Author's Note: I am SO sorry for not updating for nearly 4 years. A lot has happened in that time – I graduated college, I had and lost a boyfriend, I got my MFA, I've been published, I'm teaching, and I'm waiting to hear about my placement in a PhD program. However, in that time I have not forgotten this story. In fact, I started this chapter several times. Anyway, here's the new chapter. I hope you like. Please R&R!
Mark paced Maureen and Joanne's flat. He kept looking at his watch and at the calendar to make sure he had the right date in mind. It was August 3. This was supposed to be his wedding day. So far, there was no best man, no maid of honor, and no bride. There was only the bridesmaids and the groom. That wasn't a wedding.
"Where are they," moaned Mark as he ran a hand through his hair.
"Marky poo, you know how girls are. I'm sure Sam's just putting the last touches on her make-up," said Maureen as she looked over her shoulder. Her hair was loose, except the sides (which had been pulled back), and the curls tumbled over her dove gray tank dress.
"Yeah, Mark, don't worry. They are only a half hour late. Maybe traffic's bad. It's not the first time that's happened. This is New York," Joanne said as she smoothed a wrinkle out of her dove gray pants and then checked her short curls to make sure they were in place. They were.
"You're right. You're right," said Mark with a smile. It was a forced grin though. He felt like something was off. He hadn't heard from Roger, Mimi, or Sam in a week. That was odd, but Mark had been busy preparing for the wedding as well as working on his newest project so it was no wonder he hadn't had any contact with them.
An hour passed and then a second and then a third. There was still no sign of any of them. Mark was now sure that something was terribly wrong.
"I'm going to go find them," Mark said. Neither Joanne nor Maureen stopped the filmmaker from grabbing his bicycle and rolling it to the door. Before he could exit, the door flung open.
In front of him was Roger. His arms were wrapped around Sam. She looked so small and sickly. Her eyes were rimmed Mark didn't remember Sam ever looking this bad. It scared him.
"What happened," Mark asked, noting she was in sweats and an old t-shirt. She was not her wedding gown.
"Mark," Sam whispered. She clung to Roger's arm and looked up at him.
Mark's eyes widen. "Are you two…" He asked. The man cussed under his breath as he shook his head and raked his fingers through his red hair. "I never thought."
"It's not what it looks and hey, I'm a happily married man. Thank-you very much," spat Roger.
"Then please enlighten me. You show up here with my fiancé in your arms and I haven't heard from either of you for several days. Maybe you two have spent those days in bed making love."
"Will you just shut up and listen?"
"Sure," Mark said in a flat voice. He crossed his arms over his chest and waited. Roger and Sam said nothing. "Well, I'm waiting."
"Do you want the good news first or the bad?"
"Is she sick?"
Sam nodded. "I need help, Mark. Roger told me to come to him if I needed help," she said. The young woman shrank behind Roger.
"I didn't want you hurt. I didn't want her to hurt you like I did! She was shooting up."
There was an audible gasp from everyone in the room. Mark's hand went to his mouth. "No, it can't be true. It can't," he whispered. "What were… are you on?"
"Heroin," she whispered. "I'm sorry Mark. I don't know why….I'm sorry. It's just at my job." Sam shrugged. "I grew weak. I thought I could do it once and I'd be fine. That wasn't the case."
"You don't say. You have AIDS too," asked Mark sharply, to which Sam shook her head.
"I've stopped. Roger helped. I had to," she gasped as tears fell down her cheeks. "Mark, I'm pregnant."
"With whose baby," Mark asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yours," Sam concluded. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I understand if you don't want to get married to me. I understand if you want me to get rid of the baby or put it up for adoption."
"No, I don't want that. I want you. I want you clean and healthy," Mark said. "Can we do that and then get married?"
Sam nodded as she moved around Roger. She went over to Mark and hugged him. "I am so sorry. I wish I hadn't," the young woman muttered.
"It's OK. It'll be OK," Mark said.
"We'll have to move. I gotta stop dancing."
"Is that where the drugs are?"
