|David cheers with excitement as his two youngest children prepare to celebrate their birthdays.|
|It has been a rather long and challenging journey through parenthood. Mary and Elizabeth came very late in his marriage, and he had been an elder through much of their lives. Mei has done more than any sim could ask in helping to raise them despite having two children of her own. Mei is conspicuously absent from the celebration, however. She has been avoiding just about everybody since Hope’s birthday.|
|Hope is also missing from the celebration, but for a different reason entirely. She was found by her mother, passed out drunk in the cellar, in the wee hours of the morning. She had been sick in bed all day, sleeping off her binge from the party. And while Hope has plenty to answer for in regard to last night, David does not place any blame in her lap. In his mind, Michael Nava is responsible for taking advantage of a naive little girl. Michael will not set foot in this house again. With this thought on his mind, he cheers as the twins become adults.|
|Mary had always been the tomboy of the two girls. Her love of fishing was the one thing that David shared with his stoic daughter. He reflects upon the days when she would come with him, as a little girl, to some of his favorite spots. She didn’t care how difficult the hike was, or how dirty she became in the trek to get there. She has often shared with David her regret of being unable to save her mother and brother from the burning car. Since then, she has had a desire to become a firefighter. It is every kid’s default answer when asked what they want to be when they grow up. But for Mary, it has become a lifelong ambition. She had always been a tough little girl. Now she is a woman to be reckoned with.|
|Elizabeth is no pushover, either. With a keen business mind, ambition to succeed, and the drive to make it happen; she is sure to be one of the most successful businesswomen Sim City has ever known. Sim City? David is also confused, at first. But there is no mistake. Elizabeth had been keeping the decision quiet, even from her twin, for some time. Sunset Valley is far too small for the ambitious Barimen. The plans have already been made, and she will be leaving to catch her flight immediately after the birthday celebration. She starts her new, big-city job in the morning.
See author’s note, below.
|Searing light from the setting sun shines through the window into Hope Barimen’s bedroom.|
|It had been a pretty rough day. Several trips to the bathroom to purge the wine from her body, combined with a splitting headache, prevented any real sleep from happening. Hope takes some comfort in the fact that the world has stopped spinning around her. But it feels as though her stomach has grown legs and walked out in protest of last night’s binge with Michael.|
|She does not recall much of what happened after Michael removed her shirt. Her head hurts too badly to try and remember how she came to be in her own bed from lying on the cellar floor. The ripe odor of stomach juices mixed with wine, demands the need for a shower. She steadies herself with the wall as the floor lurches beneath her wobbly footsteps. Thankfully, the uncontrollable reflex to vomit is gone, and she makes it to her bathroom without incident. The smell is infused here too. The maid is going to be furious.|
|She rests her pounding head gently on the cool, tiled wall and allows the hot shower to wash away the stench from last night’s activities. How far had she and Michael gone? She remembers kneeling on the cellar floor when she started feeling sick. He was yelling at her, calling her some really vicious names. He was in a fit of rage, because she hadn’t let him get far enough. With a sigh of relief (or perhaps it is a shudder), she quietly ponders the situation.|
|She dresses slowly into clean pajamas and eyes the stinky linens on her bed. She is reminded, quite suddenly, of the odors reeking from Michael’s house that afternoon she went to find where he lives. She wanders in this memory for a short time, but is brought back to the present with a startled yelp, when she hears a soft knocking at her door. She considers hiding in the bathroom, or crawling out the window and scaling the gutter down to the ground floor. She is not ready to face her mother, or worse, her grandfather. But it is Mary’s voice that asks to be let in. Hope opens the door just enough to see her Aunt’s concerned face.|
|Mary’s nose wrinkles at the strong smell lingering within the room, but she smiles when seeing her niece upright. Mary has always been so quiet and reserved. Hope never understood how any sim could enjoy spending as much time alone as her Aunt Mary does. As a result, they had never become very close. But right now, her face is more welcome than any other she can think of. Mary asks if they can talk, respectfully adding if they can do so in her own room. Hope agrees, glad to be away from the foul smell.|
