Dawn walked across the pavement to the row of cabs. She didn’t look both ways before crossing. Lives moved persistently forward until they stopped, and hers would be no different. Like her original mom and sister, like her father and her brother, like the other people and animals and plants, eventually she too would die. She hoped it would be relatively quick. Maybe not instant – it’d be neat to see what she thought of in the last few moments before death. But she didn’t want to suffer too much either. She’d already done the suffering part, she figured.
She hoped she went like her brother, Sam.
She hoped the cab ran a red.
But it didn’t. Noreen’s house loomed at the end of the walkway – a place filled with sad people who she didn’t want to join. She didn’t want to pretend to be one of them; didn’t want to comfort them. And above all, she didn’t want to say “Oh what a shame he died in his prime” or any of the other crap people say. She wanted to say “Lucky fucking dead guy.”
She hoped a sniper would appear. Maybe a drive-by shooter. Not likely on this quiet little street, but a girl could dream. Nothing supernatural had happened to her in the last 22 years, and she liked it that way. She missed a few of those supernatural-related people desperately, but she wondered sometimes if the sacrifice of all those people - the Slayers, the good demons – maybe their sacrifice was worth it. They had finally saved the world, permanently. The things that go bump in the night simple didn’t exist anymore.
Her mother, Noreen, had bought the house just three years ago – a year after her husband, Roger, had a fatal heart attach in their condo. Noreen had said, “I want a garden. I need something to do all day beside stare at that damn spot on the floor where …” She couldn’t get past his death with his ghost following her around. A garden in Arizona was the perfect challenge. So she’d found an agent and, after two weeks of house hunting, she fell in love with her new abode at first sight.
Dawn walked up to the seemingly out of place, red brick, 2 bed, 2 bath ranch house. Her palm was sweating against the handle of her rolling suitcase. She really didn’t want to go in there. Hadn’t she mourned enough people? And these people, they would all expect her to be devastated that Sam was gone. Not happy for him. She sighed and thought, Spike would understand.
But these were her family, currently. Sixteen years ago, she’d made a pretty mature-looking 15 year old. Still, she’d managed to convince the hospital, the social workers, and her new family that she had grown tits early – and that all she could remember was her first name and her new fake birth date. It had helped that she had gotten skinny, her rounder parts having shrunk due to self-neglect. Having everybody you know die all at once can really get a girl down.
Between the amnesia, the obvious neglect, and the numerous scars, it was quickly decided that poor Dawn should be loved. Noreen, Roger, and Sam had loved her as if she’d always been a part of their family and she would be eternally grateful. They’d allowed her to finally have the normal teenage experience that she’d not had the first time around.
Now, she made a pretty young looking 32 year old.
The white door opened before she made it halfway up the walk. Noreen, dressed in black and with a general aura to match, had pushed an overly large smile onto her oval face at the sight of her one and only remaining child. Her makeup had long since been rubbed away by numerous tissues. A run in her nylons started at her shoe-less foot and ran up the side of her calf to the tea-length hem of her dress.
“Dawn!” She stepped out onto the walk and enveloped her daughter with a hug.
“Hi mom.” Dawn hugged her mom back, though with considerably less enthusiasm. She pulled back quickly for two reasons: because Noreen was a bit short and hugging her always hurt Dawn’s back after a while, and … if she started to think about Noreen’s misery, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep up her own walls.
But the hug played on as Noreen’s shoulders shook. Then the sobs began. The hug got tighter until it hurt Dawn’s ribs. She held her mom, but her eyes looked longingly at the door, wishing for someone to walk through it. Anyone who would rescue her from the weeping woman in her arms. Dawn had never been good with the whole nurturing thing, and she just at a loss about what to do. She focused on a small cactus by the door. Nobody ever hugged a cactus.
The tears did not subside. “Oh, mom, it’s okay. Mom?”
Noreen’s knees buckled and she fell. Dawn went down with her, barely controlling the collapse. She felt so useless, that tears began to well in her own eyes. “Mom. Mom, I’m here mom.” She ran her hand down the back of Noreen’s black hair. The grey roots were showing.
Finally, Laurie stepped through the open doorway. Her thin frame moved quickly on her high black pumps. “Noreen!” She rushed to crumpled pair. “Is she alright?”
“I think so,” Dawn said. “You know, other than the whole not-alright thing.”
Laurie nodded, understanding. “Let’s get her inside. Her room, I think.”
They managed to shuffle her into the house, ignoring all the worried eyes and words until they were down the hall and behind the closed door of her room. Noreen’s tears calmed a bit, though she still refused to let go of Dawn. So Dawn laid down on the bed with her mom, stroking her hair and back and hoping desperately that the distraught woman would fall asleep. She obviously needed it.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!