A phone call from Bob forces Holly to face the truth.
Rolling over she reached for the photo of Sonja she had moved to the nightstand before going to bed. Her heart ached for her daughter. Closing her eyes there was no way to keep herself from recalling the dream.
AUGUST 16th 2007
“In here.” Holly called out from the kitchen. She was seated at the table with a large pad of paper covered with notes. Glancing down at it she knew she had dealt with everything necessary except for one thing, the hardest thing.
“What’s up?” Sonja asked walking in. “Why’d I have to come home?”
“We need to talk.” Holly said as her stomach started to churn.
Sonja was momentarily shocked by the look on her mother’s face. “What’s wrong?”
Holly tried to smile. “Have a seat. I have to tell you something that’s not going to be easy for you to hear.”
Sonja pulled out a chair then sat. She glanced across the table at the paper in front of her mom. “Is it money?” She guessed knowing that was always one of her mom’s biggest concerns.
“No.” Holly shook her head. “Not money.”
Sonja sighed. “Something about Gerard?” While her mother had refused to talk about what happened when she’d gone to see him Sonja knew it had been bad. Her mom had returned looking like a broken woman and Sonja had, at that moment, hated Gerard for hurting her.
Holly took a deep breath. “I didn’t renew out lease. We’re moving back to Wyoming.”
“What?” Sonja cried out. “Moving? No way.”
“I rented a small trailer for our stuff. I think the bug will be able to pull it.” Just another worry she had filed away in her mind.
“This is crazy.” Sonja said angrily. “Why would we move? I like it here. I have friends here. I don’t want to go.”
Holly had known this would be her reaction. “I’m sorry but I’ve made my decision. We have three days to get our stuff packed.”
Sonja jumped up knocking her chair over in the process. “No, I’m not going. I’ll stay here.” Her anger blinded her to the look of pain on Holly’s face. “I know what this is about. It’s his fault.”
“Sonja, please.” Holly tried to speak but there was no stopping her daughter.
“Look I don’t know what happened when you went to see him because you won’t talk about it but whatever it is that’s no reason just to pick up and leave. I don’t want to leave, this is our home now.”
Holly had believed she’d prepared herself for her daughter’s anger but now seeing it firsthand made her pause. As she tried to steady her emotions Sonja went on.
“Maybe if you talk to him again. Maybe you guys can work it out.”
“No.” Holly’s voice wavered. “He’s met someone else. It’s over.” As she said the words the picture she’d seen of Gerard and Lindsey kissing flashed through her mind. “It’s over.”
Sonja began to pace around the kitchen. “Okay, fine. It’s over. But that’s no reason to leave here.”
“Sonja, we are leaving. This isn’t up to debate.” Holly said while fighting the nausea she was feeling.
“No.” Sonja screamed. “This is stupid. I’m not going. I’ll stay here, move in with Kelly’s family. I’m old enough to make my own decisions.” She was about to go on when she heard her mother sob. Sonja turned around to look at her and was shocked. Her mother rarely cried, her mother was so strong yet there she was sitting at the table, her head bowed, sobbing. “Mom?” Her voice was scared.
Holly lifted her head, her face wet with tears. “I can’t stay here. Please, I need you to go with me.”
Sonja froze in place terrified. She couldn’t ever remember seeing her mom like this before. “Why can’t you stay here?” She whispered.
“Because.” Holly cried unable to stop. “I’m pregnant and I don’t want anyone to know.”
In slow motion Sonja righted the chair she’d knocked over. She fell into it as the truth became clear. “You’re gonna have Gerard’s baby?”
“Oh mom.” Sonja whispered brokenly.
“Please try to understand.” Holly begged. “Understand why we can’t stay here.”
“Does he know?”
Holly shook her head. “No, and I don’t want him to ever know.”
Sonja tried to understand. “But why? Why not tell him? Maybe if he knew…”
“No.” Holly’s voice was suddenly determined. “He’s moved on. He’s found someone else.”
