Disclaimer: The characters in this story are the property of Stephenie Meyer and are only used for fan related purposes. The lyrics included at the top of this chapter are © 2005 to Nickelback; no copyright infringement was meant.
Prison gates won't open up for me
On these hands and knees I'm crawlin'
Oh, I reach for you
Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, 1935
They say that, when you're just about to die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. I'm here to tell you that ain't true—not by a long shot. I'd already lived my life once, I'm pretty sure I would have recognized it if it played like one of them pictures, running before my head again.
Instead, when I was dying, all there was was pain and regret. I'll admit it; my strength had nothing on the damn grizzly. My rifle tossed, forgotten, and my jacket as thin as paper to its claws, the bear attacked me without even a fair warning. One minute, I was shooting deer; the next, I was on my back, bleeding out, with one hell of an irritable grizzly hovering over me.
I don't know why the beast didn't kill me right away. Maybe, in a way, he was as surprised by me as I was by him. He was a sight, this big, brown grizzly, and, if I wasn't thinking my last thoughts—thoughts of regret at all the things I'd never done… and some things I did do—I might've marveled at the sheer size of the thing.
And I thought I was huge…
The pain was intense, white hot heat from the claw marks that covered my chest and my arms. I'd hit my head on a rock as I fell, I'd heard the crack as it hit, and my head was pounding in rhythm to the blood that was spilling down my torso; the blood only made the pain feel stronger as I waited desperately to die.
He was toying with me, the brute. He let out a roar that, if I'd been myself, I might've yelled back at it in response. But I wasn't myself—Emmett McCarty as I'd known him was fading fast.
The last thought I had was this: Mama's gonna kill me for getting myself killed up in the mountains.
And then I died. At least, I think I did.
My memories were getting kind of hazy at that point.
There was a loud sound, a roar that seemed to be even louder than the one I'd heard coming from the other bear. I wondered if another one had followed the scent of my blood. I wanted to laugh. Lying there, somewhere between dead and alive—but definitely closer to being dead, if not dead already—I had the mad urge to laugh. Someone was challenging that monster to my carcass.
Well, if I had to die this early, at least I'd leave a legacy like that. I just hoped the newcomer killed the bastard that'd killed me.
There was a crash, a clap that sounded almost like thunder, and a low growl that told me that one of the fighters had bit it, just like me. I couldn't see anything from my place on the dirt path but I was silently hoping that the thump I heard was the body of the grizzly bear joining me on the ground. It was a vindictive thought but, after all, it had just mauled me to death.
I heard another sound, but it didn't sound human at all. It was a mournful noise, almost like a mix between a cry and a snarl. It didn't sound human, and it didn't sound like a bear. I was relieved I was already dead—I didn't want to face anything that could kill a bear and make a noise like that.
There were no heavy footsteps, no signs that the newcomer had moved at all. But, suddenly, I felt a gentle touch and I knew that I wasn't on the ground anymore. My head was resting against something that was much softer than the rock it'd hit. It took me a moment—my senses and my sense had vanished for the most part when I died, I'll say—before I realized that someone—thing—had lifted me up and was holding me.
Struggling, I moved my head back and I looked up into the face of the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen.
I knew then, for certain, that I was dead.
She was an angel, no doubt about that. And it wasn't even her heavenly beauty that made me think that.
But she was beautiful, more beautiful than anyone—thing—I'd ever seen before. With eyes the color of darkened gold—so dark they were almost as black as night—and wavy hair the color of straw, she had a glow about her. Her face was perfect, exquisite in every detail; from her perfect nose to her perfect ruby red lips, she was everything I'd ever dreamed a woman could be, and then some.
There really was a glow to her, and I would've sworn I could see a halo wafting over her head. I wondered if there were wings stretched out behind her back but I couldn't tell; my head couldn't move enough to see.
We were flying, though, moving at a pace that—as I struggled to keep my eyelids open—I could see nothing but a mixture of greens and browns and whites as we sped by. She held me close to her, cradling me like a babe. For all the bulk I'd had as a human, she was carrying me as if I weighed nothing. My eternal soul must be as light as a feather.
My eyes wanted to close, to admit I'd lost at last and let my consciousness slip away into that place all dead souls go. But I couldn't let that happen. The pain was still there, which surprised me, but I thought of nothing but the angel who carried me so easily. I couldn't remove my eyes from her face, not for one moment.
