Gerard turns up to help out...
“Nothing,” I said, “just go.” He nodded and turned back into the hallway. Of course I hadn’t expected him to stick around, how could I have been so stupid? That’s why I’d never told anybody. Who would ever be friends with the son of a fucking alcoholic?
A moment later Gerard came back into the room, holding a wet cloth. Without looking at me he set to work cleaning up the vomit and whiskey that puddle on the floor. He hadn’t gone, hadn’t left my on my own. My heart swelled despite everything, but at the same time I was embarrassed.
“You don’t need to do this,” I said.
“No.” He was quiet for a moment, “but I want to.” He continued his work in silence while I shifted my mother into a more comfortable position.
“Leave it; seriously,” told him, “she’ll just fuck it up again tomorrow.” I couldn’t keep the bitterness out of my voice. He put the cloth down and looked me in the eye.
“This has happened before?” he asked. I nodded slowly. “Regularly?” Another nod. Fuck, why was I telling him this?
“You should go,” I said half heartedly.
“You want to talk about it?”
“No,” I said quickly. Then I thought about it for a moment. “Yes.”
I took him up to my bedroom and sat down on the bed. Unable to even see my chair under the piles of stuff, he sat next to me. Before I had said a single work I started crying hysterically. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d cried, even when things were really bad, but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t was him to see me like this, at my most open with no mask to hide my pain. But instead of turning away in embarrassment he wrapped his strong arms around me, trying to protect me from the world. I clung to him, as if he alone was keeping me sane, until eventually my tears subsided and I felt ready to talk.
I told him everything, things I’d never told another living soul. About the way my mother treated me, the times she used me like no mother should use her child. He didn’t speak, didn’t pass judgement though I felt him flinch a few times as I recalled some of the things I’d been through. It felt so good just to talk about it, to get it out of me. I had almost told Mikey a few times, but I had never quite found to words to explain. Though I knew Mikey much better I found it somehow easier to talk to Gerard about it, as if he could sympathise with what I was going through.
When I had finished he didn’t say anything for a long time, just holding me close to him. I felt a lot lighter, as if the act of telling had somehow relieved my burden.
“What can I do?” They were the same words he’d said when he had first come in. It was such a simple question, but with so much depth behind it. For a moment I knew he would have done just about anything for me. /“Take me away from here/,” I wanted to say, “/Take me somewhere far away. Protect me, keep me safe, and most of all love me as I love you. /” But of course I didn’t. I was too afraid, too scared of the certain rejection.
“Don’t tell them. Don’t tell anyone.” I said instead.
“Are you sure? Don’t you… doesn’t she need help?” he asked. Suddenly I was angry; what right did he have to tell me what I should do? But mainly it was because he was right, she did need help, we both needed help.
“Sure? Of course I’m not fucking sure. I’ve got no fucking idea. I’m sixteen years old for Christ’s sake; it shouldn’t have to be this way.” As soon as I’d spoken I regretted my harsh words. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. Look, you should go, they’ll be wondering where you are.” Don’t go/, my mind screamed, don’t leave me alone/.
“Do you want me to leave?” he asked.
“No… I mean yes… I mean… whichever. You should.” It seemed like my speech problems had returned.
“Do you want to come back to my place?” He saw passed my cracked mask of independence too easily.
“I don’t think I can face Mikey right now,” I told him truthfully.
“I’ve got a flat up the road, we could go there,” he said.
“Sure.” I honestly didn’t want to be here when my mother woke up.