Part Two: Rose
Author: Regala Electra
Summary: He asks her the million dollar Glinda question and she takes a moment to contemplate her smoldering cigarillo. “The question isn’t are you a good witch or bad witch? It’s if I’m a good woman or a bad woman.”
Warnings: Sexual Content, Language, Violence
Word Count: 5,400
Author’s Notes: This story has been a long time in the making and I have to especially thank pheebs1 for the valuable beta-work in the early stages of putting this story together. And my eternal thanks to the lovely ignited for listening to my many, many rambles as I worked on the final draft.
Feedback is appreciated.
boy, don’t you fall for no geechee woman
“And then what’ll happen?”
Leans forward, smiling out his lie, swearing he won’t let anything happen. It’s a mistake, the proximity, too intoxicating. Catches a whiff he won’t ever forget. The scent of flowers in her hair, sweet magnolias in blossom, which is wrong, they’re out of season. Underneath, there’s a light musk, skin after getting caught in the rain, but it hasn’t rained for days.
Her lips probably taste like ashes but he’s not thinking about that, no way, not at all.
He can hear a song stirring in her chest when she breathes, can’t be silenced even when she throws him a shaky smile that hardens, flint striking, can see the fire underneath the smoothness of her face.
She’d offered to read his fortune, deep hoodoo he has no right messing with, and he’d hesitated, briefly. Not quick enough and he knows he’s being stupid, not turning her down right away, still, there’s a question—Sam—and he needs answers, wants to check up on him, make sure he’s safe, but Dad’s looking out on him, doing it so that Dean doesn’t know, sending Dean off on hunts on his own, claiming it’s better this way, easier to do this sometimes, just split up.
“We can do this together.” Swears this to her, better than a stack of bibles, puts his hand over hers, noticing how she flinches slightly at the touch, not used to people being fine with touching her there.
There’s a creak as she gets up from her seat, patting his shoulder with her right hand, slight dry rustle of a bead bracelet as it gets jostled. She says, dismissing him, “Guess I’ll be seein’ you before sundown tomorrow.”
She’s waiting for him on her dilapidated porch, hot day making things hazy and unreal, but she’s real. She waves as he gets out of the Impala, as though he’s coming over for just a friendly kind of visit, that what’ll happen is just some friendly conversation, nothing more than that.
This is the second time he’s visited her but the first time he’s going to make it past the weathered blue entry door. There’s a ruined wooden swing on her old porch and she’s sitting in it Indian-style, a cigarillo dangling between her lips.
“Rose,” Dean says politely, taking in the half-dead white pickup truck resting on cinderblocks in her gravel driveway. “Still won’t let me take a look at that sucker?”
She stands up from the swing is a neat motion, limbs untangling and she gently plucks her Winchester-brand cigarillo from her lips. She’d lit up one after he’d introduced himself yesterday, Dean Winchester, and she’d said, without a trace of humor in her voice, “Guess it’s a lucky day, after all.”
Rose is kind enough to pretend to give him a few seconds of honest thought on his offer, but she shakes her head and raises her cigarillo to her lips with her left hand. There’s a cruel patchwork of old scars across the back of the hand. She’d seen him catch a glimpse of it the first time he came knocking ‘round her door, asking after her vanished brother. “Some folk still don’t have much use for a lefty”, she had told him and Dean hadn’t asked for any more details.
“Davey’s gonna get himself all in a tizzy if he sees I’m lettin’ someone else touch his car,” she says and it’s more than a careful way of saying oh hell no or a futile hope for making sure her brother’s returned to her alive, skin intact. No, it’s deeper than that, fitting into her strange mystic woman routine, only she’s come by it honest, by blood and traditions.
Rose knows the old ways and when she welcomes him into her home and he crosses over the threshold, he can see the thick line of salt neatly poured by the front door. The lines on the windowsills are slightly thinner and uneven, but there’s also symbols carved deep in the old wood, deep magic, probably getting too old though, embedded in sills that look like they’re a year away from rot.
“He’ll be dead tired when he gets back, but he’ll want to take to his car the moment he gets himself a good long doze.” She tells him all this as she rechecks the salt lines, runs a short fingernail along the charms worked into the wood. Then, she faces him better, saying, “There’s fresh lemonade if you’re wanting something sweet. Or bourbon if you’re wanting something wet.”
Dean looks at her, serious. Thinks about how he’s drowning in southern comfort, real hospitality and unsure how to deal with how rational Rose is about getting this done. “Whatever you’re having.”
