Chapter 3

I Need You Tonight Because I'm Not Sleeping

There are so many things I say I want to forget, like all those nights he climbed through my window late at night. But it's not true. I want them. I want to hold onto as many memories as I can. I don't have much else left.

Three weeks had passed since school had let out and causal talks of the immanent future had begun at the dinner table. Talks of college, career plans…all those things that should be important but aren't. I have so much more on my mind. There were parties to attend, alcohol to be consumed, drugs to be taken. But it wasn't just about the parties. If I couldn't even figure out the present how the hell am I supposed to figure out my future?

At one point in time I had been a notoriously heavy sleeper. I had been able to sleep through the ear-splitting shrieking of the smoke alarm four years ago when Megan lit the kitchen on fire, cooking herself a midnight snack. My mother had to come and wake me up that night. It was just a small fire that my father put out easily, no real damage done. But now for the past few years, every slight sound woke me up. I was like a paranoid mother thinking the soft whistling of the wind was her child crying. It has been years since I was able to sleep soundly.

I sat up from my restless sleep, the light cotton sheet clinging to my sweaty body. The silvery light of the full moon illuminated a Maple branch, knocked lose by the strong winds of the upcoming storm, tapping on my half-open window. The week had set record breaking highs all around the city, some rain would be nice. I pushed the sheet off of me and ran my fingers through my hair as I glanced at the clock, the red numbers glaring at me hatefully. 2:48, it's getting late. I kicked the cotton sheet that had tangled itself around my feet to the floor as another loud knock on my window got me out of bed.

I tugged the chord of my rickety ceiling fan then made my way across my small bedroom. I opened the window all the way and leaned, smiling. I quietly moved to sit on the window ledge and closed my eyes appreciating the cool night breeze on my moist flesh as I listened to the shrill chirping of the crickets. I was in a tight light gray muscle tank and a pair of pink panties and I still thought I might overheat and die. I opened my eyes and looked up seeing only a few sprinkles of stars through the heavy blanket of the storm clouds. I twisted my neck and looked over to the Pine's house, all the lights off, no noise, no movement, very odd. I waited a minute, inhaling the thick humid summer air before reluctantly climbing back into my room and closing the window. The screen had broken years ago and it never got replaced. It was going to be hotter than hell in my room now but I didn't want it raining into my room while I slept. Or at least tried to sleep.

I sat on the edge of my bed and pulled my long blonde hair into a lose, messy ponytail. I wiped the sweat from my forehead rubbed my tired eyes. I miss sleep. I rested my elbows on my knees and put my head in my hands. I wasn't going to get to sleep tonight. I groaned softly and fell back onto my bed. I roll onto my side, facing the wall and pray for sleep. But the soft and steady rapping at my window forced me to my feet again. I didn't even need to look to know what it was; I instinctively walked over and reopened it. Judging by the time, I knew it wasn't good. His face was covered by shadows when he climbed through my second story window from the trusty Maple, like he had been doing for years.

And so started what seemed to have developed into our nightly routine. I reached under my bed and pulled out my father's old, worn burgundy sleeping bag as Dean switched on my bedside lamp. The forty watt bulb illuminated the room just enough for the two of us to see. I cringed at the site in front of me. I had been right. This was bad. There were dried splotches of rust colored blood on his T-shirt and a trail of fresh blood leaking from his swollen nose. I pulled the first aid kit out and put it on my bed then made my way to the bathroom. I wet a washcloth and returned to find him waiting for me on my bed.

"You're late." I yawn. "I was getting worried." I smiled weakly, examining him for more injuries. His right eye was swelling and a bruise was already forming. "What happened this time?" I asked taking his injured face in my hands and gently washing it.

"The same as usual." He grunted, flinching as I wiped the blood from his fat lip.

"Sorry." I give him a sympathetic smile. "How's Davis?"

"He'll be all right. Luke got the worst of it this time." Neither of us spoke for a minute while I worked to clean him up.

"How come you're the only one who ever comes to me?" I pondered out loud.

"Luke refuses any help ever, you know him. Too independent for his own good. He has to do everything on his own. And like he'd ever admit that there was some kind of problem." He scoffed, his eyes welling up with tears as he winced in pain.

"What about Davis?"

That brought a small smile to his worn face. "When all this started Davis had a crush on you. He was too embarrassed for you to see him like that, you know. He was so mad at me when he figured out I was going to you. Too ashamed."

"Why be ashamed? It's not his fault. It's all-"

"Yeah, I know." He cut me off, clearly he didn't want to discuss it. He never did. I never did either. I could hold my curiosity at bay. It wasn't worth the damage it would inflict to know everything. It would probably hurt me too much to know everything. They may not have been my family by blood, but I'd take them over the family God had given me any day.

"I never knew Davis had a crush on me." I laughed continuing the conversation on a lighter note, a happier note.

"Yeah." His smile faded.

"I thought he never really liked me."

"Nope. He had a huge crush on you. Borderline infatuation. I think he still likes you." This was how things usually went. We never really discussed the situation at hand. We never really discussed anything important. We wanted to keep our complicated lives as simple as possible. "But he can't have you." He said resting his arms on my hips. "You're mine."

I smile at him and keep working. "So is he staying at Macy's?"

"Macy is just an occasional midnight fuck for him. She doesn't know what's going on."

"He's feeding her the traditional brotherly boxing match excuse?" I noted. He cringed as I applied some disinfectant to his few small cuts. "Where does he stay then? With Luke?"

