The first time had been a fuck up.
Someone had screwed up and Ernest Cobb found himself receiving a letter one day despite him not having a list of contacts.
He figured it was from a family member of one of his victims, writing to tell him to, "Go to hell," or offer some such similar droll advice. That, he wouldn't have minded.
But the actual contents of the letter were much worse. He read it over twice, the second time only serving to make his blood boil more in anger rather than erase any incredulity at the words before him.
You probably don't know me but I was there the day you came to find your mom. Who's my mom too. Which, I guess, means we're brother and sister. I'm sorry she was unkind to you. She's never been one for surprises. I read about you in the paper, being in Alcatraz and all and I figure you're probably lonely. I hope it'll be okay if we're pen pals because I always wanted a big brother to look out for me.
How dare she? How. Dare. She.
The presumptuous little bitch.
He crushed the letter in his hand and threw the wad of paper at Yapper, who continued obliviously with his mindless babbling.
Ernest had planned to just ignore the bitch and not reply, but as he sat looking out the window through his handmade scope, daydreaming about all the people out there he could put a bullet through, and where and how he'd do it, he realized that there were many other ways to die. And there were many ways to kill.
If he couldn't kill her physically, then maybe he could kill her inside.
The next day, he asked to write a letter.
The warden gave him an odd look, but entertained his request, no doubt curious to read what Ernest would write and who he'd send the letter to.
Ernest in turn, chose his words carefully. He wanted to hurt her, but he couldn't blatantly threaten her or the letter wouldn't even make it through the censors, much less reach her mailbox.
'They were all meant for you. Every single one,' was all he wrote.
If she was an idiot like he assumed she was, then she wouldn't understand and would probably not write to him again.
If she did understand what was written between the lines, then she'd still probably not try to contact him again.
A few weeks had passed and he'd just about gotten over his glee about how he'd probably managed to scare and break the bitch's heart at the same time, when the second letter came.
This time it was deliberate.
"Another letter from your girlfriend, Cobb," the warden had teased. They were deliberately trying to annoy him, to cause him grief, but he took the letter without a word.
It was obviously from her.
He looked at the frilly handwriting on the envelope and considered just balling it up and tossing it at Yapper again without even opening it this time.
But then again, reading the letter would also be a distraction from Yapper's chatter.
If the first one made him mad, this one had him baffled.
I'm sorry. And though you understandably don't wish to have me as your sister, I'm still pleased that you're my brother.
'She's insane' he thought, folding up the letter and keeping in under his mattress without quite realizing what he was doing.
As the days passed, Ernest found himself pulling out the letter and re-reading it, sometimes almost entertaining the idea of writing back. But then he remembered that she had had their mother and a happy family life while he had suffered alone, and he hated her again.
They might be siblings by blood, but he wouldn't be a brother to her. He wouldn't let her have that.
Then the third letter came.
The warden had arrived all prepared with a quip, but decided against delivering it when he saw the death glare Ernest was giving him.
It was a handmade birthday card.
She knew his birth date – something she could only have found out by asking their mother.
How often did they talk about him? What did they say?
With fingers trembling slightly in trepidation – not at what the contents of the card would say, but at how they would make him feel – he opened the card.
I'm not sure what it's like there, but I hope they at least celebrate birthdays. Mother says that it's unlikely, so I hope that this card brightens up your day, if even just a little bit.
Ernest paused before continuing with the postscript. It was clear that if they did talk about him, it was because the bit– It was because Eloise asked.
'P/S: Have you noticed how our names match? Ernest and Eloise; exactly how the names of siblings should go together.'
He never had the privilege of a regular family, but maybe, just maybe he could still have a sister, inasmuch as being stuck on Alcatraz allowed him to have one.
'Thank you for the card,' he replied. He hadn't a clue what else to write.
It hadn't been much, but his simple reply seemed to have been enough to encourage her.
Sometimes he'd reply, more often than not he wouldn't. But she wrote regularly anyway.
It felt strange at first, but after he tried starting a reply with 'Dear Eloise' and ending it with 'Your brother, Ernest,' he found that it became easier and more natural with each subsequent one.
When he finally progressed to signing off "With love," he realized that he actually meant it.
By then, he no longer looked through his scope at the people on the other side of the lens with hate and anger, but began imagining them doing the things and experiencing the life events that Eloise described in her letters.
By then, he was no longer consumed by jealousy and no longer wanted to hurt Eloise or wished her dead.
Because Eloise was his sister and she loved him.
And he loved her.
Standard disclaimers apply
1. Credit and thanks to 'Alcatraz Wiki' for the transcription of Eloise's letter.
2. Only just started watching 'Alcatraz', so I'm not sure how the characters in this fic develop further (well, I know someone dies :P) – hence, the OOC-ness and all. I suppose it doesn't really matter since this is an alternate reality piece, but I hope it doesn't read as too unrealistic.
3. Sorry about the language (i.e. the use of certain words; NOT my poor writing skills… Well, fine – I apologize for that too XP).