Friday, November 27, 2015

Generation One — Chapter Ten: Goodbye, Hello— You’re Back?

  Ayden came into the house a few minutes after ten in the evening. He decided to take a part-time job at one of the local fast-food establishments after his father passed away to help out. The hours were such that what homework he didn’t complete before his shift, could easily be finished once he got back home again. He was carrying a high GPA and didn't wish to lose it. Patrice, who had graduated from high school already was now steadily employed. He knew their mother was getting on in days and wouldn’t likely be with them for too much longer, herself, let alone manage to pull off a promotion. Without Erik's income, things were looking bleak.
Now, he if could just convince that lazy, mean brother of his to pitch in a bit, things might get a tad better around here. Ayden shook his head. Who was he kidding? Braylon was flat out spoiled. A monster-child, who grew into a rather obnoxious teen. He did hope that should he someday become a father himself, that he would do a slightly better job of it.
As was his habit, Ayden cast a glance toward the piano in the corner of the long living room to the left of the foyer as he came passed by the archway. Spying something slightly luminescent, he did a double take. What the heck? Swallowing, he ventured into the darkened room. Dad’s urn was still on the floor beside the antique instrument. Nothing seemed disturbed in any way, but he felt a bit of a chill in the air. Systematically, he went from one window to the next, checking to be certain they were all closed. As he turned his back on the piano to check that last window near the corner, he shivered with the sudden cold. Then he felt something on his shoulder! Curiously, it felt just like a hand. Swinging around he could swear he saw his father shimmering before him. Auntie Bree and others in the family had the Gift of Sight, so he shouldn’t be so surprised if he shared it, too. Is this what it was like? Creepy, much.
“Dad? Is that you?”  His inquiry was met with an echoed laughter, as if the entity were laughing through a well. Both eerie and alarming, the youth took a step backward and all but fell over the couch facing the dark fireplace.
“Ayden!” said the translucent aqua-colored image, arms open, inviting a hug. Again, the echo-effect. Certainly, it sounded like Dad — except for the echo. Weird.
“Dad? Wh-what are you doing here?” the boy said. “Not that you aren’t welcome in your own home. That is to say, aren’t you supposed to find some kind of light to walk into? Or something. I know you did some crazy things in your life, but still. You’ve always Believed. I always thought that counted for —something.”
Erik Cantrell smiled and chuckled again. “I spent so much of my life in the wrong pursuits, I’ve decided to spend more time here, instead. I’m just not ready to leave my family. That is, if you don’t mind. In just a short time you’ll be taking over as Head of the Household.”
“What are you saying? You mean you’re here to collect Mom?”
“Not yet. But, I do hope you’ll allow me to hang around for awhile.”
“Oh sure. Sure. Glad to have you back,” the boy said, walking around the couch, clinging, to the back of it.
“You don’t have to be afraid, son. I’m not here to hurt you. You’re my son.” At that moment they heard a noise out in the foyer as Zoe came in from work. Ayden could hardly believe so much time had passed. His mother didn’t get off until two A.M.. Yet, the clock didn’t lie. 

Hearing voices, Zoe walked right into the living room. Without hesitation, she flung her arms around her ghostly husband and hugged him tight. “Erik. Oh, Erik, it’s so good to hold you again. Please stay. I want you to move in, permanently.”
“Ah, Mom,” Ayden tried to interject. But Zoe was singularly focused on Erik. “Wait, wait, wait. You see him? How … Are you sure? You’re inviting him to stay. Like forever? Mom, wait. Don’t you think you ought to reconsider … what will the neighbors say? Who wants to live near a haunted house? Because that’s what it’s just become. We have a ghost in our midst. Mom, are you serious?”
“Oh, relax, Ayden. It’s your Father. This is his house, after all. Personally, I welcome his company.”

Ayden sat down on the couch, cradling his head in his hands.
“What’s the matter, dear?” Zoe said, putting a hand on his shoulder.
Ayden looked up at her, shook his head. “When a man becomes a man, he looks forward to living on his own —without his parents constantly looking over his shoulder! I suppose now, after you — go, that you’ll be back to hang around, too. I don’t think I can take that. This is not what is supposed to happen! I want my own life!”
  Erik patted his son’s shoulder. “I’m not here to interfere, I promise. I just want to work, paint for a bit and make sure you’re financially set.” 
“The time to do that is before you die, Dad. Not after. You’ve got it all backward.” With that Ayden jumped up from the couch. Zoe glanced over at Erik, who returned her look with a shrug.
“What’s gotten into him do you think?” Zoe said.
“Don’t know. And all of this time I thought he’d be happy to see me.”
Ayden threw his hands over his ears and stomped about the large living room. “You’re doing it again. You’re talking about me as if I’m not in the very room with you. Stop it. Both of you just stop it!”
Patrice came straggling into the room, her long blonde hair tangled from her sleep, her eyes bleary.  “Daddy!” she cried, giving Erik a huge hug. A moment later, Braylon was in the room, frozen stiff with fright.  "I thought I heard … voices."

