Sunday comes to a rocky end.
Gerard gave a huge sigh. “Finally.” He glanced over to make sure she understood he was teasing. They’d only been dusting for less than twenty minutes.
Ayasha giggled, “What? Did I work poor Gerard too much?”
He handed his dust cloth to her. “I’m exhausted, dusting, laundry and now I’ve got to clip coupons.”
“Nope, not now.” Ayasha said as she went into the kitchen to stash the cloths under the sink where she stored them. “You deserve your surprise.”
“Oh.” He grinned. “My surprise. What is it?”
“Well come with me.” She took his hand and led him to the back door. “Okay I’ve got to dash out to the garage.”
Nervously he eyed the small building.
“Gerard I really think it will be okay, I’ll just be gone a minute.”
He still wasn’t sure and that upset him. “Look I know that you can be out of my sight while you’re in the house and nothing happens but…”
She nodded, “Promise I’ll only be out of your sight for a spit second. I’ll leave the garage door open so you’ll probably be able to see me the whole time.”
He nodded hating how nervous this was making him feel.
Ayasha gave him another smile then walked outside. Gerard tried to take a step out but moving past the doorway was impossible. He made sure to keep his eyes on her. She lifted the old garage door and he strained to see inside but because of the angle it was difficult to make anything out with clarity. He saw her bend down then lift a box. When she walked back to the door she handed it to him.
“Go set this in the living room.”
He nodded then quickly took the box and set it on the floor by the sofa. His heart began to race when he turned and saw she was gone. “Shit.” He ran back towards the door. It wasn’t until he saw her again he felt the heaviness, that had descended on his chest, lift.
“See it’s okay.” She said walking in holding an easel and two blank canvases. Her smile slipped when she saw the look on his face. “What is it?”
His voice shook, “I tuned around and when I didn’t see you…shit, it felt so strange.”
Ayasha set the items down then closed the door. “What happened?”
“I can’t explain it.” He said shaking his head. “It was sorta like you feel when you’re about to pass out. Like the world is fading away.”
“I’m sorry.” She said softly. “I should have waited to go outside until you got back to the doorway.”
He took a deep breath. “No, I’m sorry you have to deal with this shit.”
She smiled, “Hey, have you heard me complain? Now come on. We’re gonna paint.”
Gerard tried to shake the fear that had held him captive. “We’re gonna paint?”
She had bent down to open the box. “Like I told you Kyle threw out most of my painting supplies and I have only been able to afford a few things.” She lifted out several brushes. “So we’ll have to make do with what I have.”
He was frowning. “I’ve never done much with oil paints.”
“Fine time to try then, I think.” She moved the easel by the front windows then set a blank canvas on it. “Okay there you go.”
“What about you? You’re gonna paint too, right?”
She nodded, “Yep but I have to go down and get the other easel.”
He knew she was talking about the easel on which her mother’s portrait was displayed. “I’ll get it.” He said slowly waiting to see if she still wanted him to stay out of the basement.
Ayasha knew what he was thinking. “Okay.”
He started to move towards the basement stairs but stopped. “Ayasha, can I bring your mother’s portrait upstairs?”
She spoke keeping her back to him. “Why?”
“Because it is a beautiful portrait of a beautiful woman.” He said softly.
His words touched her heart. “Yes, okay.” She was removing the paint tubes from the box to set them on the coffee table.
Gerard was pleased she’d agreed. When he returned carrying the easel and portrait he saw she’d removed a framed print from the living room wall.
“Until I get it framed it can just hang on the wall.” She said.
He smiled, “Yeah, that’s a perfect place.” He carefully hung the canvas then stepped back. “Perfect.”
Ayasha didn’t look up. “Okay, so what are you going to paint?”
He knew what he’d like to paint. He would love to paint a picture of the woman who’d become so important to him. However he feared he couldn’t capture her beauty. “Don’t know. What are you going to paint?”
Ayasha sighed, “I don’t know. I haven’t painted in a long time.” Suddenly she turned to him. “Hey, this was a silly idea. We could do something else.”
