Seven years ago I met the girl who could find the seams.
“You’ve got to see what Dani can do.”
I let myself be dragged across the park, passed the swings and to the big oak tree, where a girl with long black hair sat with a pile of books beside her. She looked up at the small crowd of fellow children surrounding her, sighed, and set down her book.
“Can I help you?”
My best friend at the time, Jacob, beamed and plopped a stuffed bear on her lap. “Do the thing! Luca hasn’t seen you do it yet!” He said.
Dani looked at me and my gaze immediately went to my shoes. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to,” I murmured, feeling embarrassed about all the fuss my friend was causing.
Jacob scoffed and crossed his arms. “You don’t even know what she does yet! Come on Dani, show him!”
“I don’t mind showing you,” She said before picking up the bear. She brushed her fingers against its face and she smiled before she took her middle finger and ran it from the top of its head to its tummy. Like she’d taken a sharp knife to it, the bear split open, revealing white stuffing and the red heart that had been stuffed in there when Jacob got it. She lifted it up to show it to all of us, before plopping it back on her lap and running her finger along the tear. When she pulled her hand away, the bear was whole again, like she’d never ripped it open.
Jacob scooped the bear back up and turned to me. “Cool, right?” He asked.
I shrugged. “I dunno. I guess?” I said, knowing I probably looked less that convinced.
Dani smiled then and got to her feet. “Okay. What do you want to see the inside of?” She asked.
I glanced around the playground before pointing to the swing set. “That. Can you cut that with your finger?” I asked. I might’ve only been a kid, but I was definitely not convinced by just cloth.
Dani nodded and walked over, the crowd of kids following her in awe. She patted the chain of the pink swing before her finger sliced right through one of the links. The chain came free and then she proceeded to slice open the plastic of the seat. She picked up the mangled swing, spinning around to show how it really wasn’t attached at all, before she reattached it. All with the touch of her finger.
Now that convinced me. I probably looked like an idiot, just standing there with my jaw dropped while everyone else just clapped. “How do you do that?” I asked in wonder.
Dani shuffled her feet, a small smile on her lips. “Everything has a seam I can pop open. I can do it to anything,” She admitted.
I dug through my pockets and managed to pull out my 3DS. “Can you open this up?” I asked.
For the rest of the afternoon, Dani demonstrated her unique and bizarre powers to us. She did open up my 3DS, showing off all the electronics inside, and once she fixed it back up it booted up just like nothing had happened. She opened up a Rubix Cube, part of a branch, the monkey bars, whatever we asked she would demonstrate. Only if no adults were close though, one of the other kids suggested she open up one of the cars in the parking lot and she refused.
One by one we all went home for dinner until it was just me and Dani. I was pretty awkward at that age, so we just stood in silence for an uncomfortably long time before I finally piped up with the question on my mind:
“What do you want to open up?”
She stared at me in surprise for a bit before she shrugged. “I… I don’t know. I don’t really do it for myself anymore. I just do it so everyone else likes me,” She said.
I plopped down on the ground and pulled out my 3DS. “I don’t have to be home for a while longer, my parents are working late. Want to play some games with me?” I asked.
I don’t think anyone really asked Dani to do something with them before that didn’t involve her cutting some random object open. But she slowly nodded and sat beside me, and until it got dark we played games. I probably would’ve stayed out longer if the red light signifying red battery didn’t start glaring at us.
“I’ll come back and play with you tomorrow, okay?” I said, sticking it in my pocket.
Dani was grinning from ear to ear, her smile filled with joy. “I’d really like that, Luca,” She said.
That summer I spent a lot of time in the park. Of course it was fun watching Dani cut open whatever object we brought her, but it was more fun just…. Talking with her. She was a really nice girl, after all, just quiet. There were several times I’d be playing my 3DS while she’d watch and she’d end up falling asleep on my shoulder. She told me most nights she spent wandering around her home rather than sleeping. She never slept well.
Then one day I came to the park while it was raining. I had the stomach ache of a lifetime but I wanted to see Dani. And she was there, as always. The rain was more of a mist in the air rather than a downpour, but I was more than glad to take a seat under the tree.
Dani, of course, immediately picked up that something was off. “What’s wrong? You don’t look so good,” She asked, pulling her knees up to her chest.
“Stomach ache. Mom said there’s a flu going around, so don’t get too close,” I said.
“What, or you’ll barf all over me?” Dani giggled before something clicked in that head of hers. “… Luca, you know when you asked me earlier this summer what I’d really want to open the seam of?”
“I lied… I… Kinda want…” She blushed a little and murmured the next sentence so quietly I could barely make it out.
“I kinda wanna see if a person has a seam.”
