Jin’s freak out over the fire was without a doubt, the last straw for both him and me. If I thought he was strict before and our relationship rocky then, it paled in comparison to what I had after. For me, the fire had been one of those life realizations and it taught me that life was variable, too variable to plan my escape the way I had to the smallest detail. For one couldn’t know the unknowns, nor could we do anything at all to prevent them.
For my punishment, Jin began by setting down a list of rules to completely run my life. They included, when I was to get up, go to bed, how much computer time I was allowed, what I was to read….anything he could think of, landed on the list. I was truly surprised he didn’t factor in my washroom breaks as well!
I was raging a war inside me, needing to find a way to get back into Jin’s good graces, yet wanting so badly to lash out at him in any way I could. After pacing in my room for days, hashing this over and over in my mind, I decided it had to be both. Kill ’em with kindness, yet be sneaky about the execution.
“I love you Jin. You’re the best big brother!”
“Jin do you realize we don’t have any pics together? Let’s take one now.”
“Here? In the quads bathroom?”
“It doesn’t matter where we are, I just want a pic for my phone.”
“Uh, okay, but if we are going to do this, let’s make it goofy and take a better one later.”
Oh yes, I was sickly sweet in a not so obvious way hoping he would relax some of his restrictions and leave me alone. However, I was aware that Jin probably believed his restrictions and over excessive firmness, had done the trick to bring me back in line.
On the flip side I set my fair share of plumbing traps, but made them look like hardware breakdowns.
Plus other minor things that I blamed the toddlers for. It was so easy to do, I was secretly proud of myself for thinking of them. For every electrical item I “broke,” Jin had to shell out money to have fixed, and it pleased me quite immensely. It wasn’t long before sheer frustration wore down his resolve and he began to ease up just a little on the restrictions. Match point to Jade!
Life was always busy on the island; with the quads, Biscuit, chores, skill building and school. Not to mention all my plans for leaving the island. I had so much going on in my life, sleep had to be sacrificed and to do so, I became best friends with….coffee! I drank A LOT of the steamy, disgusting stuff, but it did the job and kept me vibrating all day so I could keep putting one foot in front of the other. I managed to get my sleep schedule down to just four hours a night.
(hehehehe that was for you Marj! Coffee still blah!)
There was still a great amount of reading to do in every new section of skills which were divided in thirds. Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3 for every skill. The books were soooo boring droning on and on. If it weren’t for the coffee, I don’t know how I would have stayed awake.
One by one, I ticked off the levels at my own very slow determined pace. Without any grand fan fare, I completed my handiness skill…by unclogging a toilet. Sigh. Margot, seriously what have you been eating?!
The week after Christmas, I focused my free time (pfft what is that) on completing the music skill. Piano was one of those things that actually did flow out of me and I had thoughts about becoming a famous pianist when I made it to the main land. I loved the sound of classical music the most.
I chose a beautiful piece to play for the family the night my music skill rolled over to ten.
Then, Jin being Jin, he couldn’t help himself. He pulled out his drums and we played a jazz piece together. How I hate, jazz! I clenched my teeth through the whole piece and smiled sweetly at him whenever he looked my way. Play the game Jade, I reminded myself.
By the end of winter, I only had four skills left: logic, cooking, athletic, gardening…..and Jin’s crappy Simlish classes of course.
For Christmas, Sun and Jin bought a telescope to help me get through the dreaded logic skill levels. I spent that time mapping the stars and helping Alex plot a course to get to the island.
I was super excited, as you can imagine!
The last section of cooking was a real frustration for me. I burnt a lot of food those final three skill levels, as you can see by Jin’s reaction. Every time I started a cooking lesson, Jin took Biscuit for a walk! Apparently the fire alarm is a little louder than you think, since Jin can hear it all the way out on the beach.
My first time making hot and sour soup, I made it so hot the bowl spontaneously combusted on the table!
However, I made it through the skill and celebrated by making a turkey dinner as my last meal to graduate from cooking lessons. Even the toddlers ate my meal and loved it!
Spring was a busy time in the greenhouse. So busy that I had days I forgot to eat. Snacking on the produce got me through, while weeding the older plants and starting newer sections with more variety of food.
While we worked in the garden, she told me stories of my mother and how Maya had introduced her to gardening. The art of taking care of plants, she had called it. She reminisced funny stories my mother had told her about meeting my father. How she always knew deep down he was the best man she would ever meet.
Maya had loved being pregnant with me, Sun told me. My parents had never expected to have anymore children after Jin, feeling their life was perfect as it was. Yet the excitement they both shared when Maya found out she was pregnant, was like nothing Sun had ever seen. Ian doted on my mother during the whole pregnancy and Maya in turn, doted on me.
“There were times when I would see Maya just stop whatever she was doing to lightly rub her tummy and sing you a song. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen,” Sun said dreamily. And while Sun told me, she also rubbed her own tummy, leading me wonder if Jin would eventually get his way.
