Birthdays are the worst

On Monday, I was trying to write a Facebook status, but it turned into something that was way too long to post on Facebook, so I’m going to share it here because I need to say it all. It’s not exactly a short story, but on the other hand, it is about a story that was much too short.


Birthdays are the worst. To be honest, I thought it would be that day in early June. That day you left us, but no. It’s getting that Facebook notification reminding me that it’s your birthday and the CELEBRATE! “Let them know you’re thinking of them!”

Doesn’t Facebook figure it out that when someone has been inactive for years that they are probably dead?

Last year was probably the hardest. The year we all started to turn 30, and you were still 27, will always be 27. Maybe it the was the milestone, the things that you should have been there for but weren’t because life isn’t fair.

Our friends started to get married.

At Pheobe’s wedding, there was an empty chair next to mine at the reception. I know that it was just an extra chair, but sitting there I couldn’t help but think that it was there for you. This empty chair a reminder that you weren’t there.  I rode a train down, and the whole time I kept thinking about how I knew I had to hold it together because even though you should have been there, I couldn’t get upset and distract from her day. But, you know me, you know that didn’t happen.

I thought that as the years started to add up that it would get easier. I’d get used to you not being there, but as the events you miss get bigger, the harder it gets.

I know as we got older we drifted farther apart. We weren’t the same friends we were when we were 8 or 10, but to think that you wouldn’t be part the high school reunion, or at the weddings or the 30th birthday parties is just ridiculous. You would have been there. You should have been there.

It’s not as hard as it used to be, it’s not every day that I get struck with this terrible feeling like I’m missing an arm or something, but when I do it sudden and deep. When I smile when I hear Three Little Birds instead of getting choked up. Then I feel this weird guilt for no feeling it all the time. It’s not like I forget that you’re not here. I know it’s moving on, grieving. Trying to become whole again.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair that you not here.

I’m still angry. I’m still mad at you for dying. I mad at you for making me sit at Pheobe’s wedding alone. For having to explain this flower tattoo on my wrist. For ruining a song that tells me Everything is gonna be alright.

I’m hoping that someday I will stop being mad, but I don’t see that time coming anytime soon. Not as our friends keep turning 30, and your brother graduates from high school and Facebook keeps telling me to remember to tell you I’m thinking about you on your birthday.

It’s not fair. It will never feel fair, but that’s the hand we were dealt, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I hope that where ever you are, in your own way you’ve made it to all these events. The birthdays, the weddings, the parties. I like to think that you are, that part makes it a little easier. But it doesn’t make up for the fact that your deep laugh isn’t there.

Every year I think about how lucky I am that the last thing I got to say to you was “I love you, too.” And if nothing else, I have that you knew that. I don’t have to regret that I never told you how much our friendship meant and how much I cared. I just hope you believed it, because what happened next… what happened next was unfair. And it will never feel fair ever. I don’t want to be the girl with the dead friend. But I don’t get a choice.

I hope where ever you are, you are at peace.

Happy birthday my friend, I miss you so so much.

Short Story Saturday- WIP

Welcome to another installment of what is becoming a biweekly event here at my blog Short Story Saturday. I found one of the very first draft of a piece I’ve been writing for a couple years. So I thought I would share it.


“I think I’m in love,” Beth sighed as she fell over the back of the couch after she got home from school on a Wednesday afternoon.

Her older brother sat at what used to be the computer desk when they had a desktop computer, but now it had become a bit of a catchall for her and her sibling’s junk. TONY liked to use to because he faced a wall instead of a window or a television and he could actually focus on what he was doing.

“You’re twelve,” her brother Tony sighed as he spun around in the wheelie chair “You’re not in love.”

“Firstly,” Beth spat, pushing herself up onto her elbows. “I am seventeen, and yes I am.” She flipped her long dirty blonde ponytail over her shoulder with a smile. “You’re just jealous because you don’t know what it’s like.”

“Have you talked to him?” Tony smirked.

“Not relevant,” Beth laughed.

“Extremely relevant,” Tony nodded. “When you guys have a conversation, then you can talk to me about being in love. Until then, whoever this idiot is is just like when you were in love with what’s-his-name from that show you like. You’re in gross pop song like with him, and as your brother, I really don’t care about fantasies.”

“It’s super different,” Beth replied cocking her head to the side. “Dana told me that he likes me. She says it’s super obvious. She said that he’s been flirting with me for weeks, but I didn’t notice because he’s super freaking weird and doing weird stuff all the time. I thought he did the weird stuff with everyone, but Dana said that he’s showing off for me.”

“Uh huh,” Tony chuckled.

“Don’t you do stupid stuff when you like a girl?” Beth said. “I’ve seen you do some stupid stuff to impress girls. The kind of guys that I like don’t do stupid stuff, they do weird stuff because they know that’s how to get my attention. And Dana said that she thinks he’s really shy around girls even though he acts like he’s all cool and stuff.”

“Who is this idiot?” Tony sighed.

“You don’t know him,” Beth answered. She lay back down on the sofa, resting her head on the arm, fingers linked together behind her head.

“We live in a town with a total populous of 2500,” Tony replied. “600 kids go to our school.”

“You don’t know everyone, Tony,” Beth sighed. “I’m allowed to have friends you don’t know.”

“I’ll be knowing anyone who thinks they’re going to be dating you,” Tony shrugged.

“This isn’t 1926,” Beth laughed. “I don’t need your approval.”

“Whatever,” Tony replied turning around in his rolling chair and going back to his homework. “Then don’t sit there and gush about some guy you made up.”

“I didn’t make him up,” Beth said. “He’s in, like, four of my classes and he has the same lunch as me, and he’s really cute, and he liked me before I liked him. He was just the cute boy in US History before he was a cute boy in US History that likes me. His like of me makes me like him. He added me on facebook the other day, and then he started quoting my favorite movies to me. Dana said that’s flirting.”

“That’s stalking,” Tony corrected. “But whatever.”

“Jealous,” Beth singsonged.

“I am so happy I’m not a girl,” Tony mumbled. “Either tell me who it is or stop talking. I gotta get my homework done before Dad gets home so I can work on the car.”

“Nerd,” Beth sighed.

“And you’ve had a crush on Jake for years,” Tony said as he picked up his pen and went back to work. “So you can stop pretending that it’s a huge secret, but he does have a little bit of a thing for you. I can tell.”

“You think he does?” Beth gasped. “For real?”

“Yes,” Tony answered. “Now stop talking about it, because I honestly don’t care. I don’t talk to you about girls I like, and I don’t like thinking you’re old enough to like boys.”

“I’m fifteen months younger than you,” Beth said rolling her eyes.

“You’re the baby,” Tony replied. “You will always be the baby. Let me get this done. Dad said I could go to work with him this weekend if I get all my work done. This could be the perfect set up for a summer job to actually have money for school next year.”

Beth let a few long slow minutes pass as she thought about Jake. He wasn’t exactly hot, but he was cute, had nice teeth, which was extremely important to her, and a set of amazingly blue eyes. She couldn’t really imagine him liking her, but if Tony and Dana could see it, maybe she would start to let herself believe it too. It didn’t hurt to just believe.

“You really think he likes me?”  Beth said sitting back up. “You’re not just messing with me because I’m your sister and you have to?”

“Beth,” Tony replied, trying to hold in his frustration with being interrupted again by such nonsense. “He likes you. He’s been asking me questions about you in study hall for weeks. Now leave me alone, please. I’m serious.”

“Okay,” Beth smiled. “Thank you, Tony.”

TONY nodded and went back to work. Beth pushed herself up off the couch and headed up the stairs, quiet as she could, to her bedroom to let Tony do his work by himself.

