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Cola 21, Star Fruit 25

Author: Marina
Story: The Dragon World
Challenge: Cola 21 (kid tested, mother approved – My Treat: [Caramel] there’s something different about you kids lately), Star Fruit 25 (my best wasn’t good enough)
Toppings/Extras: Caramel
Word Count: 662
Rating: PG
Summary: Anna Mitchell’s eyes and ears are sharper than Laura was hoping.
Notes: For today’s Olympics.

Laura waited until her brother’s breathing evened out, then exhaled and slowly eased herself out of bed so as not to disturb him. Before the trip to the dragon world, his nightmares had not been a big deal, and both of them had found it relatively easy to go to sleep afterward. Now, it took Chase at least an hour to fully relax, and by the time he could sleep again, Laura felt too wired to do the same.

She carefully slipped down to the kitchen, took a cup from the cupboard, and filled it with water from the filter pitcher. Just as she began to lift it to her lips, she heard a low voice behind her. “Laura?”

Startled, she jumped, spilling about a third of the glass onto her nightdress.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry.” Her mother hurried past her to rip a paper towel off the roll under the cupboard. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s fine,” said Laura, lying automatically. She took a breath, gingerly set down the glass, and accepted the paper towel. “Um, did I wake you up?”

“Chase did,” Anna said, after a moment.

Laura straightened. “Oh no, I didn’t mean to wake him up again—"

“I checked before I came down and he’s asleep, don’t worry.” Anna bit her lip. “But I did hear him before. It sounded like he was having another panic attack.”

Feeling her chest constrict, Laura looked at the floor. As far as she knew, Anna and Peter had only witnessed one of them: the one that had occurred the day they came home and their parents had pressed for details Chase wasn’t willing to talk about. “Yes, he was,” she said softly. “But he’s all right now, if he’s still sleeping. He probably won’t wake up again.”

There was a moment of silence before Anna spoke again. “How do you know that, Laura?”

“I…he has nightmares a lot,” Laura said lamely. “Always has, but if he does he comes in to see me and then he’s fine.”

“But they’re worse lately than they were before the two of you were…” Anna folded her arms, looking very much unwilling to say the word. “The walls are thin, dear,” she said, seeing Laura’s surprise. “I can hear him as well as you can. Your father and I are well aware of what’s happening.”

“Why didn’t you say before?”

Anna sighed, looking about ten years older than she was in the dusky glow coming in through the window. It highlighted the dark circles under her eyes and every wrinkle in her face—things Laura had paid little notice because she was so wrapped up in Chase. “Because he’ll only talk to you,” Anna said simply. “Pete and I didn’t want to push him and cause him to break down again.”

Laura immediately felt guilty. “I’d talk to him about it if I thought it would do any good, Mom. He’s just…” At a loss, she let the sentence hang unfinished. What could she say without breaking Chase’s confidence and the promise they had all made to keep some of the details to themselves? “I’m sorry, I didn’t tell you because Chase…he just can’t. I didn’t want you to worry.”

“We’re going to worry anyway, Laura.” Anna smiled faintly. “That’s our job. And you shouldn’t have to bear all of Chase’s problems on your own.”

“He’s my brother and I love him.” Laura shrugged. “It’s what I’ve always done anyway.”

“But we’re your parents, and we love you two. I just wish you would trust us more.”

She looked away. “It’s not that we don’t,” she made herself say. “But it’s still too…raw, I guess. Especially for him.”

“All right. I suppose I have to accept that.” She heard a swishing sound, and then Anna’s arms went around her. “Just don’t be afraid to ask for help sometimes, okay? We’re right here waiting, all the time.”

“I know,” Laura whispered. “Believe me, I know.”

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ichthusfish
Aug. 13th, 2012 03:10 am (UTC)
Aww, poor Laura, stuck in the middle of everybody. A little surprised that their parents were aware of the panic attacks for so long before Anna tried reaching out to Laura. I understand them not wanting to push Chase, but still...

Nicely written :)
smoothiegarten
Aug. 17th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
It hasn't been that long since they got back. A couple weeks at the very most, I think. Also, part of it is that I'm pretty sure Laura's been deliberately avoiding discussing any of this and bailing at any sign that a discussion might go this direction. So I don't think it's that they weren't trying. IDK, this is a difficult time period for all of them and hard to think and write about. :( Thank you!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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