Three months and they haven't seen eachother. Why hasn't Gerard and Mikey been at school all that time? When Payton finds out the truth, she knows she NEED to get Mikey back. And fast.
My mom. Don’t even get me started on my mom. She has barely spoken to me since I arrived home. It’s stupid, actually, considering she was the one who provoked me into running away in the first place. At least my parents haven’t prosecuted Mikey, and Ray parked the car back at the train station before the man had come back to realise it had been stolen.
I was grounded. When I say grounded, I mean, I wasn’t allowed to leave the house for more than an hour at a time. Even then, I had my parents watching me the whole time. It was getting ridiculous. After a month of being stuck at home, only being allowed to go to school, they decided I was to be home schooled for the rest of the year. Mikey hadn’t been at school for the short period I was there. In fact, neither was Gerard.
Three months of not seeing Mikey or any of the others, in the month of February, I had almost guaranteed Mikey had forgotten about me. Wouldn’t he have at least tried to come to the door and demand to see me? Wouldn’t he have broken in like I did for him? I had grown depressed and certain that he had given up on me. That was until my birthday. I don’t know how he knew when my birthday was, but I received a card with a small present attached to it on the post. My dad had come up to my room to give it to me. It was almost as if he had known it was from Mikey.
Inside the card was the message:
“Happy sweet sixteenth!
Not long now, baby. Not long.
It confused me, what was he talking about? Inside the small box was a silver necklace with a silver heart and crystal diamond. It was beautiful. Mikey had good taste. Something tells me Gerard helped him pick it out, though.
About a week after my birthday I had persuaded my dad to let me go to town to buy a new guitar with my birthday money. He had allowed me to go into the shop on my own whilst he went elsewhere. If it were mom, she wouldn’t have left my side. As I enter the music shop, recognise the two boys, standing behind the counter. Gerard and Frank! I instantly throw my arms around Gerard’s waist and it takes him a couple of seconds to realise who I was.
“Payton!” He gasps.
“Gerard…Frank…I missed you guys so much!” I feel my heart lift a little bit. Maybe it’s relief that they still remember who I was.
“How’s Mikey?” I ask
“How is everyone?” I ask, again.
“Listen, Payton someth-”
“Can you call Mikey and tell him I’m here?” I ask excitedly.
“PAYTON! Listen to me!” Gerard says angrily. I stop myself from saying anything else, and I listen to what Gerard has to say. “Mikey…he is…ill.” Gerard manages to choke out. I can tell it is hard for him to say.
“What? He has the flu or something?” I ask, but something about the way Gerard is acting makes me think it is a lot more serious than a common cold. Gerard looks at Frank and Frank puts his arm around his shoulders.
“No, Payton. Not quite,” Frank sighs “Mikey is mentally ill. Ever since the last time he saw you, he became obsessed, depressed, even psychotic about seeing you again. He tried to kill himself three times in the past three months.”
I felt as if I was in the collision car crash again. My head felt heavy and so does my heart. Mikey had tried to take his life because…because he hadn’t seen me. I thought maybe he had given up trying to get me back. Not given up living. I’ve caused this. I’ve ruined his life and I need to save him again.
“Where is he?” I blurt out. I hadn’t noticed Gerard had been reduced to tears; Frank was holding him tightly to make sure he didn’t collapse or something.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea that you see him now. You need to wait until he is better,” Frank says. I watch as Frank kisses Gerard’s cheek delicately. What, so now they were a couple now? I’d always seen the chemistry between them; I’m surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. “Gerard, baby. Go wait out the back.” He says into his ear. Gerard nods and does what he is told.
It feels strange but slightly comforting to be alone with Frank in this shop. The last time we were alone, he had confessed his love for me. He was obviously different now. Now that he had Gerard. I think he needed someone like Gerard to help him settle down.
“Why didn’t anyone come and tell me?” I hiss. The lump has already risen in my throat, but I’m determined to keep it down.
