Tom opened his eyes and stared up at the ceiling. Immediately, someone spoke. “Tom?”
“Hello? Where are you?”
A head peeked over. “Oh, you’re awake. Thank goodness. I thought," the voice cracked a little and coughed before going on. "I thought, sometimes, that you would never wake up.”
“I’m sorry. Who are you?”
“I’m Sally. You’re joking right? You know me. The doctors said you would probably have amnesia, but I thought just maybe…” Her voice trailed off into nothingness.
So I have amnesia, Tom thought. I guess that explains a lot of things. Like how I don’t know why I’m here. Or why I can’t stop looking straight up. My neck really hurts, come to think of it. That must be it. But why does my neck hurt?
“It’s because of the accident.” Tom realised that he had spoken the last question out loud.
“A car accident.”
Tom remembered cars. “Was I driving?”
“Yes, you were driving, but it was the other driver that was the cause. He was drunk and strayed over into your lane. You were coming up a hill, never had a chance to see him coming in time to get out of the way. It’s quite the miracle that you’re still alive. Your airbags didn’t deploy quite right. You sustained almost critical head and neck injuries. If you hadn’t made it to the hospital and gone into surgery so soon, the doctors say you wouldn’t have made it. Just five minutes later, they say, and you were a goner."
Tom processed this for a minute. “How do you know all this? Are you my sister? Cousin? And where are my parents? Do I have parents?”
“I know all that because it’s in the official police reports.” The girl started sobbing uncontrollably. Tom wanted to comfort her, but, well, he couldn’t. He was kind of stuck. The look on his face must have pulled her around, because she stopped quickly. “And I’m not related to you at all. You have a mother; your father died when you were very young, so you didn't have any memories of him even before the accident. Your mother loves you very much, but everyone had given up hope that you would come around again. That’s why I’m the only one here to greet you after your long nap.”
“Why are you here?”
“Because I love you, Tom, and I feel so guilty that you ended up this way.”
“Who are you again?"
“I told you; I’m Sally.”
“No, I know that. What I mean to ask is, who are you to me?”
“That’s a complicated question.”
“Well, answer it as well as you can.”
Sally fell quiet for a long time. The minutes passed by. Finally she spoke, “I like to think that I was your future girlfriend, but I can’t be sure about that.”
“What makes you say that?”
“A lot of things, Tom Dapp. Maybe the fact that one of the very last things you did was kiss me. Maybe because you were always showing more interest in me than any of the other girls at school. Maybe because you did come to that stupid dance.”
That was a lot of information to take in. “I think that you should tell me about my last night before the accident,” Tom concluded. “That’ll help me figure out who I am.”
“I agree,” Sally said. “Are you ready? It’ll be a long one.”
“Yep, go for it.”
“Well, the story actually starts a little bit earlier than the night. It starts in class, about eight hours before the dance.”
"'Hey, Sally,' you said, tapping on my shoulder. 'Are you going to the dance tonight? Everyone’s saying that it’s going to be the event of the year.'”
“‘Oh, I don’t know. I’ve got lots to do. My parents are probably going to go out, so I’ll be stuck babysitting my younger siblings. Besides, we got that huge assignment in English today. I sure want to get a headstart on it. If I don’t, it’ll never get done. Procrastination is my greatest foe.’”
“‘Yea, I wasn’t planning on going either. I’ve got work until late, so I’d show up really late, not to mention really gross and sweaty. I don’t think any girl would want to dance with me in that condition.’ We both laughed at that.”
“‘It would probably be better for everyone if you didn’t go, then,’ I said, continuing the joke. ‘I remember that one time we got together to work on that calculus homework right after you got off of work.’”
“You groaned. ‘Don’t even mention that.”
“‘My cat wouldn’t even come into the room!’”
“‘Cats do have better noses. He was probably just super sensitive to the smell.’”
“‘No way, Tom. We’re all super sensitive to that kind of smell. I wanted to flee the room as well, but we had math to do. You have any idea how many cans of air freshener I used before the smell went away?’”
“‘Eight! My mom said that you’re officially not welcome at our house smelling like that.’”
“You grimaced. ‘That bad, huh?’”
“‘Well, will you tell your mom sorry for me?’”
“‘I already have several times. She just doesn’t seem to accept it. I wonder why.'"
“‘I’m sorry, Sally. You’re right. There’s no way I’m going to this dance. I’ll just ruin it for everyone there,’ you said with defeat.”
“I burst out laughing. ‘Tom, I’m joking. Mostly. My mom really doesn’t forgive you, but she’s really cranky anyway. I enjoy being around you. Just, take a shower before coming, even if it’s going to make you even later, okay?’”
