You can tell how hard she’s trying to keep her voice even. It makes you feel guilty even if it’s not your fault
I expected yelling and screaming. I held small hope that they wouldn’t have found out, but knew the whole town probably already did. I was prepared for screaming and for blame to be thrown at me. I figured there’d be at least a ten minute rant on the embarrassment I had cost them. Maybe they had even had been forced to move away. I felt my stomach clench just thinking of my mother crying. When she cries, it’s so bad. Her face gets red and blotchy, and when she tries to speak you can tell how hard she’s trying to keep her voice even. It makes you feel guilty even if it’s not your fault. Even as these thoughts poured through my head I continued to walk towards the phone, because they were my parents and they deserve and explanation, an apology. On top of that listening to them would keep my mind off Gerard and what I could’ve done wrong. Did I push him? Did he not feel the same way I did about him? Did he regret everything? It wouldn’t matter because all I had to worry about was my family. The phone felt clammy in my hand.
“Hello?” I heard my mom’s voice speak. I was so nervous the phone was shaking in my had. I only
I took a deep breath, “Hey, Mom. It’s me, Frank.”
“I’m sorry.” She replied clearly over the line, “I don’t know anybody named Frank”.
Then the line went dead. I could feel Gerard’s eyes burning into me and it stung so much. I had just lost my family and Gerard seemed to want to follow. The more I thought of the isolation the more I thought I should, could have at least one.
“I’m okay, really” I said to no one. I paused long enough for what I figured would be the time for a response before continuing my fake conversation. “No, not exactly, but I will be home soon”.
I glanced slightly at Gerard as he spoke to me, “I’m just going to relieve Mikey of his shift.” His eyes searched my face.
I bit my tongue and looked away, “Yes, soon. I promise.” I imagined that she was asking me when I’d be back.
“We were so worried” She would say, “Your father and I,” She would pause, “I’m just glad you’re not hurt.”
Then maybe Dad would even come on the line, “You’re smothering the boy, of course he’s fine he’s and Iero isn’t he?”
“I’m his mother, I’m allowed to worry”. She would defend herself and Frank smiled to himself.
“See you in couple days, Pal”.
“Yes, see you soon, Dear”
“See you soon. Love you”.
“Love you too, baby. You are going to be back soon, right?”
“Yes, tell Dad I love him too”.
“He said he loves you too, we’ll be waiting Frankie-dear. I Love you”
“Okay. Bu-bye. Love you.”
“Oh bye baby”
“Goodbye”. I hung up the phone and subconsciously looked at Gerard and I could just feel myself sinking.
“Frankie?” He said my name. His eyes screamed and I knew he was hurt, but I couldn't bring myself to say what I was really thinking, “Weren't you going to go change shifts with Mikey?” I asked.
He smiled feebly, “Right. Thanks.” He shut the door behind himself and I walked over to the door and pressed my forehead against the cool wood. My thoughts were racing so fast I couldn’t even process them. I could feel warm tears pool up in my eyes and I didn’t even attempt to stop them as they slipped down my face.
When I walked into the room Mikey was sitting in a chair at Ray’s bedside. Jo was sitting on the edge of the bed next Ray’s head. They both turned to looked at me at the sound of the closing door.
“Hey Mikes I figured we’d switch shifts”.
“Oh, sure”. He said getting up approaching me, “You and Frank settled in?”
I gulped once before answering, “Yeah”. I pulled the key out of my pocket and handed it to him, “He’ll be expecting you.”
“Aright”. He responded. He furrowed his brow up, “You okay?”
I smiled slightly, “Yeah, how’s Ray doing?”
He shrugged, “Alright I guess. Jo’s got the worst of the cuts sewed up and cleaned the rest. She just switched the ice out for some heated pad things…I don’t know. He’s still asleep Gee.”
“He’ll be fine”. I reassured him, “Go upstairs and get some shut eye.”
“Okay”, he said grimly.
“Oh and Mikes?” I turned him around before he reached the door, “I ran into Aimee, she says there’s a vending machine in the lobby. It’s not locked so you can just open it and take what you need.”
Mikey smiled placing a hand on his stomach, “Ah Gee, you’re a saint. You’ve saved us both”. he said meaning his stomach, I'm sure.
I rolled my eyes watching him leave. I turned back around and sat down in the now empty bedside chair, Now that we were inside I could see she Jo much better. She looked to be in her mid-twenties with dark brown hair that just grazed her shoulders. Her blue wide-set eyes had dark circles underneath them so deep I doubted any amount of sleep would restore them.
“How’s it going?” I asked her.
“Oh, it could be better” Jo raked a hand through her hair, “but I get a lot of injury’s so I’m used to it”
“How long have you had this place?”
“Almost three years now”.
“Wow” I could almost feel my jaw hit the ground, “That’s incredible.”
“Sometimes I think so too.” She responded.
“If you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to do all this?”
She tugged at her choppy hair, “I had already lost a lot, and I didn’t see why anyone else should”.
“What did you lose?” I couldn’t stop myself from prying.
Her smile was faded, but she responded, “Someone special.” Her voice cracked and she brought her hand to cover her eyes, “Fuck, I’m sorry” She mumbled.
“It’s fine” I assured her my words laced with concern, “What is it?”
She brushed away the rest of her tears, “I’m sorry. It’s just, you bring me your friend here for me take care of and all I can think of is you and Frank”.
“Me and Frank?” I asked surprised, “What? Why?”
“It’s just so amazing. You too, you made it.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, “What do you mean ‘we made it’?”
“Oh, I recognize a Mistake uniform when I see one. Had my own long enough”
I widened my eyes, “You too? How'd you get out?”
“Shocking, huh? Actually Bay and I both. I was already there when Bay came in. She was just what I needed for escape and she had someone on the outside”.
“Aimee”. I whispered, “She’s HMO isn't she?”
“Technically, but those tests are on so accurate and there’s more than one type of Mistake in this world.
I didn’t know how to even respond. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like growing up discriminated and hated for something that you weren’t.
“I know” She said simply and changed the subject back, “Thank the world for siblings, huh?”
“But, you got out” I said remembering what had started this conversation, “What’d you lose?”
“Not what, who”, She corrected, “She was how I got Mistaken.“ Jo smiled again to herslef, “ She was HMO and we were caught together”.
“I am…so sorry”. I said.
“Don’t be” Jo waved me off, “I wouldn’t take it back. She was…special.“
“Did you ever try to find her?”
“For a little while, but I had been in that center for years. She had probably long forgotten me. Besides I had Aimee and Bay to worry about by then”.
“Tell me about her”. I wanted to know more.
“Beautiful, for one” Jo responded. “Amazingly kind, she was just a few years older than me, but way more incredible than anyone else I had ever met. I fell hard. “Then Jo laughed ever so softly, “Wanna know how we met?”
I nodded my head and let her continue, “I was running late to work and fucking hit her with my hoverbike. “
I laughed, but stopped short remembering.
“What is it” Jo asked.
I open my mouth to speak when I heard a confused voice mumble, “Why am I in my underwear?”