Work Header

The Hand That Reaches for God

Chapter Text

-8 Hours Before-

One of these mornings, it won’t be long, you’ll call my name, and I’ll be gone.  
Oscar Isaac

    The house smelled like medicine.

    Growing up, Emerson always felt like her house smelled like some kind of baked good. It always smelled like cinnamon sugar cookies, and hot lemon tea. Her mother was a terrible cook, but she knew how to bake. Emerson thought it was a miracle that her and her identical twin sister, Ophelia, weren’t unbearably overweight. Especially Pheli, with her inability to say no to just one more cookie.

    Pheli was the kind of girl that everybody liked. She was made of sugar and breadcrumbs. She looked like the kind of girl that lived among the flowers. Growing up she was always the class favorite. Her smile would light up a room, where Emerson’s bad attitude would get her sent to the principal office so frequently that she had a chair with an imprint of her ass on it. She frequently was jealous of her sisters wiles. Ophelia seemed to have the ability to bat her eyelashes, and move mountains. It didn’t seem fair, but Emerson would soon learn that almost everything in life was unfair.

    The house didn’t smell like baked goods, or lemon tea, or the flowers from Pheli’s hair anymore. Now it smelled like medicine. It smelled like sterile bed sheets, and oxygen. It smelled like pre-death.

    The Maklen sisters changed their last name when their father left, in solidarity, to stand with their mother. The girls were no longer the Wilson’s. They didn’t fit in the mold that Carl and his mustache left. The two tween girls and their mother burned all of the belonging’s he left in the house ceremoniously. They danced around the flames, and consumed an entire bottle of red wine.
    Both girls adored their mother, from her kind eyes, to her full laugh. They thought she was the most beautiful woman to walk the planet Earth. All the girls could hope for when they grew up, was that someday they would be half the woman their mother was and twice the cook. They didn’t expect to have to say goodbye to her so soon, but then again, saying goodbye was never something that can be planned for. It always seemed too soon, even if there was all the time in the world.

    The house smelled like medicine, because their mother was dying. Her MS had gotten so bad that she was on a ventilator. She couldn’t move, and she had a permanent live in nurse. Emerson was convinced that she wasn’t even there anymore.

    “She’s a husk, Pheli. We should just be done. Don’t you think she’s suffered enough?”
    “How could you say that?”

    “Look at her!” Emerson gestured to their mothers slumped body in hospital bed in the living room. “She doesn’t go to the bathroom by herself. She doesn’t eat. She doesn’t talk!”

    “She’s our Mom, Em.” Pheli said weakly, her hands dropping to her side.

    “I know who she is.”

    Ophelia forced Emerson to be the logical one. To be the harsh one. Emerson liked to think it was because she was the big sister, even by two minutes. It was her duty to carry the difficulties for both of them.

    I took a lot of talking, crying, and shouting to finally come to an agreement. It was time. It was time to let her go. So they packed up their bags at the beginning of Summer break, during their senior year of college, and decided to come back home.
    They came back to the town they grew up in, to the green grass, and lazy people lounging on their front porches with an early afternoon beer in hand. Emerson went away to college to escape their old neighborhood. To escape the people who still saw her as the stringy haired girl with braces. The one who beat up all the boys. She wanted to escape their stares, and their jokes, but most of all she wanted to escape him.

    So, imagine her surprise, when the girls pulled up to their childhood home, just to see Dean Winchester waltz out of his front door to grab the newspaper, of all things. “Sam.” Emerson hissed, eyeing Ophelia’s boyfriend, and Dean’s younger brother, in the rear view mirror. “What is he doing here?”

    Sam shrugged, and ran his finger through his shaggy hair. He was trying to grow it out for a man bun, and Ophelia supported the idea. She was always trying out new kinds of braids, and was excited to have someone to practice on. “Dunno, Em.”

    Liar, Emerson thought. She knew the boys kept in pretty constant communication. They were almost as needy as she and Ophelia were.

    Dean was four years older than the girls and Sam. He seemed to always be around when she was growing up, but the older they got the more annoying he was. He’d bring bimbos to their hangouts, and he always ended up smoking pot or sneaking alcohol into their basement.

