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Matthew Belmont

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Matthew Belmont last won the day on June 24

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About Matthew Belmont

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    Greg Kinnear
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  1. Give an answer, ask a question!

    A bit of fun. Answer the question posted last, and have your character ask a question. Want to answer more than just the latest question? Use the quote button! ----------- Okay, I've been out of it for a while... (hah!)... what's fun to do in Narrie these days?
  2. Complete Awake

    Light no longer blinded him, and the strange sensation that was proper touch was no longer uncomfortable. His mind slowly readjusted to being back inside his skin, and the intensity of it all began to wear away. Doctors and nurses rushed around him, asking questions he could only answer with slight nods or shakes of his head, disused vocal chords still asleep in his throat. The tiny movements were tiring, muscles protesting even though great care had been taken to ensure they did not atrophy too much while he lay unconscious. There was no real substitute for proper use. What had happened? He remembered Lorelei, but... hadn't Kate said something about the girl being ill? Everything from his life in limbo was growing fuzzier, as though it really were a dream. Here in the physical realm once more, so many things were happening all in a rush. It almost felt as if he'd been asleep, he remembered stepping out onto the road that day far more clearly than anything that happened since. Had it been just that? A dream life substituted while he lay sleeping? Fuelled in part by the stories imparted by visitors as he lay there, to be dreamed into his imagination... how much of what he barely remembered was real? To think that his spirit had become so bizarrely disconnected from his body... that seemed a stretch now. Assured he was ready for it, the doctors backed away and left him to the beeping monitors and an empty room. Just long enough to brace himself, a long-awaited reunion just seconds away. She sent Hazel in first, following a step behind. He could tell immediately that she'd barely slept, she'd not stopped to put on make up, or even find a jacket that matched her trousers. Her hair was tied back to hide the fact it hadn't been properly styled, and she looked more beautiful than he ever could remember. His lips turned up in a smile, Kate followed Hazel over. "Good morning," said Kate. Hazel didn't bother with the ceremony, she leaned across the bed and hugged him so tight he had to gasp for breath. Matt bent his neck enough that he could press a kiss to his daughter's head, amazed at how much she had grown. He remembered seeing her... or did he?... but the reality of it was... so much more than that. She was here. She could see him. He could be part of their lives again. Cool breeze hit his cheek, and he realised it was wet. He was crying. Kate was too, and Hazel. Though he couldn't say it, he could feel it. What drew them together from the start hadn't faded, and as Kate's hand folded over his and held it tight, he was complete again. They were a family again.
  3. Invite Time To Go Home

    "Of... course..." Matt stared at Lei, more than a little perturbed by the way his thoughts were answered. Blue eyed freaks. Forever freaky. He'd assumed that going into another body wasn't an option, but that didn't make it less of an attractive idea. He was also now acutely aware that the weird child was able to see into his mind, and answer the questions he would never dare ask. Hear the thoughts he would never dare voice. That was unsettling, to say the least. "I wouldn't actually kill anyone, you know. Or want them to be in limbo..." Matt wasn't sure if the explanation was really needed, but you never knew. He definitely didn't want to damn anyone else to the way he'd lived over the past years, that was a whole lot of bad karma. And as Lei asked if he would tell Aiden about what she was doing, he just nodded, still expecting this to not really work. Except it did. And it was horrifying. He felt the raw edge of his own breath scrape down his throat, lights blinding to eyes that hadn't been used in years. All of his senses rushed in, the ache in his stagnant limbs and the bedsores that had developed, uncomfortable compression socks, the rattle of his chest, and sounds that felt like needles in his ears. A monitor somewhere started screaming, or so it sounded to him. Matt squinted into the space beside his bed where he'd seen Lei only moments before, but she was gone---or not visible. His arm, frail but heavy, shook upwards and he realised that it was for real. He was back in his body. Everything was pain. Intense, loud, assaulting pain. He tried to speak through rusted vocal cords, squeezing his eyes shut against the light. No sound could he make, but before long the room was full of nurses and doctors shouting around him. Excited, and too damn loud. He had a long and painful road ahead, and he wished that Kate was here now. Like it should have been, like he'd imagined... but he was back. And it hurt like hell.
  4. Invite Time To Go Home

