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Short Story: One Good Thing

Dina

Dina blamed herself for everything. When she called the Goth residence to inform Don that she was giving birth– to his baby– Don was at work, and Mortimer answered. She lied, said it was Mortimer’s baby instead, and he rushed over.

Taking one look at the boy, who Dina named “Bello”, if only to convince Mortimer more, it was obvious that this child did not belong to Mortimer Goth. After all, Don, Nina, and Dina were the only Pleasantview residents who knew how to prevent alien phenotypes from being presented in their biological children from conception.

Please, let him have at least one good thing.

Darren

Darren always knew he didn’t love Estela. He didn’t know why, exactly, he went out with her. Maybe it was an attempt to get over Darleen’s death. Maybe it was to sooth the heartbreak he’d felt after Cassandra and Don got married. Why did she choose Don, anyways? Everyone in Pleasantview knew how many women he’d been with. Well, except Estela, but she’d only moved here. Cassandra had lived here her whole life, even choosing to go to a local community college when she could’ve attended any university in the world. Why, then, would she choose the worst man in town, when Darren was also a perfectly eligible bachelor?

Darren didn’t worry too much about Cassandra not eventually divorcing Don and choosing him instead– after all, she was extremely perceptive, and would catch onto his flirtations at some point.

Please, let us both be able to have at least one good thing.

Kaylynn

She always had nightmares. They usually starred Don. She didn’t like thinking about everything he’d done; everyone he’d hurt. But if she didn’t, nobody would. They would just stand by idly, simply allowing him to make his next move unhindered.

Don was always searching for… something. She was never quite sure of what. Another eighteen-year-old, simply doing whatever it took to get by? A girl working in the houses of everyone she aspired to be, always working behind-the-scenes to make everything perfect? Another girl like her?

The Caliente sisters had come to town the same time Don had. The same time Kaylynn had. She usually regarded them as little parrots, doing whatever it took to please Don, Mortimer– basically any man in town. Kaylynn never looked for riches or bragging rights– only for protection. From him.

Why did his search come to Cassandra? She wasn’t anything like Kaylynn. She’d had money, a family, a sheltered life. She had a job she loved.

He always looked to the sky. She was never quite sure what he was looking for.

Could all he’d done be enough? Would it be too much to ask for him to just stick with Cassandra, now that he’d finally married someone?

It was hard to focus on what he would do next, though. Not while dealing with the scars of what he’d done.

There was only one good thing out of all this, and that was Daniel. He’d always let her stay after she was done at the Pleasant house. He’d always been the kindest man she’d ever met. Every day, he reminded her that the scars would fade, the nightmares would disappear, and she could live once again. He’d even invited her to come live with him after his wife, Mary-Sue, kicked him out and he bought his own place.

She knew her actions had to have caused Mary-Sue some heartbreak, but… it was hard to see that when she clearly loved the new girl in town, Estela.

As long as they were both happy, Kaylynn supposed she could be, too.

Author’s Note: This story was written for the May 2018 edition of the monthly short story challenges on the Sims Forums. This month’s theme was “April Showers Bring May Flowers”. All the characters appearing in this months story are from my randomacy, Perplexities in Pleasantview

<< Previous– Perplexities in Pleasantview 1.06: Second Chance

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Perplexities in Pleasantview 1.06: Second Chance

Mary-Sue sounded surprised when Estela called her.

“I’m sorry,” she said immediately after Estela said who was calling. “I-I didn’t really think about my actions or their effects– I only wanted to keep getting promoted to make my parents proud and make sure I still had enough money to get Angela and Lilith through college after Daniel cheated on me with the maid. I felt like such a failure, and this seemed like the only thing I could control to prove myself.”

“Mary-Sue… this may seem odd, but… I think I somewhat understand. After I started coming out as bi to my family and people at my high school, I knew that what others chose to do with that information– whether it was acceptance, questioning, or outright bullying– was out of my control. I remember I felt the need to work as hard as possible in school and get into the best college possible just so I could prove myself. But… then I realized I didn’t need to, and I didn’t really want to go to school for another four years. That’s when I chose to go to trade school instead. I ended up in an apprenticeship with a toymaker and fell in love with putting smiles on kids’ faces.”

