As Emily and I have been writing about fan fiction, it is now my turn to post some. This scene is from S.E. Hinton’s classic book The Outsiders. It’s told from the point of view of Darry Curtis, and it’s set at no particular moment in the story. It features a character I made up, a girl name Danielle Elliot, Dani, who grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her family owns the local diner, and she was in Darry’s year in high school.
A hard worker and a good student, Dani attended college hoping to become a doctor, until her father became very ill and she dropped out of school to run the diner and support her family. Upon returning to Tulsa and working at the diner, she and Darry, who also gave up school to support his family, start dating. She provides a sometimes much needed mother figure (and cook) for the Curtis boys and their friends.
It was raining hard by the time I reached the diner. I parked my old truck and ran up to the door. I shook my hair, sending water droplets flying out into the street. I looked through the window. Dani was wiping down the counter. Her hair was almost falling out of her ponytail, but she looked so pretty. She always looked pretty. It amazed me that she always managed to be the prettiest girl on this side of Tulsa even after a hard day’s work. I watched her pause and take her ponytail out. She shook her head and her long blonde hair fell over her shoulders. But it wasn’t even her looks that made her so attractive. It was that after a long day on her feet, she still had a smile for everyone she met. Sometimes, she seemed more like an angel than one of us tired mortals.
The door suddenly swung open and Tammy walked out. Tammy was one of the girls that worked for Dani. She took out her umbrella.
“You goin’ in, Darry, or are you just gonna stand out in the rain and check her out?” Tammy asked.
“Nice to see you again, Tammy,” I replied. She rolled her eyes and smiled.
“Tell Soda I said hi, alright?” she said. Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. That kid brother of mine…every girl in Tulsa was in love with him.
“Will do,” I answered. “Want a ride home?” Tammy smiled.
“Matt is picking me up,” she answered, “but thanks.” Ah, Matt, the good ol’ boyfriend that Tammy would leave in an instant if Soda was free.
“Well, be safe,” I said.
“Later, Darry,” she replied as she stepped out into the rain. “Oh,” she said, turning around, “she had a long day…” I nodded as Matt’s car pulled up and Tammy got in. I watched as the car pulled away, then I opened the door and stepped into the diner. I walked over to the counter. Dani looked up and smiled.
“Hey, Darry,” she said.
“Hey, Dani,” I said. “Anything you need me to do?” I asked, looking around.
“No,” she answered, “I’m almost finished.” She finished wiping down the counter and walked over to the closet. I shrugged.
“Fine…no heavy lifting for me to show off my construction muscles…” I said wistfully, glancing at her. She gave me a smile.
“Tomorrow,” she answered, “we’re getting a shipment of potatoes.” She grabbed her jacket out of the closet and pulled out a ring of keys. I walked over to her and helped her with her jacket. I felt like a sixteen year old boy all over again when my hand gently brushed her shoulder. “Thanks,” she said gently. I nodded.
“Shall we?” I asked, motioning to the door. She nodded in reply.
“It’s raining cats and dogs,” she said as we stepped outside.
“Not good construction conditions,” I replied, looking out into the rain. Dani started to lock the door to the diner.
“Then maybe you should take tomorrow off,” she suggested. “God knows you could use the rest, Darry.” I shook my head, my hair already wet again from the rain. I couldn’t afford a day off. I had bills sitting on the desk in my room that always seemed to be piling up…
“Damn it,” I heard Dani say as she fumbled with the keys. It made me smile to hear cute little Danielle Elliott swear. I took the keys from her.
“Here,” I said, “let me.” I turned the key, locking the door. “You know,” I continued, “maybe you should take tomorrow off. God knows you could use the rest too, Dani.” I turned to look at her. She sighed and leaned her back against the window of the diner. The rain had matted her hair down and turned it a darker color. It clung to her face as she closed her eyes.
“No rest for the weary,” she whispered. I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me, but I certainly knew how she felt. Standing there in the rain, leaning against the window, she looked so fragile and tired. It made me realize how often the rest of us failed to see how tired Dani was through all her smiles. I didn’t know what to say to her. How do you apologize for life’s cruel tricks of fate? How do you apologize to a girl who wanted to be a doctor but was stuck waitressing at a diner in the bad part of Tulsa? I took her hands.
“Hey,” I said quietly, “Danielle…” She tiled her head to the side to look at me. And there it was again…that smile, that tired, yet persistent smile. And standing there in the rain, I knew that she was the only girl I would ever want. I hesitated, then gently wiped some of the rain off of her cheeks. She didn’t flinch or pull away, she just closed her eyes. I slowly leaned in and kissed her on the lips. Her lips were warm, even in the rain. Her wet clothes clung to mine as I pulled her up against me. I kissed her slowly and gently. I felt her put her arms around my neck and run her fingers through my wet hair. I don’t know how long we kissed, it felt like an eternity and a second at the same time. She smiled when we pulled away, her eyes still closed.
“You taste like chocolate cake,” she said, opening her eyes.
“Well you taste like fried eggs and ham,” I replied.
“An interesting combination,” she answered thoughtfully. “I’ll have to put it on the menu.”
“I like it,” I said. She smiled even more.
“I do too,” she replied. Then she kissed me again, gently pulling herself up against my torso. I wrapped my arms around her waist. And with her in my arms, all my tiredness, all my worries, all my responsibilities were forgotten for a moment.