark red hair.
“You have something of mine,” Stella replied with a furious look on her face. “Where is she?”
Stella pushed Gerard aside, and marched into the house. She looked around frantically, and rushed to the living room, looking for her daughter.
“Would you fucking calm down?” Gerard growled. He was not in the mood for her whining and complaining right now.
“You’ve had your chances to come to your senses and bring her back home to me. Hell, I even gave you some time to spend with her here, but really, now it’s time for her to come back home,” Stella explained, and then screamed: “GIA!”
Gerard rolled his eyes, and that’s when Stella took a better look at him. “You look like crap,” she declared. “Are you doing drugs again? Drinking? Looks like I should’ve come get her the second I noticed she was gone.”
“I’m not on drugs and I’m not drinking,” Gerard spat, glaring at her. “And what the fuck is wrong with YOU? You’re okay with your husband hitting our daughter?”
“Thomas has never laid a hand on Gia! He is not a bad person!”
Their argument was cut short by the small, disbelieving voice. The blonde girl stood at the bottom of the staircase, staring at her mother in shock. Stella sighed in relief, as if she had actually thought Gerard had gone mad and murdered her. The woman dashed over to her daughter and hugged her tightly.
Gia had missed her mother. She was quite confused as to why she was there, but nevertheless, she was still happy to see her. Things had gone so wrong lately and despite the fact that she sounded like a complete wuss, Gia was glad to be in her mother’s arms again.
“What are you doing here?” she asked the woman while hugging back.
“I came to bring you home,” Stella explained.
“She’s not going with you!” Gerard immediately argued.
Completely ignoring the man, Stella held her daughter in place and looked at her. At first she hadn’t seen the bruising around her eye and cheekbone, but once she got a closer look, she could clearly see a fading yellow mark. “Gia, were you in a fight?” she asked, shocked by the sight. She turned her head to face Gerard. “Gerard… What is this?”
“I told you already, it was Thomas! That’s why I can’t let you take her with you!” Gerard tried to explain, but the hard, almost mean look on her face didn’t even quiver. She clearly didn’t believe a word he said.
“Honey, why don’t you go up to your room? Your dad and I need to have a chat,” Stella said, trying to sound and look like she wasn’t about to murder Gerard. “I’ll come get you in a little bit, and then we’ll go home.”
Gia wasn’t sure if she should leave the two of them alone, but she did as she was told and left. However, she didn’t go to her room. Instead, she stayed at the top of the stairs and listened to their conversation.
“What’s going on?” she heard Stella ask in a demanding tone.
Gerard groaned, and repeated: “I’ve told you a million times, it was Thomas!”
“Thomas would never do such a thing! You’re just jealous!”
“Of Gia having a stepdad who she saw more than you! You didn’t want her to have another father figure and that’s why you explain all this crap about him hitting her.”
“Then how do you explain the bruise?”
He was certain that he had her with that question, but no. The worst was yet to come. “I don’t know, you probably hit her yourself!”
Gerard was appalled. Upstairs, Gia’s jaw dropped in shock. The mere thought of him hurting her like that, it made both of them freeze. Gerard may have done some pretty bad things and he wasn’t always the best father, but he would never hit her. “How can you even say that?” he asked. “Why don’t you ask her what happened. She’ll tell you.”
“Oh please, she’d just lie to protect you. I don’t understand why, all you ever did for her was make her miserable. That’s why she came to live with me, it’s so obvious!”
Gia sat on the floor by the top of the stairs, leaning her back against a wall. She wanted to go to her room, not wanting to hear the fight, but at the same time she had to listen. She hated it when people fought, especially about her, but for some reason she couldn’t get up and leave.
“The only reason she wanted to live with you is because you didn’t care! You let her run around and do what she wanted!”
“I had her under control; you’re the one who let her try drugs! Hell, you gave her plenty of examples.”
“I’m not the one who let her get pregnant!”