I cherished the time I spent with Sun and hoped I would remember every detail of the memories she shared. Hearing stories about my parents, gave me comfort that true love really did exist.
Once all the hard work of getting the garden established was completed, it was time to move on to my final skill, athletic. Even as much as I hated logic, I hated the idea of getting sweaty and sore muscles even more. I asked Jin to help me work out, and show me how it was done. It was annoying spending time with him, when all I wanted to do was smack him, but I focused on the music and all was going fine. Until, Sun saw what we were doing.She pulled Jin into their bedroom to have a “private talk”. I really think someone should explain to them that closing the door doesn’t make a room sound proof. I could easily hear an argument ensued about how skinny I was …………and did Jin really think this was a good idea to encourage me to lose more weight?
Jin tried to explain that working out was not necessarily about losing weight, but for getting in shape. Not that kind of working out, Sun had thrown back at him. A little more stern conversation went on until Jin finally gave in. I mean –they compromised and decided putting muscle on me would be better.Like, …I want, …to look, …like Jin! I’m a girl and I like the way I look now. I’m sure Alex will too……………..
Jin took great delight it seemed in yelling at me to push harder and do better. All I kept thinking with every rhythmic push was, Shut up Jin, shut up Jin, shut up Jin!
I was nearing the end of my Simlish lessons with Jin and, per the education curriculum, I needed to write and perform a speech for a small crowd.
Behind me, the toddlers happily played in the sandbox and I could hear their little squeals as I spoke.
When I finished, Jin and Sun stood up to congratulate me while Margot gave me a standing ovation.
Tally time -6/7 skills completed and one Simlish class, taught by Jin. Thank- -You!
Now I am sure you are reading all this and saying “That’s nice” but, what about Alex? I’m not avoiding this part of the story, it’s just hard when one has to admit their faults.
But I guess, we can’t avoid them either.
When summer began, I turned 17 with a small birthday dinner and some nice gifts from the family. Nothing really worth writing about, although turning 17 made me super happy indeed. I had whittled my skills diploma down to only athletic needing to be finished. Not that I was too excited about even trying to get it done. As far as I was concerned, it didn’t really matter if I finished my athletic before I left or not. With so little time remaining, getting ready for my departure from the island took precedence over everything else.
Alex and I talked almost night and day. Fine tuning details and growing in anticipation of the day we would finally meet and sail away. Less than a week before the day, my computer suddenly started sparking and blowing gray smoke out the vents. I jumped back from my desk to avoid setting my clothes on fire. Hmmm, been there, done that.
Anyway, once the shock of the broken computer passed, I quickly understood that my link to Alex had been severed! No, no no no!Glancing out the windows and seeing no one around, I grabbed the screw driver I had hidden in my room and began working on fixing the machine. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t fix it. So, I swallowed my pride and went in search of Jin.
“I don’t know Jade. I have no idea what is wrong with it. I think it’s time for a new machine.”
“Well how long will that take?”
“I don’t know Jade. Probably two weeks.”
CRAP! In two weeks I wouldn’t even be here! Be nice Jade, I told myself.
“That’s okay Jin! Whatever it takes.”
Jin left my room and it was then I remembered I still had my phone. I pulled it out and waited for the display to turn on. I had 57 messages! All from…guess who. I deleted them all without listening to a single one. I knew it was what Alex wanted me to do.
But not two days later, the phone began to ring. I declined the first ten calls but then realized he would know I had my phone on, so I let the next days worth of calls go to my answering service. On the third day, when my answering service was once again full, I knew I’d had enough.
“Jade! Oh thank the stars! I’ve been so worried about you.”
“Travis, I was very clear with you the last time we talked. Stop calling me!”
“No Jade listen. I have things to tell you that are important.”
“Travis! Alex doesn’t want me talking to you.”
“So he’s still around? Jade what are you thinking? He’s not the person you think he is -“
“I do know him Travis. I love him and when we are together soon, our life will be perfect.”
“What do you mean together? Jade what are you planning?”
“Nothing! I shouldn’t have said anything. Goodbye Travis. Have a good life!”
Moments after I hung up the phone, it began ringing again. I turned it off in hopes Travis would get the hint.
My last day on the island was both sad and filled with happy excitement. I said my good byes to everyone in my own little way.
Then I took a small nap in the afternoon so I would be able to stay up all night. I promised Alex I would be on the beach at four in the morning. The minutes ticked away slowly, giving me way too much time to think, and to feel. I would miss my home. I would miss the monsters and Sun. Home was security, but if staying here meant having my own identity stripped down little by little, I couldn’t stay.
Life here was one big blanket of secrets.
“We must keep you safe.”
“We must keep you out of sight.”
“You will never be allowed to leave the island, but it’s for your own good.”
My own good? Why? Yet the answers never came, and my resentment towards this place grew stronger and more resilient over the years. As much as I would miss my family, whom I loved very much, there was absolutely no way I could stay. True love and destiny awaited me.
