**This is a bit of a recap chapter before we move on to the quads. I’m sorry for the lack of pics for the chapter.
I know you will think it odd of me to say, but regardless of what “Alex” or whoever he was had done, I missed him. Or perhaps the connection with another Sim. The police had taken both my phone and my computer as evidence in the case and I felt, lost? Can you believe that? If that didn’t prove I was sincerely damaged, I didn’t know what would.
I lived in a house with eight other sims, including Travis, and a very affectionate dog. How could one feel a lack of connection? Stupid right? It just wasn’t the same. The loss of Alex meant the loss of promises and the hope of a future I felt I long desired. One of love and adventure. It came with the realization, I would never have that chance again, as Jin’s hold on me would definitely tighten like a noose from this moment on. Those kinds of thoughts, added to the shame and embarrassment I already felt, did nothing to improve my mental status.
I just didn’t understand. Anything.
I spent my days painting or staring out at the ocean, waiting for that one moment where I would begin to feel better. Whole again. It was almost as if I could see it, just a little beyond my grasp. I couldn’t tell what it was exactly, but I knew it was there. Just waiting for me to grab it.
“JIN!” Sun yelled in frustration. “You need to do this. Deep down you’ve always known this was coming. It’s time!” Sun insisted.
“Is it though? You see how devastated she is. Don’t you think this will do more harm than good?” Jin said shaking his head.
Sun leaned over picked up the box and shoved it at Jin. “Stop stalling. She needs her big brother now. Go do what good big brothers do.” Then she waved her hands at Jin in a shooing motion.
“There you are,” Jin said to me as he plopped down beside me on the sand. “I’ve been looking all over for you.”
“Well I’m here,” I said slightly sarcastic. “Following the rules as instructed.”
“Come again?” Jin asked
“Your rules,” I stated in annoyed fashion. “You know, the ones where I’m not allowed to be around Travis! And since he is always with the todds or in the house, then where else am I supposed to be?”
“Yes,” Jin said with a sigh. “He is getting under my skin in that regard. I’m only allowing him here at all so I can have another spare pair of eyes to keep you safe. Which means, hanging out on the beach where no one can see you is really not helpful.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” I said through closed eyes. “I, I just need some quiet alone time. I have a lot to think about. My emotions are all a jumble right now.”
“Jade, we made a promise. To talk to each other and tell the truth. I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.”
“I know, but you wouldn’t understand.”
“Oh I understand more than you think. This family has had it’s fair share of heartache and it’s up and downs. Me included” Jin said. “And it’s time you heard the truth of it all so you will finally understand. Then you can build your own life wisely from now on.”
Jin reached into a box and pulled out a thick folder before scooting closer to me. “The story begins with our grandparents…”
Jin weaved together a whole tale of our family. It began with our grandparents’ horrific and tragic death on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary after a lightning storm brought down the hot air balloon they were riding.
Our grandparents were well respected members of the town. Their farm provided fresh produce to all the local restaurants and grocery stores. When they died, their absence left a bigger burden on our father than he could handle.
“Father once told me that he grew up feeling guilty for not wanting to take over the family farm. Yet he had decided to do so out of respect for his parents, even though he had bigger dreams of his own. None of which meant staying in Sunset Valley. He wanted to be a writer and even though he could have done that from the farm, he felt his life had been too sheltered for the broad point of view, or the life experiences he would need to write well. After their deaths he was plagued with guilt. One for not carrying on the farm they had worked so hard to build for him, and two for feeling some bit of relief for having the hard choice taken away from him.”
“What did he do?”
“He sold it all, and after bouncing around from job to job in Sunset Valley, he decided to buy the island. The first island. I have a picture of it…ahh, right here.”
“That’s not an island! It’s a pimple.”
Jin laughed. “That’s exactly how dad described it too. Eventually we moved to this next island.” He pulled out another photo of a beautiful island with a waterfall and large pond. He told me how the island had been destroyed in a hurricane when I was a toddler, which is how we ended up here.
“At least this island is close to a mainland,” I pointed out.
“That’s true,” Jin replied. “But that had a lot to do with Sun actually. Our mother’s death was very traumatic for her and she wanted to be close to help if anything ever happened to, well you mostly.”
I stared at Jin waiting for him to say more. “What? What is the look for?”
“Traumatic for Sun? But not you?”
Jin looked away before answering. “More for her because she was the one there. She saw our mother die. I didn’t”
“I don’t understand. Where were you? I mean, weren’t you only seventeen when I was born?”
“Well, you see that is where our family story takes a turn and what I have to tell you may not be to your liking.” Jin paused. “Years ago, I thought maybe I wouldn’t have to tell you this part, but since we are where we are, I’m going to tell you the whole thing.”