"No. He crashes with some other kids. He doesn't really say too much about it. Come to think of it, I don't know where Luke goes either. He probably just stays at home."

"Aren't you worried?"

"About Luke and Davis? No. They could always handle themselves. And if they wanted help, they could find it."

"Not just about them." I shook my head, my eyes not leaving his face. "About everything. It all seems to be getting worse." He didn't respond. He just sat letting me nurse him. "I don't think it's broken." I commented, carefully inspecting his nose. I smiled at him weakly, dropping the subject. I replaced the supplies in the first aid kit and snapped it shut, sliding it back under my bed.

"Thanks." He returned my smile.

"That's what best friends are for." I could see he wanted to respond but he just closed his mouth and smiled. I wrapped my arms around him. He inhaled sharply as I placed my hands on his back. I knew what that meant. I pulled away and crawled behind him, gingerly pulling up his T-shirt to reveal the large purple circle forming from his shoulder blades and down. I pulled his shirt over his head and looked over his shoulder to see matching bruises forming on his stomach up to his ribs. "Dean..."

"It's not that bad." He grunted and jerked at the feather light touch of the pads of my fingers slowly moving along the giant bruise on his back.

Even if he wouldn't admit it, it was hurting him. I knew it was. I gathered a few extra pillows and put them down on the bed and pushed him forward softly and slowly, making him lie on his stomach on top of the pillows. I produced a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a bag of cotton balls from the first aid kit. "Are any of the ribs broken?"

"I don't think so." He shook his head and buried his face in my fluffy dark cobalt pillow. I gingerly sat on the backs of his thighs, straddling him as I ran an alcohol soaked cotton swab along the bruise lightly. It helped cool his flesh as it quickly evaporated, helping ease the throbbing of the bruised muscles and flesh. We didn't say anything. We didn't need too. I tossed the used cotton swab into my garbage pail and kissed his cheek.

"I was serious about what I said before. About us leaving."

"I just want to get some sleep right now." He sighed. I don't know why he avoided talking about it. There wasn't anything else we could have done, other than sit and waste our lives away in that town. I don't know what he had been so scared of. I still don't.

"I'll sleep on the floor tonight." I whispered in his ear.

"You don't have to." He said sitting up slowly.

"It's fine." I smiled as I stood. I pulled off his shoes and socks and helped him out of his pants. I kissed his cheek again and pulled the white sheet up over his bare back. "Love you. Sleep tight." His only response was a soft moan but I knew what it meant, 'thank you, I love you too'. These nights made me feel like a helpless mother. It was mentally and emotionally taxing. God only knows how he feels through all of this.

I sighed and crawled into the sleeping bag. The heavy cotton inside lining absorbed my body heat making me sweat even more. I zipped it again and settled on the cooler burgundy outside. It had to be close to 3 am now, but now with Dean in my room I felt safer and knew that maybe I would be able to get some sleep. But I'd have to make sure that he was awake by 6 to make sure he could sneak back into his house undetected. I wish there were something more I could do. I didn't like the helplessness. I wanted to be able to stop it, to prevent it instead of just cleaning up afterwards. I hated this. I hated everything about it. But little did I know that it wouldn't last for much longer.

The next morning I woke at 5:30. It was still hot as hell and my stomach was twisted into knots. Dean was still sleeping in my bed, the white cotton sheet tangled at his feet, leaving me with a clear view of his back. It looked worse than it had last night. Dark purple mixed with blues and blacks and even a twinge of green. I don't know he put himself out like that. There had to be some way to stop it. It killed me to see him be put through this.

I opened the bottom drawer of my dresser and pulled out a clean T-shirt and pair of pants for Dean. When he had started climbing through my bedroom window at night he had brought over a supply of his clothes and other essentials. I washed the ones he discarded at night, folded them then they made their way into the drawer.

I sat beside the bed, resting my head on the pillow Dean was drooling on and watched him sleep. His steady breathing was relaxing. I cracked a small smile when I saw the small, hardly noticeable grin on his battered face. I hardly ever see him smile anymore. There really isn't any reason to smile anymore. I didn't want to have to wake him from his peaceful, happy slumber but if I didn't want to risk making things worse, I had to. I gently ran my long fingers though the dark wavy locks of his messy hair. His dark brown eyes fluttered open and glared at me.

"Good morning." I whispered with a smile.

"I was having a good dream." He groaned and buried his face in the dark blue pillow.

"I could tell. And I'm sure it was all about me." I could hear his muffled laugh through the cotton filling of the pillow and rolled my eyes. "Come on. It's almost six." I urged, gently poking him in the side being careful not to hurt him. "Wake up, sleeping beauty."

"I thought you were sleeping beauty." He groaned rolling onto his side.

"Nope." I shook my head as he pulled the black T-shirt on. "Can't be. I hardly ever sleep and I'm not beautiful."

He smirked at me, "I think you're beautiful."

"And I think you're full of shit." I nodded and kissed him softly. "How are you feeling?"

He shrugged. "I've been worse."

"Can you get back on your own?"

"I think I can handle walking next door." He laughed as he opened my window.

"Be careful." I said, kissing him once more as he swung his legs out the window.

"As always." He smiled and jumped into the tree.

"See you tonight?" I asked leaning out the window.

"Of course." He smiled. I watched him climb down and slowly make his way across the yard. I could tell he was in pain just by the way he walked. He probably had a cracked rib, but that's nothing he hasn't suffered through before. As soon as he disappeared safely into his house I walked away from the window and collapsed onto my bed. Maybe I'll be able to get another hour of sleep before I have to get ready for work.