**This is my contribution to the Scarry Night Flash Fiction Challenge. The short version: write a flash short story using the line "I don't even mind the scars," which Patti overheard on a night out.
Find dozens more shorts by some super-talented writers over at Patti Abbott's blog. ***
I wasn’t supposed to be there, in the dark, at her house, looking up at her bedroom window from the shadows of the big pine tree in the neighbor’s yard. I mean, there were lawyers involved now—ones that cost more per hour than a car payment, as my dad liked to say. I wasn’t supposed to come near Danielle.
But there I was, twenty feet from her house, trying to figure out how to get her to open the curtains. I could see her bedroom light was on. It was after ten, so I knew she was probably listening to her iPod, or watching TV. In her fleece pajamas—I loved her in those.
I looked around for a rock, but realized I might just break the window. There was an irony in that, since I still dreamed of the broken glass. The rush of air. I closed my eyes, and pushed away the images of the accident.
There was a pine cone near the base of the tree that could work. I clutched it, feeling the sting in my shoulder. Better to use my left arm. I aimed, heard the pine cone bounce gently off the glass.
I waited, then figured she didn’t hear it. There was another pine cone on the ground, and just as I reached down to grab it, I heard her voice.
“Paul?” She leaned on the window frame, her long blond hair blowing in the breeze, hugging her shoulders. I loved her hair.
I waved, and stepped away from the tree so she could see me.
Danielle climbed out the window, and jumped down. Onto the driveway, with her bare feet. She always had an odd tolerance for pain. Danielle liked to take it to edge.
And I loved to follow her there. “Hey,” I said. “I know I’m not supposed to be here, but…”
She laughed. “So what? We’ll let the lawyers figure that out, blahblah boring.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“Wanna walk?” Danielle asked, but didn’t wait for my answer. She just looped her arm through mine, and led me to the sidewalk. I guessed she didn’t worry about who saw us together, even if there was that restraining order.
“Did they tell you yet when you can come back to school?” I asked, feeling like I should say something.
“Neh. And I don’t think I’d come back anyway, suspension or not. That place is a drag.” Danielle liked excitement. You could see it in her eyes—I loved that, and feared it at the same time. “I’m thinking of just taking off, you know?” she said to the night. “See what’s out there.”
I smiled, not sure what to say. I was the sensible one, the one who got the good grades, the one with the track-team scholarships to go to the good colleges. The accident was the first thing that happened to me that was not part of my plan. It was all about Danielle now.
She stopped, and pulled my arm. “You want to go? We could take your car, go west or something.” The streetlight twinkled in her eye.
“My car is totaled, remember?” I never did get to see it, after the crash. But my parents told me it was a heap of misery. Like I’d been, weeks in that hospital bed. “Why didn’t you come and see me?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know I hate hospitals. And then there was the restraining order, you know.”
“That was Dad’s idea. He thinks you’re a bad influence.” He had a point. It was Danielle who’d been so mad, after I told her I was taking that scholarship and was moving to California. Of course, she’d put on her seat belt before hitting that lamppost, unlike me. And I’d gone flying through the windshield, bouncing off the pavement—not that I remembered anything once I landed. But I was reminded plenty anyway. All I had to do was look in the mirror, at the pink lines that ran across my scalp, my face, down my neck, and all over my body. And those scholarships were long gone, now that I could no longer run.
Danielle looped her arms around my waist. “We’ll just take my mom’s Audi. Let’s go tonight.”
“Okay,” I heard myself say.
Danielle looked at me. “You’re still sexy, you know.” She kissed the scar on my cheek. “You know, some girls would dump their boyfriends after something like this.” She smiled. “Not me. You couldn’t get rid of me if you tried.” She play-punched my bad shoulder.
Danielle turned around to walk back to her house, and like always, I followed. “You know,” she said as she leaned into me, “I don’t even mind the scars.”