My heart began to beat like bird’s wings in my chest and I had this terrible feeling, my life would never be the same after what Jin had to tell me. He began,
“You see, when father met our mother, she was actually married to someone else……”
Hours later, and after I had interrupted him with many clarifying questions, Jin finally finished the tale. He sat quietly, waiting for me to speak.
“Sssso,” I stuttered out in disbelief. “Did that….is that really all true?”
” Yes, yes it is. All true.”
“How did you find all this out? Did father tell you?” I asked.
“Some things I knew as dad told me himself during our fishing mornings together. Simple stuff about our grandparents and his life after their death.”
“Did he tell you all this stuff about mom?”
“Oh no! No. Our father, would never have said a thing against our mother. She was his whole world and he never would have wanted to tarnish the view I had of her, or change my love for her.”
“I hired a detective to help me put all the pieces together. I had already done quite a lot of the work myself, using my police contacts and some creative searching on the web. The latter I suggest you don’t do yourself though. I found a bunch of gossip and junk that was all lies instead of the truth I was looking for. It’s why I put this all together, because someday I knew we would need to have this conversation. I knew you would want answers to questions that I couldn’t give you.”
I looked down at all the files and pictures before me on the sand. Jin’s words were ringing in my head. Never knowing my mother, I had done what any child in my position would do I believe. I had spun a story in my head about who she was and what her life had been like. I was wrong, well mostly, it seemed.
“Are you all right?” Jin asked.
“I dunno,” I sighed. “Shocked? Confused? I think maybe I just need to look at this stuff some more if that is okay?”
“Take your time,” Jin replied, “And if you have any more questions, I will be in the house. Remember, we have a decision to make too.”
I nodded my head then watched him walk across the sand in those confident strides of his.I wondered if Jin had always been so self assured a sim, or if his life experiences, such as they were apparently, had made him that way. I wondered if he ever felt second in our parents’ love, considering how devoted they were to each other. I wondered why they bothered having me at all…..
Looking down at the pictures and such in front of me, I picked three from the pile and laid them out side by side. Then I kept adding to the pile, trying to come to an understanding of who my mother really was.
Such differing impressions each one portrayed, it was hard to understand that each one fit inside one person. In all the pictures, the one that stood out the most was this:
A picture of my mother with her best friend Sun as a child. Sun looked so much like my Mama Sun, you would almost believe they were the same person. But what struck me the most, was the look on their faces. Knowing my mother’s childhood background now, you could easily see how Sun’s smile lit up her face, while my mother’s smile seemed forced. She looked like a very unhappy child, going through all the motions just to survive. I couldn’t imagine what it was like growing up in a home where you knew for certain you weren’t wanted, with a future that held nothing bright. To be shackled to a much older man she didn’t know, in a marriage contract from such an early age. A man who beat her nearly every night once they were married, and had his way with her in the bedroom against her will.
I stared at the photos trying to make sense of how I felt. So my mother was an adulterer, but could one really blame her? She married my father to get out of her desperate situation. I could understand that. Wasn’t I just about to do the same thing in a different regard?
Then she left him, only to jump into another relationship with a famous celebrity at university. Eddy…. Eddy Mullins, I reminded myself as I pulled another pic from the file. In the end, he used and abused her just as badly as her first husband. He introduced my mother to the celebrity life, but not the side of it I’m sure she ever wanted to see. I should hate this man, for he was partly to blame for the reason we live the way we do now. I wished he was alive just so I could slap him a good one.
Leaving our father after she was safe, was her one big mistake in the world I thought. Everything before and after that, was just coping tactics she had learned from the time she was born. If she had stayed, I’m sure father would have encouraged her go to university anyway. However, she may not have met such sims as the Landgraab family
or the Meirs.
But even so, I was certain she would have become the famous artist all on her own. She still would have made good associations to further her career, without all the negativity she earned from her association with Eddy the……… I won’t finish that sentence.
I looked down at the pile again. Before today, if I described my mother to anyone I would have said, she was a super talented artist as well as a loving wife and mother. But after Jin’s tale and seeing all the pictures, I now also knew her to be:
*Maya, the model
*Maya, the sim with a make up line in her name
*Maya, the sim with a bunch of lies and fake photos printed in trashy magazines. But also too many that were true.
*Maya, who loved her best friend, and died with the heavy burden of guilt weighing her down when she found out Sun had been killed by Maya’s first husband. A death she believed to be her own fault.
My heart broke for her and yet regardless of what she had done, I was also super proud of her. For through all that misery, she had managed to hold on to the dream for the life she really wanted. She had suffered but saved herself, never allowing anyone to change who she truly was deep down inside.
Taking all this in was truly exhausting and I stripped off my outer clothes to lie down in the sun.
