Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Generation Nine — Chapter Five: Why You Should Never Give Up … (Challenge End)

  Seeking to propose to Mizuki while she was in labor, Seth quickly learned, wasn’t his best moment. He thought, surely, by now she would have given the whole marriage thing a rethink. Timing wasn’t on Seth’s side, to be sure. They talked, flirted, made really nice with each other and she was so favorably disposed toward him, he decided to try again. He was only sorry it took him this long to get over his funk, brought about by losing his mother so abruptly, or he would have proposed again much sooner. And not while she was in the throes of her travail.
    Down on his knee he went. Gazing up at her with love all over his face, he pulled the heretofore offered ring out of his pocket and lifted it up to her. “Mizuki, I love you. Would you do me the honor —” Seth couldn’t believe his eyes, watching as she slapped the ring right out of his hands. She may as well have been hitting a baseball out of the park for all of the force she used. The solitary diamond circlet flew through the air, clinking on the cement patio, as it came to rest, somewhere in the distance. He could hear the clattering noise as it rotated to a stop

    “I told you no once already,” Mizuki seethed. “What makes you think I’d say yes now? Did you seek to use my pain against me? Catch me in a moment of weakness?  You, you — you’re such a man!” That stung.
    Seth dragged himself to his feet. “I guess that’s a no.”
    “NO! Not now, not EVER.”

    “Okay, then,” he said and walked over to pick up the ring. What was he going to do with it now? He couldn’t take it back to the store, it was already sized just for Mizuki. He never dreamed she’d turn him down. Not once but twice. Stupid Wishing Well, he silently grumbled. It must have placed a curse on him. One that he’d managed to pay for, himself. To the tune of §1000.00. He was a fool.
    Mizuki finally had the baby, several hours later. It was a girl. They named her Miracle.
    When Seth awoke the next morning, the first thing he checked was the bassinet. It was empty. No traces of a baby anywhere to be seen. Not so much as a used diaper in the diaper pail. Nothing. No baby. He found the ring still in its box in the top dresser drawer in his old bedroom. He returned to their room. Mizuki rolled over in the bed, her large pregnant belly prominent. It was a dream. More like a nightmare, he decided.
    “Hi,” Mizuki said, smiling.
    “Hi,” he said back.
    “You’re up early.”
     “Couldn’t sleep anymore. Bad dream.”
    “Ah, I hate those,” she sat up on her elbows.  “I’ve had plenty since I got pregnant. Sometimes I’m drowning. Sometimes I can’t find the baby anywhere. I can hear it cry, but I can’t find it.”
    Seth sat down on the edge of the bed and patted her hand. “Sounds scary.”
    “I wake up in a cold sweat.”
    “Yeah, I know the feeling. Think I’ll just go grab a shower.”

    Seth sang while he showered and it gave him a wonderful idea. He would propose to Mizuki again, today. They ate breakfast out on the patio with his father and the girls. Betsy went off to work, and so did Trenton. Hannah had a couple of days off before she was to return to work. When the time was just right, Seth made a point of getting Mizuki alone. He flirted with her, professed his undying love, and in the hopes of sealing the deal, serenaded her.
    This seemed to have the right effect on her. Mizuki all but melted with his attention. Then he leaned over and kissed her hand, making sure the mood was properly set. Once he felt he had succeeded in this, he got down on one knee. “Mizuki, I love you,” he began. “We’re about to be parents. So, I’ll ask you again. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife? If not for me, but for the baby’s sake.” Seth presented the ring and almost cringed, closing his eyes and expecting it to be harshly slapped out of his grasp. However, that was a dream. This was reality. Mizuki got a very soft look in her eyes, reached for the ring and put it on. Holding her hand out, she admired it.

