Okay, I was holding back this story until I finished some of my others but after completely 'Home Sweet…Mess' I couldn't resist posting this. I hope you like it!
Marshall Mann knew that after sitting on the wet grass for almost an hour would probably stain his jeans but he didn't care. He didn't care that the sun was slowly disappearing and that the air was getting cold. He didn't care that he didn't have a jacket or anything to protect him from the storm that was forecast. He didn't even care that at his loneliest point, he was alone. He didn't care that he was a grown man, sitting in a graveyard at night during the winter in nothing but jeans and a t-shirt with tears running his down his face.
He reached out a traced the lettering on the headstone for what seemed like the billionth time, since it was place there almost a year ago. He didn't know why he did it every time he came here but it somehow made him feel closer to her; as if feeling her name would help him remember her.
Emily Anne Mann.
He always called her Emmy… Just him, no one else.
His hand then moved downwards; rearrange the flowers and ornaments placed there. There was more than normal today, since it was the anniversary of the day they lost her, friends and family had been stopping to pay their respect.
All the flowers were a mixture of bright colors. He wondered whether it was made the person buying them feel happier.
All the ornaments were of toys; a pale pink ceramic teddy bear, a 'my little pony' and a Barbie doll, sat propped up against the stone. A plastic windmill, stuck in the grass. What was the point of buying toys for someone who couldn't play with them?
He took a deep, shaky breath and closed his eyes, swallowing the lump in his throat. Just three years old and her life was cut short by some lowlife that decided to drive home even though he was three times over the alcohol limit.
Marshall hadn't even been there when he happened…He had got a phone call at his weekend job, waiting tables and rushed to the hospital only to be told he was too late…She was already gone…She had died at the scene and would not have suffered. Had he not been too shocked, too broken hearted, he may have questioned how they knew that for sure.
He had been 19 years old when she was born…Barely an adult himself but now at the age of 23, he had buried his child and was on the way to getting divorced…He felt old before his time.
Growing up, he had planned to travel after college before following the family tradition and joining the Marshal Service. That all changed when he met Tia Wytte during his first week at Michigan State University.
He had grown up in Phoenix and was close with his family. Being the youngest, his mother doted on him and he idolized his father. His two older brothers took care of him and the three of them had always gotten on well together. He had surprised everyone when he decided to move away for college but he felt he needed to get out from under the shadow of his family. He needed to find himself and it was perfect chance to do so.
Tia had been in two of his classes and they ended sitting together in both. From that moment, they become inseparable; they fell in love hard and fast. After six months of being together, Tia found out she was pregnant. Marshall had been shocked at first, unable to believe how careless they had been and realized that his life was about to change; that he wouldn't be able to live his life has he planned. Despite his fears, it never crossed his mind to abandon the mother of his child and when she told him she was going to keep the baby, he was determined to stand by her.
He knew he loved her and even in the short time they had been together, envisioned a future of marriage and children, although he never pictured it so soon.
His parents were devastated to hear the news, telling him to transfer to the University of Phoenix and forget all about Tia Wytte. He refused, telling them he was staying with the woman he loved and his child. His relationship with them was never the same after that. His father refused to talk to him and his mother had cried a lot. He spoke with his brothers but it was difficult since lived so far away and they spent most of their time trying to convince him to reach out to their parents.
Tia grew up in Michigan, so her family was close by. Her father had died when she was nine years old, so for a long time it had just been Tia, her mother Anne, her sister Jo-Anne and her brother Lewis. Marshall had got on well with Anne; she treated him like one of her kids and with his family so far away, he welcomed it. Lewis was a few years younger than Tia and was glad to finally have another guy around but Jo did not approve of their relationship. Then as soon as she found out Tia was pregnant, her disapproval turned to hate. Marshall shrugged it off, telling Tia that her big sister was just looking out for her and that they would prove her and his family wrong by staying together.
Anne had been disappointed that her daughter was going to be a teenage mom but vowed to support them both; pleased that Marshall was owning up to his responsibilities.
Tia was two months pregnant when they decided to elope with two of their best friends, Luke and Becky to witness it. Anne was upset that they ran off in secret to do it but eventfully came around and Jo was furious, telling Tia that Marshall was filling her head with unachievable dreams.
Marshall had written to his parents, telling them about the marriage but he never heard back from them. He didn't try to contact them again until after Emily had been born. Writing to them again, this time including a photograph of their first Grandchild. The only reply he got was off his brothers, Tom and Michael who sent gifts for their new niece.
It had been hard at first, getting used to being married and having a newborn but somehow they made it work. They had a small two bedroom apartment about 10 minutes from the University and they managed to juggle their schedules so neither of them had to drop out. Marshall worked the night shifts at a local bar three nights a week and at an Italian restaurant on the weekends, while Tia stayed with Emily.
