A health issue prevents Holly and M from going on the trip.
“Sorry, I thought you and Alicia would be up already.”
As she spoke the words the sound of their alarm clock pierced the quiet.
Alicia sat up in bed. “What’s going on?”
Holly sighed, “We’ve got a problem. Molly woke me up a few minutes ago complained she doesn’t feel good.”
"She’s sick?” Mikey asked in concern.
Holly sighed, “She’s covered in chicken pox.”
“Oh shit.” Alicia said slipping from bed. She grabbed her robe then joined them in the doorway. “Poor baby.”
“She’s pretty upset.” Holly explained softly. “I told her we can’t go because she’s contagious.”
“Damn.” Alicia said as the three of them made their way to the guest bedroom.
“Hey, M.” Mikey said walking over to the bed. “Don’t cry.”
“Mes wants to go to see Awesha’s famwe.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks.
Alicia sat down on the bed. “It’s okay, Honey. Promise we’ll take you when you feel better.”
“How do you know she has chicken pox?’ Mikey asked Holly in a whisper. He couldn’t see any sign of them.
Holly went to the little girl who was sitting up. “Let’s show them your back, Baby.” When she lifted Molly’s PJ top they saw it was covered with the red blisters.
“They are on her arms and legs too.” Holly sighed. Suddenly another sobering thought crossed her mind. “Both of you have had chicken pox, haven’t you?”
“Gee and I both had them when I was about Molly’s age.” Mikey said.
“Yeah, and I had them when I was seven.” Alicia nodded. “I had a terrible case all over my body and my face.”
“So far is only has a few on her neck.” Holly whispered hoping many didn't spread to Molly's face.
Molly started crying again.
Alicia gave her a hug. “No reason to cry, M. Sometimes things like this just happen.”
“Baby, lay back down now.” Holly said softly. “I’m going to make you some yummy pancakes, okay?”
Molly nodded through her tears. “Otay.”
When the adults reached the kitchen Alicia spoke. “We’ll just cancel our trip.”
“Don’t be silly.” Holly said as she moved to start a pot of coffee. “There’s no reason you two shouldn’t go unless you’d rather not leave us here.”
Alicia frowned, “I’d rather not leave you guys here because I wanted you both to go so much.”
“Yeah.” Mikey nodded. “Leaving you to deal with Molly alone don’t seem right.”
Holly smiled at her friends. “I’ve been through this before.” As she scooped coffee into the filter she added, “But Molly’s are so much worse than Sonja’s, she only had a light case.”
“Ain’t that the way?” Mikey laughed. “I had the damn things all over my body and Gee only had a few on his arms. Man, I remember being pissed about that.”
Suddenly Holly remembered last night when Mikey mentioned Gerard’s name. Her hand stilled a moment.
“What’s wrong?” Alicia who had been watching her asked.
“Oh, I just thought of something.” That part was true. Quickly she added, “You know the chances are pretty good Bandit is going to come down with this too.”
“Shit, that’s true.” Mikey said. “I should probably call him and give him a heads up.”
“Let me call Lindsey.” Holly said quickly understanding that Mikey believed his brother was back East.
“Holly are you sure you don’t mind us going?” Alicia asked. “We really can postpone our trip.”
“Don’t be silly.” Holly smiled, “Your mom’s expecting you.”
“Hey, we need to get ready.” Mikey reminded his wife. “I’m gonna tell M that we’ll being her back something special. Maybe that will cheer her up.”
“You two are spoiling her.” Holly said.
“Cause we love her.” Alicia smiled.
Holly waited until they had left to finish packing before she placed her call. Lindsey answered on the fourth ring.
“Hey, Lindsey. It’s me Holly. Sorry I know it's early for you.”
“Hey, Holly. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Sorry to bother you guys.” She reminded herself that Lindsey probably believed she thought Gerard had gone with them. “But something has happened I need to tell you about.”
Lindsey walked out into the hallway smiling at her mom as she passed. “What is it?”
“Molly has come down with a case of chicken pox.”
“Oh shit.” Lindsey said.
‘Yeah, well I’m guessing Bandit hasn’t had them yet?”
“No she hasn’t.” Lindsey confirmed. “But she did get the vaccine. Even so they did say it was possible for her to get a light case so I’m glad you called.”
“I should have had Molly vaccinated.” Holly sighed, “I messed up.”
Lindsey could hear she was upset. “Hey, don’t beat yourself up over it. I actually have several friends who have chosen not to get their kids vaccinated. They are leery about doing it and feel their kids need to get some things so their bodies learn to build up immunities.”
“I sorta felt that way too.” Holly admitted, “But now, seeing her so sick, I’m not sure I did the right thing.”
“Don’t second guess yourself.” Lindsey said kindly. “Molly will be fine. Tell her I hope she feels better soon.”