After a few reassuring words from Erik, he was soon hugging the entity. Ayden stood back from the group.
“Has everyone gone bonkers? Does no one here think it odd we’re being visited by someone who belongs,” he gazed pointedly at Erik, “in the after life?” 
Erik smiled broadly, hanging onto two of his children, with Zoe close by. “Looks like I’m staying, by majority rule,” he said. 
“Okay, fine. I’m going to bed.” Ayden said, as he backed out of the room. “Guess I’ll see you in the morning, then.” he said to Erik. “And just for the record, it’s not that I mind having you here, it’s just weird.”
“Understood,” Erik smiled.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Generation One— Chapter Nine ReBoot: Gone, But Not Forgotten …

“I can’t believe I thought he was a jerk when we first met,” Zoe said, dabbing at a fresh wave of tears with a tissue. She was sitting in their sparsely furnished living room, in front of the lit fireplace. Not that it was a particularly cold day, but Zoe just couldn’t find any warmth. The lit fireplace helped, if nothing more than to provide the charade of warmth. Family and friends milled about their home. Her sister-in-law, Brianna, acting hostess to their guests, made sure everyone had eaten. She even made Zoe a plate, but so far, eating was the last thing she wanted to do. What Zoe really wanted, besides Erik back, was a good stiff drink. She found it weird her co-worker was busily mixing drinks at Zoe’s home bar. But, she was glad for the help, even so. 

“You thought Dad was a jerk,” Patrice said, scooting the food across her own plate. “How so?” She stabbed at a piece of white whatever, cauliflower or something, sniffed it, and then set her fork down again. Looking around at the platters of food Auntie Bree was circulating, she hoped for something sweet. Like a nice huge piece of chocolate cake.  Chocolate always made her feel better.
“Well, we had only just met, tentatively at the Lounge in town. He was fun and funny, charming in his own way. I liked him. A lot. But the next day I went to the gym and suddenly there he was standing in front of me, dressed in nothing more than a towel.”
“What?” Patrice started to laugh.
“I didn’t know what to think. He behaved so differently the night before. I wasn’t sure if he was coming on to me, or what he was about. So, I left the gym.”
“And then what?”
“He called me a few days later and asked me out on a date. He said he wanted to start all over with me and would I give him a second chance? I said yes. That evening he joked and asked me to remind him of what my name was again.”
“He didn’t.” Patrice said.
“It was at that moment I knew I loved him,” Zoe covered her nose and mouth with a tissue, trying to curb the sobs.  “He had the most amazing blue eyes.” 

Ayden was sitting on the other side of his mother, busily scribbling on a note pad, as if he were some kind of journalist. In the back of his mind, he could still hear his father asking him to write up his biography. Toward that end, Erik had made a point of sitting down with his first son, telling him all about his life from his beginning, through his school days, his university exploits and his virtual joyride as a Rock Star. He was so very glad to have had this special time with him, especially now. Tears filled his blue eyes and he couldn’t still his bottom lip, which began to quiver. A few splattered onto his notepad, making the paper warp. 

Braylon, sat on the piano bench. Ayden watched as his Aunt Bree put a hand on Braylon’s shoulder while offering him a plate of food. Braylon glanced up at her and just shook his head. Apparently, he wasn’t in the mood to eat, either.  

Ayden felt badly for his younger brother. He was so young, just barely a teen. Erik had gotten another promotion and along with it, came a fabulous antique piano. While at work, the piano was delivered. Erik was so excited, he came in from work and sat down at the instrument and began to play. He didn’t even bother to change out of his suit.
Braylon heard the music filling the house, and went in to watch their father play. “D’you hear that?” Braylon said. Ayden was busy doing his homework and barely looked up.
“That music.”
“Oh, that. Is someone playing Dad’s piano?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure going to find out. Just so I can report to Dad who’s been touching his work reward.”
‘Braylon, do you always have to be so mean?” Ayden said, but already his brother had left the kitchen. A short time later the piano music stopped with a loud inharmonious thunking of several keys being held down at once. And he could hear Braylon’s sudden hysterical cries. He went to get up, but Patrice all but pushed him out of her way, as she came through the kitchen at that moment. By the time he got there, and he seemed to be moving in slow-motion, she and their mother were already in the livingroom weeping over his father, who lay prone on the floor. 

