Roger stared out of the window of the loft, lit cigarette between his fingers, forgotten. She had lasted a week - Mimi. She fought and clung to every minute in the hospital bed, surrounded by the friends who had become her family.
At first she would smile weakly laugh gently and speak quietly. But, soon the smiles vanished as her strength did, her laughs turned to uncontrollable coughing and her voice was consumed by her mouth, sucked dry of moisture by the fever.
Roger had never left her side. He sat in a chair day after day, night after night, tending to her, being there for her, loving her. On the last day Roger wasn't even sure if Mimi was aware of his presence in the room but yet he had sat, holding her hand, stroking her face and tucking her wild hair behind her ear, the way he knew she liked it. He sang to her. He sang everything and anything he could think of because he knew that it made her happy.
He had prepared himself for Mimis' death, he knew that Mimi wasn't coming out of the hospital but when the heart machine started to emit a constant whine instead of its erratic beeps Roger fell to his knees screaming for Mimi to come back. A pair of strong hands on his shoulders pulled him into a strong and protective bear hug as doctors and nurses streamed into the room in a rushed blur. The arms forced Roger out of the room as he fought and screamed to get back to her - to save her. But Bennys' arms held him firm and Mark was by his side, ordering him to let the doctors do what needed to be done.
"Roger! Its them she needs now!"
The seconds stretched to fill eternities but all too soon the commotion in the hospital room died down to nothing except for the ominous sound of latex gloves being snapped off.
A female doctor stepped out of the room wearing that calm yet sorrowful expression. None of the three men heard what she said exactly, but they understood perfectly as they sank to the floor, gripping each other tightly.
That's how Mimi died, in a sterile room full of doctors, her boyfriend locked in the embrace of her ex-lover, Mark at Rogers side supporting him.
It wasn't until this day, the day after the small private funeral, funded mostly by Benny, that Roger found himself staring out of the window, holding a cylinder of ash realising that Mark and Benny had never left the hospital room either. Never wavered, never faulted from Mimis' side. Or from his for that matter. Maureen, Joanne and Collins were there when they could, always lending their support and comfort and though they loved Mimi, they had jobs and commitments that didn't care that Mimi Marquez was dying in a hospital room. But Benny and Mark sat everyday in that sickeningly white room and even though Roger never noticed til now, that knowledge made breathing that little bit easier.
Roger turned his gaze from the window to look at the phone. All of a sudden he wanted to ring Benny and tell him…… well he wasn't sure what. To thank him? Invite him for a drink?
The only thing he was sure of was he couldn't make that phonecall yet, it wasn't the time. He lit another cigarette and looked back out of the window, neither seeing nor smoking.