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Thank you again for your interest. Here’s the excerpt. I hope you enjoy it!
Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Copyright © 2019 by Angela Suyeon Kim
hyperbaric oxygenation: the administration of oxygen at greater than normal atmospheric pressure. The procedure is performed in specially designed chambers that permit the delivery of 100% oxygen at atmospheric pressure that is three times normal . . . Factors limiting the usefulness of hyperbaric oxygenation include the hazards of fire and explosive decompression . . . Also called hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
—Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th edition (2013)
CHAPTER 1: THE INCIDENT
Miracle Creek, Virginia
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
MY HUSBAND ASKED ME TO LIE. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first. It was such a small thing, what he wanted. The police had just released the protesters, and while he stepped out to make sure they weren’t coming back, I was to sit in his chair. Cover for him, the way coworkers do as a matter of course, the way we ourselves used to at the grocery store, while I ate or he smoked. But as I took his seat, I bumped against the desk, and the certificate above it went slightly crooked as if to remind me that this wasn’t a regular business, that there was a reason he’d never left me in charge before.
Pak reached over me to straighten the frame, his eyes on the English lettering: Pak Yoo, Miracle Submarine LLC, Certified Hyperbaric Technician. He said—eyes still on the certificate, as if talking to it, not to me—“Everything’s done. The patients are sealed in, the oxygen’s on. You just have to sit here.” He looked at me. “That’s it.”
I looked over the controls, the unfamiliar knobs and switches for the chamber we’d painted baby blue and placed in this barn just last month. “What if the patients buzz me?” I said. “I’ll say you’ll be right back, but—”
“No, they can’t know I’m gone. If anyone asks, I’m here. I’ve been here the whole time.”
“But if something goes wrong and—”
“What could go wrong?” Pak said, his voice forceful like a command. “I’ll be right back, and they won’t buzz you. Nothing will happen.” He walked away, as if that was the end of the matter. But at the doorway, he looked back at me. “Nothing will happen,” he said again, softer. It sounded like a plea.
As soon as the barn door banged shut, I wanted to scream that he was crazy to expect nothing to go wrong on this day, of all days, when so much had gone wrong—the protesters, their sabotage plan, the resulting power outage, the police. Did he think so much had already happened that nothing more could? But life doesn’t work like that. Tragedies don’t inoculate you against further tragedies, and misfortune doesn’t get sprinkled out in fair proportions; bad things get hurled at you in clumps and batches, unmanageable and messy. How could he not know that, after everything we’d been through?
From 8:02 to 8:14 p.m., I sat and said nothing, did nothing, like he asked. Sweat dampened my face, and I thought about the six patients sealed inside without air-conditioning (the generator operated the pressurization, oxygen, and intercom systems only) and thanked God for the portable DVD player to keep the kids calm. I reminded myself to trust my husband, and I waited, checking the clock, the door, then the clock again, praying for him to return (he had to!) before Barney ended and the patients buzzed for another DVD. Just as the show’s closing song started, my phone rang. Pak.
“They’re here,” he whispered. “I need to stand watch, make sure they don’t try anything again. You need to turn off the oxygen when the session ends. You see the knob?”
“Turn it counterclockwise, all the way, tight. Set your alarm so you won’t forget. 8:20 by the big clock.” He hung up.
I touched the knob marked OXYGEN, a discolored brass the color of the squeaky faucet in our old apartment in Seoul. It surprised me how cool it felt. I synchronized my watch to the clock, set my alarm to 8:20, and found the ALARM ON button. Right then, just as I started pressing the tiny nub—that’s when the DVD battery died and I dropped my hands, startled.