    “Dean you’re going to get us in trouble,” Ophelia complained as he lit up a cigarette.

    “God you’re such a girl.”

    “That's offensive, ass.” Emerson said, punching his arm.
    “Sammy, you seriously gonna let them talk to me that way?”

    Sam shrugged. “Probably.”

    The four of them were always stuck together. The boys were inseparable, just like the sister’s, and once Sam and Pheli started dating, the four of them were laced and tangled together. No matter what Emerson did, she couldn’t shake Dean Winchester loose. He was always there, seemingly lurking around the corner.

    “This is just not what I need this weekend.” Emerson complained, quietly.
    Pheli reached for her sister and squeezed her arm. “Hey, don’t worry about him. This weekend is about us. It's about Mom.” She said softly. “Don’t let anything else distract you.”

    Em sighed, letting out all the breath in her lungs in a single huff. “You’re right. I know you’re right. I’m sorry.”

    The girls smiled at each other warmly, as Emerson parked the car.

    Sam ducked out of the back seat stretching his arms into the air. “That drive will never not suck.” He complained gently, before resting his arm across Ophelia’s shoulders. He was almost an entire foot taller than her, and sometimes when they were together it was almost comical.

    Dean was still standing in the driveway, looking dumbfounded in his pajama pants and ratty AC/DC t-shirt. He gave Emerson a half wave, and she wiggled her fingers back at him.

    When she was a junior in high school, and he was twenty-one he decided to join the military. He was gone for so long that she barely remembered what he looked like, that was until he came home for his first Christmas back. She was home from her first year at college. His hair was short, and he had developed muscles that she didn’t know existed. He was wearing his camouflage uniform, buttoned and steamed pristinely, as he waltzed up to her door.

    “Hey Em.”


    “What?” She asked, crossing her arms.

    “Just not used to people calling me that. I’m just Winchester in the military.”  He was standing up completely straight, and there was little snark to his voice.

    Emerson raised her eyebrow. “Yeah, I guess they would, wouldn’t they?”

    “It’s pretty weird.” He said, scratching the back of his head.

    “Did you need something?”

    “What? Oh… no. I don’t.” He said curtly. “Just letting you know I’m home.”

    “Cool.” She said awkwardly, leaning against the door frame.

    “Well, guess I’ll see ya later.”

    “Guess so.” She said, slowly shutting the door. His hand slipped in, catching the door before she could shut it. “What?”

    “Merry Christmas.” He said, before letting the door click shut.

    He looked different now. His hair was longer, not long like Sam’s, but longer than she saw him with in awhile. He looked tired, his shoulders were slumped and he had purple half moons under his eyes from lack of sleep.

    “This weekend is about us. It’s about Mom. Don’t let anything else distract you.” Her sisters words echoed in her head. She was right, of course she was.

      Emerson pulled her bag out of the backseat of the car and walked up the steps, unlocking the door to the house. She instantly got a whiff of something musty and her nose curled up. “Phel, go open up all the windows?”

    The nursing staff had taken their mom back to the hospital per Emerson’s request. She didn’t want to have to take care of the body once they pulled the plug, if they were in the hospital the staff did that. She knew she would have bigger things to worry about. She knew Pheli wouldn't handle it well. She was such a delicate flower.

    “Sure.” She went to go open up the windows, and Sam followed her like a puppy. He’d been doing that his whole life, and if Emerson was being honest, it was beginning to lose its charm. Maybe she was just turning into a cynic.

    Their mothers hospital bed was still in the middle of the living room. A flimsy mattress on wheels. Medical supplies were covering every spare counter space. An IV bag still hung on its pole over their mothers bed, the tube swinging in the fresh air that rushed through the house.

    This is going to be such a pain to clean up. Emerson started to make a mental checklist of everything she had to do. She had to return all of the medical supplies, call the funeral home, set up a service, call the lawyers… her thoughts rattled off, only being interrupted by a rap at the door.

    Christ, what now?

    She drug herself to the front door, swinging it open. “Yes?”

