Tessa R.



All I am truly aware of is the sensation of being in zero gravity.

Sure, there are other things, too—the sound of shattering glass, the crunching of the car’s exterior, the smell of smoke rising from beneath the hood—but those things I sense as if from a distance.  It’s like my whole body has gone completely numb, and my mind is no longer tethered within its confines.  Maybe this is what an out-of-body experience is.

The car grinds to a halt, and suddenly I’m thrust back inside my body, trapped in the crumpled Prius that seems to be bleeding smoke and oil.  I peel my head off the steering wheel; blood dribbles into my eyes.  I try to wipe it away with an already blood-slicked hand that’s covered in some gritty, sharp material, like jagged pebbles.  Belatedly I realize it is glass from my smashed windshield.

Suddenly my car door is ripped off of its hinges by a guy who looks like a young Tom Cruz, except black haired with tattoos inked all the way up his left arm.  My head lolls to the side as he yanks my seatbelt off, lifts me into his arms and speeds away from the vehicle, which explodes like some surreal action movie effect.  Heck, with Tom Cruz Guy and my exploding car, my life might as well have transformed into a freaking Mission Impossible movie.

Apparently I said this out loud, because the man laughs, causing my head to shake against his chest.  A sharp pain stabs my temple, and I wince.  “Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” he murmurs, setting me gently on the soft dirt ground in front of him, my red hair flowing out around my head like a halo.  He kneels over me, his warm hands pressing gently down on my ribs to make sure they aren’t broken.

“What’s your name?” a feeble voice asks.  It might be mine.

He smiles, his brown eyes still focused on scanning my body for injuries.  “Chaz,” he replies, carefully pulling a shard of glass out of my arm.


“Yeah.”  Chaz wipes his forehead with the arm that’s not tattooed.

“I’m Jess.”  I blink owlishly up at him, my ice blue eyes labored by the small movement.

Chaz smiles again.  I decide that I like his smile; he has a dimple on the left side of his mouth that’s just endearing.

Which is just as well, because it’s the last thing I see before everything goes black.


With a quick jerk of my wrist, I steer my car towards the side of the road, barely sparing time to even turn the beat-up truck off before sprinting to the battered Prius, which looks like a crumpled aluminum can, if aluminum spewed thick black smoke and copper oil.

I mutter a curse as I begin tugging at the driver’s side door.  If the car’s bleeding oil from the gas tank, it could very well explode.

With someone inside of it.

I mutter a silent prayer of thanks when the door comes off, and then fumble with the woman’s seat belt.  Her head is lolling to the side, her red hair matted with blood and blue eyes half shut.  I lift her out of the car and take off running not a moment too soon.  I was right; the vehicle explodes just as we reach the opposite side of the road near my truck.  Some other people have gotten out to help the other driver, the one who hit her.

“With Tom Cruz Guy and my exploding car, my life might as well have transformed into a freaking Mission Impossible movie,” the redheaded lady murmurs.  She looks to be about nineteen, maybe early twenties.

I stifle a laugh, and she winces as I lower us to the ground.  “Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” I murmur and carefully place her on the soft earth in front of me.  I start pressing down on her ribs to check if they’re broken or not.

“What’s your name?” she asks feebly, her long-lashed blue eyes focused on my face.

I smile, my eyes still focused on scanning her body for injuries.  “Chaz,” I reply, extracting a particularly sharp piece of glass that was imbedded in her arm.

“Oh.” Her eyes flutter closed.

“Yeah.” I wipe my forehead with my non-tattooed arm.

“I’m Jess.” Jess’s Southern accented voice is a breathy whisper.  She blinks slowly, her eyes finally latching onto my worried smile.

She smiles back, and her eyes close.

Panicked, I hurriedly press my ear to her chest to listen for a heartbeat.  I check her pulse, relieved to confirm that she hasn’t succumbed to her injuries.

Someone must have called the police.  The red and blue flashing lights throw strange, colorful shadows across the woodsy surroundings and on the cracked asphalt road.  Soon an ambulance rumbles onto the scene, and several paramedics lift Jess onto a stretcher.

As they hurry off with her, I catch sight of her badly cut arm, and unconsciously rub my tattoos.

Like me, Jess will always have those scars.