Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters! It's called fanfiction for a reason.
If you could chose whether to always frown or always smile, which would it be? It was an extreme question, as if asking if you would rather be hit in the shin or the stomach. As if asking if you would rather be killed or kill. With questions like these, there was still something you had no option in. Either way, it wouldn't feel good. Some people would have chosen to always smile, because they misinterpreted it as always being happy. But what if the smile on your face wasn't yours? If it was forced on you, like painting a doll's face, your smiles wouldn't be real.
The Other Wybie knew that. At first, he didn't. When he was first made, or rather, copied then twisted, the beldam had already given him a purpose. He would be like an accessory to Coraline's welcome. A grin must always be on his face when in her presence.
At first, it seemed like fun, and even helpful. He thought Coraline must be someone the beldam was willing to take in, to rescue. That was how the beldam had put it, anyway. He was willing to do anything he was told. After all, the beldam had made him, right?
Through the days of waiting, the Other Wybie had gotten smarter. He realized why he was called the "Other" Wybie. That the beldam just copied everything he saw. Everything he knew of was a different version of something else. That he, too, was a button-eyed clone of someone else. He had no real identity. He was just a ripoff of another, used to impress someone. It made him feel really disappointed inside. He was really nobody...he wasn't special...or real, whatever "real" meant.
But he still was willing to follow through on the beldam's plans, because he knew no difference between "good" and "evil", "right" or "wrong". The only "right" thing for him to do was obey.
One day, while still waiting for Coraline, the beldam called him over, and he obeyed.
"She's really annoyed with that Wybie," the beldam said, looking through her doll-spy's eyes. "But it's pretty much only because he talks so much."
The Other Wybie asked, "What are you going to do? I have the same characteristics as the original Wybie." Oh, please don't get rid of me just yet...I want to at least meet this Coraline.
The beldam tapped her fingers on the desk of the workshop. "You will always smile for her, correct? To convince her that she'll be happy here?"
"Of course," the Other Wybie said. "But just smile? I thought-"
"That'll be all you need to do," the beldam decided. "We'll have to adjust you a little bit...to make you more different from the original Wybie. We're going to fix you...for Coraline."
"What do you mean-?"
"We're going to remove your voice."
The beldam torn him of his voice, though nothing was really his to begin with. Everything he was had previously belonged to the real, original Wybie...whoever he was...whatever "real" meant.
"You do want to be of use, do you not?" the beldam questioned.
The Other Wybie nodded, but he was still in shock from having lost the ability to talk.
"Oh, you'll get used to it. That voice does you no good anyway. Your only purpose is to help me lure in Coraline, nothing more, understand?"
The Other Wybie nodded intently. One and only purpose...that was fine with him.
When the time finally came, he saw Coraline before she saw him. He spied on her from the moment she pushed the door open and crawled out.
This was the first and only person he'd seen with no button eyes. She had real eyes that were naturally hers. Nothing was artificial about her. He envied her for that.
When the time came for him to be introduced, he was ready. He smiled like he meant it. He was pleased to meet her, to befriend her.
At first glance, she was annoyed to see another Wybie here. But he kept his smile.
Coraline said, "Hi, Other Wybie."
All he could do was smile.
Coraline tried again. "Hello?"
The beldam (which, as the Other Wybie noticed, had changed her appearance and was now to be referred to the Other Mother), stepped in and explained, "I figured you'd like him better if he didn't talk. So I fixed him."
"So, he doesn't talk at all?" Coraline said. She digested that and smiled, too. "I like that."
And they both left to see the performance of Mr. Bobinski's jumping mice circus.
On the way there, Coraline asked him, "Did it hurt?" There was a hint of concern in her tone.
He could have nodded for an answer, but decided to ignore the question altogether. He didn't want to scare her off the place. It would be against his mistress's orders. And Coraline soon forgot the question anyway.
The next time she visited, he saw her again in Spink and Forcible's theater and waved. She looked pleased to see him again also, and sat next to him. She was really into the performance. But the Other Wybie's mind was somewhere else.
He really liked hanging out with her. Lacking communication didn't create a wall between them. But sometimes he wished he could have cheered along with her, or say something random as friends do, or anything. But he couldn't.
His developing thoughts, however, were growing fast. And he felt worry and guilt, and questions buzzing in his head. He wondered if Coraline really was going to stay forever...and how? He knew everyone here in this little world possessed buttons for eyes. Coraline couldn't possibly stay unless she did, too, which she didn't.
