By the time Nikolas lost his memories in April 2004, I was completely over the Nikolas/Emily storyline, although I had liked them initially. Emily, as a character, was a complete loss for me. I didn’t enjoy the actress and I hated the way they trashed Zander as a character in order to build them up.
So when Nikolas first started sharing scenes with Mary Bishop, I kind of liked it. I liked the actress, as well. But the writers never gave them a chance, and it annoyed me. So I thought about going back to do something with it, but I never really picked up steam with it. It was going to be a series of stories, but I’ve decided to combine them into one.
In 2004, Nikolas was presumed dead, but had lost his memory, and there was this ridiculous storyline in which Mary Bishop pretended he was her dead husband, Connor. I really liked the actress and thought she had good chemistry with Nikolas, but the show made her insane and she ended up killing Sage Alcazar, another character the show drove to uselessness. So, this picks up.
Childhood sweethearts. Destined for each other. Soul mates. Mary Bishop had heard it over and over growing up in Ithaca, New York. She and Connor were meant to be together. Since he’d pulled her hair and she’d pushed him into the sandbox when they were five years old.
Picture perfect. Junior Proms, Homecoming Dances, Senior Prom, Graduation, College. Every step of their lives, they were together.
He’d proposed when they were eighteen but decided to wait until they were out of college to get married. He’d gone into the service during college and after their wedding last spring, he’d been transported to Iraq.
And he’d been shipped home that summer.
She’d left Ithaca to get away from those faces. Those well–meaning family members and friends with their expressions full of sympathy and sorrow. At first, she’d welcomed it. Welcomed the chance to wallow in her misery.
But as the months passed and her tears did not subside and her depression became more and more pronounced, she heard them whisper about doctors and how “poor dear Mary wasn’t coping well with her loss.”
Her loss. She was twenty–three years old and eighteen years of history with Connor had been reduced to her loss.
Those looks of sympathy and sorrow gradually faded into pity and disappointment. She was such a pretty girl, her aunt had said. She shouldn’t be dwelling on her loss.
She’d moved to a small town where no one knew her. Where she hadn’t been Mrs. Mary Bishop. Here, in Port Charles, she was Mary Bishop, the new kindergarten teacher at the elementary school.
She’d been living her new life a week when he appeared at her door. At first, in the dark with the shadows on his face, she’d wanted to believe that it was Connor returning to her.
But he was a stranger. And she was so lonely…
She could almost make herself believe the fantasy world she’d weaved. He was her husband, her Connor returned home. She could tell him all about their love and how it had once been.
She could destroy the photos of Connor…
She held the double frame in her hands. One side, Connor. So handsome and poised in his uniform and to the right, herself, smiling. Happy. About to embark on the greatest adventure in her life.
She couldn’t do it. This man—-this beautiful man lying unconscious in her bedroom—-he could never be her Connor.
Someone knocked on her door as she stared at the photo. She set it aside and stood to open it. “Hello?”
“Ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you but I’m Officer Lucky Spencer and I’m looking for my brother, Nikolas Cassadine. He was in a car accident and wandered away from the scene.” The dark–haired man thrust a photo of a smiling version of the injured man in the other room. “Have you seen him tonight?”
Mary nodded slowly. “Yes. He collapsed outside my door. I brought him inside but I didn’t have a phone. He doesn’t appear to remember anything.” She stepped back and took a deep breath. “He’s in my bedroom.”
Lucky Spencer nodded. “Thank you,” he said in a hurry as he unclipped his radio from his belt to notify the search teams.
Mary stepped back and her eyes caught the pile of frames she’d been about to burn. She was lonely—-so lonely she’d almost burned her life with Connor and lied to a strange and helpless man.
Tears burned her eyes and she closed them. “Connor,” she whispered, softly. “How could you leave me…”
Mary Bishop entered Kelly’s Diner and managed a smile as she watched a young mother herd her children out the door. Today was the day she began her new life.
It’d been a week since she’d hit rock bottom and nearly burned Connor’s pictures but she’d pulled herself back from that edge. She was stronger than she’d given herself credit for. Nikolas Cassadine had returned to his home, his family–his fiance–and Mary praised the heavens he hadn’t remembered her silly ranting about being his wife.
She stopped at the counter and waited for the middle–aged man to stop berating a younger blonde man standing next to her. She just wanted some coffee to start her day and she’d never been very good at making it herself.
“Mike–I really don’t have the time to listen to this again.” The man next to her sounded slightly irate and Mary slid a few inches to her left.
“Well, you’d better make the time,” the man named Mike shot back. “That’s my little girl and you took vows–”
“She took the same vows I did–why aren’t you having this conversation with her?”
