Nights to Cry
That night, Carter had just finished his shift and was returning home. His current home was in the basement of a house, but the landlord had rented it to him on good terms, so he didn't feel too inconvenienced after leaving his parents' house, which was a mansion, and the university dormitory where he had previously lived.
When he arrived home he inserted the key he had borrowed from his landlord into the door and unlocked it, but the moment he opened the door he heard a faint sobbing voice from the back of the room.
Carter walked softly toward the voice and found the landlord sitting on the couch with a whiskey rock in one hand and a small shake on her shoulder, crying.
Carter couldn't help but call out to her. The landlord, Kerry Weaver, jumped up with a huff at the voice and wiped her face roughly with her hands, and tried to act as if it didn't happen.
"Oh, hi, Carter."
"Are you okay?"
Carter had tried to ignore the fact that Kerry was acting differently, but he couldn't help but ask her. Sure enough, Kerry replied in a croaky voice, "Yes, I'm fine."
It's not a good idea to try to force such a person to ask something, as he've learned in psychiatric rotations before. Carter just said, "Okay," and took off his coat and headed to his room once.
A few minutes later, he changed into his loungewear and stood in the kitchen. He opened the fridge, found the nibbles that Kerry had made. He took out this and transferred it from the Tupperware to a small plate, and took a glass of whiskey identical to hers from the shelf and filled it with ice. Then he went to her, who was still slumped on the couch.
"I gotta go..." she said, but he hoped to empty his glass with her.
"Oh, by the way, you've been chief for the day. Thank you for your hard work," said Kerry, sounding wetter than ever.
"Thank you," replied Carter as he sipped his glass.
"This is delicious," said Carter as he ate the nibbles of a small plate.
"You like that? You want me to make some more?" Kerry said. Her tone was a little more cheerful.
"Yes, of course, if it's all right with you." Carter replied with a laugh.
Kerry drained her glass hard and sighed heavily.
"She wasn't my mother."
Carter almost reflexively was about to say, "What?". But he instantly decided that wasn't a good idea either.
He responded in a guttural, calm tone.
Kerry seemed to have made up her mind after watching him and then began to speak eloquently.
"This morning, my detective informed me that Ms. Brennan, whom I took in and you briefly examined, was my mother. So I went directly to the nursing home she was in, and she had pulmonary edema from congestive heart failure. She refused to extend her life, but I thought she was my mother, and I just wanted to help her, and I couldn't resist. I was really hard on Carol and you... Sorry. But I did the blood test to get her into the ICU, and she's O-positive. I'm AB, so there's no parent-child relationship between us..."
Kerry's tears came again as she spoke this far. If she had been Carter's girlfriend, he would have hugged her on the shoulder, but he took a whiskey from the kitchen instead, then took it out and poured it into her glass.
Kerry whispered, "Thank you," and sipped her glass.
"... She kept muttering 'Claire' and her daughter's name. According to my detective, she died in her twenties, but when I heard that ... all I could do was take her hand and call her 'mom' ... "
Kerry cried, her shoulders shaking loudly as she held her glass. This was the first time Carter had ever seen her cry where she usually never showed weakness to anyone in the ER. It was a sight to behold.
Kerry stayed like that for a while, but then she remembered that the person she had spoken to was the resident's housemate, so she wiped the tears from her hands again, repeatedly, and looked up and emptied her glass.
"Sorry. how boring I am."
Carter replied hurriedly, but Kerry stood up, glass in hand.
"Dr. Weaver," he said to her back. "Thank you for telling me."
Kerry slowly turned around and said with a smile on her face, even if it was just her mouth.
"Thank you for listening. But don't tell anyone about this."
"Of course, "said Carter, chuckling lightly. "If I tell everyone, you'll force me to finish my residency and fire me, right?"
Kerry gave a hearty smile.
"Right. You know exactly what I mean!"
They laughed together and Carter got up to follow her.
They stood together in the kitchen, washing the glasses and plates they'd drunk out of, and cooking the next day's meals together. Carter wasn't able to help enough to Kerry, but she was enough to be with him.
Late at night, Kerry was huddled alone in her bed, her face buried in the pillow, crying out loud. She was reprimanded by Elizabeth about Mark at the hospital during the day, and at night she was miserable at a dinner with Kim's friends. Those thoughts brought her to tears.
Just then, the phone on her bedside table rang. She didn't want to answer it, but she sluggishly got up in case it was a call from the hospital. She picked up the receiver.
"Kerry, that's good. You're still awake."
The caller was Kerry's lover, whom had just met at dinner.
"Kim..." Kerry spoke as if in her sleep, but she also thought it was a meaningless ploy to Kim.
