The next morning, Mary felt so stiff that she could barely get out of bed. Everything hurt and a massive bruise took up residence on her side. She refused movement as long as she could until her bladder overrode the soreness.
Mom took the day off to take care of her. She was also on the phone a lot, talking with cops and insurance companies.
It was a mess. Mary had been issued a citation for using her cellphone and crossing the street when she wasn't supposed to. Apparently, the law applied to both pedestrians and motorists.
Mary stared at the amount for the ticket.
“I'm really sorry, Mom."
"Don't worry about it. Just get better."
But that didn't help Mary feel better. Money was thin between the rent, private school fees, her grandmother's medical bills that insurance didn't cover, Mom’s student loan, and the tiny bit she tried to tuck away for Mary's own college.
A ticket was the last thing they needed.
Mary sighed and let her forehead hit the kitchen table.
"Here, take your meds." Mom opened a bottle of prescription painkillers and put two in front of Mary.
"I hate pills.”
"But you hate pain more.” Mom filled a glass with water and put it on the table next to the pills.
Mary groaned, but she choked down the medicine.
She stood and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" Mom asked.
"The roof. I left my telescope case up there. I need to get it.”
"No you don't. You need to rest."
"But my scope is just on the floor right now. I need the case to protect it."
Mom got up. "Then I’ll get it. Butt back in bed or on that couch, young lady."
As Mom left, Mary sat on the couch and turned on the TV.
The only thing worth watching was a movie where a teenage boy died in a prank gone wrong. A bunch of kids tried to cover it up, but the dead kid's vengeful ghost came back to haunt and kill each of them.
The pills must've kicked in some time after the second kid was killed, because the next thing Mary knew, she was waking up to video game explosions creeping down from the ceiling. Mom must've turned off the TV when Mary fell asleep, and she had left a note on the coffee table saying she was going to pay the electric bill and pick up some groceries.
Mary turned the TV back on, but it wasn't enough to drown out the explosions and zombies screaming from above. She finally shut everything off and hiked up to the roof.
The telescope case was gone, but the plastic lounge chair was still in the same place Mary had left it the day before. She sat down and reclined, watching the sky turn deeper shades of blue and purple. The first stars started to come out.
When she was younger, Mary used to think that each star was an angel assigned to watch over a human on Earth. But when Mom started working at the hospital and dealing with all the suffering there, she wondered why the angels weren't doing their jobs. Then she learned that stars were massive balls of gas far away.
All the magic was gone by then.
Her mind turned to Carter. He was moved to the intensive care unit not long after the ER staff had successfully revived him. If Mary hadn't seen him crying, he probably would've been stuck in the morgue and died for sure.
Before Mary and Mom left the hospital, Mr. Romero came to talk with them once more.
"Thank you," he had told Mary.
For what? Carter had been on that emergency table in the first place because of her.
Pain grew up her leg and side. But Mary didn't want to choke down more meds, so she sucked it up and turned on her good side.
In a way, she deserved to be in pain for what happened to Carter.
Why had he saved her, she wondered.
Why had he risked his life doing it?
How many bones had he broken?
Would he be able to walk?
Did he have brain damage?
What if he was a vegetable?
Or what if he never woke up?
Mary felt like crying again.
But again, the tears refused to come.