Dedicated to 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔅𝔞𝔫𝔦𝔰𝔥𝔢𝔡
He was surrounded. The screeching sounds of the demobats were ingrained in his memory. Eddie had shoved him back toward the trailer with the full intent on escaping with him as the deadly creatures were raging full force at them. Eddie’s metal concert had done it. They were fully drawn away from the Creel House giving Steve, Nancy and Robin the chance they needed to take out Vecna at the source. Dustin was ready to get the hell out of there and to be safe once more. He could hear Eddie behind him. The plan was going well.
Eddie held the sheet rope so that Dustin could scale it as rapidly as possible. It was eye opening to see exactly how fast an overweight kid who played D&D could move up those damned ropes. He was safe finally in the real world of Hawkins. “Come on Eddie! EDDIE! What are you doing? EDDIE?!”
Dustin Henderson immediately sat bolt upright in what was his bed. Oaken curls were matted against his forehead as he had been profusely sweating the night before. His mother came running into his room. “Dusty? Sweetheart are you alright?” Her heart ached for her son. They’d been separated when the earthquake happened. She was just relieved that he was okay.
Dustin placed an open palm over his face. “It was all just a dream.” He kept breathing in tones trying to assure himself that everything was over. The terrible pain in his leg from his fall was an in depth reminder that he was in fact safe and the demobats weren’t going to get him anymore. All thanks to Eddie. “Yeah Mom I’m okay.” He moved his legs to the side of the bed and allowed his feet to touch the floor. The cold floor wasn’t anything like it was in December, but the realization of what had happened to him was far worse than winter’s chill.
Claudia Henderson didn’t like the fact her son was waking up screaming nearly every night following the earthquake. It was such a traumatic experience that no one knew how to react. She knew that there were far too many families who had lost loved ones in the whole disaster. The poor Carver family couldn’t even find Jason’s body. The whole thing made Claudia want to hold Dustin just a little bit tighter. She’d take a leg injury to her one and only baby versus losing him altogether. “Get dressed and come into the kitchen when you’re ready. Let me get you something to eat before you go to the School Gym.”
Dustin nodded. He didn’t think anything of it. Ever since they got back from the Upside Down, he was volunteering every chance he got. He was spending so much time with Eddie’s Uncle that it was therapeutic for both of them. The boy managed to shuffle into the bathroom to wash up as best he could. The fact that he was dealing with a bum leg wasn’t very conducive to getting into and out of a shower all that well. Plus running water decreased the water supply a bit too quickly. Rationing was a thing. It was all like his grandma had told him during World War II. They’d get through this somehow, right? The idea that the Upside Down was bleeding through to the real world was something Dustin tried his best to ignore. As he passed the window in the hallway, he stopped. The ash falling from the sky was increasing. Hell was coming. He missed the hell out of Eddie
He finally arrived in the kitchen. Dustin noticed there was a chocolate frosted cake sitting there on a plate with a solitary lit candle. He canted his head to the left. “What’s all this Mom?” His favorite cake was yellow cake with chocolate icing. Claudia stood there with a look of profound sadness in her eyes. That’s when he finally realized what this was all about. He sat in the closest chair. He buried his head in his hands and started to cry.
Claudia’s hand rested between Dustin’s shoulders. “Happy Birthday Dusty.” She spoke softly. She rubbed his back in a circular motion. Ideally no one should have spent their Sweet 16 like this, especially not her baby.
Dustin looked at the cake with bleary eyes. How could he have forgotten? “Thanks Mom.” He puckered up and blew out the candle. His only wish was that Eddie found peace. One summer could really change everything.
"Never Change Dustin Henderson. Promise Me." credit: james kriet