    “Yes, yes. Oh, yes!” she cried and jumped into his arms. “I didn’t think you would ask again. Yes!”
    Since Mizuki was very close to her due date, Seth decided to quickly plan the wedding. They would marry at the park in San Myshuno. He got everything arranged and off they went. Gramps took a brief nap once they arrived at the venue. Then he made a gorgeous white wedding cake. Shortly after they got there, Mizuki got an odd look on her face. Seth took her hand and gave it a squeeze.
    “You okay? Not having a change of heart, are you?”
    “No, but I think I may be having a baby tonight. Let’s have the ceremony and quickly —”
    Mizuki moaned and the two headed for the wedding arch. Trenton followed, as well as Betsy and Hannah. Gramps was busy in the kitchen. The two quickly said their vows to each other and Mizuki placed a ring on Seth’s hand. They kissed, and on the other side of the wedding arch, fireworks went off.
    Before they could even cut the cake, however, Seth realized he needed to get his bride to the hospital. He pulled out his cell phone, ordered a taxi and then called the Willow Creek Community Clinic to advise them, they were on their way. For a few moments, Seth was frightened that Mizuki would give birth in the back seat of the cab. They’d really left things for too long.
    The cab pulled in front of the Clinic, and the two scrambled out of the taxi.  “Hey, somebody, we need some help here!” Seth hollered. An orderly came out front and Mizuki was admitted to the hospital.  “I’m so hungry,” Mizuki complained. Seth, frantic by this time, ran inside, waving his arms.
    “Food, she needs food,” he said. The nurses pointed to the break room. Seth returned to his bride with a plate of food. “Here,” he said.
    Mizuki got nothing to eat that evening. The intern led her into the Operating Room, where she laid down upon the table. Feeling incredibly nervous, she wondered just what she had gotten herself into. Trenton soon appeared in the room and the doctor proceeded to delivery the baby. A beautiful, healthy baby boy.
    “It’s a boy?” Seth said, “I have a son?”
    “Yes, Mister Cantrell, you have a son. What’s his name?” the doctor said studiously filling out the birth certificate.
    “His name?”
    “Yes, his name. You’ve picked one out, haven’t you. You’ve had three days, after all.”
    “Erick. Erick Cantrell,” he said. “Not spelled quite the same way, but to honor our Ancestor all the same. Mizuki was released from the hospital in just a couple of hours. The new little family went home and the baby was placed into his own little bassinet.
    “I can’t believe we have a son,” Mizuki said.
    “I can’t believe it’s all over,” Seth smiled. “To think we started with an Erik and ended with one. I love you, Mizuki, thank you for marrying me.” With that he kissed her.



Monday, November 21, 2016

Generation Nine — Chapter Four: When The Moment Never Comes …

    Seth never doubted Mizuki was pregnant. Certainly, she wouldn’t ‘fake’ it, since she had already made it clear marrying him wasn’t on her mind. In fact, she turned him down when he did ask. That smarted. At least she didn’t give him the heave-ho. Clearly, she found him interesting and a little exciting, too. Enough to remain living under his roof, for now. Finally, her baby bump made an appearance and he relaxed. Having an heir was his ‘job’.
    Up early, he was laying on top of the bed, thinking. Mornings were his best time for such endeavors. He heard his parents rustling about. Heard someone go down the stairs, hopefully to make breakfast. While contemplating just what he should do for a living, and if he should ask Mizuki to marry him again, given their circumstances, the unthinkable happened. His mother passed away. His father in typical Trenton style, wasn’t in their room when his mother keeled over in death. No, the Loner was outside grilling burgers — he could smell them wafting in on the breeze. Seth, Betsy, Hannah, Gramps and another of their other ghostly ancestors gathered around to mourn Tiana. Seth was unsure his father was even aware of her sudden demise.
   Being the new Patriarch, he deemed it his responsibility to tell him.

      “Betsy, call an ambulance,” he said, once he could still his sobs.
     “Right, right,” she said, taking out her phone, and clearing her throat a few times. “Yes, I need an ambulance, please. Our mother has died.”
     Finding his father out back, Seth took in another deep breath. He was wholly inexperienced with this sort of thing. How does one go about telling others their loved-one just passed away? By being direct, he decided.
     “Dad,” he said.    Trenton was lost to himself, focused solely on the burgers he was grilling. Seth cleared his throat to try again. This time he waited until Trenton, platter of burgers in hand, place them on the side table.  “Dad,” he said again.

