Again, I don't own Donnie Darko. If I did, I'd be the happiest girl in the world.
"You guys… this is all really unnecessary," Donnie said from his hospital bed. Around him there were flowers, candy, balloons. All kinds of trinkets expressing how glad everyone was to see him alive.
Donnie had sustained a pretty major head injury. Luckily the doctors said there wouldn't be any permanent damage. Otherwise he had a lot of minor cuts and bruises.
Gretchen smiled at him. "No it's not. It's a celebration of your life. Like a birthday, just in October instead of May."
"You… you remember everything," he grinned.
"Not everything," she shook her head. "But, the party… I remember."
"What are you two talking about?" Rose Darko asked, sitting in a chair in the corner of the hospital room while Eddie and Samantha Darko stood in the corner around her. "I thought you didn't know each other."
"Well, we didn't. Not personally. We were… pen-pals," he lied.
"I never heard about any pen-pal," Rose said, looking over at Miss Pomeroy.
"Oh, yeah. For my class, the students had a pen-pal assignment. Kind of crazy coincidence she ended up moving here," Pomeroy stuck up for him. She winked at Donnie when Rose turned away.
"I'm glad you're okay, Donnie," Sam came over and hugged Donnie for the umpteenth time.
"Whoa, ow, stop," he told her.
"Sorry," she giggled. "I can't believe you're alive!"
"I can't either," he said smiling.
"Donnie, what the hell happened to you?" his dad finally asked, waiting too long and not receiving a reasonable explanation of what had happened. "It doesn't make any sense… you weren't in your room when that thing hit. Where were you?"
"I must've… sleepwalked for a while and got stuck someplace," he fibbed again. "I don't know how these guys found me. That's more of a freak accident than what happened to me, I think. But a good accident." Really he was sure that whatever had happened was much larger, much more significant. But he would never really understand it. Whatever had happened, though, was a good thing.
The door to his room opened.
"Oh my God, Donnie, I'm so glad to see you're alive!" Elizabeth Darko said. There were tears in her eyes but it couldn't be heard in her voice. She came over and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Are you hurt?"
"A little," he said. "Well, it hurts a lot, but I'm doing great."
"Um… I want you to meet somebody…" she looked out the door. "Come in."
The door opened again. Donnie nearly jumped out of bed when he saw him.
"Everyone, this is my boyfriend, Frank," she said.
"So this is the boy you've been sneaking out with at night," Rose Darko stated with a smile. "It's good to meet you, Frank." Eddie seemed to know already too.
"You… you're… Frank," Donnie said, suddenly confused.
"You're Donnie," Frank said back. He was silent for a moment. "I… I got rid of the bunny suit."
"Oh… good," Donnie responded.
"I'm… sorry I made you do those things. Or… I don't know if it was really me, but… and I'm sorry about…" he stopped when he saw Gretchen. "You." She suddenly realized what he was talking about.
"I'm sorry I shot you," Donnie apologized.
"Yeah…" Frank trailed off, looking down.
The rest of the family looked on in confusion.
"Um… you know everybody, I'm kind of tired. Maybe we should just watch TV…" Donnie said, changing the subject as quickly as possible.
Gretchen turned the small television in the room to the local news station.
"The boy was found, injured, away from his home and not actually murdered injured in the freak accident. The origin of the engine is yet to be found," the family heard the end of the first news story end. Donnie blushed when everyone looked at him.
"In a related story, 101-year old Roberta Sparrow was found dead today in her home." Donnie and Gretchen turned and stared at each other. "She was found by local physics teacher Dr. Kenneth Monnitoff when he visited her home this afternoon. Coroners say that it was a natural death."
"I went to her house because I wanted to ask her something," Monnitoff said on the TV screen. "She didn't answer the door, so I checked inside. She was sitting on an old couch and she had a letter clutched in her hand… she was totally unresponsive when I tried to talk to her and soon I realized she had passed…"
The anchor went on "The note, interestingly enough, was written by the, until recently, missing Donnie Darko."