The Other Wybie then realized it. Coraline will get buttons for eyes soon enough. That must what the Other Mother was setting up.
But that didn't seem like a big deal to him, because he could imagine no pain from it. Besides, he had buttons for eyes himself and it didn't hurt. In fact, he never remembered a time without them. Then again, it probably wouldn't have been the same for Coraline...
It was like with the tail of a cat. For a human, who had no tail, one felt no discomfort for the lack of one. They'd be used to it, of course. But for a cat, who always have had its tail, it would be painful to have it cut off and lost.
The Other Wybie realized that it would be terrible torture for Coraline to be without her natural eyes.
But sewing buttons into her eyes was the only way she could stay.
And the Other Wybie liked her company. He would have loved to enjoy shows and explore and hang out with her everyday. He would have loved for her to stay and be his friend.
But was doing any harm to her worth it?
These thoughts haunted his mind, and he feared for Coraline's fate. He felt torn between what to do...was it really the Other Mother's intent? To hurt Coraline? Or was it going to be like a little operation? A minor operation, for what's best?
He didn't know.
When Coraline looked at him, he suddenly remembered to smile and quickly grinned again. But the grin was like a lie.
When walking back to the upstairs to the flat, he heard Coraline talking and laughing and listened politely to every word. She enjoys it here. He yearned to reply just once. But all he could do was smile and nod. That was all he could do the whole time.
The Other Wybie also wanted to warn her. To secretly warn her to flee from the place before it was too late. He had decided that there were things more important than his feelings, more important than his desire to hang out with her.
But, of course, he couldn't. Behind that contrived smile, his thoughts were screaming in his head. You can't let this happen! You can't let the beldam do this to her! But he was supposed to obey the beldam, no matter what.
As he watched an excited Coraline enter the house again, he just stood outside. At last, he let go of his smile and gave a sad look down to the ground. Coraline was no longer looking. She had thought he was happy. He used to think so, too. But now he felt depressed...what would become of Coraline? Would she the same after this little change?
The Other Mother looked out the door at him and reminded him to smile. But he couldn't obey her now...he didn't like pulling off a fake smile the whole way through. The Other Mother then just shut the door.
He still peeked to see how Coraline would react to those black buttons, spool of thread, and needle, waiting for her.
His button eyes couldn't squint through the cracks. The cracks were little flaws of the house that were practically invisible to Coraline through her real eyes.
He could at least eavesdrop to her reaction.
He heard some mumbles and murmurs, and soft talking. Then, he heard Coraline's voice shout, straight and shocked, "No way!!! You're not sewing buttons into my eyes!!"
"Oh, but we need a yes, if you want to stay here," the Other Mother said.
"They're so sharp you won't even feel it," the Other Father commented.
Coraline didn't sound convinced that it was worth it. Even after all the fun she had. The Other Wybie listened intently, wondering what she would decide.
She sounded scared now. Really panicky.
"I'm gonna go to bed now..." Coraline said. "I've got a lot to sleep on..."
"Do you want me to tuck you in?" the Other Mother offered sweetly.
"No!" Coraline mumbled a few quick excuses about how she was fine.
"Don't worry. Soon you'll see things our way..." the Other Mother said.
The Other Wybie heard her rush to her bedroom. She probably hoped to return home by sleeping.
The Other Wybie hoped that it would work. As much as he liked her enough to want her to stay, as much as he didn't want her to leave, he also didn't want her to be so frightened. He wished there was something he could do to help prevent any harm coming to her. And if it meant he wouldn't ever see her again, so be it.
That night, the Other Mother found him and warned him, "Don't get any ideas. And keep that smile."
He didn't feel like smiling. The Other Mother frowned. "How dare you disobey me." She snatched him and took him to her secret workshop. "I'll sew on a smile if I have to!"
And so she did. And it wasn't even a nice smile.
"Don't you even think about it!" she yelled as she locked him up in the workshop.
The Other Wybie knew what "it" meant. He was absolutely forbidden to have contact with Coraline, to save her, until she got the buttons sewn in.
The next morning, the door was easily unlocked. By this time, he had heard so many horrible things...screams of Coraline and shrieks of the Other Mother.
