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ATW S4 Chapter 9: Larissa’s Letter

Dear Stuart,

I know how cruel the world has been to you. You never got to meet your father or your child, and I know all that has left a gaping hole in your soul, but– you must be strong. Even when others said you were “too angry”, “too lazy”, and “couldn’t be helped”, I always stood by you and told you the stories of the stars because I knew you had a kind heart, even if the world had set out to destroy it.

My son, you are kind like your father– you always take the time to listen and understand, and you take it upon yourself to make things right, even though you know how challenging the truth can be to face. I know what Grim told you after my death– I wanted him to tell you those things. My family was certainly not where you received your kindness. Most of my love came from my siblings, yet they knew there was something different about me that only grew with time. It is not my place to say, but you have all the means to find out.

My child, you are a beacon of hope. Sometimes, it is the most broken of us that understand souls the best– that can see inside, find the holes, and figure out how they got there and how to fix them. The world is a very broken place– but trust me when I say that you’re the one who knows how to fix it, one soul at a time– because you’re the only one who can.

I love you with all my heart, and I have faith that you’ll do well. Remember that everyone in your life is there for a reason. With every failure, you will learn a lesson, and with every success, you will grow stronger. I know you’re familiar with that concept already– it’s why I never minded the amount of time you spent playing video games. Plus… games aren’t just games, are they? They’re a reflection of reality– sometimes a utopian or dystopian version, but a reflection nonetheless. 

I know you’re reading this and wondering where the story is that I promised you, but it’s not something I can put into words, and it’s not finished yet. You’re the only one who can find the ending. You’re the player in this game. You are in control– and those of us who are not quite a part of your world are waiting to see what you’ll do. You have a bigger audience than you could ever imagine. 

Love, 

Mom

<< Previous– ATW S4 Chapter 8: No Matter How Old

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ATW S4 Chapter 8: No Matter How Old

Joslyn felt invigorated as she stepped off the bus and into one of the more artsy nooks of the city. Stuart and Nawwaf had insisted that she get out of the house of the day– probably due to some plans for her birthday, no less– and after Ms. Holiday’s visit, the fact that they would be adopting had been made much more real. They’d been told that they would have a baby placed with them who needed a family, and after some random home inspections and time, they would be given the option to adopt. So here she was, out shopping for some baby-appropriate furniture.

Joslyn threw a couple Simoleons into a street musician’s guitar case as she passed, hoping it would show how much she really did appreciate his music.

Talking to sellers was crazy, to say the least. At the first seller’s table, she found a matching desk lamp and end table set, and got into some furious price negotiations. Unfortunately she didn’t get much of a discount on the items.

The second seller had an adorable little chair that was very cushiony when Joslyn sat on it– it would be perfect for when the baby would become a toddler and start climbing up on everything. She was able to get a twenty percent discount on the listed price, which she was very happy with.

When she arrived home late that afternoon, she found Nawwaf waiting by the front door for her. “I’ll help you get this stuff upstairs,” he said when he saw just how much stuff she had gotten.

“Thanks,” she said after they were done and seated in the living room, at Nawwaf’s insistence.

“So… where’s the baby going to sleep?” he asked. “I didn’t see a bassinet in with any of the stuff you got today….”

“Oh, Jasmine Holiday from Social Services said that they’d provide one.”

“Jasmine Holiday from Social Services? Sounds a lot like that ‘Rachel from Cardholder Services’ phone scam….”

“Now you’re just being silly! She’s really nice and seems like she genuinely wants to help those affected by the flooding in Oasis Springs, that’s all.”

“Dinner’s ready!” Stuart called from the dining room, ending their conversation.

After dinner, Stuart went back into the kitchen, this time bringing out a birthday cake. After lighting the candles, him and Nawwaf began to sing.

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday dear Joslyn

Happy birthday to you!

“Aww, you know you didn’t have to do all this for me,” Joslyn said.

“We did it for Stuart, so I figured we should do the same for you. Now blow out the candles!”

“Are you really that anxious for me to become old?”

“No matter what age you are, Joslyn,” Stuart said, “I’ll always think you’re beautiful.”

With Stuart’s words in her heart, Joslyn blew out the candles.

“Well? How do I look?”

“Like a grandma, Mom,” Nawwaf replied. “This kid’s gonna be so confused.”

<< Previous– ATW S4 Chapter 7: Shut Up and Dance With Me

>> Next– ATW S4 Chapter 9: Larissa’s Letter

ATW S4 Chapter 7: Shut Up and Dance With Me

This chapter is told by Nawwaf Boston.