    Dean grinned back at her. She looked him up and down, noticing that he decided to change into some real pants, even if the jeans did have holes in them. “Wow, so chipper, Em.”

    “What are you doing here, Dean?”

    He shrugged, pushing past her. “Just noticed you guys pulling up. I’m going to this party tonight, if you guys want to come.”

    “A party? Seriously?” Her eyes followed him, locking on his bare skin poking out from his short sleeved shirt. “Did Sam not tell you why we were here?”

    “No?” He groaned, hopping up on the counter.

    Emerson rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. She eyed the six foot tall man that was now swinging his legs like a child off the edge of her mothers countertop.

    “But I did forget that you’re boring. You’d never go to a party. Can’t have any fun.” He teased, his green eyes challenging her.

    Emerson rolled her eyes. “Get a fucking grip, Winchester. We are here for Mom.” Her tone hit him like a truck, causing him to suck in his breath.

    “Mom… is Jana okay?”

    “No. She isn’t.” Emerson said harshly, even though she shouldn't have. He obviously didn’t know.

    “What’s wrong?”

    She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, before gathering up her long blonde hair, and twisting it in to a bun on the top of her head. “We are letting her go, Dean. She’s been on the vent for a year. It’s time.”

    His eyes softened, his lips parting to let out a whoosh of air. “What? Shit… I’m so sorry I didn’t know.”

    “Of course you didn’t.” She snapped. “How could you know? Not like we talk anymore. All you’re worried about is the fucking party. So go would you?”

    He winced and hopped down off the counter. “Fine. Don’t have to ask me twice. Tell Sammy to come by and see his big brother.” He said before pushing out into the yard, slamming the door behind him, causing the frame to rattle.

    “What was that?” Ophelia called from the back room.

    “Nothing Phel!” Emerson called back, before pressing her back against the door, and slowly sliding to the floor. She captured her face in her hands and let out a low scream, tears stinging her eyes. It was all just too hard. Too damn hard. She let her head hit the door, hoping for a little clarity that didn’t come.

    Maybe she should go to the party after all.

-4 Hours Before-

    Sam was being unsurprisingly helpful. He was able to reach everything on the top shelf, and he and Pheli weren’t even being as flirtatious as they usually were. They’d been cleaning, and organizing, and making calls for the last four hours and Emerson just about had it. She fell back onto the couch and stared at the ceiling fan.


    “Sup?” He asked, poking his head out of the kitchen, holding a glass of water.

    “The fan is so fucking dusty. I doubt anyone has cleaned it in ten years.” She commented, staring at the fluff that was poking over the edge of the fan, threatening to float down, directly into her face.

    “I’m on it, boss.” He said with a grin. She didn’t see it, but she heard it in his voice. She rolled her eyes.

    “I’m getting a headache.” Pheli complained. “Can we get something to eat? Take a little break?”

    “Oh that sounds awesome.” Sam agreed.

    The couple poked their heads over the side of the couch, and Emerson slowly opened her eyes to catch them staring at her. “What do you say, Em?”

    “We have so much to do, Phel.” Emerson sighed. I’m the bad guy, again.

    “I’m sure you need a break, too.” She said quietly. “Come on. Look at you, you’re wiped. We have all Summer to clean the house... it doesn’t have... it doesn’t have to be done before we go to the hospital in the morning.”

    Emerson watched her sisters fingers go into her mouth, as she bit at her cuticles. It was an anxious habit that their mother had tried to break her of, but she never quite could. Emerson didn’t bother mentioning it in that moment, though, it wasn’t important. Not really.

    “But I did forget that you’re boring. You’d never go to a party. Can’t have any fun.” Dean’s voice entered her head at that moment. Maybe she couldn’t have any fun, but that didn’t mean Pheli didn’t deserve some. She was about to lose her mother, after all. Emerson pressed her lips together, making a decision that she was sure she would regret.

    “Fine. Let’s have fun tonight.” She swung her legs over the side of the couch. “Dean mentioned a party to me earlier.”

    “You talked to Dean?” Phel asked, raising her eyebrows.

    “Do you want to go, or not?”