“I think that makes a ton of sense, and actually… I quit my job. I found a job as a waitress a few nights a week. It doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s enough to keep us going until I find something better. And… you’ve convinced me that maybe it’s not necessary for the girls to go to college. Heck, I don’t even know if either of them has given a thought to what they’re going to do after high school. Maybe… maybe I need to focus on what they want.”

“That’s a good idea,” Estela replied. “I know all that’s probably a lot right now, and I understand if you say no, but… I want to give you a second chance.”

“I’d love to.”

“Can you come over tonight? If you’re not working, of course.”

“No, I don’t work tonight. Would it be fine if I came over around seven?”

“Yeah, that would be great.”

***

“Would you like to dance?” Estela asked. Mary-Sue nodded.

They started out in a more formal position, but soon pulled each other closer. Estela loved every moment.

After they’d pulled away from each other, Estela asked the question that had been on her mind: “When is the… uh… disguise going to take effect?”

“It depends on the person,” Mary-Sue replied, “But it could be any day now. And when that happens… I’ll help you find a way to in-disguise yourself, if you’ll let me.”

“Of course I will… now come on, I’ve had enough of this serious talk. Let’s head inside.”

The two went up to the loft where Estela worked and slept. She grabbed two pillows off the bed and threw one to Mary-Sue.

“A… pillow fight?!” Mary-Sue asked slightly too late, as Estela had already hit her. “Hey, I’m gonna get you back!”

After, in the midst of scattered pillows and blankets, they pulled each other close again.

<< Previous– 1.05: Mr. Dreamer

>>Next– Short Story: One Good Thing

Perplexities in Pleasantview 1.05: Mr. Dreamer

The Oldies moved to Pleasantview a few days later. Darren called Estela up and asked if she would be a part of the Welcome Wagon. She said yes– it wasn’t like she had anything better to do, and with the new agreement that she would supply toys for the Burbs’ toy store, she didn’t have to worry about money as much.

Estela thought the Oldies were a nice couple– not the best cooks, and a little bit too enamored with small talk, but still nice. She couldn’t help but notice how Darren was ever polite through the bad sandwiches and incessant talk about the weather.

To keep occupied during their retirement, the Oldies raised puppies requiring surrogacy when a surrogate dog-mom wasn’t available. The puppy they had at the moment was a bit older and enjoyed exploring the new house, though she was still a little on the small side. Darren gently helped her navigate the new environment, and also instinctively seemed to know when to let the puppy work through a problem herself.

His wife was so lucky to have found such a caring husband.

***

When Darren called Estela up asking her to go out to eat with him, she didn’t hesitate before saying yes. It’s not like I have anything to lose… but maybe there’s something I want to gain from this.

Estela arrived at the venue first, and ended up waiting around for forty minutes before Darren finally arrived. After getting seated, Estela asked him what he’d been up to lately. “Dirk’s been involved in the school play, Simerella, and opening night was the other night. You should really go see it– he does a fantastic job as the prince.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Estela replied.

“I’ve also been working on some art projects, and just sold a piece recently… it was my first sale since Darleen….”

Estela took Darren’s hand. “It’s okay. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

Darren nodded. “Thanks. I really didn’t want to dampen the mood.”

“What mood?” Estela asked, curious to hear what Darren’s intentions were.

“The romantic one, of course,” Darren replied.

Estela wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Sure, Darren was definitely a great guy, but did she see him like that? She figured she’d give it a shot anyways.

After they finished eating, Estela had a serious question to ask Darren. “I felt like the Oldies were acting a little odd while we were there… is something up with them, if you know what I mean?”

Darren giggled. “Apparently Herb Oldie flirted with Dina Caliente a little, and his wife got mad at him. Of course, Dina’s already engaged to Mortimer Goth, though it looked like she responded well….”

“Oh, my.” Estela covered her mouth. “That is… interesting.”

“I have no idea why Mortimer even accepted her proposal in the first place… she’s one person that will for sure break a commitment.”

Darren led her to a large ballroom near the entrance to the restaurant. “Do you… want to dance?”

Estela contemplated for a minute. She’d learned a little bit about slow dancing growing up, but she wasn’t completely confident she remembered everything. Then again, Darren would be leading, so as long as she followed him, she should be fine, right? “Sure,” she replied.

Estela took his hand as they got into position to begin dancing. The movements came back to her easily.