He shook his head, “No it’s a wonderful idea. We are both artists, we both need art to help us express our emotions. I’m glad you thought of this.”
So for the next few hours the stood side by side working on their paintings. Each allowing the creativity of their work to calm their minds while simply needing to be near each other for the same reason.
Late afternoon in LA
Donna tightened her hand on her youngest sons shoulder. “What the doctors said sounds hopeful, didn’t it?”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah, I definitely think it’s a good sigh he’s showing much more brain activity. I was afraid today would be like the last couple of days.”
They both understood the doctors were concerned that during the day Gerard’s brain activity had been slowing down immensely.
Donna looked around the private waiting room. “You should go home.” She said looking into Mikey’s tired eyes. I know your dad is coming and I can catch a ride back to your place with him.”
“Ma, there really isn’t any reason for you to stay.” Mikey said softly. He knew the past couple of days were really taking a toll on his mother.
“I just want to sit with him for a while.” She looked down sadly. “The doctors said it’s good for us to talk to him.”
“Ma, if he could hear you, what would you say?”
Donna understood how badly Mikey was struggling with holding himself together. She knew he still blamed himself for what had happened. “I believe he can hear us.” She said in a determined voice. “I’m going to make sure he knows we are waiting for him to wake up. I’m going to remind him how much we love him.”
Tears appeared in Mikey’s eyes. “You think he’d care?”
Now her eyes grew misty. “Your brother headed down a bad path. I know how much you tired to stop him. But in my heart of hearts I believe Gerard knows we love him, I don’t think he’s ever doubted that.”
“I just wish..” Mikey whispered.
“I know what you wish.” Donna said pulling him in for a tight hug. “Me too. But we won’t give up hope. Gerard is a fighter.”
“He was once.” Mikey said his voice full of sorrow. “But these past few months I think he’d given up.”
Donna took a step back to look into his eyes. “Mikey, do you believe your brother tried to end his life?”
Mikey looked down, “I just don’t know.”
“I just realized something.” Ayasha said setting her paint brush down.
Gerard glanced over at her. “What?”
She grinned, “I have an original Gerard Way painting in my house.”
He rolled his eyes. “That ain’t saying much.”
She moved closer to study his painting. Others who would see it wouldn’t understand by she did. He’d painted a long, dark space leading to two open doors. Those doors revealed the stars beyond. “I love it.” She said softly.
He eyed the painting with a critical eye. He was about to open his mouth when he heard his mother’s voice.
“Gerard?” Ayasha touched his arm gently. “What is it?”
For several minutes he closed his eyes, listening to Donna’s words then just as suddenly as they’d started, they died away.
Ayasha believed she understood so she waited patiently.
“Ma was taking to me.” He whispered.
“She’s sitting at your bedside.”
When he turned to look at her his face was covered in sadness.
“What did she say?”
“She said they are all waiting for me to get my ass out of the bed.” When he saw the surprised look on Ayasha face he explained, “You don’t know, Ma. She’s always talking like that, acting so tough but she’s really not.” He lowered his head, “She was crying when she added how much she loves me.”
“Come sit down.” Ayasha said leading him over to the sofa. She could see how badly shaken he’d become.
“I’ve hurt so many people.” He whispered wiping his eyes. “It ain’t right.”
It was important not to let him sink into depression, to give him hope. “When you come out of the coma you can tell those people how sorry you are and how much you love them. It’s not too late.”
“I wish I could believe that’s true.” He covered his face with his hands, lowering his head.
Slowly she scooted closer and put her arm around him. “Believe.” She whispered.
He lowered his hands then turned to look deeply into her eyes. “You make me want to believe, you make me want…” His voice dropped, “You make me want to really live again.”
Ayasha’s eyes grew wide.
“I’m sorry.” He whispered believing his words had upset her. He started to look away but she gently cupped his face in her hands.
“You make me wish I’d never stopped living.” She whispered. “Being with you has made me realize I’ve hidden myself away from life, buried my emotions. You are the first person I’ve ever told about my mother. I don’t understand why but I feel I can trust you to understand me.”
