Bernsey, Aflame

She’s the one, Bernsey thought, and nothing was ever the same again.

The second day at the sandwich shop had started out the exact same way as the first, and boredom had already crept in. It was just him and Ingram, the manager. Ingram had showed Bernsey how to make a Number Four as many times already, and Bernsey had already gone away.

It was what Bernsey did to escape; it had been as far back as he could remember. Thirty seconds was all he needed and in those thirty seconds, his mind roamed as far as it could. Up mountainsides and down into the seas and out into the stars. Bernsey’s getaways let his brain breathe.

His first glimpse of her was fleeting: just a figure moving out of the corner of the front window, an hourglass figure in business attire swishing delightfully down the sidewalk; even without seeing her face, he felt a twinge in his heart.

Truth be told, many such sights impressed Bernsey throughout any given day, and she would have slipped his mind completely had Ingram not glanced in the same direction as he and sighed, “Ah, Miss Templeton,” at her receding shadow.

“Is that her name?” Bernsey asked.

“She works down the street,” Ingram said. “Consider her one of the perks of this job.”

“Is she nice?”

“She’s more than nice,” Ingram said. Apparently he couldn’t speak of Miss Templeton without sounding like a lovestruck nine-year-old girl. “She’s… a vision.”

And even this would have slipped Bernsey’s mind, Bernsey’s mind being what it was, had not Miss Templeton suddenly appeared in front of him during the lunch rush, giving him a smile that turned the brightness up on the entire world, and in a single moment, Bernsey’s heart was hers forever.

She was tall, with fair, clear skin and an explosion of curly brown hair which rained down over her shoulders in luscious twin waves. She was slender, and her dark brown eyes sparkled with humor and intelligence, and Bernsey was gone, replaced with a dumbstruck body that could only marvel at the exquisite creature before it.

You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my entire life, Bernsey said, but his mouth turned it into, “Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like a Number Three, please, with no tomato, and a small drink.” Her voice, like bells ringing, like angels singing, like a sweet warm breeze blowing through his soul.

His heart pounded. His fingers weren’t working and nor was his tongue. He tried to say I would follow you to the ends of the earth but instead, his mouth turned it into, “Seven sixty-three, please.”

She held a credit card out to him, Bernsey noting with delight that it was her left hand, and unadorned by rings, and he noted the name as he swiped it through the temperamental machine: Alexis Templeton. Member since 2002. Alexis Templeton. Alexis Templeton.

She was speaking again. Speaking to him again. Him, Bernsey, the unworthy.

“Could I have a copy of my receipt, please?” She smiled and Bernsey wanted to weep. Such beauty, such exquisite radiance, could hardly be tolerated by mere mortals.

Name your price, and I will pay it. Name your sacrifice, and I will make it. I will bring you the universe. I will take you wherever your heart desires. I will love you as though no one else existed. “Here you go.”

“Thank you kindly!” she said, and she was gone in a whiff of ham and Dior.

“And so she goes,” Ingram said, “leaving us once again. Look at you. You college boys’re all the same. You all see her, and blammo, you’re done for.”

“She’s okay,” Bernsey said, performing his best nonchalant shrug.

“’Okay,’ he says,” Ingram snorted. “You’d lop it off if there was a chance she’d sew it back on.”

Bernsey, meanwhile, was aglow from the encounter from the walking jewel named Alexis Templeton, and even as he slid into sleep that night, he whispered her name, feeling the valleys of the consonants and the peaks of the vowels rolling around against his tongue, the name tasting sweet with the vision of her still alive in his mind.

By the morning, Alexis Templeton had vacated his mind completely. Bernsey took a getaway through a red light, yawning and wishing he’d remembered to buy more coffee at the store, when he glanced to his right and caught a glimpse of the woman driving the Jetta next to him.

All he could see was a sliver of a face, a slender arm holding the steering wheel, and a swanlike neck, hair pulled back in a bun, the face largely hidden behind a large pair of oval sunglasses, and Bernsey’s heart did a triple-lutz in his chest and slammed against the pit of his stomach like it was made of lead.

That’s her, he thought. She’s the one.

All in a rush he saw it happen: he’d catch her eye. She’d catch his. She’d sense something. The deep decency within him, the breadth of his empathy, the vast scope of his talent and ambition.