I responded by wiggling out of my t-shirt. “Sure! Maybe you can see what’s wrong with my stomach!” I said. I know, what kind of dumb ass move is that, but I was a kid and what kid isn’t a little curious about what goes on inside them?
Dani clearly didn’t expect my enthusiastic consent, but she did a little dance in place before glancing around. “No one else is out here, but let’s go behind the bushes. Just in case,” She said.
Excitement brimming between the two of us, we hid behind the bushes as I laid down on the ground, staring up at the gray sky. It was peaceful back here. “Okay, just start checking,” I said.
Dani knelt above me and her cold fingers ran over my chest. I tried not to squirm since I was so ticklish. For several quiet seconds I just laid there, wondering when she’d start. “You can start whenever,” I said, thinking she was losing courage.
“I’ve already started…”
I glanced down and sure enough, she had. I hadn’t felt a thing but my skin over my torso had been opened right up, cut down from the top of my sternum to below my belly button. Skin, muscle and ribs were just pulled open and to the sides so Dani could dig around in my guts. She slit open my stomach and I saw remnants of digested food, the pancakes I’d had for breakfast. She sealed that back up quickly so nothing was disturbed as she proceeded to run her fingers through my intestines.
“That’s so cool,” I whispered, afraid if someone caught us now the little spell she had over me would be broken. “I’m not even bleeding.”
It was true, there was not a single blood drop lost. Nothing seemed desperate to pop out of me either. It was just… there. I could see my heart beating, my lungs inflating and deflating with each level breath. I should’ve been afraid, but I wasn’t. I was just fascinated to see what was going on inside of my body.
“There’s something wrong.”
Dani scowled as she continued to prod and then I felt a bit of hot pain. “Careful!” I hissed.
“Sorry! I don’t really know how, but I think something’s really wrong in here. Hold still, I’m putting you back together.”
I stayed still as she finished zipping up my chest. I sat up and poked at my chest as if I expected my seam to burst open and everything to come spilling out all at once. “What do you mean, something’s wrong?”
Dani shrugged. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I just looked around in there and something doesn’t feel right to me. Go talk to your mom, I think she needs to take you to the doctor. Did you really not feel anything? When I cut your seam?”
I shook my head and got to my feet, grimacing as that pain from my gut flared up. “Not a thing. You’re awesome, Dani. I’m gonna go home now though,” I said.
I went home and somehow managed to nag my mom long enough into taking me to the doctor’s office about my stomach ache. Course, I’m sure you guessed by now it wasn’t just a stomach ache. Appendicitis. Luckily it was all taken out before anything bad happened, but I was bedridden for two weeks.
When I was finally well enough to play, I couldn’t find Dani at the park. Asking around revealed she hadn’t been back since that rainy day.
She was gone. And she didn’t come back into my life until the beginning of this school year.
I barely recognized her at first. I’m not really a tall guy, but even compared to your average guy Dani was practically a tree. She cut her hair short and she’d grown up, but I saw her face and I knew.
I ran up to her and nearly plowed her over in my eagerness to get to her. Dani nearly jumped out of her skin as she looked down at me, then she realized who I was. “Luca? Is that you?” She asked.
I nodded eagerly, probably looking like an idiot. “Yes! Oh my god, Dani, you’re tall!” I said.
When she smiled, I felt like I was a kid in the park, all over again. “… And you’re still Luca. I’m so glad… I’m so glad to see you,” She said before giving me a quick hug. “Do you have lunch next period? We can talk then, catch up?”
I barely touched my food because I was just too excited to talk to Dani. She was on the girl’s basketball team, was already saving up money for college in a few years. She wanted to be a vet. Meanwhile all I did was join the school’s anime club and still have no idea what I want to do for a living, but she still listened.
We didn’t talk about seams. It was a silent agreement between us not to. I knew it happened, it wasn’t something I made up. But the seams were something from childhood. We didn’t need to open them up again… well, we didn’t. Until Dani was hit by a car and left to die by the side of the road.
I only heard about it the following morning, one of her team members actually tracked me down to tell me. Apparently I was the only person outside of the team that was really friends with her. Dani always worked late, and while she was walking home some drunk joyriders plowed her over. She was found hours later, somehow still alive, and taken to the hospital.
Several bones including both legs and one arm were broken. Ribs cracked. She was concussed and she lost a lot of blood. She’d be okay in the end, but there was a lot of recovery ahead of her.
I nearly cried the first time I visited her in the hospital. Gratefully she was sleeping at the time so she didn’t hear me sniffling, but I left her a card. It was sitting in her lap when I visited her the next day, and she was awake. But along with her body, her heart had been broken too.
“… I’m never going to play basketball again.”
“Don’t say that,” I tried to soothe her.
