10 Years, Actually: Colin & Harriet, Daniel & Sam
by Bobby Finger
This is part of a week-long series celebrating the tenth anniversary of Love Actually.
Colin woke up, turned, and stretched his arm to the other side of the bed. For the third time that week, nothing. He was alone again.
Harriet had moved in the day they returned to London. For the first few months, it was nothing but sex, sex, sex. Which was fine! Both seemed to enjoy it, at least for a while. Then, suddenly, it stopped. There was no kissing. No cuddling. No lazy afternoons together on the couch. They were merely cohabiters. It took a while before Colin allowed himself to recognize her lack of exclusivity, but, then again, exclusivity was never something they agreed to.
“I think it’s over,” he said to Tony over drinks sometime in 2005.
“I think it’s been over,” Tony said. “She needs to move out.”
A few days before, Colin returned from a job to find Harriet’s things (and a few of his) gone. There was a note on the fridge. “I’m engaged! Thanks for everything!” A few x’s and o’s lined the bottom. A lawyer, he thought. Or maybe a doctor. Restaurant owner. Actor? Yeah. Probably an actor. He opened a beer, and then he opened a few more.
He was hungover the next day, and for many days after that. Catering used to be fun. With every newly filled tray came the possibility of eye contact with a girl. Maybe even a conversation. And, if he was lucky, a first date. But Colin had never been lucky — it just took him a decade to figure that out. He decided even Harriet didn’t count as an anomalous stroke of luck. She’d left and made him lonelier than before. He opened another beer and sifted through his mail. Bills, junk, and something bigger. It was an invitation.
Maybe if he’d remained in better contact with Tony, he’d have known about their engagement. But nothing could change that period of drunken isolation, so he decided to show up to the wedding sober, with the biggest remaining gift from the registry. This would be his apology. His return to best friendship. After placing the oversized gift to the side of the already full table, he turned and saw them. Harriet and her husband.
Though he expected this, he never actually planned a response. So he shuffled up to the bar, ordered a glass of water, and turned to them to exchange pleasantries.
“Colin!” she screamed before giving him a bear hug. “You’re here! I knew you’d be here! Oh! You haven’t met Greg! He’s an actor.” After a few brief pleasantries, Colin excused himself, set down his water, and took a seat in the chapel. The ceremony wouldn’t begin for another hour, but he could wait.
He’s still waiting.
Sam saw Joanna once a year throughout his teens. During the week she spent in London each year, the two of them would see a movie and grab a coffee just before Christmas, kiss each other on the cheek, and part ways. Sam dated in school, but never for long.
“I don’t want to see you miss opportunities because you’re holding out for Joanna,” Daniel told him before he left for University.
“I told you,” Sam said. “She’s the love of my life.”
There were more girlfriends in college — Marisa even lasted a whole nine months — but it ended, just as they all did, with Sam confessing that his heart belonged to someone else. And on the day of his graduation (with high honors), she returned. As he crossed the stage with his diploma, he looked into the audience as if guided by a force beyond his control and looked into Joanna’s eyes. She was sitting next to Daniel and Carol, more beautiful than ever.
With his eyes locked with Joanna’s, he kept moving walking toward the stage’s end. And, after a few blind steps, he fell off the edge.
Minutes later he regained consciousness on the floor. Above him were the faces Daniel, Carol, and a few strangers. “You took a nasty fall,” Daniel said with a laugh before lifting him up. The audience applauded lightly, the ceremony continued, and he limped to the hallway. Where was Joanna? Had he imagined her? He touched the raw bump on his forehead and grimaced.
“This is going to look awful tomorrow, isn’t it?” Daniel and Carol contained their laughter and nodded sympathetically. Just then he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“I got you some ice,” a voice behind him said. He turned, and there she was.
•••But back to Daniel and Carol, who married in 2004. They remain in London, where Carol receives regular modeling work. Daniel’s job? That’s still a mystery, though Carol once got a brief glimpse inside his safe. There were at least five passports, stacks of cash, and, she thinks, a gun. “I protect people,” he once told her in an atypically gruff voice. Who knows what that means.
Bobby Finger would also like to know what the characters from While You Were Sleeping are up to.