Interlude: Brave

Tobi almost smiled as he studied the large portrait in front of him. It was a picture he’d looked at dozens of times. Hundreds, probably. But today, he looked at it with different eyes.

He remembered the moment well – it was taken at his father-in-law’s wedding, more than twenty years ago… The same year Tobi and Stefan had discovered their birth father. It was the height of Tobi’s career – the regular season had just ended, and he was getting ready to start training for the World Cup qualifiers. Lettie had just discovered a few weeks earlier that she was pregnant with Gus, and the twins had just celebrated their seventh birthday.

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And now his granddaughters had celebrated their own seventh birthday just a few days ago. It was such a wonderful age. So full of energy and innocence. Tobi peered closely at the adorable little faces of his children. They were so naïve back then. They had no idea where the future would take them.

His sweet little Jocelyne never knew she’d one day be so wronged by her family, and spend so many years estranged from them because of it. And Lucas… How could he have known he would never live past thirty? That he’d one day be replaced by a hunk of charred and twisted flesh?

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Tobi closed his eyes as the vision entered his mind, but try as he might, it would not fade. God, I need a drink.

“Beautiful picture, isn’t it?” A soft voice called from over Tobi’s shoulder. “That was always one of my favorites.”

He sighed softly, turning around. “Mama, don’t sneak up on me like that.”

Mari just smiled. “No ‘sneaking’, just seeing what you were up to.”

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Something about the way she was looking at him made him uneasy. “Yeah, well, I’m just about to head downstairs anyway.”

“Mind if I join you?” His mother asked kindly. “I was hoping you had a minute to talk.”

Tobi felt his heart sink. He’d known she was up to something. “Not this again. Please.”

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“Tobi, honey, I just –”

No.” He shook his head, his irritation rising. “We’ve had this conversation more than enough times, okay? And I’m sick of it. I’m tired of you and Papa and Lettie and Jocelyne ganging up on me all the damn time.”

Mari shrugged her shoulders slightly. “Who’s ganging up on anyone? Colette and Jocelyne are at work, and your Papa’s seeing that new superhero move with Clara… It’s just me.”

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Tobi wasn’t quite sure how to respond. What was his mother expecting? Did she want him to smile and nod and say “Oh, well if it’s just you, then sure!”?

Apparently so, because when he did not respond, Mari drew closer to him, and began speaking again. “I just want to talk to you, honey. Let’s go downstairs.”

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He knew there was no way this would end well. It would be the same as it always was – She would give some stupid lecture over-exaggerating his drinking, he’d end up yelling and getting defensive, and they’d both end up angry and frustrated with each other.

Tobi sighed. “Mama…”

“Give me five minutes. Please?”

This time, Tobi did not argue.

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Mari cleared her throat nervously as she took a seat on the couch beside her son. He eyed her curiously for a few moments. He could not remember the last time he’d seen his mother like this.

At last, she broke the silence. “Tobi? I’d like to tell you a story.”

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“A story?”

Mari nodded. “I was hoping you’d be able to find your way through this without me having to tell it, but after what happened at the birthday party…” She shrugged. “This won’t be easy. But I hope this helps you understand…”

Tobi just stared at her.

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His mother took a slow, deep breath. “A long time ago, there was a young girl who grew up here in Windenburg. She had a loving family – a mother, a father, two sisters… But she always struggled a little bit growing up. She was the ‘bad’ one of the family. She always got in trouble and was blamed for everything, it seemed. And it made her a very angry and bitter child. It felt like she was worthless… Like she always did everything wrong.

1

But when she got older, she met someone who helped her to not feel angry anymore. She fell in love with him. He was everything to her. And then he broke her heart.”

Tobi stared at her. He knew exactly what story she was telling – it was one he and Stefan had pieced together themselves over the years. But what did it have to do with anything? “Mama, what –?”

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“It was devastating. She was young and silly and knew nothing about what real loss felt like. So to her, it was the end of her entire world. It broke her, almost beyond repair. And her heartbreak consumed her. It changed her. It brought all that anger back. And she wasn’t happy anymore. She was depressed, and empty. And she didn’t know how to deal with it. So she turned to alcohol for comfort. And… other things.” Mari paused, clearing her throat uncomfortably for a moment.

“It all seemed so harmless at first. She was an adult. She could make her own decisions… and her own mistakes. She wasn’t hurting anyone. That’s what she forced herself to believe. But she was a fool. She was hurting so many people, Tobi. Her parents. Her sisters. Herself.”