    “Yes, Seth, I heard you. What is it?” Just then the ambulance could be heard out front. “Is something wrong? Why is there an ambulance pulling up out front?”
    Seth took his father by the shoulders, getting the elderly Sim to look at him. “Dad, it’s Mom.”
     “Is she sick? She was fine an hour ago …”
    “Dad, Dad, please. Mom’s gone. She slipped away from us. We found her on the bedroom floor. Grimmie standing over her. She’s gone. I’m sorry.”
    “Gone? Now, I truly am alone …” Seth watched as a cloud seemed to pass over his father’s face.
    “No, you’ve still got us. The girls, Mizuki and me and pretty soon a grandchild. We’re all right here.”

    Tiana was old and getting older by the day. To be sure, she was well-advanced in days. Last count, she was 115. Seth’s best guess, since she clung to life for so long, was she was far closer to 125 at her passing. There was no way to tell.  The only thing he could think of that might have kept her going this far, was seeing her grandchild. Seth felt badly there had been no wedding. He knew Tiana would have loved being the Mother of the Groom. Some things just aren’t meant to be. He sighed. At least they no longer had to feel they were on ‘death-watch’. While there was some relief in that, it didn’t make him feel any better. He was just so very sad.
    Just then, Seth’s cell went off. He had an incoming message, he judged by the ring-tone. Taking his phone out of his pocket, his first thought, in response to a text was, not again.
    The other annoying thing was Darling Walsh kept calling or texting. First, she invited him out to dinner at the Old Alcove, which puzzled him. They had so very little in common. Of course, being with someone else, he turned her down. When that didn’t work, she began her assault on Mizuki. Seth didn’t even realize they knew each other. First, Darling wanted to come over and ‘hang out’ with Mizuki. When that failed, she texted to have Mizuki come to her place to ‘hang out’. Again, Mizuki turned her down.

      Seth only heard about it because Mizuki got annoyed over it.
    “Who is this Darling Walsh sim and why does she keep wanting to come over — or for me to go to her place? Is she a jealous old girlfriend of yours? She gives me the creeps. And while I’m not overjoyed about being pregnant, I worry for the little guy all the same,” she ran a hand over her belly. “Do you think she means either of us harm?”
    “Mizuki,” Seth said, taking her by the shoulders. “Darling is who she is. An enigma. And yes, I did go out with her once. But, it never went any farther than that one meal. For the record, she invited me to dinner recently, too. I don’t know what’s up with her. But, I’ll have a talk with her, if you want me to. I’ll make her stop bothering you.”
    “Yes, that would be optimal.”
    “Optimal. Look at you with the big words,” he laughed.
    “I plan on being a writer some day.”
    “Okay, okay, don’t get defensive.”

      Mizuki was suddenly standing with them on the patio. Her arms held tightly over her chest. “Let me guess, it’s your little friend calling again. I do hope it was a message of condolence, and not another invitation to go out.”
    “If anybody’s jealous, it’s you,” Seth said. He grinned inwardly. Perhaps, Mizuki wasn’t so Non-committal anymore. Perhaps, there was still hope.
    Once Tiana’s body had been removed and the officials gone, the family took their seats around the patio table to dine on the now cold grilled burgers. For the longest time Trenton said nothing. He just stared off into the distance. Seth worried his father was in shock.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Generation Nine — Chapter Three: Third Strike and You're Out?

           Awakened to a shower of sunlight through his bedroom window, Seth crawled slowly out of bed. This dating thing just wasn’t working out for him. But, he realized, scrolling through his contact list, there was at least one more Sim he should go out with before he gave up altogether and sought to be a monk on Mount Athos. Or worse, consult with the Whispering Wishing Well in Magnolia Park.
    Angelina Goodrich. She used to sit three rows over and one seat behind him in Simlish Class. She had a wonderful laugh, which she employed often. He could only guess that she was good-Natured, or cheerful at least. Either were good qualities.
    “Angelina, this is Seth Cantrell. I’m doing fine, how about you? Great. So, I was wondering if you’ve been to San Myshuno and if you’d like to meet me there at the park. That's right Myshuno Meadows. Okay, that would be fine, see you there.”
    Seth got himself up, showered, dressed and grabbed a quick bite to eat. Then he hurried over to San Myshuno. He was barely there when Angelina walked up.
    “Seth, you look great. Working out? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something different.”
    “Well, thanks. Maybe it’s my new duds.”
    “That could be it,” she said, then sighed heavily.
    “What is it? What’s wrong?”