Were he a detective, it seemed to him his father must have slipped off of the piano bench and fallen, on his side, to the floor. Heart-attack? The coroner said it was ‘natural causes’, essentially Erik had died of old age. He was 118 days old, Ayden reflected. He touched his suit pocket, glad to have the recordings his father made. Since Erik had died, sometimes Ayden would listen to these audio snippets, just to hear his voice again. When he got over this awful feeling, he determined he would listen to them for their content and write the biography of Erik, as his father requested. Till then, he would just have to remember to breathe and to help out his mother as best he could. 

Patrice was out of school and had gotten a job. He could get a part-time job to help out. If things had been tight when Dad was around, they were about to get tighter, of this he was certain.
At least his father had managed some flooring. Wood for a majority of the house, with carpeting for the sun room, which had become the son room, he shared with his younger brother. The dining room walls were covered and they had a nice new dining table and chairs. That nice bonus check Erik had received just before his demise had helped with that. He was very glad for his father’s sake, that these finishing touches were in place before his ride was up.
Ayden only had a few days left of school, but already, he was preparing to be the Man of the House.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Generation One —Chapter Eight ReBoot: Roosting Chickens and Other Loose Ends

Zoe barreled through the front door. The night had been grueling. She was working the cash register, and it came up short. She knew who had caused this shortage, too. Then, she was faced with what to do about it. Should she tell her boss up front, or just leave it alone? She thought about it long and hard. In the end, she chose to leave it alone. Her choice, however came back to bite everyone on the behind. Zoe was mortified. And it left her tense. 
“That’s it!,” she said, slamming the front door. Erik must have been asleep, because he staggered out of their bedroom, hair disheveled, trying to see her through blurry eyes. His glasses left, somewhere.
“Zoe, are you all right?” he said, raking a hand through his thick gray locks.
Zoe pushed the air with her hand. “I made a stupid mistake is all. I knew who had shorted the cash register and instead of telling Maury, my boss, I let him discover it for himself.”
“Well,” Erik prompted, “what happened after that?”
“Simple, since no one fessed up, he just took it out of our tips. Everyone’s including the bartender. Me.”
“I made sure the bills were all paid for this month,” Erik said, trying to comfort her. He could well read the distress in her tired features. “We should be fine. Don’t worry about it, Zoe.”
Zoe wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tight. “I was saving for a dishwasher,” she sighed. Erik hugged her back and then eased away so he could look her in the face.
“How much did you lose?”
“I think it was about forty Simoleons.”
“Forty? You make that much in a single night?”
“No, tonight was on the slow side. I average closer to fifty-five, most nights.”
“I think I’m in the wrong business.” Erik walked back into the bedroom and pulled a wad of cash from his stash in his suit pants pocket. He handed it over to his wife, unceremoniously. “Here. Once in awhile I’ll get a few tips playing the piano. Unless, of course, a former pianist comes into the bar and all but lays claim to the piano bench. I put up a fight, but the audience wanted their old favorite back,” Erik shrugged. “It’s all good. This is all I got. Not much, but I’d like to add to the dishwasher fund.”
Erik smiled as Zoe hugged him again. “This is why I love you so much,” she said. Hugging her back, Erik kept his secret. Zoe’s birthday was coming up, and he already had her dishwasher on order. 
The next day Erik found himself confronted by his daughter. She barely made it through the door from school and went right back out, hollering, “I’m going to the library to study!” Lifting his eyebrows for a moment, he quickly nodded, happy she was once again taking her studies seriously. Erik went to work as usual and chatted with his co-workers before he got down to business. All-in-all, it was a good work day. He came home, chatted with his sons and as they sat down for a bite to eat, Patrice slammed the front door. So like her mother, he thought. 
“You could have told me,” she said, grabbing a plate from the counter before plopping onto her tree stump to eat.
“Tell you what, precisely,” Erik said, doing his best to keep calm. He was the father, the head of the household, and it was his perceived job to maintain an aura of paternal quiet. His was to diffuse situations, not inflame them. Patrice flung a small scrap of paper at him. It landed on the tabletop in front of him. He picked it up. Book code. No title, just three letters and some numbers followed by a decimal point and then a single number and a letter, indicating the stack and shelf. Erik remembered his days spent in the university library.
The boys just kept eating their camp stew their mother had prepared for them before she’d rushed off to work. For the most part, Ayden just listened while Braylon plotted ways on how to use whatever information Patrice had dug up on their old man.