 

Over the next couple of weeks, Beth noticed she has started paying much more attention to her appearance. She’d finally broken into the eyeshadow her mother had brought her two Christmas’s ago and found herself in the makeup aisle of WalMart with Dana talking about the differences in liquid versus powder foundation and which style of eyeliner was best.

Beth had never been one to really think about her appearance, she had two older brothers, the baby that was coddled by Tony and their older brother Billy. She’d always been rough, tomboyish, never afraid to get down and dirty if she had to. She was the type of girl that was happy to show off a shiner or come home with grass stained knees. That part of her was never going to change, but now that Jake was going to be looking at her, she was starting to think that maybe she should start putting a little bit of effort into her outward appearance.

“Maybe we should color your hair,” Dana suggested.

“My mom would freak,” Beth said shaking her head. “She tells me that it’s a gift to have this color blonde. I think it’s kinda gross, but I don’t know. It’s literally the exactly same color as hers which I think is her point.”

“We don’t have to go aqua or anything,” Dana shrugged. Her own hair had slowly changed from a very dark brown to blonde to various shades of fire engine red and fuchsia over the last year. “Just a slightly different blonde. Your mom probably won’t even notice.”

“She will,” Beth nodded. “And then she’ll ask questions, and when I don’t answer them, she’ll ask Tony and Tony is a blabber and he’ll tell her about Jake, and then Mom will try to have the sex talk with me again, and I’ll have to die.”

“Well, that may be a little overdramatic,” Dana shrugged. “But fine. I’ll work with what you got. Can we cut it? I mean, you gotta give me something Mare.”

Beth played with her hair. She’s always had it the same way, pulled up a thick ponytail on the back of her head. She’d rarely even worn it down. At Dana’s urging, she pulled the ponytail holder out and let it fall around her shoulders. Dana ran her fingers through it and scoped out the different colors along the hair dye wall in front of them.

“Let me highlight it,” Dana begged. “It’ll be fun practice for cosmetic school. It’ll look great, and you won’t be changing to too much. And you can’t tell me that you’re mom doesn’t color her hair. She’s pushing fifty, she’s gotta have some gray in there. It won’t hurt anything, I promise.”

“Fine,” Beth gave in. “But if I get in trouble, I’m throwing you right under the bus.”

“Understood,” Dana nodded.

 

Beth’s mom barely noticed her new hair, if she was honest with herself, not much had really changed, but Dana was with getting to practice foiling, and Beth was happy that Dana was excited that she’s finally done something girly. She’d let Dana curl her hair in the school bathroom before first period and let her best friend show her how to put eyeliner on so she didn’t look like a raccoon. Beth looked at the girl staring back at her in the horrible lighting of a public high school bathroom and decided she like this girl looking back, this girl wasn’t someone new it was still Beth, but a new 2.0 version. The kind of girl that got to have a boyfriend like Jake. The kind of girl that could believe a guy like Jake was actually flirting with her.

In History class second period, Jake took his usual seat next to Beth. Beth did her best to try not to look like she was following him around with her eyes.

“You did something different with your hair,” Jake whispered leaning closer to her.

“Yeah,” Beth smiled. “Dana.”

“Looks nice,” Jake replied. “Not that it didn’t before, but it looks really nice now.”

“Thanks,” Beth giggled. “I’ll let Dana know.”

The sat there next to each other, a comfortable silence fell over them. Beth loved how easy things felt around Jake. She liked to imagine all the things they would do together: the dirt biking, the fishing, and the stuff she did with her brothers or by herself, only now with Jake involved. It was a fun feeling, she wasn’t imagining their wedding or anything, but she liked to think about them being the “cutest couple” in the yearbook superlatives.

At lunch, Jake took his usual seat next to Beth and across from Dana. He handed Beth his extra chocolate milk.

“What is this?” Beth asked.

“You brought lunch today,” Jake replied. “But you forgot a drink.”

“I was going to grab water,” Beth answered.

“But I know how much you like chocolate milk,” Jake shrugged. “I thought you would want it.”

“Well,” Beth laughed shaking her milk. “Thanks, that was nice.”

“I’m a nice person,” Jake smiled. “But I need some nachos, so I’ll be right back.”

The second Jake walked away Dana banged her hands down on the table. “Told you.”

“I believe you,” Beth giggled.

“He’s been doing shit like that for months,” Dana whispered. “Seriously, just ask him to go to the game this weekend or something, to the mall with me and TONY something innocent. Get the stupid ball rolling.”

“I don’t know,” Beth sighed.

“Do it,” Dana said wide eyed.

“Will you do it for me?” Beth said, letting an extremely awkward smile across her face.

“Fine,” Dana sighed. “But you owe me.”

“You’re not dying my hair blue,” Beth replied.

“I’ll think of something.”

 

It took another week of Beth and Jake dancing around each other before Dana held up her end of the bargain. She pulled Beth into the bathroom after sixth period and gushed everything that had transpired.

“So I said to him,” Dana started. “You and Beth should totally go to the game this weekend. And he was ‘yeah hanging with you and Mare would be super fun.’ And I was all ‘Course it would be, you two are so adorable.’ And he goes ‘Yeah, I really like being around her, she’s gets this really goofy look on her face every time I talk to her and it’s kinda awesome, ’ and I said ‘yeah that’s cuz she likes you, you idiot.’”

Beth pushed herself up onto the sink and let her legs kick under her.

“Then what?” She asked eyes wide. “What did he say? Does he like me?”

“He laughed like you did when I said something to you,” Dana said. “And I was all ‘Not joking kid, she’s totally into you. You have to see it.’ And he goes ‘Well, yeah, I guess.’”

“So he’s going to the game?” Beth asked.

“Absolutely,” Dana nodded, “No question.”

 

At the baseball game Friday afternoon, Beth sat next to Tony waiting for Jake and Dana show. Beth waved over the heads of her classmates as a familiar, now mint green, head of hair started to walk toward her. Beth immediately noted the look of horror on Dana’s face.

“I’m sorry,” Dana said. “Beth I had no idea, and if I did I wouldn’t have pushed it and I… I don’t even know.”

“What are you talking about?” Beth laughed.

“Oh fuck,” Tony said under his breath. “I’ll kill that fucker.”

“What?” Beth asked. “What did I miss?”

“I swear I didn’t know until I pulled into the parking lot,” Dana said quickly. “I have no idea until I saw them getting out of his car. I’m sorry.”

Beth pushed Dana out of her way and observed the crowd below her. And there, standing at the bottom of the bleachers hand in hand with a girl who had graduated the year before, Angie, was her Jake. There was no doubt that the boy standing there in his stupid, backward baseball hat was the boy who had complemented her every day for months. The boy that bought her chocolate milk one day when she forgot to pack a drink. The guy that made her feel like she was the only person in a universe.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Beth said softly.

“I know,” Dana replied quickly. “I’m going to get to the bottom of it.”

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Beth repeated a little bit louder. “They broke up over a year ago. They aren’t together.”

Dana said nothing, just sat down next to Beth and pulled her into her chest.

“Don’t give him the satisfaction of tears,” Dana whispered.

But Beth couldn’t help it, she just sat there, completely crushed.

 

Short Story Saturday- The side of the road

Please be nice to this. I’m not sure how I feel about it. The publishing company I work for has these flash fiction things, where they post a picture and you write a story about the picture. This one is from a week or two ago but it inspired to write something a little bit different.


Luca was racing home trying to beat the rain, but traffic had other ideas. As the storm started to move in she started passing cars pulled off the road. Some had been there a few hours as evident from the bright orange sticker on the window. The police were aware, the car would be towed eventually.

