"Hey, man. It's Collins."
"Ugh…change the subject."
Mark had to laugh. "Okay. How are you?"
"I'm hangin' in there. You?"
"I'm doing pretty good."
"And the kids?"
Mark smiled. "Maureen's fine. Doing really well."
Mark hesitated. "Don't get mad."
"Not a good way to start a conversation, Mark."
"You just want to protect him. I get that. Just spill it."
"He relapsed. He's okay though. It was a slipup and we fixed it and he's doing good."
"Was this a one-time slipup?"
"Not exactly…it was right after you left and he managed to hide it for three weeks while things were going on with Maureen."
"And after you found out?"
"You two fight?"
"Well, I got class. He's clean now though. You're sure?"
"Okay well I will call you later to talk about this. And you tell Roger we'll be having a long talk when I call this weekend."
Three months later…
"I'm going home," Maureen said quietly.
Joanne nodded, smiling. "Good. That's good. You've been doing a lot better."
"Yeah…I just…Mark only visited me twice…"
"And I, um, I don't…I don't know if I still feel the same about him. I've been second guessing myself and my whole relationship with him and now I'm just afraid that he…that I…" Maureen knew she was babbling.
"You're afraid that once you get back, things will be too different and you won't feel the same way about each other."
Maureen nodded. "Exactly."
Joanne rummaged through her purse and found a card and a pen. "Here. It's my card. My home number's on the back. I don't live far from Alphabet City. If you need anything, or if you and Mark don't work out or if you just want to talk, you call me. Okay?"
Maureen nodded, smiling. She tucked the card carefully into her pocket. "Thanks."