Interlude: Pretend

Mark took a deep breath as he headed up the porch steps, trying his best to force a smile. Some days, it was easy to pretend.

But today was one of the hard ones.

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Still, he always fought to put on a brave face for his grandson. He’d been spending a lot of time with Zayne lately… The whole family had. Visits to the park, trips to the movies, special dinners at his favorite restaurants – anything they could do to keep him distracted. Lift his spirits. Remind him how much he was loved.

Things had been especially difficult for Zayne lately, now that the guardianship details had been finalized at last. Jocelyne was still bouncing back and forth between Willow Creek and Windenburg as she tried to reach a compromise with Elliot about the move.

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Mark did not want to get his hopes up that Jocelyne’s ex would be convinced to follow her back to Windenburg… But he couldn’t help wishing. He knew that she’d never make the move without her children’s father. And, selfishly, Mark was eager to have her back in his life again, even if it was as nothing more than Zayne’s guardian.

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“Hi, Mark.” Tobi said as he opened the door. “Right on time… Zayne’s been just about bursting waiting for you to get here.” For a moment, he almost smiled.

Mark did manage a small smile of his own. “That’s our boy.” The older man replied.

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Things had always been uncomfortable between him and Tobi, for obvious reasons. They’d managed to be civil to each other over the years, of course, but the two men had never really connected with one another… Until now. It had happened in the most terrible way imaginable, but there was a strange sort of bond between them now – The shared pain of knowing what it feels like to lose a child.

“Grandpa, grandpa!” Zayne’s cries of excitement reached both men’s ears, and called Mark back to the present.

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His heart ached at the sight of Zayne’s bright red hair and chubby little cheeks. God, he looks so much like her. Mark still eagerly awaited the day he could look at his grandson’s face and not see his daughter staring back at him.

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“Have fun at the movies, honey.” Colette bent down and gave Zayne a soft kiss. “Don’t drive grandpa too crazy, okay?”

“Don’t worry, Oma. I won’t.” Zayne giggled. “Bye!” He waved cheerily at her.

The little boy turned around, smiling at the pair of ornate urns that sat on the nearby table in the entryway. “Bye, Mama! Bye, Papa!”

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Mark watched as the smiles instantly vanished from Tobi and Colette’s faces, and he felt his own heart sink at his grandson’s words.

“Bye, Opa!” Zayne smiled at Tobi, seemingly oblivious to the sudden change in his grandparents’ demeanor.

Tobi’s voice was thick. “See you soon, buddy.”

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———————

“Alright, who wants some ice cream before the movie?” Mark asked with a smile as Zayne hopped out of the backseat and onto the sidewalk.

“Me!” The little red-haired boy cried. “An’ Bruce too!’

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His grandfather couldn’t help but chuckle at Zayne’s mention of his imaginary friend. “Okay.” He smiled warmly. “Bruce too.”

“Thanks for takin’ me to do fun stuff today, grandpa!” Zayne skipped down the sidewalk toward the front door of the ice cream parlor, Mark at his side.

“Of course!” His grandfather’s voice was warm. “Any time.”

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His grandson appeared thoughtful for a moment. “Do you think Tante Joce likes to do fun stuff too?”

For a moment, Mark’s smile faltered at the mention of Jocelyne. “She does.” He promised his grandson. “I know she loves doing fun things with her little girls. And I’m sure all of them will love doing fun things with you too.”

Zayne just smiled. “I hope so!”

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Once they got inside and found a seat, Mark headed to the counter to get their ice cream. “Don’t forget Bruce!” Zayne had reminded him. With a laugh, Mark asked for an empty bowl, which he spooned a bit of his own ice cream into.

“Here we go!” Mark smiled as he returned to the table where his grandson sat. “Vanilla for you, chocolate for me and Bruce.”

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Zayne’s brow furrowed. “But… Bruce doesn’t like chocolate.” He said softly.

“Well, your friend Bruce and I had a little chat, and he told me he was willing to try it.” Mark assured him with a wink. “Just this once.”

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The little boy shook his head. “No he didn’t. He never said that! He hates chocolate!” Zayne’s voice grew louder and louder with every word he spoke.

Mark felt his heart sink. He knew exactly where this was headed. Oh God, not again. “I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t –”

“You’re so STUPID!” Zayne threw his arm out, pushing all three bowls of ice cream to the floor with a trio of loud smashes. “Don’t preten’ you know Bruce! You don’t! He hates grown-ups!” The little boy’s shrieks echoed throughout the tiny ice cream parlor.

