"Why did you invite her in?" Cody demanded.
"She seems lost and confused, we should try and help her." Corine replied.
"She threw herself at me, she's obviously some kind of nut!" he protested.
Iris cleared her throat loudly reminding them of her presence, "I'm not crazy." She said simply.
"Cody, it's me, it's Iris." She tried.
"I don't know you!" He yelled.
"Luke!" Corine reprimanded his strong reaction, "I'm sorry, Iris is it? I think perhaps you should leave."
"I'm not going anywhere without my husband." Iris protested remaining firmly in the chair.
"You think that Luke is your husband?" Corine asked.
"Cody please look at me, you must remember me?" She begged, but he just stared blankly back at her. "Alright then what about our kids?" She asked fishing her family photo's out of her wallet and tossing them onto the table.
"Josh and Kaya. Look at them!" She insisted pointing to the pictures.
"I don't know you or your children." Cody replied, his frustration evident. Getting up from the table he began to walk away.
"Wait! I can prove it!" Iris called, "Roll up your sleeve. Your left arm has a tattoo of a dolphin, you got it the day after you graduated high school."
"You could have seen me at the pool yesterday or any other day come to think of it, that proves nothing!" He replied.
"Then look at this." She said tossing another photo from her wallet onto the table.
The picture showed her and Cody at the beach together, his tattoo on full display.
"I'm not listening to any more of this!" He shouted, before storming upstairs.
"You know I'm telling the truth." She said to the woman, "Tell me that I'm not going crazy?" She begged.
Sighing Corine began to recite the tale of how she had met Luke.
As a marine biologist she spent a great deal of her time at the harbour mostly observing and recording the pods of dolphins.
That day she noticed a man's body washed up on the shore. Fearing he had drowned she sailed over to him and searched frantically for a pulse, finding a very weak one she had called the coast guard who took him to the nearby hospital.
When he finally came round he couldn't remember anything about how he had gotten there or even who he was.
"He didn't even know his own name." She said sadly, "I felt somehow responsible for him so when he was discharged i let him move into my spare room. The Doctors thought his memories would come back, but they never did."
"So you just kept him for yourself!" Iris spat.
"It wasn't like that." Corine protested, "We tried to find out who he was, for the first year it was all we did, but when we found no clues he just gave up and accepted that this was his life now."
"I never gave up." Iris told her softly, "I knew he was out there somewhere, but i never imagined this. Leon told me that you're engaged?"
"Yes." She nodded, toying with the ring on her finger, "But i suppose it means nothing now."
"I'm sorry." Iris whispered, "But he has a family who love him very much and we need him to come home."
Sighing Corine slipped the ring from her finger, "Give me some time alone to talk to him. This is all such a shock for us both, but i know that Luke." She stopped herself, "I mean Cody, will want to come back home."
Iris had reluctantly agreed to give them some time even though every fibre of her being told her not to, she walked away.
But Corine was true to her word, she made Cody see that he had to go back home and try to remember his old life and that's just what he did.
Iris hoped that being surrounded by his family and friends would jolt his memory back in place, but when she eventually brought Cody home his expression remained blank.
Joshua and Kaya rushed to welcome him home, hugging his legs tightly and yelling "Daddy!"
But all Cody could manage was a awkward pat on each of their shoulders.
Iris looked on noting the look of confusion on Cody's face and the hurt on the faces of Josh and Kaya.
She had no idea how she could explain this to them both in a way that they would understand, but she tried her best telling them that "Daddy was sick from his accident and needed a little time to get back to normal."
That night Cody had insisted on sleeping on the couch but as everyone else slept he crept upstairs and stole a glance at his purported family.
He looked down at the sleeping boy. He had seen the way the boy had looked up at him earlier, the look on his face was pure unadulterated joy at the sight of his father followed by a look of hurt and confusion at Cody's stand offish response.
He didn't want to hurt these children but the truth was that they were no more than strangers to him.
He knew that both Josh and Kaya remembered him as their loving father, but those memories were like ghosts to him. Just as he thought he had caught a glimpse of his past he would turn around and the thought would vanish.
This room, this house, these people were all unknown to him, yet they knew him inside out, better than he knew himself.
He opened the next bedroom door quietly to find a sleeping Iris inside.
There were so many pictures in this room, of him and Iris and their children. He scrutinised each one by one, his own face stared back at him so happy and relaxed with this woman, it was clear that they were very much in love.
