Three tendrils of wavy blonde hair sticking down in front of his eyes, too long Gordon would growl, a drunken attempt to cut his hair just days before turning into the clippers tossed against the opposite wall with fury.
Two scuffs of dirt on the toe of his shoe, well worn from kicking against the sidewalk on his slow trudges home, Mama always wanted him on the bus, the vehicle too fast for his tastes, not giving him nearly enough time before being forced back through the front door he’d run out hours before, yearning for the school, although the bullies there never were much better.
One hole torn in the dark blue denim of his new pants, one that had been a struggle to get, clothing apparently “not a necessity,” though strangely, it was his Mother’s sadness and fear that he most dreaded seeing, that little half second flash of disappointment before she kissed his forehead, telling him everything was all right, telling him she loved him, there was a snack waiting on the counter for him.
The same every time.
His fake smile matched hers every time.
He had a quip ready to go, always did, always would, a silly remark occasionally confounding his father enough that the anger would briefly cease, a snarky one drawing attention away from Mama, usually earning him a backhanded slap to the mouth, though seeing her skin unmarked was well worth the sting.
And the overly dramatized tale he told at the dinner table, breaking into Roberta’s rambling defenses of him, of a dog eating his homework and trying to sneak in snacks of his pants, was well worth the sting of an empty stomach if the anger in the room was directed towards him.
— — —
“Deeks,” Sam’s voice was quiet, tender against the heavy rumbling of the engines behind them, a hand squeezing his shoulder lightly. “We’re twenty minutes out of LA.”
“Good,” he shifted in his seat, muscles aching in response, a mixture of dehydration and pulling his fiancée out from beneath the wreckage of a helicopter. “I was craving a vegan milkshake.”
The comment fell dryly from his tongue, completely characteristic though it came unbidden, mind automatically needing to dissolve at least an ounce of this tension, despite the vast majority of it leaking from him.
“I’m fine, one good cup of coffee and I’ll be great, I’m not the one on a stretcher.”
Shaking his head, Sam pulled away, glancing towards his own partner, concern clear in both of their eyes. “Not acceptable.”
“You have to be the strong one now, for her,” he nodded deeply. “And yourself. No deflecting.”
Thanks Divergent338 for writing this wonderful story to bring to life some of the topics in Bringing Up Brandel Part 2: Playing a Role. – Karen P.