I decided to call this chapter "Finale", because it sounds better and more Rent-ish than "Epilogue". I don't own the lyrics to "Passing Afternoon", Iron & Wine does. But the two verses I put down fit extremely well with the chapter, so I'm renting them. Happy Reading.
Chapter Twelve - Finale
There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn but the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms
There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she's chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves
"Passing Afternoon", Iron & Wine
Five years later...
Elise leaned back against Roger, beneath the shade of the cottonwood tree, as they watched five-year-old Claire push two-year-old Collin Cohen Davis in the baby swing, as nine-year-old Dominic climbed around on the playground equipment in Tompkins Square Park. Feeling the warmth flow from Roger's body to hers, she felt happier than she had in years. She was married to the love of her life, with three beautiful children, they were both employed (Roger worked days at the Moondance Diner and played now every other weekend at CBGB's), and everyone was healthy, especially Roger. They both had been blessed twice as well; neither Claire nor Collin was positive.
Mimi had been clean and healthy for nearly six years. Collins was seeing Elise's friend, Charlie, a young, beautiful, kind actor and vocalist who also had HIV. He was attending the Julliard School for Dance, Music, and Drama, as a vocal and piano performance major, and their relationship blossomed more every day.
Maureen and Joanne had succeeded in having a family by adoption and through a sperm donor. Maureen was attending NYU, in pursuit of the same degree as Charlie; they often had classes together. Joanne had got a raise and owned a third of her law firm, so they were living in a penthouse suite on Avenue A. Jonathan Montgomery was three, and had Maureen's fiery spirit and temper. Mimi Jefferson, MJ, Johnson was a year old and reserved and serious like Joanne.
"Claire Marceline, don't push your brother too high!" Elise called after her daughter.
"OK, Mommy," Claire called back.
"She's fine, baby," Roger said, chuckling and stroking Elise's sun-warmed hair.
"I know," Elise said.
Claire reached up and grabbed Collin's swing. Her feet skidded across the gravel as she brought the swing to a stop. Collin got off the swing, then Clair took her brother's hand and ran over with him to her mother.
"Mommy, we wanna play tag," Claire said. "Can you be 'it' first?"
"Does this require me to get up?" Elise joked, smiling. She felt extremely relaxed and comfortable, lying there with Roger.
Claire giggled. "Yes, Mommy, it does," she laughed. She held out her hands. "If you're stuck, I'll help you."
"That's OK, Claire Bear," Elise said, "I think Daddy can help me."
Elise rocked forward and Roger pushed her up off him. He stood up, too, and stretched. Then he looked at Claire and Collin.
"Mommy's 'it', run!" he said.
Quick as a flash, Roger boosted Collin onto his back and took off running, Collin clinging to him and Claire screaming with delight.
Elise laughed and chased after her family. She played tag until she couldn't run anymore, then they had Dominic join them for ring-around-the-rosy, duck-duck-goose, statues, and red-light-green-light. Collin then insisted on playing a few rounds of hide-and-seek.
Finally, at three p.m., Elise called all playing to a halt.
"Sorry, guys, but Dom, we need to get you to your piano lesson," she said. "Claire Bear, you have dance. And Collin, it's time for you to go down for your nap. Don't look at me like that," she added, "I saw you yawning."
"No!" Collin objected.
"Now, now, none of that," Elise said. "Come on, I'll read you a story."
"Which one?" Collin asked her, narrowing one eye and raising his other eyebrow in a very Roger-like gesture at her as they walked to the Subaru. Once they had had kids, Roger and Elise had had to upgrade and get a bigger car, as Elise's Porsche wouldn't fit the two of them and three kids in it.
"How about 'The Little Engine That Could' or 'Peter Rabbit'?" Elise asked.
"'Peter Rabbit'," Collin said.
"'Peter Rabbit', it is, then," Elise said.
A little while later, Elise was curled up in her big Ottoman chair, reading a book, when Roger came up to her.
"Baby, will you do something with me? I need you to come with me and go somewhere."
Elise looked up at him. "Sure, Roger, where?" she asked.
But Roger shook his head and wouldn't say. Elise, confused, let it drop and went back to her book.
"Where are we going, Roger?" Elise asked, giving him a confused look as he took her hand and pulled her out of the car.
"Just trust me," Roger said.
Elise looked around, then realized where they were: a cemetery.
"Roger, what's this about?" she asked him. She followed Roger, who was still silent, to a gravestone.
Mark Anthony Cohen
Dedicated friend, filmmaker, peacemaker
Forever in our Hearts
Elise looked sadly at Roger. She didn't know what to say.
"It's OK," Roger said softly to her, "I'm not gonna... freak out or anything. I just wanted to see him... tell him what's been going on since he died. And I wanted you to be with me when I did that. Is that OK?"
"Of course it is," Elise said, nodding. "Why wouldn't it be OK?"
"I don't know." Roger nodded and sank to his knees on the soft grass. He looked heavenward for a moment, took a deep breath, then, feeling slightly foolish, began to speak.