When the accident happened, they both were coming up to graduating and Marshall already had a job lined up with a security firm; it wasn't a career in the marshal service but it meant he could stay close to his girls and the hours meant he could spend more time with them. Everything had been going so well for the little family and then their world was turned upside down.
At first Marshall and Tia clung to each other for support. They relied on Anne to organize the funeral and she had been grateful for something to do. Marshall could barely remember anything about the service. He knew he never left Tia side, not for one minute and he also knew his parents didn't show up. Over the three years he had got used to the idea of them not talking to him but that day, the day he was saying goodbye to his little girl, he needed them more than ever. No matter how much he loved Tia or how close he had grown to Anne, he needed his Mom and Dad. He didn't think he could hurt anymore but he did.
The first six months after losing Emily was the hardest period of Marshall's life. At first, he had not wanted to leave the house or go to work and Tia felt the same way but after a few weeks, when bills kept coming and their graduation looming, they had no choice. Slowly, they carried on with their lives but then arguments started and they struggled to get their marriage back on track.
Five months ago, Tia moved back home with her Mom, both of them agreeing they needed some time apart. They tried to make things work but it just wouldn't, no matter how much they wanted it to. A week ago, they agreed to divorce and promised to remain friends.
Marshall had grown to hate his life in Michigan. He hated the small apartment he lived in. He hated his job that was a poor comparison to what he really wanted to do. He hated all the reminders of the perfect life he had only one year ago. All his friends had moved away or got jobs after graduating college and the only person he had left, was Tia but the horrible truth was that when they were together, it made breathing a little bit harder. Neither of them was able to move on with the other there to remind them of their little girl.
So Marshall decided he had to leave. He had to leave Michigan and get on with his life and allow Tia to do the same. Even though he knew there was no way he could ever forget Emily, he had to least try to move on.
He had called his best friend Luke, who had recently moved to New York and asked if he could stay with him. That where he was going tonight, he was making the ten hour drive, so he could clear his head before starting his new life.
He brought his finger to his lips and kissed the tips before tracing the name on the headstone again.
"I love you so much, Emmy…" He whispered, tears brimming his eyes. "And I miss you every single day…"
He slowly got to his feet, keeping his eyes focused on her name. "Sleep well, Princess…"
He forced himself to turn and walk away, knowing he would never leave if he didn't. He struggled to breathe as he moved further and further way. He always hated leaving because it felt like he was abandoning her.
He looked up and saw Tia leaning against his car. "Hey….What are you doing here?"
"I was hoping you would be here." She pushed herself away from the car. "I just…I needed to see you before you left."
He swallowed the lump in his throat and stepped closer to her. "I wanted to come see you but I didn't want to make things worse…"
She nodded understandingly. "I wish things were different, Marshall…I really, really do."
"I still love you." She stated, tears falling from her eyes.
"I know that too…" He reached out and pulled her into his arms. "I love you, so much…"
"I don't want you leave." She cried against his chest.
"I can't stay." He replied, resting his cheek on the top of her head. "I hate that idea of leaving you both here but I have to go…"
"It's not fair…We did everything right…We worked hard, we took care of our little girl…We loved each other…" She continued. "Why didn't it work for us?"
Marshall closed his eyes, as more tears filled his eyes. "I don't know, T...Maybe all the movies and fairytales are wrong…Maybe there is no such thing as a happy ending."
"We should sue them for giving us false hope…" She mumbled, pulling away from him and wiping her eyes. "You should go…It's a long drive."
He let his arms fall away from her and down to his side. "You have Luke's phone number and address, right? If you need me…"
"I know." She wrapped her arms around herself.
"Take care, okay?" He choked out. "Look after yourself."
"You too…" She nodded. "Be happy…Emily would want you to be…"
He couldn't stop the tears from falling this time and he didn't even try. "When you come here….when you talk to her…can you tell her I love her….That I'll never forget her."
He stared at her for a few more seconds, taking in her face. Her long blond hair and deep brown eyes….All features that Emily had inherited…One of the reasons Marshall found it so hard to be around her.
He pulled her into his arms again but this time, he lifted her chin and kissed her softy, his hand moving up to cup her cheek gently. He broke the kiss with a few smaller ones before placing one of her forehead, letting his lips linger there.
"Thank you…" He whispered against her head. "For giving me the best five years of my life…"
He stepped back, taking one more look before reaching for the car door. It took all his strength not to look at her again as he got into the driver seat and started the engine. He gripped the steering wheel tightly as he pulled away.
When he reached the end of the road he couldn't help but looked back in the mirror, seeing Tia stood where she left her. It broke his heart knowing he was driving away from his wife and child, something he vowed never to do but this was the only way either of them would survive.
He would never forget Emily and would never want to but he had to start a new life now, without them. He could do what he had originally planned for himself before he Tia Wytte turned his life upside down….but he knew it would never be what he truly wanted.
Okay, so not a Marshall we know. Next chapter will fast forward 16 years to his life in Albuquerque with Mary.
Please review and let me know what you think!