“But mom, you’re gonna have his baby.”
“Doesn’t matter.” There was no way she could explain to her daughter that she’d never be with a man again who was with her only because of a pregnancy. “That would change nothing. I have to deal with this on my own. I’m just hoping you’ll help me.”
For the first time in her life Sonja was scared about something other than the disease she lived with everyday. Here was her mother, always so strong, begging for her help. She stared at her mother trying to make sense of her world that now seemed to be spinning out of control.
Holly watched her daughters face and could see fear in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Honey.”
Sonja paused a moment then leaned over throwing her arms around Holly. “It’s okay, mom. We’ll handle this. I love you.”
Holly began to sob again. “I love you too. So much.” She whispered through her tears.
Holly forced herself out of bed. These memories were too painful, she had to let them go. But how? Could she ever stop believing her choice to leave Jersey had set into motion a series of events that had ultimately caused Sonja’s death? But more importantly could she ever stop believing had she not loved Gerard none of it would ever have happened?
“But I wouldn’t have Molly.” She whispered as she crossed the loft to make coffee. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
“Daddy. It’s Christmas Eve.” Molly said jumping up and down on his bed. “Wake up.”
Gerard rolled over trying to focus on the blur that was his daughter. “Morning, Squirt.” He mumbled. “What time is it?”
Molly looked over at the clock. “Uh, seven, one, three.”
Gerard laughed, “That’s early.” He’d only gotten a few hours of sleep. Late into the night he’d worked to finish Holly’s gift.
“Want me to make breakfast?” She asked as she crawled closer to him.
Gerard grabbed her and began to tickle. He loved the childish giggles that erupted from her body. “Just what would you make for breakfast?’ he asked as his fingers stilled.
“I can do breakfast.” Molly gulped trying to catch her breath. “I do cereal.”
“Oh, you do cereal?” He teased.
“Yep.” Molly nodded. “I do cereal real good. Mommy says so.”
Pure love for his daughter showed in on his face. “Well I’m sure your mommy is right. Go get dressed and I’ll meet you in the kitchen and you can make breakfast, okay?”
“Okay, daddy.” Molly scrambled off the bed.
Gerard dressed quickly and by the time he reached the dining area Molly had already set bowls on the table. She was pulling out the box of cereal when he walked into the kitchen. He crossed to the fridge to grab the carton of milk.
Once they were seated at the table Molly excited asked. “What time do we go get mommy and go to Uncle Mikey’s house?”
Gerard took a bite of cereal before answering. “We’re not picking up your mommy until three. I was thinking maybe you’d like to make your mommy a Christmas gift today.”
Molly nodded. “Oh yes.” She frowned, “But I don’t know what to make.”
“Well.” He smiled thinking about something he’d bought intending to give it as a gift to Molly but it seemed giving it to her now would be better. “How about a hot pad?”
“What?” Molly was obviously confused. “I don’t know how to make one of those.”
“After breakfast I’ll show you.” He smiled.
Molly happily ate her cereal for several minutes then said. “Daddy I think this is gonna be the best Christmas ever, don’t you?”
He hoped with all his heart she was right. “I think so too. But mostly I’m just glad you and your mommy will be spending Christmas Eve here.”
“Me too.” Molly smiled.
“Think we’ll hear Santa’s sleigh bells tonight?” He asked knowing that since he had it all set up he wanted her to be psyched for the event.
Molly nodded. “I think so. Santa promised he’d find me.”
“He did?” Gerard asked slowly. Then thinking it was maybe one last chance to find out what his daughter had asked Santa for he said, “Uh think he’ll get you want you want?”
Her little face took on a very serious look. “Santa said he’d try real hard.”
Trying to coax information out of her he asked, “Uh, is it something hard to find?”
“Silly Daddy.” Molly giggled. “You don’t understand.”
“No.” Molly shook her head. “But Santa does.”
