A Christmas Wish: Dustin’s Story


The weather near the cottage was terribly sticky; there were rivers underneath his armpits for Christ’s sake. What a Christmas Eve this had turned out to be. Instead of the soft, gentle snowflakes to greet his tongue, the sun radiated a scorching ball of fire. The bugs were placed, good and thick; he was so saturated by the bugs their sounds were one with his own heart. He encountered some fresh tracks and decided, heck I have an hour left before chaos decimates my life, why not?
These were about the most curious worn tracks he had seen, and as he began his ascent his mind was reminiscent of the last Christmas before Dayle’s life was well, taken from him. His thoughts were about a clear, deadly shot but drifted to his brother. Dayle and Dustin were as different as a fish and a mustang can be and still be twins. Dayle was the football jock except not cocky. There wasn’t a selfish cell in his blond hair blue eyed body. He was known well I just you could say famous, a football legend at the school known as the “Caucasian Charger” to everyone in Manhattan. He was a straight A, president of seven clubs, and speaking fourteen languages type of guy. Dustin felt like he could use a different language right now to describe his feelings. His look drew the girls as well, but he cared only for one. The English language is so inadequate with word choice. Then to distract his thoughts, a squirrel staggered up an old Oak tree and just like his brother’s killer disappeared from public view.
He started to hyperventilate, like at the funeral two years ago today. He still gets a chill when he thinks about seeing his brother like that, vulnerable. He still remembered the speech he professed to the crowd. He explained that trying to replace Dayle would be like trying to replace Emerson or Walter Payton – it can’t be done. From his vantage point he took one final glance at those tracks. He considered it and continued his voyage through the underbrush that engulfed him in fear. The next glance was crucial but of course he didn’t know that yet. A pair of eyes met his, but they weren’t his uncle’s. A gargantuan snake was meeting up with Dustin’s pathetic “don’t kill me” position. The massive creature lunged forward and wriggled away.
All in a day’s work, he thought, spotting an immensely large tree in perfect center with the rest of the underbrush, thinking of his brush with death. He wanted right at that moment to climb the tree, maybe even climb to heaven and consult with Dayle on whether Lela would like the necklace he purchased for their grab bag this Christmas. Instead, a medley of track led him under the tree. An almost magical shape was suddenly created by the sun and trees working together on this theatrical spectacle. It seemed like Dayle smiling saying, don’t worry you’ll be in New York soon. God, how he wished Dayle was here. They could play football or just walk together as hunters and brothers. Instead, the sparrows and cardinals were having a heated argument, while the bugs were out in full swing, working too damn hard just like Dayle was before someone decided they could kill Dayle and plead insanity. The puffs of air were a prize, but thirst was hard to disregard. Luckily, some spare water was found and quickly disappeared.
He ran over a guy that was in his way during a daring escape. So creating a façade for himself being insane is useless and just plain screwed up! Okay. So maybe he was obsessed with his brother’s death. Tired of people asking are you ok? My brother is still cold in his grave, what do you think? He wondered to no one specific as he prolonged his chase on through the woods. Coming across some hollow logs, brushwood, and flying over boulders he decides to sort of race, just bolt like Dayle would. A race against himself, against time itself. Okay, Dustin had hobbies too- Theater Crew, watching movies, and volleyball. Excellently intelligent too but Dayle’s death didn’t change Dustin’s hobbies. It changed him. His cells, his DNA everything was off somehow. It could never be the same. The other half of his heart was gone, the sooner he understood that the better. Like a mother’s loving touch, the stream up ahead was not only appreciated but needed for Dustin. Out of nowhere, a shadow emulsified him. Before he processed it two things were happening: he was snapping pictures and a bear was so close its breath sent the chills that rippled throughout his body. Finally, like something out of a fairy tale the grizzly tapped Dustin’s hair and strolled away. Two near death experiences, what would Dayle have done? Dayle would have been fine, but that’s what Dustin thought before and nothing came of that. Now, he definitely couldn’t wait to get on that plane. He sprinted the three miles left to the cottage, not caring about how much this would hurt later.
After breaking the speed barrier, he screamed, that was for you Dayle, before collapsing into a sob on the threshold to the ranch. He took out a picture. Sophomore year, Dayle in all his glory. He loved that picture, when looking at Dayle and the gift Dustin had got him for their sixteen birthdays. The airport could wait. The world could wait right now. Right now Dustin had a moment that was all his own. And for a fleeting instant, Dayle was next to him. They cried and hugged, saying Hey long time no see at exactly the same time and insisting that Lela would love that necklace.