“That’ll be something wet.”
She ushers him into a crooked room, more trapezoid-shaped than anything, clearly being used as a weirdly formal living room—too formal for Dean’s tastes, unused to seeing the rundown splendor. It’s decorated like there have been generations born in this house and no one ever really bothered to do any real fixing up.
Dean barely gives it the usual once-over, still can’t help his training or ease the tension knot worked deep in his shoulders, ‘cause if he fucks up, someone’s blood (and skin) is gonna be on his hands (and possibly all over the rest of him too, what he’s hunting, oh, it don’t play nice). He notices that the wallpaper’s peeling at the edges, where the paneling is scuffed and dulled with age, and that the paint’s chipping in places, desperately in need of a new coat, hell, may as well strip it and start over again.
A real fixer upper, but even with all that, how the house has the weird feel of being nearly abandoned, it ain’t sinking into the ground, it’s still standing, like the only thing keeping it from falling apart is Rose. And yeah, there’s her brother, Davey, but Dean hasn’t had the chance to meet the poor bastard, that’s what tonight’s for, meetin’ the rest of Rose’s family. The last of Rose’s family from what he can gather.
The sofa has those big sink-down cushions and it takes Dean longer than he likes to get comfortable. Probably looks like a jerk, here he is struggling just to sit and she’s putting a lot more than trust in his hands, a life. But she doesn’t make any comment or even look at him like she’s disappointed that he ain’t locked and loaded, his guns a-blazing, ready save the day.
That don’t mean Dean isn’t prepared. Might not have his full arsenal, just his gun tucked in his jeans, ‘cause there’s Dad in the back of his head, tellin’ him that he better not get himself killed, not on these solo missions, and there’s no way Dean’s gonna let Dad down. So, he’s got a gun, not much else, and there ain’t no way he’s slippin’ on this case, not when he’s got the fucker pinned. Uh, so to speak, so far, considering its bloody trail ends here for the moment and there’s no way he’s letting it get past him. No second chances here.
Before Rose hands him an old-fashioned tumbler filled with bourbon, she turns on an old record player, one that might have looked new back in the ‘50’s.
“Nothing like a song to chase away the demons,” she tells him, and Dean’s not sure if she’s teasing, tempo of her voice could mean it’s a joke or she’s forcing herself to keep things light.
The glass is filled expertly, two fingers width of liquid, his curling fingers around the smooth glass. Yeah, she’s not skimping at all, poured black label, quality stuff, the kind of good burn down the throat, reminder of what keeps a person going.
It looks like a lot more in her glass, but that’s to be expected, her hands are thin and narrow unlike the gentle rounds of her body, and after a swallow, she holds the glass between both hands, waiting and it takes him a moment, god, he really ain’t doing much in proving he’s got any manners.
“Thanks,” he says, because it’s a word said too much but still important to say when you mean it, and oh, Dean means it.
“You’re welcome,” she says, and the music turns on right after, little creepy if Dean’s honest, only he isn’t.
The music’s only slightly scratchy, someone’s been taking good care of original LPs. Hell, some things are better with age, like this: old blues that start leeching into the bones, what home ought to be all about, if Dean knew whatever home’s really supposed to be, winging it with assumptions, still, he’s got the fuckin’ gist of it.
A mocking whine of a voice starts singing like a broken songbird. Dean almost recognizes the singer, memory sneaking up on him unexpected and sure as hell uninvited. He can imagine his mother scrubbing a pot at the kitchen sink, turning around when Dad tried to sneak up behind her, and she’d wrapped her arms around him, her pregnant belly only letting her go so far, not far at all, but she was there and Dean was too, not an anklebiter but close enough, looking up at his parents. He could only get so close.
The same voice had been singing then. Singing all of me, why not take all of me.
Now it’s you go to my head and you linger like a haunting refrain.
“Billie Holiday,” Rose confirms, sitting across from him in an overstuffed chair. The fabric’s a faded white color, maybe there were stripes back in the day, but that day’s come and gone.
She alternates between taking small, precise sips of her bourbon and smoking another cigarillo, freshly lit off of the back of an ugly lighter. Dean can’t believe how freakin’ ugly it is, leading him to start wondering if maybe it’s some kinda weird good luck (or bad luck) charm. It’s a hell of a conversation piece: old iron-grey bass, the lighter stuck in the middle of its metal back.
