A/N 1: I want to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers. My nephew Dennis had a huge wake & funeral on July 12th. Over 300 people signed the guest book at the wake, and at least 300 people were at the funeral Mass on Thursday. It was amazing.
A/N 2: Apparently, it was so amazing that my Mother decided we should do it again; she died this morning (July 14th). She was 90 and had had a heart attack or 2 in the last few months, so it wasn't unexpected. (But it is wearying.)
Sometimes I know. Sometimes, I just know.
I came back into the motel room and Sam was on the far bed, facing away from the door. His head was in his hand, his hand was covering his eyes.
He'd gotten enough sleep. Finally. His stomach didn't hurt anymore. Finally. His fingernails showed signs of growing again. Finally.
No shadows, no hallucinations, no voices or music or firecrackers or constant waking nightmares.
But on the long road back, there were detours.
I shut the door, keeping it quiet. Sam straightened right up and turned to look back at me. He ran his hand through his hair.
"Hey. You're back."
By his voice, he was fine. By his eyes, the world was pressing in a little too close.
"Didn't take as long as I thought it would." I said. I held up the bags of our dinner.
Sam nodded, "Oh. Yeah, okay," but didn't make a move toward the table as I set the bags down and started unpacking them.
"You tired?" I asked. He wasn't tired and I knew he wasn't tired.
"Uhh – just – still – catching up. I guess."
He was lying. I knew he was lying.
"You'll be catching up for a while probably."
"You should eat something then. Maybe get some more sleep."
He didn't need any more sleep, not right now. I knew he didn't.
"Yeah. Yeah, maybe I should."
He nodded, but didn't move, except to put his head in his hand again and shield his eyes.
Sometimes I know.
Sam had had to come back from so many things, so much horror, terror and misery. So much unrelenting hell in so many forms for so many years. And he came through it all, again and again, and just kept going without using hard liquor, bad food, or throwaway sex to deaden himself to the memory of any of it.
Which meant he wasn't deadened to any of it at all.
I sat next to him on the bed. Not touching, not saying anything, not doing anything, just sitting.
"Dean." He said after a minute, from behind his hand.
"Yeah." I said back. I didn't have to ask. I knew.
"It's – um – it's just – it was – it was –"
I knew. It was a shadow or sound or smell, a memory popping up out of nowhere or just something that flashed across of the corner of his eye. Just some little bit of nothing that poked a hole in the dam and started the flood.
He was holding his breath, breathing in deep, holding it, then letting it out in a rush just to breathe right back in and hold it again. Sam is strong but even the strongest man can get overcome sometimes.
Sitting next to me, still, silent, and calm, my little brother was shattering into six and a half feet of tiny, tiny little bits.
So I sat and waited and didn't move and didn't touch him. Scary Things are always on the move and I wasn't going to be Scary to Sam.
"When I came back from downstairs, I hated the sound of a clock chiming." I told him. I'd never told him that before. "I hated hearing dogs barking…"
"You hated going into a room that had only one way out." Sam added.
"Yeah." I admitted. I was surprised. I never knew that he knew. "What I'm saying is - there's just gonna be a lot of things that set things off. But it gets better. In the meantime – it's OK that things get set off."
After another minute or so, he put his hand down from his face, sort of, and lifted his head, sort of, but didn't look at me.
"Dinner – dinner's gonna be cold."
"It's better cold." I told him, and he gave me his sidewise bitch-face.
"If that was true, then they would sell it that way."
"They're just not as discerning as we are."
He laughed and squeezed his eyes shut and turned his head away.
I knew. Sometimes I just knew.
"I'll put it in the fridge until you feel like eating something." I told him.
That made him turn back to me, fast.
"You need to eat," he told me.
"I'm not going to eat if it's going to make you hurl."
"It won't." He said. Then, immediately, "Well, it might. I can – I –"
He was going to suggest that he could take a walk or a drive or anything that would take him out of the room which I of course would never agree to and I made sure my expression told him I would never agree to it. So he only stammered off into silence, looking down at the ugly purple shag carpet at our feet.
After a few more minutes, he let out a sigh.
"Wasn't all of this supposed to get easier?" He asked, and I knew he was over the moment, over the momentary fear and queasiness, if only momentarily, so I could reach over and put my hand on his back and he leaned an inch closer in my direction. An inch that in this case really did equal a mile.
"In what world?" I asked.
That made him smile. A smile that lasted more than half a second.
"The world I wish we lived in."
"Unfortunately, we are stuck with this world, but that also means that this world is stuck with us." I told him. "And my money is always is always on us."
He nodded. And smiled again. And met my eyes.
He'd be fine. I knew.