A Funny Thing To Say
Meeting Gerard had been awkward, quiet and uncomfortable. After shaking her hand (What the fuck?) he had given her a tour of the large and beautiful house. Her small bag hadn’t been a problem, it was much too light to really notice, but he had insisted on carrying it for her. Gentlemanly. But he had remained aloof as he took her up through 3 floors, explaining quietly what each room was. Most of the time he didn’t even open the doors, he would just point down a hallway and say something like “Bedrooms all along the right, and a bathroom, study and TV room to your left.” He had taken the time to lead her through the library. It was housed behind two large carved doors of a medium tint wood. They matched the rest of his house: Classic, with character, but slightly ironic. Antique restoration doors were not something you would find in the home of the average 31 year old bachelor.
She had walked in through the massive doors and stopped just beyond the threshold. She closed her eyes and took a moment to breathe. It smelled like peace. She had loved to read all her life; even when she lived on the streets she had always spent wintry or rainy days reading in the public library in downtown Manhattan. Gerard’s library was pitiful compared to that library, but if taken on its own, it was awe inspiring.
It took up the entire top floor. There were shelves upon shelves weaving in a maze throughout the expansive space. Straight and boring rows had been abandoned in favor of this more unique placement. As she wandered through the maze, she was astounded at the range of literary works she found. There was one section that housed only classics. She spotted The Brothers Karamazov and smiled. Another space was made up of oak shelves with glass coverings. The books kept here were all old, their paper mottled and yellow. Yet another section was children’s books. Hm. Interesting choice, she supposed. As far as she knew, there were no children in the house.
But the time came for the tour to continue; Egan had yet to choose a bedroom, and it was growing later by the moment. She sighed. She didn’t want to leave. This library was eerie, and charming, and eclectic and comforting and she was in love with it. She sighed again as Gerard closed the doors, and once more as they began their long trek down the steps to the basement level.
“Can I sleep down here?” Egan asked. At Gerard’s slightly startled expression she explained further. ” I’m not afraid” she assured him,” Nothing much scares me anymore.” There was silence for a moment. “It’s yours for the taking” Gerard finally responded. “Any other room is yours as well, if you decide to sleep somewhere else.” Egan nodded once, tight-lipped, and Gerard took this as a sign he should leave. “So…I’ll be upstairs if you, um, if you need anything at all. You can hang out around here or upstairs, there aren’t any restrictions really.” He paused. “It’s your house too.” Egan hadn’t moved up until then, but as he said this, she gave a sharp jerk of her chin to signify she heard and understood. Gerard turned and walked back up the stairs. The door clicked shut.
Finally, she could relax again. She didn’t know why, but at his willingness to share his home and everything in it, to proclaim that it was all hers too, she had felt a strong up-rise of emotion, and had had to fight violently with herself to suppress it. Her eyes, which had remained determinedly fixed on a window away from Gerard’s face now found freedom to roam as they pleased. But she didn’t want to look around or explore. This place was warmer than the streets, infinitely more luxuriant than any shelter, but it was just a place to stay. There wasn’t a reason in the world to get attached. So she simply sat where she was, in the middle of the hallway, near the entrance to the staircase. She had already ruled out exploring, which consequently ruled out any entertainment she might have happened across while looking around. This left her with two choices: Pick fuzz off the carpet, or do nothing at all.
She chose the latter, a dangerous move.
Doing nothing at all meant that the whole time you were languishing in your inactivity, you would most likely be thinking. And what had she to think about? Her life, mostly. But why would she want to think about that? What from her life should she begin with? She could start with the time before her parents died, when they all lived together and were happy people. But that made her yearn for the time when they were still on earth so powerfully that she lost her breath. Should she think about the time when they were gone, before she began her existence on the streets? But that made her ache, so sick with the tragedy of that short limbo with assorted family members, in the presence of priests who could not comfort her. Should she dredge up recollections of her past on the streets, so recent they were almost her present, yet already buried so deep the word “dredge” was required? No. That wasn’t even a possibility. She could not linger on those memories for more than a few moments before she went blank.
So doing nothing was now removed from the list of options. She instead took to twisting her bracelet. It was the only piece of adornment she wore, all the rest of her bodily decoration being inked on her skin, and it was on her left wrist. It was almost brand new, they had given it to her at the center, but from the moment it had been clasped on it had never come off. It resembled an I.D. bracelet from the 70’s except for on the opposite side of the plate where her name was inscribed, there was a message.
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
These words were beautiful to her; they made a place in her soul sing softly with tentative dreams of what she would do. The first thing she would do is find the author. She had inquired at the center as to who came up with the words and put them together in such a way, but hit a solid brick wall when she was told the author was unknown. But yes, that would be the first thing she’d do. And the second thing she’d do…what would that be? Egan rolled her eyes to the ceiling as she uncrossed her legs and leaned back, lying out on the carpet. She stretched as long and lean as she could, living in the wonderful sensation for a moment. What would she do?
She fell asleep there making her list.