The school really went all-out this year for the dance, which I’m sure I would’ve appreciated if I wasn’t utterly miserable. The elevator we took up to the venue was completely glass, so I could see the sunset as we rose above the city. It would’ve taken my breath away if I hadn’t already been preoccupied with the fact that I hadn’t asked Lacie to the dance, hadn’t even spoken to her, so I had no idea if she would even show up. At least my ticket was free since Mom was helping with setup and tear-down, as well as being stationed at the snack bar during the dance.

The beginning of it was really awkward– I don’t hang out with a ton of people, and everyone I knew that was there was probably mad at me. Then there was this new girl there, who I really felt bad for– I think I heard someone call her Jen? She seemed like she was in one of the younger grades, so this could’ve easily been her first dance. She looked like she was having a good time with Matias and Helen, so I guess she must’ve made friends quickly. Either that or they were just making an effort to include her since she’s new.

A little later, though, it was just Jen and I dancing. I’d seen Lacie head off to the bathroom– thank goodness she was there!– and Matias was hanging out with this one girl that I recognized but don’t really know. That’s the problem with social stuff– as long as you’re new to something, people will make an effort to include you, but after awhile you’re on your own, and if you haven’t made friends with anyone by then– or your “friends” ditch you– you’re officially a loner.

About an hour into the thing I got sick of dancing and went to take a break. That one girl Matias was talking to came over and chatted with me. She seemed nice enough, though obviously I have no idea what she was thinking or why she’d even decided to talk to me.

Meanwhile, Matias had wandered off in the direction of the pool. We were never told there would be a pool– or maybe it was just me that didn’t know, and no one else decided to bring swimsuits. I wasn’t about to jump in it in my suit since Mom was there, but I’m surprised no one else did anything crazy like that. No, Matias didn’t jump in– he just went over to the railing and stared out at the world. I don’t blame him– I would’ve done the same thing if my stomach hadn’t been rumbling.

I noticed that Lacie had come out of the bathroom, and was now talking to Helen Weeks. I’m honestly surprised that I know Helen’s name– I’m not sure if I’ve had classes with her before, and now that I think about it I honestly have no idea what grade she’s in. Lacie seemed happy enough, which made me happy as Mom got me some punch. Then they stopped talking and Helen approached.

She got some chips, then turned to me. “So, I, uh… I thought you and Lacie were a thing?”

I could tell Mom was listening in, even though she had busied herself with making more punch to make it seem like she wasn’t, so I chose my words carefully. “Right now we’re kinda off.”

“I think you should go talk to her.”

I guess Helen Weeks is a pretty bold girl. “I’m not so sure,” I replied, gulping down the rest of my punch and hoping she didn’t say anything that would alert Mom to anything being wrong.

“I literally just talked to her, and I know what she wants.” I winced as Mom dropped a metal spoon on the concrete, then frantically looked around for a replacement.

“I guess there’s no more punch for tonight,” I said out loud by accident.

“Sometimes you have to take it on yourself to make things punchy.”

I couldn’t tell if Helen had noticed what had happened, or even realized that the woman behind the snack bar was my Mom– she did change her last name after getting married. Or maybe she had caught on, and meant it as a double meaning to make up for her words earlier. “Maybe, though I wouldn’t count on it.” I got up, threw away my cup, and walked over to Lacie, who was thankfully out of earshot of my mom.

“Can you… just… not right now?” she said as she saw me approach.

“Wait… did Helen try and force you into this?”

“Possibly.”

“She did the same to me.”

“I hate meddlers like her.”

“You know I do too.”

“You know, we could pretend,” I suggested. “Just for tonight.”

“Would it make things any easier, though?”

“I have no idea.”

“Then let’s find out!”

I should’ve felt happy while we danced together, but I wasn’t. This was my Lacie, with her enthusiasm and wits, but something still felt off.

I blew her a kiss– if we were going to pretend, I figured we should go all-out, right?

I don’t know why, or how I expected it to end. If I had been thinking rationally, I would’ve realized that the whole thing was going to end horribly. But I wasn’t, and it didn’t.

She caught it, she caught the kiss. Inside, I was cheering. I was the cow-jumped-over-the-moon, why-would-anyone-ever-want-to-get-high-when-they-could-have-this kind of happy, and that kind of happiness is just plain addicting.

If I had been thinking rationally, I would’ve realized, right then and there, that something was very wrong.

<< Previous– ATW S4 Chapter 6: 90 Minutes of Love

>> Next– ATW S4 Chapter 8: No Matter How Old

ATW S4 Chapter 6: 90 Minutes of Love

We were young and in love, taking off on our first big adventure.

Neither one of us cared how bad the movie was– it was just meant to cover up our activities. I really do have a bad habit of that, and I’m still not sure if it’s succeeded at all, ever.

Sometimes, when I’ve cut myself off to work on a freelance project, Joslyn’s downstairs watching this one dude’s painting show. I watched it once with her and thought him painting with the paint brush in his mouth was hilarious. She told me to shut it.