Dani snorted. “Even if I can walk again, I’ll never walk without a limp. And running will be flat out. It’s not a big deal.” The way she shuddered when she said ‘not a big deal’ gave away quickly that it was, in fact, a big deal.
I held her hand and she squeezed her eyes tight as she struggled not to cry. “I don’t know… what to do. They have no fucking idea who hit me, I just know it was a black truck. That’s all. They ruined my life, and they’re not even going to pay for it,” She said.
“… Dani, do you remember the seams?”
Dani jolted like I’d hit her with a bolt of electricity. “What about seams?” She asked cautiously.
I pulled up my shirt to show off my appendectomy scar. “You were right that day. About what was wrong. I might be dead by now if you didn’t find my seam and look inside. I remember them, but do you?”
“I’ve never forgotten.” Her good hand stroked mine and I watched as the skin split over the back of my hand. Another touch and it sealed right back up, good as new. “It’s… it’s why I want to be a vet. You know how animals I could save with my gift?
“That’s amazing,” I said, flexing my hand. “That day in the park. You didn’t come back after that.”
Dani nodded. “I… I scared myself a bit, after I cut you open. And when you didn’t come back the next day I started having nightmares that your chest exploded and all your organs slid out of you. I couldn’t want to go to the park if you weren’t there, anyway.” Her brow furrowed. “Why are you bringing this up now? I can’t heal myself, I can only close a seam I opened.”
I swallowed before leaning in close and lowering my voice. “… Does opening a seam have to be painless?” I asked.
It took a second for Dani to get it, but she shook her head. “It can hurt as much as I want it to,” She said, her gaze turning cold.
“Then leave the rest to me. You work on getting better, and I promise I’m going to find out who did this to you.”
It did take months to track them down. But I got help- the girl’s basketball team. They want to help Dani, and all I said was I was going to get her justice. They put their feelers out, and we got something.
Cory. I never really knew Cory, he ran in a different crowd. But he had a black truck, drunk like a fiend, and rumor had it he bragged to a few close friends that he ‘ran over that goth bitch’. AKA my friend, Dani.
My first initial instinct was to just go up and punch him in the face, but I knew that wouldn’t work. I’d just get expelled. So I did the next best thing. I knew Cory was a shitty student, and we take the same bus to school. I waited until I heard him bitching about struggling with last night’s math homework, and then I turned around.
“Hey man, if you need a bit of help, I can double check your work. Fill in all the right answers if you missed any.”
He looked baffled but handed me the paper. I did my best not to cringe at how god awful his handwriting was, but I corrected his work and handed it back just as we got to school.
The next day Cory slung his arm around my shoulders and said, “Pal, buddy, I got a hundred percent on that last assignment. I think this is the start of something beautiful.”
I smiled back at him. “I think it is,” I replied.
So yes, for the last month I became Cory’s personal slave. I finished his homework and in return he was somewhat nice to me. He also blabbed, a lot, and it was so hard not to just wreck his face when he told me about the night he ran over ‘the goth’.
But I just thought of Dani in physical therapy, doing her damn best to walk again, and I just smiled and laughed.
I got the names of the two other guys in his car, his closest friends Jay and Thomas. I waited. The waiting was the hardest part, and I’m pretty sure my own grades slid a bit while I was doing both Cory’s homework and my own. But it was all worth it for tonight.
Because tonight Cory and his friends were at a party, and I swung by at around midnight to see them stumbling out of the house, laughing their drunk asses off. I rolled down my window and called out their names, offering them a ride. They’d no doubt get pulled over in their condition, and hey, I had some more booze in my car. They could keep the party going in the back seat.
Me, I was just the ass kissing nerd that had been doing Cory’s homework for the past month. They never even considered that I drugged the beers I so happily handed to them in the backseat. One by one they passed out, and I went onto phase three of my plan.
I’d planned ahead. I’d let three members of the basketball team know that the kind of justice I was looking for wasn’t by getting them arrested and have them serve a nothing sentence while Dani was going to struggle for so much longer with the injuries they gave her. I knew these three would go with it.
They’d set up the perfect place. A basement in an abandoned building. I was impressed by how much effort they put into it, plastic was rolled over the floor and part of the walls, there was a pile of zip ties and three chairs set up in the center of the room. The hard part was dragging their unconscious asses down there, by the time I got the last one down there I was sweating like a pig.
But oh, it was all worth it when I brought Dani there and she saw all three of them, tied up and just starting to stir.
She softly gasped as she looked between them. “And you’re sure these are the guys?” She asked quietly.
I nodded and gestured to them. “Do whatever you want,” I said.
Dani grinned ear to ear before she walked up to them. Cory was the first to really come to, his eyes fluttering and he groaned before saying, “How much did I drink last night?”
“Too much,” Dani chirped, pacing back and forth in front of her prey.