Darren spun her around, and as they transitioned back into the normal steps, he accidentally stepped on her foot. “Plum!” Estela jumped a little, clutching her foot.

It was a minor injury, but Darren treated it like it was something worse. “Estela! Are you okay? Maybe we should rest a minute… do you need to go home?”

“No, Darren, I’m fine… let’s just keep dancing,” Estela replied. Her foot barely hurt anymore.

“You still seem a little tense… would you like a massage?” Darren asked.

Estela shrugged. “Sure.”

Darren’s massage was excellent. I could get used to this.

Instead of resuming dancing, Darren pulled Estela in close. She looked into his eyes, unsure of what he wanted.

He leaned in close and laid his head on her shoulder. She pulled him closer, heart thumping, though she wasn’t sure whether that was a good or a bad thing.

Eventually, they untangled themselves from each other and he reached out and cupped her jaw loosely in his hand. She closed her eyes and leaned forward for a gentle peck on the lips.

Mr. Dreamer certainly is a great man, but I don’t think he’s “the one”… and I think I know who is.

<< Previous– Short Story: Broken Rings

>> Next– 1.06: Second Chance

Short Story: Broken Rings

“Just face it, Angela: you know everyone likes you better.”

Angela rolled her eyes. “They do not.”

“Really? Then why did I see Dustin’s arrest mentioned in the paper after the two of you sneaked out that night, but not yours?”

“Oh, stop trying to one-up me by reading the plumming newspaper!” Angela said, tears welling in her eyes. “Besides, he didn’t get arrested– he just got escorted home.”

“Call it whatever you want, Angela,” Lilith said. “You know he’s still a bad idea.”

“You’re just mad because I asked him out first.”

“That’s not true! I’m perfectly happy with Dirk!”

“You haven’t even kissed Dirk yet.”

“So what?! You don’t need to kiss or anything to know that you love someone!”

“Then why do all those old eighties songs talk about how you need to do just that?”

“Because they’re trying to sell sex! Duh! If you’d paid any attention in class instead of ogling Dustin, you’d know that!”

“Oh, so you’re saying the C student pays more attention than the A student? Hmm… wonder how that works.”

“And that’s why the school system is flawed!”

“What, because they won’t give you an A?”

“No, because they reward rule-followers like you while punishing those who show genuine creativity!”

“Well, look who’s Daddy’s little princess,” Angela chided.

“He did not cheat because he didn’t follow the rules,” Lilith said sternly. “He cheated because he’s a bad man.”

“Mom says there aren’t good or bad people– just good or bad actions, which rules are meant to govern.”

“Angela, you know what happens when rules are made by bad people? They poison everyone and everything under their jurisdiction. They turn the whole world evil.”

“Ooh, fancy words there. You know, you may as well drop out now, marry Dirk, and live in poverty– there’s clearly nothing more school can teach you.”

“Marry him?! I’m not marrying anyone– marriage is just a dumb thing some dumb guy made up as another way to force us all into line! And you know who’s going to be living in poverty? You! Because you’re going to marry a criminal just to stay compliant with societal expectations, and then complain to me when he’s in jail and you can’t find yourself a job because you were taking care of five kids instead of furthering your education!”

“You know what? I’ll do that, and we’ll see who turns out better.”

“Who turns out better?” Their mother must’ve let Dustin into the house. “Angela, obviously.”

“Aww, thanks,” Angela said before kissing her boyfriend. “Let’s go out to the pool.”

***

“It’s raining! Why does this always happen to me?!” Angela asked.

“Hey, I have to get going anyway… the rain timed itself perfectly,” Dustin replied.

***

“Mom? I… I really want Dustin and I to promise to marry each other when we grow up,” Angela said.

“Hmm… I think you’re a bit young for that…” Mary-Sue replied, thinking of her own hasty marriage to the twins’ father.

“Please? I know everything will go perfectly! We’ll have little adorable grandchildren for you and everything!”

Mary-Sue didn’t want grandchildren. She wanted to excel in her career, provide for her children, and most of all for their father to stop stalking them.

She knew all to well what happened when two people committed themselves to each other at too young of an age: they broke the rules. Both of them. He may have only cheated once, but Mary-Sue? She’d cheated people a million times as part of a government that promised everything and gave nothing, yet no one would ever see her as evil.