"Are you okay?" asked Kim.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Kerry replied in a pinched, cheerful voice, but she found herself disgusted by the fool of her voice.
"Kerry," Kim called out to her in a whispered voice, "I miss you. "
Tears flowed from Kerry's eyes again at the sound of her voice. The more she tried to suppress her voice, the more sobs escaped her mouth on their own.
"I... what was I supposed to do? I'm sorry to be rude in front of your friends, but... but I can't be like you! I love you. It's the truth... but I can't be the one who love you, not love women, can I? I know... I know you think it's not enough, and I understand that. So I'm miserable that I can't be..."
The last part of her words didn't sit well with Kim, and Kerry knew it wasn't getting through.
Still, Kerry couldn't hold back the feelings any longer, once they were out.
"About in the daytime, It's true that my way can be forceful and sometimes sneaky, and also be wrong. I know that better than anyone else. But if you put worrying about Mark's condition in the same category as keeping the patients safe, you'd know exactly what you'd do. Elizabeth just jcan't be objective because she's so close to Mark. But now they both blaming me. I'm the one who cares about them the most! It's always been that way... but as a manager, I try to see everything equity, and I make someone else cry, feel bad, and someone else will hate me forever... The executives are always happy to see me. But I want make everyone in the ER to be happy, and yet... This is not in my job!"
Kerry cried aloud when she talked that.
Kim let her stay there for a while. She knew that there was no more rude way than to make her stop crying indiscriminately, dealing with someone's feelings.
Around the time her voice turned into a sob, Kim kept her whispered voice to Kerry.
"I wanna see you right now. I wanna hold you in my arms until you fall asleep..."
Kerry broke down crying again.
"I wanna see you too... Kim."
"Hang on. I'll be right there."
The call from Kim abruptly hung up.
Kerry sat there for a while with the receiver in her hand, but after a moment, she slowly stood up and put the receiver back in place and went to the sink to wash her tear-stained face.
About an hour later, the doorbell rang, and Kerry put on a thick gown over her nightwear and went to the front door. She opened it and found her lover standing in the snow, smiling.
Kerry invited Kim in, and as soon as she locked the door, she hung on to Kim and cried.
"I'm home," a voice said, and Sandy headed for the front door and found Kerry standing there, dressed in mourning.
"Hi, honey," Sandy said. "How did it go?"
"Yeah. Good ceremony."
Kerry said as Sandy helped her to take off her coat.
"I'm glad it's sunny today. It's hard to have a funeral in the rain,"
While Kerry went to the bedroom to change clothes, Sandy stood in the kitchen and began to boil water in the kettle.
"Yeah. Thank you, honey."
Kerry's voice came from the bedroom.
"After the ceremony, some of us went straight back to the hospital. Some of the staff were on shift on time of the ceremony, so they had to go check in on them to see how they were doing. Some of us went straight to work."
Kerry said as he changed into her loungewear and sipped on Sandy's brewed coffee.
Sandy was listening to her, too, mug in hand.
"Patients don't wait for us."
Kerry smiled wanly, but Sandy didn't miss the flicker of sadness in her smile.
"I'll be the same way tomorrow."
"Can't you just take a break?"
Sandy watched up close as Kerry was in the depths of grief like never before when she received the news of Mark's death.
"I can't rest. That place will be topsy-turvy in a heartbeat without me."
Kerry was deliberately trying to sound joking and cheerful, but to Sandy it seemed to add to the sadness.
"Dr. Lewis or Dr. Kovac?"
"They're off tomorrow, so it's extraordinarily important that I be there."
Kerry got up from the couch with her empty mug in her hand and muttered, "Thank you for caring me, Sandy." and headed for the kitchen.
At night, Sandy was awakened by a faint noise coming from her next.
It was a small noise that may or may not have been audible, but when she listened closely, she realized it was Kerry crying.
Sandy couldn't help but go to hug Kerry's shoulder, but she decided to watch her for a while, as she knew it would startle Kerry.
Kerry's crying started out as a sniffle, but gradually became a sobbing sound, and after a while she started to cry aloud.
It was a word that came from her crying voice, broken off.
"I'm sorry, Mark... I'm sorry...!"
"Oh," Sandy almost was about to say that.
She had known about Kerry's feelings for Mark, when Kerry had mentioned him on the train, but she understood that it was actually more than Sandy had imagined.
Most of the staff had initially disliked Kerry when she first arrived at the ER of County, but Mark appreciated her ability. She'd always thought she'd earned her position so far on her own power, but in reality, it was more supported by Mark than she'd ever imagined. She was aware of this, but she didn't say thank to him.
Her selfishness to him, her days of confrontation with him, the way she had looked down on him who just wanted to work and go home, everything had made Kerry the person she was now. She noticed it.