“We couldn’t. We told your dad, though. The doctors instructed us to keep you away from him for as long as possible until he got better and we needed your dad to help us with that.” he says, I can tell he regrets telling me this as he looks down at the floor and refuses to look me in the eye again. “It was better that you didn’t know. We wouldn’t have wanted you to worry.”
“Of course I would worry! I fucking love him. You have no idea-”
“Don’t tell me I don’t know how it feels to love someone that much,” Frank says, stopping me midsentence. “I have loved people before, you know. I love Gerard. I wouldn’t be able to cope with losing him, or not being able to see him for three months. So don’t tell me how it feels. I had to cope with not having you, too.”
“I’m sorry.” I manage to force out.
“Don’t be,” he says “I love Gerard now. I’ve never loved someone so much before.” Frank grins and I can tell he is sincere. Their love must be very strong.
“I’m happy for you.” I smile,
“…I need to get a move on and buy my guitar.” I glance down at my watch. I only have ten minutes until my dad will be expecting me back.
“Oh! Yes I forgot about that.” he says. “Me, Gerard, Ray and Bob wanted to get you something good. I talked to your dad and he told me to get you this,” he hands me a large rectangle box. “We planned with your dad for you to meet us here. Don’t tell your mom.” Frank grins. “Come out the back, Gerard owns this shop and he wants to see you open it. Awesome, right?”
I follow him out the back into what appears to me the staff lounge. Gerard is sitting in an armchair, wiping tears from his eyes with his sleeve. Much to my surprise, my father is there too, grinning at me. I sit down on the floor and Frank and Gerard sit beside me. Without hesitation, I tear the brown tape from the box and throw the lid open. I reveal the most beautiful guitar I have ever seen. The body is dark purple and shimmers slightly in the light. It’s perfect. So pretty and beautiful.
“Thank you guys so much!” I grin. I attack Gerard and Frank with hugs and my dad laughs at us. “It’s amazing.” I say, stroking its delicate paintwork.
“Your dad picked it out. He also paid the rest of the price. We’re all broke now.” Frank laughs.
“Thank you dad, you’re the best.” I smile. I hug Frank and Gerard again, and I see a bright camera flash. My dad has taken a photo of a perfect memory. I will put the photo in a frame when I get home.
The only thing missing from this perfect moment is Mikey. My brain longed for the scent of him as I would have hugged him tightly. Did he really believe I would never see him again? Did he really think I wouldn’t try and fight back, to see him again? My eyes become wet and I realise I am crying. I miss Mikey so much.
“Why did you let this happen?” I say, looking up at my dad. It takes him a couple of seconds to realise what I meant.
“Erm…I think we should go and see if we have any customers.” Frank says, grabbing Gerard’s hand and leading him out the room. I am alone with my dad, and now is the perfect time to say everything I needed to.
“He tried to kill himself because of you and your stupid rules.” I can feel my heart sinking deeper into my chest as if it was lead. My Mikey was inches from ending his life and I wasn’t there to stop it!
“Payton, they were your mother’s rules. She overreacts and we both know that. She didn’t see this coming, none of us did. Not you, us, Gerard, his friends or his family.” My dad says “I regret saying everything I did that night you ran away. You have to understand that. I can see how much you mean to each other but, but you mother obviously can’t.” He shuffles uncomfortably in his seat and rubs his forehead with his hand. I can tell he is telling the truth.
“With mom it’s like a fucking brick wall stands between me and her,” I forgot to mind my swearing around my dad. He doesn’t seem to mind, I guess he feels the same way. “Does she even understand what it is like to be in love?”
My dad reaches down to me and picks my small hands up in his. He hasn’t done this since I was a little kid and it feels comforting. Like I am safe from any danger I was facing. I look down at his hands and notice something is missing. I unfold his hands from around mine and look at his right hand.
“Where is your wedding ring?” I ask with concern.