    Why wasn't Kate here? Every time he imagined coming back, it had been with Kate present. None of this was how he'd imagined, and Matt had had a lot of time to imagine his return to the physical world. He couldn't describe how something he wanted so badly now felt so... sudden and not right. Like the stars weren't properly aligned or something, and the possibility of actually waking up was frightening. Of course, it wasn't going to happen. There was no way a kid could have the answers that dozens of doctors didn't. Was there? Almost reluctantly, Matt moved over to where his body lay on the bed. Lorelei's words made sense in an uncomfortable way, something Adele and her fellow freaks were known for. He'd met the mother once, and that had been... interesting. Lei acted far more like Lillian than he'd ever seen Adele, perhaps that was what left him so unsettled? Lei wasn't a child in the way he understood children to be. "Alright," Matt looked down at his withered physical form. It was in terrible condition, bony and fragile. He'd been so fit when he was struck down. He'd had more hair, too. Matt wondered if he should ask Lei if she could put him in a different body instead... something younger, less worn out. Maybe this was his one chance to become the more handsome friend of their group? Well. He would have to kill Stuart first, of course. "I'm ready, I guess?" he said with a thin smile. Ready for another disappointment.
  5. Invite Time To Go Home

    She made it sound so simple. Like there was just some bandaid that hadn't been applied right, and he hadn't needed to be in this stupid coma for years. Matt found himself getting a little mad that if she did have the answer, why hadn't she bloody well come forward before? He knew it was unfair and irrational, clearly something had happened here, but... her easy tone and confidence grated on his nerves in a way he couldn't quite justify. "In Narrie?" Matt frowned, trying to make sense of it. "But she... she comes here on Fridays. Why would she be there? Is... is Hazel okay? Did something happen at school?" it would have to be something quite serious for Kate to just... not show up. Even though she thought he couldn't hear her, she told him when she would be there next. Or why she wouldn't be, if there was something else she had to do. She'd never just failed to turn up. He panicked a little. Lorelei's assuredness was very unsettling, it made him wonder if he was really ready to go back. It would change things, it would upset the delicate balance that Kate and Hazel had. What... what if Hazel didn't even like him? What if they'd all grown so far apart that they couldn't go back? "Right... now?" if he'd needed to breathe he would have held his breath. This was fast. Very sudden. But... it probably wasn't going to work. Better to rip that disappointment off like a bandaid? Yes. Matt nodded. "Okay... what... what do I need to do?"
  6. Invite Time To Go Home

    Matt frowned, the story sounded... pretty well par for the course with Adele and her lot. He hoped for their sake, and Lei's, that if their situations were that much the same that she didn't spend as many years as he had in this state. While he listened, he continued to look up and over at the door. Waiting. Why wasn't Kate here? What was she doing instead? He tried to hide his disappointment, but it was clear in the slope of his ethereal shoulders. "Yes, I---" Matt blinked, staring at Lorelei. "Of course I want to go home." It was all he'd wanted for years. Go home, or go on to... whatever was next, he had stopped caring which. One way or another it would free Kate. But the chance to be there with his family in the physical realm again? It was more than he really dared hope for. Matt didn't want to be disappointed again, he'd been through so many stages of hope and devastation that he wasn't sure if he could handle another one. Maybe that was what would be needed to end this. One last disappointment. "You promised Aiden?" Matt winced. Excellent. So his little brother was also going to have his hopes crushed, that was... fantastic. She hadn't made promises to Hazel as well, had she? Much as Matt wanted to believe that Lorelei had found the problem and could fix it, he had his doubts. So many others had said the same and failed. What chance did this young girl have? Even if she was a blue-eyed freak? "You---you really shouldn't have done that," he shook his head. "How's he going to feel when it doesn't happen? I just... have you seen Kate? She's normally here by now."
  7. Invite Time To Go Home

    Being neither dead, nor really alive, was... boring. Though Matt had an unobstructed view to all the dramas of the world, he had no desire to watch. His ability to manifest himself to the truly living had dwindled as he forgot more and more what it was like to be real. They had run out of specialists. Out of options. Kate hadn't even come to see him tonight, and that... hurt more than he'd expected. He didn't want her to mope around after him, but on some level he'd never wanted her to stop. He wanted her to move on... and he didn't. He waited by his own wasted body, watched the door for her to enter. She didn't. Another voice sounded instead. He turned, surprised to be addressed at all. What was Jezebel's daughter doing here, and why was she...? Matt frowned. There was something not right here. "Lorelei, why are you...?" Matt wondered if he really wanted to know. Had the girl been killed? Or was she stuck in the same horrible limbo as he was? He made his way closer, now that he'd asked the question, he needed an answer to it. Damned curiosity. At least if she was in this same predicament, he would have company? Someone else who understood the thin line he walked between existence and not. There were other questions, too. Like, where was Kate and why wasn't she here yet? She was always here at this time. Was Hazel enjoying school? He realised now just how much he'd looked forward to Kate's updates, and how empty he felt without them. Even if he could just go and haunt Hazel to find out for himself, it didn't seem... right. He knew she was forgetting him, another fact that made him uncomfortable. To Hazel, he only existed in Kate's memories of better days. "What are you doing here...?" he asked, that worried frown back on his face. "You aren't... dead are you?"
  8. Invite Am I Not Pretty Enough (Jan 5, '18)