Nawwaf watched a movie with us once. He said he’d never do it again because the stuff we watched was “too lovey-dovey” and “people don’t really wait their entire lives for the person they love who happens to be in jail.” Nawwaf’s always been more active than passive, but that just made me wonder– how long will I wait for my child before calling it quits? And is love really worth it? All my old doubts from after my relationship with Chris came flooding back. Were those doubts a teenager thing, or due to the nature of our relationship?

Joslyn and I were in our PJ’s watching Wacky Wednesday on the night our lives changed. All the warnings were up about flooding in Oasis Springs, but they were mainly for the low-lying areas, so I wasn’t too worried about my sister and her in-laws. Then the program got interrupted with live footage, and– I’ve never seen a desert with so much water before. I was so glad that everyone in our family was safe– or so I thought.

Early the next morning, Jasmine Holiday from Social Services arrived at our door. She was composed at first, but nearly dissolved into tears once she began telling me the news. As soon as I heard, I went inside and woke Joslyn, even though I knew she’d agree with me when I said yes.

<< Previous– S4 Chapter 5: Preparation

>> Next– S4 Chapter 7: Shut Up and Dance With Me

ATW S4 Chapter 5: Preparation

This chapter written by Nawwaf Boston.

Journal to my Future Sibling, I Guess

Mom and Stuart really want me to write this to you– I guess to read when you’re lonely? idk. Anyways, the letter from the adoption agency that we’ve been approved to adopt has made things a lot more… real, you could say. Suddenly your new parents are having all sorts of worries that haven’t come up before. Like money. In addition to his 9-5 (or, in his case, 10-6) job, Stuart’s also been doing some freelance programming at home– which is great, but I think he needs a computer that’s not in my room. lol.

Mom’s dead-set on decorating your new bedroom herself, and while we don’t know anything about you yet, we do know (based on statistics from the agency) that you’ll probably be on the younger side, since babies and younger kids are considered more “adoptable”. Whatever that means. Because of that, Mom’s been painting some very childish-looking pictures for your room, but then decides half of them look dumb and decides to scrap them. Well, duh, Mom– you’re painting childish paintings; of course they’re going to look dumb. Sibling, I really hope you like lions, because that’s been the subject of all of them.

“But what about my big half-brother?” you may ask? Well, I’m preparing, too– though not really for you, because I’m not too worried about that. You’ll be fine. What I am worried about is whether or not I should ask Lacie to the school dance. I would, if our relationship weren’t so sketchy right now, but idk. I think she hates me, but neither of us have officially called off our relationship, so I’m really not sure about anything at the moment. 

“But why, big brother, is your relationship so sketchy?” Well, that’s kind of a long and confusing story– and, tbh, you and I are the only ones right now that know the truth. Well, at the time I’m writing this, it’s just me since you haven’t read any of this yet (and might not even exist!). And in the future, when you do read this… maybe the truth will have all come out then. Part of me hopes so, but another part of me would rather just take the blame for what happened and be done with everything so that no one else gets in trouble. Besides, Lacie will forgive me eventually… right? Even if we’re both old and grey by that point, I’ll still wait for her to see that I’m better than some rumors and lies. I’m better than that. I really am. And even though it completely looks like I’m lying right now (which I’m not), I promise you that you can always trust me. ‘Cuz that’s what big brothers are for, right?

Bye for now, 

Nawwaf

Author’s Note: For those of you who need a text-speak refresher:

idk= I don’t know

lol= laugh(ing) out loud (please don’t think this means lots of love, because it usually doesn’t!)

tbh= to be honest

<< Previous– Short Story: Together

>> Next– ATW S4 Chapter 6: 90 Minutes of Love

Short Story: Together

Joslyn didn’t know Hailey well, but she was the only mother who was in a similar situation to what Joslyn herself would be in, once the adoption agency was able to match her and Stuart with a child.

“Hi, Joslyn!” Hailey said as Joslyn entered the house. “I’m just finishing this email to Henry David… he’s found another comedy gig. I’m really happy for him, but it means he’ll be gone longer.” She sighed, the radiant smile slowly disappearing from her face. “It’s easy now, while the twins are so young– but I don’t know how I’ll manage once the start crawling around and getting into everything.”

“You think he’ll get enough gigs that he’ll be gone that long?”

“I know it. Some of the really high-end places in San Myshuno have offered him year-long contracts, which he’s told them he’ll think about, but pretty soon they’ll be demanding decisions so they can finalize their entertainment schedules for the upcoming year.”

“Wow. That’s… that’s amazing.”

