Ghost 39 – Permission

“Max?”

Max in the shed, listening to the radio. He is a teenager. Short brown hair and a blue and white shirt. We don't see his face in this picture - but he looks a LOT like Julia.

He heard the call over the music and turned. His grandpa stood in the doorway, peering through the darker interior. Max turned the radio off.

“Oh, here you are,” his grandfather continued.

Max tried to ignore the relief in his grandfather’s voice, ignore the tension easing from his shoulders. It had been four years since he’d disappeared for two days and it still seemed like everyone was waiting for it to happen again.

“What’s up?” Max asked shoving his resentment aside.

Max and old man grandpa Hank are talking in the shed.

“The women are all in there, fussing over Damion,” he waved a hand towards the house. “I figured I’d come find you for some male company. What are you making?” he peered at the boards half assembled.

“A bookcase, I hope,” Max said ruefully. “I was thinking for Damian’s birthday.” His brother would be turning three next month and he thought something handmade would mean more in the long run.

His grandfather picked up the pile of drawings and notes Max had been working off of. Pulling his glasses out of his pocket to read. Max waited. He trusted his grandfather’s opinion. Hank had practically rebuilt the house from floor to ceiling over the years and so he knew a thing or three about building things. In fact, he’d gotten Max into woodworking.

Max and Hank looking at the "bookcase" Max is working on. Well, they are facing a woodworking table so it looks like he might be working on something? I hope.

Back when Mum had been sick. Hank and Max had spent hours back here. He still remembered how proud he’d been presenting Bre with his first creation: a bed tray for her computer for the days she had been too tired to leave her bed. He was pretty sure it was still upstairs although she hadn’t needed to use it in years.

A memory of Bre taking a nap upstairs. She's wearing her scarf. A wooden tray table is on the bed nearby with a book and a mug.

His grandfather picked up the pencil and Max leaned forward, he still had a lot to learn.


“Mom, Mum?” Max said as they were finishing dinner.

04-03-17_12-05-11 AM.png

The table conversation stilled and he cringed. Bre paused taco half-raised. The whole room turned its attention to him. Even Damian shut up. Shit. He’d wanted to ask casually, not make a big production. He should have waited till after dinner. Or better yet, just forgotten the whole thing. He’d already practically told Mason no, but then he promised he’d at least ask.

“What is it, honey?” Julia asked. Max swallowed.

Julia is smiling.

“Mason was wondering if I could come over on Friday? He’s got the new REFUGE game…” Max trailed off. It sounded so stupid coming out of his mouth. There was no way they’d say yes that. Not to a game. He should have said they were working on homework, or studying for test, or something.

“I don’t see why not,” Bre mused.

Max looked up at his mum, shocked. “Really? “

“Sure,” Bre continued with a smile. “I can’t see why not. Will you want one of us to pick you up?”

There it was, Max’s heart fell. He knew there was no way they’d just let him go without checking in on him. Not after what he’d done four years ago.

“I bet he wants to stay the night,” Grandpa’s voice cut across the table. Max felt his parents’ gaze turn toward him. He flushed and looked down at his plate.

Hank and Bre are speaking.

“You do?”

Max tensed, then nodded. “But it’s okay,” he mumbled. He didn’t need to stay the night. He would come home whenever they said to.

04-03-17_12-06-46 AM.png

“Don’t be silly,” Julia said, “of course you can spend the night.”

Max let out his breath. They were really going to let him? Wow. “T-thanks!” he stammered, suddenly too excited. He had to text Mason and let him know. Wow. He’d really expected them to say no. He looked up as a strange expression passed between his parents, but it wasn’t one of worry, they were both smiling.


Although Max hadn’t been to the forest in four years, it hadn’t changed. The trees crowded close, branches reaching out to entangle or protect, he wasn’t sure. The air hummed, the wind was still and watchful. He arrived at the lake as a large fish lept from the surface. The splash as it hit the surface was the only sound. The waterfall behind it was silent.

Max is standing in the glade looking at the pond. A fish (angler fish) is in mid-jump.

Max waited for the laughter to break the silence as it had so many years ago.

“Teehehehe,” but the sound never game. He could feel eyes on him though, all around him. Blinking from the bushes, glowing in the dark crevices, the shadowy corners of the forest beyond the clearing.

He could hear whispers, many whispers, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. Like the buzzing of bees, the noise grew in his ears until he shook his head to make the sound stop.

Two red glowing eyes are watching Max's back.

Max stood up and opened his mouth.

“There you are,”

Briar, a close up. Because I just love her freaky dark green and black eyes.

Eyes, dark whirling pits, surrounded him. Watching him. The whispers stopped at the sound of her voice. Briar.

Max woke to a muffled shout. His own. His heart was pounding and he forced himself to breathe slowly. The forest around him slowly bled away revealing his own bedroom. Dreaming again.


“Max?” I said tentatively drawn by his shout. He blinked slowly, his eyes moving until they came to rest slowly where I stood. But I wasn’t sure he saw me yet. This wasn’t the first time he’d awoke suddenly in the middle of the night. “Are you -?”