I think about that moment a lot. The deaths, the paralysis, the trial— might all that have been averted if I’d pressed the button? It’s strange, I know, that my mind keeps returning to this particular lapse, given my bigger, more blameworthy mistakes of that night. Perhaps it’s precisely its smallness, its seeming insignificance, that gives it power and fuels the what-ifs. What if I hadn’t let the DVD distract me? What if I’d moved my finger a microsecond more quickly, managed to turn on the alarm before the DVD died, mid-song? I love you, you love me, we’re a hap-py fam-i—
The blankness of that moment, the categorical absence of sound, dense and oppressive—it pressed in, squeezed me from all sides. When noise finally came—a rap-rap-rap of knuckles against the porthole from inside the chamber—I was almost relieved. But the knocking intensified into fists banging in threes as if chanting Let me out! in code, then into fullon pounding, and I realized: it had to be TJ’s head banging. TJ, the autistic boy who adores Barney the purple dinosaur, who ran to me the first time we met and hugged me tight. His mother had been amazed, said he never hugs anyone (he hates touching people), and maybe it’s my shirt, the exact shade of purple as Barney. I’ve worn the shirt every day since; I hand-wash it every night and put it on for his sessions, and every day, he hugs me. Everyone thinks I’m being kind, but I’m really doing it for me, because I crave the way his arms wrap around and squeeze me—the way my daughter’s used to, before she started leaning away from my hugs, her arms limp. I love kissing his head, the fuzz of his red hair tickling my lips. And now, that boy whose hugs I savor was beating his head on a steel wall.
He wasn’t crazy. His mother had explained that TJ has chronic pain from intestinal inflammation, but he can’t talk, and when it gets too much, he does the only thing he can for relief: he bangs his head, using the new, acute pain to drive out the old one. It’s like having an itch you can’t stand and scratching so hard it bleeds, how good that pain feels, except multiplied by a hundred. Once, she told me, TJ put his face through a window. It tormented me, the thought of this eight-year-old boy in so much pain that he needed to bash his head against steel.
And the sound of that pain—the pounding, again and again. The persistence, the increasing insistence. Each thud set off vibrations that reverberated and built into something corporeal, with form and mass. It traveled through me. I felt it rumble against my skin, jolting my insides and demanding my heart to match its rhythm, to beat faster, harder.
I had to make it stop. That’s my excuse. For running out of the barn and leaving six people trapped in a sealed chamber. I wanted to depressurize and open it, get TJ out of there, but I didn’t know how. Besides, when the intercom buzzed, TJ’s mother begged me (or, rather, Pak) not to stop the dive, she’d calm him down, but please, for the love of God, put in new batteries and restart the Barney DVD now! There were batteries somewhere in our house next door, only a twenty-second run away, and I had five minutes to turn off the oxygen. So I left. I covered my mouth to muffle my voice and said in a low, heavily accented voice like Pak’s, “We will replace batteries. Wait few minutes,” then I ran out.
The door to our house was ajar, and I felt a flash of wild hope that Mary was home, cleaning up like I’d told her to, and finally, something would go right today. But I stepped in, and she wasn’t there. I was alone, with no idea where the batteries were and no one to help. It was what I’d expected all along, yet that second of hope had been enough to shoot my expectations high into the sky and send them crashing down. Keep calm, I told myself, and started my search in the gray steel wardrobe we used for storage. Coats. Manuals. Cords. No batteries. When I slammed the door, the wardrobe wobbled, its flimsy metal warbling and booming like an echo of TJ’s pounding. I pictured his head hammering steel, cracking open like a ripe watermelon.
I shook my head to expel the thought. “Meh-hee-yah.” I yelled out Mary’s Korean name, which she hates. No answer. I knew there wouldn’t be, but it infuriated me just the same. I yelled “Meh-hee-yah” again, louder, elongating the syllables to let them grate my throat, needing it to hurt and drive out the phantom echoes of TJ’s pounding ringing in my ears.
I searched the rest of the house, box by box. With each passing second of not finding the batteries, my frustration grew, and I thought about our fight this morning, my telling her she should do more to help—she was seventeen!—and her walking out without a word. I thought about Pak siding with her, as always. (“We didn’t give up everything and come to America so she could cook and clean,” he always says. “No, that’s my job,” I want to say. But I never do.) I thought of Mary’s eye-rolls, her headphones on her ears, pretending not to hear me. Anything to keep my anger activated, to occupy my mind and keep out the pounding. My ire at my daughter was familiar and comfortable, like an old blanket. It soothed my panic into a dull anxiety.
When I got to the box in Mary’s sleeping corner, I forced the criss – crossed top flaps open and dumped everything out. Teenage junk: torn tickets to movies I’d never seen, pictures of friends I’d never met, a stack of notes, the top one in a hurried scrawl—I waited for you. Maybe tomorrow?
I wanted to scream. Where were the batteries? (And in the back of my mind: Who’d written the note? A boy? Waited to do what?) Just then, my phone rang—Pak again—and I saw 8:22 on the screen and remembered. The alarm. The oxygen.
