Posted on Mon Jan 20th, 2014 @ 12:06am by Unawakened Jana Rotherbridge
Date: February 27th, 2010
Location: AMC Northpark 15, Dallas, Texas
it had been a long day. Cole hadn’t really been up for going to the movies, but if he hadn’t gone, he’d have had to deal with Aunt Mariah.
That was definitely something he wanted to avoid at all costs.
The movie, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, was something Jana and Gabe were excited about, but between the meds and the storyline, Cole couldn’t stay awake. As he drifted into the dream, he tried to stop himself. He didn’t want to have it right now.
It was always the same. It was raining, and their father, Gabriel, had to lean close to the windshield to see.
“You gotta stop frosting, dude,” Gabe said pulling at Cole’s hair. “It’s like Yu-Gi-Oh, except not.”
Cole beat at him. “Stop it!” he said, his brown eyes full of the humor only a 13-year-old could have in that situation.
A sigh came from the front seat, and their mother leaned around the back of the seat. “Both of you stop it, you’ll wake your sister.” Motioning to Jana, who slept against the door, she then sat back up and turned around, facing front.
Jana had been focusing on college applications, and between that and the exams at the end of the year. She was exhausted, laying against the door behind Dad’s seat. Cole looked across Gabe at her, they both did, and stopped.
What happened next was quick.
None of them had noticed the semi-truck in front of them.
Or seen it stop.
Save for Jana, they all felt as Dad hit the brakes. Heard as the tires skidded, hydroplaning on top the rain slick road. Screamed at the sudden, sickening crunch as the car rammed under the trailer of the semi-truck.
Cole hadn’t seen the bright lights, being a little too low in the seat but what he did see was horrific. Their parents had been nearly severed in half by the dash of the car. His mother’s head lolled like a bobblehead on the headrest, then came to rest to her right, directly in Cole’s line of sight behind her seat. When he saw her eyes open, and blood trickle from her nose and mouth, he started screaming. Gabe (who had been blinded by the lights) grabbed him and held him, so now Cole could see his blanket covered sister. She had hair like their mother’s.
Cole didn’t stop screaming until paramedics sedated him.
When he was shaken awake in the theater by Jana, he’d only been screaming for 30 seconds.
As a team, his older siblings hustled him out of the theatre, and it took them record time to get him to the nearest bathroom, Jana glaring at a male patron who took issue with her presence. Cole wasn’t paying attention.
He was too busy throwing up popcorn and gummy bears. Not to mention Dr. Pepper.
It seemed like a very long time before Cole recovered from the flashback, and he could hear his older siblings talking.
“Must have been the car smashing into the tree.”
“You think, Gabe? I told you, we should have seen Tooth Fairy. Or When In Rome.”
“Do you really think that would have been better? Besides, I’m not gay enough for a chick flick.”
“It would have been better than watching him puke his guts out!”
The door to the bathroom opened, and Cole heard another, unfamiliar voice.
“Excuse me, I’m the manager. Is there a problem in here?”
“Our brother is just having some problems with a bug.”
“A patron told me that this young lady glared at him for saying she didn’t belong in the men’s room.”
He heard Gabe sigh. “My sister overreacted. We’ll wrap this up and get out of the bathroom. Is that okay?”
“I suppose. Is he still contagious?”
“No sir, he’s on the tail-end of it. We just underestimated how touchy his stomach still was.”
“Well, okay. Just… keep it to a dull roar, okay?”
“Yes, sir. No problem.”
The door opened and closed again.
“I nearly bit through my tongue.”
“That’s why we decided I’d be the one talking when this happened, remember?”
Cole hated it when they got into this argument. Especially since they all knew that it wasn’t so much that *they* had decided than Gabe had decided and forced Jana to go along with it.
“Yeah, well, I’m still using you for a punching bag later.”
“Better me than a manager who puts up with ten different kinds of hell without us. Cole?” The door to the stall opened. “Hey buddy, are you done?”
Cole nodded weakly. “I’m sorry, I ruined the whole night.”
“None of that talk.” Gabe helped him up, handing him off to Jana before flushing the toilet. “It’s not your fault. We just pushed a little too hard, too fast tonight.” Jana helped him over to the sink and washed out his mouth. He was puzzled, however, when she filled the cup again and set it down on the counter instead of giving it to him. Then she reached into her purse.
“What?” he asked, feeling a cold chill.
“We’re going to go home,” said Gabe, coming up to his other side. “Watch a movie there.”
Jana pulled the pill bottle out and shook one out, closing the pill bottle before putting it back into her purse, utting the satchel on the counter and picking up the cup.
Cole shook his head, backing into Gabe. “No. Don’t make me sleep.” He’d dream again.
Jana gave him a strange look, not understanding. “Cole? We need to do this. It’ll be worse if we don’t…”
As she’d be walking forward, Cole reached out with surprising strength and slapped the water and pill out of his sister’s hands. Leaving Jana with surprised look.
“Cole!” Gabe wrapped his arms around his younger brother, holding him immobile. “What the h***? You never hit Jana!”
“Don’t wanna sleep!” he said, hating how he sounded like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum. ‘If I sleep I’ll dream…!”
There was a long moment of silence in the room, and Gabe let out a sigh. “Oh, buddy… I’m sorry. But you don’t dream when you get drugged. Remember?”
Cole was still breathing hard. “Not about the accident,” he admitted.
“That’s right,” said Gabe, giving him a squeeze. “You won’t dream about the accident this time. Now, want to try for round two?” Jana had already filled another cup and gotten another pill, not saying a word.
Cole paused for a moment, then nodded glumly. Gabe rubbed Cole’s shoulders soothingly, and Jana came forward again. Cole took the pill, feeling horrible. “I’m sorry, Jana,” he said. “I didn’t mean it.”
Jana wrapped him in her arms. ‘It’s okay,” she said, her hand running through his hair, comforting him. “I know. Now let’s go home.”
Cole nodded, and they left, Jana giving the patron a vaguely apologetic look on the way out to the car. He was buckled in the middle seat, Jana taking the seat next to him as Gabe drove.
As he nodded off against his sister, Jana said, “Do you think we can ever make it so that he doesn’t have this happen anymore?”
Gabe sighed, and echoed Cole’s private thoughts on the subject. “I don’t know, Jan. I don't know.”