These notes contain spoilers for the story. If you don't have triggers, I recommend you simply read the story and take it as it is. I promise that the subject matter is handled with sensitivity. Come back and read the notes later. :)
Warning: This story deals with the sexual abuse of a child. While the incidents happen "off-screen" and before the story takes place, they are discussed in some detail, particularly in a rather vivid flashback. If you have triggers relating to this, there are a few scenes you might want to skip, or just avoid the story altogether.
The first scene is in Part 2, beginning with "It was the P.E. teacher." and ending with "It felt like there was nothing else to do." (That's an entire section.) The second scene is in Part 3, beginning with "Dean lay awake, staring at the ceiling." and ending with "Why hadn't he fought?" (The rest of that section deals with the issue more abstractly.) There's also a rather frank discussion in Part 6, beginning with "About Coach Peters..." and ending with "Both of us." at the end of that section.
Notes: They say to write what you know, and this story was just one big exercise in that, really. The town of "Woodlan" is where I grew up, and all of the locations are real. (See the soundtrack page for pictures of my little town. It's lovely and I love it and you should too.) Many of the childhood scenes were also taken from summers I have spent here, and writing them was something of a visceral experience for me. I kept remembering more things, finding more sights and sounds and smells that I wanted to share. My hope is that readers who finish this story will come away with a greater appreciation for small-town life and the value of childhood.
The church I chose to make Jimmy a member of is real. It is The Apostolic Christian Church of America, and it is the church I grew up in and am still a member of. It is small and conservative and very loving, and while I am struggling now with my own theology and where I want to be and belong, that is no reflection on the church. It's a wonderful place and I was privileged to grow and learn there.
I am also very familiar with childhood sexual abuse and its long-term effects. Dean's story in this fic is, basically, my own, with a few details changed. It was a foster boy, the incidents took place in my home over the course of a summer (the summer of 1990, to be exact), and I was seven. Sam's line to Dean that finally gets through to him, "Any is severely," is what my good friend Aaron said to me when I was suffering a bout of severe depression in my junior year of college. I was in denial about the pain I was in, insisting that what had happened to me was no big deal and shouldn't bother me anymore and I didn't need help, I should just get over it. But those words stopped me in my tracks.
Any is severely.
If you are suffering, you deserve to be helped. It doesn't matter how small or insignificant the triggering event might seem, how mild in comparison to what other people have gone through. If it's bothering you then it's a wound that needs to be healed. Give yourself permission to hurt, permission to cry, and permission to lean on others. It's what we're here for.
Many thanks to my alpha readers, tahirire, chocochip_pie, amoralambiguity, and jedishadowolf. And especially just_ruth, who questioned my characterization and plot points and made the story better for just being there. They all held my hand and loved me as I wrote some very difficult scenes.
Also big, BIG thanks to echo_grace_07 for an extremely last minute beta. You are awesome, bb.
Mucho love and thanks also to millylicious, who is amazing. Make sure you tell her how awesome her art is! It was fun being Big Bang first-timers together with you. ::MWAH::