    “Yes!” Ophelia said quickly, eyeing Sam. He shrugged in response. “Call him, tell him we’re in.” She looked excited, her face lighting up. It was enough to make Emerson stand up, and walk right over to the Winchester house and knock.

    “I got it!” She heard Dean shout from behind the front door. The lock clicked and the door swung open. His green eyes widened in surprise. “Oh, Em, hey.” He scratched the back of his head, exposing a bulge of muscle under the skin on his bicep.
    She shifted uncomfortably, tugging on a hair that was coming out of her bun. “I talked to Pheli, and she is interested in the party... so do you have the details?”

    “You want to go to a party?” Dean asked, flustered.

    Emerson raised an eyebrow, confused by his reaction to her. Maybe it was all the time that had passed, or maybe it was the fact that he knew that her mother would be dead in less than 24 hours, that was making him squirm. “Not me, but Pheli, and well, where she goes I go.”

    “Right, I’m just surprised.”

    “I can see that.” Emerson smirked. “You going to give me the details, or not?”

    “Actually... not.” Dean said, his eyebrow quirked upward.

    “And why the fuck not?”

    “Relax, Maklen.” He laughed lightly. “I just don’t think that party is a good idea, but I do have something else in mind. I’ll pick you up in an hour? Tell Sammy to come over here. I want to talk to him.”

    He shut the door before she could argue. Her lips were hung open, her jaw slack. She let out a huff of air and turned on her heels, marching back to her own front door. He is so fucking annoying. She shook her head, not believing she agreed to spend her last night before the worst day of her life with him, of all people. You’re spending the night with Pheli. Not him. She reminded herself.

    “So, what’s the four-one-one?” Pheli asked, anxiously, the moment Emerson walked in the front door.

    “Well, we aren’t going to a party.” She began, and watched her sisters face melt in front of her.


    “Hey don’t give me that. We aren’t going to a party because Dean Winchester has something else in mind for tonight.” Emerson pursed her lips. “So if you’re wanting to risk that, then he is picking us up in an hour.”

    Ophelia’s face lit up again. “Sweet! I’ll get changed.”

    “Oh, and Sam, he wants to see you.” Emerson added before pointing to the front door. “So, I guess we will see you in an hour?”

    “Guess so.” Sam offered, with a shrug, before kissing Pheli’s forehead and walking out the front door.

    The girls went up the stairs to their old, shared bedroom. It was all flowers and sheer curtains. Lanterns were strung over their beds. Clearly Ophelia was the interior designer, and Emerson was just living in it. “So...” Pheli started, as she lowered herself in front of her vanity. “When did you see Dean?”

    “In the yard.” Emerson said, dumbly, sitting on the edge of her bed. She had no intention of changing out of her jeans and t-shirt to hangout in some mysterious location with the boys next door.

    “I was with you in the yard, he didn’t mention a party. So try again?” Her sister asked her, eyeing her in the mirror as she let down her own blonde hair.

    “He came by after that. When you were opening all the windows.” Emerson said, nonchalantly.

    “Oh, sure. That’s not worth mentioning.” Ophelia rolled her eyes, before running a brush through her hair. “Then what happened?”

    “He came inside and was an ass, like usual. He invited us out, and I told him we weren’t exactly here to party.”

    Pheli sat her brush down and turned on her stool. “Ah, Em. You told him about Mom.”

    Emerson pinched the bridge of her nose and shrugged. “Guess I did.”

    “I know you guys don’t get along, but do you really think he’s that big of a monster that he would just gloss over that fact once you told him?”

    “Kind of.” She admitted with a sigh. “I don’t know, maybe I just wanted to knock him down a peg. He is so... infuriating. You know? Cocky.”

    “Cocky.” Ophelia echoed.

    “That’s what I said.” Emerson said, her cheeks heating up.
    “I know.” She grinned back at her sister. “Just making sure you heard it, too.” She shrugged.

    Dean Winchester had always been a lot to handle. Between his car and women, the only reason she could deal with him at all, was the way he was with his brother. He never let anyone bully Sam growing up, and in turn, never let anyone mess with the girls, either.

    “You know, you two are freakishly similar, right?” Pheli added, as she touched up her makeup.