“You’re right; your mom doesn’t know what it’s like to be in love. All these years and she never truly loved me.” he begins to cry. Seeing your mom cry is one thing, but seeing your father cry- the person there to protect you, to love you, to show you the difference between right and wrong, the person who is always brave and heroic, the one you look up to in the hardest situations- is another. I stand up and so does he. I hug him tightly and he cries into my shoulder. We must look like right emotional wreck. “We agreed to postpone the full divorce until you began your new school, but she became irate about you. It wasn’t working out; she just simply didn’t love me. I’m so sorry you had to find out this way. It was just so stressful with you missing.”
“Do you regret it? Do you regret marrying her?” I sob.
“No, but she does. I could tell that from the day we got married. I love her more than anything, but she just doesn’t love me.” My dad’s voice is all cracked and broken and it makes me want to cry forever.
“Don’t make me live with her.”
“You won’t have to. She’s moving to Texas to live with family down there. We are staying here in New Jersey, where you love whoever you want and go as crazy as you wish to.”
“Thank you so much.” I hug him even tighter “I love you daddy.”
“I love you too, Payton…Since talking to your friends, they have grown on me anyway. They are really nice guys, even if they do drink a lot and break the rules.” He laughs slightly. He is trying to be brave in front of his little girl. “I even went to visit Mikey in hospital. He loves you so much, but he is in a bad place at the moment. It’s best you don’t see him until he is better. It was even hard for me to see him like that. I can’t imagine how Gerard must be feeling.”
As I lie here in bed, with my new guitar under the covers with me, I can hear my parent shouting at each other. Do they realise I can hear every word they are saying? It’s almost as if they aren’t even trying to be quiet.
“She’s a fucking nightmare! You made her like this; it’s your entire fault!” My mother screams.
“There is nothing wrong with her! She is a teenager, she may act the way you did in your perfect childhood, with those perfect parents of yours and spare money floating about, and it just means she is growing up.” My dad yells. At least I have someone on my side.
“How dare you!” My mother screeches. I climb out of bed and sit there for a moment, holding the necklace Mikey brought me in between my thumb and finger. “I don’t understand how I ever agreed to marry you. Having a child was the worst decision of my life! And now I regret it even more as she has become all rebellious or whatever you call it!” I hear a slap and I know that it was my dad who suffered the blow to the face.
That’s it. I’m not staying here, listening to this, for another second.
I shove my converse over my feet and storm downstairs. I find my parents standing at each other’s throats in the living room. As I pass through, I scream: “I hate you mom! I regret being born, too.” It burns my throat but I don’t regret it. As I march towards the door, I hear my mother coming after me. I break into a run, open the door as fast as I can and run out into the night. My feet begin to pound the concrete pavement and I hear her shout: “COME BACK PAYTON. I’M CALLING THE POLICE!”
Well I won’t do what I’m told. This is my life, not hers. I’ve suffered her constant controlling attitude for sixteen years too long. I don’t want her opinion on anything anymore. To think I even looked up to her once-upon-a-time. HA. I’d burn that fucking house down before I have to look at her face again.
My feet slap against the wet pavement. There is a light drizzle hanging in the air and the clouds are grey against the black sky. The air smells like rain, the smell reminds me of the first time I ran away from home. Everything tonight reminds me of the first time I ran away. I went straight to Mikey’s arms, that first time. It wouldn’t be so straight forward this time, but that was exactly where I was going right now.
As I find myself walking quickly down the deserted high-street, I regret going to bed in my very short denim shorts and vest top. I probably should have brought a hoodie with me, I have no idea how long it will take to get to the hospital and the cold February night air is already starting to take its toll on my body. I was caught up in the moment of running away. It’s hardly as if I planned to be out here right now. Did my mom really expect me not to run away again? How ignorant of her.
“Need some company, sweetheart?” I hear a voice ask from behind me as I walk down an ally way that leads onto the main street of Belleville. The voice makes me jump and my heart begins to beat at one hundred miles per hour.