Erik glanced up at her expectantly.
“I have an assignment to write about a famous person. Guess who I found? Erik Cantrell,” she said, without skipping a beat, her question obviously a rhetorical one. “There’s a biography on him. I found a copy on the shelf and flipped through it. He is or was quite a famous musician. A Rock Star. There are pictures, too. And some cd’s. We’re allowed to have a listen in the audio department of the library. You know what’s odd?”
“What’s that?” Erik feigned his ignorance, knowing his gig was up, and doing his best not to squirm. 
“Well, besides the fact that he has three brothers, one older and two younger, and an only sister, just like you do, and they all have the same names as your siblings. He sounds just like you. Isn’t that incredible?” She held her hands up, forming a box to gaze at him, as if a film director framing her shot. “You kinda look a little like him, too. That’s just too incredibly weird.”
“Small world we live in. I hear everyone has what they call an astral twin.”
“That’s it, that’s your story? I suppose you’re sticking to it, too. Why, Daddy? Why didn’t you trust us. I always knew you had some mad guitar skills, but I couldn’t piece together why you were working for a music company, instead of off touring.” 
Ayden spit out his milk, the tabletop dotted with it like so many raindrops. He nearly choked at her words. “Say, what? Patrice, is this another one of your fake news reports? I’m sick of it. You’re always imagining all kinds of nonsense. Maybe you should write a book or something.”
“Hm, maybe I will. Maybe I’ll call it, ‘Daddy Dearest’.” She flashed her father a look. 
“They say you can make all kinds of money writing a tell-all book,” Braylon said.
“Seriously, Dad, how could you? I really want to know. We’ve been living a pretty austere life,” she said, and began pressing on each finger of her left hand, as if counting off a list. “We don’t own a car, a TV, or even a computer. If you hadn’t been given that fancy stereo as part of a promotion, we’d be pretty out-of-touch. We barely have any flooring, and then it’s just in the kitchen. We live like paupers. What did you do with all of that money you made?”
Erik sat still in his chair. He should have seen this coming. How was it his own father was always a step ahead of all of them? Aaron, Joey, Jr., himself, let alone Brianna. How did he do it, and why did Erik always fail at it? He glanced over at his daughter, his firstborn. He never realized just how beautiful she really was. Up until recently, she’d always worn weird bright colors around her eyes, obscuring them, really, and her hair in a rather outlandish style, pulled tight into high knots atop her head. She’d made a change for the better. Her makeup was more muted and enhanced her eyes like he’d never seen them before. Her long blonde hair was stylish, soft and very feminine.
“You’ve made some changes,” he said. “I like it. I never before realized how much like your mother you look. It’s a nice change. I also admire your change in wardrobe. Very stylish, very feminine and complimentary.”
“Don’t change the subject, Dad. This is not about me.” 
“Sure it is,” he said, grinning, at last feeling in the game, at least. “What made you decide to change? Were you just tired of your look? You see, like you, I needed a change. Our reasons may be different, but I needed to change.”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Ayden said. “You mean you were a big time Rock Star and you just needed a change and now we live like this? Does Mom know?”
“Yes, and yes,” Erik said, easily. “Pretty quiet, don’t you think? A nice quiet, regular life. And I can still share my music. Without all the negatives. The worst that’s happened was one day the letter carrier walked through our house to get to the mailbox out front. Previously, the paparazzi would invade my yard, snapping their pictures. I even went overseas to another country on tour, and they walked right into my hotel room! In the middle of the night. I was sleeping, or trying to. When I still lived with your grandparents, they would hop the fence and swim in their pool.” He looked at all three of his kids, one at a time. “You see, fame can be a good thing, so long as it doesn’t take over your life. I was young and green and had no clue as to how to handle it. It pretty much beat me up and spit me right back out again. Yes, I was wildly successful, but I had no life. I couldn’t be sure my date was with me, or Erik Cantrell. I was engaged three times, before I met your mother and none of them quite fit. I was lonely and wanted more out of life. So, I hit the reset button. And now I have your mother and all of you. I think I came out pretty good in the end.”
“But,” Braylon said. “Don’t you miss it?”
“Sometimes, but then I look at all of you, and it passes. And, Ayden, I think you should be the one to write it.”
“Write it. Write what?”
“My biography. I’ll be more than happy to sit down to an interview any time. In fact, come up with a list of questions and I’ll record my answers for you. I’m getting up there and not sure how many days I’ve got left.”
“Why me?”
“Because I know you’ll be fair.”

