Chapter 3.19 – Bittersweet

…if Mei had a word to describe the day after marrying Mark, it would be that …bittersweet.
 
Their night together had been something for poets to write about, and their morning together was likewise poetic. But the phone call from an “Aunt Yuki” after breakfast changed everything. Mei had seen many emotions play across her lover’s face before. But not this. The color drained out of his cheeks, and the tears fell like streams from his eyes. But his expression was that of an emotionless statue. Something was wrong; something terrible and crushing.
 
His mother and brother, Jacob, had been killed along with Jacob’s girlfriend when an incendiary device was detonated underneath the car they were occupying. Mei struggles to understand the concept of such an act. She has spent her life grieving death, and cannot comprehend what kind of sim would willingly administer death in such a manner. She cries with him in mourning for the mother and brother she will never meet, and in grief of seeing her groom in such agony.
 
Jiang Xi and Mei comfort and console Mark as he runs the gambit of emotions that afternoon. There is heated conversation between him and their aged instructor as Mark’s face changes from the crimson-red of rage, to the pale din of grief. Jiang Xi works his spells of wisdom faster that he ever had before in his life, to convince Mark that retaliating against the killers will not bring his slain family back alive. Doing so will only serve to endanger those that still live. She hears Jiang Xi sternly telling Mark to remember his first lesson as a student here.
 
Later that day, Mei finds a moment to pull her grandfather aside and ask him what she should do. The question is awarded with a tired and stern response from the wizened sage. It is spoken with a rare display of impatience, the usual playful sparkle in his eyes gone. He simply utters the word balance. She nods respectfully and bows to her now exhausted grandfather. She then goes to Mark, who is staring out into the wilderness. She quietly takes his hand and walks with him to the garden, whispering the same lessons she had taught him years ago. They sit in meditative silence together until dark.
 
She worries about Jiang Xi. Despite his sometimes childish demeanor, he is a very, very old man. The stress of seeing his carefully built arrangement suffer a setback this early has clearly taken its toll. He has been her tether to sanity since the day her brother drowned many years ago. She has relied on him for far too long now, and it is time she take the reins from him. Mark is her husband, and just as importantly, her best friend. She had assumed that when her grandfather responded with the word balance, it was in regard to Mark. But the elder’s uncanny wisdom and insight has worked its magic yet again. She recognises, rather suddenly, that this time it was in reference to her.
 
After a brief farewell to Jiang Xi later that evening, Mark and Mei depart China en route to Sunset Valley. During the flight, he speaks volumes about his mother, and how she had always tried to hard listen to him and understand his perpetually negative attitude. But it is after the flight, on the drive home, that Mei asks why somebody would want to kill her. Mark tells her about his confrontation with Atta and Ali before he left for his trip. His eyes smoulder with something akin to hate as he mentions the names. She had not witnessed anything like it in her life, and the thought of such an expression coming from Mark causes her to involuntarily recoil from him in shock.
 
Realizing what he had done, Mark quickly asks for her forgiveness. He is tired and emotionally drained, and the past days events have left him susceptible to the same poison that feeds the animals responsible for the murders. Mark studies Mei’s worried face as they stand together at the front of the Barimen home. She has not once mentioned her ruined honeymoon or her own issues that stem from leaving her birthplace. He turns to her and holds her gaze, thanking her with such sincerity that it wins a blush and a smile.
 
The funeral at the family cemetary is somber and observed with very few words exchanged. Father Gerard DuPont, the priest who had taught Ciara during her stay at the convent in France, has made the overseas trip to preside over the service. What few tears there are remaining to be shed, Father DuPont summons with his moving sermon. Mark thanks the young man afterwards, and asks whether he would consider staying to establish a new church in Sunset Valley. The softly spoken, young priest seems amiable, but leaves his decision for another day. Together, the family and guests walk up the steep bluff to the mansion, where they celebrate the memory of lost loved ones.
 
Mark rallies the family around the news of his marriage to Mei, and challenges everybody to remember all of the good that Ciara did during her life. He does not mention Ali or Atta, or the threat that was made that night. But he does promise that he will find the persons responsible for the crime and see to it that they are punished. Mark had never been a sim to give up after a punch in the gut, and he certainly is not going to give up now.
 
The days that follow are a tenuous game of cat and mouse that sees Mark away from home for many hours. But his hard work eventually pays its dividends. Atta is captured during a raid at the warehouse by an army of police and special agents from Sunset Valley, Riverview, and Sim City. But Ali somehow escapes capture and eludes all attempts to find him. Mark is somewhat satisfied, however. The evidence collected during the raid is enough to keep Atta and his fugitive son locked away for several lifetimes. He is transported to the police station and charged with the deaths of Ciara and Jacob, in addition to numerous other disappearances.
 
The Barimen household will always bear the scar from its brutal attack. But life eventually returns to normal, as David celebrates his elder birthday surrounded by his beloved family. Although there are only a few people present to help him celebrate, there are hundreds who would have gladly come. David has become one of the most recognisable names in medicine worldwide, and his work has touched the lives of countless sims.
 
All sadness is forgotten, even if for an evening, when Mei makes the surprise announcement that there is a baby on the way. The house erupts in applause, with sly winks given to Mark and his handiwork. David smiles as he greets his grandchild for the first time. He feels Ciara’s presence wash over him as he learns the baby’s gender, and takes comfort in knowing there is Hope for the Barimen family’s future.
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10 thoughts on “Chapter 3.19 – Bittersweet

  1. What tragic news for the newlyweds, and such an early test of their strength! I do hope Mei and Mark live without the constant threat of Ali over their marriage. Can’t wait to see what gender the little one will be!

    As an aside, is there a reason ‘Hope’ is capitalized in the final line? Or am I reading too deeply?

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  2. It is indeed a very sad and tragic thing to come home to for Mark and Mei. But it tests their strength as a couple and Mei’s trust and love in her husband. I am happy to see justice shown with the capture of Atta.
    And a new baby on the way shows that the future will still hold happiness for them and they will overcome. <33

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  3. Yasmiin says:

    i really love ur story! I’m so hooked. it’s like my drug’ keep up the great work……… i also like to point out not all middle eastern families are like this and I’m pretty sure they all don’t know how to make a bomb…… I’m sure it was put in there for dramatic effect but i can’t help but feel a little hurt/offended. Ur the first sims writer who perfect with storytelling and portraying sims cultures and the first ever middle eastern looking sims family goes all evil and blows something up and kills 3 lovable sims…..so i really hope u keep writing and maybe later you’ll make a nice peaceful middle eastern family? =]

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    • I understand your concern, and regret any offense you may be feeling. Ali and Atta depict a segment of society who thrive on hatred, fear, and violence. Granted, these types of people exist in all cultures. But I essentially had three choices to work from (and the French didn’t quite fit the bill for the story I was trying to tell).
      Admittedly, there is some religious and social commentary embedded in that particular post, specifically as it pertains to the extremism we (the average American working stiff) have been exposed to. They represent the people who film themselves praising some mysterious god (certianly not the God of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims) as they behead a reporter and a civilian contractor with butchers knives.
      Don’t worry, there is still more of the Mark/Ali story to tell, and much of it will take place in Al Simhara. I will keep you specifically in mind when I write those posts.

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