"I hear ya," said Tenley, from across the table. "It's all mixing together at this point."
Jane smiled but saw easily through the white lie. Tenley practically had photographic memory, a near perfect 3.9 GPA, and could answer any question about law without glancing at her notes. She accompanied Jane to the library for this review session mostly out of kindness rather than personal need. Jane appreciated the gesture, but was starting to feel overwhelmed. Coming from a line of successful family lawyers, she felt the pressure more than ever to pass this exam. Not to mention, those loud students a few tables away were treating the library like it was a dance party. What was the world coming to? Why was every person under the age of 20 incapable of having even an ounce of respect for their surroundings? She looked over to see Tenley studying her expression. Tenley tapped her pencil up and down.
"What you need is a break," she suggested. "Come on!" And started packing up her supplies.
"No, you come on," Jane said emphatically. "The Bar is just about twelve hours away."
"Trust me," Tenley replied. "If you study while you're this stressed, you won't retain anything."
Jane wanted to protest, but a break sounded like the best option at this point. They headed out of the quiet library and onto the streets of the busy college town. Expecting to still see the sun in the sky, Jane grabbed her cell phone. "What?! It's 10:40? How long were we studying?"
"Too long." Tenley looked up the street. "Want to just grab a coffee and chill out for a bit?"
With finals and exams driving people to insanity, the nightlife was more rowdy than usual. One group of young undergrads was swarming a local pub and had taken over the sidewalk. The girls walked around to avoid them. A flirty freshman wearing a sports jersey whistled and winked at Tenley as they walked by. "Oh please," she said as they passed. "You're like a decade younger than I am."
"Look out!" someone yelled.
A loud radio, screeching tires, and a bright set of headlights had come swerving around the corner, headed straight for their direction before someone yanked her out of the road. Her foot caught on the curb, and she crashed down into a cast iron bench. For a moment everything was blurry and blindingly painful. Horns were beeping and people were yelling at the speeding car as it vanished down the road. When the roar of the engine had passed, she heard voices asking if she was okay and felt a set of hands helping her to her feet. "Jane! Jane, look at me."
"Holy crap," Jane moaned, holding her wet face.
"Oh my gosh!" Tenley exclaimed. "You're bleeding. -- Really bad..."
"I'm dying!" Jane panicked when she saw her blood-filled hands.
"She needs an ambulance," someone said.
"Let me see." Jane turned to see the Flirty Kid holding her steady.
"Oww..." Jane moaned, tears smarting behind her eyes. "Did you save my life?"
"Kind of," Flirt said. He was looking at her face very seriously and asked to see her cheek. "I'm in pre-med, don't worry." He touched her face carefully, but it caused her to wince and yelp. "It looks like you only need stitches. You should be okay."
"Thanks, Doctor," Tenley snapped. "How about you go back to playing with your G.I. Joes?"
"My G.I. what-?"
"Oh, nothing. I'm taking her to the ER." Tenley held Jane around the waist and started guiding her back down the street.
"Do you need a ride?" Flirt was still there.
"Do you have a license?" Tenley quipped.
"Tenley, stop," Jane said, almost laughing. The smile made her cheek sear with fresh pain, so she spoke slowly. "Sorry...what's your name?"
"Ray, nice to meet you. I'm Jane. Ow. Thank you so much for getting me out of the way." She cringed from talking so much and he waved her off, noticing the pain.
"It's fine, really. I'm just glad you'll be okay." Tenley was giving him an impatient smile, so he backed away and said, "If you need anything just call me."
"Okay, thank you!" Jane called, as Tenley guided her away.
"Yeah, sure, genius, you didn't even give us your number!" Tenley muttered.
Two hours later, Jane was filling out paperwork at the local hospital. A fresh gauze pad was taped neatly to her cheek, covering her brand new stitches. The nurse led her back to the waiting room where Tenley was waiting.
"Wow, you look great! They really did a nice job on you."
"Thanks," Jane said. "I just feel like I can't move my face."
"How many stitches did you have to get?"
"Phew...27. Holy moly, Jane. You have 27 stitches on your face. It really doesn't even look like that. You look great."
On the way home, between yawns (most of which were still painful for Jane), they talked about their night and Tenley swore she would hunt that driver down and sue him for reckless driving and other things that probably weren't even sue-able.
"Tenley," Jane said suddenly. "I got 27 stitches, right? Wasn't Ray wearing a jersey with the number 27 on it?"
"I didn't notice," she said. "But hm...wow."
"Yeah, wow is right."
"You two are meant for each other." She gave a silly, lovey, smile in her friend's direction.
Jane smiled tiredly. "No, but it's just funny how things happen..."
Feeling tired, humbled, and grateful, Jane knew she would forever be indebted to Ray for what he did that night. Even if he was only eighteen, she thought he had been the most courageous person in her life so far.
"Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."
1 Timothy 4:12