Touching Scars


by Stacy Borel

Prologue

“ARE YOU GOING TO MEGAN’S party tonight?” Ryan said, throwing the football to Timber.

“Probably not. I didn’t finish my Biology project that was due last week, and Mr. Kent said I had to get it in to him by Monday or else I get a zero. I’ve already lost thirty points because it’s late.” Timber extended his arm and threw the ball back to Adam.

“I wouldn’t even bother. You already have an A in that class, what’s a missing project going to do, drop you down to an A minus?” Adam said sarcastically. “Besides, I heard there is going to be a keg.”

Timber glared over at him. “It will lower my GPA, ass**le, and I need that scholarship. I don’t have parents that pay for everything.”

Adam shrugged with indifference, and flipped him off.

Timber Nelson had to work for everything he had. His mom had been a secretary for the past ten years at Bay City Elementary School, and his dad had been the sheriff of the town since he could remember. It wasn’t as if they were poor, but they didn’t always have the money to go on lavish vacations or live in the exclusive communities that his friends parents did in Bay City, Texas. And unfortunately, it also meant that Timber didn’t have a college fund. His parents had saved as much as they could while he was growing up, but last year his father didn’t get re-elected and they had to dip into the money they’d set aside to pay the bills. Timber ended up getting a job at a local Market Basket stocking shelves and bagging groceries so he could start up a new savings account and put away as much money as possible. He knew he was going to need extra money for any added expenses the scholarship he’d been working for wouldn’t cover.

Although he was never jealous of his friends and their pompous lifestyles, with the fancy cars, brand name clothes, or new gadgets, this was something that he envied of them. They would get to attend whatever college that accepted them, and not have to worry about how they would pay for their next meal or how they would buy their books.

Still looking at Adam, he noticed that his friend had thrown the ball except he hadn’t thrown it towards him. He had thrown it wide and over Timber’s left shoulder. Two things happened in the moments leading up to the incident. First, he noticed that Adam had a Cheshire cat of a grin plastered on his face. The second thing was the ball seemed as it if was moving in slow motion and headed straight for the dark haired girl that had been running around the track.

“Hey, look out,” Timber hollered to Katherine, the girl that was running. The football was spiraling right toward her and Timber cringed as he watched it hit her in the back. She lurched forward and stumbled, falling onto her hands and knees. Her glasses went flying off her face in the process, landing on the pavement.

Timber’s friends all stood there laughing while he watched her roll over into a sitting position and rub the dirt off her knees with her scratched up palms. From where he was standing, he could see that she had tears streaming down her cheeks. His friends were such dicks. They teased any kid in school that his crowd didn’t hang out with, which was essentially anybody that wasn’t good looking or athletic. Katherine wasn’t an ugly girl, but she wasn’t the most beautiful either. However, Adam seemed to take extra pleasure is harassing her. Why he gave it to her the most, Timber didn’t know. He was never one to bully, but he never did anything to stop it. Maybe that made him as bad as his friends, maybe not, but now, looking over his shoulder at Katherine wiping a tear from her face, he felt sorry for her. He wanted to go see if she needed any help, but being badgered by the guys seemed too high a price to pay. Timber simply stood and watched as Katherine got up on shaky legs, found her glasses, and walked to the outside locker room door.

Ryan ran over and snatched the ball out of Timber’s hands. Timber couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. He stood there and watched Katherine walk until she disappeared behind the gymnasium door. He turned to Adam and shoved him hard in the shoulder.

“What the f**k, man. Why are you always giving that girl a hard time?”

Adam shot him a cocky grin. “Why are you so concerned? You have something for this chick?”

“I was going to ask you the same thing.”

His friend’s grin slowly slipped into a frown. “She’s just a face in the masses, man.” Adam held his arms wide, gesturing for Timber to look at the other students milling around. “I didn’t realize you felt for those who are beneath you.”

Timber had heard shit like this from him since they were kids and Adam had started looking down his nose at people, just like his father. Adam’s dad was the mayor of Bay City. Dirty politics and blackmail were just two of the things that he’d picked up from his dad. But his ego, that selfish prick that reared its ugly head just like it was right now, was all his. He thought that he was entitled.

“Fuck you, man. I don’t look down at people and you know it,” Timber gritted out.

“Could have fooled me. You did nothing to go help poor little Katherine,” Adam smirked.

Timber took a menacing step forward, but Ryan put his hand on his shoulder.

“Leave it alone,” Ryan said, low enough for only Timber to hear.

Glaring at Adam, he took in a deep breath through his nose, and turned to walk away.

“That’s what I thought.” Adam’s laugh caused Timber’s hands to clench into fists. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing you at the party.”

Timber walked to his beat up old ’66 Mustang and peeled his sweaty shirt off. Reaching into his vehicle, he pulled out a clean tee and pulled it over his head. He considered heading home and getting to work on his science project, but he couldn’t get himself to leave.

He sat in his car for over thirty minutes, waiting for Katherine to come out. Timber couldn’t explain why he felt the need to know that she was okay, but the fact remained, he would feel better if he saw her without any tears on her face. He’d never felt concerned like this before about any of the other pathetic kids that his friends teased. Maybe he was a heartless bastard for thinking them deserving of the ridicule, but they never stood up to his friends and fought back. Why anybody would stand there and take the shit that Adam, Ryan, or any of the other athletes dished out, he’d never know. But this girl… even though he’d seen Adam target her before, this time something in him made him feel sorry for her. Timber saw her tears, he felt the need to go to her and help her up and brush the dirt off of her cuts.

Gripping the steering wheel, his knuckles white, Timber’s eyes zeroed in on the dark haired girl that came walking out of the same door she went in less than an hour ago. Katherine had bandages on both of her knees. She was struggling to pull what looked like a very heavy backpack up over her slight shoulders. Timber watched her as she made her way to an old silver Toyota Corolla. After she hefted her backpack into the back seat, she shut the door and stood there, gazing down at the pavement. Her body sagged, and she looked up, her eyes scanning the nearly empty parking lot.

When she made eye contact with him, her expression changed. Katherine straightened her slumped shoulders and tipped her chin up. She was trying to show something to him. Her left hand came up and she pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. Timber decided to go speak to her. He opened his car door and got out. As he walked towards her, he noticed that her previous look of self-assuredness wavered. She shifted from one foot to another, watching him intently as he neared her. When Timber was standing directly in front of her, he looked down.