I took a seat at a nearby table, enjoying my latte. Someone had left a book about biological research on the table. I wondered if it was Davis’ book. I casually flipped through the book and every once in awhile I’d catch Davis smiling in my direction out of the corner of my eye.
He is really good looking, I admitted to myself just as my father sat down.
“Hi Kassio, I’m so sorry I’m late,” he said, setting his tea on the table. He was dressed in work clothes and that blasted beanie again. I suddenly decided to despise all beanie-wearing men.
“Hi,” I said curtly.
We made obnoxious small talk – the weather, how the graduation ceremony went, when the summer festival would be coming to town. After a little bit, we seemed to run out of topics and sat in excruciating silence for a few minutes finishing our beverages.
“Look, Dad, I don’t have all day,” I said sharply.
“Well, that’s all you’re going to say to me after all these years?” Dad asked.
“You were the one who wanted this little reunion,” I answered. “I don’t have anything to say to you. It’s not like you’ve tried to say anything to me before now.”
“I’m sorry, Kass, I really am,” Dad sighed. “I don’t have any excuses. I just wanted to see my oldest daughter. So how have you been?”
“How have I been?” I repeated in disbelief. “Let’s see Dad I’ve been great since you walked out on Mamma and my sisters and I.”
“I’m serious,” Dad said, looking down at the table. “Are you studying biology?”
I shrugged. “The book was here. Kept me entertained while I was waiting for you.”
“Oh I see.”
“Dad, is there something more you want from me?” I snapped.
“I can’t just want to see you?” Dad looked tired, way more tired than I ever had seen him before.
“What is Kate keeping you up late at night or is your catering business really booming?” I said sarcastically, and then wished I could take it back. That was a low blow.
Dad decided to ignore my comment about his lover. “Business is decent. I’ve been catering parties all over the state. I even got an offer for a job in the Simiribbean Islands₁.”
“Nice,” I wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Graduating must be exciting,” Dad clasped his hands together. “What are you plans now that you’re done with high school? You were always so smart and successful. I’m really proud of you.”
“Yeah Dad I can see that.”
“College. I’m thinking business.”
“Not because of me I hope.”
“Dad, not everything is about you! Wow! You think I’m leaving because of you? Mamma and my sisters and Nonno and Nonna are here. I’m leaving them too. And Gage and my friends. Because I want to get out in the world, Dad. Not because of you. No, you’re the one who’s good at leaving so I’ll leave that to you.” I waved my hands dramatically and angrily.
“I’m sorry, Kass. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. Be here. If you had been here, I’d be a bit more forgiving, but no, you walked out on mom and never looked back. You even live in the same town as us and we barely see you if at all.”
“You didn’t want to see me.”
“Dad, I was a kid. You’re the parent. You’re supposed to be responsible, being a husband and a parent, not running around cheating on your wife. You left, Dad, but I still needed you in my life. You’re still my dad. Everyone deserves a dad.”
“I didn’t have one.”
“So you’re just throwing us away like your own parents did?”
“That’s not fair.”
“Look, Kass, I’d like to help you… you got into a great college I assume…”
“No thanks to you.”
“I’m trying here, Kass, can you give me a break?”
“I don’t know Dad, you didn’t give us a break. You didn’t try to work things out with Mom after cheating on her. You didn’t come back to be an active dad in our lives. You only needed… her…” I said bitterly.
“Kass, I can’t change what I did. I’m just going to need some help soon and I thought my daughters should know.”
“Help? That’s rich. Who do you think you are!?” I exclaimed, drawing the attention of a few people around us.
“You’re right. It is true,” Dad slumped in his chair. “I’m a terrible dad. I’m a terrible husband. I’m a terrible person. But you know what? I thought I’d come here and get to know my daughter again today. I thought I’d get a little sympathy and a listening ear.”
“Dad, you came to the wrong place if you want sympathy. I can’t believe you! You want me to feel sorry for you because you what? You still love Mamma? Kate walked out on you? You suddenly feel guilty and want to come be a parent again?”
“I’m dying,” Dad threw out his arms dramatically. “I’m dying, okay?”
“You’re what?” I exclaimed.
“I’m dying,” Dad repeated for the third time.
“What do you mean?” I frowned.
“I was diagnosed with EXCES…Extra-Cellular Exclusion Syndrome₂,” he said quietly.
I stared at him in shock. I’d never met anyone with the disease but I knew it existed. I remembered studying it in biology, and the reason for its manifestation…
“Yes, Kass, I have alien DNA in me,” he admitted.
“What does that mean?” I asked coolly, trying to remain calm, but inwardly I was panicking. Aliens!? Dad was abducted by aliens? Or his parents were aliens? Wait… dad was adopted. So what does that mean? Oh llamas! Does that mean I have alien DNA too?
“Well you know about the aliens experimenting on Sims right before and during the First Xeno War. My biological parents must’ve been experimented on and were carriers… or my father was Xenosi and artificially inseminated my mother.”
“Okaaay… um… wow, so your parents were aliens or experimented on? But hasn’t it been scientifically proven that alien DNA and Sim DNA are compatible.”