“You don’t mind?” Rose’s question snaps Dean out of his staring contest with a friggin’ metal fish. At first he thinks she’s asking about said weirdass lighter, but then he notices her gesturing towards her cigarillo. “I try keepin’ outsides most days but this ain’t a day to take lightly.”
“Nah, I don’t mind.”
Hell, he’s been mucking around places that smell like death and worse, he’s got no right to complain about something like a little smoke.
It only smells faintly of tobacco in here. It’s mostly a faded floral scent like dead potpourri and old musk. Damp’s getting into the house.
Dean hasn’t seen any flowers inside her house and he’s guessing the only flowers and roots that she handles are used for more than the smell. There’s not much he can do except listen to her. She’s the one person who knows enough to keep from getting in his way and actually help him stop this skinwalking son of a bitch.
Because she’s seen it these past three nights as it waits for her outside her house.
“You’re not worried at all.”
“Me? Folks always said I was too brave by half, never learned how to be...” she trails off, searching a long time for a word before snatching one up, letting it go slip her lips, needing to throw it back away before it gets stuck, “scared.”
“You’ve never been scared?”
Point blank and she runs with it, leveling him with a sharp look in her eyes. “The nightmares ain’t what’s gonna git ya. It’s the waking up, walking around in this here world, that’s the trouble.”
She waves her cigarillo in the air, trail of smoke almost forming a decided shadowy shape, but it vanishes too quickly and she says, “You want to know how I kept from worry? I laid out a broom under my bed the first night Davey went missing. I ain’t ever a fool and when that poor woman was found and the skin was stripped off like it weren’t nothin’, I knew that one of them there Boo Hags was runnin’ wild. But it don’t want to count no straws. It called for me all night till the sun come up. Hag took my brother’s body someplace else to sleep up some before it went ridin’ again. So I tell you, there any help worryin’ about maybes when Hag’ll be here tonight, wanting to tear me up somethin’ fierce?”
There’s little to offer and Dean swallows what’s left of his bourbon. She gets up, taking the tumbler before he sets it on the coffee table.
“No way I ain’t ever get known let drinks vanish.”
“I’m good,” Dean tells her, doesn’t even follow it up with one of his awesome jokes about how he’s damn good, as plenty have had the opportunity to tell him.
“You stayin’ this night, hmmm?” Her murmurs are gentle and sweet, the molasses thick accent twanging with ancient beats.
(She’d called herself a geechee woman, proudly, when Dean had asked how she knew exactly what he’s after that first time he’d met her. Maybe some of us geechees forget the ways but not everybody you’re gonna meet round these parts.)
“Yes,” Dean states simply.
He has his duffel tricked out with everything he thinks he’ll need when the Boo Hag comes seeking Rose again. The bitch of it is getting the creature to jump outta Dave’s body and not have Dave’s skin shredded off in the process.
Rose sees no option of her brother winding up as red and raw as the body of the Boo Hag. And dammit if Dean can’t help but believe a little too, that there is an option that’s gonna wind up with Davey rescued and that sonnabitch Hag wasted, ‘cause it might be hard stopping a Boo Hag, but they can be killed, just like anything else.
“You bring in your bag before the sun sets,” she says and it’s tilted to be a genteel request, but it’s got steel in it. A command.
Dean resists saying, “yes, ma’am.” All he does nods to her as gets up, relieved to be off the too-soft cushion, bringing in the bag with little fanfare.
Rose watches him take out his guns and knives without saying a word.
Hours pass and they listen to some of the best singers of jazz, all the voices cracked with age of well-worn records. Not just that though, there’s standards from the last years of the jazz singers’ lives, when there was hardly a voice at all, just pain, and at those songs, Rose closes her eyes, hums a few notes in tune, all the while, taking a look at the wound-up clock on the mantle, finally stubbing her cigarillo out on an ashtray next to it.
There’s an old player piano nestled in a corner and she’s wandered over to it several times, her scarred hand brushing over the open sheet music, aged yellow and dog-eared at the top edges.
“You play?” Dean says it to fill in the silence but Rose only hums a sad note. It’s in the key of no, little dash of regret in there too.
“My granddaddy could play this thing like you wouldn’t believe. It don’t play on its own at all, broke a long time back. He sang to me and my brothers about Boo Hags ridin’ ya into early graves.”
Rose stop there, playing with her pack of cigarillos before she lights another one. This time she doesn’t go over to the fish lighter, pulling a disposable lighter in the pocket of her old-fashioned too-long skirt, kind of get-up Dean really regrets, how she’s hiding her body like that.