    "Some did, initially." Matt nodded. "I imagine they've forgotten by now. I hope they have. Sometimes I really think it's just better for people to let go. And they can't do that if I'm hanging around every corner, can they? So... I stopped. Only people I really let see me now are the few doctors that I've been working with, but... nothing's ever come out of that." At least he'd tried. Matt hadn't spent his entire coma with this weary defeatist attitude. Initially he'd been grateful that it wasn't over yet. He'd shared that same belief that if he was still breathing, he could still wake up and everything could go back to normal. It had all felt so temporary in the beginning. He'd worked with Alan and Stuart to locate the best specialists, put his body and soul through so many experimental treatments... and nothing worked. So he had lost faith, and vanished from view. "No, Katie... Katie can't see me. Never was able to." his voice dropped, sadness filling it. This miserable half-existence would actually be alright if they could even just talk. She wouldn't be lost and hurting, and he wouldn't be lonely. Matt was certain that even without physical contact, they would be happier. "At first, people tried to tell her---but she wouldn't believe them. Thought it was a cruel joke. Nothing anyone said would convince her otherwise." Matt shrugged. "Hazel could see me for a bit. I guess as she got older, she got too much like Kate." And that had been the final straw for Matt, the reason for his "retirement from view". If his daughter couldn't see him, if he could no longer make faces at her and watch her laugh, what was the point in appearing to anyone? The two people he loved most in the world were the same two he couldn't interact with. Listening to Cate's story, he nodded. "It sounds like you did." Matt replied. "Can't have been an easy choice, or a fun one. But hard decisions are how we protect the ones we love."
  9. The Father's Son

    Matthew Belmont
    Sitting is an odd challenge when you have no physical body. In five years I've not got used to the fact that I don't actually have to support myself, I still feel the "phantom" limbs as if they were heavy and still grounding me to the world. Some days I wonder if that's my body that I can feel, lying still on a hospital bed, but I don't feel it when I am moved around. It's probably just the memory of having weight. Either way, trying to organise yourself into a natural sitting position without the aid of gravity is not easy. First I floated a half-inch above the bench, and then sank right through it. I settled somewhere in the middle. It doesn't really matter. My seagull friend came back. He's confused that I don't bring chips. Other visitors bring chips and shoo him away, but I sit here in my semi-transparent melancholy and enjoy his company. Sometimes he entertains himself by hopping through my form. I'm never sure how to feel about that. She came to see me today, I tell him. My wife---beautiful even when she's breaking, sits for hours at a time and tells me about life outside the hospital. She cries. And I float helpless in a corner until she leaves, willing myself to return to that useless body, sit up, and wipe her tears away. I was never a romantic man. I did everything I could to avoid it. I believed I was my father's son, that I would inflict on my own partners the same pain he inflicted on my mother. It was Alan who convinced me to date at all. I think Alan was always a little disappointed that I wasn't as outgoing as he was, he had a tendency to drag me around and ensure I experienced all of the things a boy, and then man, my age should. I skulked around the edges of the parties he and Stuart organised, awkwardly shuffling away from anyone who tried to make contact. And that was how I met Corrie, the both of us shuffling away from potential social contact--and into each other. She was sweet, she was pretty, and she understood all of the things that Alan could never get through his thick skull. We snuck out of the common room, ducked our way past patrolling professors and found a quiet place to sit outside and talk. We stayed out past dawn, doing just that---talking. When I dragged my weary self into the dorm, Alan was beside himself with excitement. I never corrected him. Let Alan believe what he wanted. We spent so much time together we decided we must be dating. After graduation we pooled our scant resources to rent a tiny, run-down flat in Koonyah. I took a job at The Drunken Roo. It didn't pay much, but it kept us both fed. We didn't bother with luxuries, we slept on a plain mattress on the floor. She said she didn't mind, all she wanted was me. Every time she said it, a pit grew in the bottom of my stomach---a fear I couldn't extinguish. How could she know me so well, better than any of my closest friends, and still look at me the way she did? I was her hero, she said. For surviving my shitty childhood, I had somehow earned a badge of honour that I could not remove. Nothing I really did mattered, there was nothing I could do that would make her think less of me. Her pity clouded her ability to see me. I did things that I knew would upset her, and hated myself for it. She didn't get upset. And then I hated her for it. Then I hated myself all the more for being so ridiculously angry at someone whose only crime was to love me unconditionally. I kept trying to find a limit, some point at which she would finally look past that wall of sympathy---but to her my damaged soul could commit no sins. I did love her. I was terrified of what my life would be without her. I had Adam and the Burdetts and Blairs, but it was Corrie who kept me moving. It was Corrie who believed in me the hardest. I wanted to see myself the way that she saw me. I wanted her to see that I could fail. Whatever I did, she simply accepted. In time I began to fear that there would be no behaviour so extreme that she recognised it as bad. I began to fear that through all this time, I had been treating her horribly and she could never say so. She could never see so. I became afraid of what I might do with such a freedom, such acceptance for who I was. The fear wore me down, made me angrier, and she accepted every harsh and terrible thing I said to her with her gentle smile. I remember the day I snapped vividly. I don't remember what started it. I'd done something---something that would annoy the average person, but she shrugged it off. I asked her why and didn't let her answer, I cut across her words and told her we were breaking up. I didn't mean it then. I wanted the reaction. Her eyes filled with tears, she reached for my hands and said we could work it out. Why? How? How could she possibly want to work this out? I flinched back from her touch, my hand rising above my shoulder---and I froze with dread. Corrie was crying, looking up at my open hand, still sobbing that everything could be fine if I calmed down. That it wasn't the end. But it was. I was my father's son, born with the same instincts and I had let Corrie stand in the line of fire for far too long. She deserved better. I needed to be better. That day I resolved to never enter into a long-term relationship again. If that was what it took to keep Corrie safe, if that was how I could ensure that I never inflicted the suffering my father did, I was willing to pay that price. And Corrie never forgave me for it.
  10. Invite Am I Not Pretty Enough (Jan 5, '18)