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Tobi felt a sudden burning in the back of his throat and a prickling at the corner of his eyes. He knew that his mother had not spoken to anyone about this in years. Decades. “Mama…”

“Her family tried and tried to talk to her. They tried to help her see just how much damage she was doing to herself and everyone who loved her. They wanted her to get help for how depressed and broken she felt. But she wouldn’t listen. She was too busy trying to drown her sorrows in sex and booze.” Mari rose to her feet, spitting the words bitterly. “She was a coward, too afraid to face her problems… So she kept hiding.

2

But believe it or not, there were some good times too. There were days when she laughed and spent time with her sisters. She started playing the piano again. Her parents loved that.” For a moment, her lips curled into a smile.

3

“And best of all, she had the two most precious little baby boys. She loved them more than anything else in the world.

4

But even that wasn’t enough to make her stop. She was too comfortable using booze to numb the pain, or finding comfort with a stranger. She had a serious problem — with her addiction, and with her depression too… But she couldn’t admit it to anyone. She was too stubborn. Too proud. And too afraid of admitting that what she really needed was help.

5

Then one day, she made the biggest mistake of her life. She went out drinking again, just like always… But she forgot she was supposed to be watching her babies. So she left them alone at home. For hours.

Tobi’s eyes widened. No one had ever told him this part of the story before.

“When she got home that night, she realized her mistake. But it was too late. Her sister had gotten there first, and realized what had happened. So she took the babies away. And she refused to give them back until their mother agreed to get the help she needed.”

6

Tobi rose from the couch and placed his hands on his mother’s shoulders. He could already feel his own tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Tobi, I almost lost you. Both of you. And for what? I didn’t realize it until it was almost too late… I was sick. I needed help. For my family, and for myself too.”

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He pulled his mother close to him. Tobi had no idea what to say. There was a heaviness in his chest, and he had to fight to choke back a sob that threatened to escape his lips.

Mari closed her eyes, clinging tightly to her son. “Please. Please. Get help. Talk to someone about what you’re going through. Before it’s too late. Before you make a mistake you’ll regret for the rest of your life.” She let out a small sob. “Don’t wait any longer. You can’t. Your family needs you back. We’ve already lost Lucas. We can’t lose you too.”

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Tobi pulled away from her, shaking his head slowly. “You’ll never lose me, Mama.”

“Yes we will.” Mari insisted. “We’re losing you already… I understand how you’re feeling, honey. I really do. I’ve been there. You know I have.” She paused, wiping away a few of her tears. “But I was brave enough to ask for help, and it was the best decision of my life. Please, Tobi. Promise me you’ll try to do the same.”

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Tobi felt so ashamed. So embarrassed. So guilty. So sad. He could not find the words to speak.

So instead, he simply nodded.

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50 Responses to Interlude: Brave

  1. Clarity says:

    Aww, I loved seeing Mari have an important role again. I love that she’s become the wise one of the family now. She really broke through with Tobi so maybe there is hope for the Rosebrooks.

    Liked by 4 people

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thanks 🙂 I’ve always imagined her having an important role down the line, and as soon as I figured out Tobi’s arc, I knew she’d be the one who would get through to him.

      I think there’s hope for them too! 🙂

      Like

  2. sonniejj says:

    I’ve had a crazy busy week, so I’ve just caught up on the past seven chapters!

    I’m really happy for Auggy and Noah, and for Clara and Florian. Their lives seem to be going well, they look happy. I think a little positivity is good for this family.
    Also, Elliot is an angel.
    As for Joce – I feel sad for her. I felt terrible when she thought about her dreams when she was younger and how different her life now is. Maybe Joce should try writing a book. It might help her.
    Both Tobi and Zayn break my heart. I’m glad that Zayn is doing slightly better and that Mari seemed to get through to Tobi, but still. Things are tough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I appreciate you catching up! Thank you Sonnie! 😀

      Those two couples are definitely having some happy things to look forward to! And like you said, it’s so good for the family! And yes, Elliot is truly a wonderful man. I hope he finds happiness. 🙂

      Zayne is getting there — he’s doing better and better everyday 🙂 Tobi hopefully will make some progress now too! Joce is still a bit “stuck”, as you’ve noticed 😦 Hopefully she can move forward soon too.