The moment the clock said 3:55 a.m., I passed quietly through my door on the deck. Tip toeing down the stairs with my heart pounding in my ears, I took one look around before making a mad dash to the tunnel leading to the dock beside the beach.
Off in the distance, I could faintly see a boat exactly in the position I expected it to be. In my excitement, I began to jump up and down while frantically waving my hand. I knew he would be watching for me and waiting.
A man’s voice in the darkness startled me, and I turned towards the sound watching him emerge from the shadows. I raised my hand, “Alex?”
“Travis? You, you look so different.” I shook my head to remember where I was at. “Why are you here?”
“I came to see you. To stop you from making a big mistake.”
“I’m sorry you came all this way to see me. But I have to go. He’s waiting for me.”
“Jade, wait! You need to listen to me! That isn’t Alex out there! You are making a huge mistake!”
I continued to struggle with him. “You don’t know what you are talking about! Let me go!”
“JADE, would you please stop pulling and listen to what I have to say?” he yelled at me. “Stay here!”
Finally I yanked my arm free. “Fine I will listen, but I won’t believe anything you say. I know Alex. I know him in my heart and we are destined to be together.”
“Really? Because I’ve met Alex Stokes…and he doesn’t know who you are at all!”
“What do you mean you met him? How?”
“I contacted him on Sim Book and told him what has been going on. We then spoke on the phone and he told me he has never talked to you. He did say that his sister died two years ago, but he is not a member of S.A.I.D. He’s not now or ever been a member.”
My heart began to pound in my chest. “He’s just covering! Keeping our secret so we can be together without anyone knowing!”
“No Jade, he’s telling the truth. Here,” he pulled a paper from his pocket. “It’s a letter from Alex Stokes, the real Alex Stokes I’ve been talking to for you to read.”
I must have read that letter four times. Each time the anger inside me grew until I crumpled the paper in my fist and gave Travis a good shove to the ground!
“You’re a liar! What is your game here, Travis? Did you really think you could show me this letter, one I’m pretty sure you wrote yourself and I would believe you? This proves nothing. He is out there waiting for me and no one is going to keep me away from him.”
I turned to run, but Travis was up and on me so fast I never even saw him move.
“What is it Jade? Why would you ignore all the obvious signs that he has been lying to you all along? Are you that desperate for love, you would throw out all your common sense and run into the arms of danger? You’re only 17 and still grieving the loss of your best friend. But this isn’t right and deep down if you truly think about it, you will know I’m telling you the truth.”
I stared at him through narrowed eyes, but he stood his ground. “Get off me,” I cried. “You have no idea what you are talking about!”
“Jade, that day when you said you could no longer talk to me because of him, I went into a mad panic. So I started looking into this guy and the more I figured out, the more determined I was. The signs were obvious Jade, you just didn’t see them or don’t have enough life experience. But then…then I found the one thing and I knew he truly wasn’t who he said he was.”
“Found what,” I sighed in exasperation.
“He’s been selling your pics on-line.”
My eyes grew large as the impact of what he said sunk into my brain. “Wh…what?”
“I have proof, it’s just in my bag. Promise you will stay right there and I will get it for you. Promise?”
I think I nodded my head, I can’t really be sure and I began to shake all over at the thought my beloved Alex would do such a thing.
Travis came back with the magazine and held it out to me. I barely glanced at the photos before shoving it back at him. “Take it away, please! I don’t, I can’t look at it.” I turned away from him. “How stupid could one person be? How could I have been so wrong about him?” Tears began to fall down my cheeks and I wiped them away as I held back the sobs.
“I’m sorry Jade,” Travis said gently. “I didn’t mean to hurt you, but you needed to be told the truth and stopped.”
“It’s not you, Travis. I…I just feel so stupid…and embarassed. So-” Then suddenly an even worse thought hit me. “OH GAWD!”
“What? What is it?” Travis asked.
“You have to go! Go before Jin sees you! Maybe if I’m lucky, Jin’s lawyers won’t find out, but if you’re here, he will know something is going on.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m here to make sure you don’t leave, but regardless, you have to tell him Jade. It’s the only way and the best solution to all this. You can’t just forget this happened or sweep it under the rug. I will come with you to tell him. Until then, we will sit, watch the sunrise and help you calm your nerves.”
“I don’t want to tell him,” I whispered to Travis. “He will be so angry and you’ve never seen Jin angry. There is no telling what he will do.”
“Everything will be okay. Not so good at first but Jin will understand….speaking of Jin.”
“What’s going on here?” Jin asked, looking at Travis then to me.
Travis stood up and offered his hand to Jin. “Mr. Bell, I’m Travis Richards. You know my father.”
“Yes I remember you, Travis, and I speak to your father often. What are you doing here?” Jin asked.
“Well sir,” Travis began, looking to me and then back at Jin. “Jade has a few things she needs to talk to you about. I think maybe it would be best if I gave you both some privacy. I will just take a walk.”
Travis walked away just as Jin slid into the seat beside me.
I took a deep breath before I began………………………
Thank you RO for editing this terrible mess of a chapter for me!