This is a work of fiction, the names used are fictional. Any relation to any person, real or imagined, living or dead, is purely unintentional and accidental.
It was lunch, and I was going to sit and eat with her. Everyone had told me she had some sort of scar, and was very standoffish because of it. Apparently she was quite self-conscious because of that scar. Her brown hair was brushed so it covered the right side of her face, and she perpetually kept her head down, trying to cover it.
I had only worked there three months, and knew I hadn't fit in. I was too strange for them. I didn't care about sports, could care less about politics, or celebrity who is sleeping with who nonsense. I worked there, with them, and her.
I was a truck driver, we worked at a warehouse, and I drove the truck that backed the trailers to the doors, and pulled the trailers out when they were loaded, or unloaded, as required. I spent a lot of time just hanging around, but was tolerated because I could hit even the tough to access doors on the first try. So no time lost waiting for the driver to get his act together.
I sat down across from Julie at the picnic table behind the warehouse. I smiled and said "Hello, I'm Paul, and you are supposed to be Julie right?"
She nodded slightly, and nibbled at her salad.
"I have been here about three months, and near as I can tell, have met and talked to everyone except you, so I thought I would stop by and say hello." I said cheerfully.
She mumbled something. It sounded like "Hello."
I chatted while I ate my sandwich, talking about the weather, we were in a drought in Georgia, and that subject was summed up in a minute.
After I had been babbling on with small talk for about 15 minutes, Julie looked up at me and I was astonished to see anger in her eye. She was angry. She was mad at me.
"Come to see the scar?" she demanded, and she had said the first words to me in full volume, and her voice was full of anger.
"No, I came to each lunch with you. I've eaten with everyone else, and." I started, but didn't get to finish.
"Bullshit, you can't lie to me, you want to see what I am, take a look, take a good look at the freak." She pulled her hair back from her face exposing her scared cheek. Her scar was a burn scar, apparently from some car accident or another. It was on the right side of her face, and ran from her light blue eye to her jaw line. Her eye appeared to droop because of it. I glanced at it and then looked her in the eye.
"That isn't who you are, scars don't define who we are, just where we've been." I said.
She looked at me shock evident on her face, and lowered her hair, and then her head. She stood and walked back into the building.
I finished the day, expecting to be called into the office and informed that I didn't work there anymore. Well, I've been fired before, and for better reasons than trying to be nice to someone. I wasn't called into the office, and punched the clock as I left for the day.
The next morning I saw her. Julie did data entry, from a small cubby office near the managers office. She was in the warehouse and not the office now, and glanced at me a couple times while talking to the Foreman. I waved and she gave me a shy wave back, with a small hint of a smile.
At lunch, I went back to the table in the back lot. It was really set up for the smokers, but they all smoked near the door, and didn't bother walking out here. I saw Julie sitting there, and kept walking toward the table.
"Hi Julie, how are you doing today?" I asked cheerfully.
"Ok, and you Paul?" Julie said with a stronger voice than yesterday.
"Fine, no complaints so far." I said.
I pulled out my sandwich and saw she was working on some soup and she kept glancing at me.
Julie and I sat like that for about half the lunch hour and then she said "Did you mean what you said about the scars not being who we are?"
"Yes, if you have heard of me from the others, you know I only say what I mean, perhaps not as well as I would like, but you get the point." I told her.
"Yeah, I've heard that. They said you won't tell a lie period." Julie said.
"I may not volunteer information, but that's not lying, that's merely reserving something." I said.
"So you don't think the scar is horrible?" Julie asked her voice brittle and very thin.
"No, you were hurt badly once, that is what the scar says about you. It doesn't say you are a nice person. Your actions say that. It doesn't tell the story of who you are, just what happened that day you were hurt." I said and placed a chip into my mouth.
"Thanks, it's very nice of you to say that." Julie said.
We ate lunch in silence, and then went back to work. The next day I again ate lunch with Julie, and on Thursday, I asked her out.
"Julie, I know you probably have plans, but I was wondering if you would like to go to dinner with me tomorrow?" I asked her.
"You aren't asking me out on a date are you?" she asked me, her voice again brittle.
"Sure, I mean, I know I'm only a trucker, and can hardly be a great date, but if you aren't busy, yes, I'm asking you out." I said.
She looked at me, we had spent some time over the last few days looking into each others eyes, well I looked into her left eye, her right was usually hidden in shadow from her hair.
I could see a tear forming in her eye, and couldn't understand, then I realized what she was thinking. Stupid me.
"Julie, I'm not trying to date your scar, I'm trying to take you to dinner, including if you don't mind me saying, your particularly attractive behind." I said.
"My behind, you mean my butt?" she said confused.
"Yes, It's a wonderful behind, absolutely lovely." I said.
She giggled at that, an honest to God giggle. "Are you crazy?" she asked laughing.
"No, I don't think so. Why?" I asked.
"No one looks at my ass." She said.
"I do, and since we are being honest, it's why I come by the office as often as I do to drop off the papers that don't need to be dropped off yet. I'm hoping you will be walking back to your own office." I said.