    “Excuse me?”

    “Oh come on, don’t tell me you don’t see it? Even after all this time, you’re both the same.” She rolled her eyes.

    “What the fuck does that mean?” Emerson asked, standing up. She crossed her arms.

    “Okay, I guess we have to do this now.” Pheli said, finishing her lipstick. She glanced at herself one more time before turning to her sister. “Ever since we were kids you’ve both liked each other. Don’t bother arguing, I’m your sister. I have twinsense. I can tell who you like, even if you’re too stubborn to see it. When he came home for Christmas from Afghanistan he was here to see you. Now you just have to decide how you feel, because watching this dance is honestly exhausting.” She stood up and walked to her sister. “Now lets get you changed, because I’m not letting you go to this thing wearing jeans and a t-shirt.”

    Emerson rolled her eyes, but didn’t bother arguing. She never bothered with Ophelia. She could talk her face blue, just to get the person she was arguing with to give in. Emerson didn’t see the point in trying to prove someone wrong who refused to listen to reason.
    Ophelia dressed Emerson in a black dress, and let her hair down. She slid into her ankle boots, and hid behind her red plaid flannel, before meeting the Winchester brothers on the front porch.

    Dean leaned against his Impala with his arms crossed. He wore a flannel that was pretty similar to Ems, over his AC/DC shirt, jeans, and boots. Sam had a blue button up, and looked like he finally brushed his hair. Ophelia leapt into his arms and he spun her around, kissing her. Emerson walked to Dean. “So, where are we headed?”

    “It’s a surprise, Em. Don’t you know how to relax?” He asked with a cheeky grin.

    “No.” She said, before opening the back door and sliding into the back seat. She watched the scenery fly past them as they sped down the road. The world blurred like sidewalk chalk in the rain.

    “Here we are.” Dean said, pulling up to the pier.

    Emerson raised her eyebrow. “Please tell me we aren’t going fishing.”

    “No.” Dean laughed, shaking his head. “Better.” He pulled out the keys and slid out of the car. The girls eyed each other and Pheli shrugged, taking Sams hand.

    The brothers lead the girls to the end of the dock where a large sail boat was  tied. Dean gave a goofy grin, before hopping up on the deck. “All aboard!”

    “Do you day that to all your dates?” Sam asked with a smirk.

    “Whose is this?” Emerson asked, watching Sam hoist Pheli up onto the boat. “Dean Winchester, whose boat is this?”

    “One of my officers, relax. He’s still overseas, and I clean it for him.” He shrugged. “He’s fine if I take it out.”
    “You never cared about sailing before.” Emerson said, pursing her lips.

    Dean rolled his eyes and offered her his hand. “Like you said, we don’t talk anymore, so you don’t really know what I’m into. Just trust me.” There was something about the softness to his green eyes that made her groan and rest her hand in his. He pulled her up, whipping her into his arms. ”Hey there, Sweetheart.” He murmured, his face close to hers.

    “Let me go.” She said shortly, and he released her from his grip.

    “Alright, folks. So we have refreshments down below, I hope you are all ready for the most epic goodbye party I could come up with in an afternoon.” He grinned widely and started to untie the boat from the dock.

    Emerson met her sister at the front of the boat, while Sam helped Dean get the boat out of the harbor. “Do they know what they’re doing?”

    “I don’t know,” Pheli admitted. “But it sure is beautiful, isn’t it?”

    “It is.” Emerson admitted, letting out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. The girls watched the boat leave the harbor and Emerson suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. She turned her face away from Pheli. She promised herself a long time ago that she wouldn’t cry around her sister. There was only one emotional Maklen sister, and it wouldn’t be her.

    “Phel, come here! I got you a drink.”

    “Duty calls.” Her sister said with a grin before walking back to her boyfriend.

    Emerson gripped the railing and felt the tears sting her eyes. She blinked a few times, urging them to leave her, like the boat left the dock. “Hey.” His voice invaded her space, causing her to jump.

    “Shit, Winchester.” She exhaled, eyeing Dean.

    “Got you something.” He said, offering her a beer.

