I'm beginning to regret coming now. As I carry Alice away, I try to keep out of my head how much it must have hurt her, Alice only acknowledging that I was there and not Gemme. I wish I could go back in time and stop myself going back to Newberry. Sure, we'd still be sleeping in a shitty transit van, and I'd get closer to dying each high, but it wouldn't matter, because Gemme wouldn't be dealing with this shit.
I want to tell Alice off, yell at her for thanking me and not Gemme, but how do you explain it to a five year old? I think about it for a moment and I don't know how to put it that she'll understand, but not go off on one or think I hate her. I sigh and shift her in my arms slightly and just keep walking in silence.
"You should have said thank you to Gemme, too, Alice," I mutter after a while, my tone distinctly unhappy.
"Yeah," she says, but I dunno if she really gets it.
"She worked hardest to find you. It's hurt her that you were ungrateful," I tell her, trying to make my tone even and put it so she'll understand.
"I'm sorry, Luca," she replies.
"It's not me you should be saying sorry to. I want you to be thankful to her when she comes back, Alice, and I want you to tell her that you love her too. And mean it." I guess this might be pushing it a bit, but I have to try at least.
"But...!" she starts to protest.
"I don't think I do!"
"How can you not love Gemme? She's been nothing but good to you and so far all she's heard from you is how you hate her. That's not very nice, is it?" yet you love me, you strange little child.
"She shouted at daddy! Daddy left me!"
"I'm sure daddy will come back for you soon. I don't think Gemme shouting at him had anything to do with him leaving you for a while." Yes, it's a long shot. By the sounds of it, ‘daddy' doesn't ever intend to come back, but if it shuts her up and makes her see she's not being fair on Gemme, I don't care.
"I'm not stupid!" She huffs. "He's not coming back. Gemme knows, Gemme knows why!" Oh for fuck's sake, why can't you be a thick child like I was?
"Listen, people do silly things when they're older. They make stupid choices and sometimes bad things happen, but I'm sure your daddy will see his mistake and try to make it up. In the mean time, Gemme is looking after you and you should be nicer to her. It's not easy for her." Okay, I'm completely making it up now, but at this rate, I'm going to hunt down her dad and slap some sense into him myself. And who would argue with me? Especially how I look right now, all bloodied and still pumped full of adrenaline.
"Humph. Fine, I'll say it, I don't know if I'll mean it though." I sigh and I'm tempted to slap my forehead.
"Don't say it if you're not going to mean it, Alice. It'll hurt her more if you do that," I say, wondering if she'll understand that concept.
"Then why tell me to say it?"
"I told you to say it and mean it," I correct her and wonder how I can explain it, "if you say something and don't mean it, it's like lying. Like... if I were to call you beautiful and I didn't mean it." That's right, isn't it? I'm no good at this kinda thing.
"Do you mean it?"
"When I call you beautiful? Yeah, I do. But imagine if I said it and didn't. Wouldn't you be upset?" she shrugs and I want to slap my forehead again.
"Have you ever lied about telling someone you love them?"
"Lots of times. And it hurt them every time. I've never lied to Gemme when I've said it, though."
"Then how do I know you're telling the truth now?" I sigh. Why did I open my big fat mouth and start talking?
"Because lying is nasty, and stupid, and I'm your knight in shining armor, beautiful. Knights in shining armor don't lie, and they don't like people who lie."
"But you just said you lied to people when you said you loved them." She tilts her head in confusion.
"I used to be a nasty and stupid person before I met Gemme," I say simply with a slight shrug.
"Okay. I'll try."I half smile. I think I might have actually made sense for once!
"Good girl," I kiss her on the forehead, "just remember to mean it before you say it."
"Yes sir." She moans. "But, when's she coming back?" Good fucking question, beautiful.
"When she's feeling less upset with us both," I mumble. I hope she calms down soon. "I love you, Gemme," I mumble in her head, hoping she'll hear me, "come back soon."