“‘I’m going to the dance, and I’ll be waiting for you, thick headed idiot.’ I said teasingly. ‘This you in front of me, that doesn’t have an awful stench from work. Is that a deal?’”
“You grinned widely. 'Sure thing. It's a deal then. You be waiting for me and I'll come without an odor.’”
“Sure enough, about an hour after the dance started, you walked in with a hopeful look on your face and started scanning the crowd. I slipped out the door that I was standing by and walked around. When I made it back in through the door that you had entered, you had your shoulders slumped and were looking down at the ground, already walking out of the dance; the perfect picture of disappointment. That’s when I bumped into you.”
“‘Oh, hi Tom,’ I said. ‘Imagine running into you here.’”
“‘Hi, Sally. Quite the party. Where you’ve been?’”
“‘Sneaking around so that I could surprise you here. Now it’s always polite to ask the first girl you run into to dance.’”
‘“It is? I’ve never heard of that,’ you said skeptically. ‘Okay then. May I have this dance, my lady?’”
“As a reply, I grabbed your hand and pulled you close. ‘Where do I put my hand?’ You stuttered.”
“‘Well,’ I laughed. ‘It depends how much you like the girl. If it’s just whoever, then your hand goes pretty much on the shoulder blade. The more you like her, the further down her back you slide your hand. Putting it on her waist means that you’re madly in love. Just don’t go any further down than that, since this is a school dance and the teachers will yell at you.’ I winked.”
“You hesitated, so I grabbed your hand and firmly placed it on my waist. ‘And right there is the appropriate spot for our relationship,’ I whispered in your ear.”
“‘Really,’ you said in shock. ‘I didn’t know that.’”
“It's, true’ I insisted. The silence ruled for a few moments, as we just stared into each other’s eyes.”
“‘You look wonderful, tonight,’ slowly came out of your lips. You then paused for another moment. ‘What’s next?’”
“‘Normally, this is where we’d kiss.’ I chuckled as you blushed. ‘But since this is a school dance, that’s off limits. So, the next move would be for you to ask if you could drive me home, and that way, we could have a goodnight kiss. If I’m really good, and I can assure you I am, I’ve made sure that my parents are asleep.’”
“‘Can I drive you home?’”
“Of course, my dear.'”
“The rest of the dance was simply magical. We danced. We talked. We danced some more, laughing together through it all. Slowly, ever so slowly, you softened up, and as we took our positions for the last dance, I didn’t have to force your hand down to my waist, like I had done every other time. That was the most wonderful night of my life.”
“It didn’t end there. You drove me home. I turned on the radio and soon we were howling out our lungs together. Halfway there, I reached out to take your hand, and found you reaching out for mine. The drive wasn’t near long enough. Too soon we were at my house. I hopped out, waited a few moments, and since you didn’t follow suit, I went around the car, opened your door, and pulled you out. I ran to my door, dragging you behind, drew you into a close hug, and whispered, ‘I love you, Tom.’”
“‘I love you, Sally,’ you whispered back.”
“Beneath the glow of my front porch light, we kissed. Awkwardly at first. It was my first kiss and I assume it was yours too. We got it figured out and had a nice, long, passionate kiss before pulling back.”
“‘You have my number, right Tom?’”
“‘Call me tomorrow, okay. I’ll be waiting.’ With those words, I turned away and ran inside. I watched through the blinds as you drove away.”
“All next day, I waited for you to call. Finally, when it passed midnight, I cried. I thought that I had finally had you, but then this. It wasn’t until Monday that I heard you had been in an accident on Friday night, apparently driving home from the dance. I was told that it was a mystery why you had been there to get into an accident. It was way out of the way for you to be going home from the school. Worst of all, I was told that you were in critical condition in the hospital, ready to follow your father's footsteps, dying at the hands of a drunk driver. That's when I really cried. And since then, I’ve been living here in this room with you, waiting for you to wake up, because if you didn’t wake up, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.” A tear slid down Sally’s face.
There was silence while Tom processed all this new information. “I guess I only have one question,” Tom finally said.
“Do you still love me?”
“With all my heart, you idiot. Why do you think I’ve been here this entire time?”
“Kiss me.” Without hesitation, Sally leaned down, and they kissed. “Ah, yes, I do remember that. I love you, Sally”
“I love you, Tom. Please don’t ever leave me again.” Tears fell heavily from Sally’s face.
“Take my hand, Sally.” She did and Tom clenched it tightly. He stared into her eyes. “I won’t Sally. I won’t.”
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