    “May need something stronger.” She admitted as she took the beer from him. She took a swig and wiped a tear from her cheek. If he noticed it, he didn’t mention it, and she was grateful for that.

    “Got that too.” He grunted, pulling a flask from his pocket.

    “Thank god. Your wild ways are finally worth something.” She said, taking the flask from him. She unscrewed the top and took a swig, letting the warm whiskey roll down her throat.

    “Damn.” Dean laughed, as she took another swig. “Maybe I was wrong about you after all.”

    She eyed him. Could she be wrong about him too? “Maybe you were.” She handed him back the flask, and he met her eyes as he took a swig himself, replacing the cap.

    “Don’t put it away so fast.” She said softly, her voice almost lost in the wind from the sail.

    “Keep pace, Sweetheart.”

    “I’m not your Sweetheart.”

    “I know.” He said, his eyes traveling from her eyes to her lips. “Trust me, I know.”

    “Good.” She said, peeling her eyes away from his, and back out to the ocean. “It’s endless, isn’t it?”

    “Sure seems that way, sometimes.”

    “I like it.” She admitted. “I hate endings.”
    “I know what you mean.” He said, leaning over the railing. “But sometimes an end can be a new beginning. One door closes another opens, and all that.”

    “Where’s the other door for this?” Emerson asked him. “Where’s the way out?” She turned to him, catching him staring at her. Her blonde hair blew in the sea breeze and he reached forward pushing a piece behind her ear.

    “This time it may be a window. Sometimes you gotta get creative.”

    “You think you’re so fucking cute, don’t you?”

    “Do you think I’m cute?” He wiggled his eyebrows, and suddenly she was shot back to reality.

    “No.” She took a swig of her beer and focused on the horizon again. “Skys beautiful.”

    “Sometimes, when things are real shitty, I look up at the sky.” He said with a shrug. “Sort of makes everything else seem small. All my problems, what the fuck are they compared to the sky?”

    “They feel pretty big from down here.” She admitted.

    He cracked a sad smile. “I get what you mean.”

    “Why are you back, anyway?” Emerson asked, eyeing him. “Where’s the famous Lisa that I’ve heard so much about?”

    Dean’s jaw tightened at the mention of her name and he turned to Emerson. “We aren’t exactly friends, Em. Maybe we should just keep the talk to the sky, and the sea. Not get too serious.”

    “You invited me here to... what? Get fucked up before I have to kill my mom in the morning? Not exactly a time to be telling me what I’m allowed to talk about.”

    He ran his fingers over his face, almost as if he was trying to wipe away the growing frown on his lips.

    “You know your face is going to get stuck that way if you keep that up.” We’d tell him when we were kids.

“Yeah, fuck you, too.” He’d cleverly retort.

    “I heard keeping shit bottled up makes you have premature wrinkles.” She said, running her fingers over her own forehead where his had deep thoughtful, frown lines.

    “There’s nothin premature about me, baby.” He said, looking at her through perfectly curled eyelashes.

    “God.” She groaned, turning away from him. “I don’t know why I even bother.” She pulled her flannel together, suddenly feeling over exposed. “You’re exactly the same as you’ve always been. You’ve never said a single thing that’s real in your entire life! Have you?”

    “And you do?” He laughed, turning toward her. “We all have defense mechanisms. Mine is humor. Yours is bitchiness.”

    “I’m sorry, bitchiness?”

    “Did I stutter?” He asked, inching so close to her that their chests brushed gently.

    “I do not hide behind bitchiness.”

    “You’re doing it right now.” Dean laughed, gesturing to her. “You’re too busy worrying about how Phel’s doin that you don’t even let yourself be sad about your mom. That’s thirty levels of fucked up.”

    “And what about you? Sargent Dean Winchester with the US Army, back at home at twenty-seven living with Mommy and Daddy? What the fuck is that about? Where’s your fiancé, Dean?”

    “That’s none of your goddamn business.” He stared down into her golden eyes, challenging her. “You offered up the information about your mom, I didn’t pry. So stop weaseling into my business.”

    “Whose hiding behind bitchiness now?”