"Why are you gone... why now... there were so many things I wanted to say to you... I'm sorry... So sorry, Mark... I miss you... I'm not in a position to... ask you to forgive me... but please... please... !"
Sandy gently touched Kerry's shoulder and whispered.
"I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."
Kerry was in tears and chanted the rest of the message without stagnation.
"Yes," said the Spirit, "let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them."
Kerry turned back to Sandy.
"Revelation 14:13, right?"
"I used to go to church every week when I was a kid."
"I grew up in the church."
They let out a smile from either side and hugged each other.
"I'm glad you're here."
Kerry buried her face in Sandy's shoulder and closed her eyes.
"They say that people who have died are still around for a while. So Dr. Greene will be with you guys even tomorrow."
"What?" Kerry laughed. Sandy wiped her fingers across Kerry's tear-stained cheeks and said in a warm voice.
"I wanted to see this face."
"Kerry, is that all the stuff in this room?"
Courtney's voice came from the living room.
"Yeah, yeah. Thank you, honey."
Kerry called out from her room. A large number of cardboard boxes filled the room.
"Oh, I see you're not done yet."
Courtney was about to step into Kerry's room and was a little surprised at the unexpected state of affairs.
"Not very well, but it's not going to be done before tomorrow. There's so much here. No matter how many boxes there are, it won't be enough."
"You should get rid of it here. You don't have any classified information, right?"
Courtney said with a light laugh.
"No," Kerry replied with a laugh. "It's all material that might be used. All of my efforts will have been for nothing if I throw it away."
"The cost of transportation is too expensive, OK?"
"No problem. I'll take care of it."
Kerry rummaged through a pile of papers and books and headed for Courtney.
"It's about time for him to be picked up, isn't it?"
"Yes," said Courtney.
"I'll have to give Henry a very strict warning not to enter this room."
Kerry put her coat on and kissed Courtney lightly as she walked out the door.
In the night, when Henry went to bed, Kerry and Courtney started to continue packing, making enough noise not to be noisy.
After Kerry retired from the ER of County, she'll move to Miami with her son, Henry. But her lover, Courtney, had decided to stay in Chicago. It was a result of Courtney's acceptance of Kerry's willingness not to sacrifice Courtney's job.
Kerry's hands stopped again and again as she sorted through her belongings, as she naturally realized that close to leave Courtney.
When she was tying up a stack of papers with a string, she suddenly looked at one of the albums. She thought that had put them away first, but she also fell into the trap of "Reading a book that caught her attention for hours", which is a common practice in cleaning up.
She felt her eyes burning with each page she turned.
All of the pictures had been taken in the ER.
Current colleagues as well as those already retired or passed away were living in a place where time stopped, called photo.
All of them were very cheerful even though they were in that extremely harsh environment. It was an emergency room where life and death were always side by side and a split-second decision could make the difference between them, but they developed a bond that was as strong as any department in the hospital. It was a bond that sometimes tried to get rid of Kerry, but she had realized it was exactly what her role was. As an alien, her colleagues had hated her, but this made them united more and more, and she was able to get her high management skills duly appreciated by the executives.
"I wasn't wrong," Kerry thought.
"Kerry," she heard a voice behind her, and she hurriedly wiped her face and turned to see Courtney standing with her arms folded, leaning against the door of her room, which had been left open.
"What's going on your cleanup?"
She sounded as if she were talking to a child who had skipped out on cleaning her room.
"Oh gosh, it's not..."
Kerry said and tried to get up, but Courtney didn't miss the slight redness in her eyes.
''They'll all be fine.''
"What...?" said Kerry, turning back to her, but Courtney didn't move from her spot and was looking at Kerry with a smile on her face.
"You're raised them. So they'll be fine."
Hearing those words, Kerry's eyes widened and soon large tears began to flow from her jewelry eyes.
''... Do you really think so?''
Kerry crouched down on the spot. She hugged the album that had been open earlier to her chest and buried her face in it and cried.
Courtney paced carefully to avoid stepping on the mess, and when she reached Kerry, she gently rubbed her back.
"It's not a farewell to this life. Come back anytime to encourage your friends. There are young people who want to be doctors just like you," she said, "and they will continue to learn, fail, and grow up in the ER where you continued to support them."
With grunting and sobbing, Kerry held on Courtney. She could feel deep down that she had been right.
After the time of tears, Kerry slowly looked up and smiled with tear-stained eyes.
"Can you help me?"
Courtney replied with a big smile as well.
"Of course. That's what I'm here for."
The date changed yet, two ladies hadn't finished cleaning up Kerry's room, but they were enjoying themselves.
The background music was filled with Kerry's memories of the ER and laughter.