"Poor thing" Paul, a scientist specializing in cryogenics said. "She was so young." The she he was referring to was the one and only Gia Marie Carangi. During the 1980's she was queen bee of model-land. Unfortunately she fell from fame faster than she rose. Her vices, drugs, led to her demise. She lost work and contracted the HIV/AIDS virus and succumbed to it in 1986. Very few knew that in her final days she requested to be cryogenically frozen until a cure was found.
The year was 2086, one hundred years after her death. Unbeknownst to the general public, a cure was found. On August 12th the defrosting of Gia began. By 3:24pm she was ready for the cure. Doctors and nurses crowded around the one-hundred and twenty-six year old woman using precision inserting the intravenous needles into her arm. Once the cure was administered all they could do was wait. At 7:39pm, the wait was over. Her eyes slowly opened and the video being projected on the wall played. A cheery voice spoke:
"Welcome back Miss Carangi. The year is 2086. You have been resting for 100 years. As of 7:08pm no traces of the virus has been found in your system. On the metal table across from you sits a folder which consists of any/every bit of information we gathered about your family members. Next to the folder is the box you requested to be left for you when you awoke. As a precaution you'll remain in isolation for a week. From everyone and myself here at glasshouse medical center we wish you a speedy recovery and that you enjoy your new lease on life!"
Four Days Later
"Set the record straight. What really happened on the night of August 15th?" the reporter asked
"In order to tell you what really happened I need to start from the complete beginning." I said.
"Ok that's fine. Go ahead." And so I began to tell the tale of the great Gia.
She told me that she never had an intention of staying an extra week. She broke out of the facility the next morning. It was her escape that led her to me. In the early morning hours of August 13th Gia awoke with a plan to escape. Unbeknownst to her I awoke to prepare for my day. Gia opened the box at 7:01am. She was familiar with these items: keys to her red corvette which was bought at the beginning of her career and keys to a storage garage which housed her beloved method of transportation. Also in the box was $1000 cash. Being the feisty character she was, she threw the metal table at the window that displayed the perfect New York City sunrise and the glass shattered. As if it were a scene from an action film, Gia scaled down the side of the building flawlessly, with the red folder and keys in hand. Within minutes of reaching the ground, she flagged down a New York City cab. Contrary to what people of the 21st century thought, the future wasn't all that advanced or peaceful. Besides new cell phones and methods of communication, nothing changed. Discrimination and hatred still existed. Even the conflict in Iraq continued with the same intensity as eighty-five years ago. Basically, the biggest change in the future was the year. No flying cars, no world peace, just 2086. Like most cab drivers in New York City, the middle aged driver was paying little attention to his passenger but Gia was recognizing the face of her driver. As if it was fate, the driver's name was posted for Gia to see: Frank Linter. That last name was far too familiar to Gia. The resemblance of Frank and an ex-lover of Gia were too much to play off as coincidence. The memory of her lover sparked Gia to open the red folder containing information and turned to the page with her lover's name attached. It read: "Denise Linter, born December 8th 1958, married once to long term boyfriend Steve until his infidelity was brought to light in 2027. She gave birth to a son, Frank. Her advanced age caused her passing during childbirth. The father was assumed to be Steve but it was never proven." By the time Gia finished reading the summary, the New York City lights had now dimmed, the summer sun had risen. The 10 million New Yorkers had now risen to begin their day.
I was one of those 10 million that morning. I had no reason to get out of bed that morning. No school, no friends, and without Dwayne I had nothing, just me. For some reason, I got the notion to go for a run. I hadn't run anything since my summer track season ended a few days ago, but that day I decided to change it up a bit. I dragged myself out of bed that morning unaware that my life was about to change.
The yellow cab slowly pulled up to Derek's Storage Garage. Gia paid the middle-aged man and politely exited the vehicle. The key to garage number 207 was gripped tightly between her forefinger and thumb. She was on the hunt. The satisfaction she felt when she found garage #207 was comparable to a lion's satisfaction after gaining sustenance from a gazelle. Gia deeply inhaled before opening the garage that housed her prized possession for one hundred years. Running her hand across the leather interior brought back memories by the handful. The last person in the passenger seat was her friend, her agent, a woman who was more of a mother than the woman who birthed Gia was, Cynthia Cooper. One hundred and five years passed since she took her final breath. Reminiscing about the times they had, Gia got the idea to see what information the facility pulled up on the Cooper family. The page on Cynthia was nonexistent. The closest thing to Cynthia besides the memories was her final resting place. She could find her way to the grave with her eyes closed. She made the trip many time. Many times on her drug binges she'd stumble a few miles to visit her deceased friend. She told me that's why she picked that storage garage. The keys were placed in the ignition, the car was on, and Gia was ready to leave. She put the pedal to the floor. Nothing was stopping her. Someone did though, me. I came jogging around the corner unaware of the one ton vehicle speeding towards me. The trees were especially luminous on that summer morning. My music was blaring. I was lost in the trance of the melodic waves filling my head drowning out my sorrows. The only thing I remember about the possible collision was once she stopped, micrometers from me, I fainted. When I came to, I was in the backseat of the car that almost killed me. I remember waking up and noticing the incredible beauty of the driver. Something about her beauty brought this super natural calm over me like I could trust her even though she was a complete stranger.