When I answered, I meant to explain how I hadn’t turned off the oxygen but would soon, and that was no big deal, he sometimes ran the oxygen over an hour, right? But my words came out differently. Like vomit—outpouring in one stream, uncontrollable. “Mary is nowhere,” I said. “We’re doing all this for her, and she’s never here, and I need her, I need her help to find new DVD batteries before TJ busts his head open.”
“You always think the worst of her, but she’s here, helping me,” he said. “And the batteries are under the house kitchen sink, but don’t leave the patients. I’ll send Mary to grab them. Mary, go, right now. Take four D batteries to the barn. I’ll come in one min—”
I hung up. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing.
I ran to the kitchen sink. The batteries were there like he said, in a bag I’d assumed was trash, under work gloves covered in dirt and soot. They were clean just yesterday. What had Pak been doing?
I shook my head. The batteries. I had to hurry back to TJ.
When I ran outside, an unfamiliar scent—like charred wet wood— permeated the air and stung my nose. It was getting dark, harder to see, but I saw Pak in the distance, running toward the barn.
Mary was ahead of him, sprinting. I called out, “Mary, slow down. I found the batteries,” but she kept running, not toward the house, but to the barn. “Mary, stop,” I said, but she didn’t. She ran past the barn door, to the back side. I didn’t know why, but it scared me, her being there, and I called again, her Korean name this time, softer. “Meh-hee-yah,” I said, and ran to her. She turned. Something about her face stopped me. It seemed to glow somehow. An orange light coated her skin and shimmered as if she were standing directly in front of the setting sun. I wanted to touch her face and tell her, “You are beautiful.”
From her direction, I heard a noise. It sounded like crackling, but softer and muffled, the way a flock of geese might sound taking off for flight, hundreds of wings flapping at once to scamper skyward. I thought I saw them, a curtain of gray rippling in the wind and rising higher and higher in the dusky violet sky, but I blinked, and the sky was empty. I ran toward the sound, and I saw it then, what she’d seen but I hadn’t, what she’d run toward.
The back wall of the barn—on fire.
I don’t know why I didn’t run or scream, why Mary didn’t, either. I wanted to. But I could only walk slowly, carefully, one step at a time, getting closer, my eyes transfixed by the flames in orange and red—fluttering, leaping, and switching places like partners in a step dance.
When the boom sounded, my knees buckled and I fell. But I never took my eyes off my daughter. Every night, when I turn off the light and close my eyes for sleep, I see her, my Meh-hee, in that moment. Her body flings up like a rag doll and arcs through the air. Gracefully. Delicately. Just before she lands on the ground with a soft thud, I see her ponytail, bouncing high. The way it used to when she was a little girl, jumping rope.
A YEAR LATER
THE TRIAL: DAY ONE
Monday, August 17, 2009
CHAPTER 2: YOUNG YOO
SHE FELT LIKE A BRIDE walking into the courtroom. Certainly, her wedding was the last time—the only time—that a roomful of people had fallen silent and turned to stare as she entered. If it weren’t for the variety in hair color and the snippets of whispers in English as she walked down the aisle—“Look, the owners,” “The daughter was in a coma for months, poor thing,” “He’s paralyzed, so awful”—she might have thought she was still in Korea.
The small courtroom even looked like an old church, with creaky wooden pews on both sides of the aisle. She kept her head down, just as she had at her wedding twenty years ago; she wasn’t usually the focus of attention, and it felt wrong. Modesty, blending in, invisibility: those were the virtues of wives, not notoriety and gaudiness. Wasn’t that why brides wore veils—to protect them from stares, to mute the redness of their cheeks? She glanced to the sides. On the right, behind the prosecution, she glimpsed familiar faces, those of their patients’ families.
The patients had all gathered together only once: last July, at the orientation outside the barn. Her husband had opened the doors to show the freshly painted blue chamber. “This,” Pak said, looking proud, “is Miracle Submarine. Pure oxygen. Deep pressure. Healing. Together.” Everyone clapped. Mothers cried. And now, here were the same people, somber, the hope of miracle gone from their faces, replaced by the curiosity of people reaching for tabloids in supermarket lines. That and pity—for her or themselves, she didn’t know. She’d expected anger, but they smiled as she walked by, and she had to remind herself that she was a victim here. She was not the defendant, not the one they blamed for the explosion that killed two patients. She told herself what Pak told her every day—their absence from the barn that night didn’t cause the fire, and he couldn’t have prevented the explosion even if he’d stayed with the patients—and tried to smile back. Their support was a good thing. She knew that. But it felt undeserved, wrong, like a prize won by cheating, and instead of buoying her, it weighed her down with worry that God would see and correct the injustice, make her pay for her lies some other way.