Cody figured that if he had been happy here once that he could be again, if only he could stop feeling like an intruder in his own home.
He decided to make a concerted effort to get reacquainted with his children, if he couldn't recall their childhood then at least he could learn who they had become in his absence.
Josh was cautious at first, fearing the rejection of the previous day, but as Cody began to talk to him he started to relax a little and for a brief moment he allowed himself to believe that his Dad had returned.
They chatted casually about the garden and Josh showed him the play area, but the subject which he most desperately wished to talk about, the day of his disappearance, sat like an elephant in the room.
Josh knew his Dad must want to say something to him about that day, he must want to tell him off for the way he had behaved. But his Dad said nothing.
In fact the things his Dad did say didn't even seem like him at all. There was no mention of surfing or nature his one time favourite topics.
Josh decided that he must be so angry over what had happened that he was refusing to be himself, keeping Josh at arms length in case he messed up again.
He was too scared to hear his Dad's true thoughts on the matter so he took all his feelings of guilt, fear and rejection and he locked them away deep inside his chest.
While Josh was open to giving Cody the time of day, Kaya was a different matter.
She stepped back from his cold hug that first day and decided not to try again, instead choosing to keep her distance and regarding him warily.
Kaya's cold shoulder did not escape Cody, and although he wanted to get to know his daughter, at the same time he wanted to give her some time to come to terms with his reappearance.
Instead he returned the favour, opting to watch her from a distance also.
But what he saw of Kaya he did not like.
One day, not long after he had returned home, he witnessed her snatch a toy out of Lexie's hands.
The young girl looked up at her with huge doleful eyes, her bottom lip began to tremble and she started to cry.
"This is mine!" Kaya hissed, "Gross you got your sticky fingers all over it."
Without another word she stomped off to her room with the toy in her hand.
Cody stepped in and scooped Lexie up in his arms, comforting the little girl he deposited her back in the twins nursery fetching her a replacement toy from the box.
The next day he once again caught Kaya bullying the younger girls. This time it was Lilah who incurred her anger.
"That's my dollhouse!" Kaya yelled stamping her foot, "Get off it you little disease."
This time Cody was not about to let her get away with it.
"Don't speak to your sister that way." He chided, shaking his finger at her, "This is their room and the toys in it are theirs to play with, now if you can't learn to share then you won't be allowed in this room any more, do i make myself clear?"
Kaya regarded him with shock, she wasn't used to being told off usually her Mom would just tell her to play nicely, she would never issue threats of punishment.
Kaya narrowed her eyes, balled her hands into fists and yelled, "You can't tell me what to do!" looking up at him with a challenging glare.
"Oh yes i can, now you go to your room i don't want to see you again until you have apologised to both your sisters." He demanded.
"I don't have to do what you say." She ventured, "You're not my father!" She retorted, before stalking from the nursery and slamming the door.
That weekend brought Josh's birthday and since Cody was back Iris had decided to go all out with the celebration and invited the entire family over for a good old fashioned Traytor style garden party.
Josh looked eagerly around the familiar faces of his grandparents, aunts and uncles searching for his father.
He stood straight faced looking like an outsider.
Josh sighed, he could tell that his Dad was uncomfortable celebrating his birthday. Who could blame him, why would he want to celebrate the birthday of the boy who had caused him to disappear for three years?
He raised his eyes to the sky and thought long and hard about his birthday wish.
For some reason the day of his Dad's funeral played out in his mind. His Mom had taken him to the cemetery to bury the urn that was supposed to be his father, she had left him alone to "speak" to his Dad.
He remembered feeling embarrassed that day, he hadn't known what to say. It felt silly talking to an inanimate object but as soon as she left his side he felt much calmer, the solace of the moment was perfect and he had opened up.
"Come home Dad, please." He started, "I know you're not dead, everyone thinks that it's better for me to believe that but i don't. You were the best swimmer ever, i know there's no way that current could have stopped you. I'm sorry for what i did but please stop punishing me and come home, Mom really needs you and so do i."
He figured he had got his wish, it would be selfish to ask for anything more for himself. Instead he wished that Cody would get well again and be the Dad he remembered.
As he aged into a teenager Iris realised that Josh was a good likeness of both his parents, he had her hair colour and eyes but facially he was all Cody.
Josh sat next to Kaya and began tucking into his cake when she muttered something under her breath.