They’d pull off the road, ostensibly to get gas, and they’d strike up a conversation over the exorbitant price of regular unleaded. She’d be impressed by his calm sense of humor, and he’d be struck by her rare combination of delicate beauty and emotional resilience.

They’d find themselves at dinner, laughing the entire way through, discovering each other and becoming addicted to one another with every passing moment. They’d discover each other in a warm rush of sensual frenzy and they’d make plans deep into the night for the future.

It’s all going to happen, he thought, finally it’s all going to happen. I have found my happiness in traffic.

Bernsey couldn’t believe his luck.

And then the light turned green, and the Jetta sped off.

Bernsey never saw her again.

The challenging part about the job wasn’t Ingram; it was Tina.

Tina who stank of sweat and yesterday’s fast food.

Tina whose hair was a greasy tangle framing a blank oval face.

Tina who loomed behind the register like a giant period at the end of everyone’s sentence.

Tina who, today, screwed up Alexis Templeton’s order.

Bernsey, who in three weeks behind the register had progressed from Seven sixty-three, please to Having a good day?, was now planning the next step up the ladder: You look nice today. He was rolling it around in his head, muttering it to himself as quietly as he could when he was sure no one was in earshot. Trying to find that sweet spot between a casual compliment and a promise of greater things.

And suddenly, Tina gave it to him by screwing up Alexis Templteton’s order.

She came to the counter and of course Bernsey was already in motion. His eyes, after all, had hardly left her since she’d come in. Between punching numbers into the register and taking orders and announcing orders he’d watched her lean against the wall as she waited for her order, sigh, rub the back of her neck (You’re so tired, Alexis. It’s too early for you to be so tired!), unwrap her sandwich while answering her cell phone, take a bite, look at it, say “Hold on a minute” into the phone, peel the bread back, stand, and walk to the counter, where Bernsey was waiting to receive her.

“Could I get this without tomato, please?”

“But of course,” he said with his best throaty gallantry, and swiveled on his heel to correct the grievous mistake.

“She didn’t order no tomato,” Tina muttered in the kitchen. “Order didn’t say nothing about no tomato.”

“Okay, well, Miss Templeton always orders it this way, that’s all I’m saying,” Bernsey said. His head was starting to throb. “Can you just redo it real quick?”

“Mmph,” Tina grunted, and all at once Bernsey went on a getaway, flying off out of the city and hundreds of miles away to the farm country where he’d matriculated, landing in a barnyard where a pig that looked suspiciously like Tina rooted and grunted happily in a stinking brown compost of mud and other, less appetizing things.

Keep rooting for it, you’ll get there eventually, he almost said, and thankfully he didn’t; he was able to snap his teeth down onto the tip of his tongue before the words escaped. He’d learned his lesson; other times in the past, they’d made it out, and there were always consequences.

He yearned to tell Alexis Templteton everything. How he wanted to just stroll over to the booth, the sunlight following him and backlighting him like a glamour idol. And she’d stand up and embrace him and they’d crash through the front doors and never look back.

But there was the irritating truth: he’d barely said more than a few words to her, words that didn’t involve her regular order of a Number Three with no tomato and a small drink. Words were Bernsey’s problem; the right ones never seemed to be around when he needed them. He would sometimes snap awake at night, gleaming pearls of words floating in the ether before him, his thoughts expressed with crystalline clarity and poetic flourish, but just as soon as they sank in, they disappeared, leaving only a memory like a seed withering atop dry earth.

And then he had it. The words came to him, and not just any words, but the right words, To me, your beauty compares to no other, and before he knew it, he’d snatched up a scrap of register paper and deposited them onto the paper in a quick swirl and folded it and handed it to Tina and told her, “Put this in with it.”

“What for?” Tina grunted. “She said no tomato. Probably meant no paper too.”

“Just put it in with it, will you? What do you care, anyway?”

Tina grunted, Tina who was secretly, desperately, completely in love with Bernsey, and did exactly what he asked.

There she is, Bernsey thought. She’s the one.

She leaned against the brick wall of the restaurant in one long, sweet curve, framed perfectly underneath a decorative wall lamp hanging from a shepherd’s hook. Bernsey was sitting on a bench across the street, his headphones on, trying to not be too obvious about the fact that he had no interest in the book he was holding and all interest in the tall blonde on her cigarette break.