    “Oh, nothing. I just get these bouts where I’m all but smothered with sadness. It comes on out of nowhere and for no reason. No reason at all. I’m sorry. This wasn’t a good idea and I’m not going to be good company at all. See ya, and thanks for calling me.”
    “Ah, but, wait — Angelina. Wait! Don’t … go.” Off she walked. Seth just stood there. Was it him? As he meandered back to Willow Creek, the thought occurred to him that now was the time to seek help from that mystical well he’d heard so much about growing up. Reaching Magnolia Park, he took a quick look around. The last person he wanted to run into was Darling Walsh. No sign of her.
    Approaching the well, the thing looked ominous. The plaster face had a hood draped over its head. Trying to recall what he’d been told, he remembered that it was best to make the well an offering, first. So, he grabbed §1000.00 out of his pockets and threw the coins in. Reaching the bottom they made quite a constant plunking sound. Suddenly, a flash of light burst from the center of the well, almost blinding him.
    “What is your wish?” came a voice. “After your generous gift, I might even grant it.”
    Seth took in a deep breath and let it out again. “I wish … I wish for romance.”
    Suddenly, the voice was laughing. Mocking him. “There will be no romance for you. Loser.”
    “What? I gave you §1000.00 in coin just to have you mock me? What a joke. That’s it. I need a drink!” Seth made his way over to the Desert Springs Lounge. The Mic. was standing in the corner, unoccupied. He took it in hand and belted out a sorrowful folk song. There were only a few Sims in the room, but most of them turned and gave him their attention. And a few applauded once he was done.
    That helped, but only marginally. He walked over to the bar and ordered a drink. The mixologist on duty was rather attractive. Her name tag read Mizuki. Mizuki, he said over and over in his mind. Mizuki. What a wonderful name for a sweet-faced girl. Taking a seat he struck up a conversation. She was absolutely delightful. Playful and very accommodating to the patrons. Seth found himself utterly taken by her. Smitten. He had it bad, too.

    “Hey, Mizuki,” he said after she finished serving another patron. “When do you get off?”
    “At the end of my shift,” she said, coyly.
    “Yeah, I kind of gathered that, but when. What time?”
    “In just a few minutes.”
    “Good. Would you like to go to San Myshuno with me?”
    When the other mixologist arrived, Mizuki went into the back room and changed out of her ‘uniform’. “I’m all ready to go,” she said, smiling. The two traveled the few miles to the new city. They talked and really seemed to get on well. Then Seth got ahead of himself. He got down on one knee and Mizuki almost looked horrified.  Gently, she pushed his hand away, and turned him down. He had to talk long and hard to get her over the ‘scare’. That’s when he learned she was non-committal. She also had a propensity to be on the gloomy side. Suddenly, that didn’t matter to him. They flirted madly, and both got so heated they were on the verge of boiling over.
    “Say, let’s go to the Bluffs,” he found himself blurting out.
    “Yes, please,” she said, smiling.

    Once they got there the two looked around for a suitable plant. Woohoo was on both of their minds. And while Seth would much rather they marry first, his hormones were doing the talking at the moment. Jumping into a nice fat bush, they both gave into their yearnings. Seth finally felt like the hunk others said he was. Mizuki made him feel wonderful. Wanted, desired. She was just so sweet. He knew he loved her. Getting her to marry him may be yet another hurtle, but at least he finally got her to capitulate and move in to the legacy house with him. They slept together, made woohoo a few more times and then finally gave into the fatigue and slept.
    In the morning, Seth sprang out of bed and went downstairs to fix breakfast. He couldn’t wait to introduce Mizuki to his family. Sadly, before he could, the stove caught on fire. He was able to extinguish himself, thankfully, but breakfast was ruined. Mizuki came down stairs.

   “Seth,” she said. “What happened you’re all blackened like fish.”
    “Old family tradition,” he said, with a smirk. “I hope you like burnt eggs and toast.”
    “I have something to say to you, first. Seth Cantrell. You tricked me. I turned down your marriage proposal because I’m just not ready to be attached. But, you have found a way to attach me to you anyway.”
    “What, by inviting you to move in?”
    “Stay the night, is what you said. I stayed and what do I get for it? I’ll tell you what. Look,” she held up a little device that looked like an electronic thermometer. “What does it say?” she demanded.
    “It doesn’t say anything. I see a pink line.”
    “Exactly. I’m pregnant. And you’re a rat!”