“You have a big family?”
Damn, that’s a bad question, too freakin’ obvious. It’s the only way a house could feel so empty if weren’t that there used to be too many people here, and now it’s just not the same without the same mess of people.
She nearly drops the lighter when she pushes it back into her skirt pocket. Peeking out of one of the locked-down windows, hand on the chipped wooden sill, she says softly, “There’s only me and Davey left now.”
She doesn’t need to say any more and Dean gets it. He thinks of Dad, who doesn’t want Dean to ever bring up Sam, but Dean knows that Dad hightails it to Stanford whenever he can, just to keep an eye on Sammy (and Dean’s sure Sam doesn’t even know, because that’s the way it always is, both of ‘em stubborn than hell). Then he pushes it away, because time’s passed and there’s not anything else he coulda done and if he keeps on saying it, it’ll be bound to be true one of these days.
Dean looks around the empty, decaying house and he swears to Rose that they’re gonna get this son of a bitch but good. He’s a Winchester, and it’s what he’s been trained to do, stop things that shouldn’t be around in the first place. He’s got to believe in that.
But there’s a question that needs to be asked, one that’s been itching him since Dean caught that knowing look of hers when he came a-knocking at her door.
He asks her the million dollar Glinda question and she takes a moment to contemplate her smoldering cigarillo. “The question isn’t are you a good witch or bad witch? It’s if I’m a good woman or a bad woman.”
Dean feels that Rose is waiting for him to ask her something else, only all he manages is, “I think someone who’s trying to do right by their family is damn good.”
“Yes,” Rose says, beaming. There’s an expression Dean’s taken for granted, that someone’s face could just light up all of a sudden, but on Rose’s face, it actually happens and it’s kind of incredible. The pain just lifting from her face, and really, there’s no mystery about her, just another person trying to survive. “Too many bad things in this world, best remedy against it is being good.”
It’s then that the Boo Hag comes to the door, expecting the usual barrier, only the salt line’s been wiped away and the door’s wide open. An invitation only if you’re really fucking stupid.
Traps don’t always have to be all that fancy.
The look of surprise on Davey’s face must’ve been a parody of a familiar expression because Rose is dead quiet as Dean starts off with the incantation. Something Rose herself whipped up special though she claims she just ain’t got the nerve to do it all by her lonesome.
Still, out of the corner of his eye, he can see her lips moving, even though she’s not actually saying a damn thing. Until she does, saying through gritted teeth, “It’s gonna be calling for me next.”
Don’t seem possible, considering the body of Davey is stuck in place, unable to back out of the doorway, muscles trembling all over. Nasty it is, the trembling, more than just the shivers, if only, how it’s clear that there’s something angry slithering under the skin, brutal and angry, wanting to steal the skin right off Dave’s flesh but Dean knows the ritual now, it’s harder than that, Rose told him as much.
Sick thing is that the eyes are rolling around nonstop, dammit, the creature’s thinking, trying to figure a way out of the trap, knows that Dean ain’t gonna be the one to break so it goes for the fucking Oscar.
Utters pleading, human words to Rose, tossing the kind of stuff meant to hurt, trying to make her crack.
“Why you doin’ this, Rosie? It’s me, your own brother. You know your own brother, don’t you? Don’t let him kill me...how can you do this to me?”
There’s a momentary quiver that takes a hold of Rose but her jaw is set. The decision’s already been made. Crushes her cigarillo under her flat shoe, grounding it out with the ball of her foot. There are badass ways of showing off, Dean’s got one himself, sawed off in hand, rocksalt not gonna stop it forever, but it’ll do to slow down the sonnabitch if the incantation don’t work.
“I might do a bad turn or two to you, but this here man’s getting the devil out your body.” Rose isn’t looking at Davey now, picking up a calabash full of bitter rotgut and a whole mess of nasty herbs that’ve been steeping for hours. When she tips it over, thin stream pouring down, she says, “You can yell at me later for getting the stink all over your favorite boots.”
He’d love to say hell yeah but that’ll fuck up this last bit, grinding words until it’s nothing better than noise, but there’s a purpose to it, reason for all of it, like the drops of blood that Rose shakes over the puddle on the floor, Dean might not know the exact words, hell, language was never his thing, that was—fuck, not gonna think about Sammy, not now—has work to do, to finish.
It’s more than power this poison, the words venom to the Boo Hag’s ears and the actual poison puddling around the hag, no way out, no fucking way ever of busting out with a skin of its own.