Within a few minutes of the storm getting overhead, it was raining so hard that Luca couldn’t see more than twenty feet in front of her. She could barely tell where the car in front of her was, their lights were blurs in front of hers. The windshield wipers couldn’t go fast enough to get the water out of the way. She decided to take her chances and pulled her white Honda off to the side of the road, hoping that there was no one coming up behind her. Ideally, she would stop under an overpass, but she couldn’t tell where she was so hoping for a bridge to come up soon, so she pulled off the side of the road and waited.

As the car came to a stop, she turned on the emergency lights, but within a minute they were too annoying for her to listen to. She knew she was off the road completely, she had felt the ground change under her as she left the pavement and hit the shoulder; so she knew that she wouldn’t be hit by a car driving on the white line. It was raining too hard for anyone to see her lights anyway. Luca pushed her seat all the way back and debated taking a nap, but decided against it, reaching for the book she kept in her bag on the passengers’ side floor.

She tapped on the cab light and propped her book open on her knees. It was nearly peaceful, the sound of rain hitting the metal of her car and the rushing of cars on the highway. It was easy to drown out anything but the story on the pages.

It quickly turned from gray to dark gray outside as the evening crept in, the rain started to let up enough for Luca to see the lines on the roads and make out the shape of trees. As she finished up her chapter she looked around and decided it was best to continue her way home, it felt safer now. She pushed her seat back forward and tossed her book to onto the seat beside her.

Luca dropped the car into drive and started down the highway in the light drizzle that was still falling. She heard her car drive over the rumble strip as she looked behind her for any oncoming traffic and maneuvered herself back onto the highway to finish her journey home.

It was only a mile or two down the road when her dashboard started to light up. The tire pressure light blinked and flashed in front of her.

“Damn it,” Luca cursed to herself as she pulled herself back off the road right in front of mile marker 87.

She jumped out of her car and walked around it to see what was wrong, the passengers’ side front tire was very flat, a nail clearly visible in the threads. Luca weighed her options. She knew how to change a tire. It wasn’t the difficult. She had all the tools set up in the back trunk of her car. On the other hand, it was raining and she did pay for Triple-A just for the reason. She climbed back into her car and pulled out her cellphone and the card and dialed away.  It was going to take between 45 minutes to an hour to get the guy out to her on the highway, but the always say that in Luca’s experience it was much faster. She tapped her dome light back on and picked up her book. If it was an hour she’d probably finish the book she had with her, there were less than 100 pages left. If nothing else, this was a perfect opportunity to get some reading done, as uncomfortable as the front seat of her car on the side of the highway was.

She lost herself in the story, completely forgetting where she was or what she was waiting for until she reached the end of the book, it had been very close to an hour since her phone call to Triple-A and there was still no sign of them. The drizzle had picked up to a steady rain again, not as hard as it was to cause her to pull over in the first place, but still quite steady. Wet and dark enough for her to still not want to change a tire.

Triple-A would have to be here soon, she thought to herself, wishing she had brought a second book along with her that morning. She was not going to take a nap now. It was too dark and felt unsafe. As she sat there stranded in her car she felt a creep of dread come over her. It wasn’t like her to be unnecessarily anxious, but something about this didn’t feel right.

The traffic outside started to slow, the end of rush hour,  now the cars came at one or two a minute instead of the flow she was used to during her evening commute. She was starting to worry. Maybe something happened to the tow guy? Maybe she should call Triple-A back to see what happened?

As she reached for her phone, a hand slapped against her window. Luca hadn’t seen the tow truck lights behind her but was relieved to see the man standing outside her car. She pressed the button to roll down her window, then realizing it wasn’t going to work with her car off, turned the key to battery power and lowered it. A tall greasy looking man in coveralls stood next to her.

“Need a tire changed?” He asked.

“Yes, thanks,” Luca nodded. She grabbed her umbrella and popped the door to help get the jack and spare out of her trunk. As she rounded her car, she noticed that it wasn’t the tow truck she’d been expecting, but a plain white pick-up truck. Probably why she didn’t see the lights, she figured.

She grabbed her umbrella and popped the door to help get the jack and spare out of her trunk. As she rounded her car, she noticed that it wasn’t the tow truck she’d been expecting, but a plain white pick-up truck. Probably why she didn’t see the lights, she figured.

The man followed close behind her and without warning, as Luca started to open the hatch something heavy hit the side of her head and two strong hands grabbed her waist. The next moment she was in the bed of that plain white pick-up truck– unconscious. The man pulled up into a part of the bed that looked a metal dog cage, locking her in.

He walked over to her car, closed the hatch, and placed an orange marker on the windshield.

Another car that no one will think twice about sitting on the side of the highway.


If you are interested in reading stories by people who actually know what they are doing with horror style prompts, head over to the Stiched Smile Publications blog where there should be a Stitched Saturday post up today with better flash fiction than mine.

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

Short Story Saturday– Currently Untitled

The car was unbelievably quiet; just the low sound of tires on highway and Dakota’s soft music, turned down so the two of them could talk over it but neither of them talking. Bridget considered reaching over and turning it up, but she didn’t want to surrender. It felt like they were driving toward the end of a friendship, the expiration date was–according to the GPS on the dashboard of Dakota’s mom’s minivan– in forty-seven minutes pending traffic.

Logically, that was ridiculous. They’d been friends since they were seven, inseparable even in difficult times– death, divorce, re-marriage, SAT’s– all of life’s rough moments, but there was something about the idea that for the first time they would be in different cities–states– starting in less than an hour.  After she and Dakota unloaded the minivan, they’d hug goodbye, and then their only communication would be through a screen. Dakota seemed excited, Bridget was petrified. No one knew Bridget like the fair skinned, blue haired girl in the driver’s seat. What if no one in Boston was like her

Dakota seemed excited, Bridget was petrified. No one knew Bridget like the fair skinned, blue haired girl in the driver’s seat. What if no one in Boston was like her? Dakota would be fine in New York, Bridget was certain she wouldn’t be.

“Is the dinosaur at the exit to get off 95 or where we keep right on Route one?” Dakota’s voice startled Bridget out of her imagination back into the car.

“Route one,” Bridget answered. “They closed the golf course, I don’t think the dinosaur is still there.”

“It is,” Dakota replied. ” Like the Hilltop Cactus and the Yoken’s Whale. But now it’s a landmark without context. There was an article about it on Facebook. In twenty years, we’ll get an eye feed article about random New England landmarks and no one will remember why there is an orange dinosaur on the side of the highway.”

The girls both focused back on they highway, falling into the silence that seemed so unnatural, so unlike them. It continued as they crossed the bridge over the Massachuttes line and the exit for the Topsfield Fair.

“We should go to Sonic,” Bridget said nearly ten miles after the dinosaur conversation.

“It’s on the wrong side of the highway,” Dakota answered. “That’s why we always plan to go on the way home.”

“Yeah,” Bridget nodded, turning in her seat to look over at her friend. “But every time we’re heading home, we aren’t hungry because we ate in Boston. This could be the last chance to go. You’re driving home by yourself.”

“I have heard their milkshakes are pretty good,” Dakota nodded. “You don’t have to check in at a certain time?”

“Just after three,” Bridget answered. “We have time to kill, actually.”

Bridget turned back to look out the windshield, and neither girl spoke until they got close to the restaurant. Bridget told Dakota how to reverse direction, and they pulled up to the ordering station and contemplated the menu; then sat looking out over the businesses the stretched down route one toward Boston.

“Are you nervous?” Dakota asked quietly.