"You really need to watch where you're going. This could've been a lot worse." The beautiful woman said. I'm using the word beautiful to describe her but beautiful was an understatement. She wasn't the typical kind of beautiful, she was a different kind. Her hair didn't fall perfectly into place. It fell messy, but in a cool way. You know, edgy. I was too distracted admiring the woman to respond. "My name is Gia" she spoke again. "What's yours?"
"Wow isn't that a coincidence, two people with the same name, riding in the same car."
"Yeah, my family says I was named after my great-grandmother she was some famous-" my sentence was interrupted. We almost hit a deer! After my last statement Gia's demeanor changed. She was pale, as if she'd seen a ghost. I assumed it was from almost crashing so I didn't think much of it. "Where are you going anyway?"
"I'm going to pay respects to my friend that passed away; you're staying in the car."
"Oh" I said leaning into the front seat, "how'd they die?"
"Cancer" she said as we pulled on to a vacant lot. She exited the vehicle and headed towards a tombstone placed in the open field. Watching from the backseat, I saw her sit down at the gravesite and talk for what seemed like hours. Eventually she returned. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Not really. My parents are away for the summer so it's just me at our house." Looking back on our encounter, I realize how naive and how trusting I was of this complete stranger. Especially when I invited her to my house. "Want to come hang out at my house?"
"Gia Gia Gia… you are way too trusting. What if I was some serial killer?" she asked
"I'm pretty sure if you were going to cause me any harm you would've done it by now" I said matter-of-factly. Gia shrugged. In less than twenty minutes we were parked outside of the building in which my family's twenty-thousand a month penthouse suite existed. Once in the elevator I notified Gia that I had to clean up the guest room. The kind person she was, Gia offered to help. The room was a mess. Boxes of my belongings cluttered the room. While lifting one a picture fell out.
"Who's that?" Gia asked. My heart dropped.
"A mistake" I said harshly.
"No really, tell me."
"No offense but that's a quite a personal story and I don't really know you."
"Okay" she paused "my name is Gia Marie Carangi. I was born in Philadelphia on January 29, 1960. I 'died' on November 29, 1896 but really I was frozen for one hundred years until they found a cure for my illness. The day we met, I just broke out of the hospital. They gave me this red folder with information on all of my friends and family but it doesn't even matter. They're all dead anyway." She said with tears forming in her eyes. "So now do you know me?"
"Wow" I had to pick my jaw off of the floor. "I didn't know. The boy in the picture was my first and probably last boyfriend. I met him one day when a few friends of mine decided to go to a party and they chose to drag me along. It was the day after my sophomore year ended. I was sixteen without a care in the world. My friends and I were the 'it' girls but I always felt like the puzzle piece that didn't fit. I guess that's what drew him to me. Dwayne was his name. He was the most popular boy in school. He was also a drug dealer, which was why he was so popular. During the school year I stayed far away from him but that night it was him that came to me. While my friends were off dancing and socializing, I sat on the couch avoiding eye contact with anyone and everyone until Dwayne approached me. At first I was not giving him the time of day because of who he was until he said something that made me think otherwise of him. He said 'you only got to know me as the person everyone saw me as, take a chance and get to know the real me.' I reluctantly agreed. Dwayne led me to the front of the house and we sat on the porch talking for what seemed like hours. I really believe he was different. After that night me and Dwayne started seeing each other more and eventually we were deemed the cutest couple of our school. Despite what people told me, he was really a different person. He brought me out of my shell. Everything was great until he started showing his true self. I caught him cheating on me one day. Later on he gave me a better reason to cry. That wasn't the last time he. Everything I did was wrong. Everything I did resulted in a slap, a punch, or a shove. For some reason, I stayed. He was the person who understood me and loved my flaws just as much as he loved me. A few months ago my parents found out about Dwayne's other side. Once the school year ended they packed up our things and moved me from Philly to New York City without warning so Dwayne couldn't find us. He was a mistake. Because of him I lost everything: my sport, my friends, modeling, and most importantly I lost myself." Telling Gia that made me feel so much closer to her. I shared details with her I never shared with anyone.
"Why don't we go to Philly?" she asked in a bubbly tone.