That woke him right up. Cory’s head shot up and all the blood rushed out of his face as he recognized the girl in front of him, still walking with a crutch to support herself. He of course, immediately tried to play dumb. “Do I know you? Cuz I’ve dated a lot of girls so I can’t really keep track of them-”
Dani slugged him across the face. “I’m the girl you ran over with your truck,” She said, still smiling.
Jay and Thomas had woken up from their beauty sleep by this time, Cory spat out a mouthful of blood before looking up and smirking at Dani. “Sorry, don’t remember you,” He said, smugness oozing out of the creep.
Dani circled around the trio of hungover morons, watching how Jay flinched every time he heard the sound of her crutch hitting the ground. “I think he remembers,” She hummed before she paused in front of Jay.
Jay swallowed before glancing over at the others. “No. I don’t,” He mumbled.
Dani cocked her head to the side before she lifted up her hand. She waggled her fingers and then caressed the middle one right up his jawline and over his cheekbone.
Jay barely realized that his cheek was hanging from a last inch of connecting flesh before Dani just grabbed it and ripped it right off. Jay screamed at the top of his lungs, blood pouring down his mangled face and down his neck. I could see his teeth and gums.
The others looked on in horrified silence as Dani dropped the piece of flesh onto the plastic. “Let’s fucking try again! Do you remember now?”
“Yes!” Jay wailed, tears sprouting at the corners of his eyes. “Shit! It wasn’t me dr-driving, it was Cory! I thought we’d just hit a deer or something, but in the morning we heard about you! I wanted to tell someone, I swear, but they wouldn’t let me! I’m so sorry! I’m so fucking sorry!”
Dani hummed and nodded as Jay continued to babble his desperate apologies. “I believe you. So you won’t suffer any longer,” She said right before she drew her finger right across Jay’s neck.
So much blood poured down the front of his shirt, a waterfall of blood splattering against the plastic as Jay’s head lolled down. He certainly didn’t suffer, he was dead in minutes. And all during those minutes, Thomas and Cory were screaming in terror, any of Cory’s smugness had vanished when Dani ripped open his friend’s face and cut his throat.
Dani turned her murderous stare onto the other two, still smiling from ear to ear. Thomas glanced down at her hand and realized it first. “Where’s… where’s your knife?” He stammered.
All she did was raise her hand into the air and waggle her fingers. “These are my knives. I’ve always been a bit special,” She carefully avoided the blood puddle as she limped over to Thomas, “And even though I’ll probably never play basketball or have my full mobility again… you can’t take away my gift to find the seam in everything.”
With just a brush of her fingers she sliced through Thomas’ jersey, and although he begged for his life she just slowly dragged her hand from his stomach up to his collarbone while he howled in agony. Watching his skin just split by her touch was mesmerizing, the cut so precise it was like a surgeon’s scalpel. Another slice over the gut and everything just… spilled out. This was nothing like letting her find my seam in childhood, where everything just stayed perfectly still. I never knew how really long the intestines were until I watched them plop on the floor, still twitching and alive.
Thomas stared in horror at his disemboweled guts until Dani dove her hand into his chest and I heard the loudest squish. Thomas’ eyes rolled back and he almost immediately expired. Dani pulled out the remnants of his heart before throwing it on the ground.
Cory was crying now, snot dribbling down his lips as he pulled frantically at his zip ties. “Please… it was an accident… It was just an accident, you crazy bitch!” He yelped as she trotted in front of him.
Dani had been smiling until Cory called her a crazy bitch. The smile dropped and she sighed, crossing her reddened arms across her chest. “Was it an accident that you drove drunk? Was it an accident that you just drove away, didn’t even attempt to call 911? Was it an accident you’ve spent all your time up until now laughing about running me over? Maybe I am a crazy bitch. Maybe I am. But if I’m crazy, then you’re a downright sociopath. And odds are you’ll kill someone else the next time an ‘accident’ happens.”
She knelt down to his level and flicked his nose, watching the tip go flying off and sticking to the wall. Cory crossed his eyes to see the damage and promptly pissed himself, I could see the stain in his jeans.
“Hey Coryyyy,” Dani giggled, her smile returning and bordering on maniacal, “You ever hear of a torture called death by a thousand cuts?”
I’m just taking a break, Cory and Dani are still in the basement. Last I saw him though he barely even looked like a person anymore- she’d removed his nose, lips, ears, and eyelids. He’s bald, cuts covering his entire scalp. Dozens of surgical cuts are decorating his arms, legs, torso… and he’s still alive, staring unblinkingly, someplace past begging and tears.
But she’s not going to let him die just yet. After all, she’s been suffering for months because of that accident.
He can take a few days before she finally lets him go.