"Huh? What's that Kay?" He asked.
"Shh, he's watching us." She said still looking straight ahead.
Josh looked around and saw Cody watching them from the other side of the garden, "Who? Dad?" He asked.
"That's not our Dad!" Kaya replied.
Thanks to his newly acquired artistic trait Josh found picking his birthday gift easy, opting for an easel and set of oil paints.
As he began work on his first piece he reflected on what Kaya had said to him at his birthday party.
What did she mean he's not our Dad? He wondered.
When she was little she was always begging Josh to tell her stories about their Dad listening so intently as he obliged. He guessed that the reality of who Cody was now had jarred her as much as it had him.
The feelings of blame attempted to resurface from where he had locked them earlier. Forcing them back down he threw all of his pent up frustration into the canvass and allowed his brush to paint a picture of how he felt inside.
Kaya sat in the jungle gym and watched as Cody taught Lexie to walk, she felt the anger simmering inside her. Why did his relationship with the twins seem so effortless, he had walked back into their lives and treat them like he had never been away, but the twins didn't even know Daddy, so why did he love them more?
It had always been like that, as soon as the twins came along she was pushed aside like she didn't matter anymore. The only thing that seemed to get her Moms attention was her bad behaviour but now she even seemed to ignore that as though she had just grown tired of Kaya.
Josh was the only one in this whole rotten family who gave a damn about her, but since his birthday he had been holed up in his room painting. So now there was just Kaya, all alone with her thoughts.
It was true Cody had found it easy to begin a relationship with the twins, they had no expectations of him so he could just be himself around them. He didn't feel as though he was doing something wrong if he held them a different way or if he didn't talk about the things he had used to talk about.
Having the twins around made this whole experience easier to accept, with Josh and Kaya he would constantly wonder if he was doing the wrong thing. After he had reprimanded Kaya over her treatment of the girls she had become completely cold towards him and he feared that he had spoiled any chance of a relationship with her.
Josh seemed happy enough for Cody to talk to him but he knew that the boy was holding something back from him, each time they were together he felt a tiny spark of memory ignite only for it to extinguish seconds later. He wished that Josh would open up to him but he couldn't be sure if pressing the issue was the right way to go.
However the most difficult relationship was between him and Iris. She had persuaded him to try sleeping in his old bed alongside her but it felt too alien to him. He knew he must of loved this woman with all his heart at one time, but no matter how hard he tried he couldn't make those feelings come back.
She was just another stranger that he had been thrown together with and seeing the hurt and rejection that hid behind her eyes was slowly eating away at him.
He would lay awake next to her for hours, unable to welcome the peace of sleep. Most times he would ease out of the room and walk to the back garden taking in the view of the ocean and the cities that lay beyond it.
In these moments he would think of Corine and the life they had shared together, it was the last time he had felt like a real person instead of just this shadow of a former family man that he had become now.
He felt hollow inside as though his true self had been scooped out and discarded with no hope of return.
Josh found his sister all alone on the swing set.
"Hey you stole my seat!" He joked.
"Well i guess i stole your role as problem child of the family too." Kaya replied.
"What's going on with you Kay?" He asked, usually Josh would run a mile before talking about feelings, his or others, but Kaya had seemed so down lately that he ignored this phobia.
"Nothing." Was the vague response he received.
"Is it Dad?" He ventured a guess.
"I told you that's not our Dad." She insisted.
Josh sighed he had not heard this one in a while, when he had asked her before about her comment she had told him that the man calling himself Dad was in fact an alien "Wearing Dad's body like a suit!"
He rolled his eyes guessing that Kaya had been watching the sci-fi channel late at night again.
"Kay i know Dad seems like a different person but it's not his fault." He told her, "When he jumped in the water to save me that day i think a part of him washed out to sea and i guess it's not coming back." he sighed.
"That or the aliens theory." She frowned.
"Look just give him a chance OK? Maybe if we try harder he'll be himself again."
"You really think so?" She asked excitedly.
"Sure." Josh shrugged. he had no idea if this was true or not, but while he was willing to bear the blame for his Dad's unhappiness, he didn't want the responsibility of Kaya's too.
Kaya knew what she had to do to get back in her Dads good books, she had to apologise to the twins for being mean to them. In truth she didn't really want to apologise, they didn't deserve the special treatment they got, but maybe Josh was right. If she was a good girl then maybe her Dad would look at her the way he did at Lexie and Lilah.