Bernsey wanted her. Oh, how he wanted her. He saw women like her every day, it seemed like, and every day he’d fall desperately and madly in love. This one was no different — she was just as perfect as all the others.

The tilt of her head bespoke great good humor, spiked with a little wickedness. Smoke curled up from the clove in her hand (a choice betraying great taste) and framed her lithe body like a vampy dame in a black-and-white detective movie.

She was waiting. Was she waiting for Bernsey?

Bernsey’s heart started to pound. He could do it. It would be easy. He could just get up and walk across the street and she’d glance up and see him. Bernsey would hit the ground running with something smooth as glass like Trade you a joke for a smoke or Don’t mean to bother you, just wanted to say I saw you from across the street and I wanted to meet you because I felt like I’d make a mistake if I didn’t try.

And off they’d go. They’d walk down to the river, maybe, grab an overpriced coffee drink and sit by the water and watch the ducklings wander around with occasional certainty. It would be perfect. And then they’d go back to her apartment and of course her roommates would be gone and they wouldn’t even do anything, really, just sit there and stare at each other, dumbstruck at their mutual luck, by the incredible good fortune of finding each other at long last, and wouldn’t you know it, it was on her smoke break and it was on his day off and it was just like it was meant to be.

Do it, a voice in his head commanded. She’s right there. Take the plunge.

And so up he stood and across the street he went, the pavement feeling like sponges under his feet.

As he approached, she tilted her head to take another drag from the clove. The tip jerked upwards and a flash of orange winked at him. Her eyes caught his and he thought Stay cool, stay collected and he held her gaze, and let a corner of his mouth curl upward in what he hoped was a bemused, sardonic smile — something that instantly said, the world laughs with me.

“I’m Bernsey,” he said, performing his best winning smile and extending his hand.

And then the blare of a horn. Bernsey shook his head.

He was still sitting on the bench. Had he ever stood up?

He looked around at the passerby milling past, then back at the brick wall of the restaurant across the street.

The light hanging from the shepherd’s hook was still there, but the blonde that had been leaning underneath was gone.

Bernsey never saw her again.

Things with Alexis Templeton had reached a plateau, Bernsey thought.

After three weeks behind the counter, Bernsey had stopped discovering the nuances in the routine; the job had become merely a matter of grinding through a series of elementary functions. Even sending her sandwich order (Number Three with no tomato and a small drink, with an extra side of Love Note From Ardent Admirer: To me, your beauty compares to no other.) to the ever-glowering Tina (Tina who crouched over the grill in the kitchen like it was a bubbling cauldron on a Scottish heath) had lost some of its allure.

The most troubling part, Bernsey reflected, was her lack of response. Not even so much as a second glance, or a look of cool appraisal, or even a double-take whose second half was pregnant with invective. She just came in like always, every time, ordered her sandwich and her drink, and was out the door.

Bernsey spent a lot of time standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the service area, flicking the pen he used to write his missives between his fingers, and occasionally chewing on it until Tina would huff by and tell him don’t do that, it’ll make you all sick, and watching Alexis Templeton work her way through her lunch and leave as though nothing else needed to happen.

Maybe she didn’t see it, Bernsey thought.

Maybe she’s just ignoring it, Bernsey thought.

Maybe she’s not getting it, Bernsey thought.

Maybe she just doesn’t care, Bernsey thought.

But of course she saw it, Bernsey thought. She must have.

She couldn’t be ignoring it, Bernsey thought. She’s not that rude.

She must be getting it, Bernsey though. She’s so incredibly smart, she has to be.

Bernsey, today, decided that another step up the ladder was called for. He’d managed to progress steadily from Seven sixty-three, please to Having a good day? to Hope to see you next time, and each time he’d get a chuckle, or half a smile, but, frustratingly, nothing more. Patience and perseverance, he kept reminding himself, patience and perseverance will win anyone over. Even the most unattainable.

He’d seen it in his head, watched it all play out, and all at once he snatched up a wipe rag and made a beeline for the empty table next to hers, performing his best wide smile of invitation.

“How’s that Number Three?” he boomed, and already he knew he was off to a bad start, his voice was too loud, crashing boorishly through the quiet hum of the post-lunch rush conversation, but still he kept going, “No nasty tomatoes or anything, right?”

