For a brief moment Gerard forgets his own fear, confusion and pain.
It wasn’t until she heard the door being opened she turned away from the computer.
“Gerard” Her voice was full of kindness. “It would be better if you tired the back door.”
His head whipped around. “What?”
She understood he was still trying to come to grips with everything and that included the fact he couldn’t leave the house. “Well, if someone were to pass by I’m sure it would look strange to see my door wide open at this time of night.”
He slammed the door shut with such force a picture on the wall nearby tilted. “Yeah, and I’m sure it’d look pretty fuckin’ weird to see a door opening and closing itself.” He walked towards her. “Maybe it was a fluke he couldn’t see me.”
While she highly doubted that Kyle was the only one who couldn’t see him she nodded slowly. “At this point, like you, I just don’t know.” Suddenly she had a thought. “Come with me.”
He followed her down the hallway to the small bathroom. When she flipped on the light she stood back. “Can you see yourself?”
“Can I see myself?”
She nodded to the mirror over the sink. It was heartbreaking for her to see the look on his face as he stood directly in front of it.
“Oh fuck.” He whispered. Slowly his hand came up to touch the surface of the mirror. “No reflection.”
She moved closer to him and her almond shaped eyes grew wide. In the mirror she only saw herself. “I can’t see you either.”
His eyes looked at her reflection, the only one in the mirror. Needing to believe this wasn’t a trick he reached over and lifted several strands of her long hair. Glancing back at the mirror he could see her hair lifted up as if held by an invisible hand. “This is fucked up.” He whispered.
She nodded still staring into the mirror.
He dropped her hair then turned to face her. “What do I look like?”
She understood. “You look like yourself. Not sick, or hurt.”
“So I don’t fuckin look like a guy in a coma?”
“Gerard I’ve never seen anyone in a coma but to me you look fine.” She answered.
He suddenly remembered something. Reaching up he touched the spot right under his left eye. “Is there a mark?”
“Yeah” He nodded, “A few days ago I was in a fight, got a black eye.”
“Oh.” She said slowly. “Uh, no. There’s no black eye.”
He brushed past her without a word. When Ayasha followed she saw him make a bee-line for the computer. “Why the fuck are you reading this?” He pointed to the screen. “You’re supposed to be trying to find out what’s happening to me.”
She nodded, “I have been but I’m also trying to find out what’s happening back in LA.”
Ayasha sighed, “The woman who was with you before it happened is Tweeting a lot. She claims she’s tried to go to the hospital but they are refusing to let her know anything.”
He began to pace. “Why the fuck would she go to the hospital?”
“Well.” She was watching his face closely. “She is claiming that you two had a very close relationship.”
“What?” He spat. “I don’t even fuckin’ remember her name. She was just some bitch I picked up in a bar.”
“Nice.” Ayasha folded her arms in an angry manner.
“Well it’s true. I told you before it was just a quick fuck for me. I just didn’t…” His voice trailed off.
“Just didn’t what?”
He turned away. “I just didn’t want to go home to my fuckin’ empty condo. So we went to her place.”
Ayasha could hear the pain in his voice but she believed he needed to know the truth. “Her name is Wendy. And I guess because she was the last one with you before this happened she feels for now she can tell any story. You know, get her fifteen minutes of fame. She’s saying you two had been intimate before and that you were in love.”
“Oh fuck.” He exploded. “In love? Seriously? I’d never seen her before I picked her up in the bar. But I knew as soon as I got to her place it was a mistake.”
He continued to pace. “It was obvious she was a groupie. Had a whole apartment full of back stage passes and shit. Hell, she even told me about some of the guys she’d been with from other groups.”
“She told you about other guys she’d been with?”
“Fuck, yeah. Seemed quite proud of all the singers she’d fucked.”
“And you wanted to be included in her collection?” Ayasha couldn’t keep the contempt out of her voice.
Her question angered him, who was she to judge? “What I wanted was to fuck. And that’s what happened. I fucked her hard, made her scream my name.”
Ayasha hated the hurt his words made her feel. “Well that’s nice. I’m sure she enjoyed it.” She paused a beat. “And how about you?”
“Did you enjoy it? Did it make you feel good?” She asked trying to keep emotion out of her voice.
His eyes narrowed, “Of course it did. Why wouldn’t it?” Deep down he knew she was trying again to understand his actions but that only caused him to feel anger. “You like to fuck, right? It feels good.”
Instead of answering she moved to take her seat at the computer.
