A First Time Truly Without

 

The only sounds were the Pontiac’s engine rumbling as it drove down the highway and the radio playing rock turned down so low I couldn’t tell what was playing. If the windows had been rolled down there would have been the wind whistling through the car as we drove faster than the speed limit, but it was cold outside so the windows were closed.

I stared out the window at the passing scenery. Everywhere I looked there were bare, skeletal trees dusted lightly with powdery snow that had fallen the night before, and it was a dismal scene. Any other time it would have been beautiful, like an enchanted forest, but all I could think of was how dead everything looked. Nothing lived outside the car.

Inside the car really wasn’t that much better, though. Yesterday had been a hard day, and today hadn’t been easier. The funeral had been so depressing. Aside from Jensen, Jared, and me, there was only the preacher overseeing everything. We hadn’t even really been burying Seymour, because there wasn’t any body to bury.

We hadn’t been able to afford very nice headstones or coffins, and the father and daughter weren’t buried with a lot of fanfare, like they should have been. How many times had they saved the world from things that hunt from the shadows? How many people had they saved? They deserved so much better than what we had given them.

The priest had said a few nice words, though they’d rung on deaf ears. He hadn’t known either one of them so how could he have known if Cassandra was ‘beloved’ or that Seymour was ‘well liked’? It was all a load of crap, and had just made me feel worse.

Now, not even twenty-four hours later, we were back on the road as if nothing had happened.

It was what Seymour had wanted, as was stated in the Will we had found among his things, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted at least a few days to sit around and mourn, to remember all the best times I’d had with them, and wonder how I could have saved them. Because of course I could have. It had been my inaction that had killed them. If I had just stopped Cassandra, if I had studied enough to know the spell to get rid of the hounds.

But instead we were heading for another small backwater town, this time in Maryland, to hunt after some small time demon plaguing the townspeople.

The Will had been very clear about a lot of things. It had been written recently, barely ten days before the deaths, and it was more like a letter, since Seymour didn’t really have much to leave us. The weapons had been split between us, his journal had gone to Jared for safe-keeping, and there had been several paragraphs of advice for each of us.

Jensen, of course, had been left in charge. He was the oldest, so that had made sense. Both Jared and Jensen had been instructed to watch out for me, and there had even been an entire paragraph of apologies that Seymour didn’t have a car to leave Jared, like he had given Jensen the red Pontiac and me the light green Oldsmobile.

Me, I had gotten a few paragraphs telling me to take care of myself and to make sure the two boys didn’t kill themselves by overworking.

“Are you doing okay?” Jensen asked, breaking me out of my thoughts. I turned to look at him, seeing how his eyebrows were drawn together, shadowing his dark brown eyes. He glanced over at me for a second before returning to watch the road. I tried to smile, but it ended up more of a grimace. Was I okay? No, I wasn’t. Half of my family had just been buried in one day and I didn’t know how to react properly.

I hadn’t even cried at the funeral. I had just stared, barely aware of what was going on. When I had finished crying into Jensen’s shoulder the day they had died, I hadn’t been able to find the tears to cry again. I was drained dry.

“Yeah,” I said. Non-committal was the best way to go. I couldn’t admit that I was practically dead inside, but I couldn’t lie to him either. I had never been able to lie to him, he knew me too well. That’s what you get for growing up in a very tight knit family.

He glanced at me again, but I turned away to stare at the road disappearing under the car. There weren’t any other vehicles in sight, and it felt like we were the only three people in the world.

Jared sat in the back, fast asleep. He hadn’t been able to sleep for the last few days, and the gentle movement of the car had finally put him to bed. He probably felt as guilty about their deaths as I did.

Jensen, though, didn’t seem bothered by Seymour’s disappearance and Cassandra’s death. Sure, he got misty eyed at their funeral and he hadn’t made any joking comments lately, but I hadn’t felt any particularly strong emotions coming from him. It was like he had learned to block me out, only I knew that wasn’t possible.

“We’ll be in Denton in a few hours, then we can get to work,” Jensen said, obviously just trying to fill the empty silence.

The job had been easy enough to find. A news article on the internet had said something about inexplicable suicides all over town, and Jensen had jumped at the chance. It felt like grasping at straws to me, but my car was still in Kansas being serviced, so I had to go where they went.

Jared hadn’t found anything in the journal at first glance, but he was sure that there was something, he just had to look harder. Which meant that he would look more as soon as we arrived, because he didn’t like reading in the car.

“Fine,” Jensen mumbled, and turned the radio up. He had finally figured out that I didn’t want to talk, and I felt horrible. Because I really did want to talk, I just couldn’t find the words yet. I wanted to spill my heart out to him, especially with Jared asleep, but I couldn’t. While I did want to tell him how I felt, I didn’t want him to think I was weak. I could be brave and hide my emotions deep inside, just like he could.

I turned, angry now at myself and at him, and glared out at the barren landscape. It was going to be a long drive.

The End

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