Generation Nine — Chapter Two: Bachelorette Number Two, What Would You Say If …

    Seth tumbled into bed exhausted but not defeated. Luckily, for him, he had a few other young female Sim acquaintances. He slept soundly until after ten o’clock. The only real problem with this was the maid was likely busy at work. He sprang out of bed, went to the adjacent bathroom and found to his dismay, the nightly visitors had wreaked havoc. The sink was spewing water everywhere and the shower was now more of a fountain. He’d have to shower downstairs in the main bathroom.
    Shedding his clothes, Seth stepped into the shower/tub, singing away, which was now his favorite pastime, when he noticed through the glass shower door that the maid, Hajarh Chafik was giving him quite the once-over. In fact, instead of being horrendously embarrassed, it actually served to bolster his ego, since she hadn’t fled the room. Maybe he was a hunk, after all? Finally, she went about other duties, allowing him to get out and get dressed.
    Taking out his cell phone, again, he was trolling through the names on his contact list. Joslyn Barrera.  Once again, he invited this second girl to meet him at Magnolia Park. Only this time, he decided if the talk went well, he’d invite her to Millie’s for some breakfast. He was starving.  Happily, too, his sisters were already at work. He’d learned at a very young age, to keep his life private from those two gossip-mongers.

    While he stood at the entrance to the park, he took a moment to scroll through Hannah’s blog. It wasn’t bad. He also noticed she had around forty followers. Good for her. He’d have to be sure to let her know he’d read her work and congratulate her.
    “Joslyn,” he greeted. A second later who should jog by. Darling Walsh. Probably picking the park as a rendezvous point was not his best idea. Not for both of  his prospective dates. To his great gratitude, if Darling even noticed him, she didn’t show it but continued on her jog without missing a beat. “You look fabulous. How have you been? Missed school at all?”
    “Seth. You know, I always thought you were so very cute. Now, look at you.”
    “So, are you hungry? I was thinking we could go to Millie’s and get some breakfast. You do eat breakfast, right?”


  “Oh, I never skip a meal,” she grinned.
    Talking in a booth, which wasn’t the same booth, at least, Seth learned that Joslyn was a loner. His father was a loner and sometimes that wasn’t always a good thing. Sure, everyone needs time alone, but not when those closest to you start to suffer from your self-imposed isolation. Suffice it to say, they parted company and Seth was beginning to wonder if he was being too picky. He liked Joslyn. She was pretty and wasn’t afraid of her femininity. Unlike Darling.

   To his profound surprise, his phone rang just a few short days later. Joslyn was inviting him out, this time. Obviously, it wasn’t a total bust. He agreed to meet her at the Old Alcove. The waiter set them up at the corner table. They poured over the menu and finally decided on something to eat.  Joslyn proved to be a bit of a glutton, scarfing her food down as if there was no tomorrow. He was quietly appalled at her lack of table etiquette. But, he invited her to San Myshuno anyway. There was a Spicy Food Festival going on and he thought she just might enjoy it. He was also trying to get over being so picky himself. At this rate, he’d be an old man before he had any children.

  The first thing he hit was the Karaoke bar. That was fun. Then they wandered over to the festival, itself, across the way. Together they both sampled some of the food before settling on a dish to eat. After they’d eaten she disappeared. Seth realized she’d also gone over to sing Karaoke. He joined her in the private room. Taking a seat together, he tried to engage her in more conversation. He regaled her with a few stories. Then when she appeared to be growing a bit bored, he tossed a crazy idea at her. Then he flirted. 

    Once again, Seth realized he’d struck out.
    The ‘date’ ended and he dragged himself home. Falling into bed he slept soundly.


Generation Nine — Chapter One: Welcome to the Dating Game; Tonight's Bachelor, Seth Cantrell!