“I will.” Holly promised.
“Thanks for calling. I’ll keep an eye on her. I really hope she doesn’t get them right now. That would suck. If she does how long will she be contagious?”
Holly tried to remember. “You know I’m not sure.” She laughed. “It’s been so long since I’ve had to deal with this.”
“Yeah, I’ll ask my mom. I know I had them when I was about four, I think.”
“Me, too. I came down with them during Christmas time.”
“That had to suck.”
“Oh yeah.” Holly smiled at the memory. “But Santa was extra good to me that year.” She heard commotion in the background. “Anyway, like I said, sorry to bother you but I thought you’d want to know.”
“Yeah, I’m glad you called. See you in a couple of days.”
When Mikey and Alicia returned to the kitchen Holly had just finished making the pancakes.
Alicia went over and pulled out a metal tray. “You can use this for Molly.”
“Thanks.” Holly smiled, “She’ll most likely stay in bed today.”
“Wish we weren’t going now.” Mikey frowned. “I just checked on M and she’s pretty miserable.”
“She’ll be okay, Mikey Boy. Don’t worry. This is just one of those things. It’s better to get them at an early age.”
“I told her that Santa had left a gift for her at mom’s.” Alicia said getting plates out of the cabinet. “And that we’re gonna bring her something back. That seemed to make her feel a little better.”
As Mikey and Alicia sat down to eat their breakfast Holly fixed a plate then put it on the tray. “Okay I’m off to take this to my sick baby.”
Mikey watched her as she left the kitchen balancing the tray. “This part I don’t like.”
Alicia gave him a puzzled look.
“You know sickness. That’s the part of having kids that still scares me.”
“Hey, at least it’s nothing really bad. If we didn’t know for sure what Molly had, I mean if she was just really sick and we didn’t know she had chicken pox I would have wanted us to cancel the trip.”
He nodded. “Yeah, know what you mean. But poor, M. You can just tell looking at her how bad she feels.”
Gerard awoke to the ringing of his cell. Rolling over on the sofa he grabbed it. When he saw it was Lindsey calling he answered quickly.
“Gee I just wanted to let you know we got here.”
He sighed, “You got there yesterday.”
“We’ve been really busy.” She answered abruptly. “Anyway I also wanted to let you know that Holly called me.”
Gerard sat up. ‘Why?”
“To tell me Molly has come down with the chicken pox. So I would know there is a chance Bandit will too.”
He rubbed his eyes trying to think. “When did this happen?”
“When did she call or when did Molly come down with them?”
“I guess both.”
Lindsey really wasn’t sure. “Well she called a few minutes ago. Not sure when Molly came down with them but I’m guessing this morning.”
“Shit that means they won’t be able to go to Alicia’s mom’s house.” He said slowly.
“Oh yeah I’d forgotten about that.” Lindsey admitted. "Yeah you’re right I’m sure Molly won’t be able to go.”
“Wonder if Mikey and Alicia are still going?" He said thinking out loud.
“You could just call and ask.”
His temper flared. “No actually I can’t. I don’t want anyone to know my wife didn’t want me to go with her.”
Lindsey understood. “Oh, so you’re just hiding in the house pretending you are out of town?”
“What difference does that make to you?" He retorted.
She didn’t want to argue with him. “Gee, I’m sorry. I just thought it was best if you didn’t come with us. I need some time alone to get my head straight.”
“No, you just wanted some time away from me.” The anger had turned to hurt.
“I have to go.” She said suddenly. “I’ll call you if Bandit gets sick.”
“Yeah.” He said, “Let me know.” He paused a moment. “You still coming back like planned?”
“Bandit and I will be back on Wednesday unless she comes down with the chicken pox.” Lindsey said softly.
He stood then moved towards the kitchen needing coffee. “Yeah, call me if she does okay?” He stressed his point again, “Really.”
“I will.” Lindsey answered with a sigh. “You know if Mikey and Alicia go without them you could always go give Holly a hand taking care of Molly.”
He stopped in his tracks. “I told you I don’t want anyone to know I’m still in town.” For a brief moment he felt guilty. Of course Holly already knew but Lindsey didn’t know that.
“Holly will understand.” Lindsey said softly then disconnected.
Gerard shook his head sadly. The mess this life had become just seemed to be getting worse by the day.
It was a little after noon and Holly was in the kitchen placing chicken noodle soup into a bowl. When the door opened it startled her causing her to drop the spoon. “Gee." She said in shock. “What are you doing here?"
He walked in carrying a balloon bearing the words GET WELL SOON and a small bag. “Came to see the sick girl.” He closed the door behind him.
“How did you know?” Holly asked trying to make sense of this unexpected visit.
He sighed, “Linds called me. She said you’d called her to tell her about Molly having chicken pox.”
