Deleted Scene: Dreamcatchers
Everything is quiet except for the tick of the clock, reminding me how late it is and that I should be sleeping. I roll over and look at the time. I have to be on the dock for work in less than four hours and I haven’t managed to close my eyes yet. I know I need to rest, but I can’t shut off my brain. Too many things are floating around…questioning me, challenging me, taunting me. Too many possibilities exist and I don’t have the ability to force the ending I want. The ending I need. Fuck it. I throw back the blankets and climb out of bed. The house is still. Scents from the meatloaf we had for dinner still linger in the air and it makes me grin despite the irritation in my mind. Right now, in this exact moment, things are fine. Everyone is accounted for, sleeping peacefully. Well, everyone except me. The door to Ever’s room groans as I push it open. She needs her rest too and I probably shouldn’t gamble with waking her, but I do it anyway. I just need to see her and make sure she’s not lying awake, too. I know Jules is on the couch because I saw her earlier when I got a drink of water. I’d hate for Ever to be awake and alone. I step inside of her room and let my eyes adjust. Shadows from the dreamcatcher I gave her are dancing on one of the walls.
“Here you go, sweet boy,” Grandma said, pressing a weird object in my hand. It was a circle with a web inside. Little tassles hung off the bottom with colorful beads. “What’s this?” I asked, rolling it over in my eight year old hands. She smiled. “It’s a dream catcher, Crew. It will catch all your bad dreams and send them away.” “This won’t work.” I looked at her as blankly as I could. My nightmares weren’t made of Boogeymen and bad grades. Nope, they were much more real than that. Too real for a little web to fix. I didn’t know how she knew I was having nightmares to start with. How did she know how badly I feared the sounds surrounding the new apartment where we had just moved? How did she know the threats made by much bigger boys, men, even, on the streets on my way home from school? Those guys were bigger than Gage and even though he pretended not to be scared, I knew he had to be, too. Even just a little. I hadn’t told Grandma about any of that; I wouldn’t. She had enough to worry about. But in the middle of the night, those words came back to haunt me and worked their way into my dreams. “Have I ever lied to you?” “No,” I mumbled, looking away. “We’re gonna hang this up on your window over here and give it a shot, okay?” She took the dreamcatcher from me and stuck it to my window. She turned towards me, tossing me a wink. “I got Gage one, too. He thinks they are a moving in present.” I watched her walk out and considered whether to take the stupid thing off the glass. It did look kind of cool when it caught the light. The little crystal in the middle of it made a bunch of colors shine against the walls of my new bedroom. Deciding it couldn’t hurt, I closed my eyes and pretended to be a ninja that could save the world. I head to the bed and see Everleigh sleeping. Her little fingers are pressed against the pillow by her face, her long eyelashes splayed against her cheeks. Her little frame is swallowed by the blankets and pillows, making her look so small. She looks happy—peaceful even—and despite the image, I choke back a sob. Why the fuck is this just an illusion? Why the hell can’t this be fucking real? I fight the anger that creeps through me, like an uninvited guest that just won’t leave. My fists squeezed at my sides, I take a gulp of air and talk myself out of blasting a jab through the wall. That will only cause another mess that I have to clean up. The line between devastation and fury is so thin that I can’t see where one starts and the other ends anymore. I’m tossed between the two every minute, sometimes every fucking second. It’s a rollercoaster and I’m scrambling for the e-brake … but it’s nowhere to be found. I kiss Ever lightly on the forehead, breathing in her bubble gum scent, and she begins to stir. I step away and let her fall back into an easy sleep again before kneeling beside the bed. My body hurts from training. My mind aches from worry. But my heart might actually be broken. “We’re gonna get through this, monkey,” I whisper, my voice rough with sleep and frustration. “I promise. I’m not gonna let you down.” I hope that lands somewhere in her subconscious. I hope when she awakens and we have to go back to war, she’ll feel stronger knowing she’s not alone. That I am leading the pack. Because no matter what this little girl and her mommy get into, I will be in front of them, taking the brunt end of it and trying to figure out a solution. I lean forward, whispering again. “I know that you’re a little scared and that’s normal, monkey. But we are Gentry’s. We are strong. We are fighters. We are winners. And I promise you, we will win.” If only I could believe myself. Sucking in a breath, I lay my head on the blankets and close my eyes. “God, you’re gonna fix this. Do you hear me?” My words are soft and I’m not even sure why I’m saying them out loud. I’ve never been much of a prayer and I’m not even sure this qualifies as one to start with. I just know that sitting here, right now, in this situation, it can’t hurt. “I don’t know if this is some kind of challenge for me or another one for Jules, but I’ll tell you this: I’m not gonna lose this one.”
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