Holly sat drinking yet another cup of coffee while looking at the gift she’d made for Gerard. “Should have just bought him something.” She muttered yet deep down she knew in her heart the gift would please him.
Slipping off the stool she walked across the loft to the windows. Outside the sky was clear, the sun bright. “So much for rain.” She sighed. “No rain, no snow, no magic.”
Feeling her spirits once more begin to plummet she tried to keep it from happening. “Snap out of it.” She told herself not even bothering to be upset she was talking to herself. “It’s Christmas Eve. You have a beautiful daughter, a promising career and wonderful friends. What more do you need?”
She stared out the window for several minutes. “You know what you need. You need to make peace with the past.” Those words from deep in her soul echoed through the loft.
“Hey Ma.” Mikey hugged his mother tightly as several other passengers who’d just gotten off the same place rushed by.
Donna hugged him tightly then stepped back to envelope Alicia in a hug.
“Come on let’s get your bag and get out of here.” Mikey said taking his mother’s arm. “This place is a madhouse.” He and Alicia had both been shocked so many people were traveling on Christmas Eve.
As they walked towards the baggage carrousel Donna explained. “I have two bags.”
“Really?” Alicia was surprised. Donna was only staying a few days.
“Well ones full of Christmas presents.” Donna smiled. “Don’t worry I’m not planning on staying longer than I said.”
Alicia was afraid she’d hurt her mother-in-law’s feeling. “I didn’t mean it that way.” They had reached the carrousel. Suddenly she hugged Donna again. “I’m so glad you’re here.”
Donna was shocked by her reaction. “Well I’m glad to be here too.” She looked into her daughter-in-law’s eyes. “Is everything okay?”
Alicia who was feeling very emotional forced herself to laugh. “Sure, everything’s fine.”
Donna glanced over at her son but saw he was grinning. Obviously everything was okay with these two. “So how’s Gerard?’ She asked trying to figure out what was going on because something seemed amiss.
Mikey was the one who answered. “He’s fine.”
“No problems with Holly? I mean are they getting along okay?”
Mikey nodded, “Yep just fine. She and Molly are joining us tonight.”
“That’s good.” Donna smiled. “How’s he dealing with Lindsey getting remarried?” Lindsey herself had called Donna and told her the news.
Mikey who had his eyes on the carrousel looking for the bags he knew belonged to his mother answered. “He’s okay with it. He told me he really wasn’t surprised she and Jake got married.”
Donna spotted one of her bags and pointed it out to her son who grabbed it as it neared. “Okay so what’s going on that you aren’t telling me?” She asked narrowing her eyes.
Alicia, wanting to protect their wonderful secret until tomorrow spoke up. “Really, nothing is wrong. Matter of fact everything is great. We’re gonna have a wonderful Christmas Eve and an even better Christmas Day.” She made sure Donna wasn’t watching her when she smiled over at Mikey.
“Yep wonderful.” He answered feeling a wave of love wash over him as he looked at Alicia. “Just wonderful.”
“Happy Christmas Eve.”
Holly sat down on the sofa to take the call. “Happy Christmas Eve to you and Angie.”
Bob smiled over at Angie then asked, “So how’s it going out in La La land?”
“Oh, fine.” Holly answered.
Immediately Bob knew by the sound of her voice something was wrong. “Uh what are you and Molly doing tonight?” He hoped they weren’t spending the holidays alone.
“Going over to Mikey and Alicia’s. Donna will be there too.”
“And of course Gerard.”
Holly sighed, “Well of course.”
Angie could sense the conversation seemed like it was going to become personal. She motioned to Bob she would be back but he shook his head and grabbed her hand. Angie was a huge part of his life now and he didn’t want her to feel excluded from any part of it.
Bob decided the best way to approach this was with a straight forward question. “Okay so tell me what’s wrong.”
“Holly, I know you. I know by the tone of your voice something is wrong. Is it Gerard?”
