Up And Over

Up and Over

I felt the sweat perspiring on my forehead, and held in a groan as I saw the long line of customers waiting for their iced coffees and lattes. An old man shuffled his way in front of my register and peered at the menu in front of him. The young woman behind him tapped her foot impatiently. Only two more hours, I thought to myself.

“I’ll just have a cup of black coffee,” he said. I punched in the code on the screen and reached my left hand out for the three dollars he held between his aged fingers. His crisp blue eyes widened as he saw the pink, freshly healed inch-and-a-half gash on my arm. I looked away and pulled my arm back quickly. It was the first week without my bandage, and I had specifically asked my manager if I could be the one making drinks, to avoid the customers’ looks. That didn’t work out. I saw her now, throwing ice into plastic cups, slamming buttons on the espresso machine, and calling out finished orders to the Starbucks fanatics who were waiting.

“What happened there?” the old man asked. I looked up and saw him staring, still.

“It was an accident.” I felt my pale skin flushing, but now it wasn’t only because of the heat.

“It’s a shame. You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.” He smiled, kindly, though the comment slapped and stung my cheek. He shuffled off with his coffee after wishing me a good day, and the young woman behind him exhaled loudly before rattling off her order to me.

“Iced caramel macchiato—”

You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

            You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

            You would be such a pretty girl if it wasn’t for that scar.

* * *

“Amy, it’s okay. You just have to put your foot between the holes in the fence, and push yourself up. Use your legs. Just go up and over,” my best friend, Nikki, instructed from the other side of the fence. My eyes traveled up the black fence and noticed the spokes at the top. Nikki and her sister stood on the other side, looking from me to the street and back again. A police siren rang in the distance—were they coming for us? Did the town pool system have an alarm? It was late, about 11 o’clock at night, and the streetlights in the distance showed no cars passing.

My adrenaline pumped recklessly as I stuck my foot into one of the fence holes. My fingers wrapped themselves around the black wires and I lifted. My muscles, out of shape, screamed in protest, and the wires bit painful wedges into my hands. I lifted, tugged, and pulled my way to the top. I raised my torso and, without thinking, swung my legs over the top of the fence and sat on the fence’s spokes. Pain ripped through my body as the spokes pierced into my butt and thighs.

“Shit!” I screamed. My body reacted without me—I shot up, into the air, awkwardly trying to hold onto the fence as my body struggled to get away from the sharp spokes. I was a tumbling mess of limbs, my arms and legs moving so quickly and haphazardly that I must have looked like a whirl of chaos. As I began to fall, I reached out for the fence one last time with my left arm, only to feel it graze one of the spokes on the fence. I hit the ground, somehow landing on my two feet. Nikki and her sister bit back awkward laughter, coupled with concern in their eyes.

“Are you okay?” Nikki asked, as I shakily took a step. My left arm was burning. I looked down and held back vomit. The white skin of my arm peeled open, with rose-red blood spilling onto the summer grass. Blood slipped down my pale legs too. The police sirens blared again. And there it was, my foolhardy teenage summer, forever carved into my arm.

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