Each face in the room turned to Donnie again. He shrugged, grabbing the remote. "You know, I think I'm done with the TV for today," she smiled sheepishly as he turned it off.
After a day Donnie was fully recovered out of the hospital and back to his normal life.
After school he walked Gretchen and Cherita home. He noticed there was something different about Cherita now. She was more confident, more assertive. When Sean Smith was teasing her on Donnie's first day back she defended herself before Donnie could step in and threatened Sean. He stopped making fun of her after that, afraid of what might happen to him if he did.
They were walking for a bit before they passed Jim Cunningham's house.
"Hey, will you guys hold on for just a second?" he said when he realized where they were. They agreed.
Donnie walked up to Jim Cunningham's front door. His friends followed behind.
He rang the doorbell. Jim answered it, drunk, unshaven, and crying.
"You," Jim said in disgust, recognizing Donnie from his dream.
"Hey, Jim… you're looking really haggard," Donnie said, trying to be nice. "I… I know about your kiddie porn ring," he whispered. Jim's eyes grew. "And I know your life is going down the tubes… but there's help for people like you," Donnie said, taking a business card from his pocket. "Dr. Thurman is really good… she can help you."
He looked at it seriously for a second. His expression changed to a contorted smile. "Thank you," he finally said, slurred.
"Yeah. Good luck," Donnie said, turning around.
"What was that all about?" Gretchen asked.
"Just helping somebody out," Donnie responded, feeling good about himself. He pulled a small piece of paper out of his pocket and ticked a box.
"What… what is that? Gretchen asked, looking over his shoulder.
"Um… it's just a list. Of people that might kind of need my help."
Miss Pomeroy and Cherita's names were already ticked off the list. "Seems like things have kind of been sorting themselves out while I was gone."
"Why am I on the list?" Cherita asked when she noticed her name. She looked offended.
"I thought maybe you needed to stick up for yourself… but I've seen you," he smiled at her and she smiled in return. "You don't need my help anymore."
"It's thanks to you," Cherita said and then blushed. He grinned at her.
"And Miss Pomeroy?" Gretchen asked.
"Oh, she… she changed the curriculum. She can't lose her job now," Donnie recalled his reasoning.
"And that guy?" Gretchen pointed to Jim Cunningham's door.
"That guy's a freak," Donnie laughed as they left the driveway and were onto the sidewalk and continued walking. "Thought he needed some psychiatric help. And Dr. Thurman is the best."
"What's the last name on the list?" Gretchen tried to take a last peek at the slip of paper but he hid it as best he could.
"That's not important," he said, putting it back in his pocket.
"Let me see," she said, grabbing it away from him. "Gretchen's mom?" she asked, incredulous. "Why… what happens to my Mom?"
He didn't want to freak her out. Especially after everything that had happened.
"Gretchen, on the 30th… I think your step-dad finds you. Here. And I figured… I'll have my mom have some kind of dinner or something. We'll invite you and your mom, and you guys can be safe at our house and I'll call the police to watch your place."
"I don't understand," she shook her head. "What happens?"
"Something happens to your Mom, I don't know what, neither of us saw it."
They passed Cherita's house and she waved them adieu.
"But… didn't your sister have a party that night? Your mom was out of town."
"Well, she was out of town because she had to take my sister to her dance competition, right?" Gretchen nodded. "Well, that was because Mrs. Farmer couldn't take them. Now she can."
"How does that work?"
"Well, she couldn't go because she went to Jim Cunningham's arraignment for this whole big thing."
"Arraignment for what?"
"Child pornography charges."
She looked disgusted. "Okay… and… now he won't be having this arraignment?"
"Well, he's not going to get found out."
"Because I'm not going to burn his house down."
"Um… okay," she said, trying to absorb everything. Things were still coming back to her slowly. Still she was confused about why she could remember so much when the others recalled so little. She was glad, though. Most of these memories were something worth remembering. Something beautiful.
"You and your mom are going to be okay, Gretchen," Donnie promised, looking straight into her eyes. "And they're going to catch that sicko who hurt her."
"You really mean that," she smiled when she looked back.
The kiss that followed was his way of saying yes.