Sixteen year old Beau, could feel his heart racing. The familiar, eerie feeling of dread began to pool in the pit of his stomach. It was a dream.
He knew that.
He knew it wasn't real.
But it felt real and that's all that mattered.
Beau kept his eyes squeezed tightly shut.
It didn't stop him from coming.
He could feel his brothers cold, clammy hand as it gripped his shoulder. He could hear the raspy breathing as he stood so close in front of him.
"Look at me, Beau." Tommy whispered, his voice rough.
Beau shook his head. He'd been here before. He knew how this played out, but maybe, just once, they could skip this part.
"C'mon, little brother. You haven't seen me in a year. Don't you wanna know how death has been treatin' me?"
"Please." Beau whimpered. "Please, don't."
James was up at the sound of the first cry. He threw off the covers and quickly made his way down the hallway towards Beau's bedroom.
He opened the door and found Beau thrashing around, his blankets wrapping around his body, trapping him.
"No!" He was screaming now. "Please, I'm sorry! Tommy, let me go, please!"
Tears streamed down his face as James tried to wake him up.
"Beau? Son, you're dreaming. C'mon, Beau, wake up." He touched his arm but that only served to frighten Beau more. His thrashing became almost violent.
Without another thought, James climbed into the bed, ripping the covers away from his boy. He pulled Beau up and into his lap and wrapped his arms around him. Attempting to keep him from hurting himself.
"Shh. I'm here. I got you, son." He continued to talk to him. Trying to calm him. Bring him out of it.
All at once Beau's eyes snapped open, but instead of being alert and aware of his surroundings, he seemed to be more afraid.
James had expected this, however, and wasn't surprised when Beau's screams resumed.
"Tommy! Tommy, no!" He was trying to get away but James held tight.
"No, son. Breathe." He urged. "You gotta breathe, Beau." James held Beau tight to his chest, taking exaggerated breaths, all the while, Beau's voice grew hoarse from screaming as he clutched at his dad's arms. His nails digging in deep, but James paid no attention.
Neither noticed when Ruth came to stand in the doorway. She didn't come in, but she couldn't just sit in her room and ignore the screaming from her baby. She prayed for strength.
Slowly, Beau became the smallest bit calmer. His breath came in quick, shallow gasps, but it came.
"That's it. In and out. You got it." James encouraged.
Beau continued to cry as he sat there, practically in his father's lap.
"Dad?" He managed to whisper.
"It's okay. I got you. Daddy's got you."
Beau didn't know how long they stayed like that. James grip loosened but he remained holding him, Beau's head tucked under his chin.
Beau tried to fight the urge to fall back asleep.
But he was so tired.
Slowly his eyes drifted shut and his breathing evened out.
Yet still James held him.
Once or twice more, Beau began to dream. The graveyard swimming in and out of focus.
But each time, something pulled him back.
A comforting voice.
"I've got you, son."