“Extremely,” Bridget nodded. “I met my roommates online, but they seemed to just click, and I’m worried that I’m going to be the third wheel in our room and I’ll end up dropping out and becoming a homeless person that lives in the subway tunnels.”

“Well,” Dakota sighed. “I think that is a worst case scenario. I don’t think not getting along with your roommates would cause homelessness. You can switch rooms.”

“Aren’t you worried about New York?” Bridget asked. “It’s so big.”

“I am thrilled,” Dakota smiled. “I can’t wait. I have been dreaming about getting out of that town since I was nine. A new adventure, new people, new smells, new life. I won’t be the weird girl with crazy hair wearing clothes I make myself. I’ll just be one of the crowd. My whole school is going to be people with pastel hair and handmade clothes. Your whole school is going to be nerds that love writing. You’ll find a group quick, even if it’s not your roommates.”

“Maybe,” Bridget shrugged.

The burgers came, a pretty girl in her early twenties–not wearing roller skates like Bridget was hoping– handed them their food and wandered off the next car.

“Are you worried about an expiration date?” Bridget whispered picking through her tater tots to find the best one to eat first.

“Like on milk?” Dakota asked.

“On friendship?”

“No,” Dakota said shaking her head. “You and me, we may become different people, but we’ll always be friends. Look at who we were when we first met. We’re not those people anymore. We’re sisters Bridge. Nothing is going to change that.”

“Are you sure?” Bridget said. “It feels like we’re counting down to the end.”

“We are,” Dakota smiled. She took a huge bite of her burger before continuing. “It’s the end of an era. We aren’t Bridget and  Dakota Kurtwood high royalty we’re Bridget and Dakota girls in the Big City.”

“I guess,” Bridget smiled taking a long drink of her lemonade.

“In a week you’ll be wondering around the Common with you’re new writer friends laughing, and I’ll be looking up at the big buildings in New York with my fashion friends, but when the sun goes down, you know that we’ll both be glued to our phones telling each other all about it. Being a part could bring us closer together.”

“Can we get closer?” Bridget chuckled.

“We won’t see until we try something new.”

“What if this changes everything we aren’t friends anymore?” Bridget asked.

Dakota shrugged. “When you’re a famous news reporter, remember me. Mention me in the acknowledgments of your memoirs. I’ll still be your cheerleader. Always. That’s how friendship works.”

“This is such a strange thing,” Bridget said picking at her chicken sandwich. “It’s supposed to be exciting, but I’m too scared to be excited.”

“I’m scared too,” Dakota said. “Believe me, Bridget, I have all the same fears, but I’m doing everything I can to see the positive. There has to be some. I’m living my dream, and so are you. Who knows, I could hate New York and be completely miserable and you could love Boston so much you decide to live there for the rest of your life. But just remember that we are a little over two hours away via train from South Station to Penn Station. We’ll be fine.”

Bridget looked up at the traffic starting to build on Route One and the business sitting on top of each other until the horizon. Ahead of them was a future that neither could conceptualize completely until they were there, but now, Bridget knew without a shadow of a doubt that Dakota would there, a train ride or a phone call away. Dakota would be there, sitting in her back pocket whenever she needed her.

“I think I’m ready,” Bridget smiled.

“Well, your going to have to wait,” Dakota laughed. “I still got half a cheeseburger to eat.”

 

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

 

 

 

Short Story Saturday Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night

There was something to be said about the beach at night. It didn’t look like the beach everyone knew when the sun was high in the sky. There was something mysterious about it. It seemed unexplored, different. It could almost be seen as dangerous if there was a new moon. Everything about this part of town called to the teenagers, something about the allure of the ocean, the freedom of it. It made young people do things they never thought they would. It makes nights feel like they could last forever.

Seniors had been throwing their bonfire night the night before graduation near the caves on the beach since Mary Ellen’s parents had been in high school, probably long before, even. Both her older brothers had their senior night down the beach. RJ had even snuck her along with him the year before, but this night, it being her own special night, made it all the more exciting. The bonfire was going before she parked her car by the boardwalk; she could smell it before she saw it as she approached the seawall. She kicked off her Tom’s, holding them in her left hand and letting her toes sink into the warm sand. Her dark hair flew in her face as she walked toward the growing crowd of classmates, the sea breeze keeping the heat of the day at bay.

Graduation was the next afternoon, in a day most the people in front of her would no longer be her classmates, the faces she saw every day and interacted with, but just people she went to school with, people she knew once. The events of the previous week: the class trip to the amusement park, the movie day in the library to make up a snow day so they could graduate on time, the walking rehearsals, had made the small class grow close. Mary Ellen knew it would never last, after tomorrow they’d all be strangers again. Some of them would only see each other at reunions, maybe never, but tonight, this night was everything, one last grab at being young and stupid; one last chance to say everything they wanted to say before it was all over.

As she finally approached the fire, she spotted her two best friends, Lex and Carmen, sitting on a small pile of rocks near the fire, away from the rest of the people, but close enough for a passerby would know they were part of that group. She planted herself next to Lex and did her best to enjoy the calm of day.

“Tomorrow it’s over,” Carmen said. “It’s kind of sad, right?”

“Or a giant relief,” Lex replied. “We never have to talk to most of these people ever again.”

“Just like the occasional life-changing event post on Facebook,” Mary Ellen added. “I can live with that amount of social contact with most of these people.”

The three girls sat in silence, just observing. They watched the prom queen, Trish Hamilton, and her friends dance in the pink-orange light of sunset. They watched the boys throw stones into the ocean and laugh at unheard jokes.

“Do you ever feel like you missed out on it all?” Mary Ellen asked after some time had passed. “Like we spent too long trying to prove we’re better than these people that we never got to experience any of it?”

“Sometimes,” Carmen nodded.

“No,” Lex chuckled. “I’m very sound in my life choices.”

“RJ was talking about it yesterday,” Mary Ellen shrugged. “He told me that I was too uptight and lame.”

“No offense, Mare,” Lex said seriously. “But I really don’t think you should be taking life advice from someone who has taken a year off from school to ‘explore himself.’”

“He’s going to State in the fall,” Mary Ellen defended. “School was stressful for him, he just needed a break. It happens. He saved a ton of money working with my dad this year, so he doesn’t have to take out loans. It’s kind of brilliant really.”

“RJ has been a cautionary tale for all of us for years,” Lex said shaking her head.

“He may be an idiot, but he had straight A’s,” Mary Ellen replied. “He’s getting better. He’s not as off the wall and ridiculous as he was we were little. Just because he liked to break the rules and dance to his own beat doesn’t mean he’s completely worthless. We could all learn something from him. He’s a free spirit. I wish I had inherited some of that.”

Lex shrugged and turned back to fun unfolding in front of her.

“I think Mary Ellen’s right,” Carmen said as she pushed herself up off the rocks. “Spontaneity.”  She reached her hands down, offering one to each of her friends. Mary Ellen grabbed it and let Carmen pull her up. The two turned to look at Lex, Carmen’s hand still extended.

“Oh, come on,” Mary Ellen sighed. She walked behind Lex and lifted her up by the shoulders.

“Like you said earlier, this is the second to last time we’re going to see these people,” Carmen smiled, linking arms with Lex.

“After we walk tomorrow, its goodbye forever,” Mary Ellen added taking her other arm. “We can all learn to be a little reckless once and while.”

Lex reluctantly let Carmen and Mary Ellen lead her across the beach, leaving their shoes and purses on the rocks. They made their way toward the fire where many of the girls in their class were dancing and just letting the moment wash over them.

“Finally,” Trish giggled. “We were starting to think that you guys were just going to hang out there and being lame.”

