"No. No. No!" I grumble and hit the steering wheel with the palm of my hand. The clock is moving much too fast and my car is going too slow. I can't be late again!
It's still dark outside because the gray clouds above are blocking any form of sunlight. It's going to rain. I love the rain, but I hate the repercussions. Whenever there's a bad storm, the rec center's policy is that no one under the age of 18 can leave until an all clear is given or they are picked up by an adult. Which means I'm on babysitting duty with a bunch of crying kids all freaking out about the rain.
I was hoping to duck out of work early to avoid the storm, but with the rate I'm driving, I'll probably have to work late to cover my absence.
I pull into the parking lot at 6:49. By the time I punch in, it's 7:00. I'm half an hour late and there's no way Dave is going to let this slide again. I sigh and make sure to tuck in the green T-shirt with the STAFF logo on the back before I take my place behind the counter in the fitness center.
At least I get to wear jeans, I think when I peer down at the daycare section. One wall of the fitness center is all glass so the parents can see their children down in the kid's area. The two people down there, Danny and Allie I think, have to wear khaki. I would be so miserable if I couldn't wear my jeans.
"Hey Lucy!" Joanna greets. She's a tiny little Asian woman who's worked here more years than my boss. She has the most upbeat personality around the whole rec center. She coughs and motions with her hand to her bun.
"Oh!" I gasp. I duck down below the desk, flip my hair over, and pull it into a loose bun. That's another thing Dave would write me up about if he caught me. "Thanks" I say to Joanna and type my password into the computer.
"No problem. How's Missy doing?"
I roll my eyes and hand her a stack of dollars to count. I take out all the coins and start separating them into one dollar piles. "She still won't listen to me. When did you start wearing makeup Jo?"
It takes her only a few seconds to think about this. "Probably in high school."
"Exactly" I say and place the coins back in the register after marking down how many I had on a sheet. "But every time I tell her she needs to wait, she doesn't listen. I've tried everything. I told her she's beautiful without it: and she is. I've told her it makes her look immature. Nothing works."
Joanna nods and hands me the stack of dollars. Now they are stacked so neatly that I'm afraid to touch them. They look so perfectly aligned. "It's because you're her sister" Joanna tells me. "She needs to hear it from someone else."
"Any ideas?" I laugh. We both know there's no one else. If she's going to listen to anyone, I'd be the only one that could ever break through to her.
The first man to step into the fitness center is an old guy that gets his workout by walking along the walls of the gym, doing ten squats, and then sitting on a machine and pretending to use it. Joanna greets him and swipes his card before handing him a towel with a smile. She is such a morning person.
"How's school going?" she asks.
I shrug. "I can't say I'm enjoying it. But spring break is in a few weeks and then I'll be free."
"Enjoy it because it'll go by fast. You may hate it now, but you'll miss it so much later."
I nod because that's probably true. Although, everyone told me that I would miss high school and I really don't for one reason: Paul Lahote. All throughout high school, that boy tortured me. He made sure that I knew I didn't belong. We didn't even go to the same school! And yet every day, he found me on my way home and made sure that I knew I didn't belong anywhere near the reservation. What an asshole.
I don't see him so much anymore. Oh the joys of college! I haven't seen that boy around and the few times I have, he has left me alone. Jared tells me it has to do with his new friends, Sam's gang. Jared and I have kept in touch all this time. Even when we started to grow apart for a few weeks, I pushed and made sure we kept contact. And now we are back to the way we've always been.
Around nine, the usual rush of people are in. Joanna and I are busy with signing people in and watching the people exercise. Joanna nudges me and points over to the treadmills. "Go check on that guy. He's been pushing himself pretty hard and I don't want to see him have a heart attack."
I nod and ease around the desk. The man on the treadmill is heading into his forties and he's got quite the gut. Yet, he's pounding it out on the treadmill. I nonchalantly glance at the screen. His heart rate is close to 190. I open my mouth and take a step forward, but then he drops the level and the pace slows to a walk. I hover around for a minute or two and make sure his heart rate is dropping. Only when it's at 150 do I walk away.
"He's alright" I report to Joanna and sit down on one of the rolling chairs. The rush has died down and now there's only the occasional fitness junkie that appears.
After we've both settled down, I pull up the weather station, the only website the center's computer will allow me to go to, and check the time of the storm. We've got another hour before it's supposed to be here. And I've got another three of work. I sigh and close the site.
"So guess who's getting married" Joanna suddenly announces, her eyes on her phone.
A list of people flicker through my mind. But the one that stands out the most is this guy that used to work with us last year. He had been dating this one coffee shop girl for three years now. "Matt?" I exclaim.
Joanna nods, a wide grin on her lips.
I nearly scream and tackle her for the phone. I don't really need to though, because a minute later, my phone goes off. I throw Joanna her phone and flip mine open. "It's from Matt" I announce and open the message.
Hey Lucy! I'm getting married! And you are officially being forced to be a bridesmaid. Call you when you're out of work!
The rest of the afternoon I was in a blissful haze. I was so excited! And best of all, one of the daycare girls got pulled to do babysitting for the under-18-ers when the storm broke through. "You sure you don't want me to get you dinner?" I asked Joanna as I signed the cash out sheet.
She shook her head. "I'll be fine. Just another hour."
