Whenever Gerard puts pen, paintbrush, charcoal to paper a little bit of his soul leeks onto the canvas; Gerard could never sell that.
One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret, never to be told, eight for wishes, nine for treasure, ten for years of endless pleasure, eleven for love so true, twelve to spend an eternity with you.
It's another one of those days, the kind that seem to drag for before you even open your eyes for a second. It’s not even like the weather is bad thanks to it being June you can actually leave your house without getting completely soaked or like dying of sun stroke. Gerard doesn’t even know why today sucks so much, it’s a Saturday so it’s not even as if he has work, the day is just full of thumb twiddling and trying to avoid conversations.
Gerard’s been determined not to just sit on his ass all day today though, in fact he had even gotten up before nine to push past the decaf coffee he had bought so that he could reduce the risk of having a heart attack and dying, only decaf is kind of like blasphemy, so he never drinks it.
Once Gerard’s found something to drink that isn’t a cup full of lies he collapses onto the sofa ready to never move again in his life because he’s kind of an asshole like that who never sticks to his guns.
He thinks about how far away the remote is and about how he should probably go check up on Mrs Harte down at twenty-three later because even if she does smell of cats Gerard doesn’t want her to have died in her sleep or to have like forgotten how to work the microwave because unlike most old people she’s totally rad and is the only person Gerard can relate to in this town. He thinks about how he hasn’t seen his brother in weeks and that he should probably give him a call too, since texting is never really the same as hearing someone’s voice, he wonders if Mikey is still having problems with his wife or if it was just PMT after all, or baby stress or whatever. Gerard wonders which option he’s hoping for because while Alicia and Mikey used to be like the cutest couple in Newark he kind of misses having his little brother around to bitch with.
Gerard guesses that he sort of resents Mikey for being able to actually live his life and go to parties, and still have a good job because he doesn’t have to drink every night of the week. He’s also secretly jealous, kind of, because Gerard’s never been able to connect to people in the way he does art and now Mikey’s fucking married and Gerard’s twenty-nine and left with the realisation that he can’t rely on his baby brother for the rest of his life and that if he doesn’t want to die alone he’s gonna have to actually interact with people.
Gerard thinks about if he really wants to connect to anything that isn’t his work; he used to have a cat called Otter and Gerard really liked that cat until it got AIDs and died. And that was totally awful because one second he had this tiny fluffy thing bouncing around his living room and like, sleeping on his face and the next he had nothing. Gerard guesses that trying to keep hold of another human would be even harder; cause even if they didn’t die after a year or so you can’t keep people locked up in your house while you’re out at work all day, so they’d probably just leave anyway.
Not that Gerard wants to lock someone up in his apartment, that would be weird not to mention illegal. He would just like some company.
He used to know this guy called Ray, he had the best hair in the world until his dog Jasper gave him fleas and he had to cut it all off. Gerard had really liked Ray, really liked him. He was a cool guy and into all of the same things as Gerard sometimes they would spend all weekend locked up and away from the sunshine watching Desperate Housewives re-runs even though they always claimed to be total horror fanatics. Gerard doesn’t really remember why he stopped hanging out with Ray, they never fought or moved away or anything and Gerard still has Ray’s number saved on speed dial in his cell- he just never calls him.
Gerard bets even if he did call Ray, things wouldn’t be the same, it’s been too long.
For a while Gerard thinks about getting another cat, maybe not a kitten this time and after listing a few name ideas he forgets about it because he’s totally not responsible enough to look after another being. His mind then wonders back to Mikey and he searches idly with his eyes for the phone before realising that it’s probably still in his jean pocket upstairs and that he actually has to get up now.
Gerard walks to his bedroom half catching a glance at himself in the mirror, he pauses for a moment to paw at his greasy hair; it’s damaged and matted like he has just bleached all the colour out then dyed it back in even though the raven locks were what he was born with. He twists a piece between his finger and thumb and wonders how on earth he; an artist, could have let himself slip into such a poor state of keep. He considers looking for a comb or hairbrush but he figures that he doesn’t really need to look good to talk on the phone.