Egan sat at the marble island in the middle of the sunny kitchen. She was having a breakfast of milky-soggy Corn Flakes and sipping on a glass of orange juice while enjoying the irony of her surroundings. A sun soaked kitchen made of medium and light tint woods, with shining copper pots hanging from hooks above the stove and sink, and expansive windows that let light in everywhere. The room was the epitome of warmth and luminosity. And it belonged to punk-rocking, raven-haired, black clad skinny jeans wearing Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance, a band whose albums were called I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, and The Black Parade. Their music reflected even darker themes than their album titles. It was comical that he would have a room such as this in his home. She caught a glimpse of a Martha Stewart cookbook, one of those all around kitchen helper affairs, and laughed out loud. She heard the thump of footsteps coming down stairs.
“You’re laughing?” she heard Gerard say as he descended. She turned half way too look at him, making her face flat and impassive. “Yes” she answered, putting no inflection on the word. Her unreactive reaction seemed to make him uncomfortable, and he spoke again, slightly mumbling now. “It’s just, yesterday you seemed very stoic, you know? And today I come in to find you’ve made yourself something to eat and you’re laughing. Alone…” he tacked on awkwardly at the end.. Egan had yet to blink.
Several seconds of silence ensued as Gerard, shrugging off Egan’s stone-like demeanor, went about the kitchen finding something to eat. Some people needed their space in the morning. He got that. He was no prize himself in the a.m. First, he made out to pour himself a cup of coffee from the pot he had made earlier that morning when he had first woken up. Now that a female was living in the large, almost empty house with him, it would not do to wander around in boxers and nothing else, so, he had gotten dressed before coming down to make breakfast and officially start his day. However, he could not function until he had had his coffee. First things first, priorities had to be kept straight. And here was the pot of salvation now, waiting still-hot for his return. When that was accomplished he took a bagel from the pantry and cream cheese from the fridge and sat down across the island from Egan. He didn’t eat a lot in the morning; big breakfasts were on holidays and were prepared at his mother’s house. He wasn’t usually able to stomach too much too early, but for his mother’s food, there was an exception.
Gerard cut the bagel in two pieces and spread cream cheese on one half methodically while studying Egan. She had her iPod on and only one ear bud in. From the other ear bud dangling free he could hear a song that was familiar, but the name escaped him. He looked from her profile to the window she was looking out of. Nothing much interesting out there. He took a bite of his bagel and shifted his focus to the flecked top of the island. The marble was called “Blue Eyes” he remembered. The base was onyx colored, shiny and dense black, but fluttering on top like the soft wings of moths were chips of opalescent blue. If you turned your head a certain way, the chips would take on sheens of lilac, green or gold. He had been entranced with the sample of stone at the large warehouse full of tons of slabs of rock he had visited when designing the house. The blue looked right against the rosy red color of copper. His fiancée had been in love with it.
He was pulled out of his painful reverie by Egan.
“’Way down’ is a funny thing to say when your last name is Way” Egan said with the one ear bud still hanging out and swinging as she chewed. Pammy had pooled her extra money with some of the other workers at the facility to purchase it and some iTunes cards for songs. The music helped calm her down and take away some of the pain she went through while detoxing. Gerard could hear a new, but still familiar song he couldn’t quite place blaring out of it. “What’s that?” he muttered eloquently. He was just floored that she spoke.
“’Way down’. It makes it sound like you’re saying ‘Man down’ but you’re talking about yourself.” It took Gerard a moment to understand what she meant. Then he placed the song.
“Oh. Um, yeah, I guess it does.” Eager to keep the conversation going and find out some more about the recovering addict he was sponsoring, he asked,” Do you listen to a lot of our music?” Maybe they could talk about music. It was the fucking universal language after all.
No dice. Egan just shrugged and took another bite of Corn Flakes.
And the silence continued. The only respite came when Egan moved to the other side of the room, towards the fridge to get more juice. With her back turned to him, Gerard gave her a long, hard look. He wished she would speak some more. He was her sponsor. He was supposed to get to know her and help her through the hardest part of her recovery after detox, the first year. He was pretty sure they were supposed to bond. The nurse at the facility(Her name started with a “P”. What was it?) had talked about bonds. Apparently there was a good chance they would end up life long compadres. None of that could happen if she wouldn’t talk to him. But he knew what it was like, fresh out of a detox facility. You felt bad. Really bad. You could almost feel the drugs in your veins. In his first weeks, he had ached at the sight of anything small and round. TicTacs, jellybeans, any of those little flavored candies. They had put him in agony. You felt so vulnerable, and it sucked. It was something akin to dangling off the edge of a cliff and holding on with only your very fingertips, whilst the whole time all you wanted to do was let go and free fall. There weren’t even words. So he would let her keep her silence as long as he wanted. Hell, he didn’t have much of a choice. It’s not like he could force her to talk. All he could do was hope the next 12 months wouldn’t be as awkwardly silent as the last 12 hours with her had been.
Egan polished off the half a glass of juice she had poured herself next to the refrigerator, walked back over to the island, took her dishes and placed them in the sink. As she walked out of the kitchen and down the stairs, Gerard thought he heard her singing softly to herself. It sounded like “…Dress your husband hates. Way down, mark the grave…” The left side of his mouth twitched just a bit.