    He made her crazy. She wanted to punch him, like she did when she was eight and he pissed her off. She broke his nose. It was a life highlight for her. She wanted to hit him, but there was something else. He smelled like pine soap, and the whiskey he was drinking. His face was damp from the sea spray, and the sun had finally dipped below the sea. She could see him clearly in the silver light of the moon. Every fleck of gold in his green eyes. Every hair that pushed through his skin on his cheeks and chin. Every freckle on his nose that could make constellations like the endless night sky. He made her crazy. Dean Winchester was made of something entirely different from anyone she’d ever met. He was made of oil, car parts, sass, and a honey so sweet it made her teeth ache. His tongue darted out of his mouth and ran over his bottom lip, so quickly, that if she hadn’t been staring at his mouth she may have missed it, but she saw it and it made her stomach flip.

    “Guys?” Sam said, coming up behind them. “Not to interrupt or anything but...”

    The two turned to look at Sam, breathing heavily. He held Pheli’s hand in one hand, and pointed out past them with the other. Ophelias hand was covering her mouth, and even in the silver glow of the moon Emerson could tell that her sister was pale. Sam’s eyes were wide, as he stared past them. Their chests were still touching as they followed his pointed finger out toward the shore, where in the distance an orange glow lit up the sky. “What the...”

    The world shook. The sea collapsed over itself, sending the four young adults slamming against the railing, and barely keeping the sail boat upright. Seawater sloshed aboard, and into their shoes, across their shins. Emerson tumbled over the side of the boat in a single, fluid motion, the rail slamming into her stomach. She groaned in pain, as Dean grabbed ahold of her hand at the last possible moment. His grip was tight, even in the spray from the ocean. She hung freely over the edge, gripping at his hand, trying to pull herself back on board, as the wave rocked the boat back upright. Dean hoisted her small frame up easily, back over the rail. He wrapped his arms around her instinctively, his feet planted on the deck, as if the simple force of his stance could keep them from capsizing. They turned back to the orange light, white clouds seeming to rush up from the ground.

    “Is that...?” Pheli asked, her voice trembling.

    “It’s a mushroom cloud.” Dean confirmed. His eyes were focused off in the distance at the explosion. The clouds of dust, or smoke, curled up like a hand toward the sky. It was gripping for God.

    “Is it a bomb?” Pheli gripped Sams chest, and he wrapped his arms protectively around her.

    “Dean, maybe we should go under?” He asked, quietly.

    Deans hands still gripped Emersons wrist. Her eyes traveled from the explosion to Deans solid expression. She could see him working out a plan.

    “Yeah.” He said suddenly. “Let’s go under. We can try the radio, and see if anyone’s talkin. We need to get some kind of cover, because if its a terrorist attack they may strike again.”

    “Terrorist?” Pheli started to cry. “Oh my god.”

    “Hey,” Emerson said, turning her attention to her sister. “It’s okay. We are okay. Look at me, we are okay. Dean knows what to do.”

    Pheli pulled her fingers up to her mouth and bit down on some loose skin around her thumb, but she nodded at her sister. She believed her. What other choice did she have?

    “You three go down, I’ll get the sails back up and get us a little further out to sea.”

    “Do you need help?” Emerson asked, eyeing him.

    “Not safe.” He grunted. “Go down. Now.”

    She nodded. “Okay, but hurry. If it’s not safe for us, it isn’t safe for you either.” She took her sisters hand and let Sam lead them down below. She made her way to the radio next to the bed. Sam lowered his girlfriend to a seated position, she looked like she was losing it. Other than the tears rolling down her cheeks she seemed pretty catatonic, staring blankly forward, past Sam, at nothing.

    Emerson clicked on the radio and flipped through the stations. Click. Click. Click. Buzz. “Nothing. Fuck.” She said to herself.

    She met Sams eyes and shook her head. All of the stations were dead. The air on the other end was empty air. It was like the smoke reached up, and ripped God straight from the sky, leaving it empty, void of communication. Pheli gripped the cross around her neck and mumbled some kind of prayer. Emerson moved her eyes from Sams to her sister. She didn’t have the heart to tell her that she didn’t think anyone was listening, not anymore.