The screaming that follows is the type that would haunt Dean’s nightmares, if he ever admitted to having nightmares. Not coming from Dave’s mouth, no, it’s not noise coming out, something worse, the Hag itself.
It’s an ugly one all right, a red, raw thing, never got itself a proper skin, why it has to steal ‘em, skinny and stringy, and sure, it’s called a Hag but Dean’ll be damned if he can figure out what it’s supposed to be, not male or female. Body pulsing like a dying heartbeat and smelling worse than rotting flesh or any foul brew a mad scientist ever’s dreamed up.
Rose ain’t giving the devil its due. She has laughter in her eyes like they’ve already won. As the thing tries to move towards her, she almost dances away. Pulls up her long skirt until she’s flashing her knees and she’s a half-step away from kicking her heels.
Now it’s his turn to dance, only Dean figures he may as well drop the shotgun and use his revolver, one good shot, dead center, right where the Hag ain’t got a heart.
Its death rattle, genuine shock, hisses out of the Boo Hag’s bloody mouth. Honestly fucking surprised to die. Like this isn’t how things are supposed to happen.
Screw that. That’s what every one of these monsters deserves, all that and more.
Davey’s still fixed in the same trap himself, slumped over almost, puppet on the strings, gets cut when Dean stomps down on the calabash, bringing down weight in the form of his steel-toed boot, it just takes a crack and there’s a body, skin intact, whole and everything, slumping to the floor. Out like a light, like it’s all just been a hell of dream.
Dean tries to still himself, drawing out a few heavy breaths like he’s catching up on things. Working with a hell of an adrenaline overload, goddamn, he hates it when that happens. Not to mention there’s always a friggin’ chance he’s getting whammied by the aftershocks of all that hoodoo Rose cooked up, and yeah, he really should have asked more about that. Brilliant.
“Davey won’t be havin’ any memories,” she says to Dean gently, as she sits down beside her brother, setting his head on her lap, careful to stay away from the puddles all over the floor, gonna warp the wood, not like it matters, a fucked up floor is a hell of a bargain.
Once again she reaches into her pocket, like it’s endless in there, drawing out a little tin box, round, an old lady kinda pillbox, Dean might have once pickpocketed one of ‘em, recognizes the shape of it .Pops it open and then she’s rubbing something like ashes on her brother’s cheeks, adding a smudge to his forehead like an afterthought. Does it all with her right hand, because lefty or not, some rituals are damn demanding, Dean might not love all the rules and try to bend ‘em in every which way, but some lines just can’t be crossed, some things just gotta be done by the book. Much as he hates to accept it.
“You gonna help me get him up the stairs?”
“Yeah.” He grunts it, ‘cause the adrenaline pumping in his veins won’t allow him more than that and he needs something to take the edge off.
Turns out that picking up Rose’s brother does the trick, he’s about the same height as Dean, but he’s built wider and weights more than Dean would’ve guessed. Rose ain’t a dainty little thing, but she damn near shrinks when she hunkers down, trying to carry some of the burden, help, like it’s what she’s used to, carrying more that she should. Takes her brother’s arm and wraps it around her shoulders, shooting Dean a warning look if he tries to make a joke.
No joke about this. This is about family.
It’s slow going and Davey is just completely out. Only way to tell he’s still alive is that he’s breathing softly, and that must be what Rose meant by a good long doze. Dean ain’t gonna be surprised if Davey winds up hibernating for a few months.
They flip him onto a bed that’s maybe a bit smaller than it should be and Rose sits at the edge. She’s careful to take off muddy shoes caked in god-knows-what, dampened by the witch’s brew she spilled on him, and drops them on a ratty braided rug.
“He was hiding in the marsh?”
“Hag don’t mind water if it’s in a fisherman’s skin,” Rose says, eyeing the bottom of the boots with a disapproving frown.
She’s busy looking ahead, of what she has to tell her brother and what stories she’ll need to believe in herself. But she doesn’t linger too long on the future, little crooked smile flickering but she lets it go. Turns to Dean and says a lot with her calm brown eyes.
Most times, all Dean wants from the people he’s helped is a thank you, even if they don’t mean it. It’s always been so goddamn unbelievable that more than half the people he and Dad have saved haven’t even bothered with a damn thank you.
This means a lot more.
She stands up, reaching towards him, and takes his hand in her scarred hand. He’s too warm, can feel his skin crackling with the fire of a job done well and hers is just—different. Her hand is soft from lotions she probably rubs in every night, just for good measure. Rose is practical to the bone.
