Chapter 1: Storm Warning
Mari had always looked forward to visiting her grandparents’ cabin in the mountains. She had happy memories of the cabin- of fishing in the stream, picking berries in the woods, and just spending time with her family. But on this particular visit, things were different. The air was heavy and still, the sky had turned a weird shade of green, and the forecast hijacked all television channels with reports of a massive incoming storm that had the potential to cause outright destruction.
Mari’s phone beeped suddenly and she picked it up nervously. It was a text message from her mother, “Mari, please tell your grandparents to evacuate ASAP. Don’t even think about staying there.”
Mari looked at her grandparents. They were sitting on the front deck, enjoying the view of the forest. They seemed so calm, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. She showed the text message to her grandpa while her grandma offered her a bowl of her favorite ice cream, but they shrugged and seemed unfazed.
“The news is always exaggerating,” her grandpa grumbled. “We’ve been through plenty of storms. We know how to take care of ourselves.”
Mari felt a knot form in her stomach as she watched her grandparents. They didn’t plan to leave. They didn’t even seem to see the storm coming.
Mari tossed and turned but couldn’t fall asleep that night. As the darkness descended, Mari heard winds beginning to blow stronger than ever. The trees outside bent and swayed like they were made of rubber. She could hear branches snapping, windows rattling, and the sound of the rain pounding against the roof of the cabin. At times, lightning flashed and startled her, making her heart race. Over the television, she could hear newscasters warning people to seek shelter immediately. But Mari’s grandparents still seemed unfazed.
Mari decided to go check on them. She wrapped herself in a blanket and slipped out the door. But as soon as she stepped outside, a gust of wind nearly knocked her off her feet. She stumbled back, momentarily blind from the rain before she regained her footing, pulling the blanket over her head and making her way to the porch rail. At the edge of the darkness, she could see her grandparents still sitting out in their chairs.
She hurried to them, grabbing her grandpa’s arm and tugging. “Please, we need to go inside. It’s not safe out here,” Mari shouted, her voice barely audible over the deafening howl of the storm.
But neither of her grandparents moved. Their eyes stayed trained ahead. Mari pulled them when she could feel something slippery and slimy under her foot. She fell clumsily on the mud, leaving her feeling wet and filthy.
She was going to stand back up again only to find her grandparents still wouldn’t budge.
At last, Mari realized not only were they unready to abandon their cabin, they were also oblivious to the serious peril posed by the current storm situation.
And then, all at once, Mari wondered if there was something really wrong with her grandparents. Why did they seem to care little about the storm?
That’s when Mari knew she was in for a long, uncertain night.
Chapter 2: The Deliberate Deception
As the storm raged on throughout the night, Mari stayed wide awake, unable to shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. Her grandparents seemed so calm in the face of disaster, as if they knew something she didn’t.
Just before dawn, the storm finally died down. Mari rushed outside to survey the damage and to make sure her grandparents were okay. But the sight that greeted her was both shocking and bewildering.
The cabin appeared to be in ruins. The front deck had collapsed, the roof had caved in, and the walls were pockmarked with holes. Mari gasped, covering her mouth with her hand, feeling tears prick her eyes. But as she stepped closer for a better look, she saw something that didn’t quite fit. The debris on the ground seemed too contrived, too well-placed to be the result of a natural disaster.
Feeling confused and unsure, Mari called out to her grandparents. They emerged from the house, seemingly unconcerned. Mari was in disbelief. Why weren’t her grandparents more worried? Why weren’t they freaking out?
“What happened? Were you hit by the storm?” Mari asked, gesturing to the cabin’s “wreckage.”
Her grandparents just looked at each other before breaking out into a smile. “No, no, dear. That was just a protective measure,” her grandpa said. “We wanted to make sure that you would be convinced to leave if worse came to worst.”
Mari couldn’t believe what she was hearing. They had intentionally simulated the damage to dupe her into leaving. Mari felt angry and hurt. Her grandparents had put her through hell, and for what? To what end?
But worst of all, Mari wondered what else they had kept from her over the years. She felt like her entire relationship with her grandparents had just turned on its head within a few moments.
Mari was struck speechless. She knew she had to confront her grandparents on this deceptive behavior but the question was, how could she come to terms with it when she was still feeling bewildered and aggrieved? Or, would she ever want to come back to this cabin again?
Chapter 3: Moving Forward
Mari felt a strange sense of loss as she realized that her grandparents had been withholding the truth from her for who knows how long. She couldn’t help but think of how many moments of intimacy – of sharing, bonding, and growing together – had been built on a false foundation of deceit.
Mari struggled with conflicting emotions – should she confront her grandparents or should she just leave without saying anything?
After a long silence, Mari spoke up. “I don’t know what to say,” she said. “Why did you feel like you had to deceive me?”
Her grandparents looked at each other for a moment and then her grandma spoke, “We just wanted to make sure that you didn’t get hurt, Mari. We love you so much, and we couldn’t bear the thought of anything happening to you.”
Mari was still in a daze. She felt like her grandparents were lying to her again. “But it’s not okay, it’s not all right to deceive someone in order to keep them safe,” she said with conviction.
Mari knew she had to make a choice, either to stay with her grandparents and try to rebuild their relationship on honesty and transparency, or leave for good and sever all ties with her grandparents.
Her grandparents slowly approached her, and Mari took a deep breath, preparing herself for an embrace-but there was something much more than a hug.
“I’m sorry we had to do that, Mari,” her grandpa said, as they wrapped her in their arms. “We just wanted to make sure you were safe.”
Mari knew that while her grandparents’ actions were misguided, deep down, they had only acted out of love. She decided in that moment that the love she had for them was stronger than the hurt, that they could work things out together and see the positive side of things. They would talk, they would heal, they would rebuild.
Together, Mari and her grandparents began to clear out the “fake” debris, tearing it down with resolve to take down the false image they had created. Together, in the aftermath of the storm, they began the process of rebuilding the authenticity of their relationship.