Author’s Note: This story was written for the April 2018 edition of the monthly short story challenges on the Sims Forums. This month’s theme was “A Whole New World” and required participants to write a story involving a challenge to perspective for the characters or readers. I usually see both Angela and Mary-Sue portrayed as “perfect” sims who don’t make mistakes, with both Lilith and Daniel being more antagonistic (or at the very least somewhat morally dubious), so I decided to challenge this fan perception of the Pleasant family. This story ties in to my randomacy, Perplexities in Pleasantview, so if you’d like to find out what happens to these sims then head over there and give it a read. 

<< Previous– 1.04: The Hub

>> Next– 1.05: Mr. Dreamer

Perplexities in Pleasantview 1.04: The Hub

Mary-Sue did call Estela later, at about 3 am.  “Hello?” Estela answered groggily.

“It’s me, Mary-Sue.”

“Oh, hi.”

“There’s a place I really want to show you, but it’s only open at this time of night. I’ll take care of getting you there; you just need to get ready and get outside, okay?

“Okay,” Estela replied, still a little too tired to fully comprehend what was going on.

Estela must’ve followed Mary-Sue’s instructions, but she wasn’t quite sure. The next thing she remembered was sitting with Mary-Sue in some sort of open-air restaurant in a big-ish city. For a minute, while she had her eyes closed, the cool air and city sounds fooled her of thinking she was out on the balcony of her childhood apartment.

Mary-Sue handed her a menu. “Here, now that you’re fully awake we can order.”

“What kind of food do they have here?” Estela asked, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

“Basically anything. My favorite is the lobster thermidor.”

Estela started thinking of her childhood again. “Do they have quesadillas? My mom made those all the time….”

“I’m sure they do somewhere on here,” Mary-Sue replied, flipping through her menu to find it. “Here it is!”

“So… where are we?” Estela asked.

“This place…” Mary-Sue hesitated. “It’s called The Hub. There’s a restaurant up here, and downstairs there’s a club area and–”

“No, I mean, where are we? Like, what city?”

“What city does it remind you of?” Mary-Sue asked.

“The one I grew up in,” Estela replied.

“For me… it’s the city where my… well, I guess ex-sister-in-law now… used to live with her family.”

“Wait… is that…”

“Jennifer Burb,” Mary-Sue finished. “My husband Daniel and I recently got divorced. The two of them are siblings.”

“So Lilith and Angela…”

“Are my children with Daniel.”

Their conversation was interrupted as the waiter came to take their orders. He left them with cheap-looking glasses of what Estela assumed was champagne. She’d never had it before, and was eager to try it.

“Well, here’s to new beginnings!” Estela toasted.

“To new beginnings,” Mary-Sue murmured.

Estela took a sip from her glass. Was champagne supposed to taste this… bland?

The waiter returned with their food and took their now-empty glasses. He didn’t offer them more of the champagne, either. Strange.

“Mmm… just like I remember Mamá making,” Estela said after taking a bite of her quesadilla. She noticed Mary-Sue had barely touched her lobster thermidor. “Not good?” Estela asked.

“Oh, the food’s fine… it’s just the memories that aren’t.”

Estela nodded. “Do you want to… talk about it?”

Mary-Sue shook her head. “I need a distraction.”

“Well…” Estela thought for a minute. “Do you think the government is interfering too much in our lives?”

“No,” Mary-Sue replied quickly. “I mean, if someone’s elected that promises to do something that requires more life interference, then they should do it. That’s what the voters want.”

“You’re sounding a bit like a politician there.”

“Not quite a politician, more like an intern… or, I used to be.”

Sensing Mary-Sue’s discomfort (again), Estela knew she needed to change the subject, and the lobster thermidor on Mary-Sue’s plate did look good….

“Hey, you haven’t even finished your own food yet!” Mary-Sue scolded, laughing too hard for Estela to take her seriously.

“Mmm… never knew lobster was this good….” Estela said.

“Well… there’s a lot of other good-tasting fish out in the sea as well….”

Estela glanced over at Mary-Sue. Was that…?

“Okay, that didn’t come out right,” Mary-Sue said with a giggle.

“How’d you mean it to come out?”

“Honestly, I’m not really sure.”

The two finished their meal. As they got up, Mary-Sue turned to Estela. “Well, I should probably be getting you home now.”

