Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.
“Chrissy? Are you okay?” he asked. Frankie's voice rang in my ears like a far, distant cry from miles away. I didn't even feel like I existed. I felt like I was watching it all happen and there was nothing I could do about it.
I felt Alicia shake me hard by my shoulders.
“Christine. Wake up.”'
“I-I don't want to.”
“It's going to be okay. I swear.” She assured. I knew it was a lie. Facades held no comfort for me.
“It's not. You lied. You all lied.” I could hear by voice breaking. This was all so much. I sat there, like a shell.
I had never felt so dead in my entire life.
“No one lied. You know we wouldn't do that.” Alicia cooed, sitting next to me.
“But you did.” Tears took my face without my consent.
“Alicia, I can't do this. Not to her. She doesn't deserve this. We have to tell her.” Frank begged as he paced to and fro about the room.
“It's not ours to tell and you know it.” Her voice was stern. I had never heard her like this.
“This isn't right! He's going to break her!” Frank was beginning to cry. His feet became heavy and his breathing huffed.
“You know I'm right! This can't happen. Not again! I won't let it! I miss her too you know!”
“ENOUGH!” She screamed, fighting tears herself.
“Enough. Gerard is the ONLY person who can make her understand. She'll forgive him. She won't forgive us.”
“How do you know?! Alicia what happens if history repeats itself?!”
“I don't, but I do know Gerard loves her.”
“Ellie loved him.” I could hear the lump in his throat.
“Frank. Alicia. Go. Now.” It was Ray.
“Gerard wanted me to stay with her. I can't just leave her like this.” She pleaded.
“I don't give a FUCK about what Gerard wants right now. Leave or it WILL get ugly.”
My mouth moved but couldn't form the words. I wanted to speak. I couldn't. I was a prisoner to myself, to the situation. I sat there, numb. Dying more each second that passed me by as I stared blankly at the floor. I saw Frankie and Alicia fade slowly into a blur in the corner of my eye. I heard the door slam. It was just me and Ray now. He crouched down into my line of sight to speak.
“I'm sorry for my outburst. I just hate seeing girls like this.”
I couldn't look at him, I found safety not doing so.
“Chrissy?” he put his hand on mine, squeezing my limp fingers. I managed eye contact, contrary to my want.
“If you're in there. If you're listening. I'm going to tell you what happened.”
“N-no.” My voice was the equivalent to a rusty, creaking door.
“Yes. You deserve to know.”
“Christine, you have to hear this. Before you go any further. I told you. I don't want to see you hurt.”
“Gerard.” My voice was breaking again.
“What about him?”
“I want him to tell me.”
“Why? He'll just lie to you.”
“Fine. Be lied to. Get your very soul trampled on. See if I care. I tried to help you.”
Ray rose from his stance near me on the floor and bee lined for the door. I heard rain outside. My feet had a mind of their own. Before I knew it they were moving, and so was I. I was walking in the hall, into the lobby, and out the door. Rain immediately fell all over me. I just kept walking. I didn't care. I had no aim. Just to walk. Headlights blinded me and the rain made everything a blur. Maybe someone would find me. Maybe I would wander back later. I just couldn't be there right then. I was suffocating. My hair sopped onto my face. Cars honked at me. I zombied on. I must have been out there for thirty minutes. One foot in front of the other, again and again. I felt my phone in my pocket, it had rung so many times. Suddenly I heard my name from afar.
I turned around. It was Gerard running towards me. He caught up to me and ambushed me into his arms. I held onto him, but barely so.
“I've been looking for you for the past hour. We all have. You're so cold.” he hugged me tight.
“Why?” I managed.
“Why didn't you tell me?'
I saw Bob pull up with the van. I was forced into the back. Gerard still hadn't answered me. I ghostly mumbled
the whole way back. Gerard wrapped me in a blanket and carried me to our room, setting me on the bed. He groveled at my wet shoes, hugging my calves fiercely. He kissed my knees again and again.
“Please. Don't run again. I couldn't take it.” he pleaded.
“Do you want a hot bath? You're freezing.”
My awareness was gaining. I began to feel there again.
“Don't change the subject.”
He let me go and looked me in the face. He opened his mouth and froze. Just a syllable escaping it. He stood and turned around. He began to pace the room. He always did that when he was focused, or really stressed.
“What do you want to know?” he stopped, looking to me.
“Who's Ellie? What happened? What did you do? Who was she to you, Gerard?”
His breath hitched as he took it in deeply. He exhaled and opened his mouth.
“Ellie was a girl that Ray brought on tour with us two years ago. She was his girlfriend. It was when we were just starting out really. Shit didn't work sometimes, but we had the time of our lives just being with everyone...” He trailed off, as in memory. His glance retreating to anywhere but my face.
“That doesn't answer everything.”
“No it doesn't. I don't know where to start. I don't know how to tell you.”
Gerard took in another deep breath.
“He loved her. Ray loved her like I had never seen him love anyone. He would have backed her till death if she claimed she was the one who hung the moon. I never thought I could literally say that someone had a twinkle in their eye. Ray did, for her. She was beautiful. Ellie loved him. At first it didn't bother me-- I was happy for them. I thought they might even marry. Then as time went on, we came closer friends. It started to eat away at me. I was falling for her. Hard. I was stuck. So stuck. There was my best friend and the girl I loved. The girl who wasn't mine. It was too painful. I couldn't tell Ray. I couldn't tell any of the guys. I knew I could-- I knew I HAD to tell her.” He trailed off again. I could hear the pain in his voice.