|They relax together on Mary’s bed, and start some small talk about the birthday she and Elizabeth celebrated earlier today. Hope feels bad for missing the event, but is grateful for Mary’s easing into the inevitable. She continues, saying that Elizabeth has decided to move to Sim City to pursue a career in business. The news shocks Hope, as it had everybody else. Mary pauses, as if gathering the right words. Hope senses that the tough part is coming. But what Mary says next, surprises her. Rather than a lecture, Mary offers a sincere apology for not being around at a time when her niece needed her most. Hope feels worse about this, than anything. She does not have the heart to admit that she was trying to keep Michael away from Mary all night, anyway. It has driven Hope crazy watching Michael drool over her pretty aunt, and she wanted him all to herself.|
|Mary continues, informing Hope that in addition to missing the birthdays, she has slept through her first day of high school. There is a firestorm of talk about her and Michael going around. He actually showed up to school for a change, bragging about “doing it” with Hope at the birthday party. Mary asks point-blank if the rumor is true. Hope doesn’t know whether to say yes or no. She doesn’t honestly remember whether it happened or not. But based upon Michael’s angry and insulting rant last night, she guesses it didn’t. Mary gets up, satisfied with the answer, and suggests that Hope stay here and sleep for a while.|
|Before Mary leaves, Hope asks about her mother. Mary pauses. She has watched her sister-in-law slowly lose grip on the last threads of hope that Mark will ever be coming back home alive. With Michael causing so much havoc in Hope’s life, it just makes things more difficult. She was never one to mince words, and now is no different. She tells Hope that her mother is a mess. When Mei found her, drunk and naked in the cellar, it was too much to bottle up. She has not said a word to anybody since then, and did not come out of her room for the birthday celebration.|
|Mary pauses again. No matter how much it hurts, Hope needs to hear it. She calls her niece on the lie she told to her grandfather about Michael stealing the wine the night of Dara’s birthday. Mary describes Mei’s hurt expression, and the telltale signs on Hope’s face that gave away the deception. Mary reminds Hope about the apology she just gave for failing a member of her family. Then, perhaps more coldly than intended, she suggests that it may be time for Hope to think really hard about whom she has failed.|
|She hears the message loud and clear. Hope knows she has messed things up in a major way. Shoot first, and ask questions later; it is how she has always done things. Just like the day she went to find Michael’s house. And last night was no simple matter of talking too much during grammar class. This is big, and she knows it. Choices, her mother told her, make a sim who she is in life; and those choices affect all those around her. Hope resolves to have a long talk with her mother and apologize for everything.|
|Then there is the “Michael” problem. But even as she mulls the painful decision of cutting him loose, she cannot stop thinking about him. She has worked so hard to cultivate their friendship over the years. And just as she was about to solve the Michael Nava enigma, she goes and throws up on him. There has to be another way. He has lived such a terrible life in that filthy little house, with screaming and hitting every day of his life… He cannot help the choices he makes now. But she can show him a better way.|
|As she drifts off to sleep, she vows that one day or another, one way or another, she will be the one to finally make Michael Nava happy.|
|Author’s Note: Game Bugs… I hate ’em. I think I have finally fixed an issue in the family tree where the Barimen’s were no longer related to one another. I did not realize the problem until after Elizabeth moved out of the household. She invited her boyfriend, who was a service sim (babysitter), to move in. They became engaged, married, and impregnated before I moved them into their own lot. Soon afterwards, I got the game message informing me that they moved away from Sunset Valley.
I believe the family tree issue has something to do with the fact that a service sim was introduced into the family, but I can’t be sure. I downloaded and installed the NRaas MasterController Phase 8. To my delight and wonderment, I was able to manually rebuild my family tree. Oddly enough, after a few repairs to David’s children, everything else seemed to fall back into place all the way back to Julian and Bebe. Unfortunately, Elizabeth appears to be gone from the game, even though she still shows up in the family tree. The MasterController also allowed me to recover the graves for both Deirdre and Claire. Bonus!