Her first response was to feel anger. Why did everyone think Gerard ruled her emotions? However a moment later when Bob spoke before she could answer tears appeared in her eyes.
“Or are you thinking about Sonja today?”
“Oh.” Holly whispered. “Yes, I’ve been thinking about Sonja.”
“Of course you have.” He said softly. “This time of years it’s normal to remember our loved ones.”
“I just miss her so much.” Holly said trying to blink back the tears. “I wish …”
“I know Honey.” Bob said gently. “Me too.”
“If only…” She couldn’t make herself go on.
Bob sighed, “Holly I think one of the worse mistakes we make is believing we can change fate.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You believe your actions caused Sonja to no longer be with us. Isn’t that true?” He prayed she’d give him an honest answer.
“Well they did.” She said so softly he had to strain to hear her.
“Holly, your actions caused Sonja to find a man she loved. I’m sorry you never got to see that love firsthand. But believe me she loved her husband with all her heart.”
“You never met him either.” Holly said shaking her head.
“Nope but…” He paused. “Shit I should have told you this before. I see that now. Honey, I talked several times on the phone with Sonja.”
“What? You called her?” Holly asked in surprise.
“No, she called me several times always to check up on you.” Bob explained. “She knew I was keeping in touch with you.”
“Oh.” Holly didn’t know what to say.
“She was worried about you. I knew you two had argued and she told me how upset she was you wouldn’t go to Gerard and tell him about the baby.” He heard Holly crying softly. “Holly, you need to believe Sonja never stopped loving you. She was mad because she knew how hard things were for you.”
“Things were hard for her too.” Holly whispered.
“Sure they were. Jimmy had lost his job and they were worried about money but Holly, they were so in love. I talked to Jimmy too. He was really upset you and Sonja had argued because he saw how upset it made his wife. One of the last things he told me was that he was sure everything would work out.”
“But it didn’t.” Holly cried. “They….” She couldn’t go on.
“They died together, Holly. Neither of them had to experience the pain of losing the other.” He knew she was crying but what he had to say was important. “You know when you were seeing the therapist here in Chicago I really wish you’d let me go with you.”
Holly was shocked, “Why?”
“Because I think that while you did tell him a lot about your past I don’t think you were totally honest. But the thing that worries me the most is I don’t think you even realize that.”
“I don’t understand.” She said reaching for a tissue.
Bob took a deep breath. “Holly tell me how did I know about Sonja’s illness?”
“What?” Holly repeated his question. “How did you know?”
“Yeah, how did I know?” He pressed.
“I told you.” Holly answered slowly.
He squeezed Angie’s hand hoping it would give him strength. “No Honey. You didn’t tell me. You never told me. I know you think you did but you didn’t. Sonja is the one who told me.”
Holly blinked in surprise. “No, that’s not right.”
“It is, Holly. She’s the one that told me but I realize you think you did. You wouldn’t talk about Sonja. That Christmas Eve when I found you in Colorado you never mentioned her once. I knew you two had argued because she told me when I called your ex’s house looking for you and Sonja answered. We had a long talk that day. She’s the one who explained to me about why you wouldn’t leave her to go with Gee. She told me all about her illness.”
“I don’t know what to say.” Holly admitted in a whisper.
“Hun, I’m just trying to point out to you that I think maybe you’ve got some of your memories confused.”
Holly was struggling to remember. “But I did tell you about Sonja and I arguing before she died.”
He sighed, “Yeah, but only after you’d had a few drinks. That was the only way I could get you to talk about Sonja at all.”
Those memories were too painful, Bob helping her make the funeral arrangements, the actual funeral… “Why does this matter?” She finally asked her voice shaky.
“Because you need to remember everything.” Bob said softly. “You need to remember it so you can let it go.” His voice was full of emotion. “Holly I’ve never said a word about this before but I know that conversation you keep saying was the last you had with Sonja wasn’t really the last time you talked to her.”
Immediately Holly became defensive. “Yes, it was.”
