Saturday, October 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo Character Exercise: Sarah Ridgefield

I remember clearly the night Mom brought Devin home. He was this tiny scruffy little thing that just clung to her neck like she was the last safe place on Earth, eyes wide in a mix of awe, fear, and caution. That impression of him, all of five years old, is one of the clearest memories from my childhood.

Only eight and I can remember every second of that night like it was yesterday.

It never surprised Dad what she did; Mom did things like that. She gave a homeless man fifty dollars on one hand and brought a teenage girl surviving only by prostitution into the house for a simple bowl of soup. Mom was...amazing is the only word I can find to accurately describe her. She had a heart bigger than the rest of her and when she found Devin abandoned on the street she couldn't help but bring him home. Of course, neither of us found out until later that he wasn't officially a member of the family until he was nine but we had the papers to prove it so the how didn't matter.

Mom fought tooth and nail for her family. The only problem was she saw everyone as extended family. That's what got her and Dad killed in the end; she insisted they pick up this hitchhiker and, can only get so lucky with hitchhikers before you find one that's not looking for just a ride and maybe a meal.

That was later though. Growing up...things were good. Happy. We became a family fast and I took to the role of big sister like a duck to water. And, thinking back on it, we both knew there was something off about him even back then. Devin was an unnaturally quiet little boy (and he's still a very quiet man in general) and he always was watching when we were in public, his eyes darting everywhere as if he needed to see everything. Even when he was five and refused to go anywhere without his hand in mine, he was watching, keeping an eye out for me same as I was keeping an eye out for him.

I remember the first time I knew something was really really wrong was three years later when he was eight and I was eleven. He came creeping into my room that night and climbed in with me, not answering me with anything but a whimper and burrowing into my arms. In the end all I could do was curl myself around him and go to sleep wondering what was wrong with my baby brother and how I could make it better. I didn't know until much later that that was the first night he'd really felt the Wild, felt the need to hunt, to kill, and he'd sought comfort and solid ground in the only way he knew. And then the whole thing blew up in our faces with one horny teenager.

Oh, I beat the ever-loving shit out of Aiden Cormac a month after what he tried to do. Not because he tried to rape me, no, I had gotten around that lightning fast. No, I beat him senseless with a baseball bat because of what he did to Devin. He hurt my baby brother and I showed that little snot that I am damn well my mother's daughter.

I never told Devin I was afraid of him that first time he changed. Oh, I'm sure he smelt it with that nose of his but I never let it show on my face that I was terrified. I couldn't, not when I was his big sister or when I saw just how terrified he was, scared of me and our parents rejecting him. We never told Mom and Dad...but I hold out to this day that they'd have understood even if Devin never agreed. It took a lot of practice to figure out how to best hide it from them as well as how to control his hunting urges and both ended up being our start in hunting. At nineteen and sixteen we were the monster hunters of our block, spreading fear amongst the denizens of the dark and letting ignorant housewives sleep safely.

We were such innocent fools then.

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