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Different Roads - Part Three



Sept 2024

Samantha Bradshaw is 25; Serdar Green is 74.



Samantha spread the newspaper reports across the table.  "So I was right, then?"  she asked.  "Because, I kind of guessed that Cory was drunk when the fire started."

"You were right," Serdar said.  "As I said, he used to come home to his brother's house drunk almost every night back then.  He didn't always wake them up, though, and one winter evening, he came home relatively quietly.   

Everyone else had long gone to bed, and the house was cold.  There was a fire dying down, and Cory threw some wood on to stoke it up.




Far too much wood to stay balanced in fireplace.




He passed out on the sofa, completely unaware of what was happening.



Fortunately they had smoke alarms.  It was only when his family were safe, that Aaron realized that Cory was still in the house.  He risked his own life in the subsequent rescue, and when he learned the cause of the fire, he was understandably furious.  Cory had been admitted to hospital, but that didn't stop Aaron telling him exactly how he felt, not just about his carelessness the night before, but about his behavior in the whole time he'd been there.  Cory never even attempted to defend himself.


Aaron finally called me then, and told me everything that had happened.  By the time I got back to Richmond, Cory had discharged himself from hospital against medical orders, leaving no indication of where he intended to go.  And we had no idea of where to start looking.


It was all too painfully familiar.  I mean, the circumstances were quite different in some ways, but in others... the infidelity, the married lover.  The child.  The fire.  I had failed to see how hurt and lost April was, and now I had failed Cory as well.  The difference was that, as far as we knew, Cory was still alive and there was still a possibility to change things this time, if only I could have the chance to convince him that he didn't have to re-live his mother's life.



Brandi and I moved back to Richmond.  I got custody of Sam.  Somehow, even then, I knew that Cory was going to need something to live for if we were ever going to get him back.  He needed his daughter waiting for him.  And in any case, after what had happened, I wanted her away from her mother.


Sharla never challenged me.  Maybe she was as shocked as anyone by Cory's disappearance...  or maybe it just suited her to not be burdened any more by his child.  She'd already dismissed her lover.  She no longer had any use for him, now that she didn't have a marriage to betray.  I wanted Sam to maintain her relationship with her mother and her little sister, but I made it very clear to Sharla that, if I ever suspected she'd criticized Cory in any way in front of Sam, things would change.


I wasn't blind to my son's faults, though.   From Sharla, and from others who had known him, I was beginning to understand the full extent of Cory's problems.  I knew he'd caused a lot of hurt... but I also knew that to an extent he wasn't responsible for his actions and, as such, he deserved a fair second chance.  Aaron agreed.  He was carrying a lot of guilt over the way he'd dealt with things.  Time passed, and over a year later, we still had on idea of what had happened to Cory.  It seemed less and less likely that we would ever find him, although we never stopped hoping.


"So how did you find him? There were a couple of reports when he went missing," Samantha said, flicking through the articles, "but nothing about him being found.".
"That was one of the strangest parts of the whole thing," said Serdar.  ""Do you believe in ghosts?  Or, at least, in the dead having some ability to influence events among the living?"
"Um... I don't know... " Samantha stammered.  "Why?"
"Every month, every week even, probably dozens of homeless drunks get hauled into a big city police station for fighting or disturbing the peace.  Put them in a cell for the night, let them cool off, then send them on their way.  No point in charging them with anything, they won't show up in court.  Usually, they don't even give their real name.  Cory certainly didn't.  Do you know what made the difference?".


When Samantha didn't answer, Serdar leaned across the table towards her.  "One of the police officers who processed him, was April's daughter."




"She'd had little contact with our side of the family, but she knew enough to recognize her missing brother.




Of course, I wanted Cory home and I wanted him to stop drinking, right there and then.  But there were people who knew more than me about these thing.  They said I couldn't make him get help, they said he had to be ready, to make up his own mind.  I ignored them.  To my thinking, clearly he wasn't capable of making up his mind about anything... I had to do it for him.


It didn't work, of course.  He ran, again.  This time, though, he wasn't that hard to find.  We now knew more-or-less where he'd been for the past year, he was perpetually drunk and in poor health, and he wouldn't have the energy or inclination to go much further.


The second time, finding him was the easy part.  Actually being able to help him in some way was another story.  I had realized that, if I was ever going to get him back to where I wanted him to be, I had to start by meeting him where he was.  I also needed him to be safe, or as safe as I could make him, under the circumstances."


"What did you do?"


"I rented him an small apartment, in the same city neighborhood where he'd been living on the streets.  I didn't like it, and I could afford much better for him, but he would only accept the bare minimum.




I made sure he had food, clothing... and some money.  Even though I knew he would spend it on alcohol, at least he wouldn't have to do anything foolish to try to get it otherwise.  I spent as much time there as I could.




It was a grim little place, but somehow Cory seemed to feel comfortable there.  I guess he didn't have to try to hide anything anymore.




Aaron visited a lot, too.  We tried our best, both of us, to convince Cory that it was worth trying to get his life back on track.  We had to take things so slowly.  Sometimes it seemed to be working.  Sometimes, on a good day, you'd barely know that anything was wrong.




Sometimes, though, we just pushed him too hard and it all went to pieces again...




... but we learned to deal with that, too.




