Warning: This story contains a very minute amount of talk about drugs as well as one swear word.
I knew I had to find it before Mom got home. Glancing through the list of files on the computer screen, I was disappointed when I didn’t see the one that I knew was called “Usernames and Passwords”. But I did find a folder called “Ashly’s Stuff”. I laughed. Why did my mom need a folder for her things? This whole computer was hers! I opened the folder, expecting to find some really weird files, but as I scrolled through the list I didn’t find anything remotely interesting. That was until I got to the very bottom where I found a sound file with my name on it. Expecting to find a recording of my first words or some other thing that parents like to remember, I started listening to it. Then I quickly closed it as I heard the front door.
“C? I’m home!” Mom called. I’m pretty sure that she has a sixth sense because the first place that she checked for me was the office. I tried to keep a straight face as she scolded me. “Why are you using my computer when you have your own laptop?” she asked.
“I-um-my mouse stopped working,” I lied.
“Then maybe you should stop spending your money going on those stupid ‘band tours’ and start saving it for things like this that are actually important.”
I stared at the computer screen, cold and silent.
“Fine, don’t answer me. Dinner’s in an hour,” she said as she left the room.
After she left, I emailed that file to myself as well as a few others in the folder before going downstairs to look through them.
I opened up the email and played the sound file. The first voice I heard was my mom’s, but kid-ified.
“This is my interview for my school project,” she said. “First question: what’s your name?”
A deep, raspy voice answered her. “Well, I’m your Daddy, so why would you need to ask me that?” There was a pause. “Okay, okay. My name’s Leander.”
C paused the recording. This wasn’t about him- this was about the man that he was named after, his grandpa. He hit play again, wanting to learn more.
“Next question: what do you do for a livin’?”
“Well now, I don’t do that much, just drive tractors around all day on the farm an’ sometimes wrestle down a misbehavin’ animal.” He and the girl laughed until he started coughing.
“Daddy, are you okay?”
“Don’ worry sweet pea, I’ll be fine,” he replied before entering into another fit of coughs.
I was expecting more, but the recording ended there. It left me confused- I had never heard my mom laugh like that. She always became angry with me whenever I asked anything about our family, so I had stopped asking when I was a kid. Suddenly I wanted to know more and had an idea about how to get the truth out of Mom.
I headed back upstairs, notebook in hand, and found Mom in the kitchen. “Hey, Mom, can I ask you a few questions? It’s for a school project,” I said, hoping that she would believe me.
“I’m really inclined to not believe you, considering what happened when you said that bringing one of my fish to school was for a project,” she replied.
I sighed. “I was in third grade. Do you really think that I would say something like that now?”
“Okay, okay, just ask me the questions.”
I took a deep breath. “First question: what’s your name?”
“Really? You didn’t need to ask me that.”
I nodded and scribbled in my notebook. “Second question: what do you do for a living?”
“I am a secretary at Landgraab Enterprises.”
“Third question: how has your family background influenced the life that you are living today?”
She paused on this one, trying to think of an appropriate answer. “My mother worked in a factory. From her, I learned to work hard even when you have long hours and low pay.”
“And your father? How did his background influence you?”
“He wasn’t in the picture.”
“Liar,” I accidentally said out loud.
She glared at me. “That is no way to speak to your elders.”
“Then I suggest that you don’t rob your future of our past,” I reply, getting up.
“Where are you going? Supper’s almost-“
“If you want me to eat with you then make some real food. Not this salad and breadsticks bullshit.” I stomped downstairs, slamming the basement door behind me. I threw the notebook on my desk, frustrated at everything. I hated how Mom made the spare bedroom upstairs into an office and told me that I had to sleep in the basement. She told me that if I wanted the walls painted that I would have to do it myself. As soon as I realized that she was serious, I stopped trying to make the place my own and started counting down the days until I would turn eighteen and wouldn’t have to bow down to her. I hated how she thought that the band I had once been in was just a cover-up for going out to do drugs. I hated how she didn’t offer one speck of sympathy after my girlfriend broke up with me.
Then I knew what I had to do. I went through the files that I had emailed to myself and found a picture of him, put it in a frame, and hung if on the wall. I found some candles, set them in front, and lit them. Then I started going through everything I knew about him and adding things to represent them to the makeshift altar. “I love you, Grandpa,” I whispered. “Even if I never met you, I still miss you.” Once I started feeling tears in my eyes, I gathered up my stuff and left.
When I reached the park I left my stuff at the entrance and hiked up to the cliff. I sat on the bench that had always been there and that held all of my memories.
“My parents won’t let me date you anymore. I’m really sorry, C.”
“C, you know better than to hang out with those druggie skaters.”
I saw one thing that wasn’t from my lifetime- I saw a little girl, somber as she mourns the memories of her own that she would never get to relive without being reminded of her father, the man that I never met because he is gone forever.
Author’s Note: This was written for the monthly short-story contest on the Sims forums. For this month, stories had to start with “I knew I had to find it before…”. C’s house is called 3 Country Lane and was built by piperbird. It can be downloaded on the Gallery. This story was partially based on my own knowledge of my grandpa on my Dad’s side.