“The night is still young,” Mary Ellen joked. “Come on, Lex, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“It’s not going to kill you to just let go,” Carmen added as a new song started to play from the iPod speakers on top of the cooler. She extended her hand to Trish who took it and let her to the other side of the fire where they started to dance in that way that only teenage girls who don’t care if people are watching dance.

Mary Ellen looked Lex in the eyes and started to sway with the music. She put her hands over her head and twirled, hip checking Lex a couple times with a big genuine smile on her face.

Lex took a deep breath and rolled her eyes then finally visibly relaxed. “You only live once right?” Lex smiled as she finally gave in and let the music take control.

Short Story Saturday: Home has four wheels

So this week it’s a piece of  Supernatural fanfiction again. I wasn’t going to post the whole thing because it’s kind of long, but why not.  I hope you enjoy it. I’ll stick a link to my AO3 profile at the bottom if you are interested in reading more of my fan fiction. I’m working on a brand new piece for next week. We’ll see how it goes.

Enjoy


The first night they spent in the Impala John felt like the absolute worst father in the world. As he pulled into the park and ride on their way from Kansas to West Virginia on the tail of something that seemed a little bit off, something like the thing that took Mary. He looked into the back seat at his two boys sound asleep not knowing anything was wrong. Sam had been asleep for hours in his car seat, there was a decent chance he was going to wake up soon, hungry, wet or both and demand attention. Dean, however, looked so uncomfortable in his booster seat it was almost funny. His cheek pressed tightly against the window, his little firefighter’s helmet askew on his head. John shut the car off in the darkest part of the park and ride. Dark car in the shadows was hard to see. It didn’t feel safe, but it felt safe enough with all the doors locked. He’d get a motel room when they got to West Virginia. Give Dean an actual bed with blankets and pillows. But for tonight this was the best he could do, and man did he feel so awful for doing it.
As it became more frequent, Dean started to ask questions. Sam didn’t seem to mind, but he was ten months old, and nothing really seemed to bother him as long as he had Dean within grabbing range and his dirty stuffed cow close in his hand.

“Daddy,” Dean whined as John unbuckled Dean from his booster seat so the little boy could lay down on the seat, at least it was a little more comfortable. “Why don’t we have a house anymore? I miss the apartment at the top of the stairs. Why can’t we go back there? I know we can’t go back to the big house because the fire ate it, but how come we have no house?”

“Because Daddy has work to do,” John explained. “You’ll understand when you’re a little bit bigger.”

“How much bigger?” Dean yawned.

“Not much bigger,” John smiled.

He watched Dean place a pillow stolen from one of the motels they’d stayed at against Sam’s car seat and arrange himself, then placed a blanket over the boy. After wishing his boys a good night, he closed the door and climbed into the front.

“Daddy,” Dean said softly. “If I get much bigger, I’m not gotta fit back here no more.”

“We’ll figure it out when we get there kiddo,” John said, balling up a sweatshirt and placing it against the passenger’s side door. “Everything will work out. I promise.”

“Are we looking for Momma?” Dean asked sleepily.

He asked the same question every night, and every night John had the same answer: “Yeah, Buddy, we’re still looking for what took Momma.”

“I hope you find it soon,” Dean mumbled. “I miss my bed.”

“Good night, Dean,” John replied.

He didn’t know how much more of Dean saying things like that he could take. He was driven in two very different directions. On the one hand, he had boys to raise, make sure they grow up protected and happy. On the other hand, he had the image of the love of his life, on fire, cut open, dead and pinned to the ceiling by an unknown force, a demon, that psychic had said. If he kept on the path he was on, if he kept searching for what put Mary up there, he was protecting his boys. It was a doubled edged sword he was playing with. It had no right answer. He stared at the ceiling until he heard Dean’s breath start to even out, then closed his own eyes to grab a couple hours before Sammy needed attention.

—————
As the boys got bigger, it got a little easier. Dean had figured out exactly what John was doing on accident right before his seventh birthday while John and Bobby talked strategy at Bobby’s kitchen table. He’d taken it pretty well considering, thought of John as a kind of superhero. John chalked it up to the little boy already knowing that there were bad things out there. There had to be if something took away his mom.

When they left Bobby’s after Dean finished first grade, heading off to hunt a ghoul in Oklahoma, the routine of sleeping in the car started up again. Dean jumped right back into it, almost like he was more used to sleeping in the car than a real bed. If that didn’t break John’s heart, there were few things that ever would.

Sam was much more reluctant. He liked having his space. He liked sharing a bed with his big brother. He liked being able to sleep with his face pressed right up against Dean’s side, but he also liked being able to take up a good two-thirds of a full sized bed with his tiny frame. Squishing the two of them into the backseat was touchy.

Outside of Nebraska, John found a nice safe looking parking lot to crash for the night and told Dean to get Sammy ready for bed. John laid down across the front, head on a sweatshirt and was out in a matter of seconds. Dean helped Sammy into his pajamas and got a bottle of water out of a cooler in the foot well under Sam’s booster seat and helped his brother with his toothbrush before changing himself and brushing his teeth.

“How come, we can’t go to a place with the bed?” Sam started. He held his toothbrush out to Dean to put away while clutching his dirty stuffed cow, Moocha, close to his chest.

“Because Dad stopped here,” Dean explained. “So we have to sleep in the car.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam pouted.

“Then you can sleep outside,” Dean nodded. “More room for me.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam said shaking his head. “I’ll be boy napped. Moocha get cow-napped!”

“You’re too annoying to get kidnapped, Sammy,” Dean said seriously. “They’ll return you before too long.”

“Not funny, De,” Sam said.

Dean shrugged and laid down with his head by the driver’s side door. He balled up one of John’s shirts as a pillow and pulled at Sam who was standing in the foot well down to lay against him.

“You tell me a story?” Sam whispered.

“Too dark,” Dean said. “Just go to sleep. I’ll read you a story when we get to a motel.”

“Promise?” Sam asked, pressing a bony elbow into Dean’s ribcage as he tried to find a comfortable position.

“Yes, Sammy, I promise,” Dean replied.

“You’re the best big brother in the world,” Sam yawned.

“I know,” Dean smiled, wrapping an arm around Sam’s back to make sure that he didn’t fall off the seat in the middle of the night.

Dean lay there listening to Sammy breathe and his dad snore for a while until he started to drift himself. Just as he was reaching a place where sleep was within reach, Sam started to shiver.

“Dean,” a tiny voice said. “I’m very cold.”

Dean took the shirt from against the door and draped it over the two of them.

“But now you gots no pillow,” Sam yawned.

“It’ll be okay Sammy,” Dean assured. “It’ll be okay for now. Everything will be better someday. I’m going to make everything better for you.”

“Promise,” Sam said sleepily, his body getting heavy again against Dean’s side.

“Even if it kills me, Sammy,” Dean promised. “Everything’s gonna be better for you.”

 

Dean stole a couple pillows and one of the blankets from the next motel they were stuck in a while his Dad took down a vampire nest. It was much easier to get Sammy to sleep when he was warm. It seemed weird since the kid was a walking radiator, but Sam need blankets to sleep, and Dad wasn’t stopping at Kmart because Sammy was whining about being cold. So Dean did the only thing he knew how. There was only so much he could work with being seven and barely tall enough to reach the stove to make decent spaghetti-O’s let alone walk around a store by himself.

It was a little bit more comfortable in the car with those things, but Dad wasn’t too happy about it.

“Where did you get that, Dean?” John sighed when Dean pulled the blanket out his duffle in a parking lot near an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere Iowa.