   Seth watched as his father slowly turned into an elderly Sim, and as those before him, Trenton handed down the mantel of Patriarch to his only son. Seth, newly graduated from high school, was a tad lost not having a regular routine. So, he made it his first directive to seek out a bride. After all, how could he be a Patriarch if he had no children? Luckily, for him, he’d spent part of his scholastic life making a few friends. Some of them female, too. Which was only remotely easier, if one wanted children.
    Seth drew out his cell phone and skimmed through his list of contacts. Darling Walsh. She was interesting. Customarily wore a baseball cap, backwards, a sports shirt and shorts. She wasn’t in the least bit feminine, she was always just ‘one of the guys’. But then again, he didn’t know her too well, either. She may be surprisingly fascinating. Perhaps, she just needed a little coaxing to get her out of her shell?
    “Darling,” he said, when she came on the line. Unfortunately, his two sisters were standing just a few feet away from him. They gave each other a look, which alerted Seth to the possibility stories might be carried to their parents. His mother was certain to start planning the wedding at the first hint of any romance. Why were his palms sweating? 

    “Yeah, it’s me, Seth Cantrell. Yeah, from Civics. Third row, fifth seat. Ah, now you remember me. Say, I was just thinking. Would you like to meet me over at Magnolia Park? I don’t know, just hang out for a bit … Okay, good, I’ll see you there. Oh, in about fifteen, does that work for you? Sure, okay. See you then.”
    Betsy, grabbed him by the sleeve as he was about the leave. “Darling? You called someone darling? Who is she — darling is a she, right? Give us the stats.”
    “Height, hair color, eyes. Pretty, not,” Hannah chimed in.
    “I don’t know, yet,” he said, pulling his arm away.
    “How can you not know — you called her darling!” Betsy persisted. “You must have an opinion.”
    “She always has her hair in a cap, that’s how. Sheesh, let me go, or I’ll be late.”
    Seth sighed. Both of his sisters had taken jobs. One was a critic the other a click-bait operator — he really wasn't certain what that entailed beyond her creating and maintaining a blog. Females!
    He jogged the few blocks to the park and managed to make it before Darling arrived. At least he hoped he got there before her. Pretty soon, she came walking up.
    “Hey, hi,” Seth said, smiling.
    “Oh, I remember you, now,” Darling said. “The hunk in the third row, fifth seat. Civics.”
    “I’m not sure about hunk, but you got my seat correct.” There was a bit of an awkward silence that followed. Seth was so new to this whole dating thing. So much so, he wasn’t sure this even qualified as a ‘date’. He just wanted to get to know her better.
    “So,” he said at long last. “How’s your day been?”
    “So far, okay.” 

    “Your career?”
    Darling slapped her knees, laughing. “I’m currently unemployed. School was my full time job.”
    “Any plans for the future?”
    “Only that I’d like one.”
    “Ah, well, good. Say, are you hungry? Would you like to go over to Millie’s for a bite to eat?”
    “You mean, like a date?”
    Seth shrugged. “Sort of. Only nothing formal. Just two people chatting over a meal.”
    He’d seen old videos of the Dating Game and this meeting was just as awkward as that game show. He just wished he had his questions written out for him on those little 3 X 5 cards.
    They made it to the Café known as Millie’s. He walked ahead of Darling to the host and requested a table. Then he watched as Darling wandered along to the back of the restaurant. For a moment she fidgeted with the cup-cake making machine in the kitchen. He could see her through the slat of the food pass. What the heck? Pretty soon, she came back over to Seth and the two took a seat in the booth.

    Seth again did his best to engage her in conversation. He wanted so much to get to know this mysterious person, but she barely opened up. He did learn she was active. That was a plus, since he was, too. Likely they could spend some time together jogging, working out at the gym, or hiking or other fun stuff. Then he tried to flirt with her. That, as it turned out, was a huge mistake. Darling reared back from him and almost receded into the booth cushions. Obviously, she wasn’t into flirting. Unflirty, he filed that in the back of his brain. Had he that proverbial ‘black book’ he’d have written it beside her name.
    A bit of small-talk later, he paid the bill, and they both parted ways. Feeling embarrassed out of his mind, this first ‘date’ was a disaster. He’d sooner go through another earthquake than spend another minute with her. While he’d hoped for more, there simply was no there, there. She just was. An enigma in a backward baseball cap. 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Generation Eight — Chapter Eight: Fires, Aliens and Graduation Robes …