“That means more to me than you know.” He said slowly.
The moment was lost when the sound of knocking shattered the quiet.
“Oh.” Ayasha sat back glancing nervously at the door when she heard Kyle call out her name.
“Are you going to answer it?” Gerard asked not bothering to lower his voice because he knew Kyle couldn’t hear him.
She shook her head then sprinted to stand across the room to stand out of view from the windows.
Gerard sat where he was and saw Kyle suddenly appear in front of the windows trying to look in.
“Fucker is looking in the windows.” Gerard said angrily.
Several moments later the sound of a car door slamming and tires squealing as Kyle angrily peeled out signaled he’d gone. Ayasha gave a huge sigh of relief.
“Does he do that a lot?” Gerard asked as she slowly returned to the sofa.
She shrugged trying to dismiss the subject. “Sometimes.”
“Ain’t right.” Gerard frowned, “Why won’t he just leave you alone? I mean you’ve told him too, right?”
“Many times. But Kyle is used to getting what he wants.” She hated that he’d showed up and ruined the moment.
“I can understand why he wants you.” Gerard saw a look on her face he didn’t understand so he added quickly, “You’re a beautiful woman.”
“Maybe on the outside.” She muttered.
Before he could even begin to respond she stood. “Don’t want to talk about Kyle.”
Gerard looked up at her. “I get you don’t want to talk about him but maybe you should.”
“There is really nothing to say. I was a fool, I let my guard down and almost got burned. Now, I’m going to go take a shower.”
The afternoon had slipped away so quickly Gerard hadn’t realized it was early evening. Tomorrow she’d go to work and he knew his hell would start again. “Hey, after you eat dinner are we going up to the attic?”
Still trying to get over her anger at Kyle she nodded. “Yeah, sure. It should be a beautiful clear night with lots of stars.”
When she was gone Gerard sat lost in thought. In his heart he believed he needed to get her to open up about the situation with Kyle. He had heard some of what Kyle had said the other night and knew the man was threatening to expose something about Ayasha. All Gerard did know without a doubt was he wanted to protect her.
After dinner they retreated to the attic. Gerard was concerned because he’d seen how little she’d eaten of the dinner he’d prepared. She was upset and he hoped he’d find a way to get her to open up.
“Look at the stars.” He whispered in awe once she’d thrown open the doors and they’d taken their seats on the floor.
Ayasha took a deep breath, “They are beautiful. It looks like you can almost reach out and touch them.”
He looked over at her face bathed in moonlight. “Yeah but please don’t.” he grinned. A moment later when her face was suddenly covered by sadness he was confused. “Ayasha, what is it?”
“You know you’re not the only one here who wishes they could change things they’ve done in the past.” She whispered.
He tried to answer in a way that wouldn’t cause her guard to go back up. “I think everyone has something in their past they wish they could go back and change.”
She nodded, “Yes, I think that’s true.”
“What’s the one thing you wish the most you could change?” He asked softly.
Ayasha gazed out at the stars. “I wish I could change too many things to count.” She paused, “But the one thing…”Suddenly she snapped her mouth shut. “Gerard, I can’t do this right now. I understand you are trying to help me, I get that. But please not now. We’ve had a really nice day together and for now that’s enough.”
Instead of answering he moved closer to slip his arm around her shoulder. “Okay.”
“This is all so unbelievable.” She whispered.
He laughed, “You mean us being here together?”
She nodded, “I still find myself thinking at times that it’s not real. That it can’t be real.”
“Know what you mean.” He was pleased when she leaned her head against his shoulder.
“And yet it makes me sad I think that way.” She admitted. “The one thing grandmother always stressed is that there are so many things in this world we except as truth that truly isn’t. She always said spirits are all around us. That if we open our hearts and minds we would understand so much more.”
“I wish I could have met her.” Gerard said softly.
“I wish she hadn’t left this earth when I was so young and so confused.” Ayasha sighed. “I needed her so badly.”
“But I think you’re forgetting something.” Gerard said resting his chin on the top of her head. “She’s still with you, she never really left you. Listen to your heart and I think you’ll still hear her.”