"Alright, see you tomorrow" I said and gave her a quick hug. I raced down the stairs to the lobby and flew out the front door. A loud crack of thunder sounded overhead and I jumped. The sky was the darkest grey I'd seen in a long time. The clouds hadn't released much rain yet though.
I dashed to my car and managed to escape with only a specked shirt and not a drenched one. I shoved the key in the ignition and rubbed my hands together, waiting for the car to heat up. And just as I was buckling my seatbelt, my phone began to ring.
I almost screamed and fumbled with shaking fingers to answer. "Matt! Why didn't you tell me you were going to propose?"
He laughed on the other end. "Easy there Lucy. I didn't say anything because I didn't really know I was going to do it. The moment was just right. How are you by the way?"
"Oh who cares about me" I laughed. "You're getting married, Matt! Married!"
Again he laughed and I could hear him sigh. "I know. Wow. Never thought I'd actually be doing this. But Karen's got me wrapped around her finger."
"Good" I laughed. "That's how it ought to be. When's the wedding?" The car had finally warmed up, so I put it in drive and pulled out of the parking lot.
"Not sure yet. We were thinking next June, but we're not sure yet. It really depends on Karen and her family. She is the bride after all."
"Bet that felt good saying that" I teased.
He sighed. "You have no idea. I keep calling her Mrs. Parson. You should see her blush. It's pretty funny."
I pulled onto the main road that divided La Push and Forks. My house was about a mile down on the La Push side, much to the council's dislike. On the left was the forest, and the right was all reservation. "I'm sure she doesn't find it too funny."
"Nah. But still…"
Matt was cut off by my ear-piercing scream. A tall, tan man in only cutoffs ran out into the street from the forest. I slammed on the breaks and turned the wheel as far to the right as possible. But with the wet road, I lost traction and my little car collided with the guy.
"Lucy?" Matt's panicked voice reached my ears.
"Call you back!" I shouted and jumped out of the car. There was no traffic and I jumped into the street and raced around to the front of the car. The guy was lying on the road with his hand by his head.
"Oh my God!" I screamed. I wasted no time and dug my fingers into his neck, searching for a pulse. I jumped back feeling his burning skin. There was a pulse though.
With a groan, the man opened his eyes. "I am so sorry" I apologized. "I'm calling an ambulance" I say and quickly dial 9-1-1.
"I'm fine" he barks and brushes me off. His eyes meet mine and we both freeze.
His eyes widened and he took a sharp intake of breath. All the anger once in those chocolate orbs faded away and he actually smiled. He had been hit by a car and yet he was smiling like an idiot.
My eyes were just as wide. I had hit this guy, full on, with my car and yet he was fine. More than fine. Perfect. Not a scratch, bruise, or any bleeding. I took a step back and watched with wary eyes as he stood without any difficulty. No soreness.
"That's impossible" I gasped.
He snapped back to reality and grabbed my phone. I could hear the dispatcher ask what the emergency was just as he snapped the phone shut. "I'm fine" he says again, but this time much kinder.
I shake my head. "You need an ambulance. At least let me take you to the hospital" I beg when he stands up. "Are you dizzy?"
"No. I'm Paul" he says sarcastically.
I laugh and shake his hand. This has to be the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me. I've just hit a guy with my car and he's not hurt and not threatening to sue me. "Lucy."
A loud howl rips through the air and I jump. What the heck is that? Wolves don't come that close to the street do they? And when there's still a little sunlight?
Paul looks off desperately into the woods. He turns back to me with longing eyes. "I'm really sorry" he apologizes for a reason I don't know. "I have to go."
"Wait!" I shout, sure he's going to collapse or fall into shock. I didn't even give him my insurance or anything. And there he goes, running back into the trees. What the hell is he? Some kind of Tarzan?
My phones starts to ring like mad and I answer it as I inspect the front of my car. "Are you ok?" Matt asks, panicked.
"I'm fine" I say and shake my head. There's a huge dent in the front of my car. I can feel myself slipping into shock. My car is dented, but the man is fine. I shake my head and just climb back into my car. I'll think more about it later; when I'm home and not in danger of going into shock or getting into another accident.
"What the heck happened? You gave me a heart attack!" he scolds me.
"I hit someone with my car" I nearly whisper.
He still hears me and he explodes. "You what? Call 9-1-1! Are you on the phone with them now? Here, I'll hang up" he says.
"Wait!" and when I still hear his breathing I continue. "The guy ran off. Said he was fine. He looked fine too."
"What do you mean? You hit him with your car!"
"I know. But he was seriously fine. There was nothing wrong with him. Nothing at all. It's really starting to freak me out."
"Do you know his name or anything?"
"His name is Paul. That's all I know. He's probably from the res because he looks like a native."
"Are you ok? Do you want me to come down there?"
I shake my head and then realize he can't see me. I haven't started driving yet because now I'm afraid that I really can't talk and drive at the same time. And I'm not going to hit another person because they might not be… whatever that Paul guy is that keeps him from dying at the hands of my car.
"I'm fine. Stay up there with Karen. I'm fine."
He sighs but after a little convincing he tells me to call him with updates and hangs up. I drive home much more carefully than normal.
And when I pull into the garage, I don't even look at the dent again. I just sit down on the couch, turn on some trash TV, and try and forget about the guy I should have killed that's running around in the woods. Running around in the woods completely unharmed.
"What the hell?" I ask myself.