   Trenton stood over the grill, casually cooking up some hot dogs for his hungry family, when he began to smell a most curious smell. A smokey aroma. And, he was beginning to feel unusually warm. Before he knew it, he was on fire. Now, he understood poor Hannah’s situation. Once again, Gramps came to the rescue, fire extinguisher at the ready. Trenton was saved.
    Upon inspection, he quickly realized Hannah wasn’t at fault for the fire she managed to set. The barbecue grill, itself, had a problem, a broken valve or something. Happily, the insurance gave them a modest check to cover their losses. Which wasn’t enough to replace the very fine, expensive barbecue grill they owned, but, he was just glad to be alive. 
    “Now, who’s a walking fire hazard,” Hannah laughed upon seeing her father blackened head to foot. She, her brother and their mother came pouring out of the house to find Trenton standing in the drive. 

    “Ha-ha,” he coolly replied.
    Hannah gave her father a hug. “No more cooking for you!” she said.
    Later in that same week, all three of the kids were home of an evening, playing “Don’t Wake the Llama”. An odd sound reverberated above the house. This time the ground didn’t shake, but the thrumming continued for a bit.
    Trenton came in from work. “Anybody seen Gramps?” 

    “Not since he made dinner for us,” Seth answered.
    “I do hope you’ve all got your homework done. Just a couple more days left of school. I’d really like to see you get those grades up.”
    “Homework is done,” Betsy said, “And we each finished the extra credit, too.”
    Hannah stretched in her chair. “If we have to rehearse the grad ceremony one more time, I may just skip it.” Suddenly, Gramps came floating through the walls of the house. He had a curious look on his ghostly face.
    “You all right, Gramps?” Seth asked.
    “Just a little dazed. Going to bed, now.”
    The next evening Trenton walked out front. He was beginning to feel his age. His three children would graduate the night before they all became young adults. Where had the time gone? Just as he was walking along the front drive, that same eerie thrumming filled the night. He could almost feel the air itself pulse in a rhythm. Next thing he knew, he was frozen, caught up in the bright beam of light that emanated from the hovering saucer above. Unable to fight, he was drawn upward. Seeing his house way beneath him was strange.
    Hours later they unceremoniously plopped him back down in his front yard. Feeling  considerably dazed, he staggered inside, wobbled up the stairs and flung himself upon his bed to sleep it off. Understandably, Trenton slept late.  The next evening was the graduation ceremony. Trenton, Tiana, Gramps, Jett, Jaron and James were all in attendance. Foregoing a formal party, since there was a birthday party in the works, the triplets went off to San Myshuno for some fun.
    Early the next morning, Trenton and Tiana sat on the patio table eating their breakfast finalizing the plans of the birthday bash for their triplets. They rented a bar for the patio, a table to house a punch fountain, bought another table for the cakes — it was decided each deserved their own set of candles to blow out, and Gramps got busy baking. He seemed better than the night he arrived back from having been abducted for a second time in his afterlife life. He said little, and refused to even speak of it. Other than to suggest he’d told them where they could go. 

    Trenton also was reticent to speak of his experiences. Although, he figured it would help him in his chosen career. He now was of a mind to rid himself of that little alien specimen he’d found while cleaning out a pod the first day he was on the job.
    Finally, the triplets arrived home. The days were shortened for Seniors, who only had to show up for attendance, basically. Some got their Yearbooks signed. Seth made sure to say goodbye to his favorite teachers. “Come on, come on, come on!” Hannah said, tugging at his jacket. “There’s a party at home! Let’s go.” 

   Slowly, the guests poured into the house. Gramps laid out three cakes, ablaze with candles. Getting all three teens corralled long enough to blow them out was another story.  But, at last, the party requirements were fulfilled. Trenton was now the father of three young adults. Somehow, a mountain rolled off of his shoulders — or perhaps, it was merely the fact that he was two-fisting the drinks that had him feeling rather relaxed.
Or maybe it was that the graduation ceremonies were behind them. All three managed to pull in A’s which made their parents very proud. All three owned their official diplomas, picked up at school today.
    Trenton sat on the coping of their pool, draped an arm about Tiana, and began to discuss just what they were going to do, once they became Empty-Nester's. And just how he was going to feel passing the Patriarchal crown to their only son, Seth. Bitter-sweet though the moment was, he was pleased that while the girls were talking of moving out, Seth would be staying on. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Generation Eight — Chapter Seven: A Father's Lament; What to Do About Fricassee Hannah?