"I can't, he might find me."
"Yeah, that could happen, and you could see your old friends. Besides, I have business to handle in Philly. That's the next place my folder says to go." Normally I'd decline anyone's offer to defy my parents but Gia's bubbly aura made me feel the urge to rebel. I happily agreed. Within the next hour, the car was packed and we were ready to return to the state where it all began. Pennsylvania, Philadelphia to be exact. My childhood, my best years and what I eventually learned, Gia's childhood as well. "So you used to model?" she asked in hopes of breaking the silence during the car ride.
"Yeah" I said.
"Me too. Look me up on that internet-thing maybe you'll see some of my pictures. Show me some of yours too." I did a search for her online. Her pictures were so fresh and so raw. "You know, Philly was where I got my start." She continued. I passed her some of my pictures. "Wow you look so much like me. How come you stopped with it?"
"My parents thought it would attract more unnecessary attention to me after that situation."
"But your curly black hair and green eyes are so unique!" she was right. Everywhere I went, every time I met someone, my eyes were the first topic of discussion.
"Honestly I miss it but it's so hard to get back into."
"Um hello! You're forgetting who I am! Back in my day I was one of the greatest." She sounded so sure of herself. I admired that. For a majority of the ride she told me stories of her model days and for the rest of the ride, I slept. There were times that I woke up, eyes still shut, that I felt her eyes on me. Some probably would have found that creepy but I found it soothing. It was soothing to know that someone cared for me. I was calm during that car ride, but once we passed a "Welcome to Philadelphia!" sign, my calm turned to worry.
It was like reliving that year all over again. We drove past my old school and the flashbacks started. Gia seemed quite eager to get to my friend Summer's house but I was too busy to think anything of it. We pulled up to Summer Sato's house at around 9pm and I called her to come outside. Even though I haven't heard from her in weeks, I remember her number. I can count on both hands and feet how many times I had to fight myself from calling it. Before she could say hello I told her to come outside. She must've recognized the voice because within the next second the front door swung open and Summer Sato the 5'6 blond bombshell came running out. God, she was running fast. She ran right into me; for a hug. If questions were bullets, Summer was a fully automatic machine gun that night. The questions just kept coming and coming. I didn't even get to answer any of them. She was my best friend and didn't know about the abuse I endured. I felt guilty when she asked why I left. I couldn't find the words to explain why so I came up with some B.S. lie. Summer invited me inside and I looked to Gia. I was hoping my eyes depicted my fear because my brain wasn't really doing a good job with finding the right words.
"Go ahead" she said "I'll be back tomorrow night."
"Go, have fun!" she said with a smile. With that said Gia turned around, walked back to her car and drove off.
Mr. and Mrs. Sato were your typical parents. Like many naive parents, they thought Summer was still their sweet and innocent little girl. In reality, Summer was the worst out of all of us. She begged me to stay with Dwayne so we (she) could score free drugs from him. I wonder, if she knew how he really was would she still have begged me to stay? Probably. Summer was a pretty crappy friend sometimes. On top of that, while I was with Dwayne she was always a little too touchy around him.
"Let's go to sleep, I have a surprise for you in the morning. And since when do you have a sister?" Summer asked, still talking fast.
"That woman you were with, she looks just like you."
"Oh no, she's just a friend." I thought it was slightly peculiar that Summer said Gia and I looked alike but, I had other things to worry about. Summer calmly and quickly fell asleep. Me? Not so easy. I couldn't fall asleep because I missed the NYC lights already. The darkness scared me. I wasn't afraid of the Boogieman; I feared the darkness because I couldn't see. I feared what I couldn't see because I wasn't sure if Dwayne really would follow through with his "I'd kill you if you ever left" threat. Dwayne was my Boogieman. Unfortunately the next morning, I saw the Boogieman one last time.
I awoke with a note taped to my hand. It read: Gia, come to the kitchen. Someone wants to see you. I'll be back at 2pm. Have fun! I prayed that in the kitchen was another one of my friends. I guess God was too busy to answer that prayer. When I saw Dwayne standing less than ten feet in front of me, my heart sank so low that if I sneezed, it would come out of the back end.
"Hey pretty lady" he spoke. Dwayne's voice was more enticing than it used to be. I swallowed hard.
"Hey" I said. I tried to speak louder but my throat was so dry it came out as a whisper. I looked over at the clock, 10am. I just had to bear through four more hours. It began with a slap. "You thought you could go on vacation and not tell me? Wrong bitch!" One thing I learned from Dwayne's fits, stay down. To him, getting back up meant you were challenging him.
"I'm sorry D, it wasn't my fault. My parents found out about you hurting me and they took me away." Next, a fist; to the face and then to the stomach.