“No, Honey. Sonja called me a few days later. She told me she’d called you back because it was tearing her up inside she’d said things to you she hadn’t meant.”
“No.” Holly’s voice was rough. “That’s not true.”
“Holly think.” Bob urged. “You know it’s true. Sonja and Jimmy were coming out to see you. That’s were they were headed when the accident happened. They were going to Colorado to see you because Sonja loved you. She wanted things to be right between you two and she wanted more than anything for you to meet Jimmy. I don’t know why you’ve blocked this out of your mind but I realize now you have.”
He heard Holly sobbing.
“Holly.” He said gently. “You’ve made yourself believe that Sonja’s death was your fault but it’s not, it never was. You never turned your back on her and she knew that. The trip to Colorado to see you was because she wanted you to meet her husband. She wanted you to see how much they loved each other. Sonja told me that when you two talked you’d cleared the air. She sounded so fuckin’ happy. She couldn’t wait for you to meet Jimmy. They were even planning on staying to help you when the baby was born.”
Suddenly memories of that last phone call forced their way into her brain. What Bob was saying was true, she and Sonja had made peace. "But why didn’t I remember that?” She cried.
“I believe at first when Sonja died fear made you forget. Fear because you felt dead inside and you needed to feel something and that something was guilt.”
Holly wiped her eyes. “Oh God, what’s wrong with me?”
“Nothing is wrong with you Holly. Especially now that you do remember. But keep remembering. Keep remembering how much Sonja loved Jimmy, the happiness in her voice when she talked about him.” He paused, “Your whole life you’ve tried so hard to make everyone in your life happy. Well, Sonja was happy. And I can tell you from the conversations I had with her she’d be fuckin’ upset you’ve let yourself feel guilty about this shit. One thing that Sonja said to me that’s always stuck with me was that she knew her mom buried her own needs and feelings in order to made her happy. Sonja got that Holly, she knew. She was sorry she didn’t want you to tell Gerard the truth about her illness, she knew that had driven a wedge between you too.”
For several minutes there was nothing but silence.
“Holly?” Bob finally said softly.
“I’m okay.” She said wiping her eyes. “I’m okay.”
He was still worried. “Are you alone right now?”
“Molly is at Gerard’s. They are picking me up later today.”
He hated that she was alone. “Why don’t you give them a call and have them pick you up now?”
She shook her head. “Bob, really I’m okay. But I need some time to think, you know?”
“I shouldn’t have told you this right now.”
She spoke up. “Yes, you should have. I needed to hear it. You were right about that. I needed to remember, I needed to remember how happy Sonja was.”
“She really was.” He said softly. “And she’d want you to be happy now.”
“I know.” Holly whispered. “She would.”
Gerard was surprised when he heard a call pull up in the driveway. Leaving the table where he was watching Molly carefully work on her hot pads he walked to the front window. “Uh Squirt, your mommy is here.”
“Mommy?” Molly began shaking her head. “Oh no she can’t see.”
Gerard pulled open the door. “Hey.” He greeted Holly but immediately saw something in her eyes that worried him. “How come you drove out?”
Holly shifted the bags she brought in her hands. “Just figured it would make it easier if my car was here.” She lied not able to tell him the truth was she needed to be with people right now. Her talk with Bob had opened up so many emotions that had been scarred over by lies. “So uh, can I come in?”
He smiled and took a step towards her. “In a minute.” He said placing his hands on her shoulders to spin her around.
“Okayyyy.” Holly laughed. “Guess I’m not supposed to see something?”
Gerard glanced over his shoulder and saw that Molly was stuffing all the colorful cloth loops back into the bag. She then picked up her plastic loom and the hot pads she’d already made. “Take everything to your room.” Gerard told her. “You can finish up in there.”
“Okay, Daddy.” Molly answered starting down the hallway.