“Wait.” Estela grabbed Mary-Sue’s hands, heart pounding. “Come home with me?” she asked, fully prepared for a no but still hoping for a yes.

Mary-Sue considered it for a moment. “It’s not like the girls are children anymore; they can see themselves off to school, so… yes. But…” Mary-Sue glanced around. “… I need you to act like you’re about to fall asleep, okay?”

Estela nodded, not sure what Mary-Sue was planning. She leaned heavily on the other woman as the two made their way down the stairs to what Estela could only describe as a UFO airport. She started to ask Mary-Sue what was going on, but Mary-Sue quickly slipped a hand over Estela’s mouth so her words sounded like incoherent mumbling. A quick, apologetic glance told Estela this was all part of the act, though she still didn’t know who they were trying to fool.

“Ready?” the waiter from earlier asked.

“Yes,” Mary-Sue replied.

“Good. Get in; I’ll let you know when you’re cleared to launch.”

Mary-Sue nodded and led Estela into the UFO-thing. “Once we’re in the clear we can talk,” she whispered, buckling Estela in before doing the same to herself.

The radio on the wall near Mary-Sue’s seat crackled to life. “Mary-Sue Pleasant, you’re ready for takeoff,” the waiter’s voice said.

“Preparing to launch now,” Mary-Sue replied, turning off the radio before hitting some buttons and switches. Their UFO took off. “You can look down– the windows are all tinted,” Mary-Sue said.

Estela watched as The Hub grew smaller below them. “So… you’re an alien of some sort?”

“Kind of. My family has alien heritage.” She waited for Estela to meet her eyes before she continued. “And apparently, so does yours.”

An alarm went off, causing Mary-Sue to stop talking and hit some more buttons and switches. “This is our stop,” she said, unbuckling her seatbelt. Estela did the same and stood in the middle of the UFO with Mary-Sue. She saw a blinding light, then the two of them were on the ground and the UFO was headed… somewhere away from them.

“Sorry about earlier. The whole sedation thing is unfortunately part of protocol, and was the only way to get you in or out of there. But if I were president of the Alien Affairs Council, I’d change that.”

Estela was still trying to process everything. “So I’m an alien… and you’re an alien… and you just took me where?”

“The Hub– an alien transport and safety facility.”

“Why do they have a restaurant there?”

“That’s… part of the safety thing. You know that stuff that looked like champagne?”

“Yeah?”

“That’s a… er… disguising serum. It masks alien features with more human-receptive ones.”

Estela’s hand went to her head. “You mean…”

“The purple hair is an alien feature that, according to the Alien Affairs Council, is required to be masked.”

“I’m assuming brightly-colored skin tones fall under that requirement as well.”

Mary-Sue nodded. “So… you had a reason for bringing me back here.”

Estela couldn’t even think of romance now. “No, my reason was just… those questions. You should go home and make sure your daughters are alright,” she said coldly.

“Goodnight, Estela,” Mary-Sue said, hurt apparent on her face.

Estela chose to ignore it. “Goodnight, Mary-Sue.”

<< Previous– 1.03: Just a Mary-Sue

>> Next– Short Story: Broken Rings

Perplexities in Pleasantview 1.03: Just a Mary-Sue

Estela was able to get to the park the next day. She adored the novelty of the stone walls, and between the warm sun and some plants that didn’t change colors until later in the season, she could almost pretend it was still summer.

The park was plenty busy, especially around an area with some chess tables set up. As she caught bits and pieces of the conversations taking place around her, Estela began to understand the tight-knit community she’d been introduced to on her first day– one where sims simply came together, embracing the commonalities that made them all sims. That description made her laugh a little inside– she would’ve described the city where she grew up in a very similar way, but compared to this it was still different somehow. There, everyone had been forced to come together in the crowded schools and soaring high-rises, but here, sims chose to of their own accord.

“Enjoying the sunshine?” a sim asked behind her.

Estela turned around. “Yeah. Almost feels like it’s still summer.”

“Definitely. I’m Mary-Sue, by the way.”

“Estela.”

“How are you liking the town?”

“Everyone here seems really friendly so far, and the atmosphere’s really nice, too. My dog, Tomás, loves having so much room outside where he’s allowed to run around.”