"You must be joking. You want to take me out?" she asked, her voice again soft and perhaps a little brittle, but not as thin and tight as before.
"No, I'm very serious Julie, if I was joking I'd say something like 'a man walks into the bar with a monkey' or some other silly joke."
She didn't answer, she finished her soup and giving me her home phone number said "Call me later, and we can talk about it, OK?"
I promised to do just that, and I meant it.
I called her, and we talked for a while, and we went out on Friday to dinner. I then asked if she would like to walk along the river downtown, and she agreed. We walked and talked, and chatted about our lives. Where we were from, how we grew up, places we have been, the usual things you talk about when on a date to get to know someone better. I took her home and walked her to the door, she lived with her friend Sarah, and I shook her hand on the porch. "Julie, I had a great time with you, and I hope we can do this again soon."
"OK, that would be great." She said shyly, and then ducked into the house.
I went to the car, and drove off toward my own small apartment.
I called her Saturday afternoon and we chatted some more. She invited me to dinner on Sunday, with Sarah and her boyfriend. I agreed quickly. Julie made me feel happy, and why not spend some time with her.
We had dinner on Sunday, and I saw a small nod of approval from Sarah about half way through dinner. I realized that I had passed the girlfriend test. Sarah's boyfriend Chuck was OK, one of those Army Ranger types who kept trying to impress me with how tough he was, I ignored him, I wasn't really there for any of them, although I liked Sarah, I was there to spend time with Julie.
We went outside onto the porch and sat talking for a long time. I kissed her gently, thinking it would be a great scene for our first kiss. She didn't respond. Her lips gave no motion. I looked at her eyes, and saw the tears forming again.
"Julie, I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't have done that. I wanted to all weekend is all." I said softly.
"It's OK, it's just that, well I haven't since the accident is all." She said.
"Do you want to tell me about it?" I asked her. "I mean, If you want to tell me about it, I am here to listen, but you don't have to do anything if you don't want to."
Julie looked at me for a while and then said "I guess I do want to tell you about it. I was driving home from a friend's house late one night five years ago. I reached for a different CD to listen to and when I looked up I saw a deer in the road right in front of me. I swerved, but caught the deer with the corner of the car. It hit the windshield and I ended up in the ditch upside down." Julie paused and I wrapped my arm around her, pulling her close and holding her safe.
She continued her story. "I don't know how long I was out, but when I woke up the car was smoking. I was confused, didn't know where I was, you know."
I nodded and said "I can imagine how you felt waking like that."
She nodded back and said "The car caught on fire, I was struggling with the seat belt trying to get free, I was so scared." She paused again. "Someone, a man who was passing by kicked in the window, and was reaching in for me. The fire was inside now, and burning my jacket, I was wearing one of those denim jackets. I was screaming in pain and fear. I was so damn scared. When he pulled me out, the burning jacket was up against my face, and I got burned pretty bad."
I stroked her head and held her close to me kissing her forehead and whispering "It's OK now, your safe."
"The ER doctors told me I was lucky to be alive and essentially unharmed. A plastic surgeon said he could minimize the scar, but I can't afford it. Our insurance doesn't cover cosmetic surgery you know." She said.
"I know, and it doesn't matter, the scar isn't who you are, it tells the story of how lucky you were to survive, it shows how close you came to not being here at all." I said knowing it wasn't right, but not knowing how to say it any better.
"I'm lucky?" Julie asked.
"Yes, because if someone hadn't come and helped you out of the car, you probably would have died, and I don't think you would rather be dead would you?" I asked her.
"No, I guess not, but I'm disfigured and ugly." She said
I raised her up to look into her face and saw the tears running down her cheek. I reached out and brushed her hair back and she tried to turn and hide her face. I held her head, firmly, but not hard. I leaned in and kissed her scar, her cheek, gently, but again and again. Her hands came around me hesitantly, and then with more feeling. Soon she was gripping me tightly, like a drowning victim grasping at the life ring, desperate to live.
"There is so much more to you than this scar Julie, I wish you could look past it and see the beauty I see." I said and then pausing for a moment said "I am not as good with words as I wish I was. I wish I had the words to wipe away your pain, to take your fears and put them in a box. I'm just a guy who really likes you."
Julie looked into my eyes, and this time, when I kissed her she kissed me back. Our tongues met fleetingly, and then introduced themselves properly. Julie and I kissed for a long time on that porch, I was very careful not to move my hands below her shoulders and upper back. I knew she wasn't ready for that, and I knew that she was so special, I needed to be patient and move slowly, because that is what she needed.
We ate lunch the next day, sitting close and kissing good bye as we both went back to our individual jobs. I felt like I was walking on air, and every time I saw Julie, she was smiling. The guys in the warehouse watched on in silence. I don't know if they thought we were both freaks or what. I guess a couple of them weren't just normal guys. Perhaps they were happy to see Julie happy and smiling.
I took her out that week to get dinner twice, and we kissed long into the night on her porch.