Max is sitting up in bed. James (inspiration teal) is standing nearby.

“Just a dream,” he said, shaking his head. “Just a fucking dream,” he laid back down, eyes closed, but I could tell he wasn’t going back to sleep.

“What about?”

He shook his head. I had to bite back a sigh. There was a time when Max would have told me everything. When he looked up to me. But once again, like Julia, he’d outgrown me. Grown up while I remained “just” a kid. And I’d learned that there were things you didn’t tell kids. Like what was bothering you. Even if the kid was dead and waaay older than you were.

“It was about the forest, wasn’t it.”

He sat up quickly, seeking me out in the darkness. But I was just a pale shimmer. A trick I’d learned with Julia. If they couldn’t see me, sometimes, sometimes they forgot I was a kid.

James has moved to the food of the bed and is a pale silvery color. Max is sitting on the bed looking over at James. Imagine that it's much darker in the room.

“Yeah.”

I knew I was right. He hadn’t had nightmares until he returned from the forest. Still didn’t have them often, but they seemed to have been increasing recently.

“A nightmare?”

“N-not really,” he started, hesitant. But the dark was in my favor. It’s easier to be honest in the dark. “It’s not a bad dream, just -”

I waited, would he finally tell me what happened? But he doesn’t say anything more. If I speak now will he speak again? Or shut up completely.

Max is looking down as he talks.

“It’s stupid really, I’m in the woods and then there’s this lake. It’s beautiful, the whole area. Warm, safe. And there’s some really big fish in there. Weird ones that I’ve never seen before. And I’m waiting.”

“Waiting?” I could have kicked myself if I could. But he kept talking.

“Yeah,” he smiles as he says it, eyes still closed. Then his smile stills. “But nothing happens. I’m waiting there and…” he shrugs. “Nothing.”

“That doesn’t sound very unpleasant,” I frown. There has to be more to it. If that was it, why the shout? Not that he was loud enough for anyone else to hear. And I could tell it bothered him. His heart pounded after those dreams.

“It’s not unpleasant, really,” he said. Max has opened his eyes again.

“Is it a memory?” I finally ask.

Max scowls at me. Touched a nerve, but I had to ask.

“No,” he growls.

Max is looking upset. It's a little cartoon-y - he's frowning and his fists are clenched, but it was the best image I could take. James is sitting nearby.

He thinks I am asking about when he disappeared four years ago. Thinks that I’m saying I think there’s more to the story than he told us. That there was someone else involved. The police definitely thought so. They didn’t believe he’d just gotten lost for two days. They’d combed those woods, they’d said. If he’d just been lost, the would have found him so he had to be hiding. He’s been sensitive to the subject ever since.

“I mean – not a real memory, but like a memory?” I persist, trying to explain. I didn’t mean it the way he thinks I do. Max’s dream reminds me of the boy, James. His memories that I watched in the Darkness before now. I could never explain them properly, the images seemed peaceful and nice, but there was an underlying fear. Perhaps a sense of what was to come.

But the moment of confidence had broken. “No,” Max growls and sits up angrily. He pushes off the covers. “It’s not a fucking memory.”

This time I don’t press it.

“I’m going to go take a shower.”

Max leaves the room - looking annoyed and angry.

“At 4am?”

“I’m not going to fall back asleep now.”

It’s too early in the morning for him to slam his door, but I could tell he wanted to. When he left, I finally let out the sigh I’d been holding in. It was a start?

Max alone in the room. A pale blue shimmer.


Credits

When I go to type this piece up, I always realize that I need to update my cc-list.

  • Briar is, of course, my most heavily cc-ed character, her stuff is listed on her post.
  • The rest of the cc is a combination of Peacemaker and a few others I’ve found over the past months.
  • The challenge this is based on is the Ambrosia Challenge by CitizenErased14. Read the rules here.

9 comments

    • Haha – that is a very good question – specially as I’ve been very loose with dreams vs reality in this story.

      Funnily enough – I even shrank his shoulders. It felt wrong tweaking him when he age up – but unlike most sims, I had an idea for how he looked…this was not it – so he gets to be a little muscle-y and shoulder-y on his own accord.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Max is such a cute kid even as a teen. Also I’m glad to see that Bre is fine… for now at least. But man, Briar really isn’t letting Max go. On the other hand, maybe Max’s nightmares will eventually lead him to the angel fish so they’re maybe not all bad.

    I’ll be interested to see more of Max’s life and teen years! The poor kid may have a hard time becoming independent, though, what with all the adults worried that he’ll disappear again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true – Briar has her hooks set in deep. There was some additional development as well with her as I have been working through the teen and college years.

      I fear the majority of the issue is with Max thinking the adults are worried that he’ll disappear. Not saying that they don’t. He never fully fessed to the events of the night. But I fear he’s a bit overly sensative to the idea. Hard to know how much is true cuz he’s super perceptive, and how much he’s projecting.

      Liked by 1 person

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