“Did you?” I asked meekly.
“I-I did. To my dismay, I can remember it like it was yesterday. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday...”
“We had just done a show in California. We didn't have another for two days so we all decided to linger there. Ray was seriously preoccupied with preproduction on some songs. Ellie wanted desperately to go out and have some fun. No one else wanted to go. She had begged me to tag along. I agreed. It was innocent. We ate at a local diner, went to the zoo.--” he paused with a reminiscent chuckle. “She was so ecstatic about it. They were letting people feed some of the animals and she got to be with a baby elephant. Her favorite. The day was bittersweet perfection. It got dark and she wanted to watch the waves, we went to the beach. I walked beside her and it took everything in me not to kiss her. We lied down to count the stars. It was all too much. I didn't want to, but she almost made me talk.”
He set the scene for me. I felt implanted in the memory.
We looked up at the stars. I pointed out constellations, told their stories. She listened intently and then all when quiet. My thoughts were becoming a brutal reminder. I couldn't speak. All I could do was look at her. She propped herself up on a single elbow in the sand. Ellie looked me straight in the eyes. An honesty I couldn't deny.
“Tell me what it is Gerard. I know that look. You're holding back.”
“Ellie, it's nothing. I swear.” I lied. I was losing myself in that smile.
“What are you so afraid of that you have to lie to me?” She looked disappointed. I hated it.
“I-- I-- I can't. It'll destroy everything.” That stare of hers was blinding, I had to look away.
“I'm sure it's not that catastrophic. You can tell me.”
“I really can't. I have no right.”
“You have every right. Just tell me the truth. Whatever it is, we'll manage.”
I took a deep breath and exhaled shakily. I had to do this. Maybe it was better not to bottle it up. My heart pounded nearly out of my chest. My stomach was doing backflips.
“C'mon out with it. I know my own name.” she giggled.
“Ellie. I-- I-- I'm--” I squeezed my eyes shut and practically shouted in fear, as if preparing for a massive blow.
“I'm in love with you!”
My head began to race and I felt dizzy. Oh my god. What had I done? I had no right. She's not mine! I thought I was on a thrill ride. Nothing compared to what happened next. Ellie kissed me.
I pulled away breathlessly. “What are you doing?! We can't do this.”
“Give me one good reason.” She said sharply.
“You're my best friend's girl.”
“But you love me, don't you?”
“That doesn't mean anything if you don't love me back, Ellie. I know you love him. Not me.”
“You're an idiot.” I could hear her about to cry.
“A real idiot.” her chest heaved and I could see tears.
“No. No please don't cry. I'm sorry. I know I am one.”
She latched on to me tight and I heard her muffled through sobs.
“I love you too.”
“I've fought it for so long. I love you both, Gerard.”
“How is that possible?”
“Guys have the emotional capacity of a teaspoon.”
“ What do we do?”
“I don't know, Ellie. I don't know.”
back to reality
I sat there listening, in utter shock. He continued on.
“I didn't feel right, but I wanted her so badly. We sneaked around behind everyone's back for a long time. She became close to all the band. Ray didn't suspect a thing. Frankie, I think he knew at first. Then he caught us kissing. I thought I was doomed. He didn't talk to me for days. We were so scared. I then realized how fucked up it was. How horrible I was. I had to break it off, even though it broke me. I ended it. Some kind of switch flipped internally after that. I became so cold and distant. She tried so hard to regain proximity. I didn't let her even come close. Two months after that, she came to me with a positive pregnancy test. I freaked--”
“Was it yours?” I blurted out.
“I didn't think it could have been, but she swore up and down. Every single time I denied it. I was terrified. I was so convinced it was Ray's. It had to be Ray's. I took herself to the doctor and he explained to us both that with the way the timing was and she admitted she hadn't slept with Ray in six months, that it was all mine. I panicked. I told her I wanted no part of it. I was that horrid. I was stupid. I wish I could take it back--” he burst into tears now “-- but I can't. She's gone and it's all my fault. All my fault.”
He had fallen to my feet and was sobbing. I felt cruel but I had to ask what happened. I had to know for my own sanity.
“It's not I'm sure.”
“NO CHRISTINE! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!” he tore his gaze to my face.
“Then make me understand!”
“I'm a fucking monster! She gave up the baby to keep me happy. I turned her away! I turned MY OWN CHILD away! I fell so deep into depression I couldn't even pay attention to the girl who was my world. All Ellie wanted was me and she was slipping away. I murdered her! I FUCKING MURDERED HER! I came back to my hotel room one day and she was lying on the bathroom floor! The note said “Gerard. Ray. I love you. I'm sorry.” WHY DO YOU LOVE ME?! I'M SICK! I'M A FUCKING MURDERER!”
I hugged him tight.
“DON'T TOUCH ME!” he sobbed. Gerard screamed unintelligible sounds like hellfire and agony. It filled the room and made me shake.
“I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Gerard. Please, it's okay! That wasn't your fault! You didn't make that decision for her!”
“Yes I did! I did!” another hellish scream. Sobs violenced through him and he suddenly clung to me. I cried with him. In truth, I was scared for my life. Either stupidity or love was prevailing.
“Shh. Shh. It's okay. I forgive you. We'll get through this. I swear. Together. To the end.”