Leo followed along as the paramedics rushed Tae-Hyun's gurney out of the ambulance and into the hospital. As they were going into the emergency room, a nurse said, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to wait out here."
Leo looked at the nurse, then at Tae-Hyun. He slowly let go of Tae-Hyun's hand and said, "Good luck."
Tae-Hyun smiled at him and she disappeared through the ER doors.
Leo put his hand over his mouth and choked back a sob.
Mary and Ms. Nelson came into the waiting room and Mary asked the nurse what Tae-Hyun's update was. The nurse told her that the patient had just gone into the emergency room.
Ms. Nelson slowly walked over to Leo. He could hear her high heels clacking on the tile floor.
Ms. Nelson stood next to Leo and put her hand gently on his shoulder.
"Are you going to be alright?" She asked softly.
Leo bowed his head and started crying.
Ms. Nelson, the principle of the school, let him put his head on her shoulder and cry.
"You should sit down," She said, "You're working yourself up."
Leo sat down in a chair and put his head in his hands. He cried more and Ms. Nelson put her hand lightly on his back.
"Don't worry about him too much." She said, "I'm sure he'll be alright."
"I just..." Leo said, wiping his eyes with his palm, "I..."
He started crying harder.
Ms. Nelson patted Leo's back and thought of how to comfort him.
The Mess Hall seemed so much quieter the next morning. Two high schools filled a huge, echoey lunchroom and the absence of two people can reduce the noise level by half. Especially at our table.
I stirred my food around on my plate and didn't say anything. So did Chris, Alice, Mouse, and everyone else. Even Kathy, Michelle, and Jenny had their mouths shut.
The atmosphere was so heavy, it was practically crushing me.
"Don't worry, guys." I said.
Everyone at our table looked at me, even a few kids from other tables.
"Tae-Hyun's probably fine." I said, "He's brave... And.... Even if he did..."
I closed my eyes and tears rolled down my cheeks.
I opened them and saw Tina nodding at me.
"Even... If... He did die..." I said, "More people will come into our lives. Not to replace anyone, but to... To be there for you."
I looked at Tina and she was smiling at me.
A smiled a small smile back at her and mouthed, Thank you.
Everyone at the table was looking around at each other. Then, Chris started clapping for me.
All of my other friends did, too, along with some students from other tables.
"To be your friend," I continued, hearing more strength in my own voice, "They could be a new partner, a new family member. New people can always come into your life, as long as you let them."
My friends kept clapping and I pointed to Tina.
"Thank you, Tina Fackler, for being my inspiration." I said, a smile breaking across my face.
She smiled at me and bowed slightly.
I was sure that the only reason people were listening to me was because they were all so petrified about what had happened the day before.
Mrs. Green rushed into the room with some of the counselors.
"What is going on?" She said, more confused than angry.
Tina and I, who were standing on a table, turned around and looked at her.
Mrs. Green smiled slightly and said, "Girls, what is going on?"
The clapping ceased and I swallowed. Were we in trouble?
"Nothing," I said, getting off the table, "We were just making a speech... Thing... About Tae-Hyun."
Mrs. Green and the counselors looked at us curiously.
People started clapping again and I couldn't help smiling. It was so weird to hear my classmates cheering for me.
One of the counselors, Sarah, said something to Mrs. Green and she nodded, smiling.
Mrs. Green clasped her hands together and said in a slow, cheesy tone, "Well, this iiis a camp, so why not have a little song?"
I looked at Tina with a 'What?' face, but Tina, as usual, looked completely unsurprised.
The kids started mumbling to each other.
No one sang. I was sure no one would.
"Ohh... Why you look so sad?" Jenny began softly, hesitantly.
There was a pause.
"Tears are in your eyes," Chris slowly sang with her, "Come on and come to meee nooow..."
Two girls from another school sang, "Don't be ashamed to cryyy. Let me see you through,"
"'Cause I've seen the dark side too..." Tina sang with them.
More and more kids joined in. This may be saying a lot, but I swear this field trip was the weirdest thing that had ever happened at my school.
Most of the kids still weren't singing, but about a fourth of us were.
"I'll stand by you, won't let nobody hurt you. I'll stand by you, take me in into your darkest hour, and I'll never desert you..."