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Generation One —Chapter Seven ReBoot: For The Good of the Family

Erik could feel himself getting older. He was slowing down and that frightened him. He began to have aches he never had before, even on his hardest nights of rocking out, followed by dancing at the clubs well into the wee hours, which he pretty much did after every gig, back in the day. He determined to see a doctor for a check-up. He certainly hadn’t had one of those in decades. Oh, his younger brother, Joseph, Jr., a World Renown Surgeon, would give him a quickie, surreptitious exam in his childish, playful manner, and then glibly give him some medical advice, but that was just Joey, always looking after everybody. They hadn’t lived under the same roof in years.
“Now, Erik,” the doctor said, bringing him out of his thoughts. “This isn’t the Fountain of Youth. It’s not going to make you young again — and most certainly, you can only take it once in your lifetime. But, it will restore to you some energy and you may even get a few more days as a side-benefit.” The doctor scribbled a note on an official pad. Tearing the top sheet off of it, he handed it to Erik. “Other than that you’re as fit as any Sim could be at your age of 104 days. Given the life you’ve led, overall.” The doctor gave him a look over Erik’s medical files, in which he was busily jotting notes. 
Of course the Sim knew who he was. He’d been the family physician for years. He’d even asked for Erik’s autograph at one time — for his daughter, or so he said. Dubiously, Erik looked the prescription over. The doctor had the stereotypical bad hand-writing, almost as bad as Joey’s. In fact, it was the worst handwriting Erik had ever seen. He couldn’t make out a single word. He did pray the pharmacist could read it and not give Erik something else, by mistake. He dutifully got the prescription filled and brought it home.
Still a bit unnerved at the prospect of using this concoction, he followed the directions carefully. Wondering all the while if the pharmacist had properly interpreted the gibberish written on the little page. Hefting the crock in his hands, he gave it a swirl to activate the ingredients and then watched with a bit of trepidation as a white steam arose from the glass in his hands. Two separate puffs of steam curled upward, crossed over the other and wrapped together before his face. What the… Erik closed his eyes and quickly knocked back the medicine. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be any worse than some of those herbs he used to partake of. He did remember some of those would make him rather ill. At last he swallowed it, shuddering. 
The taste wasn’t too bad. A little bitter, perhaps, but he got it all down. At first he felt a little wobbly, but nothing really seemed to change. He glanced at himself in the mirror. “Still old,” he said to his image. Then, a remarkable thing happened. Gone was that nagging ache in his lower back. He stood up straighter, a little taller, and there was a bit more energy in his gait. “Huh,” he thought, setting the container aside. Perhaps, there was something to this medical profession, after all. Joey loved it. For a fleeting few seconds Erik considered changing careers. “You’re 104 days old. Despite how this medicine makes you feel, you’re 104 days old.” Besides, who knew how long the effects of the medicine would last? 
Certainly, it gave him the ‘steam’ he needed to make another round of harvesting. Both he and Zoe were between paychecks and, once again as Murphy would have it, the bills were a tad overdue. He surely didn’t wish to leave his family with nothing more to inherit than a partially built house and bills to pay.
Erik continued on day after day after day.  He harvested the plants around his home, and then went to a park to gather more. If all else failed, he would play his guitar for tips. Before he knew it, he had the money for those bills, at last — and before anything got shut off. To his great relief, he took care of the bills immediately, lest some other disaster happen.
He also wrote a jingle and got it licensed immediately, wondering if he should pass, would his family still be able to collect the royalties? He just didn’t wish to leave them without financial support. There was still so much he needed to take care of, it weighed heavily on his shoulders. 
No wonder he was out of energy. So little time, or so his body was warning him, and so much to complete. Had he made the right decision giving up that lucrative job? In the longer run, he had to say yes. He had a wife whom he loved, who loved him for him, and not the famous somebody he once was. And he had three great kids. Despite how difficult he was finding it, raising them right, he had to say they were great kids all the same. The fruit of his and Zoe’s love for each other. 
He finally got the kitchen wall papered and the flooring in. He and Zoe made the design decisions. Blue striped walls and the flooring was of rock. Something that should last for a good long while.  

