Categories > Theatre > Rent3 Reviews
Inspired by the Anthony Rapp song "Visits to You." Mark counts the days his best friend has left to live.
Living with this,
Holding your hand,
Knowing I'll have to let go soon.
Living right now
And right now and right now,
Knowing I'll soon be without you.
Is this another time
Or is this the last time?
How much more time?
When will time take away my visits to you?
How many times had he walked this hallway, footsteps echoing softly on the smooth white floors, assailed by bleached sterility and the harsh smell of antiseptic? More importantly, how many more times would he walk it? The remainder of a best friend's short lifetime, measured in these daily visits. How many could be left?
Mark sighed and tightened his grip ever so slightly on the smooth plastic contours of his camera. He hardly knew why he carried it anymore. Why here, now? What reason could he have to capture memories of Roger the way he was now, a specter of his former self? Except that the filmmaker knew he would want it. Every scrap of film, every last bit of footage, however painful... Every word, every weary smile. He needed that.
The camera panned over a woman in pale green scrubs, a nurse, and through the lens Mark saw her flash him a brief, familiar smile. She recognized him. Half the hospital staff must recognize him by now. Pan to the left once more. Zoom in on that too-familiar doorway. Room 305, Building C, Brookdale Hospital. An unlikely place to contain the center of the young artist's world.
With his free hand, Mark pushed open the door and automatically turned the camera towards the single bed in the room-just in time to catch that smile. Mark lowered his camera, set it down on a table, still running and pointed at the bed, then swallowed against the ache in the back of his throat, the beginnings of a sob, before returning the smile. He couldn't handle this much longer. Mark never had been able to play the role of tough guy; that was Roger's job, even now, pretending he wasn't dying despite the hollows under his cheeks, the dark rings beneath his eyes and the gauntness of his face, this weakness that hadn't been there before. It did spoil the image of the immortal young rock star just a bit.
"Hey," Roger said simply by way of greeting, pushing himself into more of a sitting position on the bed. "Didn't think you'd be by today."
Mark blinked. He didn't... what? The slender young man hurried to the side of the bed and pulled up a chair. "Of course I'd come. Why wouldn't I?"
The musician nodded to the window, indicating the gray skies outside. "It's raining. Not much interesting to film today." Except for you, Mark replied silently. He would have said it out loud, but before he could, Roger commented, "You're dripping."
Oh. So he was. Somehow Mark hadn't noticed that. Belatedly, he unwound his scarf from around his neck and draped it over the back of his chair to dry, considered his damp sweater-rather uncomfortable, now that his attention had been drawn to it-and after a moment removed that as well. The chill of the hospital raised goosebumps on the bare skin of his arms. How could Roger stand this? The cold, the sterility, the harsh austerity of it all... Mark shook his head to dispel such thoughts and turned his attention back to his friend, watching him through rain-speckled glasses. "Are you feeling alright?"
Roger let out a vaguely disgusted sigh at the question. "The same as yesterday. And the day before. I think you can stop asking me."
"Right," Mark murmured softly, briefly casting his eyes downwards. Roger probably got that enough from the doctors as it was. "Well..." You'd think he would have gotten used to this by now, that this awkwardness would have faded, but no. What could he /say/?
Apparently, Roger took pity on him, and asked after a moment, "So, what have you been doing lately? It has to be more interesting than this." /This/, meaning what Roger had been doing... dying here in this hospital. His smile, a sad and faded echo of what it once was, made something contract in Mark's chest. That was Roger's way of dealing with this. Laugh it off. Pretend it was no big deal that he was lying in a hospital bed, slowly slipping away, day by day, a progression evidenced by all those bits of footage Mark had gathered... Impulsively, he reached out and grasped Roger's hand, twining his fingers through his. So much frailer than before...
What had Mark been doing lately? Sitting in that achingly empty loft, sifting through old photographs and videos. Watching over and over those clips of Roger, the old Roger, strong and /alive/, as he picked out the chords of "Musetta's Waltz" on a poorly tuned guitar. "Nothing," he lied, and tightened his grip around Roger's hand, though careful not to hurt him. He wouldn't have had to worry about hurting him, before-Roger had always been the stronger of the two-but now...
Suddenly unable to speak past the lump in his throat, Mark bent his head over Roger's hand, lightly pressing his lips against the back of it. He was losing him. He knew that. Roger knew that. Months, weeks, days... that was what they had left. Certainly no more than that. How many more breaths left? How many heartbeats remained? Mark's shoulders convulsed in a choked-off sob that sounded no more than a whisper.
A hand touched his shoulder lightly. Roger disentangled the other hand from Mark's grasp and brushed his fingertips over the filmmaker's cheek. "It's alright," he whispered, as if to a child, his voice gentler than Mark had ever heard it, but still the same Roger. Still the voice of his best friend, his rock star. "It'll be alright, I promise." His fingers cupped Mark's chin, and he forced the other man to look at him. "Listen to me. Go home. Get some sleep. Stop worrying about me. Okay?"
Mark couldn't help but smile, albeit somewhat bitterly. Stop worrying? Impossible. He'd been worrying for too long to stop it now. He shook his head and leaned forward, carefully wrapping his arms around Roger's far too frail shoulders and kissing his forehead. "I don't need to go home, and I don't need to sleep. I'm not leaving you."
Not when Roger would be leaving him all too soon anyway.