Making sure her Dad could see she hugged first Lexie then Lilah before sitting on the floor of their room and playing together with her sisters.
Cody and Iris looked on in bewilderment at this sudden change in their daughter, but they said nothing in case in doing so they jinxed it.
Later Cody took Kaya to one side for a chat.
"I'm very proud of you Kaya." He told her, "You admitted you were wrong and that takes courage."
Kaya stared at him speechless, she was certain her Dad had just complimented her and if she wasn't mistaken he was smiling at her too.
Venturing forward she hugged her Dad's leg and to her great joy found that he hugged her right back.
That morning Iris had awoken as usual before everyone else. her first port of call was always the kitchen where she prepared her signature blueberry pancakes for breakfast.
Cody followed her in and began clearing the supper plates from the night before. Iris could feel his presence as he moved behind her clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.
He did all the same things her husband once had but Iris knew that this man in her kitchen now was not the Cody she had married.
He was distant and withdrawn.
Whatever she tried to jog his memory seemed to fail. She had flooded the house with photograph's from everything to their wedding at the beach to the children's birthdays but still he remembered nothing.
She knew that it wasn't fair on the kids the way she had been focusing all her efforts on Cody these past years but what could she do when every minute of her day was filled with the huge void that he had left?
It was all she could think of.
Her grief was endless and although he was home she still mourned his loss.
After breakfast she told him she was going to drop the twins at pre-school before heading to the bar. To Iris's surprise Cody asked to come along.
He usually preferred to spend his time alone, probably thinking about the happy life Iris had ripped him from, but for whatever reason he decided to spend the day with her and she was not about to argue.
Alex greeted them at the beach and as usual Cody merely nodded to her before walking away, Alex was just another face from his past that he could not recall.
"No change then?" Alex shrugged.
"None." Iris replied the tears stinging her eyes.
"It will get better." Alex said rubbing her shoulder.
"I used to think so but he's been gone too long, i don't think he'll ever come back." She admitted.
Alex excused herself and went back to tending the bar as Iris watched Cody stroll along the beach. He got so far along the shore when he stopped and knelt to the floor.
"Hey check this out Iris!" He called to her.
She walked over to where he crouched and stopped as an overwhelming sense of deja vu passed through her.
"Look! I think this is a light beetle." He said holding the tiny green beetle up for her to scrutinise, "Huh, i don't think I've ever seen one of these before today." He said perplexed.
"Then how did you know it was a light beetle?" Iris asked almost choking on her words.
"I.....I don't know." He replied confused, "I think maybe someone must have told me once."
Narrowing his eyes in concentration he tried to mentally hold onto the memory of that occasion. He saw it then as clear as day, on a beach similar to this one he had called to a girl and shown her the same sort of beetle and she had been the one to tell him its exact species.
"It was you wasn't it?" He asked grabbing her hand.
"You remember that?" She cried, "It was the first day we met." She told him.
"It was right here on this beach." He said, "This was something we used to share wasn't it, wildlife and the beach, this was our place?"
"Yes." She said allowing a tear to slip down her cheek.
"I remember it Iris." He said pulling her into a hug, "I remember us."
Bridgeport, like many coastal towns, was often plagued by fog and as it rolled in that evening Iris closed the bar early and headed home with Cody.
He had made a major break through in his recovery and she felt optimistic for their future. If he could remember something that had happened between them so long ago then surely his other memories must still be in their somewhere.
Josh stared out of his bedroom window at the approaching fog. Most Sims complained about it but Josh loved how it cloaked the entire city in it's heavy solemnity, hiding the buildings and streets as though they had been eaten by some invisible force.
He enjoyed the feeling that it was just him all alone, the peace that enveloped him during his solace was his only saviour from the dark thoughts and memories that toyed with his mind.
As he touched the final stroke of his brush to the canvass he stepped back and admired his latest piece.
It was his best work yet.
The dense grey representing the cold icy darkness of the ocean smeared with the vibrant blood red streak that portrayed his feeling of anger and resentment at it's heartless capture of his Dad years before.
Josh smiled to himself feeling better already at having laid out his emotions onto the canvass, it was almost as if the painting had absorbed them and taken the weight of them from his chest.
This was better than any therapy, he thought.
As long as he could paint he knew that he could keep his emotions under check and never have to face them again.