Chapter 4.4 – Bruises

After noticing that little Dara is far too complacent with sitting in front of the television, Mei has started taking her to the park every afternoon to enjoy the endless sunshine Sunset Valley has to offer.
 
The change of pace is good for them both. They play outside and sometimes read together, while waiting for Hope to be dismissed from school. Hope is absolutely, and without a doubt, her favorite sim. It is the highlight of Dara’s day to watch for her sister leaving school with Mary, Elizabeth, and all of the other big kids. Dara is right on cue, running to the edge of the grass when the school bell rings.
 
Today is much like the others before it; Hope darts out of school and across the road to the park where Dara waits, almost jumping with joy to see her. She is a tiny little girl, but Hope still manages an affectionate hug all the same. After a brief exchange about the events of their day, Hope tries to quickly sneak the cookie she had saved from lunch, and give it to Dara. But the mom-radar is working with precision accuracy, and the mission earns a stern look from Mei. The the pair of sweet smiles and shining halos disarms any thought of reprimand, though.
 
Just as they are getting ready to leave for home, Hope tugs on her mother’s shirt and points out Michael and his mother leaving the school. Michael had gotten into trouble again for fighting, and Hope blazes path toward her disgruntled friend. His mother instantly spots her, and tries to make a quick escape to the taxi. But Michael is too slow in following, and Hope catches up to them in no time.
 
She excitedly, but somewhat nervously, introduces herself as Michael’s best friend. She asks about Michael’s little brother, who is perched on his mother’s hip; then she goes on asking about what happened during the fight; tells Michael about the cool new shoes Stacy Miller has; and then drags him across the street to meet her mother and sister …all this within the span of a single breath. Clearly stunned by the unexpected salvo, Michael stomps reluctantly in tow behind Hope.
 
Although she is standing clear across the street, Mei can see the mortified expression of panic on the woman’s face when Hope drags her son, Michael, toward the park. Hope arrives with her captured friend and begins a full historical account of her and Michael’s friendship. Mei smiles patiently as Michael squirms uncomfortably, barely making eye contact, and choosing instead to stare at the ground. When his mother approaches presenting the same behavior, Mei cannot help but wonder what is causing them this much anxiety.
 
Hope drags Michael to the other side of the park to greet another friend from school; her voice trailing behind them like the rattle from a noisy engine. Mei sighs as her daughter and friend disappear just as Michael’s mother, now in full panic mode, arrives. She is a slender woman, whose naturally soft features are overpowered by the harsh expressions that play across her face.
 
Mei contains her startlement as the woman stops a few steps away from her. She is wearing heavy makeup to cover what appear to be layers of bruises on her otherwise pretty face. Her right eye is noticeably swollen where a new welt has risen. Still, the makeup job is superb, and likely done by somebody with extensive experience in concealing such marks. Dara squeals in her mother’s arms to meet Michael’s brother. So Mei approaches the woman, who flinches at the sudden movement. Despite her efforts to seem casual, Mei finds herself visually scanning the boy for any evidence of poor treatment.
 
Mei strikes up a light conversation about the toddlers, and manages to extract (albeit unwillingly) that the woman’s name is Bridget Nava, and that she is indeed Michael’s mother. Mei makes note of Bridget’s attempt to turn her swollen cheek away from her. Knowing her efforts are unsuccessful, Bridget laments about how badly she reacts to bee stings. Mei has learned enough from living with a world renowned surgeon to know that her injury was most certainly not caused from an insect bite.
 
The woman nervously chuckles and stutters an awkward apology for the incident with Hope at their home a few weeks ago. Mei stops listening part-way through the litany of excuses that Bridget floats out in the hopes that one might stick. She has found that her ire has begun to build at this woman. Who would allow such a thing to happen? Mei finds herself interrupting, somewhat rudely, and inviting Michael to spend the night for sleepover tonight. Bridget stutters, completely at the verge of tears with frustration. But Mei does not back down. She adds sweetly, but firmly, that she will not take No for an answer.
 
Bridget agrees, trembling with confusion, fear,  and uncertainty. She wants more than anything for Michael to be happy, and she knows that this will lift his spirits to new heights. He really likes Hope, to the point of shedding puppy-love tears after the confrontation at their house. She smiles and nods to mask the fear welling up in her gut, while Mei informs both Hope and Michael of the news on the other side of the park.
 
She holds her youngest son close. It is as if, somehow, the embrace will protect her against what awaits for them at home, once this decision comes to light.
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6 thoughts on “Chapter 4.4 – Bruises

  1. FortA says:

    Oh my! What is going on with Michael’s dad? This is sooo very interesting, and I can’t wait to read more of Hope’s story. As always, this was superbly written, and is one of the best chapters I’ve read so far. How you told us about Michael’s mother, the description of her actions, nearly brought me to tears.

    What a great job.

    FortA

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  2. I worry about Michael’s little brother all alone with Michael’s parents :/ How frightening, especially after learning about how Bridget reacts toward even the smallest of ordinary interactions.

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  3. Oh no…Micheals dad is a bad cookie. T.T Poor Bridget..even worse that Micheals little brother will be left with the madness that seems to await them at home. It makes me a little scared to think what will happen.

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