      Thank you for reading! ^_^

      Like

      • sonniejj says:

        I do feel that Joce is, once again, spending a lot of time taking care of others and not as much of herself (although that makes sense now that she’s a mother).

        Please don’t ever think I’m not keeping up or enjoying your story! I honestly am, but personally I’ve been going through a rough/complicated time, so sometimes it slips my mind to read chapters or they’re a bit too emotional for me. But I still love them all! ❤

        Like

  3. Once I saw Tobi was drinking i knew that Marni was going to take to him eventually since she was an alcoholic before.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jes2G says:

    I had a feeling this one would require a Jes2G-style play-by-play comment. Here we go!

    😀 <– my face when I read “Tobi? I’d like to tell you a story.”
    My thoughts: "She's gonna tell him! She's gonna tell him EVERYTHING! Yeeeeeeees! This is gonna be awesoooooome."

    "…and knew nothing about what real loss felt like." Wow… That was dope. I may or may not feel like crying right now lol. Not doing it!

    ACK!! The picture of Mari with the one tear! Not doing it…

    This whole thing was beautiful! Beautifully written, beautifully photographed, and it seems the message was expressed beautifully enough to evoke real change in blockhead Tobi. I really hope he finds the courage to talk to someone about what he sees and haunts his sleep every night.

    I think, subconsciously, I've been waiting on Mari to tell someone her story. I mean, it's not something I thought about all the time, but definitely back in the day when her life was getting better after she met Jonas, I thought it would be amazing for her to tell her story to someone. Thanks for fulfilling a wish I didn't realize I had! Man…this was so amazing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thank you so much Jess 🙂 I cried while writing this chapter, and also while reading it back after I’d finished it haha So I understand your emotions 😛 Just like you’d been anticipating it, I’d also been planning on having Mari share her story too, and the minute I made the decision that Tobi would start down this slippery slope I was like “This is perfect.” haha I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • maladi777 says:

      Comparing to the drama Mari went through because of the breakup, Tobi is holding up pretty well considering…

      Liked by 1 person

      • CitizenErased14 says:

        Mari had deeper underlying psychological issues to deal with, plus she was much younger and more immature, so the circumstances were different. But Tobi was starting down the same dangerous path of using a vice to escape from his own deeper issues. Mari saw that, and wanted to stop it before he fell deeper down the slipper slope toward making a stupid/dangerous mistake like she once did.

        So yes, on the whole, he’s handing things differently than how she did. But his drinking has become enough of a problem that Mari saw fit to intervene.

        Like

      • Jes2G says:

        For now, yeah.

        Like

  5. Mumei No says:

    Finally just what Tobi needed! It was needed to him to actually see someone form his family suffering so he would realize he needs help…ho, my…I likde that Mari told her story, and would not mind other telling their story in the future too! It’s nice to see he r in the story again…and just to imagine that Stefan feel envy for tobi’s life some decades ago…and now, he lost a son, has drinking problems, while Stefan has an Alex’s tipe of life…like Jocelyn said, life can go many ways!

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I’m glad you liked Mari telling her story 🙂 And you bring up a great poking about Stefan and Tobi. Life definitely took them both in very different directions!

      Like

  6. thegeekgamez says:

    I feel very accomplished now because of my guess last chapter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fairlyvocal says:

    Mari’s grown up so much. I’m so proud!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tizy says:

    This is a vent comment.

    Mary gives me hope for the future.
    I was really disappointed by her at the beginning and couldn’t like her, but now I really care for her and she’s one of my favourites.
    I can’t accept zayne as heir right now. I am still upset at Lucas and Mark’s daughter right now. Now of course they are the poor ones who died young but that was an accident. It’s easy to make saints those who pass away. The truth is they guilted Mark into leave Jocelyn and they ruined so many lives just for having things more “conventional”…. I am even pissed off they passed away because it was all useless! Not only they ruined Mark and Jocelyne happiness but they even died after.
    I know zayne has no fault but I still don’t feel anything for his character.
    I think it’s because I felt too much Jocelyn. She was the sweetest, smartest, the best to me. Even if she was always neglected because of Lucas she was always kind and good. And they broke her. Completely. She didn’t deserve happiness or family support.
    I can’t blame Jocelyn for all the mistakes she made. She ended up being knocked up by someone she didn’t love and broke the poor guy heart. She hurted herself so many times and her 3 daughters who did nothing wrong now have splitted parents. She had managed to build something again in usa away from toxic family who broke her, and then Lucas dies and manages so to ruin her life once more. If I was Jocelyn I would have left zayne to Clara. Zayne is not the heir I was hoping for the rosebrooks.