He saw her drop one of the hot pads. “Uh, don’t move.” He whispered to Holly. Quickly he scooped up the hot pad and took it to Molly’s room. When he returned to the door Holly was still standing staring out into the yard. “Okay, you can come in now.” He laughed.
Slowly she turned around. “Thanks.”
He grabbed the bags from her hands. “Sorry but Molly was just finishing up some last minute Christmas gifts.”
“I guessed that.” Holly said slipping out of her jacket. “It’s cold out there.”
He nodded happily. “Yep, that’s good. If we do get some rain chances are it might turn to snow tonight.”
“Gee.” Holly sighed, “How often does it actually snow here?”
“Uh, well I’ve heard every 8 to 10 years they get more than just a dusting.”
“Not exactly great odds.”
He shrugged, “Don’t hurt to hope, right?”
Holly sighed, “I suppose not.”
They walked over towards the sofa. “I was just getting ready to make some hot chocolate. Want some?” Gerard asked watching Holly who had just sat down.
“No thanks. Actually I had a cup on the drive up here.”
Deciding to put off the hot chocolate until Molly was finished making her Christmas gifts he sat down next to her on the sofa. “So how come you drove up here?”
“You already asked that.” Holly reminded him. “And I answered.”
“What’s wrong?” He asked with concern.
“Damn.” Holly glared at him. “What is it about me that people automatically think just by looking at me or hearing my voice that something is wrong?”
“Hearing your voice?” Gerard repeated confused by her words.
“Talked to Bob this morning.”
“Oh.” Gerard leaned back against the cushions. “So he thought something was wrong by the tone of your voice.”
Holly nodded with a sigh.
“So was he right?”
“Gerard, I just wanted to come here and hang with you and Molly. Not face the Spanish Inquisition.”
He smiled, “Wow I didn’t know asking one question was like facing the Spanish Inquisition.”
She glared at him. “You know what I mean. I’m sorry but I’m tried and cranky and I’ll admit that. But at the same time I’m tired of people thinking they know me better than I know myself.”
“Okay, I understand.” He said even though he didn’t. “But Holly I have to tell you your eyes give away your emotions. I could tell as soon as I saw you something is bothering you.”
Holly sighed covering her face with her hands. “I need a hug.” She whispered.
“I’m up for that.” He answered immediately.
She dropped her hands. “Not from you, from Molly.”
“Kinda figured that but thought I’d give it a shot.” Before she could respond he called out Molly’s name. A minute later she appeared.
“Your mommy needs a hug.” He smiled.
Immediately Molly ran to her mother. Holly scooped her up onto her lap hugging her tightly.
“Missed you mommy.” Molly said. Then in true child form she continued. “It’s Christmas Eve mommy, isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yeah, Baby.” Holly whispered.
Molly sat back to look at her mother. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”
Holly shot a look at Gerard before answering. “Nothing’s wrong. I just missed you too.”
“Hey Molly why don’t you and your mom make our hot chocolate? I have a few phone calls I need to make.”
Molly nodded happily.
Gerard watched them head to the kitchen then he quickly made his way to the study. His call was answered on the third ring.
“Holly’s here.” Gerard said not bothering with a greeting. “But I don’t understand what’s going on.”
Bob sighed, “I’m glad she’s there. I was worried about her being alone.”
“What the hell did you and she talk about?” Gerard asked taking a seat behind his desk.
Pausing only a moment Bob decided to tell him the truth. He realized that while Holly wasn’t admitting it to herself she needed Gerard to understand everything that had happened. But first he needed a question answered by Gerard, one very important question.
AUTHORS NOTE: Just wanted to say thanks again to those of you take the time to comment. It really means a lot to me. Oh, and vampiresdontglitter I really loved your thoughts on the story and congrats on the baby! Anyway I hope this chapter shed some light on what’s been going on with Holly. While she was trying to convince herself that she’d dealt with the past deep down part of her knew she was blocking memories. The next chapter is really pretty intense and I hope you all will like it. So anyway….thanks to all of you for reading.