This was the original beginning to The Way Back To Me… I didn’t like it so I rewrote it a different way, but I thought I’d share anyway. It’s unedited and rough…
©2016 Anne Mercier
“Can you believe it?” I ask Danny whose smile is as wide as mine. “We finally did it!”
“We sure did, Livvy!” He laughs and pulls me into a hug then spins us in circles, my graduation gown flapping against my legs, one of my shoes threatening to come off—but I don’t care. This is one of the best moments of my life and I’m spending it with the one person who I love most.
“One last summer before we head off to college,” Cassidy says. Cassidy’s been my best friend since we were in diapers and Danny—Danny’s been the love of my life for as long as I can remember. We complete each other. We made it through good times and bad times, hard times and easy times, and we’re still together. I can’t imagine my life without this gorgeous man who loves me and treats me like a princess.
The rest of our gang, Phil and Alex come walking up with their chicks of the week—blonde, busty, and as air-headed as they come. Unlike Danny, these two want nothing to do with relationships. They are the fuck ’em and chuck ’em boys. I’d be disgusted but the girls they pick are just as bad as they are. It’s all about who can screw who and I honestly don’t get it. I don’t want to even try.
Cassie grins. “You all ready to party?”
“Hell yeah,” Phil replies. “Party on the beach behind the Collins’ house.”
“It’s my turn to be DD,” I tell them with a little pout. I’d love to celebrate our high school graduation by getting drunk with the rest of them, but we all made a pact when we started partying: There’d always be a DD and we take turns. Tonight’s mine. I honestly have just as much fun sober as I do drunk—this crowd is very, very entertaining.
“That’s my girl,” Danny says with a squeeze of my shoulders.
“Besides, if I feed Alex enough shots, I’m more than entertained by his re-enactments of N Sync routines,” I snicker and Cassidy snorts.
“That’s right,” Alex boasts. “I’ve got all the moves.”
“Mmm, the blonde on his arm purrs. “I bet you do.”
Cassidy rolls her eyes. “Let’s do the family stuff so we can get to the partying!”
“Oh God, Oh God, Oh God,” I murmur as I round the curve after dropping the first carload of people off from the party. I put the car in park and reach for my phone.
“911 what is your emergency?”
“I-I—there’s a car accident,” I mumble. I recognize the car. It’s Simon Meerdink’s car. He was at the party. Who the hell gave him his keys? They broke the rules.
“Are you hurt?”
I shake my head.
“Miss? Are you injured?”
“No, no. It’s not my car.”
“How many vehicles involved, miss?”
“J-just one. It hit a tree. No one is moving inside and I can’t get across the ravine to them. It’s too steep.” Oh God. Panic surrounds me, filling me from the inside out, causing my body to tremble.
“Okay miss, where are you exactly?”
I tell her what road I’m on and where.
“I need to try to get to them,” I tell the operator.
“Miss, it’s best if you just wait for the paramedics.”
I need Danny. He’ll know what to do. He always knows what to do.
“I have to go… I have to…” I tell the operator. I hear her voice, it sounds so distant as I hang up.
I dial Danny and I then I hear it. It’s a phone ringing. It’s faint, but I can hear it. My heart races faster, blood thunders in my ears.
“No. No, no, no.” I hang up and dial again. I hear the ringing. “Danny,” I whisper and run to the ravine. I slide down the steep hill on my butt, my flip flops falling off as I do. I walk through the muddy water and start to climb the other side. Pulling on tree roots and grabbing onto stones. My foot slips I struggle for purchase and right myself.
Stay calm, Liv. Stay calm. You can get to them. They’ll be okay. They have to be. My Danny. My love. My life.
I strain with each pull and heave my body up, up, up. I hear sirens in the distance, but I can’t wait. I just can’t. I have to know. I need to see.
Almost there. Almost to the top. I push with my thighs and pull myself over the edge and roll onto my back. I don’t take a second to catch the breath I’m struggling for. I run to the car.
The front is crinkled up like an accordion and I see air bags. It’s so dark. So, so dark. I turn on the flashlight app on my phone and run toward the wreckage.
“Danny! Danny!” Please be okay. Please be okay.
As I near the car I see blood. God, the blood. Alex’s in the passenger seat and I can tell he’s not breathing. His head hangs at an unnatural angle and my hand flies up to my mouth to hold back the bile—and the scream. I look across the car to Simon who’s drenched in blood. It’s not until I look into the back seat that my heart plummets.
Danny. “No! No, no, no!” I scream as I try to open the back door. And not just Danny—Cassidy and Phil. Why? Why would they get in the car knowing I was on my way back?
Cassidy’s head went through the window and is resting against a large boulder. I close my eyes and when I open them I look to Phil whose head hanging down. I can reach him, so I touch the side of his neck, hoping and praying for a pulse—but there isn’t one. Nothing but blood and cooling flesh and the smell of destruction.
I hear a gurgle and Simon’s eyes open.
He heaves a wet and shaky breath. “I’m s-sorry,” he whispers, brokenly.
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” I sob.
He sucks in a watery breath and I know he doesn’t have much time but the sirens are getting closer—maybe, maybe they can at least save him. “Th-there was a deer. I swerved and—” he coughs up blood, and I want to scream. “I couldn’t get control.”
“Simon, you hold on, do you hear me? The paramedics are here now. Stay with me.” I wish I could go around to his side of the car to hold his hand, but he’s pinned in by another tree.
“Liv,” he whispers. “I’m sorry. So fucking sorry.”
“No, you don’t, Simon Meerdink! You hold on! Just please, hold on a little longer. They’re here now, right here!” I wail, curse, and pray. “Danny—my Danny,” I sob as I reach in through the window to touch his messy blonde hair. He didn’t have a chance. The limb from the tree impaled him. I see the ring I gave him for Christmas on his hand reflecting in the moonlight and a sob shakes my entire body.
We’ll never go to college together. We’ll never get engaged. We’ll never get married or buy a house. Oh, God, we’ll never have children. My future is gone.
“Miss, are you hurt? Are you hurt?”
I snap out of my daze. “No, no. The driver, he was just talking to me. I,” I sob, “I don’t think anyone else made it.” I drop to my knees as the reality of the situation sinks in. All of my friends are dead. My breathing picks up and I sob uncontrollably. Large masculine arms pick me up off the ground and carry me across the makeshift bridge they made over the ravine.
“She’s in shock. Her feet are cut to shreds and I’m not even sure how many cuts she’s got on her arms, legs, and body. She needs to be stitched up,” a deep voice says and I’m set onto the gurney. I fight.
“I’m fine, no! Help them! You have to help them! Someone might be alive!” I fight and fight as they try to push me to lay down.
“Let me go! Do your fucking job and help them! I’m fine! Help them… please,” I sob and feel a prick in my upper arm, “please just help them.”
I continue to beg anyone who listens to help them as tears stream unchecked down my cheeks. My eyes grow heavy and I’m tired. So tired. My last thought before I drift off is that nothing is ever going to be the same—I’m never going to be the same.