Trenton was about as angry as a father could get. He accepted an invitation from Jett to go out to the local bar. True enough, it was Guy’s Night Out, but that didn’t prevent women from showing up. So, he did the sensible thing and invited Tiana to go with him. She was more than happy to go. The two needed the time out. The triplets were nearly grown and it had been a rough ride. In less than a week, they would graduate high school. That’s the only thought that kept him going. He loved his children, all three of them, but perhaps, it would have been easier had they come to him, one at a time, instead of all at once. 

    So after dancing for a bit, and having a drink or two at the bar, the parents could feel themselves unwinding. This is what they both needed. Trenton could even feel himself smiling again. Able to focus on the good memories with their children and how he really was going to miss them once they’d moved on, as kids often do.
    “This is so much fun,” Tiana told Trenton. She leaned back a little to speak to Jett who sat on Trenton’s left. “Jett, thank you for inviting us out.”

    “Any time,” he smiled back. “Sometimes parents don’t treat themselves enough.” He winked.
    The evening wound down and the couple decided to get back home. Looking around, they wondered where their three teens had gone off to? Then they heard a bit of panic coming from the back patio.  “Hannah. Hannah,” Seth said, “What are you doing? Leave that to Betsy or me, please!

   “Oh, my Gawd, Hannah! Somebody, help. Please HELP!” Came Betsy’s plea.
    Trenton raced out of the back door in time to see his daughter, once again up in flames. This time, his feet seemed stuck to the concrete. “Hannah!” he said. Luckily, Gramps was more cool-headed in his reaction. The ghost floated by Trenton, into the house, and in a flash was back again, armed with the fire-extinguisher. Quickly, having failed Jade, Gramps put the flames out. Hannah somehow survived. But she looked remarkably like blackened fish. Or even a burnt marshmallow.

    “Gramps,” Trenton said, finally able to move again. “Thank you for saving my little girl.”
    “No problem, this time, but I would suggest you school her in fire-safety. She’s a walking menace.”
    Trenton, reverted to his almost constant state of tension, which had called him to go out in the first place. Was there no end? Seemed he wasn’t allowed to relax. Most likely not until the three were fully grown and on their own. This was insane. The girl just needed to leave the cooking to others. He did his best to quell his rising anger. So much for his evening out.
    “Hannah,” he said, quivering in his ire.
    “Daddy, I know, you don’t have to say it. But, I was hungry …”

    “You’re always hungry. Why don’t you ask, or better still, eat leftovers. Nevermind, that often requires the microwave. We don’t need you to electrocute yourself. Sweetheart, please. If you persist in this cooking phase of yours, then I insist you study it, first. Read, read, read and watch the Cooking Channel. I think that’s the only way you’re going to survive this nonsensical penchant you have. What is it with you and fires?”
    “I don’t know how it happens — it just does. It’s like I’m cursed or something.” Hannah’s shoulders slumped. “Are you going to ground me again?”
    “Naw,” he said, hugging her tight. “Not so long as you study cooking — away from any form of heat source, that is.”
    Tiana came up beside her daughter, smoothing her dark tresses, “At least you didn’t catch your hair on fire, this time. Come on, inside. You really need a shower.” 

    The family went inside. Seth walked into the office, and stood before the bookshelf. Scanning the titles, he finally found the cookbook he knew was there. Volume One. He’d read it himself, it was very informative and just what his sister needed. She was still in the adjacent dining room on her way to the stairs when he emerged. “Hannah, think fast!” he said, gently tossing the book at her. Nothing wrong with her reflexes she caught it like a pro.
    Flipping the book over, she read the title. “Ha-ha,” she said. “Very funny, little brother.” He was the last one born.
    Seth smirked at her, and shrugged his broad shoulders slightly. “Just trying to help.”