Mary stared at the counter, wondering how long this family argument would go on and if it would make her late for work.
“Mike, I’m sure Bobbie would appreciate if you spent a little more time with the customers and not yelling at your son-in-law,” a new voice said. Mary focused on the counter again to find a pregnant brunette smiling at her. “Hey, what can I get you?”
Mike finally seemed to notice her and cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, Miss. Did you need something?”
“Elizabeth? I thought you quit,” Mike’s son-in-law remarked.
The girl named Elizabeth shrugged. “Gotta pay the bills somehow. I don’t know when the alimony will start.”
“Jesus, do marriage vows mean anything to anyone anymore?” Mike threw up his hands. “I can’t remember the last marriagein this town that worked.”
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. “Can I get you something to eat, to drink?”
“Coffee–black. To go,” Mary finally said. She slid her hands in the pockets of her dark gray overcoat and focused on the girl Elizabeth.
Elizabeth poured the coffee into a Styrofoam cup and placed a lid on it. “One dollar and fifty cents.”
Mary slid two dollars across the counter. “Keep the change.” She took the coffee and exited the diner, eager to be away from what looked like a strange family argument. She’d lived in a small town before–but everyone had kept to themselves. No one aired their private business outside their own homes.
It seemed to be quite the opposite here.
She crossed the docks and sipped her coffee. In just an hour, she’d be starting her first class on the first day of her new life and she was terrified. She’d been lucky to find a position at all and now she wondered if she’d be any good at it.
“You’re Mary Bishop, aren’t you?” a voice called out from behind her.
She turned and saw a police officer at the top of the stairs. She’d never been fond of a man in uniform. After all, it was a man in a Marine Corps uniform who’d knocked on her door one night and shattered her entire world.
“Yes,” she answered cautiously. “Why?”
The man walked down the stairs and as he came closer, she realized he was Officer Lucky Spencer, the brother of Nikolas Cassadine. “I remember you–you’re that man’s brother.”
Lucky nodded. “Nikolas still hasn’t regained all his memory but he’s recuperating back home.” He gestured towards the house in the distance, surrounded by mists and fog. “Spoon Island.”
Mary nodded. “I’m glad to hear he’s all right.”
“Well–I just wanted to thank you again,” Lucky remarked. “I–I ran your name and found out you’re a veteran’s widow. I was sorry to hear that.”
“Connor died last summer,” she said softly. “He was in the Marines and one of the few soldiers who was a casualty of the actual war.”
“How long were you married?” Lucky asked curiously.
“Just a few months. We were married in May and he shipped out shortly after that. He was sent home in August.” Her throat felt thick and she despised this man for bringing this all back to her.
But she was starting a new life and in order to avoid the pity and sympathy she’d barely survived back home–she had to pretend that this was in the past and she was over it now.
“Man…” Lucky shook his head. “I’m really sorry.” He hesitated. “Am I keeping you from something?”
“I have work, so yes,” Mary admitted. “It’s my first day Port Charles Elementary School, I’m a kindergarten teacher.”
“Oh–well, the good luck on your first day and welcome to Port Charles.” Lucky held out his hand. She shook it and took a step back.
“Thank you.” Mary nodded and then turned–hurrying to get away from the sympathy in the officer’s eyes.
Her first day went as well as could be expected. The children were sweet enough but she wondered if that would wear off with the first day over.
Her fellow teachers were nice enough but like in the diner, everyone seemed to know everyone’s business. Someone had told someone else about Connor and by lunch time, she could see the pity in their eyes.
It was almost as if Mary could hear them saying, “There goes the war widow. What a shame.”
But she didn’t want to return to that house just yet. Didn’t want to face those rooms with the pictures of Connor everywhere. Mementos of a life she wanted to forget but couldn’t bring herself to begin the process.
The diner was almost deserted–the after school crowd was gone and dinner rush hadn’t begun. If Mary was lucky–she could be in and out before another sympathetic soul set in on her.
The pregnant brunette was still working behind the counter but there was no sign of the irritating Mike or his stand–offish son–in–law. She hesitantly approached the counter and reached for the menu.
“Hey, welcome back,” the brunette greeted. “Glad to see our coffee didn’t scare you off.”
Mary smiled weakly before hiding her face behind the menu. After a moment, she heard the girl’s voice again. “Now I know why you look familiar.”
Mary frowned and lowered her menu. “I do?”
The girl nodded. “Yeah–Emily Quartermaine is my best friend and Nikolas is like a brother to me.” She extended her hand. “Elizabeth Lans–” she stopped. “Elizabeth Webber.”
“Mary Bishop.” Mary hesitated. “Can I ask why you changed your last name?”