It was almost too hard, seeing him living like that, knowing that there was so little we could do about it.   It was a long, hard year, for all of us... but we got there. Sam had a lot to do with it.  I had been right in guessing that it would help Cory to know that she was there with me, waiting for him.


He missed her badly, and he knew that if he was ever going to be able to be a father to her again, he'd have to get out of the mess he was in.  I don't know if he ever would have turned himself around, without her.  Gradually, slowly... he finally came to the point where he was ready to try to help himself."


Samantha shook her head.  "It's hard to believe... I mean, when you see him now - "
"Back then, I could never have believed he'd have the kind of life that he has now.  He's done so well for himself - "
"But you've done well, too." Samantha said.  "I mean, you said it yourself... it wasn't easy.  But you never gave up on him... "
"I couldn't give up," Serdar said firmly.  "I had to save Cory. I failed April. I couldn't fail her son as well."

Samantha stared at him for a long moment.  "You still love her, don't you?"
"Yes," he said softly.  "I hope I never stop loving her." 
"But.. .Brandi?"
"Brandi knows.  She understands.  When we married... it wasn't like it was with April.  We'd both been widowed, we were both struggling to raise our children alone.  We each had what the other needed, to make it easier.  Love didn't have to come into it.  Don't get me wrong," he added, seeing Samantha's reaction.  "I've come to love her very much, over the years.  But it wasn't the same as it was with April."


Serder closed his eyes and slumped a little.  Are you ok?" Samantha asked.  She remembered how she'd felt intimidated by him, how she'd seen him as having the perfect family and no right to comment on anyone who had less than that... now all she saw was a sad old man still carrying the guilt of things that had happened over forty years ago.
"Just tired..."  He opened his eyes and smiled. "So, now you've heard my story... what about yours?"
"Mine?"
"Don't you see, this is the whole point of me telling you all this.  You can leave anything behind, but you can't escape the consequences.  Not for you, or for the people you left."
Samantha started to say something, then stopped.  She realized suddenly that, not only could she see no harm in telling him about her past, but that now, she actually wanted to.  If for no other reason, then to reassure him that neither she, nor the people she'd left behind, would be going through anything like what he and his family had experienced.
"Ok, if it makes - "


The door opened suddenly, and Helen came in.  "Oh, hi Dad," she said.  To her surprise, Serdar started to laugh.  "What... ?!" she asked.
"We'll talk," Samantha said to him, trying hard not to laugh herself.  "Really... we should talk."
"Talk about what," Helen asked.
"Nothing of consequence for you," Serdar replied, getting up to greet his daughter.  "But your sense of timing is impeccable."
----


Late that night, when Helen was sleeping and the house was quiet, Samantha was still awake.  She got up, slipped downstairs and found a pad and pen.  She thought for a long moment, then she started to write.




An hour later, the letter was finished.  She pulled on a coat over her pajamas.  She had to post it now... tomorrow she might change her mind.  When she was done, she went back to bed with a feeling of satisfaction.  She didn't know if she'd ever get a reply after all this time, but really that didn't matter. She'd done what she needed to do.  She wasn't sure if she'd ever tell him, but Serdar would have been pleased with her.



... and before anyone jumps to any conclusions, Samantha and I know that she can't have contact with anyone from Lakeside Heights while she's away!  We don't want to be spoiler-y, so you're going to have to trust us on this one :)

8 comments:

  1. Poor Serdar. He's still carrying so much guilt but I think he's really atoned for April somehow, with the way he was so persistent with Cory. He did everything he could do and it worked.

    You've got me curious about Samantha's letter but I will patiently wait until the next time we hear from her. :D

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  2. Serdar really did everything he could.
    As for his relationship with April, it was bound to happen like that I think.
    It was almost all April and her wants, and Serdar was only trying to do good for his family.

    Like Carla I'm curious about Samantha's letter!

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  3. Carla, I get the feeling Serdar still feels guilty because of the fears he rolls - things like fear of fires, family member breaks up, family member dies... probably normal fears for a family sim, but in the context of his story, its like its still on his mind.

    Tanja, yeah, April did kind of bring about her own fate in a way.

    And, guys... sorry, probably not the very next time you hear from Samantha... but you will find out about the letter eventually :)

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  4. Now my head is filled with question marks about whom the letter is addressed to.

    I have been keeping taps of SBP on and off. At one point, I thought of jumping in, yet got cold feet. For me, SB's journey would hit too close to home to my own experiences to write.

    Can't wait to see how she may be a changed person when she finally gets back to LH.

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  5. This was a great update! I'm sipping my coffee and catching up here today. My heart hurts for Cory and Serdar, he was very patient with Cory, and it's paid off. I'm glad he kept Sam, I can see how that would be a big push for Cory to get his life back on track.

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  6. Lepifera, it is going to be interesting, seeing how Samantha develops through several hoods and several writers. The letter will come up again a few updates from now...

    Maisie, thanks!

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  7. I love how this all came together! Such a good update! I loved hearing the full story, and getting all of that history!

    Your dirty and cheap apartment was a nice touch.

    Samantha's adventures just keep getting better and better... and the letter... hmmm...

    oh, im so glad to find out about Corey! so satisfying!

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  8. Thanks, Billy - glad you enjoyed it!

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Thanks for reading and commenting!