“I know. If he were to accept a contract– or even multiple, if their schedules don’t conflict– and they like him, he could be chosen for something longer, and possibly even a tour to some different venues owned by the same company. Of course, that would mean more hard decisions– if he accepts a contract, the twins probably won’t know him, but they’ll know me, our home, our extended families. If he was chosen for a longer contract, we’d leave all that behind for a man they won’t even know, and that– that really breaks my heart.”

“And you feel selfish, for wanting to be with your husband, when the world’s always told you that children are the most precious gift, and you should be prepared to give up everything for them,” Joslyn finished. “I know how that feels– my husband, he– he was sent into the war while I was pregnant with Nawwaf. Gabrielle was old enough that she missed him like crazy, always asking me when he would be coming back. And when we received the news of his death– which I knew was likely to happen– she cried so much. I know she missed him, and I think she still really misses him– she really didn’t get along well with Stuart until after he’d proposed to me and I’d accepted. Maybe university was good for her in that way– she learned to accept and move on, while still remembering the past. Nawwaf– I feel really bad for him. He knows, of course, that he had a father who died in the war, but he never met him. He doesn’t have anything to miss, but that also means he can’t remember, and I think sometimes he feels really left out when he catches Gabrielle and I talking about their father. He also never really saw what love and happiness looked like until I met Stuart– I’m sure you’ve heard of what went on between him and his girlfriend– and sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened between them if I’d found something earlier, or if we’d had other living relatives he could’ve learned from. Hailey, no matter what you choose, remember that you’re extremely lucky– you’ve got families on both your and Henry David’s sides that will love and support you no matter what, and you’ve both got so much time left to spend with your children. A gift that death can take away, but a gift nonetheless.”

“Thank you, Joslyn. Maybe– if your child ends up being close in age to the twins– we could set up some playdates for them?”

“I’d love that.”

“Why don’t you go upstairs and meet them?”

As Joslyn laid eyes on the two babies, she couldn’t help but smile. They were so adorable in their half-asleep state. “Hey, Heather,” she said, putting her fingers close to Hailey’s daughter. “How’d you like to have a little playmate?” The baby cooed in what she thought was response, until she heard a reply from the other crib. Joslyn moved over to Harold and cradled him.

“Hi there. Did you have a nice nap?” He yawned, and Heather made a squawk from her crib. “Aw, you both want attention, don’t you?”

Hailey entered the room and picked up Heather. “Bring Harold downstairs, won’t you?” Joslyn nodded.

After getting the twins set up on their play mats in the living room, it was time for Joslyn to leave. “Thank you, Hailey. I think– I think you’ve really helped reassure me that adoption is the right thing to do, even if I’m barely able to see the child’s high school graduation. And remember– Stuart and I will always be around, and I’m sure Nawwaf wouldn’t mind taking some babysitting jobs for you if your brother-in-law isn’t available.”

“Thank you, Joslyn,” Hailey replied. “Good luck.”

Joslyn smiled. “I don’t think we’ll need luck, as long as we’re able to do this together.”

Author’s Note: This story was written for the November 2017 edition of the monthly short story challenge on the Sims forums. This month’s theme was “Fear Will Be Thy Enemy”. If you’d like to read more about Hailey, Joslyn, and their families, check out my story After the Wedding.

<< Previous– ATW S4 Chapter 4: The Letter

>> Next– ATW S4 Chapter 5: Preparation

ATW S4 Chapter 4: The Letter

“Nawwaf… we received a letter from the adoption agency. We’ve been cleared to adopt!”

“Awesome! Does Stuart know yet?”

“No– we just received it this afternoon, so he hasn’t seen it yet.”

“I have an idea– what if we give it to him as a birthday present?”

“You know… why not? I’ll go work on the cake.”

“Nawwaf, do you need help with anything?”

“Nope! Just working on this essay, but I think I need a little break.”

“Well, you can set the table…”

“On second thought, I’ll just keep going. I bet I can get it done before dinner!”

A half hour later…

“Mom, do we have to sing happy birthday?”

“Oh, I think we’d better practice the song,” Joslyn replied with a wink.

“Okay, fine.”

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday dear Stuart

Happy birthday to you!

As the candles went out, Nawwaf held up an envelope. “Stuart, Mom and I have a present for you…”

“Aww, really? Thank you!” Stuart replied before opening it. He unfolded the letter and read it, tears staining his eyes. Then he glanced over at his wife, who looked equally happy.

Nawwaf rolled his eyes at his mom’s and step-dad’s affection, while silently cursing himself. Why’d everything with Lacie have to get so messed up? He cut the cake and served himself a slice as quietly as possible, and was halfway though it when his mom noticed he had started eating without them. He shrugged at her questioning glance. “You’d better stop making out and get yourself some cake before I eat it all!”

<< Previous– S4 Chapter 3: Adoption

>> Next– Short Story: Together