She glanced up at him. The curls still tumbled delightfully about her sculpted face, and there was still warmth and generosity and good humor in her eyes, but there was also exhaustion, and the smile she gave him rose reluctantly, like she was dragging it up from a great depth.

“Not today,” she said. “But thank you for checking.”

This is actually happening, Bernsey thought, this is a conversation that is happening.

“Just regular sizes today, huh?”

“Just regular sizes,” she said. “Not feeling as hungry today. Or thirsty.”

“Refill it for you?” Bernsey asked.

She glanced down at her soda. “I think it’s already full,” she said, “but thanks anyway.”

“Okay,” Bernsey said, “well, if there’s anything we can do for you, just let us know.”

“Will do,” she said.

“Doesn’t make sense to mistreat the regulars, does it?” Bernsey asked.

“No, I guess it doesn’t,” she said, “but then again, I’m the one punishing myself by being here.”

And then a look of confusion and sudden apprehension crossed her face. Bernsey was stuck to the ground less by her words, casually insulting though they might have been, than he was by that look, that sudden flash of intense vulnerability which set the flame in his heart ablaze once again.

“I mean,” she said quickly, “Not you. Not anyone here.”

“Of course not,” Bernsey said.

“This is just, like — it’s not what I should be eating. Too many calories.”

“No disrespect,” Bernsey said, “but you don’t look like you need to worry about calories at all.”

For a second Bernsey thought he might have gone too far, that he’d pushed just a little too far, but some of the old good humor seemed to flare within her and she laughed, from the spine instead of the head this time, and said, “If only every sandwich shop had people like you.”

The world blurred; his fingers tingled; his head swam. If only every sandwich shop had people like you rang in his head like the bell for Sunday service, like the whoop of a siren, like a full-throated choir.

He saw himself reaching out; he saw himself taking her hand; he saw her stand and slide into his arms; he saw them embrace each other and spin about, amidst the quiet din of the post-lunch rush conversation; he saw them walk out, head to the car, head to her house, and lock the bedroom door behind them. He saw it all unfold in a great giant rush and relief swept over him in a sweet wave, finally, finally, my happiness, my happiness is right here, I’ve done it, I’ve done it at last, she’s mine, my happiness is all mine.

When he next looked up, she was gone, and the table had been swept clean, and the restaurant was dark.

Today’s heartbreaker stood in line at the DMV, moving to and fro like windblown silk, and Bernsey’s chest throbbed with the agony of love.

You’re going to have to get it done sooner or later, his grandmother had said that morning, you’re not going to live in my basement forever. And so up he rose at the punishing hour of 7am, to drive to the DMV and wait with several other likewise-sleep-addled people outside the office doors.

There were so many things that needed doing. He needed to look for an apartment. He needed to call his doctor. He needed to do this, do that, do everything. His brain was a rattle of must do this and a hum of gotta do that, and in order to calm it down he went on a getaway.

He was thinking of his first getaway, as a matter of fact. On the second day of seventh grade, a scrawny, mean-looking kid he’d never seen before shoved him headfirst into a locker door, and right then and there he went away, zapping himself out of the school and over seventeen miles of twisting country road to arrive back in his treehouse, a stack of paperback thrillers stacked on his sleeping bag, and a fat Australian shepherd barking excitedly below. When he came back to, rubbing the knot on his forehead dazedly, he almost didn’t mind the pain, because he was aglow with knowledge — the knowledge that he’d always have a safe place to go.

Rylan Kur, he thought, uncrossing his legs from under the plastic bench in the DMV, that was his name, and he winced as the name scraped through his mind, and the wince made it to his face even as he looked up at the woman strolling into the waiting area, whose radiance dealt him almost as crushing a blow.

She was small and delicate, her black hair streaked with jets of pink. The overhead fluorescents twinkled against her nose ring. She had huge, deep eyes, and a sullen face from which burst an unexpectedly radiant smile, and Bernsey was gone, crushed flat by her vulnerability.

I will protect you, Bernsey thought. I will never let any harm come to you, not ever, not in a million years. Do you have a boyfriend? You probably have a boyfriend. You always have boyfriends. But I’m different than him. I’m sure that I’m better than him. You don’t know what’s in my heart but you have to believe me when I tell you it’s more pure than all the rest, that there is nothing in its chambers for you to fear, not ever.