Because Gerard doesn’t have a lot of friends Mikey’s number is near the top of his phone list; second only to his boss; Bob, it only takes him a few seconds to push the green call button so that he can wait for his little brother to answer. Mikey, who is always near his phone, picks up straight away and Gerard can hear instantly the sleep deprivation in his low voice.
“Gee?” he greets groggily and Gerard guesses that their daughter; Rowan has kept him up all night again.
Gerard remembers seeing Rowan for the first time. Though he was not there to witness the birth he was one of the first visitors allowed to see the baby girl save Alicia’s parents. Gerard had noted at the time that she didn’t look like Mikey or Alicia- just like a baby. Gerard doesn't really get babies, they scream and poop and cry a lot and it's always impossible to know what they want. Gerard guesses that that’s probably because he isn’t a parent; he doesn’t have that connection to a child of his own. Mikey's happy though, in fact, Gerard has never seen him happier than when he first held his daughter in his arms, Gerard bets Mikey isn't as happy now though, not when he's lost all his sleep and free will to a small screaming body.
“Yeah it’s me” Gerard replies leaning back onto his unmade bed; it smells like him; him and his pills. “How are you man?”
“Not bad, not bad” Mikey sighs repeating his words like he always does. With Mikey it’s always ‘fine, fine’ or ‘see you soon, soon’ like he constantly has to reinforce what he’s saying. Gerard guesses Mikey was a bit like him in that way; never really sure of himself. “Long time no speak” Mikey sounds sad then, like he has simply deflated with his final sigh.
“I know, I’m sorry Mikes,” And Gerard really is, he hadn’t meant for it to be this long. “We should meet soon,” He says even though they probably wont. Not now Mikey has the baby. “You know, if you’re free.” He adds so that Mikey wont feel obliged to take care of his big brother.
“Yeah, yeah totally” There’s a pause “Totally, actually I’m having this sort of dinner soon if you wanted…” Mikey kind of trails off because Gerard doesn’t normally like people.
But now Gerard feels guilty because even though Mikey’s his brother and he knows he can say no and it wont be a massive deal there’s like this spark of hope in Mikey’s voice that’s really hard to just ignore. “No, no of course I’ll be there”
“You know it’s not like this massive thing anyway, if you don’t want to come…”
“I do Mikey. I want to,” pause “I mean if you want me to” Gerard adds on that last bit just in case he can get out of going without hurting his brother.
But there’s no way Gerard’s backing out now because Mikey sounds almost ecstatic and Gerard feels that even if he comes down with the flu he’ll still have to drag his butt there if it means Mikey will be happy.
“Awesome! Awesome, tomorrow at seven yeah? It’s all gonna be like veggie food cause one of Alicia’s friends is coming and he like claims the ghosts of animals will eat your soul if you eat their flesh or something” Mikey takes a quick breath. “But he’s cool, he’s cool”
The brothers exchange a few more words after that until Gerard hears screaming in the background and Alicia shouting for Mikey to “Get in here and actually look after your bloody daughter!” and Gerard lets Mikey go so that he can carry on with his busy life.
It’s around midday by the time Gerard is up, dressed and on his way down the road to Mrs Harte’s house. He wears his black ray-bans even though the sun isn’t too bright (they sort of make him feel cool in that ‘No-one can see what I’m looking at therefore I am invincible’ kind of way) and as the day goes on Gerard begins to feel more and more alive. He wonders if Mrs Harte has missed him over his last few days of absence or if the elderly woman has even noticed his lack in presence.
Time doesn’t seem to mean much to the seventy-eight-year-old anymore and sometimes she will go days without eating or even looking out of her window. She never used to be like that, Gerard’s heard stories about her youth- when her husband was still alive.