She was an angel, whisking my soul away. I was sure of it. But, still, we continued to fly. Was Heaven really that far away?
I was glad, though, that the trip was long. Any second now, I knew that we'd arrive and this vision of wonder would disappear for forever. I would fly forever with her, clutched to her bosom, if I could—I never wanted to land.
The journey was long but, at the same time, it was not long enough. We'd arrived; in that entire time, I'd never once removed my weary eyes from the splendor of her face.
I'd never been a God fearing man. The way I figure it, God left us McCarty's to pot long ago. How else could I explain the world as it was? The way my brothers and sisters go hungry, the way my pa can't find any work… besides, I'd long ago come to terms that, when my time came, my place was in the fiery pits of Hell. I'd stopped counting my sins; small as most of them were, there were plenty.
But, as my angel finally descended, and I prepared to meet God, I have to admit that I was nervous. The pain was still there—pounding in a rhythm I couldn't understand—but it was nothing compared to the terror I felt as I waited for judgment. I'd only just met this angel and she was going to be taken away from me.
My mama tried her best, bless her, and I went to Sunday school every week and I remembered some of what I'd been told. When my angel laid me down, when she set me at the feet of her master, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. God didn't look nothing like what I'd imagined.
He shared many of the same features as my angel; his hair was blond, his face was angelic, his eyes were gold. But he was young—barely older than I'd been. What happened to the aged wisdom and the flowing white beard? Vaguely, I felt like I'd been lied to… but what did it matter, really? I was dead and this man was God, who'd come to me to judge me for my sins. I had more than enough to worry about.
They were speaking to one another, the angel and the Lord, but the sounds were far too beautiful, too majestic, for my dull once-human ears. I caught hints of murmurs and, once, I thought I might've heard a hum that sounded like someone was pleading.
If this was judgment, was the blonde angel pleading for me?
I didn't know but, as long as she was there, I didn't care. My head felt heavy, there was a cloud of black that threatened to overtake me, but I kept my eyes open. If I closed my eyes, if I lost sight of the angel, she would be gone, I knew. She'd be gone and I'd be alone, left to rot in the mountains of Tennessee forever; well, whatever the damn grizzlies didn't eat would be left to rot…
It seemed like an eternity before the judgment came. But it did come, God nodded at me with a very serious look on his perfect face, and the angel looked at me with such radiance that I thought that dying wasn't half bad if an angel came to take you away from the world.
"Rosalie," the Lord murmured, leaning over me, "are you sure?"
His words were clear, even with my head so heavy and muddled, and I didn't even wonder what he meant. I was just too darn happy to see my angel nod her head as she moved to stand by my side. She wasn't leaving me just yet.
"Please," she whispered and my body and soul responded to the sound of her voice. I'd never heard anything more beautiful, so heart-breaking, in my life… or my death.
The fire came then, and I realized I'd never known pain until I'd known this. I was in Hell, surely, like I'd always figured, but the hurt only increased when I knew that there was no way such a precious being, like my blonde angel, could stay with me in this inferno.
But she did. I don't what I'd done in my twenty years to deserve her presence at my side in this pit, but she was there.
Rosalie, God had called her, such a beautiful name for such a beautiful creature.
Rosalie, my saving grace.
Rosalie, my angel.
Author's Note: I absolutely adore the relationship between Emmett and Rosalie, and I've been meaning to write a short piece about them for the last couple of weeks. I signed up for the twilightathon on livejournal—the prompt was Rosalie/Emmett, Saving me—and this is the result. I hope you enjoy it!
Edit: Also, I'd thought this was obvious but I guess I was mistaken. This chapter is based on the outtakes from the first book, when Emmett is telling Bella about his first meeting with the bear and with Rosalie. I took the premise that was cut from the book and, for the purposes of working closely with canon for Emmett's story, I expanded it. I never intended it to be seen as plagiarism so, just so any readers know: the idea for Emmett's last scene before being changed is Stephenie Meyer's, as is mostly everything else in this fic. This short story is based on the few lines we have about Emmett and Rosalie's relationship; due to my desire to stay as close to canon as possible, there are few original main ideas for the chapters -- it's the description that I hope does this justice.