This week, in Don't Look Back, Marshall has a bad night, and Lee makes it better. Don't forget, my story contains mature themes and may not be for everyone. I hope you enjoy it! And don't forget to check out the rest of the Briefers, whose links follow my tale!
Don't Look Back
The dreams were variations on a theme. He was just a kid, under her control once more, and she’d left him alone—again. Locked him in a closet, one of many she used to contain him. She always claimed it was for his own good. Told him she just wanted to keep him safe. Even at the age of eight, Marshall didn’t believe her. But he was helpless to do anything about it. Everywhere they went, this became the norm of their lives. Running from place to place, never staying more than a few months in any one location. A different town, a different man.
Each place had one thing in common with the one before—the closet where she’d lock Marshall when she left. Trouble was, she sometimes stayed away for days at a time. Like she’d forgotten he existed.
“Where’s Dad? When are we going home to Dad?”
“Soon,” she kept promising him, but soon never came. He asked her once too often and she finally exploded, screaming, “Never!”
By the time he was thirteen, he understood she was playing an adult version of Hide and Seek. Keep Marshall away from Lee. He just didn’t understand why, and she wouldn’t tell him.
The darkness of the closets was the worst part, even beyond being hungry or thirsty, or being forced to piss in a corner. That he could handle, but the rest… In his dreams, the darkness reached out for him with hungry clawed hands, awful creatures that wanted to hurt him, keep him away from the father who loved him.
Marshall’s eyes snapped open, but the darkness persisted, and he knew he was still inside the dream, and he began to scream…
A light clicked on. Strong arms enveloped him, held him close. A soft voice murmured in low soothing tones. Gentle hands stroked down his back, stopped his trembling. “Shhh, shhh, I’m here, I’m here.”
Marshall’s heart raced and his breathing was ragged, but he was becoming aware of himself and the world around him once more. He wasn’t in any closet; he was safe, with Lee, in their bed. It had been nothing but a bad dream, as usual.
He took deeper breaths, calming down, embarrassed at letting a dream get to him like that. He felt like a baby for overreacting. Not that Lee would ever make him feel that way.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, burying his face in Lee’s chest, rubbing his cheek against the familiar softness of Lee’s chest hair. Marshall hated nights like this.
Lee tilted Marshall’s head back so their eyes met. “Don’t be sorry, it’s not your fault, not at all.”
Marshall knew where the blame lay, but that name was never spoken between them. Ever.
“I was dreaming about… and then I woke up, and it was still dark, and I… I guess I panicked.” He took a long shuddering breath.
“Light in the hall must have gone out. I’ll take care of it.”
Marshall clutched at Lee tightly, as if afraid he meant right that minute. “No, don’t leave me,” he murmured, his voice riddled with anxiety.
Five years. Five long years they’d been separated.
His mother had turned up unexpectedly when he was eight years old, after being gone for months, and snatched Marshall away. She must have been watching them, waiting for just the right moment. Marshall barely remembered the house he grew up in. He didn’t find out until later it was somewhere in rural Georgia. Marshall had been playing out in the yard one day when a strange man grabbed him and shoved him into the backseat of a car, with his mother.
That’s when the nightmare began.
She didn’t dare put him into school. Never let him talk to anyone. Wouldn’t give him any books, although occasionally he found one. He’d sneak it into his room when she wasn’t looking, and devour it as quickly as he could.
The men she lived off of treated him like another piece of furniture and never questioned anything his mother did. But they paid the bills, put up with her ways, and told her she was pretty. He heard her tell one of them her kid’s father was dead. Marshall didn’t believe that, even if those assholes seemed to. His dad wasn’t dead. He knew it.
As Marshall grew older, he became more and more determined to escape his captivity and find his way back to his father. He had no real idea where his father was, or how to get to him, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him. He was just watching for the right opportunity. He was thirteen, and not the naïve little boy he’d once been.
Then one night, when he least expected it, a miracle happened. They were living in Fargo. It was always bitter cold there, and Marshall hated the cold with his whole soul. That night, his mother yelled at him to take the trash can to the curb for the next day.
He dragged the can through the foot of fresh snow that had accumulated during the day. Despite the cold, he stood a moment, watching his breath steam into the crisp night air. At that moment, a strange sedan pulled up. The back door opened, and Marshall saw the face of the man he loved most in the world.
“Jump in. Quick!”
Marshall hadn’t thought twice about it. He leapt into the car and the driver peeled out like he was trying to set a record at the Indianapolis 500. And Marshall had never looked back.
“Want to talk about it?” Lee offered, but Marshall shook his head.
“Just hold me, please.”
Strong arms held him close, and Marshall knew he was safe, and loved. Lee’s lips brushed the top of his head. “Go back to sleep.”
Marshall nestled against him, until sleep claimed him once again.
to be continued
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