Mark's long musings on what Roger is afraid of, with tidbits of what he and Maureen are and are not afraid of. This takes place preRent, so Mimi isn't mentioned, nor Angel. I don't own Rent, but I do own Roger's unnamed aunt and sister Abi, which is short for Abigail (yes, creative spelling of Abby :D ) and whose backstory that is marching around my head I quite like. This is from Mark's perspective, so first person.
Despite everything, Roger's never really changed his attitude on dying. He could never do what April did, sit down and end his life without thinking about it first. And after he thought about it, he would decide not to kill himself.
It's because he's afraid. Not just of dying but of being dead. Not being in the world anymore, not being in New York City, and not looking out grimy windows onto a dirty street. Not being able to walk a few avenues over to the music school that was founded over a hundred years before and hear the sounds of classical music drifting down from the windows, or softly coming out from the auditorium. It seems removed from Alphabet City and it is, geographically and in other ways, too.
Roger is afraid of not being able to do that, even if he doesn't leave the loft anyways.
Roger is afraid of death.
A lot of people that he has loved have died. I remember in high school when the aunt who gave him his guitar died of breast cancer he locked himself in his room for four days with the guitar, bottled water, and some boxes of breakfast cereal. If he hadn't had an adjacent bathroom maybe would have come out before his sister Abi finally picked the lock successfully, gave him a hug, and pulled him out for her funeral, more than what I did or his parents. I just banged on his door multiple times and shouted at him that he was being he was being an idiot. The funeral was one of the first times I saw Roger really cry and it scared me. Roger's not so much the crying type.
And April. April set off a long chain of events. I remember him telling me "don't worry about me offing myself like she did because I could never get there." But him refusing to take his AZT for the first few days after he was prescribed it sort of seemed like he wanted to die. Later I realized it was more of an "it's going to kill me eventually so I can just speed the damn thing up" mentality. I think.
There are other reasons why Roger is afraid of death. Of him dying, of the people around him dying, of the people he loves dying. And there are good reasons for it.
Of all of the people on this earth, he has to be one of the members of the HIV-positive club. The club you want to avoid joining at all costs. Roger's the sort of person who shouldn't die young. Not just because he's terrified to go but because he deserves to be known for something. He shouldn't a statistic, part of the "x million people have died of AIDS so far, this amount in the US, this amount in New York City" being told to children in schools. Roger doesn't want to die.
I mean, we all die. But Roger is terrified of it and he'll most likely die too soon, before he gets over his fear. I'm scared of some things, sure. Maureen screams bloody murder every time she seems a cockroach. But I'm not scared of dying, and Maureen is only scared of insects that she is tens of times bigger than, or mice, which we do get in the loft occasionally.
Then again, Maureen can run in impossibly pointy high-heeled boots, something that a drunken Roger could never do. And Maureen doesn't mind going in front of a crowd of screaming people (I've never liked crowds of screaming people, personally) in a skintight leather cat suit, little ears perched on top of her curly masses of hair and with bright red lipstick smeared onto her mouth and then start screaming down the yuppie scum in a way that is somehow creative.
Really, Maureen can be totally indomitable at times. I sometimes forget that she was shy in elementary school. But in elementary school Roger was also the kid who ate paste frequently and once gobbled down an inchworm for a bet and actually liked music class. I was the freaky kid who tried to pretend he didn't have an older sister (damn you Cindy) and, well, Maureen refused to talk to anyone besides me and occasionally Roger, and that was only because my parents were friends with her parents and I was friends with Roger when he wasn't swallowing bugs.
Roger wasn't afraid of killing the inchworm for the bet.
But bugs are different from him.
His aunt wasn't afraid of death. He was sixteen and the one member of his family who wasn't hyper or a thirteen year old girl (Abi and three of his cousins) whom he could talk to died. She told him that she didn't mind, that she didn't want to be constantly in the hospital where her toddler could barely see her. She told Roger she didn't want her son to see her like that, with tubes coming out of her and no hair. Roger didn't want to see her like that either, but as she pointed out, Roger wasn't two, he was sixteen and could make intelligent conversation. Abi was thirteen and could pick locks.
Roger told her bitterly that he would happily trade talents with his sister. His aunt told him that once she was gone, they could teach each other and stop trying to kill each other.
His aunt's death did bring him and Abi together, for a few minutes at least. But then he sunk back into the spiral of loss that death always brings him into. It happened with April, with the added strain of getting off of heroin. They were his two addictions, April and smack. One gave him the other, but then it drove them both apart.
Last night, he told me he was afraid that no one will remember his name. I would, I told him. Maureen would. Collins would. Benny would. Abi would, and if she ever had kids she would tell them about her weird older brother who had a tendency to lock himself in rooms and play mournful guitar music until she got so sick of it she picked the lock because she wasn't strong enough to break down the door.
So that made him smile. But I know that he's still afraid. Of being forgotten, yes, but most of all, Roger is afraid of dying.
And I know that his death will happen far too soon.