You watch your brother carefully. He's little still. Unaware of all the turmoil going on around him Dad just finished off a werewolf. Dad won't talk, but you know what's going on. Since your mom's death, he's been different. He's quiet. He has moved away from all your family and friends. He tells you that it's your job to protect Sam. He says he knows it's a lot to handle, but you have to do it When he tells you this, you nod, scared.
You are turning seven today. But your birthday goes unnoticed. Sam is fussy. As usual, it falls mostly to you to take care of Sam while your father works.
Sam giggles as you read him a story. He chuckles and squirms in your lap. In a compassionate moment not seen so much any more, your father takes Sam from you and talks and laughs with his youngest son, cooing and tickling him.
You watch, stunned.
Sammy is twelve. He's worried about school. He is the only one of the three of you who shows any apprehension about what your family does. He seems to wish he lived like the kids he goes to school with – ignorant, unafraid, and unprotected. Normally. That's the word Sam uses.
You scoff. You do this to hide the fact that you still miss that life. The simplicity. The joys of having your mother still alive.
Being able to be yourself. Not worrying about sticking out. About demons getting you, your brother, or your father. Of losing your only family to some sick supernatural evil.
Sam doesn't seem to see your fear.
You are twenty-two. And you can't believe what's going on.
Sam shouts at your father. He says he doesn't want to live this life. He says he doesn't want to be a hunter. He's had enough.
You feel like someone has punched you as your father returns with choice insults. Barb after barb, jab after jab. The fight grows. You try to calm them both down, but Sam only gets angry with you, too.
They don't listen to you, anyway. It seems like no one ever does. Then you hear your father say, "Then don't come back."
Silence. Blessed, in a way. Horrible in another. What did he just say? What? He's sending Sam away? Your little brother? Over something as idiotic as Sam wanting to attend college? He'll be unprotected. No one will be watching his back. What was all that struggle over keeping him safe then when he was younger then, if they were just going to let him go on alone, no backup?
Half of you is proud of your brother. Good, he's finally standing up to Dad. He deserves to do what he wants with his life. He deserves to be safe from all this evil. The other half is angry. How could he just turn his back on them? This is a job that needs doing. Surely Sammy realizes that. They have to keep innocent people from dying. Like Mom.
You watch your brother leave, picked up by a friend. You watch the small car leave, your brother resolutely refusing to look back at you or the place you're currently staying. (To call it home would be to lie.)
You feel a twinge of regret. You should have said good-bye, wished him luck. Told him to watch his back. Anything would be better than nothing at all.
You listen to Sam talking. How he thinks Dad made a deal with the yellow-eyed demon for your life. The thought eats up at you. Would Dad have given up his life for you? Just like that? You feel waves of emotions crash over you. What do you do? Cry or punch something? How are you supposed to feel? 'Cause shitty is the only way to describe how this feels, and even that's not remotely accurate.
And what was that load of bull he told you before he died? And did your father really love you? Did he really view you as something besides a protector for Sam?
You don't know what to think any more. Nothing makes sense.
As you fall asleep fitfully that night, you try not to think of your father and the sacrifice he made.
You watch your mother playing with your new brother, Sam.
You join her and smile at Sam. He's only a few months old. Cute. Small. Fragile. He's innocent and sweet.
Your father comes past the room, then back tracks so he can smile at you and your mother playing with Sam.
Your mother laughs. Your father smiles. So does your brother.
You don't know what will happen in just a few short weeks.