And damn if he ain’t going undone at the seams, way she’s looking at him.
Maybe she says come here or follow me, but Dean doesn’t quite catch it. No need to, knows the way even if he has no idea where he’s going.
He does follow her down the steps, noticing how rickety they are and how it’s a wonder the three of them made it up there without the wood planks breaking underneath.
Her nose bumps into his when she angles up to kiss him, best thank you he’s ever gonna get, one he didn’t even have to force out, she starts it and damn, only way he can respond is to thank her, kissing her back, tongue flicking out as their mouths open wider.
It’s too intimate and his face is hot all over, dammit, it’s just a kiss, but it’s more, knows it, and can’t help it as he stumbles with her, needing to back up, keep from falling into each other, weariness settled in the bones fighting with the buzzing in his blood. He gets her back up against the doorway to the kitchen, he guesses, only so many rooms, it’s an open doorway, working on removing the least sexy button-down in the history of forever.
He’s mouthing her neck, little suck that makes her breath hitch, when he says, “God, why you hiding how fuckin’ hot you are?”
May be a come on, a lie, to someone else, but isn’t, no fucking way, and he doesn’t let her answer, kissing her again, biting her bottom lip when she tries to respond.
Dean’s drunk on her, drunk all over and ungainly as she strips off his jacket and scrunches a fistful of undershirt in her hand, demanding without saying. Without asking.
It’s easy as hell to comply.
Who the hell knows how they manage to make it to her little bedroom in the back of the house. Everything’s stripped down and stark compared to the rest of the house. Whitewash walls turning pale blue in the moonlight.
They barely take off any clothes. And for what is, Dean would have it any other way, needs it now and he just shoves down his jeans and boxers, not elegant at all. He catches sight of Rose’s panties getting yanked off, her skirt still on, shirt off, don’t matter how many women he’ll see, nothing’s better than this—private—all of it just for him to see, to touch, and ‘cause he wants it, taste. Drags her bra straps down but doesn’t snap the bra off, too impatient, just wants to fuck her, asks her if that’s what she wants. “I’ll make you feel good.”
Oh yeah, and he will. Waits for an answer by sucking at the dark dusty nipples peeking out of the plain cotton bra, beige, totally not a I plan on getting fucked outfit.
“I’ll make you feel better.”
He’d have something to say, really, something awesome, but he can’t string any words as she rolls on the condom, stroking him until he has to beg her to stop.
She hitches up her long skirt, sitting on him, dragging herself down and letting him push up into damp heat. He keeps an arm around her waist, his left hand cupping the curve of her, so fucking round. Rose has a wide ass, but it’s firm, in a few years, he knows there will be babies, she’s made for children (and so many burdens). He—God—he shouldn’t be thinking about that, not while he’s inside her. Grits his teeth and lets her rock up and down, that seesaw edge of orgasm pushing somewhere deep in his belly.
Rose keeps on doing these clever little moves, pulling where he needs it the most and backing off just before he lets go. He’s just seconds away from being gone. Totally obliterated.
And man, it is so worth it.
Her face only a silhouette in the hazy grey and she starts making that deep noise, climax seeking her, only she’s trying to drag it out. Dean’s mind is gone for real now and he rolls her over, pushing back in as she’s throbbing all around him.
Comes inside of her, not really, but fuck him for picturing it, quick snapshot of a life, of children and humid lazy days, time stretching on forever, slow, barriers and wards, protection, and still, murder in the shadows, dancing at death, and every other fucking thing he can’t hold on to.
He lets out a breath he didn’t know he’s been carrying all along, something that he can’t identify but he knows it’s something, like a weight off his chest, expanding into ghost vapors, never to be seen again.
The next minutes are drowsy, half-dreamed, but he hears her speaking, her voice slow and thick. Like she’s fighting off sleep.
“My momma once told me ain’t nothing finer than love, ‘cept stolen kisses, a good-for-nothing man that does right for once in his life, and songs nobody ain’t never gonna steal from you.”
Rose kisses his forehead and it’s the shape of a stolen kiss.
“Sleep, Dean,” she says in a faint sing-song and he does.
end part two
Continue on to Part Three: Garota.
The opening line comes from A Day's Catch, by Jacqueline Johnson, from her collection of poetry A Gathering of Mother Tongues.
You would tell me stories,
pieces of your life, "man told
me once, don't fall in love with no
geechie gal, she'll hold on forever."