The woman was crying as the doctor approached, intern on one side, the child, clasping his hand, on the other.
After All's Said and DoneM. Stanley Bubien
The doctor whispered to the intern, "Sure she hasn't seen?"
"I doubt it."
Touching the woman's shoulder, he said, "Mrs. Epstein?"
She met his gaze, eyes red and bulging.
"I have your daughter here, Mrs. Epstein." He guided the girl forward so the woman could see.
The woman looked as if she didn't understand, but, in one sudden motion, fell to her knees and threw her arms about the child. "Maria!" she exclaimed, pulling the girl in tight, "Maria. Maria."
The doctor and intern exchanged glances. But, as quickly as she'd embraced her, the woman pushed the child to arms-length, frowning, "No. Maria? No. I saw you. On the cart. Where's the blood?" she brushed the child's hair back, "and your legs," she touched the child's hips, "they were crushed under the car."
The doctor cleared his throat, but the child answered, "The doctor fixed me, Mommy. I was hurt bad, but he fixed me."
The woman cocked her head, squinted, but her features relaxed and she pulled the child into another embrace, "Oh, Maria!"
Later, the doctor returned to the ward, intern remaining at his side. Lifting a chart from the child's lifeless form---identical to the one whose hand he'd so recently held---he began checking boxes.
The intern nodded at the body, "You know, I've always wondered what they do with the host after all's said and done."
The doctor raised an eyebrow.
Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.
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