I was engaged. I had popped the question and would get married sometime eventually soon. I was going to be a married man. To Teri. That made me happy.
Over the next few days I couldn’t focus on anything. Not work, not painting, not the guitar–nothing. I felt so miserable which was not the right way to be feeling after getting engaged. I knew it was a broken heart. I had lost Penny. I thought she loved me but I had been wrong, so wrong. I knew it was really scuzzy of me to not tell Teri and break things off with her but I was kinda glad that it happened this way. Once I started feeling better, then I could really focus on my relationship with her.
She does make me happy. It’s not as if marrying her would be something bad. A lot of people had to give up someone they loved and found another. I had just happened to find another before I gave up the one I wanted to be with.
When I came out of my haze, I realized she had finally changed her hair. She looked even more beautiful than–
NO!! Bad Cal, stop THINKING that! It was going to be more difficult than I thought to realize I couldn’t be with her. My daily life became hell. Work and sleep became my sanctuaries. At work I finally made up for the few days of distraction and my boss told me she understood, once she found out I had proposed to Teri. She told me that could make anyone on Cloud Nine for a while.
At least I have an excuse, I thought as I went home. As soon as I got home I turned down dinner and went straight to bed. Teri soon joined me, snuggling up against me and whispering what sort of wedding she wanted. I closed my eyes and nodded to all her words. I’ll give her the best wedding ever, I decided.
I hated being in the house. It was worse when Teri left for work. I was left alone with Penny until it was time for me to start work though she and I hardly interacted anymore. I focused on my painting or playing guitar. She would either read or paint. When we spoke it was usually about something small. I’d ask her if she wanted anything from the store, or she’d ask me if she could borrow some paint. Other than that it was silence between us.
I wanted to fix things but didn’t know how to do it. I had no idea what to do. I wasn’t even sure what part of the problem was. Unless she had lied to me… but why would she lie? If she had feelings for me then why on earth would she lie and say she only cared about me as a friend and that a wedding to someone else would be ‘lovely’?
Soon I started feeling numb. Whatever shred of humanity I might have felt was now gone. Ever since that night two years ago, when I got so drunk that I forgot, I had been avoiding drinks. But now I was really tempted to chuck one down my throat. I wanted to forget once more. But I knew if I started again, this time would be harder to get myself out of the pit. And even if I did I would just be tempted again, and again. I couldn’t give in. I had to be stronger.
As I started coming out of the misery I was in, I noticed Teri was acting slightly strange. One morning when we got up for breakfast she stood still for a while, twisting her hands together.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, stretching and yawning.
“How did you make Penny real?” she asked which wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. “I know you made some sort of potion but… how?”
I slid out of bed and came around to the other side to put my arms around her. She fell against me easily, pressing her face into my neck. I explained to her about the strange card I once got and as I started talking about chemicals, her eyes sort of glazed over.
“No,” she finally said with a tiny smile. “How did you…?” She hesitated then kissed my lips gently. “Never mind, darling. I’m going to invite my parents over this weekend for dinner, or at least try.”
I squeezed her body then let her go so she could change. “Try being the operative word,” I mumbled, knowing it would end the same way as it always did. Her father hated me, he was one of the people who had seen my father pregnant. He considered me nothing more than a product of science.
Actually, her words got me thinking. Science and all that. Over the next few days I realized that I had done one of the things I wanted to do: turn Penny real, as much as a double-edged sword it turned out to be. But what about my other dream?
“I made a promise to you,” I whispered to my father one morning. The sun had recently come up and the only other person in the cemetery was someone who was straightening things up. Something my father had once done. “Ever since I’ve been back have been a little crazy and I guess I kinda forgot.” I touched the gravestone and sighed. “I’ll find them, Dad. I don’t know when… but I’ll find them.”