Holly nodded, “Yeah I thought she should know in case Bandit comes down with them. But I didn’t tell her I knew you were home.”
“I know.” He said softly. “But she suggested I come over and give you a hand taking care of Molly.”
Holly didn’t know what to say.
Suddenly the anger he was hiding just under the surface exploded. ‘Yeah, funny ain’t it? Kinda like my wife is pushing us together. Maybe she thinks you’ll take me off her hands.”
The look on Holly’s face made him regret his words.
“Shit I’m sorry.” He said taking a step towards her.
Holly took a step back shaking her head. “Okay I’m just gonna pretend you didn’t say that.”
“Fuck.” Gerard muttered. “Look, just give this to Molly, okay?” He held out the balloon and bag.
Holly could see the pain in his eyes. “No, you do that yourself. I’ve got to carry this.” She placed the bowl on the tray then turned.
“Holly.” He said softly waiting until she stopped. “I am sorry.”
Holly exhaled loudly, “Come on Gee. Molly will be very happy to see you.”
“Gee.” Molly cried out happily when they entered the bedroom. “Mes gots pox.”
He crossed over to the bed while Holly hung back. “I know Baby. I’m so sorry but I brought you something.” He handed her the balloon first then the bag.
Molly smiled up at the balloon. “Tanks.”
He laughed. “You can let it go. The string is long enough you can pull it down from the ceiling when you want.”
She nodded then let it go watching as it floated up. Then she turned her attention to the bag. “Oh lookie Mommy.” She said as she pulled the coloring books and new box of crayons out of the bag.”
“Well that looks like fun.” Holly smiled. “But you have to eat your soup first.” She waited until Molly sat up straighter. Gerard placed a pillow on the little girls lap so that Holly could set down the tray.
“Gee stay?" Molly asked. “Pweeze?”
“Sure I can stay for a while.” He glanced over at Holly and saw she had a smile on her face.
“Dood." Molly nodded. “Wes can color todether.”
“Okay.” Gerard smiled, “But I gotta warn you I always mess up and color outside the lines.”
Molly took a small spoon full of soup before answering. “Dats otay. Mes too but Mommy says dats dood.”
Gerard looked over at Holly.
“I told her coloring outside the lines just means you are thinking outside the box, making the picture your own.”
Their eyes met. “That’s a great way to think.” He said softly.
“I’m gonna call Holly.” Alicia said as soon as they reached her mom’s house. “I want to check to see how Molly’s doing."
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, good idea.”
Holly picked up her cell. She saw that Gerard was watching her. “It’s Alicia." She said getting up from the bed where she, Gerard and Molly were coloring. “Be right back.”
“Hey.” She answered once she reached the hallway. “How was your flight?”
“It was good.” Alicia answered. “How’s Molly doing?”
“Well a few more have popped up on her arms.” Holly sighed, “Matter of fact she’s coloring right now but I’m going to make her take her nap soon.”
“Hey I meant to ask, did you call Lindsey?”
“I called her this morning while you guys were packing. She said Bandit seemed fine and since she got the vaccine she probably won’t come down with them.”
“She called her.” Alicia said looking over at Mikey.
“Good.” He nodded. If she hadn’t he’d planned on calling his brother.
“Alicia tell your mom I’m really sorry we couldn’t be there.” Holly said. “And thank her again for inviting us."
“Mom was pretty bummed when she met us at the airport and saw it was just Mikey and me.” Alicia laughed.
“Oh I’m sure she’s pretty happy you two are there.”
“Yeah, it’s good to be home.” Alicia smiled, “Anyway, give M a kiss for us.”
“Will do.” Holly answered. “Talk to you later.”
When she returned to the bedroom she saw that Molly’s eyes were getting heavy. “Okay, kid. Time for a nap.”
“Mes nots tyrod.” Molly frowned.
Gerard smiled closing his coloring book. “Hey a nap will make you feel better.”
Molly’s bottom lip trembled. “Youse be here when mes wakes up?”
“Sure he will.” Holly answered as she took Molly’s coloring book. Gerard picked up the crayons. “Gee will have dinner with us.” When she looked over at him he was smiling.
Once Molly’s pillows were adjusted the little girl smiled, “Luvs yous guys.”
Her sweetness touched Gerard’s heart. He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “We love you too.”
Holly’s breath caught but when he stood she smiled, “Get some sleep, Baby.” She said gently before giving Molly a kiss.
Holly left the bedroom door open so she could hear if Molly called out to her. Once she and Gee walked into the living room she sat down on the sofa. “Thanks for coming.” She said softly. “You being here has improved Molly’s mood a lot.”
He sat down across from her in the large leather recliner. “I feel so bad for her. The kid is miserable.”
“Yeah just wait until they start to itch.” Holly sighed. “That’s really gonna suck. Before that happens I’m gonna have to get to the store and by some oatmeal bath salts.”