She stomped up to the counter, pulled a number from the dispenser, and compared it to the current number being served, and if Bernsey’s experience was any indication, her wait would be twice his was. She fired an angry glare at the world in general and thumped into a plastic seat in a dark corner, trying so hard to repel attention that she of course got it from everyone, especially Bernsey, who sat in his own seat across the room, his mind a whirl.

He saw himself standing, walking to her, smiling at her. He saw how it wouldn’t be easy, that she had thick defenses, but his innate goodness was impervious to all that, and he just wore her down.

They’d get into it and it was wonderful, amazing, transcendent. His tenderness melted her steely resolve and they found their spirits entwining, two more threads in the great quilt of life.

But we’d probably fight, Bernsey thought, and dark spots swam through his fantasy. He saw them sitting at an Italian restaurant, picking at rolls soggy with garlic sauce and arguing about rent. They’d get over it. They’d talk it through and stay up late and start laughing at sitcom reruns and their hearts would recharge and they’d get over it.

But Bernsey, his heart quickening and twisting uncomfortably under his ribs, found that they were going to have some problems. They’d always come back to the same thing. How she was too needy and he wasn’t paying enough attention and she wasn’t picking up after herself enough and he wasn’t the great rock of stability he thought he was and how she was basically just damaged goods and he didn’t have the answers he thought he did.

Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea, he’d find himself saying. Maybe we should just back off and take this a little slowly.

And he saw her, saw it clearly, saw her face collapse and crumble, all the agony he was feeling plastered all over her face, and he felt lower than low, darker than dark, worse than bad. He felt like the single most unworthy fool to take a step on this earth, the only title befitting someone who’d make such a colossal mistake as his, to have taken this beautiful jewel, this delicate, prickly rose, and toss it into the mud with such disdain.

And so then they’d retreat to opposite corners again, her glaring at him and him staring at her, wondering where exactly along the line it was that things started go so wrong. Bernsey’s heart ached, and the pain of its slow rupture surrounded him with a thick haze that turned the sharpness on everything up just a little too far.

All this raced through Bernsey’s head and of course by the time he came to, the girl with the pink streaks in her hair was long gone, gone from Bernsey’s life forever as quickly as she had come into it, the license he’d come to renew was still expired, and it was then, only then, that Bernsey thought he might have a problem.

“It’s starting to make me wonder,” Bernsey told Tina. “Every time she comes in, the note goes in.”

“Maybe she don’t see it,” Tina said, Tina who stared at Bernsey the way he stared at Alexis Templeton.

“You are putting it in with the sandwich, aren’t you?” Bernsey asked.

“Yeah,” Tina said sullenly.

“Promise?” Bernsey asked her, and Tina’s heart contracted painfully in her chest as she saw Bernsey’s beseeching look, and she wished above all else he’d just wipe whatever it was out of his eyes and see the truth that was in front of him.

But he just turned his head back in Alexis Templeton’s direction, and watched as she dabbed sweat off her pale forehead with a paper napkin. She looks sick, Bernsey thought, she really doesn’t look so good today.

Nobody looked good to Bernsey lately. He stole glances wherever he could — in traffic, walking down the sidewalk, staring out the window — and each time they caused him more pain. Passing through a revolving door at a bank, a redhead in a striped summer dress smiled at him, and Bernsey fell into her feline green eyes, screaming in pain the whole way down, but kept moving through the door, and saw, as he reached the teller’s counter, that his hands were shaking.

And even the getaways weren’t helping. Bernsey leapt about — to the treehouse he had as a child, to a quiet copse of pine and oak trees he used to hike to, to a particular bench he liked near the river that bisected downtown, to a dim corner of a bookstore, to any number of his favorite places of escape, the places where he’d go to escape the clatter and shriek of his own thoughts — and none eased his mind.

Bernsey stood there at the register, watching Alexis Templeton, who was watching Ingram, putting up the outdoor umbrellas on the other side of the front window, and Tina, Tina who watched Bernsey as Bernsey watched Alexis Templeton, wondered if maybe she should, just once, do what Bernsey wanted her to do, and not just what he told her to do.

Bernsey saw himself doing it all and for once, in a moment of headlong certainty, simply set about doing it. He walked across the restaurant and sat down in front of Alexis Templeton and smiled.