He had made his decision. He would help Coraline run away. Even if it meant serious consequences. Even if it meant his heroism and bravery could not be rewarded...or even remembered. Even though he was made to follow the beldam's orders...he was not going to let her go through any more.
He masked his face so that Coraline couldn't see what the Other Mother had done to him. He didn't want to scare her. He even scared himself when he saw his reflection in the mirror.
By the time he discovered she was trapped behind the Other Mother's mirror, he reached in and heard Coraline's short gasp of fright as he pulled her out.
At first, she knocked him against the wall in self-defense, and at the same time trying to yank his hands off of her. He would have yelped in pain if he could. Still, he held fast, until they fell to the floor.
"Wybie?" Coraline gasped when she realized who it was. She looked extremely shocked. She removed the pins at the end of his fake smile, and the stitches disappeared. He let his smile go to a worried frown.
"Did she do this to you?" Coraline asked. But of course, Coraline already knew the answer. Quickly, Wybie took her by the hand and led her to the portal door. It was her chance to escape.
"Let's go," Coraline said. But the Other Wybie shook his head no. Only she could go through.
"Come on! She'll hurt you again!" Coraline said worriedly.
The Other Wybie knew this question would come up. He longed to gain a voice again, to at least say goodbye. He also yearned to go with Coraline to the real world. But only the real Wybie could exist there. The Other Wybie didn't belong there. He didn't belong anywhere in fact. He didn't deserve to exist.
He shook his head, the only answer he could provide. He could at least show her that he wouldn't be hurt. That she didn't need to worry. He pulled off his glove, took in a deep breath and blew on his fragile hand, watching as it disappeared so easily to sawdust. It didn't hurt. He felt nothing. It was better than waiting for the beldam to find him and do unspeakable things to him.
He wanted to disappear, anyway. If his only reason for existence was for trickery, if he was never supposed to be someone on his own, what good did it do for him to remain living?
He had heard of people who were mute still having communication by really expressive eyes. But he didn't even have that. His eyes were just solid, black buttons that stared. He wished he could be real, like Coraline. To have an original identity, to have a life.
Coraline, I would never ever want to help the beldam hurt you, he thought, wanting so badly for Coraline to read his mind. Goodbye. He willed the thoughts to her, though he knew it couldn't work anyway.
The beldam was coming, so she had to hurry. She kept looking at him sadly. Go! He pushed her through and she ran the rest of the way. He wished he could do more, watching wistfully as she departed. They were going separate ways, now. Other ways.
When Coraline left, he missed her already. If he had real eyes instead of buttons, he would have cried. But there were things more important than his feelings. Things like her safety.
The beldam arrived, furious. "I'll deal with you later!" she yelled, throwing him aside as she screamed for Coraline to come back.
The Other Wybie had done something right. That was all he needed. And now, he chose, was his time to go. He would rather die his own way than wait to see what the beldam would do. Realizing that he couldn't blow every part of him, he sneaked away from the distracted beldam, quickly climbed up and hung himself, awaiting the wind to do the job.
It was suicide, yes. But it wasn't that he encouraged anyone else to do the same. He wished he could shout out last words, and that people in the world Coraline came from would hear them. He wished for people to hear him say, "Don't practice suicide if you have a true identity, unlike myself. I deserve to die because I am just a useless copy. But you people who take your own lives, freedom, and identity for granted should be grateful."
But no one could ever hear his message.
And besides, the wind was building up, and he wouldn't have had enough time to say that even if he tried.
This must be how The Little Mermaid from that novel felt, he thought. Alone, abandoned, and fading.
The next cold breeze came and he vanished a little more. Then, he found that he could talk again. He could whisper his last words. And he had to choose swiftly what they would be, before he was totally gone. He cried out, though he knew he would receive no reply, "Farewell and good luck, Coraline!"
There were other ways things could happen. He wished for when the next breeze came, for his particles to form something else, something more useful and more free.
But what good were his wishes, anyway?
At least Coraline was safe from danger for now. That was all that mattered.
He heard the beldam coming, searching for him, her voice raging. If she found him, it would be worse than death.
But the wind was coming. He couldn't help but smile, very little, but at least this time he meant it. There was nothing the beldam could do to him, now. Or to Coraline, he hoped.
Then the next breeze came. Soon enough, the Other Wybie was gone.
But what he had done was not to be forgotten by Coraline.