“I got them from the motel,” Dean confessed. “Sam’s always cold, and it’s hard to sleep when you don’t have a pillow. And there’s only so many clean shirts that I can use as a pillow, and my neck hurts in the morning.”

“Don’t steal anything ever again,” John said sternly, doing his best not to raise his voice. “You know what happens when you steal things, Dean? You go to jail. Do you want to go to jail?”

“No, sir,” Dean replied shaking his head, wide-eyed. “But what if Sammy needs something?”

“Then tell me, and I’ll get it,” John answered.

“What if you don’t get it?”

“I’ll get it,” John said.

“I told you Sam wanted a blanket to sleep and you didn’t do nothing about it,” Dean said. “And you told me that Sam is my job and I’m supposed to take care of him.”

“Don’t talk back to me,” John said seriously, having no counter argument for his seven-year-old son. “Get ready for bed.”

Dean tucked Sammy in the best way he could, pulling out a flashlight to read a couple King Arthur tales in the kid’s magazine her nicked from the last doctor’s office they were in. Sam fell asleep against his shoulder with a very soft snore before Dean shut off his light and places the side of his face against Sam’s hair and allowed himself to fall asleep.

——
After Dean broke his arm during his misstep on a werewolf hunt when he was eleven, living in the car got very difficult. The poor kid’s arm was trapped with his elbow bent for weeks. When he had room to move around in his sleep, he wasn’t comfortable, let alone when he was stuck with his needy seven-year-old brother who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be next to Dean or have his own half of the back seat to himself.

“You’re going to sleep over there when you sit,” Dean decided for him. “I’m going to sleep over here on my side. I can’t sleep when you’re in the way. And when I hit you in the face with my cast you cry. So just give me space.”

“I don’t want to give you space,” Sam said sticking out his tongue.

“Dad!” Dean whined. “Make Sam stay away from me.”

“Boys!” John’s voice echoed and seemed just that much scarier when it was confined to the car his eyes never leaving the road. They had to be back in Delaware by tomorrow afternoon if Dean was going to make it back to school for Monday. “If you don’t knock it off, I’m dropping the two of you off at the next fire station I see.”

“I don’t think it works like that,” Sam said. “That only works for babies.”

“Then he’ll have no problem getting rid of you,” Dean spat.

“The next person to talk gets left of the side of the road,” John said seriously. “Both of you go to sleep so I can get us where we gotta be.”

The boys started to settle for a moment, not wanting to get in trouble. But the problem with keeping two young boys in the backseat of a car for long periods of time was that the only thing they had to entertain themselves was each other. After a few minutes of settling, Sam started to fidget and kicked Dean’s feet away from him.

“Stop it, Sam,” Dean hissed through his teeth.

Sammy started to laugh. “Looks like you’re getting left on the side of the road.”

Suddenly the car slammed to a stop, gravel kicking up on both sides as John maneuvered it on to the shoulder. Dean looked over at Sam with his eyes wide. Neither little boy had ever imagined that John would make good on his threats.

“Samuel, get your ass up here now,” John said, low and angry.

Sam popped the door and made it to the front seat as fast as he could.

“I got a lot of driving to do,” John said. “If the two of you can’t behave for a few hours, I don’t know what I’m going to do with you.”

“You can leave us a Bobby’s,” Dean said softly.

“I have a very important job,” John continued like he didn’t hear Dean. “I don’t think either of you understands how important that job is. I can’t do it with the two of you acting like children all the time.”

“We are children,” Sam said seriously.

“You know what I mean,” John growled. “Now the two of you are going to go to sleep because that’s what I told you to do to. And hopefully when you wake up, we’ll be back at the duplex, and you can have your space for a little bit. Because you both are grounded and spending time in the separate room with nothing but homework for the next week. If you don’t knock it off, you’re both going to be in even bigger trouble. Do you understand?”

An echo of “yes, sir” came from both boys very quickly.

Sam curled up in the passenger’s seat, and Dean spread out in the back, his broken are up against the back of the seat in the most comfortable way he could.

John drove, eyes straight ahead. He’d never regret his choice to live his life this way. He was doing his best. Could he have stayed in the little one bedroom apartment in Lawrence and just let things be? Of course, he could have, but he took a trip to see that psychic and that changed everything. This was what was best for his boys. And if he ended this, if he found that thing that put Mary on that ceiling, his boys would never have to live like this. His boys would go to school, have lives, families. He was doing this for the greater good. He was raising his boys the only way he thought was right. He was protecting them. Making sure that everything would be okay.

—–
The bigger the boys got, the more uncomfortable the car became. Dean took to riding shotgun most of the time by the time he was fourteen (he’d been driving the car on and off since he was twelve, so riding shot gun most of the time was a small step), but come night it was still John in the front, and the two boys jammed in the back seat. The decided that the best way to both fits was to lay so that each of their heads was against a door, old pillows or sweatshirts keeping the armrest from digging into their necks. Sam had to sleep with his head against the passenger’s door: he shoved that army man in the ash tray, he could have it stab in the head at night. The biggest problem was that the boys were much too big to fit on half a seat. Sam was still small for a ten-year-old, hadn’t started his never ending growth spirts yet, but Dean was well over five foot at fourteen and cramming into such a small space was awful, especially when his little brother complained when Dean went even a millimeter over the half way mark of the seat.

It was worse than when Sam was little because he uses to invade all of Dean’s space and not care. Even when Dean was Sam’s age, Sam would be all up in his business and Dean had to pretend he didn’t care because he loved his brother. Now he had to deal with Sam being a huge brat one hundred percent of the time and even worse in the car.

“When are we stopping?” Sam whined around one in the morning in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the Midwest.

“See any place to stop?” John replied seriously. “You want to sleep, you got a big bench seat right there. Lay down. You’ve done it a million times.”

“I don’t want to,” Sam continued to whine.

“I’m not listening to you be a bitch for hours,” Dean sighed. “Just lay down and go to sleep.”

“Stop being such a jerk and stop calling me the b-word,” Sam cried. “I don’t want to sleep in the car like a homeless person. Kids at school are going to find out, and it’s going to be awful. I get made fun of enough already.”

“Shut up, Sam,” Dean said. “It’s not that bad. Stop caring about what other people think and maybe you’ll be able to relax.”

“How can you not care what people think?” Sam asked.

“Because I don’t,” Dean smirked. He pulled his legs up on the seat and folded up a sweatshirt to press against the cold window.

“Keep your feet on your side this time,” Sam grumbled. He slammed his book shut and clicked off his flashlight, finally giving up that there would be a magical motel that popped up in the middle of the soybean fields.

“I’ll my best, Sammy,” Dean promised.

“Just do it. I don’t want to be kicked,” Sam said.

“You’ve spent most of your miserable life shafting me in the ribs with your boney elbows and sticking your ice feet against my thighs,” Dean replied. “You can deal with being kicked because I’m taller than you.”

Sam rolled his eyes and curled up into the smallest ball he could under a blanket that was probably stolen from a motel a million years before.

Dean slept with his face toward the seat and his knees pressed up against the seat back while Sam slept the other way. Dean figured it was easiest, less chance of kicking Sam and more chance of kicking the front seat if he got too cramped up. Inevitably, however, since he was a good foot and a half taller than his brother Dean’s leg crossed into Sam’s territory and if that’d didn’t make John want to leave the two of them to hitchhike to Bobby’s from where ever they were, nothing ever would. The high pitched squeal from Sam was animal, obnoxious and one hundred percent unnecessary.

“Dean!”

“I didn’t even freaking’ touch you!” Dean yelled back. “Stop being a freakin’ drama queen for two freakin’ seconds.”