“No. I’m fine.” I say quickly, my pace begins to fasten. I don’t want to look behind me at whoever was following me. What if I know them?
“Oi! Terry, she says she’s fine!” the voice jeers. I hand reaches out and grabs me around the waist. My body is flung against the wall of the ally and two figures appear in front of me.
“You’re a pretty one, aren’t you?” The other guy, who is obviously Terry, smirks. I can smell a strong scent of alcohol on his breath and his face moves closer to mine. His hand begins to unfasten my bra strap and I am too paralysed with fear to stop him.
“How about a kiss, sweetheart?” The other man asks.
“N-no. G-get away from m-me.” I manage to force out of my throat which had seemed to close up with fear.
“A simple kiss is nothing compared to what we are going to do to you.” Terry smirks. I press my back hard against the wall to prevent him from completely undoing my bra. He begins to work my shorts off of my body.
Before I get a chance to fight back, the man presses his alcohol scented, wet lips, against mine and begins to kiss me heavily. My face becomes wet with tears as I try to kick him away. He forces me onto the dirty floor and Terry then takes over. He crouches over me and his hand slowly makes its way up my thigh. I hadn’t noticed he had fully removed my shorts. I felt horribly exposed and vulnerable lying there in the cold in just my underwear and a vest top. I didn’t want to lose my virginity to two rapists for fuck sake.
I do what I have to do. As he begins to kiss me again, I go along with it. This time, when he starts to get intimate and the other man tries to get me fully undressed, I flick my foot into his neck, causing him to cough, stutter and fall backwards. The man lost his ability to make any sound as I trapped his voice box in his windpipe with one simple kick. He probably won’t survive. Terry hasn’t realised what was happening and I manage to wriggle back into my shorts. I reach out one of my arms and come across a large plank of wood. My fingers curl tightly around the end of it and I have an idea. Once I finally can’t take it anymore and I’ve mentally prepared myself, I gather as much strength as I can in my weak arms and smash the plank of wood against his temple. He rolls off of me, out cold. The chances of him making it probably weren’t that high, either.
I don’t look back at the two limp bodies on the floor, I just run as fast as I possibly can. The hospital is only five minutes walking distance, maybe only two minutes walking. My legs slowly gain solidarity and stop shaking. That was a lucky escape from what most victims have to endure. I’ve never felt so unsafe and scared in my life. I had almost lost my virginity to two drunken idiots.
The tall, grey hospital comes into sight and it stops me from crying. I look at each window glowing orange and I know that somewhere, behind one of those windows, is my Mikey. I begin to walk now, I’ve lost my breath and I have made it. The automatic doors of the hospital slide open, allowing me inside. The warm white light washes over me like relief. It was almost like a dream that starts of as a nightmare but ends up as one of the best dreams ever. It takes a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust to this new light, but I manage to read the sign and find the corridor signposted ‘psychiatric ward’. I know from watching numerous hospital dramas on TV, that that is where I will find my Mikey.
I walk with a fast pace towards the corridor, but not fast enough to draw attention to myself. Various doctors pass by without giving me a second look. Maybe the whole ‘teary-eyed’ thing helps me pass as a distraught family member visiting a loved one. I pass by doors with a white board stuck to the back of each. Each with a name written in marker pen.
It didn’t take me long to find Mikey’s room. As I stand outside the closed door, I prepare myself for whatever I am about to face. I can hear a voice inside, a doctor’s voice. Mikey seems to be arguing with them.
“You need to get some sleep.” The doctor instructs.
“But I need Payton, she is coming. I love her, I need her. Why won’t anyone let me see her?” Mikey protests.
“We go through this every night, Michael. She isn’t allowed to come here. I’m going to have to give you a tranquilising injection to help you sleep like last night, okay?” The doctor says sternly. Poor Mikey. He sounds like he’s distraught and my heart hurts hearing him talk like that. His voice sounds far away and lost.
“NO! NO! I need Payton!” He yells. Hearing that makes me cry. He doesn’t know that I am just outside the door, listening to everything going on inside that room.