"Hey, Mark..." he began. "It's Roger. Um... I guess I just came here today to tell you what's been going on. Things were really hard after you died. I didn't know how to function without you. I debated giving up at one point, but I realized you wouldn't want me to, so I didn't. But I was a mess for a long time. If Elise and the others hadn't been there for me, I might not have made it." His voice choked up. "It's been hard to live without you. We've known each other for so long, then suddenly you were gone and I didn't know what to do."
Roger suddenly broke down and cried. Elise held him tightly for support, letting him grieve his loss and calm down. His tears and sobs quieted after a few moments, and he looked at her.
"Things have changed a lot," he went on. "Elise and I got married and we now have three beautiful, amazing kids, Dominic Christopher Messer, Claire Marceline Davis, and Collin Cohen Davis. Dominic is nine, Claire is five, and Collin is two now. You would adore them if you were here to see them. They are little images of us." He smiled. "Mo and Jo have been able to have a family, too, through adoption and a sperm donor. Jonathan Montgomery is three and MJ, Mimi Jefferson Johnson, is a year old. Jonathan has Maureen's fiery spirit and temper, MJ is reserved and serious, like Joanne. Can you imagine Maureen with kids? She's amazing, a better mother than I thought she'd be, Joanne, too. Maureen and Elise helped me the most after you died. Without them, I might not have made it.
"Um..." Roger paused, unsure as to what to say. "I still really miss you. It's been hard without you. But I'm healthy and Collins and Mimi are healthy and none of our kids are positive, for which we feel very blessed. I've been writing a lot of songs and I've continued playing gigs at CBGB's, as well as working at the Moondance Diner to make money. I don't need to, with as much money as Elise has, but as a husband and a father, I need to contribute, so... I figured you'd be proud of me for that.
"But over the past few years, I've come to realize that still being alive here and having a beautiful wife and kids and amazing friends truly is a gift, a gift I need to cherish," Roger went on, looking at Elise with soft, tired eyes, "since I myself don't know when I am due to leave this Earth. So I am, and that makes it easier that you're gone. We'll miss you forever, but it isn't so hard anymore. I've accepted everything that's happened by truly living in the present and cherishing the life everyone else and I have, no matter how long or short that may be. And I also take into account the Serenity Prayer and I've accepted the things I cannot change and changed the things I could. I don't hate the fall anymore."
Roger bent down and placed a piece of paper on the ground, putting a rock on top of it before it blew away. It was lyrics, a song Roger had written for Mark after he'd died. He hadn't shown the lyrics to anyone yet, but plans were in the works to create a single out of the lyrics, since Roger had long ago come up with the melody. He had another copy of the lyrics at home in his desk.
Elise smiled at Roger and kissed his cheek. Roger traced the letters of Mark's name with his finger, then stood up. He shivered involuntarily as the breeze blew around him and and ruffled his hair. It almost felt like Mark's spirit was there with them, wrapping around them gently and healing them.
"We should go... if you're ready," Elise said quietly.
Roger nodded. "I have to go now," he said. "But always remember that we all love and miss you so much. It comforts me, though, that we won't be parted forever. I'll see you around."
Roger swallowed, then turned and left the cemetery, Elise holding him close to her. They walked out of the cemetery and got into the car and went back to their family and the life they now lived.
This is the end of De Pelle Sorte. I hope you guys liked it. I've enjoyed writing it more than all my previous stories of any category, because being able to write it all before posting and not having the pressure to force anything just to update to prevent readers from waiting so long, has made writing it so much easier and the inspiration has flowed so much better. I've learned my lesson about posting before I had the entire thing written and it worked. As to this chapter, of course Mark's middle name is Anthony, after Anthony Rapp. And of course, Colin Cohen Davis is after Collins and Mark. Who else, right? I used "Passing Afternoon" by Iron & Wine as the lyrics to the song Roger wrote for Mark, in case any of you didn't catch that.
I'm not planning on writing a sequel to this story, as I think I wrapped everything up pretty nicely and can leave anything that has been left open to the imagination of you readers. If I were to continue writing this story or write a sequel, more than likely Collins would die, because I cannot bear to kill off Roger. It's just too hard. Even writing Collins' death is hard. And you guys don't want that, do you? I don't. So there isn't really a need for a sequel that I can see. If you guys DO want a sequel and have ideas, though, leave them in a review and I will consider it. :) No promises about what will happen in it or when it will be posted, though.
I'm not sure how much writing I'll be doing in the future, with my summer job hanging over my head and college keeping me busy. I may also be living on my own for the first time with no Internet access. We'll see what happens. I know, I know, famous last words... XD LOL. I am possibly starting to take requests. There is more information about that on my profile.
Thanks for sticking with me while I wrote and posted this, while dealing and being involved with school. As always, don't forget to review. I love feedback. You guys are great, especially my beta and Renthead partner-in-crime, katetastic. You rock, chica. Thanks for everything you've done to help me along the way, story or otherwise. This story is for you!! Thanks also to chocolateluvr and Misto4Ever, and new reviewers, MissObsessive, NYYbabe11, heytheremeranda, lotrelves, and Psycho-Bunny1309 for also reviewing. You guys are awesome!!
One last thing, I've got a new poll up. I don't put polls up very often, so if you haven't already voted, please go vote!! Thank you kindly!!