When Young reached the wooden railing, she fought her impulse to hop across and sit at the defense table. She sat with her family behind the prosecutor, next to Matt and Teresa, two of the people trapped in Miracle Submarine that night. She hadn’t seen them in a long time, not since the hospital. But no one said hi. They all looked down. They were the victims.
* * *
THE COURTHOUSE WAS in Pineburg, the town next to Miracle Creek. It was strange, the names—the opposite of what you’d expect. Miracle Creek didn’t look like a place where miracles took place, unless you counted the miracle of people living there for years without going insane from boredom. The “Miracle” name and its marketing possibilities (plus cheap land) had drawn them there despite there being no other Asians—no immigrants at all, probably. It was only an hour from Washington, D.C., an easy drive from dense concentrations of modernity such as Dulles Airport, but it had the isolated feel of a village hours from civilization, an entirely different world. Dirt trails instead of concrete sidewalks. Cows rather than cars. Decrepit wooden barns, not steel-and-glass high-rises. Like stepping into a grainy black-and-white film. It had that feel of being used and discarded; the first time Young saw it, she had an impulse to find every bit of trash in her pockets and throw it as far as she could.
Pineburg, despite its plain name and proximity to Miracle Creek, was charming, its narrow cobblestone streets lined with chalet-style shops, each painted a different bright color. Looking at Main Street’s row of shops reminded Young of her favorite market in Seoul, its legendary produce row—spinach green, pepper red, beet purple, persimmon orange. From its description, she would’ve thought it garish, but it was the opposite—as if putting the brash colors together subdued each one, so the overall feel was elegant and lovely.
The courthouse was at the base of a knoll, flanked by grapevines planted in straight lines up the hill. The geometric precision provided a measured calm, and it seemed fitting that a building of justice would stand amid the ordered rows of vines.
That morning, gazing at the courthouse, its tall white columns, Young had thought how this was the closest she’d been to the America she’d expected. In Korea, after Pak decided she should move to Baltimore with Mary, she’d gone to bookstores and looked through pictures of America—the Capitol, Manhattan skyscrapers, Inner Harbor. In her five years in America, she hadn’t seen any of those sights. For the first four years, she’d worked in a grocery store two miles from Inner Harbor, but in a neighborhood people called the “ghetto,” houses boarded up and broken bottles everywhere. A tiny vault of bulletproof glass: that had been America for her.
It was funny how desperate she’d been to escape that gritty world, and yet she missed it now. Miracle Creek was insular, with longtime residents (going back generations, they said). She thought they might be slow to warm, so she focused on befriending one family nearby who’d seemed especially nice. But over time, she realized: they weren’t nice; they were politely unfriendly. Young knew the type. Her own mother had belonged to this breed of people who used manners to cover up unfriendliness the way people used perfume to cover up body odor—the worse it was, the more they used. Their stiff hyperpoliteness—the wife’s perpetual closed-lip smile, the husband’s ma’am at the beginning or end of every sentence—kept Young at a distance and reinforced her status as a stranger. Although her most frequent customers in Baltimore had been cantankerous, cursing and complaining about everything from the prices being too high to the sodas too warm and deli meats too thin, there was an honesty to their rudeness, a comfortable intimacy to their yelling. Like bickering siblings. Nothing to cover up.
After Pak joined them in America last year, they’d looked for housing in Annandale, the D.C. area’s Koreatown—a manageable drive from Miracle Creek. The fire had stopped all that, and they were still in their “temporary” housing. A crumbling shack in a crumbling town far from anything pictured in the books. To this day, the fanciest place Young had been in America was the hospital where Pak and Mary had lain for months after the explosion.
* * *
THE COURTROOM WAS LOUD. Not the people—the victims, lawyers, journalists, and who knew who else—but the two old-fashioned window-unit air conditioners on opposite sides behind the judge. They sputtered like lawn mowers when they switched on and off, which, because they weren’t synchronized, happened at different times—one, then the other, then back again, like some strange mechanical beasts’ mating calls. When the units ran, they rattled and hummed, each at a slightly different pitch, making Young’s eardrums itch. She wanted to stick her pinkie deep inside her ear into her brain and scratch.