    But I still hope like mari I will get attached to him somehow and learn to like him.

    This being said, the way how I feel involved in this story and these very deep feel go that causes in me is just a proof of how a good writer are Citizen.
    Have you ever thought to write a book?

    Like

    • Tizy says:

      Sorry for all the mistakes. I wrote fast and forgot that my phone doesn’t like when I type in English rofl

      Like

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I’m sorry that you are unhappy with Zayne as the heir, and like you said, I hope that your opinion of him will change over time! I love him and think he’s a great kid.

      As for Luc and Hazel, they definitely had a negative impact on Jocelyne and Mark’s happiness. That hasn’t changed, even though they both are gone now. They tried very hard to make up for their past mistakes though. But Jocelyne was so upset and stubborn that she refused to listen and give them a chance. So Luc and Hazel definitely started all this, but I feel like Jocelyne also did some of this to herself by holding on to her grudge for so long. I think she’s slowly learning to heal, and hopefully she will continue to do so.

      Like

  9. crstasse says:

    I’m so glad Mari reached out to Tobi. At least Tobi now knows he’s not alone in his battle, that there is someone who understands. I think this was really important for him. I’m curious to see how he now goes with the drinking. If he’ll stop or still struggle. I especially loved his reflection at the start. It was so bitter sweet.
    A beautifully written chapter!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thank you 🙂 I’m really glad you liked this one! This conversation was so important for both of them 🙂 We’ll see soon how things go for him from here — hopefully well!

      Like

  10. Spottydog714 says:

    I’m crying. I do love Mari. She’s so wise now. I love story time my mother. It puts things into perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Aw, I’m glad this one moved you 🙂 She has definitely grown into a wise woman. And mothers always have great stories and a lot of wisdom, don’t they? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. kaffepigen says:

    I seriously hope this is an eyeopener for Tobi. He really needs help and if he doesn’t go through with it, then Mari opened up for no reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. SpurklyNinja says:

    YES! This was perfect and beautiful and fantastic! It made me so happy to see that it would be Mari who opened Tobi’s eyes. She’s come such a long way from her youth, and this was the best way to recap. Her story had to be told at some point, and it’s so good that it was for this reason!

    Hopefully things change for the better now! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I really loved writing this… Made me very emotional! You’re so right that Mari has come a very long way and her story really needed to be told. This really felt like the best way to do it 🙂 Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. MegiAre says:

    Oh I love how Mari’s past was relatable to Tobi’s current situation. This was beatifully done and I go so giddy seeing Mel and Lucas hanging on the wall!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. You know I love Mari. She’s come so far from being the hot mess of the family. She’s like a rock star matriarch.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. theplumbob says:

    That was really brave of Mari (as the title suggests :)) . Finally, someone (cough Joce) is not just throwing hissy fits and yelling at Tobi, but saying something he can eerily relate to in a calm way to actually help him. Love the way Mari handled this.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. CitizenErased14 says:

    I’m happy you enjoyed this one! It’s was really special and emotional for me 🙂 And you are so right — the story about leaving Tobi and Stefan was so important for him to hear!

    You’re also right that Tobi’s “real” problem is his depression/psychological issues in the wake of Luc’s death and looking under the sheet. So sad 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  17. raerei says:

    It was really cool to see YA Mari juxtaposed on Elder Mari. How better.to remember how far she’s come?

    Looks like this might be the kick in the pants Tobi needs before he slides down the rabbit hole.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. im going to run out of tissues at this rate lol

    Liked by 1 person

  19. lisabeesims says:

    Wow a very powerful episode

    Like

  20. theceltygirly says:

    This was great; it really was. I kept getting chills again. This really completes Mari’s character I think. Seeing all of her struggling, her recovery, her lapses, and then finally being happy and being able to help her sons. It’s sweet. 🙂 I really liked this a lot, and I love how you wrote it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • CitizenErased14 says:

      Thank you! ^_^ It was so important for me to have Mari kinda come full circle with this chapter. I enjoyed writing it. Glad you enjoyed reading it! 😀

      Like

  21. addbratlove225 says:

    Ah, I love Mari! She’s now had a full character arc, it appears. But if you’re close to killing off Mari I’ll throw my iPad across the room.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. kaycee39 says:

    I love this chapter ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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