“Emerson, darling, get out of bed. We’re moving you into Gerard’s place today, remember? It’s nearly noon.”
“Okay. Give me some time.”
“As you wish, dear.”
I sighed and tried my best to convince my body to move from its position in my bed. I didn’t want to go live with Gerard. He deserved so much better. I didn’t want hom to see me like this. I’d been able to put on a happy façade when visiting him in the hospital, but as soon as I returned home, I cracked. If he thought he’d seen me at my worst, he hasn’t seen anything yet.
I groaned pitifully and drug my body into the bathroom, spending the next few minutes puking into the toilet, as per my every morning. I was getting so weak. I hardly weighed much at all, as I hadn’t eaten much since I’d been released from the hospital. I’d hidden how thin I was from Gerard by wearing baggy, thick clothing when I visited him, but I couldn’t keep it up any longer. I know I sound insane, and maybe I am, but there’s no way you could understand the pain I deal with on a daily basis. Not a physical pain, no. Something much worse.
“Are you ready?”
I leapt up from my place on the couch at the sound of knocking on my apartment door. Emerson was finally here. An odd feeling of apprehension and nervousness filled me. If Emerson was as bad as Ellie had said, how would I be able to take seeing her so unhappy? No. She’d get better once we were together again. I opened the door.
She looked up at me with those big eyes. She held one simple suitcase and that was it. How sad she looked.
“Hello, Gerard,” Em said, almost coldly. She stepped past me, setting down her suitcase. I moved to wrap my arms around her, but she backed away. I looked down at her, confused. I wasn’t used to such formality between us.
“Em,” I said sadly, taking her hand and sitting her down on the couch. “What’s happened to you? What’s made you so scared?”
She just shook her head. “I wish I knew, Gerard. I wish I could tell you what’s wrong with me. But there are no words to describe the pain that rages through me every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I just feel… empty. Like there’s no point in living anymore. This whole thing has affected me more than you could ever know. It’s more than I can deal with. I hope you understand.”
“Emerson, what are you saying?” I asked cautiously.
When she looked up, the look in her eyes frightened me. “I want you to let me go, Gerard.”
“What?!” I screeched.
“Not for someone else, no. I could never be with anyone else. I just want this to be over.”
“If what you’re asking is for me to let you kill yourself, here’s my answer. No. Fucking. Way.”
Tears spilled over the barriers of her eyes. “Please, Gerard,” she whimpered. “I am begging you. Help me end this. I don’t want to be in pain anymore.”
God, I hated seeing her like this. It terrified me. “Emerson, please listen to me. I need you. If you don’t want to live for yourself, let me be selfish and ask you to live for me. If you love me like I think you do, tell me that you’ll never leave me. Or else tell me that you don’t love me like you did yesterday.” I watched the internal struggle Em had with herself, deciding her decision.
“Gerard,” she sobbed, throwing herself into my arms. “I’ll never leave you.”
I held onto her tightly as sobs racked her small frame. The pain that she’d kept bottled up when visiting me poured out. Em’s fingernails dug into my arms and she screamed silently into my chest.
A couple of weeks passed. I made sure that I was with Em at all times to make sure she didn’t do anything drastic. She was very quiet and reserved, not at all like the Em I once knew. She barely moved from her spot on the couch or the bed. She would wake up in the middle of the night, sobbing hysterically. I’d hold her tight and lay awake with her for hours on end as the tears streamed down her face, both of us silently grieving. Her grieving for our lost baby, me grieving for the old Emerson. The Emerson I wanted so badly to return to me. But deep down I knew I’d never have that Emerson back.
Exactly one month after Em had moved in with me, Mikey called me up, speaking excitedly.
“Gerard! We’ve got it! We’ve got our first gig!”
I suppose I should fill you in a little bit. See, since I’d been released from the hospital, Mikey, Ray, Frank, Bob, and I had formed something of a little band. We’d rehearse in Frank’s garage (I brought Em along every time, of course, even though she protested) three times a week. We didn’t really have that much experience, and only had a couple of rough songs so far. Despite our protests, Mikey had been on a personal mission to get us a small gig in a local club. Apparently he’d succeeded.
“Great job, Mikes. Where at and when?”
“At Big Daddy’s, tonight! Are you ready?”
“Tonight?” I looked over at Em who lay curled up on our bed, wrapped in blankets. She’d gotten what she said was the stomach flu two days earlier. “I- I guess I’m ready.”
“Good. I’ll see you at Frank’s by five to load up the gear.”
“See you then.” I hung up and stared at the phone in my hands. I had wanted Em to be there if we ever got a chance to play for real. But I knew she’d refuse. I turned to her, biting my lip.
“Hm?” she groaned softly.
“Mikey’s got us a show tonight at Big Daddy’s. I don’t suppose you want to come along?”
Em peered out from behind the blankets and sighed. “I’d love to come, but ‘m really not feeling up to it today.”
I sat down on the bed beside her. “I understand. But I don’t want to leave you all by yourself. I- I’m afraid you’ll do something to yourself.”
“Gerard, I’m barely feeling well enough to talk to you right now, let alone to get up and attempt suicide.”
I flinched at the word suicide. I looked down into her eyes. “Promise me you won’t hurt yourself.”
She stared back at me for a moment before responding. “I promise. When do you leave?”
“In just a little bit.”
“Oh. Lay with me ‘till then?” she pleaded, stretching a hand out. I immediately obliged and climbed into the bed beside her. She curled up against my chest and slid and arm around me. We lay there in silence a minute before Em raised herself up on one elbow to look me in the eye.
“Gerard, I love you. Always remember that.”
I smiled at her sleepily. “I love you too, Em,” I said before leaning forward to kiss her. To my surprise, she kissed me back. Really kissed me. It had been so long since we’d had a real kiss. I vaguely wondered what had gotten into her. As the kiss deepened, I suddenly felt something wet on my cheeks. I carefully pulled away. Em looked up at me, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Why are you crying?” I asked, concerned. Em sniffed and swiped at the falling tears before burying her head in my chest.
“Because I love you so much, is all,” she said softly, her voice muffled by my t-shirt. It was then that I caught a glimpse of my old Emerson. Maybe she was coming back to me after all. I put my arms around her and glanced at the clock on the wall. Damn. I needed to be gone in just a minute. I so badly wanted to stay with Emerson right now, but I knew she’d be here waiting for me when I got home.
“Em,” I whispered. “I’ve got to go.”
She pulled away, tears still shining in her eyes. “Good luck tonight. You guys are going to do so great. You’re going to make it big someday.”
“And you’ll be right there along side us, the whole way.”
Em didn’t say anything, just reached up and touched my face gently. “Go. I love you.”
I had an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach as I rolled from the bed. I shook it off as just a case of nerves about tonight and I leaned down to kiss Emerson one last time.