by Heidi Hodges
She sat in the passenger seat with her bare feet on the dashboard, her knees bent up in front of her. Her hair was blown over her face as she turned to look at him. She could feel him looking at her, the sun glinting off of his aviator sunglasses. He smirked with slightly crooked teeth. She laughed.
She was 17 and in love. He was 18 and didn’t really know what he wanted, but she was too amazing to ignore. It was the summer and they were free.
They were on their way to the aquarium. Nineties’ rock was playing on the radio. She hated it, and yet she liked it just because it reminded her of him. He sang along with the ballads. It was his way of letting her know. She never really got it. She was too straightforward for that.
Neither of them saw the bride in the torn dress on the side of the road. They were in their own world, wrapped in a bubble. A bubble of brightness that blinded them like the reflection of the sun off the road. The white limo blended in with the blur. It was too late when the truck came into focus. It was too soon after the accident; there were still no police there to direct the cars around.
He saw it, but didn’t react. He didn’t want to break and startle her. He didn’t want to have her last feelings be ones of panic and fear. She deserved better. He kept singing to her. He took the last seconds he could to enjoy her as she sat with her head back, eyes closed, listening to his voice with a small smile on her pink lips.
No matter what he did, it would have been to late. He leaned back, gently took her hand, and closed his own eyes.
When he first opened his eyes they stung from the bright white. His eyes focused. She was there. Still smiling.
“Wake up, sleepyhead,” she put her hand on his. A new scar ran from between her thumb and forefinger up past her wrist.
And at that moment, he knew what he wanted. Because if her smile wasn’t there, he knew he never would have woken up at all.