Stella was about to shoot back a sarcastic, witty remark, when his words sunk in. “Pregnant?” she asked, her voice cracking.
Gerard sighed. No, that’s not how he should’ve let her know. It just kind of came out. “Yeah.”
“She’s… I’m going to be… But Gia is just 17!” Stella looked confused and distressed, and Gerard actually started to feel bad for her. He felt the same way she did, although he was certain that this wasn’t exactly her worst nightmare as it was his.
“There’s a little more to it than that,” Gerard started. “She’s not pregnant anymore.”
“She got an abortion?” The look on Stella’s face was somehow relieved. He knew that she didn’t want her daughter to go through what she did. And he knew that at times Stella had regretted not getting an abortion.
“No, she miscarried,” Gerard said. “Because of Thomas hitting her.”
Gia couldn’t see them, so she wasn’t sure what was going on. They had gone completely silent. Gia hardly dared to breathe, fearing that they’ll hear her. Then, she heard her father suggest that they go to the kitchen, have some coffee and talk like normal people. This of course meant that Gia had to move. She tip-toed down the stairs, careful not to make a sound, and positioned herself in a closet next to the kitchen. It was a good place, she could hear everything, but no one would see her. By the time she had gotten in place, they were already talking.
“I just don’t understand. How could she get pregnant?” she heard Stella ask.
“How do people usually do it?” Gerard said sarcastically. “Are you saying you had no idea what was going on?”
Stella sighed, shrugging. “I don’t know. I guess on some level I knew. But I really wanted everything to be normal, I wanted her to be good, I suppose I just didn’t want to deal with any problems. I want to be happy,” Stella explained. “So, I did kind of know there was something going on with Sean. I assume the father was Sean?”
“I think so, yes.”
“I sometimes woke up at night and saw her come home. She reeked of alcohol and cigarettes but I just ignored it. It was easier that way. And once or twice I did hear some noises coming out of her room. She was hardly ever home on weekends, and when she was, she had Sean over. I guess you would’ve never allowed that?”
“Please, I would’ve murdered the boy.”
“Exactly. But I still don’t believe Thomas did any of the stuff you said he did. He wouldn’t touch Gia, he loves her.”
Gerard scoffed. “Are you kidding? You can’t deny that bruise!”
“I think I need to speak with Thomas,” Stella said. She sounded crushed. Then again, Gerard would be too if something like that was going on in his house. “But Gerard… If what you said is true… I don’t think I can bring Gia back with me.”
“Like I was going to let you.”
“I love her, and I want her to come with me. But I just don’t know if I can deal with her.”
Gerard nodded. Hesitantly, he spoke: “I know what you mean.”
“Yeah. It’s like I don’t even know her anymore. When she came to live with you, I thought it would be the easier thing to do because she and I… Well, we’ve tried, but things always go wrong. I know she’s my daughter and I’m supposed to support and love her and it’s not her fault she’s the way she is. But I just don’t know anymore.”
“So you do want me to take her?”
“No, I don’t want her to get hurt. But I don’t know how to deal with her. Sometimes I think it would be easier to just give up and let her do what she wants. You know, let her leave. As soon as she came back, all these problems started to rise. Lindsey is mad at me and won’t let me see Bandit. Gia of course had a miscarriage the second she came back. And did you know that Jamia and Frank got twins? Frank is now in trouble because he’s been spending a little too much time with Gia and not with Jamia and the twins, or so she says.”
Gerard and Stella continued talking, but Gia had heard enough. Neither of them wanted her, but because they felt they had a responsibility over her, they forced themselves to care. It made Gia feel bad. Not only the fact that they didn’t really want her, but also because they only pretended to care for her because they had to.
Gia silently left the closet, and made her way to the front door. A quietly as possible, she opened the door, and closed it behind her. They shouldn’t be forced to try to stand her. She didn’t want to be a burden.
So, there was only one logical course of action. She had to go.