    Matt closed his eyes and let out a sigh. One of these days he was going to learn, and just call himself Bob. Bob the Ghost. People who'd never known him still knew who he was, they knew him by name and reputation---it seemed that no one was going to let his memory die out. Why couldn't they see that was what was holding them back? "Honestly, we don't know." he answered. "One minute I'm walking across the road, next I'm watching them load my body into an ambulance. I thought I was dead, but... I wasn't that lucky." At first it had been fine. It felt like a temporary thing. Why would he be floating around here if there was no ability for him to go back to his body? Kate couldn't see him, wouldn't believe anyone who could, and he'd had to follow up his odd condition with specialists. One by one they'd scratched their heads and suggested it was just a matter of time before his spirit and body joined... which was doctor code for "we have no fucking idea how to fix this". Then the years had dragged on. Hope had vanished. And Kate... had deteriorated too. For the past three years he'd stayed hidden even to those he was close to, hoping they would assume that his spirit form had vanished and now there was nothing left but his vegetable body. Still, Kate held on to that body. Stubbornly. "It's not much of a life." he mumbled. "Anyway---not much I can do about it." Matt forced a smile. "What brings you to Narrie?"
  11. Invite Am I Not Pretty Enough (Jan 5, '18)

    Matt turned. He hadn't seen or heard anyone coming, he'd been lost in his own thoughts. He should have been more careful. He'd tried very hard to be unseen by certain people, to avoid giving hope where there was none. What if Aiden had come across him here? Fortunately, this wasn't Aiden. So he hadn't screwed up completely just yet. "You're... Cate." there was an uneasy note to his voice as he said it. Great, so this Cate could see him but Kate-Kate could not. As if that wasn't a kick in his non-corporeal guts. But that was rude, this poor woman had done nothing wrong. Just have a name unfortunately similar to that of his living wife. "Sorry." Matt muttered. "I'm married to a Kate. A Katherine-Kate. Are you a Catherine too? Or just Cate?" It didn't really matter, he supposed. But it was conversation. He'd not had any conversations in a long time, and he'd got bad at it. "You're not interrupting anything." he added, shoving his hands into the illusion of his pockets. "Just... looking at the lake. Been a while since I've come out this far. Thought I'd see how the old pub is shaping up," he pointed a thumb back at the three-storey facade of the Drunken Roo. "It all looks... good." Matt sighed. "I'm Matthew.. Matt. Belmont. I lived here most of my life."
  12. Invite Am I Not Pretty Enough (Jan 5, '18)