“Watch your Goddamn mouth,” John yelled pulling the car to the shoulder with lightning reflexes, with as loud as Sam screamed it was a miracle that John didn’t steer the car into oncoming traffic. “Whatever the two of you are doing, knock it off. We’ve got a long way to drive ahead of us, and I’m sick of the two of you fighting constantly.”

“Then act like a parent and give an actual place to sleep,” Sam sighed.

This time Dean kicked him for real, hard. Sam started to complain again, but he looked over a Dean to see his very serious “knock it off” face.

“If you don’t like the way I do things,” John said in that scary warning tone that always shook both boys down to their bones. “You’re welcome to get out of this car and be on your own for the rest of your life.”

“Dad, he’s ten,” Dean said.

“Well,” John said turning around, extending one of his arms across the back of the seat. “He likes to talk like he’s grown. If he wants to act grown he can start doing it for real.”
Sam looked to his brother to defend him.

“I’m sorry,” Dean mumbled. “I won’t cross into his half of the back seat again. It would be way easier if we stopped at motels more often. Or if you left us back at the base sometimes. I’m big enough to take care of Sam for a couple days, maybe a week by myself. It’ll stop the fighting. We’re just way too big for this.”

John let his face relax. Dean had a point, as much as he hated to admit it. This life had given John a bit of a warped sense of how to protect his boys. They’d be fine by themselves. Dean had been taking care of Sammy by himself for close to ten years in short bursts. John could figure out how to keep them safe. Right now it looked like the only thing they needed to be kept safe from was each other.

“I’m willing to consider it,” John said, blood pressure falling. “But Sam has to understand that he’s not in charge. Anywhere. He’s just a kid. I got a job to do. A very important job.”

“We know,” Sam sighed. “The fate of the world doesn’t seem to care that you have kids to take care of. And Wendigoes don’t take breaks because we’re in school.”

“Sam,” Dean said softly before their dad had a chance to start yelling.

The younger boys rolled his eyes as hard as he could.

“This is the last time I’m warning you,” John said. “It’s close to three in the morning. You both need to go to sleep. When you wake up, we should be in Arizona. I got a contact that might be able to hook us up with a rental for a couple months. Might even have cable.”

Sam opened his mouth, but Dean kicked him again before he could think of saying something rude. This kid was never going to stop being a huge pain in everyone’s ass.

“Just go to sleep,” John continued. “Go to sleep, and I’ll do what I can make it better. You boys are most important. You’ve always been the most important.”

“Yeah,” Dean said sarcasm thick in his voice as he tried to find a comfortable spot again.

 

Before turning back onto the road, John took a long look in the rear view mirror. He wondered what happened. It felt like a couple days ago he was looking back there to see two car seats and a little boy with firefighter’s helmet. Now he had a teenager and a middle schooler that might as well be one with the attitude on him. His boys lay twisted together like a pretzel, both giving up precious space to the other one. He would second guess his choices all the time looking into those faces, but he knew he was doing the right thing. He was saving people. He was making sure that no one else had to what they were doing.

—–

At seventeen in South Carolina, Dean Winchester was arrested for vandalism in a cemetery, but John and Dean had a Rawhead to hunt, which made Dean miss a court date, and now Dean had a warrant for jumping bail. This left little time for finding a new place, at least not in this state, so John took the boys on the road, again.
He’d kept good on his promise, let Dean take care of Sam at some makeshift homestead for a little bit while John took on one man hunts. It made Sam complain less, which was a miracle within itself. However, this was a do or die situation, and those boys were going to have to share a backseat for a night.

“Can’t Dean just sleep up front?” Sam begged. “Or we can get a hotel.”

“Well,” John explained. “We’re only an hour outta town, and you’re brother can’t read a calendar, so I don’t got a lot of choices since five-oh is out looking for him.”

“Don’t pin this all on me,” Dean sighed.

“Then I’ll sleep in the front while you drive,” Sam suggested. “Not enough room for two people.”

“Nope,” John said pulling off the highway at a rest stop and driving the car to the back. “I need my six to keep the car on the road. We’re all crashing in the car.”

“Can I go sleep in the truck stop bathroom,” Sam asked.

“Do you have a death wish?” John asked. He climbed out of the car to grab the duffle bags and bottled water out of the trunk. When he leaned back in, he said: “You’ll be fine for a night.”

“This is not okay,” Sam mumbled. “How are we going to do this?”

“Whatever it is you decide, keep it down,” John called from the front seat as he laid down and within a matter of minutes started snoring.

“It’s annoying how quickly he can just fall asleep,” Sam said rolling his eyes.

“Something about being in Nam I think,” Dean replied. “He can sleep in puddles and all sorts of shit.”

“I was thinking we could try sleeping back to back,” Sam said, getting to the task at hand.

“We should probably cuddle,” Dean said seriously. “This is basically half a twin bed. The only way we’re going to fit is if you play little spoon.”

“No,” Sam answered. He shoved Dean aside and laid down with his face toward the seat.

“This is dumb,” Dean mumbled, and he did his best to fit on what was left of the seat.

As he expected there wasn’t enough room this way. Sam was pressed so close to the seat that he almost could breathe and Dean was holding himself up on the seat with an arm extended down into the foot well. Very quickly Dean’s arm started to cramp and fall asleep.

“Kid,” Dean sighed. “This isn’t going to work. I know you want it to, but I’m telling ya, it’s not gonna work.”

“I’m not cuddling with you, Dean,” Sam huffed.

“Then you can sleep with my feet if your face,” Dean said. “Because little spoon or face full of feet are your choices.”

“You’d get a face full of my feet too,” Sam said.

“No,” Dean smirked. “You’re still too short, but I know you don’t want socks in my face. It’s one night Sammy. You’ll live. I won’t tell your friends.”

Sam grunted an “It’s Sam” under his breath as he sat up. This was truly ridiculous. “Never get arrested again. I need a bed.”

“I’ll do my best, kiddo,” Dean promised. “This ain’t all my fault, though. Hunt took longer than Dad thought it would. I didn’t skip bail on purpose.”

“Whatever, just lay down I’m tired.”

Dean switched places and laid down with his back against the seat. He pulled Sam down next to him, his little brother’s back to his chest.

“Just like old times,” Dean joked. “Only way more awkward.”

“Yeah,” Sam chuckled. “Only I’m not quite as bony, and I have socks on so my feet aren’t cold.”

“You could still benefit from a little muscle,” Dean said. “But you’ll get there. Still a kid. You’d look weird as a super buff thirteen-year-old.”

“Boys,” a sleepy voice came from the front seat. “Go to sleep.”

“Yes, sir,” the boys echoed.

They both let the darkness of the night encompass them and their tiredness from the day wash over, and they fell into a rhythmic sleep.

 

—–

After John bought his truck, he almost always stopped at a place with a bed to sleep. If he didn’t, Dean would because he hated to listen to Sam complain and using a fake credit card to keep the kid from whining for twelve hours was money well spent.

When Sam went off to school, and Dean and John went their separate ways, Dean became a frequenter of YMCA showers and spent most of his nights alone in his car. Unless he was lucky enough to find a lady. Then he had a warm bed to sleep in. It didn’t really seem worth it to get a room if it was just him. When John was around, they two got a motel room, usually at a table and did all things that functioning humans did.

Dean did enjoy working alone, he just hated being alone. He found himself listening to top forty stations because he missed his brother. Sleeping alone in the car was awkward and weird. It was too quiet. There was no snoring from his father or Sam’s mindless talking. Just the sounds of the road. It was horrible, but he did it. He managed for almost three years until he pulled Sam from that burning apartment.