“Yes, but it hasn’t for me. The facts are simple, Kass, for whatever reason, my body is rejecting the alien DNA. We still don’t know a whole lot about it. My cells are slowly dying. I’ve been undergoing experimental treatments, including cell replacement therapy₃ at Simford Medical University₄, but the doctor isn’t very hopeful.”
I felt dazed as he continued to explain how his cells were mutating, causing sudden extreme pain in his muscles and joints, how he was having difficulty moving, and how his skin was changing colors in places. He had shaved his head to avoid the humiliation of losing his hair during the CRT treatment, but he had random patches of greenish-brown skin appear on his crown. Kate apparently thought it was a phase, and attributed the discoloration to bruising. He had told her he kept bumping his head on the low ceilings at work in the storage closets. I frowned at the mention of his girlfriend. So he was still with her?
“But CRT has been successful before, right?” I asked.
“CRT is working to slow the mutating process, but it’s not working as well as expected. Dr. Mustard told me I don’t have long to live. Maybe nine months to a year, and without CRT, it could be a lot shorter.”
“What does this mean for me? Am I at risk?” I asked.
“I think the risk is around 10% as long as your mom isn’t a carrier too. I highly doubt you have it, but it can’t hurt to get tested.”
“Should I tell Cari and Andi?”
“I’d prefer to tell them myself, but if you feel the need to, go ahead. I’d understand, especially if you girls want to get tested. I don’t think it’s very effective for those younger than you since the disease doesn’t manifest until early adulthood in most cases, but they should know as should you. I just started with you because… well… you were kinda my guinea pig,” Dad said, with a nervous laugh.
“Wow,” was all I could say when he finished. Seems to be my word of the day. “Dad, I don’t…”
“I don’t want your pity.”
“I thought you wanted my sympathy.”
“No, Kassiopeia. I just… I’d like to be back in my daughter’s life again… all my daughters’ lives.”
“It’s not that easy.”
“I know, but I’d like to try… not picking back up where we left off but being here from now on.”
“I don’t know Dad, this is a lot to take in…”
“I was thinking. You’ve never got to see your dad’s old stomping grounds. I thought maybe this summer you’d take a trip with me down to Appaloosa Plains, see where your Nana raised me, and then up to Simcago where I was born… maybe even over to Lucky Palms. You know that’s where I was working when I met your mother.”
“Wait, Dad? Where is this coming from?”
“I just… I’d like to see the places before I… well… you know… get worse… or even worse…”
“Dad, this is a whole lot of crazy. First you tell me you have EXCES, and now you want me to go on a whirlwind trip with you around the country? I don’t know, Dad. This is huge. If this is some weird I’m-dying, sentimental, gotta-connect-with-my-past crap before you kick-the-bucket, shouldn’t you just take someone who you know… cares about you? Like Kate?”
“Because she doesn’t know.”
“Wait… she doesn’t know about the EXCES?”
“No, she doesn’t. No one does, Kass. I’ve only told you.”
I sat in shocked silence for a moment taking in everything I had just heard. My dad is dying! And oh yeah, I was now his secrets buddy since no one else knew about the EXCES. But wait… he felt the need to share this with me…that’s got to count for something.
“It’s not that long. We could just go to Appaloosa Plains if you don’t want to do the others. Just consider it, please?” Dad said, his voice pleading.
“I don’t know, Dad, what you’re asking for is a lot,” I said, a little softer.
“I know. I just… I would like to do something right for my daughter before… or… if… I kick this life,” Dad said quietly.
I rubbed my hands nervously over my pants, hating the sweat that was dripping between my fingers. “I’ll think… about it,” I agreed.
“If you decide not to or you don’t want to talk to me again, I’ll understand. I just wanted to see you again before… well, you know… a dying man’s remorse. I know it’s too late, but if you did want to grab coffee with me again, I’d like it.”
Something in his voice – the quiet desperation, the sound of a broken, dying man – made me want to hug him. I refrained. Instead, I just said…
Chapter Five Coming Soon!
- What is going to happen to Howard?
- Will he tell Kate about his disease? Will he tell his ex wife and other daughters?
- What will Kass decide? Will she confide in anyone?
Author Changes: What’s different?
- A “First” was added to the Xeno War.
- Links were fixed.
- Simtali was changed to Simterra.
- Simford Medical University and Hospital is now located in China Beach, Califorsimia.
- The Simiribbean Islands are located in the Simuyan Sea in the southern part of the planet of Simterra.
- Extra-Cellular Exclusion Syndrome (EXCES) is a rare fictional disease that affects Sims (and even less likely Xenosi). It is caused by alien and Sim DNA mixing as a result of partial alien parentage or failed alien-to-Sim experimentation. The body rejects the alien DNA, causing mutations to the cells and cell death. Read more here.
- Cellular Replacement Therapy is used to treat EXCES by purging alien DNA and replacing/restoring Sim DNA. Read more here.
- Simford Medical University is a play off Stanford University and is located in Califorsimia in China Beach.