The doctor looked questioningly at Mary. At last, he sighed and gestured for Mary to follow him down the hall.
Mary was used to hospitals. Mom was a nurse, after all. But she had never seen an operating room occupied. Instruments and equipment were still where the doctors and nurses had left them while trying to save Carter's life.
At the center stood the operating table. A still figure lay quietly on it, covered from head to toe with a blood-stained sheet.
The doctor took hold of the top two corners of the sheet.
“Are you sure about this?" he asked.
No, Mary thought. But she nodded nonetheless.
He pulled the sheet down to Carter's neck.
Mary stared at the broken, pale face of a boy she hardly knew.
"I'll give you a few minutes." The doctor left the room.
Mary studied Carter's closed eyes. She still couldn’t escape the sight of that split second when they had opened and looked at her through the car window.
Maybe it had been an involuntary spasm, a last biochemical message from a dying brain.
Or maybe she had just imagined it.
Mary bowed her head, once again wishing she could cry. But all she could offer was a meager, "I'm sorry."
Mary took one last look at Carter. Then, she turned to leave.
She looked again and watched as a single tear slowly fell from the corner of Carter's right eye.
Mary rubbed her eyes, making sure her vision was clear. Then she looked again.
Mary bolted from the room. "He's crying!"
Mom, the Romeros, and the surgeon were waiting in the hallway. They looked at her, understandably, like she was a lunatic.
"Mary, calm down," Mom said.
"But Mom! He's crying! He has tears coming from his eyes."
The doctor wrinkled his brow. "Are you sure?"
Mary ran to him. “You have to check him again. Dead people don’t cry!”
The Romeros looked at the doctor, catching a glimmer of hope in the storm of sorrow.
He sighed and went back in.
A handful of tense seconds passed.
Suddenly, the doctor burst from the door, calling for his team.
“What is it?” Mrs. Romero cried. “Is he alive? Is he??”
But no clear answer came as the surgeon rushed back in with several nurses.
The door closed again.
Mary and the others hardly breathed. They didn't speak.
All they could do was wait.
Finally, after a small eternity had passed, the doctor emerged from the room again, followed by the undeniable sound of the heart monitor beeping.
Carter Maxwell was alive.