“Divorce,” Elizabeth waved her hand in dismissal. “I’d rather eat dirt than carry his last name. But I’m sure you heard Mike bemoan the lack of morals this morning.”
“I did,” Mary admitted. “But I didn’t want to eavesdrop. How long since the divorce?”
“Two weeks since it was finalized and a month since I left him,” Elizabeth replied. She hesitated. “I–I know you must be sick of hearing this but…Lucky told me about your husband.”
The warmth fled from Mary’s eyes and she drew her shoulders back. “Yes–it seems everyone knows about Connor.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “I’m sorry–look, I’ve been where you are and everyone always has something supportive to say and it feels like they’re always saying how sorry they are when you all you want is to be alone.”
“So why bring it up at all?” Mary asked coldly. “If you’ve been where I am–” she stopped. “I’m sorry.”
“No–I am. You don’t even know me–everyone knows everything in Port Charles so I’m used to people remembering when we thought Lucky was dead,” Elizabeth told her. “See–we were high school sweethearts and he was believed dead in a fire. It devastated me.”
“How long–how long did you think he was dead?” Mary asked curiously, having never heard of someone coming back from the dead.
“About a year. The first six months–they were dreadful. I started pretending that I was okay because–if Lucky’s girlfriend, the love of his life–if she was okay, then it was okay for his family and friends to be okay, you know?” Elizabeth sipped her water. “But I wasn’t and I was bottling everything inside me–and I got so sick of hearing Lucky would have wanted me to do this, or he would have wanted me to do that…and I just thought–what the hell do I care what he would have wanted? He’s dead, I’m all alone and nothing is going to make me feel better.”
Mary nodded. “You really have been where I am,” she said a little surprised. “I moved from my hometown because I got tired of hearing about how I shouldn’t wallow. About how Connor wouldn’t have wanted me to give up. They said that I wasn’t dealing with my loss well.” She rolled her eyes. “My loss. Connor and I had been friends since we were five, dating practically all our lives and…suddenly, just because he’s gone, I’m supposed to be magically okay?”
“And you came to Port Charles where every look is one of pity or every word is how sorry someone is.” Elizabeth nodded and smiled. “I know that phase. It’s the anger phase of grief. You just want to lash out at the world and when that doesn’t work, you think…why don’t I just…try to find something that hurts worse?”
“Right before I decided to leave Ithaca, I…” Mary hesitated, realizing she was about to tell this woman something she’d never told anyone. She blinked. “I’m sorry–you must have other customers.”
“I’m not really on duty,” Elizabeth informed her. “I live upstairs right now and pitch in when I have to. Why don’t I put your order in and we can grab a table to talk some more?”
“If it’s not a bother…I’ll just have the chicken fingers and fries.” Mary slid off the stool and headed towards the first empty table. A moment later, Elizabeth sat across from her and set an iced tea down. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Elizabeth fiddled with the silver bracelet around her wrist. “You know–my rebellion was actually pretty mild. I dressed up and went to a bar, hoping someone would bother me and I could just unleash my anger.”
“Did someone?” Mary asked curiously.
“Yeah–but Jason…he’s the guy Mike was yelling at this morning–that used to be his kind of hangout and he took care of the guy before it got too serious. I was furious with him though–because I really wanted that outlet.” Elizabeth shrugged. “But he sat me down and he let me ramble for like an hour about how much I missed Lucky, and how nothing would ever be okay again–and he just listened and I realized that I needed that a lot more than I needed a fight.”
Mary nodded. “You were lucky to have a friend like him. Where I grew up–everyone always assumed they knew better and less than three months after the funeral, women from the church were setting me up with their grandsons.” She stared at her hands. “Right before I left Ithaca, I attempted suicide.”
Elizabeth didn’t blink, didn’t gasp–didn’t do anything that Mary had expected so she continued. “I took a whole bottle of anti–depressants and went to sleep but my mother stopped by unexpectedly. I got my stomach pumped and everyone decided that I had just forgotten I had already taken some.”
“They didn’t realize what it was?” Elizabeth asked curiously.
Mary shook her head. “They ignored it, pretended it was something else. But I knew I couldn’t be there anymore. So I started applying at schools–I’m a teacher–and here I am.”
“I thought about it after Lucky died. I thought about it a lot but I never hit rock bottom.” Elizabeth reached out and squeezed Mary’s hand. “I was lucky that I had someone like Jason and no one understands more than I do that sometimes you just want someone to listen.”
Mary nodded and drew in a shaky breath. “When we were five, he pulled my hair so I pushed him out of the sandbox.” She tried to laugh but it came out a strangled sob. “Everyone said we were soul mates…”
Elizabeth squeezed her hand again and nodded for her to go on and for the first time, Mary remembered the joy of having been with Connor rather than the pain.