    Matthew Belmont
    Is my heart too broken? He couldn't get the song out of his non-corporeal head, it was driving him nuts. Of all the things Matt had hoped he would lose while outside of his own body, it was the damned earworm that was Kasey Chambers. He'd hated it enough when he had proper ears to hear it, now it was bent on tormenting him for the rest of... well, whatever he had here. Do I cry too much? Because it wasn't a life. And it wasn't a death. He just was. The days passed in mundane isolation. In the early days, he'd stayed in contact with the people who could see him---but that had only made them hang on more. So Matt had faded out of view, hoping to fade out of memory, and perhaps then they would be able to let his body go. Am I too out-spoken? Matt didn't want to die. He just didn't know what his other options were. He'd tried to "climb" back into his body with no success, it all seemed very hopeless. Matt had been stuck on the sidelines, watching Kate grieve and waste away her own life. Dragging Hazel through this same limbo, and that hurt. He'd watched Kate this morning, putting on her make up as she usually did. She was beautiful even when she was sad. She was always sad now. He wanted her to be free. If he couldn't come back and wipe that sadness away, she needed to be free. Don't I make you laugh? Which meant there had to be an End. One way or the other, an End or a Return. For her, and for Hazel, and Aiden, Adam, Valerie and Cass. For the damned pub which had only just escaped bankruptcy. Because of what? The desperate hope that he would come back. Maybe he just... couldn't. It would have been different, he supposed, if Kate could see him. Their relationship would be undoubtedly changed, but perhaps he could have soothed some of these hurts. Been there, at least, in some form. Encouraged her directly to move on, to not be alone. He wanted---so much---just to talk to her. Should I try it harder? But she couldn't see him. Hear him. Refused to believe anyone when they said he was there. She'd thought it was some cruel joke, and he'd figured it best in the end if she just believed that. Believed he was locked in a prison of his own body. Asleep. But she hadn't moved on. He needed to fix this. He needed someone to help her. Someone to convince her it was okay to let him go. Alan and Stuart had both failed though, so... who? By reflex, Matt tried to scratch his ghost head with a ghost hand. At least the lake was pretty. That... was something, he supposed. Why do you see right through me?
  13. Matt Belmont