He could tell Sam hated being back, hated the road, the kid always had. Dean liked having his passenger’s seat full, no matter how grumpy that passenger was.
Somewhere between Wisconsin and Pennsylvania the boys needed to sleep.

“I’m dying Sammy, I gotta pull off,” Dean said. Sam had his face placed against the window. He sat up with a jerk as Dean pulled off the road.

“What are you doing?” Sam asked.

“I know you hate it,” Dean said seriously. “I know you hate this whole thing, but I’m exhausted, and who the hell knows where there’s a motel, so I’m crashing. You should too.” Dean reached down and pulled off his shoes before turning in the seat and sticking is toes under Sam’s legs.

“We’re not cuddling are we?” Sam sighed.

“You got the whole back seat, dude,” Dean smirked. “Plenty of space.”

“Not enough for two grown men,” Sam complained as he popped the door and climbed into the back.

“It’s better than it used to be,” Dean said once Sam got situated. “I know you hate it. I don’t need to hear about it. We’re both too damn exhausted to keep driving. We’ll get a hotel after we talk to dad’s contact in Pennsylvania. It’ll be fine.”

“I wasn’t going to complain, Dean,” Sam yawned. “I’m in this. I gotta be now.”

The boys settled, and it felt like they were going to enter sleep when Sam’s voice, soft as it used to be when he was little came from the back.

“Dean, can you tell me about her? What you remember? What happened?”

“To Mom?” Dean asked.

“Yeah,” Sam answered. “All I got is what Dad said, which is nothing. I just, what are up against?”

“I never saw her,” Dean said. “I didn’t… I wasn’t in the room when the fire… you know. But the way Dad says it, it was just what happened to your girl. Up on the ceiling, cut open. I just got outta there as fast I could. Did what dad told me to.”

“What was she like?” Sam asked. “If we’re going to hunt this thing, I want to know everything it took from me.”

“Sammy,” Dean sighed. “I was four years old. I remember a mom. She stayed a home with us. She taught me to read, tie my shoes. We used to color together. I remember making tapes with her from her records. I can’t tell ya much more.”

“Just tell me something,” Sam begged.

Tell me a story, Dean thought. All of a sudden Sam was two again. Sharp elbows digging into him in the dark begging for him to tell a story while Dad slept in the front.

“Not too long before you were born,” Dean started. “I want to say it was Thanksgiving, but I was three, so I don’t really remember all the details. I remember her cooking, and then Dad’s parents were over, and I had to dress nice. But I remember her, in this light green dress, dancing to the radio. She let me help her, standing on a step stool so I could reach the stove. I got to stir the vegetables. I just remember being really, really happy.”

“We were normal,” Sam said.

“For a little bit, yeah,” Dean said. “I miss her, Sam, I do. I’ve fought my whole life fix what happened to us. And I think we are. We’re doing something good. I said it in Colorado, and I’ll say it million times, it’s the family business, saving people. We’re doing this for her. Maybe you’re doing for Jess. You had normal with her, I had normal with Mom. Maybe that’s what this thing wanted.”

“Maybe,” Sam said softly. “We have to find it Dad, get this thing outta here, kill it, whatever.”

“We will Sammy,” Dean promised. “We gotta be close if it’s striking back at us. We’ll find a pattern. You’re good at that. We’ll fix it.”

“It hurts, Dean,” Sam whispered.

“I know bud,” Dean nodded. “I wish I could fix it. I’d do anything to fix it. You know that. But if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll heal.”

“I hope so,” Sam replied. “Thanks, Jerk.”

“Goodnight, Bitch.”

Dean listened until Sam’s breath evened out, knowing he only had a few hours before the kid woke up screaming. Maybe his little brother would sleep through the night tonight. Dean hoped that he would, Sam deserved better than what he was given. Dean had worked his whole life to make sure Sam got better, and he was still in the back seat of his Dad’s car.

Someday this wouldn’t be their life. Dean would make it right for his brother if it was the last thing he ever did.

 

Archive of Our Own

Until next time Internet,

Deanna

A Chairside Conversation

“I’ll never understand the rush you kids are in to get nowhere; the honking, the yelling at the windshields,” I said as my grandkids came over one Sunday morning, followed by my great-grandkids. I never thought I’d live long enough to have great-grandkids, but there they are three of them.

They run up and hug me, then follow me like horses to water into the family room. Before I even get to my chair, they’re sitting in front of it waiting for me to tell them a story.

“There’s a pace to this world, and it’s gotten way too fast for me,” I start, lighting a pipe. They look up in awe. “I keep it where I like it, and if it bothers those kids in their boats going seventy-five on the interstate, then too bad for them.

“I’ve wondered where they could be going in such a rush. Nothing that’s worth going to see if you’re rushing to it. ‘It’ll be there when I get there,’ I always say.

“Your grandmother thinks I drive too fast, she’s always clutching her purse over her face yelling, ‘Clifford slow this gosh darn car down, you’re going to hit something!’” I mock the motion and my wife’s voice, and my great-grandkids laugh in amusement.

“And I’d say, ‘Oh, calm your horses Rebecca, it’s the interstate. I have to go this fast.’”

“But you know Rebecca; she wouldn’t take that handbag off her face until we got to the market, and the whole way back to the house too,” they’re clinging to every word I say like I’m some kind of superhero. If I’d run into my future self and he told me I’d have three great-grandkids that loved me like Melissa, Johnny, and Kevin do, I would have laughed in my face.

“You three are going to have a wicked fast world,” I continue. They love my stories about the old days.  “Faster than this world we live in now. Just you wait. Them televisions are going to start thinking for themselves, and you’ll be carrying around telephones in all your pockets by the time you get to be my age.”

“But Grandpa,” Melissa said looking up at me in my big, overstuffed, green recliner and as I rocked back and forth puffing on my pipe. “TV’s don’t have brains; how can they think for themselves?”

For seven she sure is a smart one, that Melissa, just like her grandmother was at her age. “Well, Miss Melissa, when I was your age they didn’t even have televisions.”

“But what did you do on Saturday mornings then?” Kevin asked.

“We worked on the farm, that’s what!” I said “Lots more work ethic than you kids nowadays have. We’d be up before the sun out in the barns milking chickens and feeding cows. It’s all because of us old folk that you have your fresh milk in the stores. We didn’t even have stores when I was your age.”

“But how did you buy things?” Johnny asked, confused.

“We didn’t even have money when I was a kid, it wasn’t invented yet. We had to grow all our own food, and make our own clothes. We didn’t have all those fancy toys that you kids have. We had a block of wood, and we had to make do with what we had. And if that meant we had to eat your Uncle Bernie, then we ate your Uncle Bernie.”

“We don’t have an Uncle Bernie, Grandpa,” Melissa said, looking up at me terrified.

“That’s because we had to eat him when I was a boy,” I answered taking another puff of my wooden pipe.

My daughter, Dawn, appeared around the corner to the family room. “Stop scaring the kids, Dad,” she scolded smiling. She’d heard all my stories; she knew how they all ended. “Come on its time for dinner anyway.”

My great-grandkids jumped up and ran to the kitchen. Dawn walked with me, arm around mine. “I’ll never understand that rush to get places these days. It’ll still be there if you take your time.”

“I know Dad, that’s why one day all three of them will take long walks on beaches thinking about how their great-grandpa was right about everything.”

I took my seat at the head of the table, my family in front of me, my wife to my left, my three kids, my eight grandkids, and my three great-grandkids, and by the looks of Joanie, my fourth is soon on the way. I have the perfect life, even if it’s moving way too fast for its own good.”


I hope you enjoyed this

Until Next Time Internet,

Deanna