"That's bullshit. You told them didn't you? Don't even answer I know you're going to lie anyway." I lied in pain and then came a swift kick to my stomach. I tried hard not to cry but I had to. "Get up and stop the crying. If you weren't such a piece of shit I would have to treat you this way. Are you ready to be a good girl now?" I nodded my head while wiping away the tears. Dwayne lifted me off the ground, wiped away the remaining tears, and kissed me on the forehead. "I missed you" he said in that enticing voice. We sat down at the table in the kitchen and spoke casually. There was a silence, but he broke it. "So tomorrow night you, that baby inside of you, and I are leaving for Los Angeles" my facial expression turned from scared to surprised.
"How-" I started to ask
"You thought Summer could keep her mouth shut? You really are fucking stupid." His voice was going back to the town it was when I first walked in. "So today and tomorrow morning you go visit everyone you need to and then meet me back here. And so you don't get the idea to run, I have some friends watching you." The front door swung open. Summer was back finally. For the rest of the day until Gia returned, the three of us hung out together like old times. It angered me that Summer didn't notice the look of sadness on my face. It looked like Dwayne pulled me in for a kiss on the cheek but really he pinched me, hard. He warned me of what would happen if I didn't put a smile on. When I heard Gia pull up at around 8pm I rushed out of the front door and hugged her.
"Guess what I did!" I tried to hide my fear. I didn't know if he was watching or not. "Wait; is that the kid from the picture?" Gia asked while looking at Dwayne who was staring at us through the window.
"He's been here since the morning and wants me to come with him to LA tomorrow night. Gia I can't go with him. If I do I'll never see my parents again." All of the tears that should have been shed up until this moment came out.
"Don't worry it'll be okay. I'll take care of it. All you have to do is get him to the cemetery. Leave your stuff in my car so you have to come get it." She whispered. We went inside and relaxed for the rest of the night.
The next morning, Gia slipped out but not without giving me a hug. I told her I loved her and she reciprocated. Then she left. Summer's oblivious self threw me an impromptu going away party and for a second I was wrapped up in the nostalgia of the night.
Remembering the plan I said to Dwayne "Gia left with my stuff. I can't call her but I know where she is"
"You don't need that stuff. I'll buy you new clothes when we get there"
"I said I will buy you new clothes. Don't make me say it again."
"Can I at least say goodbye to her?"
The trip to the cemetery was suspenseful. I wasn't sure if Dwayne would change his mind and go straight to the airport but luckily he didn't. We pulled into the cemetery next to Gia's car. I saw her sitting next to a grave. Her eyes were red, her nose was puffy, she had been crying. Dwayne and I stepped out of the car. He ordered me to go get my stuff from her car. As soon as my back was turned I heard the first gunshot. The sound pierced the air. I was scared to turn around but I did anyway. Dwayne's body lied on the ground, blood pooling beneath it.
"Gia, What did you do?" I asked shocked.
"I couldn't let you get hurt anymore. You're so young you don't need to be tainted by tragedy like I was. I want you to take my car and go. Now! Don't stop until you're back in New York!"
"What about you?" I asked confused
"Don't worry about me. Everything is all taken care of. Now go!" she pushed me. I looked back and couldn't help but go sprinting into her arms one last time.
"Thank you so much. I love you" I said, tears falling from my eyes.
"I love you too. Now go before the police get here!" I ran back to Gia's car, started it and drove off. Before I exited the cemetery, I heard the final shot. Later on the news I learned who that last shot was for, Gia. Inside of her car was that red folder she mentioned, with our name on the front. The first page inside was her family tree. The descendants of Gia Marie Carangi looked quite familiar. Her daughter was my grandmother, her granddaughter was my mother, and her great-granddaughter was me.
I sat there dumbfounded for a moment.
I wondered how long she knew. The next and final page was a letter with a business card stapled to the top. The letter read:
Gia, I wasn't meant for this century. I know things happen for a reason so I don't regret a second that I spent with you. I never really had anyone to love me until you came along. Maybe that's why everything played out the way it did. Finally I had someone to love me. Finally I had family. I saw the way you were looking at me the day we met. You adored me. I adored you. That's why I'm giving you the life I always wanted, the life I always strived for. Yesterday I put all of my assets in your name. It's all yours: the money, the car, and most importantly, the memories. Please don't forget me? The only thing I ask of you is to live for me. Tell our story to those who ask so they know, the heroin addict finally did something good
-Love (underlined 3 times) always,
P.S. you have a meeting with Ford Models tomorrow.
And that's what really happened. No matter how old I get, no matter what happens in my life, I will never forget those three days I spent with Gia. I won't let Marie, my unborn daughter forget them either. If it wasn't for Gia Marie Carangi, I nor Marie would be living the way we are today.
Happily Ever After