In the brain, as in Life, a Crisis always involves more than one decision.
“It’s his mother,” the translator says.
At those words, Jane-Now seizes the Mezzanine guardrail.
But the translator has disappeared, leaving Young Jane standing alone in the Transporter Room, facing a woman screaming in an Arabic so guttural, so desolate, Jane-Now’s knees again buckle.
The translator’s disembodied voice persists, in heavily-accented English, trying to make herself heard, shouting out word after word after word.
“Why? Why did you keep talking to him, giving him all that chocolate? Why did you keep teaching him the English he wanted to learn? Why didn’t you ask him who his father was?”
As the Mother collapses to the ground, another Iraqi woman appears, her Arabic violent, enraged.
“You should have known that her husband was one of you Americans’ interpreters,” the disembodied translation continues. “When my brother heard that the others had found out, he ran. We have no idea where he is. Ahmed was her only boy! The others always punish, always! She and my nieces have no one now! How could you expect a boy not to brag about the American woman who gave him chocolate and taught him words that even his father didn’t know?”
As the second woman fades away, so does Young Jane’s protective gear, leaving her wearing only her T-shirt, trousers, and boots.
Leaving two women, one prostrate on the ground, the other standing motionless.
Both defenseless. Both utterly alone.
Jane-Now turns to see her Grandmama, slowly descending the steps from the Mezzanine to the Transporter Room.
“You were good to that boy,” her Grandmama says, reaching the bottom, walking over to the Young Jane. “He kept showing up out of nowhere, kind of like that Wilford boy you used to teach in Vacation Bible School, remember? Ahmed so loved your chocolate He was so excited to learn the words you taught him. He wanted to speak English better than his Daddy.”
Grandmama reaches Young Jane. She looks into the younger woman’s face and, with gentle brushes of hand, begins to wipe her tears.
“Honey, it was good. That boy loved seeing you. You didn’t know, Baby. He said he’d found an old language book. You saw how smart he was! Of course he could have taught himself, of course! He didn’t tell you, Sugar. You didn’t know.”
Pulling her hand back, Grandmama pauses, smiles, and then turns, bends over, and lays her hand on the Mother, who doesn’t move.
“She was just a mama, Baby. I’d have done the same thing for you.”
With her hand still on the Mother, she looks back at the Young Jane. “He did what he did. You did what you did. It’s done, Honey.”
As Grandmama stands, the General appears next to her. He turns to Sergeant First Class (SFC) Chekhov Sr., who has also appeared, and nods.
Once again, wisps of smoke swirl, with specks of light, bits of sound mixed in. Once again, the smoke darts to and fro around the Mother as the Emotions appear, surrounding her, pulling some wisps in, pushing others away. Once again, SFC Chekhov Sr. pulls out a camera and begins filming the entire scene.
Soon, once again, SFC Chekhov Sr. lowers the camera, looks back at the General, and nods.
Once again, the General whispers to the Young Jane, “It is done.”
The General then looks up at Jane-Now, smiles, and gestures toward her left.
Jane-Now looks over to see, next to the dead Boy, his Mother, sad, but no longer shouting, stroking Ahmed’s hair. Next to her stands Major (MAJ) Chekhov.
Next to him is Grandmama.
From behind Jane-Now comes the familiar voice.
“So,” says Kirk, “are we done?”
Jane-Now turns to him and sees all the rest of the Senior Officer crew standing behind him. She looks down to her left, and there in the Transporter Room are the General, Command Sergeant Major (CSM) McCoy, and all the other soldiers, all at parade rest, all looking at her.
And then she gasps.
The General leans forward. “Ma’am?”
“Sergeant Major,” Jane-Now says, latching onto the handrail. “Not all your soldiers are present, are they?”
McCoy steps forward and then pauses. “No, ma’am. That is correct.”
“One is missing, isn’t he?” Jane says.
McCoy nods. “Yes, ma’am.”
Jane then turns to Kirk.
After a few seconds, she whispers, “Then, Colonel, I guess we’re not done yet.”
“As you wish, ma’am,” Kirk says. He steps back.
When he does, Jane-Now looks back down at the Transporter Room and, one more time, snaps her fingers.
No swirling vortex this time, however. Instead, all the soldiers in the Transporter Room, from the General on down, step back.
And there, in front of them, kneels a young woman, sobbing.
A young medic, defenseless, utterly alone.
And walking up behind her comes a young Corporal, who assumes a parade rest, looks down at the one women and then up at the other.