Holly's memories from 2007 surface, Lindsey calls with a surprising request.
Hours later with the first light of the new day Holly considered getting up and dressed. She hadn’t slept; her mind just kept going over last night. Gerard’s words had cut deep. It hurt to hear he believed she’d never loved him.
Years ago she’s tried to make him understand.
July 23 2007
“Hey Sugar." Gerard pulled Holly into his arms and hugged her tightly. He’d waited until he saw Sonja leave for classes before he’d made his way over to her house.
“Good morning.” Holly smiled. “Would you like some breakfast? How about eggs and bacon?”
Gerard continued to hold her tight. “Not hungry.” He nuzzled her neck. “So what’s our plan for today?”
Holly sighed, “Well lets see. I have lots of exciting stuff planned. I have to do some laundry, oh and dusting that’s always fun.”
He lowered his arms and stepped back. “Uh, not exactly what I had in mind. It’s your day off so you shouldn’t work.”
“Gee, because it’s my day off I have to get stuff done around the house.”
“Can’t it wait? I mean I’m leaving the day after tomorrow." He frowned. “I thought we’d spend today together.”
It was impossible at times to deny him. “I suppose the dusting could wait.” She smiled, “But I should at least throw a load of laundry in the washer.”
“Okay, you do that and I’ll finish the dishes.” He offered.
“Sounds like a plan.” Holly smiled.
When she returned to the kitchen several minutes later he was just wiping his hands on a dishtowel.
“All done.” He smiled proudly. “Now what do you want to do?”
Holly grinned, “I’m open to suggestions.”
“Well I need to buy a few art supplies to take with me on tour.” He said slowly. “And uh, I was thinking we could maybe talk to mom.”
Holly gave him a confused look. “Talk to mom?” She repeated slowly.
Gerard had thought about this for days and he knew time was running out. “Yeah, about taking care of Sonja.”
Holly’s smile faded. “Gee, I thought we had already discussed this.” She started to say more but he held up his hand.
“Look, I’ve been thinking.” He started slowly as they both sat down at the kitchen table. “I understand you don’t think it would be right for you to go on tour with me because of your job and Sonja.” When he saw the look in her eyes he continued quickly, “I understand. But you still could be with me part of the time.”
“Gee I can’t get off work.” Holly said softly. She decided to tell him something she’d found out last night. “And Sonja’s grades have fallen again.” That was only part of the truth. Last night she’d had a long talk with her daughter who had admitted to her that she hadn’t been feeling good for several weeks. At first Holly was angry Sonja had kept the truth from her. However, when Sonja had broken down crying, that anger had turned to fear. Sonja knew just as Holly did that the symptoms she’d been having could easily be the first signs of something more serious. She’d told her mother that she was just so tired of always dealing with her disease she wanted to just ignore it. Sadly Holly knew that wasn’t possible. Today Holly was going to make an appointment with a specialist for Sonja. Just thinking about that caused her stomach to churn with fear.
Gerard was watching Holly’s face closely. There was a look in her eyes he didn’t understand. “I’m sure she can get her grades back up.” He said not understanding.
“I’m sure she can.” Holly said trying to bury her fear. “But I need to be here to make sure she goes to her classes.” It hurt to see the disappointment on his face. “Gee." She said softly, “You won’t be gone that long.”
This was not what he wanted to hear. “I won’t be back until the first of September.”
The front door opening surprised them both. A moment later Sonja appeared. Holly knew immediately something was wrong.
“Hey.” Sonja greeted them tiredly.
“What’s going on?” Holly asked.
“I was on my way to class but I suddenly got a terrible headache. I’m sorry mom but I just can’t go today.”
Holly pushed back from the table. “How bad is it?"
Sonja glanced at Gerard then back at her mother silently begging her to calm down in front of him. “Just a headache." She tried to smile. “No big deal. I’m gonna take something for it then go lay down for a few hours.”
“Sure, Honey.” Holly nodded.
Gerard waited until Sonja left the room to speak. “Headaches can be a bitch.” He said not understanding why Holly looked so upset. “I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
Holly knew she needed to call the specialist. She also knew because they had no health insurance the call would be difficult. “Yeah, that’s true.” She said trying to give herself time to think.
He wanted to see her smile again. “How about we have lunch at that Mexican place we like after I get my art supplies?” He wasn’t going to give up on trying to convince her about being with him at least part of the tour but he understood now was not the time.