    Matthew Belmont
    Matt’s early life is something he doesn’t like to talk about. He was born in the late sixties in Narragyambie, delivered four weeks premature alongside his twin sister Amanda after their mother ‘fell down stairs’ eight months pregnant. His father, John Longhurst, was a bricklayer who worked long days, and drank through longer nights. His mother was a witch, his father a muggle. The pair met after his mother Valerie Belmont (better known as Pearl) graduated Tallygarunga. By all family accounts, their romance was a whirlwind, the pair described as perfectly in love. They married in late 1964, a proper chuch wedding – John’s family being quite religious, would have nothing less. Pearl agreed, happy to just be married to the man she would love forever. John was aware that his wife was a witch, and while it never sat well with him – for their first year of marriage, it never openly bothered him. He said nothing to his family, worked hard at his job in the hopes that Pearl would never have to work for their income. The couple lived quite comfortably on his wage. Until one day, she came home with news. She had been to morning tea with her best friend Marie (who was married to her own school sweetheart, and pregnant with their first child) when the strangest of feelings had overcome her, and she’d quite unapologetically thrown up into the terracotta pot plant pot on the restaurant’s front deck. Marie, who’s only thoughts at the time revolved around babies, encouraged her to buy a pregnancy test from the corner shop and take it in the public toilets at the Reserve. This she did, both women waiting awkwardly as the test confirmed what Marie had already assumed – Pearl was pregnant. For Pearl, the news only got better. She’d always wanted a family, and while John had always expressed reservations regarding children, she was sure he would make a perfect father if just given the chance. But he was less than delighted when she told him, the sudden drain on their expenses forced him to seek promotions, work harder. That there were going to be two children only seemed to make it worse, eventually sending him to his father’s house for advice. There he was told that this was all his own doing, and had he handled himself appropriately as her husband, she wouldn’t have become pregnant at all – he was supposed to be in control of her, she was not supposed to be able to run things the way she wished. He earned the money, how their family developed was supposed to be his say, and not hers. He left convinced, demanding that Pearl – at six months pregnant – have the children terminated. She refused, fighting with him properly for the first time – and, for the first time discovering the depths of his anger. What little extra money they had, he drank – determined to not let her spend any more than she absolutely had to, he started to dole out the money in a small allowance for herself and the children, keeping the rest in reserve or on the tab at the local pub. He came home late, drunk and bitter, shoving her down the back step one night as she went outside to collect the washing. He stopped allowing her to use magic in his presence, confiscated her wand, and she did as she was told – hoping that her obedience would bring back the man she’d married. Sometimes it did, but only in fleeting moments, enough to keep the both of them holding on – not enough to stop the violence. When the twins were born, things calmed down just a little. John received his first burst of paternal feeling, Pearl slipped easily into the role of mother – helped greatly by Marie, who despite having a six month son of her own, was becoming more and more worried about Pearl. The couple still argued and fought, but never in front of the children. This lasted until Matt and Amanda were about three, when Amanda wandered out of the twins’ shared room while John and Pearl were fighting. The physical violence was on the up again, the shock of it sent Amanda back to the bedroom crying, crawling into bed alongside Matt, the two of them huddling under blankets at the raised voices. At six they started prep at St Andrews Primary, alongside Alan Burdett – the twins’ best friend. Alan was bright and happy, didn’t understand anything about their life – his mother keeping the reasons for Pearl’s frequent bruises and breaks light and laughable. So used to their way of life, the twins didn’t particularly know anything was wrong, until a personal safety lesson in their first year of school taught them about emergency numbers, and what to do when someone was seriously hurt. The lesson was not wasted on either of the children, who learned quickly how to operate the phone and call for ambulances when Pearl was incapable of doing so for herself. Over time, Matt found himself more responsible for looking after their mother – Amanda more frightened by the prospect of their mother being hurt than motivated to do something about it. She would go hide in her room until the doctors and sirens went away, and Mrs Burdett came to collect the children. Local emergency services soon learned the sound of his stuttering voice, and came to be fond of the boy who sat quietly and seriously watching as the paramedics tended to her. From the very first call, he longed to be like them – to be able to walk in and make people okay again. He watched in the hopes he would learn, but each time he could never remember what to do. Money was starting to become a very serious issue the older the children got, with John drinking more and bringing home less – Matt decided to take matters into his own hands. Other kids had multiple sets of clothes, and didn’t have to watch their parents agonise over which child was due a new pair of shoes the most desperately. Slowly the town was starting to take pity on Pearl, shoving extra money in the change, hoping she wouldn’t notice the difference, Marie snuck in with an extra key and hid food about the house for Pearl and the children to find, food that was almost always confiscated by John. The problem seemed to be money, and so Matt started sneaking out about town in search of odd jobs to help bring in little bits and pieces. With nothing to wear but his St Andrews uniform or his pyjamas, and the occasional hand-me-downs from a much rounder Alan, residents of Narrie tipped well, and often. Matt worked hard, determined to impress his clients. He liked to see things clean, and the work made him feel useful and relaxed. He was productive, solving things. He brought home a fair amount, money that Pearl stashed away in the vain hope she would be able to give it back to him, but it managed to be found, or spent on needed goods. This was to be a theme with any money Matt brought in. Both the twins turned out to inherit their mother’s magical abilities, something she was thrilled with. By now, John had started to embrace the magical world, frequenting the worst sorts of stores in search of items that would pull his wife ‘in line’ again. He fed her potions both forced and by secrecy, bought self-detonating charms and hexes, figuring she ought to be afraid of the things she knew – all that ever achieved was to make her ill, and as the kids grew up he realised he was going to have the same problem with Amanda. Once was all it took. A wrong remark from Amanda, and John’s temper snapped – reaching across the table he slapped her hard, shocking both Matt and Pearl – up until now, he’d never laid hands on the