The lobby plaque said the courthouse was a 250-year-old historical landmark and asked for donations to the Pineburg Courthouse Preservation Society. Young had shaken her head at the thought of this society, an entire group whose sole purpose was to prevent this building from becoming modern. Americans were so proud of things being a few hundred years old, as if things being old were a value in and of itself. (Of course, this philosophy did not extend to people.) They didn’t seem to realize that the world valued America precisely because it was not old, but modern and new. Koreans were the opposite. In Seoul, there would be a Modernization Society dedicated to replacing this courthouse’s “antique” hardwood floors and pine tables with marble and sleek steel.
“All rise. Skyline County Criminal Court now in session, the Honorable Frederick Carleton III presiding,” the bailiff said, and everyone stood. Except Pak. His hands clenched his wheelchair’s armrests, the green veins on his hands and wrists popping up as if willing his arms to support his body’s weight. Young started to help, but she stopped herself, knowing that needing help for something basic like standing would be worse for him than not standing at all. Pak cared so much about appearances, conforming to rules and expectations—the quintessentially Korean things she’d strangely never cared about (because her family’s wealth afforded her the luxury of being immune to them, Pak would say). Still, she understood his frustration, being the lone sitting figure in this towering crowd. It made him vulnerable, like a child, and she had to fight the urge to cloak his body with her arms and hide his shame.
“The court will now come to order. Docket number 49621, Commonwealth of Virginia versus Elizabeth Ward,” the judge said, and banged the gavel. As if by plan, both air conditioners were off, and the sound of wood striking wood reverberated off the slanted ceilings and lingered in the silence.
It was official: Elizabeth was the defendant. Young felt a tingle inside her chest, like some dormant cell of relief and hope had burst and was spreading sparks of electricity throughout her body, zapping away the fear that had hijacked her life. Even though almost a year had passed since Pak was cleared and Elizabeth arrested, Young hadn’t quite believed it, had wondered if this was a trick, and if today, as the trial started, they’d announce her and Pak as the real targets. But now the waiting was over, and after several days of evidence—“overwhelming evidence,” the prosecutor said—Elizabeth would be found guilty, and they’d get their insurance money and rebuild their lives. No more living in stasis.
The jurors filed in. Young gazed at them, these people—all twelve, seven men and five women—who believed in capital punishment and swore they were willing to vote for death by lethal injection. Young had learned this last week. The prosecutor had been in a particularly good mood, and when she asked why, he’d explained that the potential jurors most likely to be sympathetic to Elizabeth had been dismissed because they were anti-death-penalty.
“Death penalty? Like hanging?” she’d said.
Her alarm and revulsion must have shown, because Abe stopped smiling. “No, by injection, drugs in an IV. It’s painless.”
He’d explained that Elizabeth wouldn’t necessarily get death, it was just a possibility, but still, she’d dreaded seeing Elizabeth here, the terror that would surely be on her face, confronting the people with the power to end her life.
Now, Young forced herself to look at Elizabeth, at the defense table. She looked like a lawyer herself, her blond hair twisted into a bun, dark green suit, pearls, pumps. Young had almost looked past her, she looked so different from before—messy ponytail, wrinkled sweats, unmatched socks.
It was ironic—of all the parents of their patients, Elizabeth had been the most disheveled, and yet she’d had by far the most manageable child. Henry, her only child, had been a well-mannered boy who, unlike many other patients, could walk, talk, was toilet-trained, and didn’t have tantrums. During orientation, when the mother of twins with autism and epilepsy asked Elizabeth, “Sorry, but what’s Henry here for? He seems so normal,” she’d frowned as if offended. She recited a list—OCD, ADHD, sensory and autism spectrum disorders, anxiety—then said how hard it was, spending all her days researching experimental treatments. She seemed to have no clue how she sounded complaining while surrounded by kids with wheelchairs and feeding tubes.
Judge Carleton asked Elizabeth to stand. She expected Elizabeth to cry as he read the charges, or at least blush, her eyes down. But Elizabeth looked straight at the jury, her cheeks unflushed, eyes unblinking. She studied Elizabeth’s face, so empty of expression, wondering if she was numb, in shock. But instead of looking vacant, Elizabeth looked serene. Almost happy. Perhaps it was because she was so used to Elizabeth’s worried frowns that their absence made Elizabeth look contented.