I started researching. The first thing I did was look at the Twinbrook yellow pages. I didn’t expect anything from that, so next I tried the obituaries for the past few years. They had to be getting up there in years, they might have died recently. I knew they wouldn’t have used their real name but I looked for anyone who was ‘survived by their twin brother/sister’. I didn’t find anything with mixed sex twins.
From there I started doing what my father once did. I made phone calls, I sent e-mails. For the next six months while Teri planned our wedding and Penny painted in silence, I worked at trying to find the twins. I went beyond Twinbrook. I tried Riverview and even Bridgeport–which took quite a long time. I tried all the small towns and spent days looking THEM up on all the Sim search sites. All I ever found about them were those horrible days when they were in Sunset Valley. My father. Me. Monsters, the lot of us. Immoral… unnatural… disgusting, wrong, criminal. Human experimentation. Apparently that meant not only mobbing the crazed scientists but punishing the victims.
I pushed myself away from the computer to try to calm down. I was probably one of the only ones in the world who could understand things from Frankenstein’s Monster’s point of view. He never asked to be made any more than I did. I was just glad I had a little more control than he did, and we were past the pitchfork-and-torch days. Now it was all psychological warfare and I was beginning to feel like I was losing.
Keep a grip on your humanity. That became my motto. I was falling further and further away from where I wanted to be. I tried what I could to keep myself together and finally one night Teri helped bring me back to reality in a very… well, real way.
I was going to wait till marriage, really, and so was Teri. But we were going to get married… we had set the date for five months from now. With as odd as she had been acting as miserable as I felt, I figured we might as well. It’s what she wanted and I wanted it just as much. I mean, really… really wanted it. Hey, I was a twenty-three year old male in a house with two beautiful women, one of whom was my fiance–who also shared a bed with me every night. Nobody could blame me for giving into this temptation.
And, well, we began giving into that temptation quite a bit. I certainly felt better though Teri still seemed edgy.. I just hoped whatever was bothering her would go away soon.
Painting was very wonderful. It helped me feel better and kept myself from thinking about the upcoming wedding. Teri sometimes tried to be my friend and I tried back, for his sake, but there was something that just didn’t click between us. I was worried that once they were married, Teri would make Calcifer kick me out.
When he called me into his room I thought maybe he would tell me this, that I had to leave, but he wanted to ask if I had been in his room recently.
“No,” I answered with a shrug of my shoulders. I did not tell him that his room was the room I avoided, since he shared it with her. “How come?”
“I–I guess I misplaced some things…” He rubbed the back of his head and looked at his dresser. “Some stuff I was going to get rid of is gone. Maybe they’re under the bed. I just wasn’t sure if you did something with them since you like to clean.”
I shook my head and figured that would be the end of that. However a couple days later, Teri approached me with an even stranger question.
“Penny, do you know how Cal made you real?” She sounded very concerned about something and I wondered for a moment if she wanted to turn me back into a doll.
She is not that mean, I thought, feeling a bit bad that I was thinking such mean thoughts about her. “I know it has something to do with some chemicals…” I started telling her about the formula he had made but she shook her head.
“How did he get the chemicals?” she inquired.
“I don’t know,” I answered, curious about why she was asking this. “Why do you need to know?”
She frowned and avoided looking at my eyes. “He bought them, right? He didn’t… you know… steal them, did he?”
I stared at her, knowing that the emotion I was feeling–shock–could be seen clearly. “What?” I asked, my voice changing. “Why would you ask that?”
“I don’t know!” she said, sounding like maybe she would cry. “I just need to know! He’s a good guy, I can’t stand the thought of him doing something so… wrong…”
“You will be his wife!” I yelled, unable to stop myself from being so angry. “How can you accuse the man you love of something like that? How can you believe that Calcifer would do that?”
“I don’t think it–“
“Yes you do!” I was not used to feeling anger as a human and it was pushing me to want to do some things I knew I should not do, like hit her. “If you did not think it then you wouldn’t be asking me!”
Teri took one step back, holding up her hands as if to try to stop me from yelling. “You’re right,” she answered. “It’s wrong of me to think that.”