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“You’re not his friend! Mama and Papa are the ONLY ones who can see him ‘cept for me! And they should be here ‘stead of you! They’d never give him chocolate! They wouldn’t mess it all up! They’d… They’d…” In an instant, Zayne’s big brown eyes were overflowing with tears. It sounded like he was trying to say more, but every word was drowned out by the boy’s gasping sobs.

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Mark crouched down and pulled his grandson into a tight embrace. He could feel the gaze of every employee and customer in the entire restaurant, but he did not care. Zayne buried his head in his grandfather’s shoulder as his sobs continued to shake his entire body.

“It’s okay to be angry.” Mark whispered, blinking back the hot sting of his own tears. “I miss them too.”

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Zayne simply cried harder in reply.

Mark continued to hold his grandson as he waited patiently for Zayne to come back to himself. These outbursts seemed to come more and more frequently lately, just as the grief counselor had warned them. But Mark knew it would pass just as quickly as it had come.

It was a few minutes before the little boy was able to calm back down again. But sure enough, his tears finally seemed to subside, and his breathing slowly returned to normal.

At last, Mark rose back to his feet, wiping his own tears away with the back of his hand. “Better?” He asked Zayne in a whisper.

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The little boy nodded, his cheeks reddening. “I’m sorry, grandpa.” He said softly. “I didn’t mean to yell at you. And I didn’t mean to make a mess…” His lip trembled. “I just got so mad… And I ruined everything.”

“Hey, hey, don’t worry, kiddo. We can clean it up, no problem.” Mark said gently, glancing over his grandson’s shoulder at the spilled ice cream. “And you know what? I bet if we ask really nicely, Bruce will help too.” He added with a wink.

“O’course he will.” At last, Zayne’s lips curled into a smile. “Bruce is the bestest helper.”

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39 Responses to Interlude: Pretend

  1. Trip says:

    Mark as a caring grandpa is so pure. It cleansed me if my sins and opened my pores.

    I had the absolute worst laugh at Zayne saying good bye to mum and dad. That’s morbid as fuck! I’m sorry!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Simslover163 says:

    Seriously, Mark? You just had to mess it up? This made him think about Luzel, who he dearly misses. I’m proud of Mark that he didn’t mind others staring at him. When I was a child, I never cause any tantrums in public because that would make me and my parents embarrassed. I love how you showed the mess Zayne made!

    I’m smiling as Mark and Zayne bond at the end. It’s bittersweet.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. kaffepigen says:

    Zayne is such a sweetheart ❤ He has such a terrible time ahead of him, but he handles it really well for a 5 year old! At least I think :3
    It's good Mark doesn't care about the spilled ice cream. And he shouldn't either! Zayne's wellbeing is the most important thing right now, and everyone is so good at showing that. I'm really proud of the Rosebrooks and Mark at this point! ❤ for them all.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. witchazard says:

    I love it when children’s emotions change so quickly it’s adorable! And the whole waving goodbye to his late parents ashes it just so precious! And the whole ice cream incident every knows you can’t start making assumptions or decisions for imaginary friends until the child claims he or she is ready to have a relationship with you and not a minute before get it together Mark! Other than that I can’t get enough of this kid!

    Liked by 2 people

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed this one! I loved writing this interaction. I think Mark is just trying to do the best he can right now. Thank you for reading!

      Like

  5. Senna says:

    “Bye, Mama! Bye, Papa!”

    Suddenly my dinner is tasting a lot more salty than usual…

    Liked by 4 people

  6. shamanarza says:

    So excited to be getting to know a new player! Buckle up, kid, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Spottydog714 says:

    Tut tut tut, you should know Bruce doesn’t like ice-cream. Honestly Mark…

    Oh dear. Poor Zayne. I really feel sorry for him. This must be really hard. I just hope he doesn’t spend a life time grieving. That would be really sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. fairlyvocal says:

    I cannot approve of Bruce. He does not like chocolate ice cream.
    Wait … his name’s Bruce … he’s batman.
    Oh Jesus. I just made that connection.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. audreyfld says:

