Mimi Marquez hummed the opening chords of the oh-too-familiar song that her boyfriend had been playing nonstop.  Filtering through a rack at the Salvation Army, Mimi noticed a cute top and stopped humming.  When she leaned in for a closer inspection, she realized that the song she had just been humming under her breath could still be heard, and much louder than it had been seconds before.

            She straightened up right away and blinked her brown eyes; gripping the rack so hard her knuckles were turning a deathly shade of white.  It couldn't be…

            "Your eyes….as we said our goodbyes…"  Roger's voice flowed through the shoddy P.A. system in the tiny store.

            Mimi's breath caught in her throat.  An excited smile covered her shocked face as she released the shirt, letting it flutter to the floor.  "He did it…" she said softly, her hands trembling.

                        *                      *                      *                      *                      *

            "I DID IT!" screamed Roger Davis, dancing triumphantly around the loft with a portable radio displayed proudly over his head.  He was smiling so hard he thought his face would crack.  Leaping from the couch to the small coffee table, he performed a small jig of delight.

            Mark Cohen snatched the radio away and pushed his glasses up onto his face more.  "If you keep dancing around like that, you'll give yourself an aneurysm and you won't be able to enjoy your newfound fame…" 

            "SHHHH!" hissed Roger, turning up the volume on the larger stereo. 

            "For the love of Jehovah," exclaimed Mark.  "You act like this is the first time you've heard your song."

            Roger sighed with happiness as the closing chords faded into another song.  "It is the first time I've heard it…on the radio anyway…Marky boy, I'm on my way to the big time…"

            "Pick up a carton of milk on your way there," murmured Mark distractedly, twisting a reel on his rickety camera.

            Roger was just about to lecture Mark about being a good friend when a sudden clatter of noise was heard outside.  The sound of clunky boots slamming up the stairs echoed throughout the hallway.

            "ROGER!" screamed Mimi, swinging the rusty loft door open with one bound.  "I was in the Salvation Army and I…I…"

            The musician raced over to the door and took the tiny woman into his arms, swinging her around and showering her with kisses.  "I did it…" he whispered into her ear.  "And it's all thanks to you…"

            Mimi, breathless from her nonstop marathon through the streets of Greenwich Village, could only nod and bury her face in Roger's shoulder.  "I'm so proud of you…" she said eventually, still short of air.

           

            *                      *                      *                      *                      *

           

            Then the performances began.

            Mimi found herself at home alone more than she would have liked.  She could set her watch to the routine that they began to follow.  Night after night, Roger packed up his guitar.  Then Mimi would stand by the door with a melancholy face.  Roger would kiss her like a good puppy and disappear until the next morning.

            "Can't I come to CBGB's tonight?" she would ask, pouting her lips as he closed his case. 

            "Maybe tomorrow night…" he would always answer.  "Not tonight, Mimi…" Then he would pull on his jacket and smile at her.  "Tomorrow…"

            Tomorrows came and went, turning into yesterdays.  Mimi would lie awake and stare blankly at the empty bed beside her.  In bouts of frustration, she would pull the pillow over her head and sob helplessly.

            "I wish…I wish that song was never written…" she cried to herself one night.  "I wish…I wish I DID die…"

                        *                      *                      *                      *                      *

           

            The tapping of Roger's boots faded away as he disappeared down the loft stairs.  Mimi angrily slammed the door behind him and burst into tears, bits and pieces of their conversation reemerging in her head.

            "Can't I come to CBGB's tonight?" she pleaded.

            "Not tonight," snapped Roger, stringing a new string onto his guitar.  He no longer made the promise of another day.  Just not tonight. Never tonight.

            Mimi pouted and her lip started to tremble.  "Please stay home then," she whispered.  "I barely ever see you anymore."

            Roger's blue eyes glazed over angrily.  "You want me to just skip a performance?  Mimi, I just fucking hit the big time and you want me to skip a performance because you haven't seen me in a while?"

