Chapter 4.6 – Wine

Mei’s continued resilience during Mark’s absence has astounded everyone. But cracks in the armor are slowly becoming evident.
When Dara celebrates her birthday into childhood, she asks the tough question about whether or not her daddy will ever be coming home. It is at that moment when Mei’s confidence finally shows some vulnerability. Her voice quivers as she tells Dara that she wishes the answer was yes. Dara is a lot like her mother in the fact that they both allow their worries to simmer quietly on the inside. And so the day begins to look more like a funeral than a birthday.
But Hope has a completely different outlook. She lives in the moment, and thus feels her emotions in the moment. And at this moment, Hope lifts her mother and sister into celebrating the birthday at hand. Grandpa David, showing a sudden and curious optimism, agrees with her. They turn what had started as just another grim afternoon, into a day-long, epic pool party – complete with a horde of Hope’s friends from school.
Hope squeals with excitement when she sees Michael arriving at the party. She almost fails to recognise him at first.  He had evidently celebrated his own birthday. Hope feels somewhat let down that she was not invited to the party, but does not let it dissuade her from going to greet him. Their relationship really has not been the same since the evening Michael was supposed to stay for a sleepover.
That night had produced another awkward experience, even more damaging than the day she first went to visit him at his house. He was astounded by the enormity of the mansion Hope lives in. They played together on the trampoline and play set, then walked down to the beach where her family had fished for generations. It seemed to her that he was actually starting to enjoy himself for the first time since she had known him. But it did not last long.
As soon as the sun began to set, Michael’s mood waned with the daylight. He withdrew into his own thoughts and continually asked what time it was, insisting that he needed to call his mother to “check up” on her. He seemed very uncomfortable during the mealtime prayer. Then after supper, he simply said goodbye and ran out the door. Mei and Hope both called after him to stop, but he did not listen, instead riding his bike off into the darkness.
Michael avoided her at school after that night, when he bothered to show up at all. He was careful about not missing too many days in a row, but it seemed he was absent more times than he was there. The kids at school, sensing the rift between them, resumed their malevolent jeers toward the self-absorbed loner. But Hope refused to participate, and exchanged pleasantries with him whenever he permitted her the chance.
Michael awards Hope a sideways smile upon seeing her. But his eyes seem glued to something (or somebody) else. Following his line of sight, she sees her Aunt Mary, who had changed into her bikini for the pool party. It is only after Mary shuts him down with a few choice words, that he pays Hope any attention. He is mean to her at first, calling her a dumb kid and suggesting that she do something useful, like get him a drink. She attributes his harsh words to his hurt feelings by way of Mary’s rather abrasive dismissal. She hates to see him angry, and desperately wants to repair their friendship. So she fetches his drink and they settle back down into a somewhat normal conversation.
After growing annoyed by his constant staring at Aunt Mary, she shows Michael the wine cellar, where her father has been aging some his better wines, and shows off the artifacts he had collected from all over China. If there is one thing Hope can do, it is spin a tall tale. So she begins telling slightly elaborated stories of her father’s adventures. She had really just wanted to talk to Michael without the distraction of teenage bikinis.  But soon, some of the kids gather in the cellar to hear an adventure of somewhat exaggerated proportion. She realizes, part way through her story, that Michael is nowhere to be found. She sighs and spends the rest of the party with friends who are not so fixated with gawking at girly parts.
Later, after the party has ended, Dara and Hope have some time before bed to talk about the day. Although the hero-worship she used to feel has faded, Dara still thinks the world of her sister. Her birthday was fantastic, and Dara thanks her for pulling her up and out of the bad mood she was in. Hope just smiles and tells her not to worry about their father. She dismisses any possibility that something bad has happened. There just aren’t any bad guys smart enough to outwit their dad. Dara, not having any way to disagree with such sound logic, smiles and accepts her sister’s iron clad argument.
They play with the doll house for a while, but exchange worried glances as they hear Grandpa David raising his voice downstairs. They quietly dart down the steps to find what has their normally placid, but excitable grandfather so upset. Mary and Elizabeth are standing nearby, pleading their innocence with him. Hope has never seen her grandfather angry, but he comes very close as he demands that his daughters tell him the truth.
As they come into view, Hope sees two of the emptied bottles from her father’s prized collection standing on the table. She learns, through her grandfather’s questioning of Mary and Elizabeth, that two more are missing. Hope approaches slowly. Her mother, who is standing opposite the arguing trio, motions sternly for her to stop. But Hope ignores her mother. Neither Mary or Elizabeth can be blamed for this.
David makes eye contact with Hope, points sternly to the other room, and tells his granddaughter that now is not the time for her to interrupt. She takes a deep breath to calm her nervousness, then tells her grandfather that she was in the wine cellar with her friends. David pauses, a shocked frown crossing his face. He looks at each of his daughters in turn; his eyes deeply fraught with the realization that he had wrongly accused them of lying.
Mei covers her mouth to hide the shock of Hope’s admission. David hugs and kisses his girls, and whispers an apology to each before sending them off to bed. David waits until they are upstairs before speaking the name that is obviously on everyone’s mind. He asks her if Michael was with her in the cellar, and if she saw him take anything. The honest answer is that after her other friends came down, and she started telling her stories, she doesn’t remember what happened to Michael. But Michael is her friend, and she doesn’t want for him to be forbidden from the house.
The decision Hope makes at this moment is one she will regret, quite possibly, for the rest of her life. She squares up her jaw, smiles sweetly, and tells her grandfather a blatant lie. Michael was with her the entire time, and could not have done anything with the wine. But there were a bunch of other kids there too, and they could have easily done something without her knowing. David sighs and gently scolds Hope for letting her friends into a room she knows is off-limits. He hugs his granddaughter and sends her, too, off to bed.
Mei watches her daughter, as tears threaten to spill down her cheeks. David did not see the subtle change in Hope’s breathing, the color flush from her face, or the clenching of her jaw muscles. Hope lied to her grandfather, and she did so with a smile on her sweet and innocent face. She grabs a brush and begins to scrub the sink, and continues to scrub long after it is clean. She checks the faucets then makes sure the stove hasn’t been left on. It makes her feel only slightly better. She needs Mark home.
She needs him home now.

5 thoughts on “Chapter 4.6 – Wine

  1. Oh no. I’ve really got to read Mark’s whole story to find out where he went 🙂 It would probably make a lot more sense. Haha.

    This really was a great chapter. I’m amazed at how much Hope and Dara resemble each other – my sims never do.

    I’m really anxious to see what’s going to happen next – I mean, our sweet Hope, lying to her grandfather? That can’t be good…


  2. Oh, what a hearbreaking chapter. I really feel for Mei, Im so surprised at how strong she has been and how long. Its so much to keep in, no wonder she couldnt surpress it all.

    I really wanted Hope to ‘save’ Micheal. I know it seems silly but he is such a damaged child, he needs good friends.

    I also hated that Hope lied, it broke my heart to know that her mother knew that she lied too.


  3. Poor Mei, it’s really sad to see her carry so much weight on her shoulders. I agree with Dusty about Hope. I can’t believe she lied about such a big thing. And how did I not see it coming!? Lol 🙂
    Your pictures were really impressive and well taken. I can see you took time to write this chapter.

    I added a new chapter to my legacy, and their is a heir vote, Can u please check it out?


  4. New Michael looks a whole lot like a Sim I once made o.o It’s uncanny. But anyways, I love the story so far, I cannot wait to find out more about Michael.


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