Gerard wouldn’t let it go. Walking over he stood beside her. “You didn’t answer my question. You like to fuck, Ayasha?”
Her fingers which hovered over the keyboard faltered but still she remained silent.
He couldn’t make himself stop. All the fear and anger he was feeling bubbled over. “Come on, tell me. I’m sure you ain’t a virgin.”
Her voice was emotionless. “No, of course not.”
“So then, you know what it feels like, a good, quick fuck, right?”
She looked up at him her voice still emotionless, “And that was what you needed, right? You needed to feel something.”
The question hit him hard. For a moment he stared at her trying to hold on to his anger, he needed it but she was right. He had felt so empty, so alone, he had needed to feel something.
Ayasha was watching his eyes, she could see the struggle within. She forced herself to speak. “Yes, a quick fuck makes you feel something. I know that all too well. But it can’t fill the emptiness in your heart, in your soul.”
All his anger faded.
She tried to read the words on the screen but her emotions were raw. “I understand much more than you know.” She said softly.
Slowly he made his way back over to the sofa where he sat down heavily. A minute later he heard her typing on the keyboard.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered more to himself than the woman across the room.
“I understand.” She whispered back.
Almost an hour later he looked up from the book he’d been reading. When he turned to the computer he saw Ayasha’s head lower than a moment later snap back up. It was obvious she was nodding off. Getting up he walked towards her. “Hey, you’re falling asleep.”
Ayasha’s rubbed the back of her neck. “Shit.” She said “It’s almost 3 am.”
He glanced at the screen and saw she’d been reading an article about Cherokee myths and legends. “You need to get some sleep.” He said softly.
“I haven’t been able to really find anything helpful.” She yawned.
He gently took her arm forcing her to stand. “Hey, it’s okay. Maybe tomorrow when you wake up I’ll be gone.”
She hated how sad that thought made her feel. “Yeah, maybe.” She nodded moving slightly to stretch her tired arms. “Maybe we both just dreamed all this up.”
He sighed, “If not then maybe I’ll just return to my body.”
“You don’t want to.” She said before she could stop herself.
He frowned, “Not want to? Of course I want to. I sure as fuck don’t want to stay here.” He knew as soon as the words had left his lips he’d hurt her. “Hey, I didn’t mean it that way.”
She forced herself to smile, “I know you meant you don’t want to be in a coma, trapped between the worlds.”
“Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant. Now, get some sleep.” He gently pushed her towards the hallway.
From his seat in the living room he could hear her first stop at the bathroom then make her way into the only bedroom. From the doorway she called out. “Uh, you want a pillow?”
“Nope, I’m fine.” He stretched out on the sofa.
“Okay then, goodnight.” She started to push the door closed but stopped when she heard his voice.
Alone in her bedroom Ayasha quickly slipped into her night gown then crawled into bed. As her head hit the pillow she closed her eyes. “This can’t be happening.” She whispered into the darkness. “It can’t be real. Oh grandmother, why?”
Gerard stared at the living room ceiling. He wasn’t the least bit tired so sleep wasn’t an option. If only he could use the computer maybe he could find something but that thought also caused his heart to race. What if he read his condition had worsened, what if he read he wasn’t expected to live? “What the fuck did I do?” He whispered.
Memories began to fill his head. As the night it had happened began to take form in his thoughts he wanted to block out it all out, he wanted to forget, but he couldn’t. He saw himself with Mikey after they’d finished up for the day. God, he’d been so cruel to his brother when they’d parted. Mikey had wanted Gerard to come home with him, it was almost like he’d known his brother was at the breaking point but Gerard had laughed off his concerns. He’d told Mikey to worry about his own problems, that he was just fine. What a lie that had been. Still Mikey had tried to keep Gerard from going to the bar he knew his brother planned to visit. Mikey had begged him. Gerard had cursed at his brother, said things he knew would cut hard, and deep. Instead of the anger Gerard wanted, Mikey had simply hugged him whispered how much he loved him.
“Oh shit, Mikey. I’m sorry.” Gerard whispered. “But what happened ain’t your fault.” However Gerard knew deep inside his brother was blaming himself and that knowledge was almost too much to bear.
The hatred he felt towards himself and his actions made him angry. Quickly he got up off the sofa unable to deal with these emotions. He looked around the small living room then walked into the kitchen. Suddenly he felt like a prisoner, trapped. But worse was the feeling that this prison was of his own making.