Holly forced herself to smile. “That sounds good. I want to check on Sonja and get a few things done around here. I could pick you up in about an hour.”
He wasn’t sure why but he understood she wanted him to leave. “Yeah, okay.” He said slowly. He stood, “Uh, just give me a call when you’re ready.”
As soon as he left Holly went up to Sonja’s room. She saw her daughter was laying on the bed with her eyes open.
“Mom, Gee doesn’t know, does he?” Sonja’s voice was shaky.
Moving across the room quickly Holly sat down next to her. “No, Honey. I know you don’t want anyone to know.”
Sonja’s bottom lip began to tremble. “Why can’t I just be normal? I’m so sick of this.”
Holly gently touched her arm. “I know it’s hard.”
“My whole life I’ve had to deal with this stupid disease. When we came here for the first time in my life I had the chance to act normal. None of my friends know. I made up some stupid story about taking all my pills to help regulate my period. I don’t want anyone to know about Hunters disease. I’ve read up about it on the Net and it makes it sound so terrible. I don’t want people to know I have it.”
“If they knew they wouldn’t think any differently of you.” Holly said slowly, her heart breaking.
“Sure they would. It’s a freak disease.” A tear rolled down her cheek.
“No, it’s not.” Holly said squeezing her arm. “Don’t even think that.”
“It is and you know it. I’m just so tired, Mom. I just want to be like everyone else.”
Holly knew she had to take control of the situation. “I’m gonna go make an appointment for you. I’m sure your meds just need to be adjusted.”
“But what if that won’t work?’ Sonja whispered. “What if this is just a sign that the disease is getting worse?”
Her daughters question was the same one that kept rolling through Holly’s mind. She pushed that fear back. “I’m sure you just need your meds adjusted. We’ve been through this before, right?”
Sonja wanted disparately to believe her mother. “Yeah.”
Holly stood, “Okay then. We’ll get through this. You’ll go to the doctor and then everything will be okay.”
“Mom.” Sonja said softly as Holly prepared to leave the room. “I’m sorry this is messing up your life too. I know Gee wants you to go with him on tour.”
Holly gave her a shocked look. “Did he tell you that?”
Sonja shook her head, “No but I can tell. He’s here all the time.”
Not wanting Sonja to worry about anything else Holly forced herself to smile, “Gee and I are close. But don’t worry. I’m not going anywhere.”
Sonja sighed, “But maybe you should. It’s not fair you can’t live your life because of me.” More tears rolled down her pale cheeks.
“Sonja you are my life.” Holly said blinking back her own tears.
Slowly Sonja closed her eyes. “I love you mom.” She whispered.
On the way downstairs it took every once of willpower Holly possessed not to cry. Sonja was usually so strong and determined that seeing her like this filled Holly with fear.
As she sat down to call the specialist she tried to push that fear away. She had to be strong for Sonja. Since her birth that’s how it had been and that was how it would stay. Her daughter had to come first in her life. Silently she prayed Gerard would understand that. But he hadn’t. Later that afternoon when he’d pushed Holly about going with him on the tour he had grown angry when she refused.
They were enjoying a nice lunch but the tension between them was simmering just under the surface. Several times Gerard had mentioned the tour but Holly had steered the conversation in another direction. In the back of her mind she couldn’t put to rest the worry she had about Sonja. It had taken a lot of almost pleading with the specialists nurse but in the end she had secured an appointment for Sonja on Friday.
“Holly, you’re not listening to me, Sugar. Where’s you mind?”
Picking up a tortilla chip Holly sighed, “Sorry.”
“So what’s wrong?’ He asked again.
“Guess I’m just worried about Sonja. Her headache was pretty bad when I left.”
Gerard grew concerned. “Shit, I’m sorry. Was it a migraine?”
“Don’t think so." Holly said slowly.
“Why don’t you call her?” He suggested, “See how she’s feeling now?”
“I would but I’m afraid that if she fell asleep I’d wake her.” Holly admitted.
Gerard smiled, “I’m sure it’s nothing. I used to get really bad headaches when I was her age.” He said trying to lessen Holly’s worries.
Holly smiled slightly. “I’m sorry I’m no fun to be with today.”
He reached across the table to take her hand in his. “Sugar, I’m always happy when I’m with you. I understand you worry about your daughter.”
