Darkest Before Dawn (Wednesday Briefs #6)

It’s that time again! Wednesday briefs is a group of authors who write a piece of free flash fiction (between 500-1,000) words based off of either a visual or text prompt. I’ve linked the other authors, so if you could please go check out their stories and show them some support.

This week I am continuing with Darkest Before Dawn. Rose is a twenty-two year old woman who has taken custody of her younger brother Ben. The duo are fleeing cross-country, with something terrible and shadowy on their heels. They’ve come to rest in a farmhouse that’s been in their family for years–seemingly abandoned. Rose will do anything to protect her secret, and the secret that her little brother is unknowingly harboring.

I’ve used the prompt: “Swimming”

“You can wade and explore, just make sure you don’t go too far okay?” Rose said. “I’m going to read so just yell if you get into any trouble.”

“Yes Rosie,” Ben flapped a hand at her, and she watched him over the edge of her book for a while. He disappeared around a bend in the creek, and she could still hear him splashing away and playing around in the water.

The worn wood of the picnic table had absorbed the morning sun and the warmth felt good against her back. The breeze stirred lazy leaves, shadows playing with the light, the sound of the water cascading over rock slowly lulled her into relaxation. The book, forgotten, lay on her stomach pages flipped open moving back and forth. The silence brought forth by the lack of people, and cars pressed in around her, and for once she didn’t find it stifling or panic inducing. The air was clean and pure, the sky blue, stretching out endlessly. She reached a hand up, watching the interchange of shadow and her natural skin tone, tipping it in the sun. Her headache from healing Darren’s migraine had faded away. She had felt something when talking to the man, and despite Ben’s teasing it wasn’t anything other than good old fashioned curiosity. It was too dangerous to get attached to anyone, especially a stranger in a small town, who not only managed to sneak past her own personal defenses, but witness the shielding she put up around the house to protect them.

“Son of a bitch,” She muttered, knowing the implications behind his being able to see her protective barrier. There was also a spark of recognition when she had healed him–that Darren had been in pain, touched Rose and something had alleviated it.

“That’s no way to talk about my mother.”

Rose sat up, the book crashing to the ground. Darren stood at the top bank, overlooking her, and the creek. “How long have you been there?”

“Just got here.” He picked his way down the sloping bank with ease that only came from familiarity. He sat on the bench of the picnic table, and held up a bottle of water. “You’re turning pink Rosie.” His lips twitched up into a smile. “City slicker forgot sunscreen.”

“I don’t burn.” She accepted the bottle of water, and took a cautionary sip. Her ability made it nearly impossible for her to be drugged or poisoned, but it didn’t hurt to be cautious. “You got done quickly.”

“You were missing me?” The ever present smile, widened, his eyes twinkling with laughter. “I’m honored.”

“You’re a pain.”

He clutched his chest, feigning injury. “You have a way with words city-slicker.”

“I’m not a city slicker.” She screwed the cap back onto the water bottle and put it aside.

“Fine, fine, Rosie.” He said. “Where’s the kid?”

“I can hear him. He’s playing, being a kid.” She could hear Ben crashing around close by, though she couldn’t see him.

“What are you two running from?” Darren looked out onto the creek. “Bad boyfriend? Or parents give up on the kid?”

“Take your pick.” Rose said. She drew her knees to her chest, and hugged them close.

“I could ask the kid.”

“He doesn’t know why.” She shrugged. “It’s safer that you don’t know, and if you keep pushing, I’m going to have to make him leave again. We just got here.”

“I’m not pushing, I’m offering to help.”

“You don’t know us.”

“Consider it a backwoods hick thing to do.”

“Like kissing your sister?”

“I said backwoods, not redneck.” Darren drummed his fingers against the edge of the table. “You’re not good with people are you?”

“I’m good at a lot of things, but sadly, my social skills do need work. That’s what my grade school teachers told me.” She found herself smiling, once more getting caught up in the way he spoke, the way his voice carried through her.

“You did something for me, let me do something for you.”

“I didn’t do anything for you.” Despite her flat tone, her heart had started to pound in her chest.

“You made me laugh.” He said. “It’s been a while since I did that, and it wasn’t one of those fake laughs.”

She glanced sidelong at him. “Girlfriend?”

“You could call it that. She left me after I was honorably discharged.”

He was older than she originally thought. “Where were you stationed?”

“Afghanistan, I enlisted right after high school.” The drumming stopped. “I was a translator. This hick boy has a knack for languages.” Another smile, though she could tell this one was fake. “I was with a group heading to a village when we got hit. Lost a leg and most of the squad that was with me.”

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“Came home swimming in guilt with a fake leg and nightmares. Pa put me to work, and kicked my ass occasionally.” A shrug of the shoulder, “There’s nothing to be sorry, Rosie.” He glanced up at her. “Why are you and the kid running?”

“You think I’m going to open up because you did?”

“That was the plan, yes.”

“You’re incorrigible.” She said. “Bad things were happening at home. I got him and myself out.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s all there is to it.” Rose said, watching him.

——
To Be Continued!

Please check out the other pieces here: http://wedbriefsfic.com/category/wednesday-briefs/

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