Ayasha closed her eyes, “That sounds like something she would say.”
“She was a wise woman. In your heart you know that’s true.”
“Yes.” Ayasha whispered. “But my heart and mind have become lost to each other.”
He was surprised by her words and gave them several minutes to sink in. Finally he spoke. “I think that’s what happened to me too. We both need to find a way to make our hearts and minds become one again.”
Hours later they left the attic when the temperature had dropped enough that Ayasha started to shiver. When they walked into the living room Ayasha yawned, something Gerard didn’t miss.
“Hey, you need to get to bed.” He hadn’t realized how much time had passed and it was now nearly midnight.
Ayasha nodded, “I am tired but..” She paused then slowly added, “I hate to leave you alone.”
He smiled sadly, “Hey, it’s okay. Don’t worry about me.”
“But you have so many hours to be alone.” She worried. “And I’m really sorry I have to work tomorrow.”
“But you do.” He hated to admit it to himself but knowing she would leave in the morning was starting to settle heavily in his heart. He was sure once she was gone he would again fade into the darkness.
Ayasha was watching his face closely. “Just remember I’ll come back.”
“And hopefully so will I.” he said softly.
She was again struggling with her emotions. “Uh, if you want we could talk until I fall asleep.”
He smiled, “I’d like that.”
Together they walked towards her bedroom. Once they were settled in bed Ayasha curled up next to him. And once again he wished with all his heart he could physically feel the warmth of her body.
“Tell me about your daughter.” Ayasha said softly.
For a moment the pain he felt just thinking about Bandit made it impossible to speak. Finally he forced himself, “She’s so beautiful and damn smart.”
“She gets that from you.”
Gerard laughed, “Uh, no. I see so much of Lindsey in her mannerisms. Bandit is a free spirit but she’s so sweet. I wish…”
Ayasha waited patiently knowing how difficult this was for him.
“Before this happened I was supposed to take Bandit to Disneyland. I’d promised her we’d spend Saturday and Sunday there. But on Wednesday I called Lindsey and told her something had come up and I couldn’t do it.”
“You lied?” Ayasha guessed.
“Yeah, I fuckin’ lied.”
Ayasha tilted her head to look up at him. “Why?”
He sighed, “Because I was drowning in sorrow and I didn’t want Bandit to see that.”
“Maybe she could have pulled you out of the sorrow. Love can do that.”
He blinked rapidly, “I don’t believe love can do that.”
Ayasha reached up to stroke his cheek with her fingertip. “Your mind doesn’t believe but your heart does.”
He closed his eyes.
Ayasha felt it was important to remember that love. “Tell me a story about something Bandit has done that makes you laugh.”
He understood she was trying to make him remember the love he felt for his daughter. “Okay.” He thought a moment. “There was the time we couldn’t figure out why the DVD player wasn’t working. The tray wouldn’t slide out, it was jammed closed. Took me forever to get that sucker pried open and when I did you know what I found?”
“Bandit had bit off the crusts of her cheese sandwich making it a circle shape.”
“Oh, my.” Ayasha giggled knowing where the story was going.
“Yep. She turned her sandwich into a disc and tried to play it.” The memory felt good.
“Did you ask her why?”
He grinned, “She had been standing there watching me try to open the damn thing. When I finally did she reached over and took it out like nothing was wrong and proceeded to try to eat it.”
“Hey, she was just storing it for later.” Ayasha laughed.
“Yeah, I think she was.” Suddenly his smile disappeared. “God, I miss her.”
“You’ll see her again.” Ayasha whispered. “You need to believe that.”
“I want to believe.” He pulled Ayasha closer. “There is so much I want to believe.”
She hoped what she was about to say next wouldn’t upset him. “Tell me about Lindsey.”
“You mean about what happened between us?”
“From what I’ve seen you two have remained close friends.”
He sighed, “Yep, we have.” He shifted slightly so he could pull Ayasha even closer. “You know I’m gonna make myself sound totally girly here but what happened between me and Linds was really hard for me. God, I loved her so much when we first hooked up. I really thought I’d spend the rest of my life with her. I’d never loved another woman like I loved her.” His voice grew softer. “I was totally believing in the happily ever after.”