Holly tried to take strength from his touch. “I know but I still feel bad. We don’t have many days left before you go and I just want us to enjoy them.”
He squeezed her hand. “You know I was checking out your work schedule on the fridge at home. I saw that you have Friday and Saturday off. I was thinking I maybe you could fly to California for Friday night’s show.”
Friday was Sonja’s appointment there was no way Holly could miss that. “Oh, Gee." She said slowly. “I wish I could but I can’t.”
“Why?” He asked frowning. “You could fly back on Saturday.”
Holly tried to come up with a reason. “Well first off I can’t afford to fly anywhere.” She said slowly.
He shook his head, “Holly, I’ll pay for your tickets.”
She shook her head, “No.”
He grew angry believing she didn’t want him to pay for her ticket because that could make it apparent to everyone the truth about their relationship. “Why not? Afraid people would start to see the truth about us? Come on Holly, this is stupid. You and I are a couple now. I want our friends to know how much I care about you.”
“Gee, that’s not it.” Holly looked down at her plate. “You just don’t understand.”
“You’re right I don’t.” He pulled his hand from hers. “I don’t and you won’t explain it to me.”
Holly’s had shook slightly when she reached for her water glass. Taking a sip she tried to find a way to make him understand. “Gee, maybe it’s good this tour is now. It will give you time to find yourself.”
Her words only angered him further. “Find myself? What exactly does that mean?”
“It will give you time to make sure you know what you want.” Holly whispered.
Gerard was angry and frightened by her words. “I know what I want. I want you, Holly. You are the part of me that’s been missing my whole life. When I’m with you it just feels so right.”
“But we haven’t been together that long.” Holly said softly. “We need time.”
He shook his head, “You’re just so sure we’re really wrong for each other aren’t you? You think I’m only with you because I can’t be alone. That ain’t the truth. People think I’m alone right now. They don’t know about us and I’ve been okay with that until now.”
“It bothers you people think you don’t have someone, doesn’t it?” Holly asked looking into his eyes.
He knew what she was getting at but he refused to consider she might be right. “It only bothers me because I want them to know the truth. I don’t want to hide you from my friends and that’s what’s been going on.”
“You hid Eliza for quite a while.” Holly whispered. As soon as the words left her mouth she wished she could take them back. The look on his face was hurt.
“You know why I hid my relationship with her.” He ground out. “I didn’t really believe it was what I wanted.”
They both knew that wasn’t the only reason but neither wanted to bring that fact to light.
“Gee, we just need time.” Holly said feeling hopeless. “I need time to deal with Sonja and you need time to be alone. You need to enjoy this time in your life before deciding if you really want to hook up with an older woman with a teenager.”
He was shocked at the turn this conversation had taken. To him it sounded like she was breaking it off. “You don’t want me in your life, do you?” He asked slowly holding is breath waiting for her answer.
“Of course I do.” Holly said feeling helpless to change the situation. “I love you Gee. I just can’t be with you right now.”
“Because you don’t love me enough.” He said feeling his heart breaking. “If you did we’d figure out a way to be together.”
“It’s not that simple.” Holly said shaking her head.
Fear of losing her was gripping his heart. “If you loved me enough it would be that simple. All this time I tried to understand why you didn’t want people to know we were together. You tried to make me believe you thought it was best for me but now I see that wasn’t the truth. You don’t think we’re right for each other. You don’t believe I love you. You think what we’ve had was just some fuckin’ fling.”
“Gee, no.” Holly said trying to reach for his hand but he pulled it away.
“Yeah, that’s the ugly truth.” Gerard said reaching into his pocket for some money. He threw the bills down on the table. “I’ll find my own way home.” He said rising.
Holly blinked back tears as she watched him walk out of the restaurant.
It was just after seven am when Holly finally dressed then decided to make coffee. She was exhausted but knew she had a full day ahead of her. There were so many lose ends she needed to take care of before leaving for Arizona tomorrow. She was shocked by the aroma of coffee brewing that greeted her as she reached the kitchen.
“Hey.” Alicia said glancing up from her steaming cup.
“Good morning.” Holly said moving to the counter. “I didn’t think anyone would be up this early.”
Alicia sighed, “Couldn’t sleep.” She waited until Holly poured herself a cup of coffee then took a seat at the table. “Hey, I’m really sorry about last night.”
“I’m sorry I snapped at Mikey.” Holly answered with a sigh.