“There’s some really nice trails over by the pond where it might be fun to take him.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea!” Truthfully, Estela hadn’t even considered scouting out the park as a place to take Tomás, but was still grateful for the suggestion.

“There are a lot of kids here sometimes after school or on the weekends, so if he’s not good with kids I’d suggest not bringing him here during those times.”

“He’s good with them– at least, to my knowledge.”

For a middle-aged-looking woman, Mary-Sue was surprisingly… attractive. Like her small, possibly shy smile or the way she’d glance off to the side.

“Do you… want to go out some time, maybe show me what there is to do around here?” Estela asked, a little nervous about how Mary-Sue might respond.

“That would be fun. I don’t get out much,” Mary-Sue admitted. “I know the perfect place, though it’ll take ‘here’ a little farther than you might have imagined.”

“Sounds good to me,” Estela said, heart thumping wildly.

“I’ve got to go now– work stuff to do– but I’ll call you up later?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

 

<< Previous– 1.02: The Fiery Redhead Trope

>> Next– 1.04: The Hub

Perplexitites in Pleasantview 1.02: The Fiery Redhead Trope

Believe it or not, pet bricks weren’t as easy to make as they seemed. For one, in order to become a certified pet brick maker (a title Estela was proud of), you had to actually make the brick yourself. Just buying a premade brick and painting a face on it wasn’t good enough. Oh, no. The whole reason why those pet bricks had hearts and souls was because of the sweat, (sometimes) blood, and (when you first started) tears poured into their creation. That was why Estela was excited when the phone rang just as she was finishing up her working time for the day.

“Estela!” John Burb said from the other end of the line. “How have you been settling in?”

“Things are really good!” Estela replied. “Now that all the furniture’s gotten delivered so I actually have a bed to sleep on, and Tomás has gotten used to the sounds and smells of the neighborhood, I’ve been working on finding some new clients.”

“Clients?”

“I make toys– pet bricks specifically, though I can also do others– and I’m always looking for someone new to sell them to, especially local businesses.”

“You don’t say… Jennifer and I actually run a small shop, and we’ve been looking for a new toy supplier.”

“Oh! That’s great! You should come over again, or I could come over to your place, so you can look over my work and we can draw up a contract.”

“That sounds wonderful. Actually, the reason why I called you up is because little Lucy’s aging up this evening, and we’ve also got a new addition to the family we’d love for you to meet.”

“I’d love to come! Are you sure I wouldn’t be intruding?”

“Of course not! We invite extended family to these things anyways, so it would be a good chance for you to get to know some more sims, and we’d love to have you as an honorary member of our family.”

“Oh! Thank you! I’ll gussy up and head right on over!”

After John gave her directions to his house, Estela got ready for the party and walked over. John hadn’t mentioned anything about gifts, so she figured bringing one wasn’t necessary. Besides, what new teenager would be interested in a pet brick? They certainly weren’t suitable for babies, either.

Estela glanced across the street from the Burb home towards the park John had mentioned in his directions. It looked gorgeous with the trees dressed in their autumn colors reflecting into the pond. She’d have to make a trip to visit it another day, but for now…

“Lilith, Angela, it’s time to quit it! This is about your cousins, not your little squabbles!”

The two sims– Estela would have to ask John who was who later– appeared to be only lightly teasing each other, though she guessed that there was more she didn’t know about their relationship. The woman who had scolded them turned to face Estela.

“Hi, I’m Jennifer Burb, John’s wife. You must be Estela. Come on in– Lucy and John are just getting ready, and these two–” Jennifer looked pointedly and Lilith and Angela “–will not be coming inside until they agree to behave themselves. Won’t you, girls?”

“Yes, Aunt Jennifer,” the two replied in identical monotone voices that suggested this situation had happened many times before.

Estela followed Jennifer inside. John soon emerged from a bedroom and joined them in the house’s entryway. “Estela! I’m glad you could make it!”

“I’m glad I could be here!” Estela replied. “And on a perfect day for a birthday as well– it’s nice and sunny outside, at least until sundown!” John laughed even though Estela considered the joke to be rather poor.

“Oh no,” Jennifer muttered from behind them. Estela turned to look at her, realized her gaze was fixed towards something outside. Lilith and Angela were fighting, and though it wasn’t as aggressive as some of the fights she’d seen growing up, Estela was still slightly unnerved by it.

