Chapter 3.11 – Clarity

The house is a buzz of activity as twin girls, Mary and Elizabeth, arrive weeks before Ciara’s due date.
 
David has saved up quite a bit of vacation, so he takes the time off to help Ciara care for the newborn girls. Mark, grateful for the distraction, learns quickly how to cook for the family. And after a few burnt meals, his food becomes mostly edible.
 
Since the fight with Jayson at school, Mark has been avoiding just about everybody. He never really gave Melissa an answer about going steady. His opinion of Melissa changed when he heard her shouting at him to “grow up” after his fight with Jayson. He stood up and defended her against a guy who is arguably one of the toughest kids in school, and she shows gratitude by belittling him in front of half of the student body? He left campus that day without speaking to her. He hadn’t returned her phone calls, either. It has produced a mountain of grief from both Deirdre and Claire. But since the babies were born, his sisters have become enamoured, taking a lot of pressure off of him.
 
To make matters worse, the school team loses the biggest game of the year with its star athlete sidelined due to a head injury.  As a result, Mark is demonized throughout the school. He was unpopular to begin with, but the fight with Jayson leaves him a social exile. So he spends some of his time fishing with his dad and Jacob. But otherwise, he just goes to the beach where he and Charlotte used to go after school, and fishes by himself. He has seen Ali and his friends a number of times, but they always give Mark a wide berth.
 
 —
 
On the day of Deirdre’s and Claire’s birthday party, Mark is not surprised to see Melissa has come with another boy from school. Charlotte is also there with her new nerdy boyfriend. Claire has developed a crush on George Donner (the son of their Dad’s old friend, January Donner). The six of them party and dance into the late night while Deirdre talks biochemistry with her father. Ciara sits with Yuki and Joe, showing off the baby girls. Feeling invisible, Mark fades out of the party and walks down the hill to the family cemetary below the house.
 
He sits on the wet sand and skips rocks into the water. But the silence is too much for him. On any other night it would have been perfectly soothing, but tonight it is deafening. He speaks out loud to is grandfather, Julian, as if he were there listening. Mark tells him that he wishes he could have met him, since his parents tell him how similar they are. Mark sits alone for quite a while, speaking to Julian about his troubles. He admits how much he misses his grandmother, Bebe, his voice faltering upon mention of her name. She seemed to be the only person to ever really understand him.
 
Mark wipes incriminating tears from his face when he hears his father’s voice behind him. David tells him that Ciara, Joe, and Yuki had gone out looking for him when he turned up missing after the party. Mark apologizes, and tells David he had turned off his phone some days ago. After calling Ciara to let her know where they were, David asks if he can sit next to him. He had heard much of Mark’s “conversation”, and has gained more understanding about his son tonight than he ever had before. Mark asks how much he overheard, and David lies, saying he just heard something about Bebe. His voice heavy with emotion, David tells his son that he misses Bebe too.
 
They talk for a long time, mostly about the ancestors David researched as a teen. David is not sure why, but when the subject of his job comes up, he begins to tell Mark about a mysterious young woman who had lived through the accident at the military base a number of weeks ago. She was found deep in the caves, near the scene where most of the deaths occurred. Her injuries were so severe that she was thought to be dead at first. But she somehow survived, which medically, should have been impossible. He tells Mark that he believes she is somehow connected to the mystery surrounding the old mine.
 
Mark, unsure why he is so intrigued, asks his father to continue. She had suffered numerous setbacks that would have killed any other sim. But she manages to stabilize each time and pull through. The issue that has the staff talking more than anything, is that nobody seems to know who she is. Her brief moments of conciousness are confused and unhelpful in determining her identity. Looking through reports of missing sims has turned up nothing matching her description; a young, female sim, in her late teens or early twenties. But David finds himself thinking that, even beneath heavy bandages, he knows her from somewhere.
 
It is nearly daybreak before David tells Mark it is time to head back home. As they make their way back up the hill, David has a rare moment of clarity. For their birthdays, David had planned a sightseeing trip to China for Deirdre and Claire. He had no intention of bringing Mark, telling Ciara that he was needed at home to help with the babies. But the truth is that David did not want Mark along to ruin what promised to be a very enjoyable trip.
 
But David now realizes that bringing him along could possibly be the most important part of the trip. What he does not suspect, is that it will become the single-most important event of Mark’s life.
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