    So bittersweet. Zayne is adorable and Mark is so loving. I can’t wait until Jocelyn comes to an agreement. I hope she doesn’t have to make a compromise with Elliott where he has the girls for 3 months and then she has them 3 months or whatever time frame and they have to ship them back and forth between them. That would be terrible. I think that would be hard on Zayne because he would begin to bond with the girls and they would go away for 3 months. That would be very hard for him to deal with. I can see it causing panic attacks thinking that Jocelyn would leave as well. I hope Elliot follows her so she doesn’t have to deal with that in addition to working through whatever issues arise with Zayne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I love Mark and Zayne’s relationship so I really enjoyed writing this one! We will see soon how things work out with Joce, Elliot, and the triplets! 🙂

      Like

  10. raerei says:

    Awwww. This is def. A sad but adorable chapter. I love how hard hes trying. And gah… the scene with Zayne saying goodbye. Sniff.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well damn. Yeah… he’s giving Clara a run for her money. If his behavior is on track with what the grief counselor told the family to expect, there’s a tiny part of me that is foolish enough to hope that this is a phase and that with consistent love from his family, he’ll come around and grow up relatively healthy in spite of his great loss, and in spite of being a Rosebrook.

    That was a long sentence. And not that the Rosebrooks aren’t healthy per se, it’s just that, you know, they don’t handle bad stuff particularly well…

    Has the family informed Joce of Zayne’s outbursts? She needs the same preparation they’ve all had on how best to deal with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Hahaha we will have to see how he changes as he grows up… I will tell you that the poor little guy has the hot-headed trait, so… :-/ haha

      And yes, I believe Joce is in the know in terms of Zayne’s outbursts and hopefully is prepared to handle them. I’m sure this one was not the first, nor the last :-/ He’s going through such a confusing and traumatic time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I believe when Joyce is in Windenburg (until Elliot makes a decison) she takes to the “Archie” character (Ie grief thepartist) sorry had to throw in the OUAT joke in there!!

      Like

  12. theplumbob says:

    Aww this is so heartbreaking. I feel so bad for all of them. At least they have each other to get through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Yeah, this is so tough for everyone. I enjoy writing chapters like this to show how they are all getting though it together 🙂

      Like

  13. CitizenErased14 says:

    Zayne definitely has a lot of people who love him who are willing to support him. He’s quite lucky that way! Thank you for reading 🙂

    Like

  14. SpurklyNinja says:

    Oh boy, him waving at his parents’ urns? I have no words for how sad that makes me feel. ;'(

    And his outburst… I’m glad that Zayne and Mark had that moment at the end, but it’s going to be hard for Zayne to deal with the trauma.

    Mark and Joce…………. maybe? please? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. crstasse says:

    Mark makes such a great grand father, he is so patient and loving. I can see why Jocelyn will forever be in love with him, sigh. This chapter was very sad and sweet as well. I feel so much for Mark and Tobi at the moment too. It would be hell to lose a child. Poor little Zayne. I think he’s handling it pretty good, but then he has lots of loving support.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I love writing Mark as a grandfather. I’m glad you loved reading it 🙂 he has a beautiful heart. I feel so awful for everyone 😦

      Like

  16. sonniejj says:

    I liked that you showed Zayne having a tantrum. When kids go through something traumatic, it expresses itself in different ways than it does in adults. It wouldn’t be healthy AT ALL if the kid just went on with his life, not showing his anger and sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thanks, I was trying to be sad but realistic here haha. You’re right that he needs to show his anger and sadness for sure, and I feel like he’s been so deeply affected by this trauma that it’s made him a bit unstable/unpredictable emotionally because he’s so young and is struggling with how to deal with all his feelings. The poor kid! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  17. lisabeesims says:

    Heart wrenching for all

    Liked by 1 person

  18. theceltygirly says:

    I can’t sleep again, so time to read the sadness 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  19. sonniejj says:

    I’M BACK!

    I actually have no idea if you remember me or my comments haha, but I’m back again. Life/school got a little crazy and I got super behind and wasn’t able to read.. well, anything that had to with the sims, really. I always got notifications for your story but I just couldn’t find the time to read them and then they all started piling up, which meant that binge reading them would take even more time!

    But please don’t think I lost interest in your story, I always meant to come back to it some day and here I am! I’ll be rereading all of Gen 5 and catching up on what I missed. Can’t wait! I’ve missed these characters so much and I really want to know how Zayn is doing now…

    So I’ll be catching up for a few days, I just wanted to let you know I never stopped beinf a follower, just had to put some other things first for a while. Super excited to start reading again! Hope you’re doing well ❤

    Like

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