“He deserved it.” Alicia said growing angry. “You have no idea what went down last night. The more Gee drank the more my husband drank. Then he got belligerent with me when I tried to get him to stop.”
“I’m sorry.” Holly whispered. “Sorry I haven’t been able to make a difference this time.”
Alicia reached out to touch her arm. “Holly, I’m not blaming you at all. It was stupid of me to think you could fix any of this shit. I just don’t know what I’m gonna do. I’m sure Gee’s marriage is ending and I’m afraid when that happens he’ll lose it.” She paused trying to control her emotions.
“And you’re sure when that happens that Mikey will lose it too.” Holly said sadly.
When Alicia met her gaze her eyes were full of tears. “Yeah.”
“No one can do anything to fix Gerard’s life but Gerard.” Holly said softly. “I believe deep down he has the strength to do that but not as long as he continues drinking.”
For several minutes the two women sat lost in thought.
Finally Alicia spoke. “Did he give you any trouble last night?”
“Not really.” Holly lied. She could see no point in telling the truth.
Alicia knew deep down she was lying. “I heard Molly get up, didn’t I?”
Holly took a sip of coffee before answering. “Yeah, she came in and saw Gee.”
“Shit.” Alicia said shaking her head.
“I told her that he was sick.” Holly said lowering her eyes. “Later I told Gee that it could just as easily been Bandit seeing him like that. I wanted to make him realize what he’s doing to himself and others but I don’t think it made any difference to him.”
“This is all so fucked up.” Alicia said sadly. “I don’t know what to do.”
As much as Holly wanted to comfort her friend she had no words to offer her. After several minutes she knew she had to bring up another subject. “Uh, Christa called me last night and wanted me to go to the shelter with her today.”
Alicia gave her a surprised look, “Oh sure no problem. I’ll watch Molly for you.”
“Thanks.” Holly smiled feeling terrible deep inside that she still had to tell Alicia they were leaving tomorrow but not able to make herself do so at the moment.
The sound of Holly’s cell ringing was suddenly heard from the living room where she’d left it last night. Believing it was Bob calling to confirm he’d arrive in LA sometime today Holly moved to answer it quickly. She was shocked when she saw the call wasn’t from Bob.
“Hey, Holly.” Lindsey’s voice sounded tired.
“Hey.” Holly responded. “I didn’t expect to hear from you this early.”
Lindsey sighed, “Yeah, well I haven’t slept much.” She paused a moment. “I was wondering if you and I could get together to talk.”
The request surprised Holly. “Uh, sure.” She said slowly. Her first thought had simply been to tell Lindsey she was too busy today but something in the other woman’s voice sounded urgent. “What time?”
“When’s good for you?”
“Well I have to meet Christa at the shelter at noon.” Holly explained as she walked back into the kitchen. She saw Alicia give her a questioning look.
“How about now?” Lindsey said quickly. “We could meet up for coffee.”
“Hold on a sec.” She lowered the phone then explained to Alicia about the call. After Alicia assured her it was okay for Holly to go she spoke to Lindsey again. “Uh do you want me to bring Bandit?” She asked.
“No.” Lindsey sighed, “If it’s okay I’ll pick her up later.”
“I’m sure that’s fine besides she’s not even awake yet.” Holly answered. After Lindsey gave her directions to the coffee shop where they would meet she disconnected.
“What’s that all about?” Alicia asked.
Holly shook her head, “I’m not sure. She said she wants to talk to me.”
“She sound upset?” Alicia asked.
The question surprised Holly, “Upset?”
“Well yeah. She and Gee had a hell of a fight last night. I saw what happened. She told him she was leaving with her friends and he tried to grab her arm. When she pulled away from him her hand hit his lip. He started screaming that she’d hit him but she really didn’t do it on purpose.”
“He told me she slapped him.” Holly admitted.
Alicia shook her head. “Those two are some major problems. Wonder if that has anything to do with why Lindsey wants to talk to you.”
Holly sincerely hoped not. There was no way she could allow herself to be pulled into their marital problems. “I better get going.” Holly said standing. “If it’s okay I probably won’t be back until after we help out at the shelter.”
“No problem.” Alicia said. “Taking care of the girls will keep my mind occupied. I just hope Gee leaves as soon as he gets up.” Alicia said suddenly letting some of her anger erupt.
Holly hoped the same. As much as it hurt she didn’t want to see Gerard again.