Spotting a door at the end of the kitchen he walked over to it. Obviously it wasn’t another door to the outside so it must lead to a basement. When he slowly opened it he saw he was right. Stairs led down into an inky darkness. Should he go down? He only gave it a moments thought then reached his hand along the wall until he found the light switch.
The old wooden steps creaked as he slowly made his way down to the dirt floor. The single bulb didn’t offer much light but he could see the basement was small with no windows. However what immediately caught his attention was the area to the right where an easel stood. When he moved closer he was shocked to see such a beautiful oil painting. The sheer beauty of the woman in the painting took his breath away but at the same time a sadness filled his heart. The resemblance of the woman in the painting to Ayasha made him instinctively know this was her mother. He moved even closer to study the painting.
“Why are you down here?”
Her voice caused him to jump. “Shit, you scared me.”
Ayasha stood on the bottom step with her arms wrapped tightly around her small body. “I asked you a question.”
He knew by the look on her face he’d invaded an area of her home which was very personal. “Sorry, just looking around.”
“As you can see it’s a basement.”
“Did you paint this?” He asked turning back to the painting.
“I’d like you to come back upstairs.” She said in a stoic tone.
When he turned back towards the stairs he saw her bare legs starting back the steps. He followed her up but the painting was still on his mind. Back in the kitchen he closed the door. “Sorry I woke you up.” He said softly.
“I’m a woman living alone. I heard the basement steps creaking.”
“Oh, sorry.” He muttered. “But I can’t sleep, not even tired.”
Ayasha tried to set aside the anger she’d felt seeing him staring at the painting. “Would you like to watch TV?”
“Why are you mad?” He asked not understanding the anger he saw she was trying to hide.
She stared at him. “I didn’t say I was mad.”
“Oh, hell. You don’t need to say it. The anger is coming off you in waves. I’m just trying to understand why.”
She pursed her lips but remained silent.
“You painted that, right?”
She folded her arms, “Yes.”
“You are an incredible artist.” He said still not understanding. “But why is it down there?”
“That is where I paint.” The lie rolled off her tongue before she could stop it.
“Down there? He couldn’t believe anyone would attempt to paint in such a small, dark place.
She looked like she was about to say something but suddenly she clamped her mouth shut.
Gerard was watching her closely. “It’s really a beautiful portrait. Was that your mother?”
“I told you she died when I was only four. I don’t remember her that well.”
He knew he was pushing her but for reasons unknown to him he felt right in doing so. “But that is your mother? I mean you must have photos of her.”
“I have nothing.” Ayasha answered her voice still emotionless.
Now it was Gerard who stared at her waiting.
Ayasha looked down at the floor, “Yes, that is my mother.” She offered not further explanation.
“She was beautiful.” Gerard said softly. “You look like her.”
“I believe she was beautiful, once upon a time.” Ayasha said still not raising her head. “Before the alcohol, before the drugs.”
“I’m sorry.” He took a step towards her but she backed away.
Anger took over. “But if you ask anyone who knew her they’d say she was ugly. They’d say she whored herself out, drank too much…” Her voice rose, “They’d say she…”
Gerard could hear the pain behind the anger. “She gave birth to a daughter who she must have loved.”
Ayasha looked up. “That’s not what they said.”
He took a step forward and this time she remained unmoving. “I don’t give a fuck what “they” said. What do you believe?” He knew from the love he saw in the eyes of the woman in the portrait Ayasha had to believe differently.
Ayasha’s eyes grew wide at the question. “What do I believe?”
“Do you believe your mother loved you?’ He asked softly.
For a moment she forgot to breathe. “Yes, I know my mother loved me.” Before her true emotions could be freed she did what had become her way of coping, she escaped. “I have to get some sleep.” She said turning away.
Gerard watched as she disappeared from sight. He stood in the kitchen for several minutes after her departure when it hit him...for a moment he’d forgotten his own situation, he’d forgotten his fear, anger and confusion. In those minutes his mind had been on the woman who’d just departed and her situation, her obvious pain.
For the next hour he had sat in the living room staring into space. Suddenly, not understanding why, he’d gotten up and walked slowly towards her bedroom. She’d left the door open a crack and when he’d slowly pushed it open he’d been relieved when it hadn’t offered a sound.
Spotting a chair by the dresser he sat down in the darkness. Not knowing or even questioning why, he suddenly felt better. His eyes sought out her shape beneath the blankets. As long as he kept his gaze on her, he felt at peace.
When the first rays of light began to filter through the windows he got up and left the room. He didn’t want her to know he’d watched her sleep. He didn’t want to admit to her or himself how doing so had made his mind find peace.