I wanted to rest, but I couldn’t shut off my brain. All the events of my families lives kept swirling around in my brain. Everything was all linked. My mother, shackled to an evil man who then became shackled to my mother’s best friend after my mother escaped. But she was already pregnant with Mama Sun at the time. Once she had given birth, my Mama Sun was sent to France for adoption after that evil man killed her mother. Yet why France? The same place my brother went for his trip. Meeting her there had to be… fate? Hmmmmm. But if I believed in fate, then I would have to consider my mother’s death was also fated. That I was never supposed to have her in my life. Nor my father, in connection to the predestined order. Not a pleasant thought at all.
So Jin and Mama Sun fall in love and he brings her back to the island. Then he is sent away? There was a story there I didn’t know all the details to yet. So, if I was going to lose my mother, in some fated declaration by the SimGod or whatever, was Sun’s coming a kindness to me? To give me a mother? Someone to be close with in the hard days ahead? With all this in mind, was I destined to suffer the loss of a best friend and ultimately meet Alex, no matter how my life had turned out?
I flipped over onto my back and squinted up at the sky through eyelashes and barely opened eyes.
“Mama, I know this is going to sound childish. Like one of those teenage attitudes where they think the world revolves around them. And I almost hate to say it, because it means that all those bad things that happened to you were meant to happen…..and I feel so sorry that they did. I wish you had a better life Mama and I wish you were here now, so that things could have been different for me. Selfish as that sounds. But do you think maybe, just maybe, if fate really does exist, that all this in the end could have been to help me right here, right now?”
“Hmmmm, I think that is a very interesting thought.”
I gasped out loud and bolted upright.
“Oh I’m sorry sweetie! I didn’t mean to scare you..or listen in on your thoughts to your mom. I was just already here when you started talking,” Mama Sun said apologetically.
I lunged at Mama Sun and wrapped my arms around her neck. “Oh my goodness. What is this for?” she asked.
“I’m so sorry you grew up without your mom,” I said while squeezing her tighter.
“Oh Jade. I did have a mom. I had two and I was truly blessed for that.”
I sighed. “I’ve been giving things a lot of thought. It all makes so much sense to me now. Why we live the way we do and why Jin does the things he does for us. I never fully understood what Jin meant when he said he needed to keep me safe from the paparazzi, but I sure do now…..” My thoughts drifted off, as I looked towards the magazines lying on the ground with pictures of mom on the cover and inside. “I guess I should have clued in to that when the false story about me hitting the kid in the car accident hit the news. How dumb am I?’ I said shaking my head.
“Jade, you can’t be expected to understand what you haven’t truly experienced. If it hadn’t been for my aunt and uncle agreeing to the marriage contract with that evil man when I turned 18, perhaps you could have had a totally different life. By the time we found out he was finally dead, Jin was too set in our staying here where it was safe.”
Sun paused while she got herself comfortable on the sand. “Fate is a tricky thing you know. There is no beginning and end to it. One event begets another and then another. Think about this. If I hadn’t met your brother, I would have been forced to marry Shen, then perhaps your mother and father would still be with you. Or, say your dad never went to China at all to meet your mom. She would have stayed married to Shen. You and Jin would never have existed and I would have grown up with my mother, aunt and uncle. Yet you could go further back even. What if Ian had never bought the anniversary balloon ride for his parents? They wouldn’t have died. He possibly would have stayed on the farm; never writing, never painting or sculpting. In connection to that, your mother would never have become the famous artist. What a shame that would have been to the Simworld, missing the two of them and all they have given. The bottom line is, you can go round and round till you drive yourself crazy with the what ifs. “
She was right, I knew she was. My mother and father were only pictures to me and stories from people who knew them. Jilly, my devoted friend, was gone. But I was still here. I would love them and take them with me no matter what happened in the future. But I had to carry on, through the mistakes I had already made and the mistakes to come. Knowing me, they would be plenty. I laughed out loud, at the fervent truth of that statement. Sun looked at me strangely.
I looked back to the house in the direction Jin had left me. Everything was clear now and I knew what I had to do. My mind was made up.
“Okay so, I think I know what I want to do now…with the decision. I want to go with option two and sue the magazine.”
“Are you sure? Really sure? There would be no shame in just letting this go if that is really what you wanted to do, ” Sun said assuringly.
“Yes, I’m sure. The thing is Sun, I think I understand what it was that my mother figured out so long ago. It’s that fear is a very powerful enemy. Up until that one moment where she took back her life, her whole existence had been driven by fear. Once she took command, she had everything she ever wanted. I want her to be proud of me. I want to be like her. So I am going to take command of my life, starting now.”
“Well. Okay then.” Sun stood up. “Let’s go tell Jin.”
I started to walk away, when she pulled me into a hug. “I just want you to know, this Mama is so very proud of you, too.”
“Sooooo, now that I know our family is famous…just how rich ARE we then????”
Sun laughed and tickled my side. “We are rich, enough. Let’s leave it at that.”
Note: Thank you to all my readers who voted in the poll. We had an overwhelming response for option 2, with only two votes for option 1. Jade’s life will move on now with no more gloom and after a chapter or two, the quads will make their debut at age 5!