Title: The Ones We Left Behind 1/4
Author: Girl Who Writes
Characters: OC, Emmett
Word Count: 1,569
Genre: Angst, Drama
Summary: When someone dies and there isn't a body, you never stop looking for them. And you never know who you might pass on the street. The ones left behind, and their ghosts.
Notes: This started as just a character piece on one of Emmett's sisters, after he 'died'. And then it turned into something else – you can't always predict who you run into on the street. And then I figured, well, four of the Cullens left siblings behind. So, here is the first of four parts. I apologise for any historical, geographical or linguistic errors made.
Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer; I make no profit from this fan-based venture.
It was pretty rare that Mattie McCarty was on good terms with all her siblings. Being one of ten (eleven) (soon to be nine. She didn't care what anyone said, Billy was gonna drink himself to death any day now and their momma was gonna have to put another boy in the ground.)
And she had never really gotten on with Lori or Elsie. Too precious, both of them. Complaining they weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth, worried about things like stockings and lipstick when their momma and pa were struggling to put food on the table.
Mattie was meant to be a twin. That twin was a boy, who was gonna be called Matthew, after their uncle. But he was born dead and blue, and then she was born. They called him John and buried him out the back with the two other babies born dead, she was called Mattie and that was that.
Grew up with everyone joking that maybe she really was a boy, all rough and tumble, a mess of black curls and hand-me-down clothes, screeching blood murder when she was forced into a dress. She'd always had much more time for her brothers than her big sisters, who wanted to sit around and dream about husbands and babies and houses of their own. Her brothers, they'd take her fishin' and taught her to ride and played baseball with her.
Her favourite brother had been Emmett. He'd been taken by a bear when she was eight, god, more than ten years now. Not a day went by without Mattie thinkin' of him. How he always had a grin and somethin' interestin' to do. How he'd swing her onto his shoulders, or tell her that her Sunday dress made her the prettiest of 'em all.
She'd cried herself sick when they found out a bear had got him. Anyone but Emmett.
She'd never really been the same, afterwards. She didn't ignore her momma as much, didn't run off whenever there was work to be done. Was a lot more kind to Bobby and Judy and Becca, because she might not have her Emmett, but maybe she could be their Mattie.
Time had moved on. Becca was the last baby born live, and she was twelve now. Only three of them were still living at home – Mattie, Judy and Becca. Bobby had gone and knocked up Mary White, and married her the previous spring; they were living on the White family farm, in their very own place, and their baby boy was strong and healthy. So maybe Bobby hadn't messed up as much as they thought. Wouldn't be the first time a McCarty hadn't waited for the wedding night. Jesse hadn't and he had six girls now, to the Felding girl. He'd been married when Mattie was only a baby; she couldn't imagine Jesse without one of his girls hangin' off him.
She was headed to the city because Elsie had managed what no one else had – she'd charmed some city boy passin' through about a year after Emmett died, and married him in a white dress and everything. She had a house in the city and two little boys (neither were called Emmett, and Mattie had thrown such a fit at Elsie's coldness until her momma turned to her and informed her that Elsie thought that it was Mattie who should name her babies after their lost brother, not Elsie who shrieked at him and called him names. Mattie had been stunned, because she never really felt like she'd be old enough to have babies. Even now, at eighteen, with the Carter boys whistling at her and smirkin' at her every time she left the house, she couldn't imagine being a bride and wife and mother. She was still waitin' for Emmett to come by the house and swing her into the air and call her 'Mattie-girl'.)
But she was headed to the city because Elsie was having another baby, and wanted some company – and help. Mattie was the only one who could leave for a whole month – everyone else was married or too young or too busy.
So, she packed her clothes into her momma's old red suitcase, bought herself a new hat at her momma's insistence, and headed to the city. Two trains, two days, nothin' but rain, a bus, and to deal with Elsie's dramatics at the end of it, ugh.
She wasn't entirely sure what terrible thing she had done to deserve it, truly. Lori, the traitor, had laughed herself silly when she found out, but had slipped Mattie some money so she could at least get herself a new dress or somethin' in the city. If that wasn't evidence lookin' after Elsie was gonna be hell, she didn't what was.
She saw them while she was waiting for the bus.
It wasn't the woman he was with that grabbed her attention, though she was the prettiest girl Mattie had ever seen, with shiny gold hair and a smile that lit up her entire face. Or her dress, a black and pink creation that made even Mattie envious.
It was his laugh that caught her. The swell of laughter that Mattie had never forgotten. A laugh that made her feel eight years old again, waiting at home for him to get back from work, ready to play.
A laugh that makes her jump to her feet and look around wildly, to try and find it.
To try and find him.
For a second, she thinks that maybe he didn't die, that he ran off with the pretty girl and let them all behind, that ma and pa told them he died to spare her feelings, and she feels the anger and hate rise.
And she sees him with her. And he hasn't changed a bit. Not a line. He's her age, for god's sake. But he is here and alive and not a jumble of lost bones in the woods behind the house.
She snatches up her suitcase and darts into the street, her hair falling loose around her face – the same curly black hair. People are yelling at the stupid girl in the middle of the road, but she isn't listening to them.
"Emmett!" she calls out, desperation tinting her words.
But they're already gone.
And there's really no way she could know that he saw her. And to his eyes, no time had passed. It felt like no more than a few days had passed to him, and his human life was… rather muted, washed-out in his mind. But he did remember things.
Mattie would always be his beloved little sister.
She might have gone and grown up, but she hadn't changed, not really. Her hair still fell into her eyes; she still had that scar on her nose (he can't quite remember how it got there, but he thinks it involved an animal) and her eyes are green (were his?)
And her reflexes, at his laugh, startled even Rosalie.
And he had wanted nothing more than to walk over and sweep her into his arms and hug her and make sure she was okay. That she was happy and healthy and safe. To make sure that she knew he loved her then and he loves her now, and he misses her, but he's okay too. To introduce her to Rose and maybe make some memories of his favourite sister that aren't so insubstantial.
But Rosalie had known, and had dragged him away before he gave in, to trying to recapture his human life. To them, he was dead, and he had to stay dead and forgotten.
But Mattie was still there, looking bewildered and heartbroken again she looked around for her brother again, before returning to the bench, her hair falling around her face, and her lips twisted down in unhappiness.
Leaving her behind was worse the second time.
Mattie slumped back on the bench, and tried to get over what she saw – what she thought she saw. No one at home really talked about Emmett or the others anymore. Her ma had planted flowers around their graves, and kept 'em neat. But they never said their names anymore. She had often wondered if her mother ever thought about Emmett anymore, or if she had just let him go, like everyone used to tell her to, when she was thirteen and still getting nightmares about the bears, about hearing Emmett callin' for help.
It had never been that easy for Mattie to let go of him.
Maybe it was easier to pretend that Emmett had run away and married a beautiful, glamorous blonde lady and was happy. That he lived in the city and still laughed and played pranks and was always looking for adventure.
As the bus pulled around the corner, Mattie hurriedly crammed her hair back under her hat and tried to make herself look slightly presentable.
Maybe it was time she left the adventure to Emmett and his lady, and accepted that he was never coming back, and she was getting older.
If Emmett had to be gone, she liked the idea that he was happy, somewhere, instead of picked apart by wild animals and forgotten.
And then, with more determination and grace than she thought she had, Mattie McCarty stood up with her suitcase, and boarded the bus, without ever looking back.