children. This was the breaking point for Pearl, who bundled up the children and drove their wreck of a car across town to the Burdett’s. From there she made her final decision, taking out a restraining order on John, and divorcing him for good. The day he left, the small remainder of the family went for a rare dinner at the Bush Barbie, ordering extravagant meals out of what little money they had left, Pearl under the impression that she would be supported by her family – something that turned out to be horribly wrong. They didn’t care what sort of husband John was, they were disgusted that she had divorced him, and wouldn’t be swayed. She resorted instead to government handouts, spending on the children well before herself. Matt continued to earn as much money as he could, occasionally resorting to lying to his mother in order to be allowed out of the house. She felt he should be spending time with friends, sometimes banning him from going out to earn money. It never stopped him. It was at around this time, as the kids started at Tallygarunga, that the effects of eleven years of abuse was starting to show in a more permanent way. Pearl was sick, and not likely to get better. The news was devastating, though doctors predicted another ten years before things got too drastic. Treatment was expensive, and in Pearl’s opinion – optional. Matt continued to earn money wherever and however he could, insistent they could afford it all. She encouraged the children to spend nights at the school, pushing them towards independence, wanting them to be strong and capable when she couldn’t be there. Amanda, who was now officially Alan’s ‘girlfriend’, took the opportunity to spend time with her friends, Matt came home as often as he dared, teaching himself to cook and clean, gleaning tips from Marie when he stayed at the Burdett’s, and asking a million and one questions of the chefs at the Bush Barbie, when they went there for their now monthly splurges. He hated how helpless he felt when his mother was too tired to move, and too sick to even laugh. He concentrated in healing classes at Tally, but his grades in all classes were low. He spent his days distracted and worried, and while some girls showed interest in them – he pushed them away. He didn’t want the chance to do to anyone what his father had done to Pearl. He knew that he got angry sometimes, very angry – the possibility that he could lose control terrified him. It made his friends wonder, and sometimes Matt himself wondered whether he was okay. Alan, who dated Amanda on-and-off through school, his first love and first lover – felt that Matt’s shyness needed to be overcome, refusing to let Matt reach sixteen completely unkissed. So the great kissing event occurred, Alan rounding up as many girls from all the houses as he could find, tying Matt down to a chair and letting the girls march past and kiss him as much or as little as they dared. This was quite confronting for Matt, whose anxiety around women peaked – eventually forcing Alan to send the girls away and untie the poor boy so he could breathe again. Back at home, things were going downhill – though the twins were yet to realise it. More than once Matt had found himself needing to call the paramedics after finding Pearl in a bad state. Initially he had thought it was to do with her illness, the more often it happened, however, the more the words ‘attempted suicide’ started to be banded about – even by Marie, words that felt like accusations and he refused to believe. Her attempts were subtle, usually poison related – and Matt continued to deny it was happening until she locked herself in the garage. That was her closest call, a realisation that made Matt so angry he almost left her there. That brief hesitation is something he still hates himself for, even though she survived. Seventh year was a struggle for him, his grades suffering miserably under the stress from home. Amanda seemed to cope with support from the Burdetts, Alan tried his best to split time between best mate and girlfriend, and Amanda continued to hold up late night chats with her brother – but he was near obsessed with saving their mother. In some respects Amanda had given up, and Alan didn’t seem to understand. Seventh year was also a big year for Tallygarunga, with it’s inclusion in the inter-school games between Greyheme and Penrose. The first of the games was to be held at Tallygarunga, a night Matt remembers with mild irritation on Amanda’s behalf – Alan had been an idiot, leading to a break in their relationship. In revenge, Amanda had sought out the Head Boy of Greyheme, Alan finding his attention captured by one of the Penrose girls. They caused a scene, kissing in public as the schools parted, the younger girl thanking him for the fun and heading back to her own school. Some weeks later, it was Tallygarunga’s turn to visit the other schools – the boys staying at Greyheme, the girls at Penrose. The games themselves were not memorable, Matt spent the whole time on edge, distracted. His mother had insisted he go, support Amanda who was on the Quidditch team. He and Alan had been allocated the same room, Alan somewhat disappointed he hadn’t spotted his Penrose girl yet – right up until she snuck into the room in the middle of the night, grinning and insisting Alan come with her. He did, Matt choosing to sleep rather than escape the school. The next morning he was woken by the Deputy Headmaster of Tally, cursing Alan – who was still not back from wherever he’d gone, Matt feigned innocence, but Knightley’s purpose was much graver. Pearl had passed away overnight, Knightley had come to bring Matt and Amanda back to Narrie. The twins coped with their mother’s death in very different ways. Amanda sought the company of Alan once more, who came through for her with muffins, hugs and support when she needed it. Matt ran instead to the Bush Barbie, bursting into tears as the staff offered him a free dinner out of sympathy. Knowing he would need employment, the Hamiltons hooked him up with a job at The Drunken Roo, running tables during the dinner rush. Exams were fast approaching, and despite the fact Matt knew what he wanted to do, he had no chance of getting the grades to do it. Even if he had, the money wasn’t there to send both himself and Amanda to university. When Amanda revealed during one of their late night chats, the note their mother had written her (both the twins had received one, Matt still keeps his in a very safe place), she dropped a few bombshells. One was that while she enjoyed Alan’s company, she wasn’t attracted to him anymore. The other was that she was cheating on him – with her roommate, Cassandra. Amanda had always felt to blame for her parents’ split, blamed it on the fact she was a girl. Pearl’s letter addressed her as her ‘other son’, something that apparently meant a lot to Amanda. Matt wasn’t permitted to tell Alan anything, and though he tried to stop Alan’s grand graduation proposal, he wasn’t at all successful. Amanda managed to get a position at a university in Ballarat, and sensing his sister’s need to escape – Matt supported her decision to leave Narrie. Alan also chose to leave Narrie, a surprise from the boy who’d only ever wanted to run his own farm, taking a third round offer for a teaching course at VMU. It was in Melbourne that Alan again met his Penrose girl, Kate McElhaney – and the two started seeing each other formally. Matt couldn’t help but resent the girl