Alexis Templeton, on this day, was wearing a grey pantsuit, and on a normal day, it would have glowed with her, hummed in your sight like a raincloud you couldn’t look away from, but today, her face was ashen, and when she reached for her soda (a small, today), her hands shook.

She looked up dazedly as Bernsey thumped into the seat opposite her. Bernsey was pale; his heart was thumping in his neck and something in the air seemed to catch and snag on the way into him. Ingram buzzed about outside, rusted metal shrieking against itself as he fought the rusted winches on the canopies.

“Can I do anything for you, Miss Templeton?” Bernsey asked. He was surprised the words didn’t fall out of his mouth in another tangled jumble; he thought, for the first time, that this might actually work out all right.

The brightness in Alexis Templeton had waned but not gone completely out; she smiled and her energy seemed to flare in her eyes. “No, thank you, Bernsey,” she said.

She knows my name she knows my name she knows my name, the ticker in Bernsey’s head rattled, but somehow he managed to roll with it.

“I’d excuse myself,” Bernsey heard himself saying, “but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.”

“Normally,” Bernsey heard himself saying, “you look like a spring morning in a sunflower orchard.”

“But today,” Bernsey heard himself saying, “you look like you’re sick, and I want to help you.”

And the rest came out in a rush, a torrent of confession: how he saw her every day, how he had Tina put notes in with her sandwich, how she never responded, how she started looking sicker and sicker and how he wanted nothing more than to help her, to make her shine again.

By the end of it, he wasn’t even looking at her; he had closed his eyes. When he heard the silence slam into the place where his voice had been, he winced, and opened his eyes slowly.

Alexis Templeton was looking down at the tabletop, at the sandwich in her hand. Her skin was the color of the mayonnaise leaking onto the thin paper wrap. She looked back up at Bernsey, her face emptying out and her voice flattening, and she stood up, saying only, “Excuse me.”

The door jingled as it opened and Alexis Templeton stepped out onto the sidewalk. Bernsey sat there in the booth, staring at the spot where she once was, and the next few moments seemed to stretch into eternity.

There was a ringing in his ears, like an alarm from far away. His fingers tingled, as though they needed to be flexed and awoken.

From outside, metal clanked and shrieked. From even further away, Bernsey heard Ingram say, “Everything all right, Miss Templeton?”

Bernsey couldn’t move. He could only stare at the space where Alexis Templeton had been, and turn over the sickly white color of her skin in his head, turning it over and over and knowing something about it was wrong.

Then he saw the sandwich. The sandwich she’d been chewing on. He pulled it closer to him.

From outside, from far away, Bernsey heard “Maybe you better sit down for a moment, Miss Templeton, and let me get you some ice water.”

Bernsey flipped the sandwich open. He expected to see the note he’d written this morning folded into the wrapping of the sandwich, as he’d instructed Tina to do, but he saw no note anywhere.

From outside, from another galaxy, he heard Ingram say, “Miss Templeton, can you hear me?”

Bernsey looked down at the sandwich which spilled open before him. At the shards of the note that had been cut up and interspersed into the sandwich, like some form of shredded lettuce not yet on the FDA’s radar.

Bernsey glanced back at the kitchen, his stomach dropping into his shoes, and seeing nothing, turned back to see Alexis Templeton crash onto the sidewalk, as pale as death, taking one of the glass outdoor picnic tables with her.

Bernsey stood and rushed outside, six steps to the front door taking an eternity, as though he was moving underwater, through an invisible sludge that fought against his every move.

Ingram was on the sidewalk, Alexis Templeton’s bleeding head cradled in his lap, a cell phone jammed into his ear, already on the phone with the 911 operator.

Tina was nowhere to be seen, Tina who had decided weeks ago to do exactly as Bernsey had asked her to do, to show him that she loved him.

“I hope she’s okay,” Ingram said.

“I do, too,” Bernsey said. He glanced back over his shoulder. “I think Tina split.”

Ingram shrugged, dazed. “I guess we’ll just deal with it.”

“I’ll go back in and clean up,” Bernsey said, tying the knot on his apron back.

“You don’t have to,” Ingram said.

“I do,” Bernsey said. “I might as well.”

Bernsey waited until the ambulances arrived, and stood with Ingram and watched them carry her off.