            Taking a few steps back, Mimi's eyes overflowed with tears.  "I miss you…you're always gone…"

            "I'm always out living my dream!" yelled Roger, standing up and jerking his coat on.  "I finally found my song and hell, even some glory to go with it!  If you can't deal with performances every night…"

            Mimi's blood boiled.  "It's NOT JUST PERFORMANCES!" she screamed, her entire body quivering as she held the table for dear life.  "On your off nights, you don't even stay home!  You go out with your new musician friends and you get trashed!  When is the last time you talked to Mark or Collins?"

            "I talk to them all the time!" lied Roger.  In all honestly, he'd barely heard from the filmmaker or the scholar in weeks. 

            "Look at the answering machine, Roger!" cried Mimi.  "16 messages from them—combined.  Even some from Maureen and Joanne too.  But you haven't looked at any of them…you're forgetting us…all of us…" Her voice grew small and weak. 

            "I'm not forgetting anything," said Roger icily.  "Except my selfish girlfriend who won't let me have my moment in the sun…"

            Mimi closed her eyes and took a few breaths.  "Forget I mentioned it…okay?  Go to your performance and when they're all over, we can have our time…" She reached out to hold him.

            Roger pulled away coldly. "No.  I won't stop performing.  After this string of performances ends, I'm touring around the East Coast with some other bands."  His hand tightened on his guitar case. 

            Mimi blinked.  The coldness, the mean nature…it wasn't her Roger there.  "You're touring?  For how long?"

            "Six months.  And I'm going alone."

            "W-What?" Mimi felt like someone had punched her in the stomach.  "What are you saying?"

            Roger sighed annoyedly and put down his guitar case.  "I've been meaning to tell you for a long time, Mimi."

            "Tell me what?"  Mimi implored tearfully, even though deep inside her she already knew the answer.

            Inhaling sharply, Roger put his hands on her shoulders.  "This isn't working out, Mimi.  With my new career…you're just…I love you, Mimi…but you're holding me back from all that the future holds for me."

            It took Mimi a few minutes to comprehend what Roger had been saying to her.  "You're dumping me?" she exclaimed, her eyes filling up with hot tears that dripped down her face.

            Roger looked at his watch.  "It's for the best.  Look, I'm late…I should be home sometime on Sunday night…we can talk about this then…"

            "NO!" she screamed.  "We can talk about this right now!"

            But they didn't talk about it then.  Roger simply packed up his guitar and walked out calmly, like a cowboy strolling into the sunset.  Mimi collapsed onto the floor and curled into a ball, sobbing so hard her insides hurt.

                        *                      *                      *                      *                      *

           

            She didn't know how long she had been lying there, but she was sure of the fact that her beeper had gone off at least three times.

            "Three missed doses," she croaked to herself, opening her eyes weakly.  "Better take it now…"

            A sudden fit of coughing stopped her from sitting up.  Her head spun and her throat ached.  A wave of shock hit her as she realized the god-awful truth.

            She had a fever.

            And she had forgotten to take her AZT.

            Mimi sputtered and coughed, unable to move from her balled up position.  What do I do?  Her mind hollered at her.  Her brown eyes nervously scanned the room until they fell onto the phone. 

But who can I call? Roger?  Yeah right…Mark? No.  Collins? Does Collins even have a phone number?  Or a phone?  Maureen and Joanne? No.  Mimi crawled slowly over to the phone and picked it up.

You're going to call the only person you could ever really trust…the only person that offered to help you in your time of need…the only one that was ever there for you…

Mimi's shaky fingers dialed and she slumped back against the wall, listening to the soft rings.  Two rings…three…four….five…

A sudden click and a greeting let Mimi know that he connection was open.  She opened her mouth and her raspy voice seeped out.

"B-Benny? It's Mimi…"

TO BE CONTINUED…Please read and review…