a little, she was the reason Alan hadn’t been there when he and Amanda had need a friend the most, and that was never going to be alright. He continued to work at the Roo, not knowing what else to do with himself, renting a broken down flat in Koonyah, and sending the majority of his earnings to Amanda to help her through. His boss wasn’t all that nice – a slave driver who kept the place in disrepair, completely ignoring the work that Matt did to make it nicer. Though Matt did eventually get promoted to bar manager, it was like getting blood from a stone, and the positions rarely came with pay rises. He worked twelve or more hours a day, every day, just to get by. He took a weekend off, receiving a note from Amanda who wanted to talk. Amanda had made a major decision, that she no longer wanted to be recognised as a woman. Matt, who’d been somewhat expecting this by now, supported her in this – but warned that she ought to at least give Alan time to swallow the news before spreading her choice about. The next day was Alan’s nineteenth birthday, and Matt took his second day off to visit Alan for his surprise party – getting a surprise of his own when he broke into Alan’s dorm room to find Kate sitting there. Alan, who’d headed into the city to meet up with Amanda, wasn’t due home for another hour or so, and this he told Kate – who proceeded to get upset. And then kissed him, saying that if Alan could nookie up to his ex-girlfriend, then he shouldn’t be worried about whatever Kate did. Kate, who’d been saving herself as a special birthday present for Alan – gave it to Matt, instead. Matt was shocked and unsure of what to feel, quite convinced that was supposed to be a special moment, with the right person... he was about to leave when Alan walked in, and before Kate could start to rant, explained that Amanda had sat him down to have the gender change talk. Kate changed her tune, turning from angry almost-ex to supportive loving girlfriend in ten seconds flat. That night, Matt was sure he ought to say something to Alan – but wasn’t sure how. Kate continued to give him dirty looks, as if it were his fault, eventually pushing her overly drunk best friend Coralynne his way in an attempt to keep him quiet. Having had a few drinks himself, Matt let himself relax – and as Corrie took charge of him, he started to believe that maybe he could love after all. Their relationship lasted six years, three years longer than Alan and Kate’s longest consecutive stint. He resented Kate for how things had happened, and how Alan didn’t know – the pair displaying their dislike for the other openly, fighting bitterly whenever left in the other’s company too long. He was glad when Alan and Kate were finally over, but at the same time – his own relationship with Corrie was starting to fall apart. She’d taught him a lot, coaching him out of his insecurities to a place where he could try to be passionate, where he could trust himself just a little. A few drinks and a bitter argument put an end to that, Matt feeling the first serious argument between himself and Corrie go bad, he only grabbed her wrist – but to him, it felt much worse. To him, he might as well have broken her arm. He told her it was over, but she refused to believe - returning on numerous occasions to beg that he change his mind. Eventually he did the last thing he wanted to do, and sought the advice of Kate, the only person he felt would be able to talk Corrie out of trying to make it work. All that it achieved was getting into another argument, that somehow (and neither can explain how) ended in a loss of clothing, and a very upset Corrie walking in to find her best friend and her ex-boyfriend in a position she would never have imagined them in. Matt did his best to ignore it ever happened, continued to hate Kate (as she bounced back to Alan and away again over the years) and started his own way of life. After Corrie, he knew he didn’t want to be alone, but at the same time, didn’t trust himself to spend too much time with the same woman, for fear that he would find himself wanting to harm someone else. During this time he also became close friends with Loraine Hamilton, and as Amanda’s choices pushed distance between them, Loraine became his new confidante. He never wanted much from his ‘girlfriends’, if they could be called that. They understood the way things worked, that it was only ever a week, that he had no intentions of going beyond that – and that it was all in fun. In return, he got what he needed – the company of another human being. Some women he never actually slept with, some he just wanted to talk to. Some he just wanted to cook for. But if anyone asked, he politely declined to share details – leading to the belief that his intentions were a lot less innocent. History repeated again, as Kate broke up with her husband – fleeing to Narrie in search of Alan, but finding Matt instead, he apparated her back to her home, not wanting her anywhere near Alan, the argument deteriorated, somehow things went wrong, yet again. Matt decided to try and not get angry at Kate ever again. Things rolled on smoothly for Matt, his system worked – no one got hurt. Mack, the owner of the Roo died, and having no relatives who cared enough to admit they were related to him, the hotel fell into his ownership. He moved into the top apartment, and commissioned Amanda (now Adam, and a qualified interior designer) to redecorate out of the hotel’s amazing surplus. His life took an unexpected turn when a casual fling with Kate turned into a more on-going situation. As much as he wanted to hate her, he couldn't. He would come home to find her in his seat, playing his favourite game Kill Death 2. Beating his scores. After a lot of denial, both finally admitted they didn't actually hate each other that much, and started seeing each other properly. Around this time, Matt's father's second wife, Angela, began trying to make contact with Matt and Adam for the first time. This was when Matt learned that he had a younger half-brother Aiden and half-sister Valerie. He was furious that his father had dared to name his daughter after his deceased ex-wife, but just as his mother had been, Angela seemed to be in trouble. Both Matt and Adam made an effort to help, but ultimately it ended it tragedy. Angela was murdered in front of her children, who were then taken from the crime scene to Matt's apartment at The Drunken Roo. Aiden and Valerie lived quite comfortably there, sharing a bedroom in the small living quarters. Matt proposed one night, grateful for Kate's help in managing his half-siblings. Expecting that Matt would eventually realise he was making a commitment and bolt, Kate organised for all their friends and family to get together on a boat in the middle of the Murray River. And then informed Matt that this was their wedding day. He freaked out, but didn't run, and the pair were married. Shortly after, he chose to change his surname from Longhurst to Belmont, feeling that his father (now spending life in prison) didn't deserve to have his name carried. Belmont was his mother's maiden name. Kate fell pregnant and had Hazel, followed by a stillborn daughter Rylea. Matt had always been frustrated by his inability to help with the things that happened to those he loved, and at Kate's insistence, he finally enrolled to study nursing. In his first semester, he was crossing the road to attend class and hit by a tram. He's been in a coma ever since.