“I’m sorry.” The doctor says.
I hear shuffling inside the room and Mikey mumbles: “But…I love…her.” Then the room goes quiet. Footsteps makes their way towards the door, and I only have enough time to hide in the doorway of another room to avoid being spotted.
When I am sure that tranquiliser has worked, I open the door slowly. I step inside and switch a lamp on so I can see him. Sure enough he is lying in the hospital bed with tubes and drips attached. As I inch closer, I see the bandages wrapped tightly around both arms. His skin is a deathly grey colour and he has become dangerously skinny. It looks as if his arms will snap with one wrong move. I place my hand to his cheek and I notice the thick stitches across his throat. They looked reasonably fresh. Carefully, I untie one of the many bandages from around his forearm. I the one closest to his wrist is the easiest to untie. His delicate skin is cut, sliced and stitched. The self-inflicted wounds were scarily deep.
The image of Gerard discovering Mikey’s body fills my mind: Gerard walks into the bath room, but discovers something he would never want to see. His brother, who means more than anything to him, is lying unconscious on the floor in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to bleed himself dry as the pain of losing the one he loved was too much for him to handle. Gerard drops to his knees and lands with a splash of blood. In one of Mikey’s limp hands is a razor blade. Blood stained and life depriving. Gerard calls out, a paining scream, for help. Frank rushes to the scene and leaves straight away to call for an ambulance. Gerard’s had never felt feelings like that before. The feeling of helplessness and grief was something he wasn’t used to feeling. How could he ever forgive himself for not seeing this coming? Gerard cries out as the pain of losing his brother is too much for him to handle.
Frank rushes back into the room and pulls him to his feet. He assures Gerard that the ambulance is on its way and hugs him tightly. Frank supports Gerard as he carries him away from the scene. From where Gerard is sitting in the hallway, he can see one of Mikey’s dead hands. Gerard doesn’t tell Frank that the sight of it is killing him inside. Perhaps Gerard is expecting it to move or show some sign of life. Frank tries to comfort Gerard but he won’t take his eyes off of Mikey’s hand. A million and one emotions stir in his brain. Emotions and feelings that he can’t comprehend. Frank squeezes his hand tightly and Gerard finally takes his eyes off Mikey. Gerard knows that he would only have looked away from his dying brother for the one he loved. That was the moment Gerard knew he was in love with Frank.
That small fantasy strangely makes me smile. Was it the fact I had imagined how much Mikey means to Gerard? Not that it would take much imagining; Gerard looked out for Mikey like a hawk to its prey. Or was it the fact I had thought up a sweet scene, of which Gerard realises he loves his best friend? I re-tie the bandages and climb into the bed beside him. My mind is satisfied with the scent of him as it fills my nose.
“I’m here now. I will never leave you.” I whisper into his ear. I place my lips to his cheek and he twitches. I rest my heavy head in the beside his. I stroke of his bandaged wrists with my finger and hold his hand tightly in mine. I’m not letting him go. Not again. I had fought so hard to get here and I will never leave him again. “Everything is okay now. You’re safe. I’m here.” I whisper. I sigh and curl up beside him. My mind slowly begins to shut off into a deep sleep. Before the sleep finally takes over, I whisper: “I love you Mikey. I love you so much.”
I am awoken by someone fighting beside me. I had almost forgotten I had fallen asleep with Mikey. I can feel Mikey stroking my forehead with his thumb, and I pretend to be asleep. This moment is too perfect to ruin. Can’t I just stay here forever? The light from the blinds illuminates the room perfectly and there is a slight relaxing breeze drifting in through the window. I feel the goosebumps prickle my arms but it’s a nice feeling.
Right now, it’s as if all the stress, the pain, the heartbreak…it’s all gone. That’s now it is going to stay from now on, I’m sure of it. We are both too young to die. Right now, I feel as if we could stay young forever.
The perfect moment to mark a perfect forever after.