“Calcifer is wonderful,” I whispered, bringing my hands to my chest. “He would never do anything bad.”
“He pulled some pretty nasty tricks as a teen,” she muttered.
I glared at her and clenched my hands so they were fists. I really wanted to punch her. “I was there, every day, in his house with him. I saw him at his worst, he told me everything and when he talked it made me know things about him that I do not think he even understands about himself. Calcifer just acted out because he was not happy with himself! He did not understand what was going on in his mind! He acted out for that reason but he would never do anything like stealing something, he is too good for that!”
“How do you know?” she demanded.
“Because I love him!” I shouted back. “You have to trust the man you love, otherwise it is not really l–” I stopped, realizing what I had just said. Teri was staring at me and I quickly put my hands to my mouth as if to push the words back in.
But I just turned and ran to my bedroom, shutting the door and putting something under the doorknob so nobody could get in. How could I possibly have made such a bad mistake?
I felt so sick as I searched the house. I had to get rid of the things in case… well… I just had a bad feeling. Like someone was pointing at the items and saying ‘look! look here!’. I had to get rid of them, I just knew I did.
Things at the house became weirder than normal. Penny didn’t come out of her room when anyone was around (I knew she was coming out of her room at other times since food would disappear and I would hear the toilet flushing at night).
After two days of this I tried asking Teri if she knew what was up but in the middle of our conversation, she lurched forward, grabbing her stomach.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Y-yeah,” she replied. “I’ve been feeling kinda sick. What did you need?”
“Do you know why Penny is acting so weird?”
Teri just stared at me and something flashed across her eyes, as if she did know something. But then she just turned her head. “No,” she said a bit icily. “No idea.”
After that, Teri started acting weird. She seemed really anxious whenever I was around her, as if I was going to do something. She was often looking at Penny’s closed door but never made any sort of indication that she’d go talk to Penny.
She did, however, continue to be sick. Two mornings after she complained about a stomachache I found her hurling in the bathroom.
“You okay?” I asked, bringing in a damp washcloth. I helped her up and began wiping her face, rather worried that the stomach bug was lasting this long. She took the cloth and I felt her forehead. “I don’t think you have a fever.”
“I’m okay,” she mumbled as she tossed the washcloth aside.
“I’m just worried about you,” I said, reaching for her hand.
She stepped back away from me and sniffled slightly. “I know, thank you.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, trying to look into her eyes. “Is it your dad?” He had called her up a few days ago and said he didn’t want anything to do with her if she married me. I was really ticked off about that but Teri promised she’d be okay.
“No… it’s not that…” She wrapped her arms around herself and sighed. “It’s something else. I’ll tell you later, okay? After work?”
I gave her a hug which she only barely returned. “Okay,” I said, hoping this wasn’t anything bad. “We’ll talk tonight.”
I worried all through work, wondering what on earth had upset her for so long. When I got home I found her already in her robe, just staring at the picture we had taken at prom.
I came into the bedroom and quietly shut the door behind me. “Hey Teri,” I said but she didn’t even look up at me. “So, uh, what’s going on?”
She stepped back and pulled open the top drawer. My eyes widened as I saw the clothes and sunglasses I once bought for a certain mission, and also the floor plans with my marks of where the cameras were. I swore under my breath, realizing why I had been having this feeling of wanting to get rid of them: they had been found.
“You stole them, didn’t you? The chemicals to make Penny real?” She couldn’t even look at me and when I opened my mouth to say something she just held up one hand. “Don’t even bothering telling me you didn’t do it. This is evidence enough.” She slammed the drawer shut and finally turned to look at me. “How could you?”
“Teri–” I tried but once again she cut me off.
“You…” Her eyes narrowed, piercing into me. “You are nothing more than a criminal.” Her eyes widened just very slightly and she stepped back, her hands against her chest. “And how can I be with someone like that?”