Her parents had been strict Catholics and she had spent the majority of her teenaged years restricted by the confines of her house and the church. She thinks that’s why she rebelled so much. She said it was because they had stolen her youth that she had ran off with Victor; he was a local boy that had been invisible to Mrs Harte until her eighteenth birthday when he took her out dancing.
We moved like we were the moon and the stars kissing the night
When she told Gerard that Victor was dead he wasn’t really sure what to say, though she didn’t seem sad about it there was this sort of far off look in her eyes and she quickly got up to make them both a nice cup of tea. Gerard sort of felt like a massive douche that day because sure, he was lonely but it wasn’t like he had ever lost anything (these were, after all, the days before he had even met Otter) though he still bitched about life all the time and here was this poor old woman who had lost everything.
Though sometimes Mrs Harte forgets that Victor’s gone, Gerard will come round and she’ll be setting out his dinner and muttering about how all this salt will be the death of him. Those are the worst days and Gerard is always a little awkward about trying to tell the elderly woman that he is gone. She would always reply, “I know, I know” and remind him of Mikey, trying to convince himself of his words.
Today however isn’t one of those days and Gerard smiles as he lets himself in to the art-deco bungalow and sees Mrs Harte turning and gliding around the living room. “Ah Gerard!” She coos and Gerard smiles more as she pulls his hands into her own so that she can share this dance with him.
“How are you on this fine day, m’ lady?” Gerard asks as Mrs Harte spins under his arm her fair grey hair spilling slightly from her lopsided bun.
“Well aren’t you a gentleman today?” She giggles in reply and the two join to sway in time to the vinyl.
Gerard feigns shock and frowns “I” He pauses for effect. “Am always a gentleman, I will have you know”
Mrs Harte chuckles and hits Gerard playfully before stepping away from her young friend and taking a seat of the floral sofa. “This was mine and Vic’s first dance you know?” She looks dreamy for a second before taking the tea cup from the coffee table and indulging in a tiny, tiny sip.
Gerard takes the seat opposite her and relaxes into the old chair, it’s soft and the springs have long gone leaving it feeling more homely than even the house he grew up in. “Yeah?” Gerard asks even though he already knows, Mrs Harte has told him plenty of times about this song but if she wants to talk about it again then Gerard is all ears.
“Yes, yes” She begins putting down the china cup of sweet brown liquid “He was such a charmer, you know? He said such lovely things mind, spoke like a poet, like you really” Breathy sigh. “You know Gerard, sometimes I look at you and I think I’ve gone back to all those years ago” She smiles then studies Gerard delicately, who blushes and looks down because he doesn’t like it when she gives him this much attention.
“So tell me, have you sold anything recently?” She asks and Gerard’s head snaps up guiltily. She of course is talking about his art.
Gerard’s kind of funny about his paintings, he doesn’t like people seeing them, touching them, let alone buying them. Whenever Gerard puts pen, paintbrush, charcoal to paper a little bit of his soul leeks onto the canvas; Gerard could never sell that. “No, not really” He sighs and rakes a hand through his floppy hair.
Mrs Harte purses her lips a little and the disappointment is obvious in her blue eyes. “Oh Gerard”
Gerard tries to make things up by telling her that he did have someone to come round and look at a few pieces. Though, he misses out the bit about him backing out of the deal last minute. He then tells her about Mikey and the dinner party and Mrs Harte nods fondly, only ever interrupting his stories to scold him with a round of “Gerard, call me Aggie, you know Mrs Harte makes me feel old” and Gerard only nods and says he'll try to remember even though he knows she can only ever be Mrs Harte in his head, because she’s sort of like a teacher in his mind and she’s actually lucky he doesn’t call her ‘Ma'am’.
When it gets to about six Gerard decides to take his leave, now that he has checked that Mrs Harte has fed the cats and had something that isn’t tea and biscuits for her dinner.
[*editing this so it isn't all typos and tense shifts. Jesus Christ how did this get 8 reviews fist time round? I would have thrown a fit.