Or perhaps the newspapers were right. Perhaps Elizabeth had been desperate to get rid of her son, and now that he was dead, she finally had a measure of peace. Perhaps she had been a monster all along.
CHAPTER 3: MATT THOMPSON
HE WOULD’VE GIVEN ANYTHING not to be here today. Maybe not his entire right arm, but certainly one of its three remaining fingers. He was already a freak with missing fingers—what was one more? He did not want to see reporters, cameras flashing when he made the mistake of covering his face with his hands—he cringed, picturing how the flash would reflect off the glossy scar tissue covering the doughy clump that remained of his right hand. He did not want to hear whispers of “Look, the infertile doctor,” or face Abe, the prosecutor, who’d once looked at him, head tilted as if studying a puzzle, and asked, “Have you and Janine considered adoption? I hear Korea has lots of half-white babies.” He did not want to chat with his in-laws, the Chos, who tsked and lowered their eyes in unison at the sight of his injuries, or hear Janine rail at them for their shame over any perceived defect, which she’d diagnose as yet another of their “typically Korean” prejudices and intolerances. Most of all, he did not want to see anyone from Miracle Submarine, not the other patients, not Elizabeth, and definitely, most certainly, not Mary Yoo.
Abe stood and, walking by, put his hand on Young’s, draped across the railing. He patted gently, and she smiled. Pak clenched his teeth, and when Abe smiled at him, Pak stretched his lips as if trying to smile but not quite managing it. Matt guessed that Pak, like his own Korean father-in-law, did not approve of African-Americans and thought it one of America’s great flaws that it had an African-American president.
He’d been surprised when he met Abe. Miracle Creek and Pineburg seemed so provincial and white. The jury was all white. The judge was white. Police, firemen—white. This wasn’t the kind of place he’d expect to have a black prosecutor. Then again, it wasn’t the kind of place anyone would expect to have a Korean immigrant running a mini-submarine as a so-called medical device, but there it was.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my name is Abraham Patterley. I am the prosecutor. I represent the Commonwealth of Virginia against the defendant, Elizabeth Ward.” Abe pointed his right index finger at Elizabeth, and she startled, as if she hadn’t known that she was the accused. Matt stared at Abe’s index finger, wondered what Abe would do if he, like Matt, lost it. Right before the amputation, the surgeon had said, “Thank God your career’s not too affected by it. Imagine being a pianist or surgeon.” Matt had thought about that a lot. What job could one have and not be too affected by amputation of the right index and middle fingers? He would’ve put lawyers in the category of “not too affected,” but now, looking at Elizabeth withering under Abe’s simple gesture of pointing at her, the power that finger gave Abe, he wasn’t sure.
“Why is Elizabeth Ward here today? You’ve already heard the charges. Arson, battery, attempted murder.” Abe stared at Elizabeth before turning his body square to the jury box. “Murder.”
“The victims sit here, ready and eager to tell you what happened to them”—Abe motioned to the front row—“and to the defendant’s two ultimate victims: Kitt Kozlowski, the defendant’s longtime friend, and Henry Ward, the defendant’s own eight-year-old son, who can’t tell you themselves, because they are dead.
“Miracle Submarine’s oxygen tank exploded at about 8:25 p.m. on August 26, 2008, starting an uncontrollable fire. Six people were inside, three in the immediate area. Two died. Four, severely injured—hospitalized for months, paralyzed, limbs amputated.
“The defendant was supposed to be inside with her son. But she wasn’t. She told everyone she was sick. Headache, congestion, the works. She asked Kitt, the mother of another patient, to watch Henry while she rested. She took wine she’d packed to the creek nearby. She smoked a cigarette of the same type and brand that started the fire, using the same type and brand of matches that started the fire.”
Abe looked at the jurors. “All of what I just told you is undisputed.”
Abe closed his mouth and paused for emphasis. “Un-dis-pu-ted,” he said, enunciating it like four separate words. “The defendant here”—he pointed that index finger again at her—“admits all this, that she intentionally stayed outside, faking an illness, and when her son and friend were being incinerated inside, she was sipping wine, smoking using the same match and cigarette used to set the blast, and listening to Beyoncé on her iPod.”
End of Excerpt
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