“I’m… guessing this is normal?” Estela asked hesitantly when she realized neither John nor Jennifer were attempting to intervene.

“Yep,” John replied. “They’ve never gotten seriously hurt from it, and breaking them up leads to more harm than good, so we usually just let them have at it and try to distract them with something else once they’re done.

“Like me!” A child sim exclaimed, running around the corner to crash into a hug from her dad.

“There’s our Lucy-goosey!” John said, laughing.

“Hi, I’m Lucy and it’s my birthday today!” Lucy said to Estela. “Don’t worry, I already know who you are ’cause Daddy asked my permission before he invited you over here.”

“Oh… uh… hi,” Estela said. She’d never considered herself good with children, so she usually avoided being around them, but the social event and Lucy’s outgoingness forced her to interact.

“I wanna age-up outside!” Lucy said. Her parents nodded their agreement and the four went outside. Thankfully, Lilith and Angela had stopped fighting, but if they really did fight as much as John claimed, Lucy’d probably already seen a couple fights in her life.

Lucy began to swing her hips and dance around a little as a shower of sparkles cocooned her. When she emerged, she was officially a teenager, and appeared pleased with how her transformation turned out.

“Well, that’s that, I suppose,” Jennifer said. “The baby will probably be waking up from his nap pretty soon, so I’m going to head inside. Lilith, Angela, Estela, you’re all welcome to come in for refreshments– though please, no fighting in the house!”

Angela opted to stay outside and talk to Lucy, while Lilith headed inside. Estela, feeling a little bad that Lilith would be eating by herself, went in to join her even though she wasn’t really hungry. Lilith grabbed a bag of animal crackers from a cupboard and started scarfing them down. Estela got a can of pop from the fridge and cracked it open, letting its fizziness invade her mouth as she tried to find something to say to the teenager. “Which one are you?” she blurted out, immediately feeling a little guilty about what must be a common question.

“Lilith,” the girl replied with her mouthful. The two sat in silence until Jennifer came out of the bedroom carrying a baby. Lilith and Estela finished their refreshments of choice, then followed her outside, where it was already growing dark.

“Say hello to little Su Burb!” she said, waving the baby’s tiny hand around.

Angela approached the mother and baby cautiously, looking to Jennifer for permission before holding a finger out to Su, who immediately clenched it in his fist. “Are babies supposed to do that?” she asked, seemingly fascinated by the tiny sim.

“Yep, that’s normal,” Jennifer replied, looking down fondly at her child. A gust of cool wind blew past, causing leaves on the trees to flutter down to the ground. “I should take him back inside,” Jennifer said. “He needs to be fed anyways.”

Angela gently took back her finger, disappointment flashing across her face.

“Go on inside, girls,” John said to Angela, Lilith, and Lucy. “Have a little fun while you’re still young.”

Angela and Lucy immediately went inside, chatting eagerly about some sim named– Andrew? Andy?– while Lilith lagged behind.

John apparently didn’t notice, and continued talking to Estela. “Sit down if you want,” he said, folding his legs cross-legged as he sat down on the ground. “Ah, teenagedom, and all the little crushes that come along with it,” he said wistfully.

“I remember my first crush,” Estela said. “She was my best friend since childhood– in fact, probably even earlier, since our mothers took us out for playdates before we even started school.”

Lilith, who had started walking inside, turned around to look at Estela, eyes filled with curiosity.

“Apparently in kindergarten I told my mom I was going to marry her one day, but she just laughed it off.”

“I’m guessing she didn’t feel the same?” John asked sympathetically.

“You’re correct.”

Their peaceful conversation was broken as Jennifer shooed Lilith and Angela out of the house. “You know the rules; no fighting indoors!” she shouted. Only a second later, she was chatting amicably with Lilith about the latest Llamas game.

“So… Angela, right?” Estela asked the remaining twin, trying to initiate some conversation.

“Yeah,” she grumbled, crossing her arms.

“Are things… okay… between you and Lilith? Your relationship seems a little… er… fiery.”

“Oh, enough with the fiery redhead trope,” Angela pouted.

Jennifer glanced over and sighed a little. “Girls, I think it’s time for you two to get going.”

“I think it’s time for me to head home as well,” Estela said before shaking Jennifer’s hand and thanking her for the party. “Have a nice night!”

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