Genre: gen, lowkey horror-H/C-fabulism
Characters: Dean and himself; Mary, sort of; Sam, sort of
Word Count: ~1350
Summary: Dean, caught in a maelstrom. A list of instructions on how to get through the night. 9x18 "Meta Fiction" tag.
Notes: Written for juppschmitz's prompt at the Dean-centric S9 comment!meme.
1. Find the norco on the table. Use as directed. In the absence of direction--e.g. if you've found it on the kitchen table and its owner, that is, the name on the bottle, that is, the owner of the fake name on the bottle, is nowhere to be found--improvise.
(Do not) take with alcohol. (Do not) operate heavy machinery and/or firearms.
Do not heed parentheses. They are optional.
2. Get a good night's rest. The norco's supposed to help you sleep, so sleep. It's supposed to be easier to sleep without pain. Part of you thinks, it's the mark. It's the mark that is doing this to me. You think, the rest of you thinks, you haven't slept in five days. That might have something to do with it, too. You shouldn't have done a lot of the things you did last night. If it's the mark that's keeping you up, then you have no idea how to explain the rest of your life before it. It's a little chicken and egg. And you know what, fuck it.
Backtrack. It's easier to sleep without pain. It's easier to sleep without pain.
You remember being young and awake.
3. Embrace nostalgia. Because that's nostalgia, isn't it, the wistful feeling that washes over you when you think about that burning sensation. The twinge of cracked bones. Make a fist with the hand you've pummeled to all fuck and think--you're hopeful--you feel it through the haze. The norco dulls your edges and the whiskey's seared your sense of cause and effect, at least for now, but you're not sure where the vertigo comes from, except maybe your arm, except maybe your heart, except maybe the look you give yourself in the mirror when you ask for help and your reflection doesn't give you shit, you don't give yourself shit you don't know anymore how to keep a step ahead of it.
You don't know any more.
Feel yourself give way to a slow exposure in non-Euclidean pieces. Your head in one place, and then another. A streaking imprint of yourself immortalized between the two, the semblance of motion and direction when really, you're mostly just confused. Your head swims. You're light, buzzing inside. Like a hive of bees. But you're also standing at the edge of a black precipice--standing, wavering. Now's not really the time to be a stickler for definitions. But it's not an abyss, and it's definitely not looking at you. Remember to fear it anyway.
And know this, because you do know this: your scars have not done anything to you. They have not made you. They do not whisper. They do not tell you anything more than you've already known.
Your mark will not be the thing that breaks you. It is not your adversary. The worst it's done, the worst it's said, is yes.
Affirmation can be very compelling.
4. Count your blessings
5. Count them again. It's been a repetitive twenty seconds so far, so when you hit your sixth iteration you might consider giving it up.
6. Walk into a photograph. It's on your beside table; just a short distance. You should be able to make it. If you experience consternation, doubt, incredulity, or any type of neural interference that causes suspension of belief, welcome them as friends. They're hardly strangers, after all. They've kept you company through all your actions, all your choices. They're even more loyal than you are.
The trees here smell like your wallet. Glossy leaves, thick like cardstock, drop from them in straight lines. They do not heed the breeze here, which comes and goes as you remember, disremember, it. Smell the breeze smell like lighter fluid. Like alcohol. Like GSR. Maybe you should have washed your pockets out more diligently; now it's always gonna smell like this here.
Your mother's hair is lifted in the breeze not breeze. It stays, caught in that moment. A tangle in progress, fair strands spiderwebbing across her face. They tickle perpetually.
Your father isn't here, the way he wasn't seven minutes after this photograph was taken. Photographs are deceiving that way. Maybe your mother was happy in that moment maybe it was just her hair maybe her hair was tickling her sticking in her mouth kissing her maybe it was just a sensory a somatic reaction, her smile in that moment.
7. Tell her, I made a mistake. Zero in on one, cherry-pick your biggest failures. Hold them just above your diaphragm (not in your heart, they'll gum up the works, just keep them in your diaphragm), as you would a birthday wish, just before you blow out the candles.
Tell her, I fucked up. I'm sorry, I fucked up, I made a mistake.
8. Forget your mistakes. There's so many of them. They coalesce. They bud, and they grow their own. But never forget your sense of failure. Watch as it colors everything.
"I did, too." Hear your mother say that she did, too. She's made mistakes, too.
Discard the childish hope that you will see her lips move. You remember her face, you do not remember her movement. You remember her in pictures. Picture, singular. This picture. You don't remember her alive, but you do remember pretending that you do. If you've seen her body move, seen her chest breathe and air whisk between her teeth--alive--never forget that it's just your memory of Eve, rushing backward. It's just Eve (and those teeth, remember those teeth. They've been at your neck. If you remember your mother alive in motion remember that she was not your mother, this is important, remember she was not).
"I've fucked up, too," she says, your mother. Forget everything you've just told yourself, because who are you to give orders, anyway.
"I've made mistakes," she says, your mother, your mother who's also raised the dead, who raised your father from the dead, your father who raised you, your father who raised you from the dead to raise your brother, to raise him from. You've been doing all this goddamn raising all of you but it's the floor dropping out from under you you cannot outrun, outstretch, outwit.
"It's okay," says your mother, in her paper doll way. She moves in one dimension and her features remain frozen. Feel her arms around you anyway. Feel anyone's arms around you. "It's okay."
"It's really not," you say, because it's not. It's fucked up and there's no way out because that's the biggest thing you've torn to shit, right there, your way out. Your salvation. Your just desert.
"It's okay," your mother insists.
"But you're dead," you say, and she does not answer.
9. Listen to your mother. Skate your hand over the crook of your arm. Catch your callouses on tight, raised tissue.
Someone else's alarm blares out of someone else's bedroom.
So that makes day six now, doesn't it.
You know it's weak, not caring. It's weak not to care whose arms you're being welcomed into. But affirmation can be very compelling.
10. Keep fighting.
Tell your co-worker, "(I need to talk to you. I've been waiting all) G'morning."
Hear him half-answer. "Yeah, (I was going to ask how you were)."
"Your norco's in the kitchen, if that's what you're looking for." Gesture vaguely. Your arm is heavy, almost alien. "(Thank you.)"
"Phone, actually. (I need to ask Cas. I need to tell Cas.)"
Fail to speak: "(Help me. Please help me.)"
Watch him find his phone. Watch him. It's so innocuous, but watch him. Watch him move. Watch him alive with movement. You've paid dearly for this, more than once.
"Did you get any, uh, you know." Watch him, your co-worker (brother) struggle to interpret you. You want him to see everything. You want him to see nothing at all.
Listen for what you do not hear: ("Dean, I don't know how to talk to you. I don't know where to start.")
Hope he'll never need to see you, real you. Listen for the answer you do not give: "(I can't ask you for this.)"
"Come on, man. I'm just. I just--"
Do not ask for more.
Not to cast a pall on Mary's memory, but I thought it might be interesting to think of the Mark of Cain in a different way, cross some wires, etc.
Original Prompt: "Dean has (alcohol induced?) hallucinations of Mary coming to see what's become of him."