When he grew silent Ayasha asked “What happened?”
“Our love started to fade. At first I tried to tell myself we were just going through some rough times and that we’d be okay. But more and more with each passing day we drifted further apart. Both of us felt it. Near the end it was like we were two strangers living together. Fuck, I didn’t want it to happen.”
“Love comes, love goes but it always leaves a mark on our hearts.” Ayasha whispered.
He lifted his head to look into her face. “Something your grandma said?”
He lowered his head, “Very true. I think we stayed together even though we knew it had faded for Bandit. Linds and I both love her so much. But in the end we knew bringing her up in a loveless marriage wasn’t right.”
“Bandit is lucky to have parents who love her so much.”
He closed his eyes. “I hope she’ll always remember I loved her.”
The pain in his voice made Ayasha hug him. “She’ll know because you’ll tell her when you return.”
Again the room grew silent. Finally Gerard got up the nerve to ask. “Have you ever been in love?” When she didn’t answer for several moments he wanted to take the question back. “Sorry, that’s stupid. I know you were engaged.”
Her voice was so soft he strained to hear her words. “I never loved Kyle. I only wanted what I thought marriage to him would bring.”
“You mean security?”
She suddenly lifted herself on her elbow so she could see his face more clearly through the shadows. “Yes but not just monetary security. I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to believe someone could really love me.”
“Ayasha, why wouldn’t anyone love you?” He said softly. “You’re a beautiful person.”
She shook her head, “No that’s not true. How many times have you said that people only think they know you? Well you don’t really know me.”
“Maybe I don’t know everything about you but I do know the woman who’s been here with me is a beautiful person.”
“The sad thing is Kyle knew I didn’t love him. I told him once I wasn’t sure I could ever love anyone, that I didn’t know how.”
Gerard was surprised. “Know how?”
She ignored his question and went on. “He told me it was okay. That one day I’d love him and he was okay with that.” She shook her head angrily. “I wanted to feel loved so badly I was blinded to the truth. He didn’t love me either. His father was pressing him to settle down and marry. Choosing me was a way to get back at his father.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Gerard, I am definitely not the woman Kyle’s father would choose for him to marry.”
He still didn’t understand.
Ayasha sighed, “Please don’t tell me you don’t understand that Native American’s suffer from prejudice.”
Now he was shocked “He doesn’t like you because you’re Cherokee?”
“Kyle’s family is old money. That is exactly what I’m telling you. Kyle once told me his father said I was nothing more than a dirty squaw who was after his money.”
“The son of a bitch told you that’s what his father said?”
“Yes, to make himself look good in my eyes. It was like by marrying me he was putting his trust in me. Of course it really wouldn’t have mattered because I knew he had a prenup for me to sign and I’d agreed. Simply put, Kyle wanted to marry me to piss off his father. Once his dad knew about the prenup he still didn’t want us to marry.”
“But he bought you a house.” Gerard said without thinking.
Ayasha sat upright. “You said you didn’t hear our conversation.”
He tried to smooth it over. “I said I couldn’t hear all of it.”
Her eyes narrowed, “What else did you hear?”
“Ayasha, what is he holding over your head?”
Before she could stop herself she blurted out. “That I like my mother am a whore.”
Now Gerard sat up. “That’s bullshit.”
Ayasha started to feel herself coming undone. “I need to get some sleep.”
Gerard stared at her a moment then nodded. “Do you want me to go into the other room?”
“Gerard, I can’t talk about this.” Her voice was hollow.
“Understood.” He scooted back down then waited for her to lie back down. Once she did he pulled her to him. “Nothing in your past could change the way I feel about you.” He whispered.
Ayasha closed her eyes refusing to speak.
When at last he heard her soft even breathing he knew she’d fallen asleep. He hated to lie to her but he’d heard enough of the conversation to know there were things in her past she wanted to stay hidden. He also knew those same things were eating away at her soul.