Gerard’s eyebrows rose, “What?”
Holly laughed, “Yeah sounds kinda gross but it really helped with Sonja had chicken pox. It cuts down on the inching. I’m also gonna need some more children’s fever reducer. I noticed then I gave some to Bandit the other night I’m getting low.”
“Molly doesn’t seem to have a fever right now.”
“No, but chances are tonight she might develop one and I want to be ready.” Her face took on a look of sadness. “That’s what happened the first night Sonja came down with chicken pox. Her fever spiked that night. She was so sick.”
Gerard understood it was at time hard to think about her daughter. “Lets just hope that doesn’t happen for Molly. Hey, why don’t you run out to the store now? I’ll stay here unless you want to make me a list and I’ll go.”
“Oh.” Holly considered his offer.
“I can handle looking after her you know?" He said softly.
Holly smiled, “I know you can. I wasn’t even thinking like that. I’m just trying to decide what we should have for dinner cause whoever goes out should pick up stuff for dinner too.”
“Well what’s something you think Molly would like tonight?”
“As you noticed her appetite isn’t very good right now. She only ate half a pancake this morning and it was hard to get her to eat her soup for lunch.”
He nodded. “Yeah I noticed.”
Holly sat back trying to let go of some of the stress. “I know her throat and ears both hurt so I’m thinking something soft.”
“Mashed potatoes.” They both said at the same time then laughed.
“Great minds think alike.” Holly grinned. “Yeah, def mashed potatoes, she loves them. Heck right now I just want to make sure she eats to keep her strength up so I’m not really worried about a balanced diet. I’m sure she’d like some mac and cheese too.”
“Hey that sounds good to me.” Gerard smiled. “But I’ll pick us up pork chops too. Molly probably won’t eat that but we can.”
Holly was about to stand when she suddenly had a thought. It was important to her that Gerard understood she trusted him completely. “No, I’ll pick them up. You stay here with Molly. If she wakes up before I get back and feels feverish there is enough medicine for you to give her.”
“Sure you don’t want me to go?" He asked slowly.
Holly grinned, “Nope I just have this weird image of you going up and down the aisle looking for oatmeal bath. I better go.”
“Take your time.” He smiled. “I’ll hold down the fort until you get back.”
As Holly struggled with the bags the first thing she heard as she walked into the kitchen was the sound of the TV. She realized this must mean Molly was awake. Carefully placing the bags on the kitchen table she went back closed the door then walked into the living room. Gerard was holding Molly on his lap.
"Hey.” He said. “She just woke up about twenty minutes ago. She felt a little warm so I gave her some medicine.”
Holly walked over and felt the little girls forehead. “Yep, she’s running a low grade fever. The medicine should kick in pretty soon.”
“Mommy mes donts feels dood." Molly said lifting her head.
“Ears hurt?” Holly said kneeling down beside them.
Molly nodded. “Head too.”
“The medicine Gee gave you will make it better pretty soon.” Holly said praying that was the truth. She stood back up. “I bought a few groceries too. I’ll just go put them away."
Gerard nodded. “Me and M are fine, aren’t we?”
Molly looked up into his face. “Ifs youse say so.”
He smiled then leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
When Holly looked in on them a few minutes later Molly was fast asleep. She smiled when she saw the Gerard was asleep too, his arms still around Molly holding her tight.
“Hey." Gerard said softly an hour later when he opened his eyes. He felt Molly stir, “Hey M. We both feel asleep and your mama was sitting over there watching us.”
Holly smiled, “You both looked pretty cute but both of you snore.”
“Mes feels swatchy.” Molly said sitting up.
“Baby you skin feels itchy.” Holly corrected with a smile. “It’s those nasty chicken pox.”
“Mes ate em."
“I hate them too.” Gerard said.
Molly looked up at him.
Gerard smiled, “I hate them because they are making you feel bad.”
“Molly, I bought some special stuff for your bath. It will make them less itchy.”
“Mes donts wanna takes a baf.”
Holly knew by her tone she was feeling bad. “But it will make you feel better.”
Gerard tired to help. “Tell you what, you let your mommy give you a bath and I’ll start dinner for us. How’s that sound?”
Molly just laid her had back down on his chest.
“Come on.” Holly said walking over to the sofa. “Lets take that bath and put on a fresh pair of jammies. That will make you feel better.” She added. “And you’re gonna like dinner.”
Molly looked up questioningly.
Gerard spoke up. “I’m gonna make some special Molly Get Better Mac and Cheese."
Much to his relief Molly giggled.
“And mashed potatoes.” He added.
“I just bought instant.” Holly told him. “Figured that would be easier.”
He nodded. “Good idea.”
As Holly led M down the hall he found himself smiling as he walked into the kitchen. He was glad he’d come over. It felt good to be needed.