Windenburg. As soon as Everett felt Timothy’s warm embrace, he knew the name of the city would always be synonymous with homeliness and warmth.
The older man was like a grandpa to him– much more than Alexander would ever be. Timothy always accommodated his obscure food preferences instead of making him eat whatever he thought kids should eat. He always let Everett make his own decisions, and if Timothy needed to choose something for him, he always explained his reasoning in advance. That’s why Everett didn’t cry the way his brothers did when Mindy announced to them that she would be leaving. “It’ll only be for a couple weeks,” she said. “I’ll even let Timothy bring the three of you to a city that’s near where I’ll be staying.”
Inside the small café, Everett could only feel the buzz of life– life that would always, somehow, be different for him than it was for others. He was reluctant to sit outside, knowing it would just be him and Berjes, who needed some quiet night air to finish his homework, but the energy was just too much for him. Every little thing in his body– cells, Berjes had called them– was shaking with excitement, and he just couldn’t sit still inside the crowded establishment while Timothy ordered food for Emerson.
Outside, the buzz grew more faint, coming from the music that poured out of a nearby night club (“You’re not allowed to go there until you’re an adult,” Mary Anne had warned), fluttered in the breeze like the many colorful flags and banners, and radiated off the few remaining sims in the plaza, hurrying off to their destination for the evening. Emerson pulled out the chair across from Berjes, wincing as it scraped against rough cobblestones, at sat down across from the boy who would always feel like a brother to him.
That’s when he noticed the way Berjes’ eyes could see through his own, finding out exactly what was going on inside Everett’s mind. “You don’t want to be out here, do you,” Berjes whispered softly, more of a statement than a question. Everett said nothing, wondering how a sim could know that well exactly what he was thinking, wondering what else someone could see if they stared long and hard enough.
“I can’t tell what you’re feeling,” Berjes replied to Everett’s inner thoughts, “but I can guess. You’re startled, curious, scared, comfortable, and yet… angry?”
Angry? What could he be angry about? He had been mad about the Star Wars incident at first, but it had only taken him that one night to get over it and move on with his life. Then he knew. “I just want a real family.” Berjes made a quizzical expression, to which he replied, “I want sims who always love, and don’t try to make me feel bad, and stand up when things aren’t right, and always stick around, and know everything.”
Berjes sighed and shook his head. “I shouldn’t be the one to explain this to you.”
The two boys just looked at each other for a moment, each wondering what to do, until Berjes scooped up his notebook and pencil and headed inside.
Everett’s gaze was still frozen on the spot where Berjes’ eyes had been. He still wasn’t quite sure if he understood.
“Look at this, Berjes!” Emerson called as he saw his brother enter the café. Then, softer, after the older boy had sat down at the table: “This is called a crepe, and it’s really good, and when you pull it apart you realize that the inside is just a work of art, and–”
“Thanks for spoiling the magic,” Berjes interrupted, rolling his eyes while smirking at his brother’s enthusiasm.
“Oops, sorry,” Emerson replied sheepishly.
“That’s okay– besides, I haven’t seen you this enthusiastic in a long time– not since Mary Anne and Mindy first brought Everett home,” Berjes replied. Emerson’s expression mellowed at the mention of the youngest of the three. Emerson knows what he’s doing isn’t right.
“We were a family then. We were complete. And now–” he gestured at the pain of glass separating the two of them from Everett, who was still sitting outside– “we aren’t.” Berjes was about to speak when Emerson amended his statement. “You can’t be on both sides of the window at once. You have to choose one.”