She nodded yet a third time. "Yeah."
"OK then," the filmmaker said as he looked at Roger. Thank you, he mouthed. To which, Roger nodded.
"Let's go home," Mark said as he lead Sam out the door.
"I'll drive you."
Four weeks later, Sam was over most of the withdrawals. She had lain in bed that time, coated in sweat. She shook and scratched as her legs constantly moved. Every once in awhile, she'd roll over and puke. Mark never left her side during that time. In fact, Roger and Mimi had brought him things so he could stay with her. After those 14 days, Sam woke to find Mark sleeping.
She pushed herself up and sat beside him. For awhile, she studied her fiancé and then woke him. He stared at her sleepily. "Hey. You want some breakfast?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, that sounds good," Mark said.
"Thank you, Mark. You're my knight in shining armor. Did you know that?"
Mark chuckled. "I think you've told me that before. How are you feeling?"
"Weak…like a fool…and wanting a hit. But, I'm not going to do it. I'm not."
"Good girl," Mark said as he poured each of them a bowl of cereal.
"I'm gonna go to Life Support. I think I need to."
"And I want to get married if you'll still marry me."
"I just took care of you for four weeks while you puked your guts out and sweated all over the sheets. If that isn't love and devotion, I don't know what is."
Sam laughed as she finished her bowl of cereal off. "I'm going to shower," said Sam as she put the container in the sink and ran water in it. Blowing Mark a kiss, she went to the bathroom.
When she showered, Mark made phone calls. A smirk was on his face as he grabbed a pale pink dress. He went in the bathroom and hung it up for her.
"What you doing," Sam asked as she scrubbed her hair.
"You'll see," Mark said as he dressed in his nice pants and shirt with tie. "We're going out."
After an hour, Sam came out wearing the dress. "It must be a special place we're going," she said as she headed to the door.
"Oh, it is. It is. You'll see," said Mark. He exited and closed the door behind them. Outside, Mark flagged a cab. He handed the cabbie a sheet of paper with the address on it. With a nod, he drove them to their destination, although it took twice as long as it should have.
When they pulled up to Life Support, there was a hand painted banner that said, CONGRATULATIONS MARK & SAM. Balloon hung on the posts and handrails. Roger, Joanne, Mimi, and Maureen were all there waiting for them. Maureen, Mimi, and Joanne all wore their dove colored clothes.
Looking over at Mark, Sam smiled and kissed him. "Thank you. This is more than I could ever expect or want," she said. Sam kissed him again.
"Hey, I didn't say, 'You may now kiss the bride'," said Roger with a laugh.
"You're a minister?" Sam asked.
"Hey, a guy's got to make a little money," said Roger. "Shall we begin?"
"Of course," Mark and Sam whispered.
"We are gathered here to witness the shacking up of two of the best people I know. Mark, take Sam's hand. Sam, take Mark's other hand," said Roger. When they had, he continued. "Mark, repeat after me…. I, Mark Cohen, take you Sam Lewis to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold in richer and pourer- through thick and thin and unto death do us part."
"I, Mark Cohen, take you Sam Lewis to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold in richer and pourer- through thick and thin and unto death do us part," Mark said. "I love you. You are the most beautiful creature I've ever seen even when you're sick. I can't believe how lucky I am to have found you."
Sam took a deep breath to keep herself from crying. She looked over at Roger as he said, "I, Sam Lewis, take you Mark Cohen, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold in richer and pourer- through thick and thin and unto death do us part."
She repeated those words and then added. "It is I who am lucky. You are the kindest and most caring person I've ever met. I don't deserve you, but I'm never going to give you up as long as you won't give me up," Sam said.
After they said I do, Roger proclaimed, "You may now kiss your bride."
Mark wraps his arms around Sam's waist. He raises her and they kiss. "Hello, Mrs. Cohen," he tells her.
"Hello, Mr. Cohen," Sam said. She looked over at the group. "Thank you."
"We'll have time to thank each other later. Let's go party," Roger said. He led them into the Life Support building and the group partied until Midnight.
What did you all think?