He spent time getting to know his boys, too. He continued to work with Patrice, hoping to steer her onto a better path. As it now stood, she seemed well on the way to a too early motherhood. She was definitely his wild child. He did hope her interest in playing the guitar would help her focus. 
Ayden was a nice young man. A bit of a slob, but they got on well. He was okay when it came to his schooling. B wasn’t a bad grade, after all. Erik, despite everything had pulled out A’s in university. He earned that Fine Arts Degree. He owned it. Ayden was also quick to help out, fixing the broken plumbing. Ayden was going to be okay, he felt that deep in his gut. Braylon, his youngest, on the other hand, was just flat out mean. So far, despite his efforts, they still weren’t friends, but Erik was determined to crack the shell on this very hard nut. Somehow, he hoped to reach him before it was too late. Suddenly, he realized how his own father must have felt. Time after time, Joseph, Sr., would spend time just talking to Erik. After a while, sadly, the two drifted apart. Erik always respected the Sim, something Erik was sure Braylon didn’t feel for him, but that’s only part of a relationship. By itself, it wasn’t enough, clearly.  

     Joseph was long gone, however. Too late for Erik to even apologize for being such a pain in Joseph’s side. Where had the time gone? Not just the time, but where did the effects of that medicine go? His back was again giving him fits. A hitch here, an outright pain there. Getting up and getting moving was harder, too. He ended up late for work because he overslept. Winding down like an old clock.
Like the herbs he was ever so found of using in University, the temptation was to try that Youth potion again. However, the doctor had been so firm in his admonition, Erik restrained himself. He would just have to face the end of his life like any other Sim. Finish what he could around the place, earn as many royalties as he could, bring home his salary, store up his collectibles for his legacy and pray it was enough. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Generation One —Chapter Six ReBoot: I Don’t Remember Growing Older, When Did They?

As Erik blew out the candles on his birthday cake, officially marking his old age, he went over just what he had accomplished in this, his new life. He had, indeed, started all over. Hit the reset button and began again. His house, all one floor of it had a roof, now.
But still nothing more than cement for flooring. He’d have more than just the foyer and hallway walls covered, but for the appliances that continually broke down, one after another; wash, rinse, repeat. And then there was the ever-reliable delivery of bills. Every single time he amassed a few Simoleons to further the house along, almost without fail, the mailman would grace him with a nice neat stack of huge bills. The other day, in fact, she walked in through his back door, straight through his hallway and out the front door just to deliver his mail. All bills.
Yes, how very special of her. He made sure to lock the back door, after that.
Also, he seemed to have lost Time, on the whole. Patrice had a birthday and went from small child to a nearly grown woman. Unfortunately, all of those chips she’d snack on while unsupervised remained about her stomach and hips. He was so very glad that he met the teen girl Patrice had invited over, when he got home from work one day. She enjoyed hanging out with his children, so Erik invited her to do so from then on out. He also paid her a stipend for her trouble. He talked with her at length, more or less interviewing her, and his mind was set as ease. Especially, when he found her at his home whenever he got back.  
She was a nice girl. The boys, he had two now, were respectful enough and gave her no trouble. Patrice, on the other hand, continued to be a bit of a ‘problem child’. Shortly after her birthday, she skipped school to get herself tattooed! Erik wasn’t fond of such things and despite how wild he had been in his day, juicing and using herbs, he never got even a single small tattoo. He really loathed what his only daughter had done to herself. Black ink up her neck, around, and back down on the reverse side. It was hideous. But then again, he was just Dad. Old fashioned, and now an old fogey. What did he know? At least she didn’t seem to have too many male friends, to his intense relief. He was worried her wild and rebellious ways would get her into more trouble than she was ready for. Mostly, she antagonized any male she came into contact with. Luckily, it wasn’t up to her to carry on his family legacy.  

If he could send her off to university, he’d do it in a heartbeat. Or boarding school. The girl needed discipline. He recalled how his father railed about Erik’s younger sister. Brianna wasn’t at all a problem, not in Erik’s mind. Her greatest act of rebellion was to join the armed services. How very shocking. How absurd. She wanted to serve her country. How dare she? As it turned out, the young lieutenant met and married a Captain. Erik realized just how happy they were. So, taking the lesson at hand, he decided not to give Patrice a hard time about her tats, or her incredibly gross choice in makeup design and color. Instead, he asked her about her school work, her classmates and if she was generally happy. About her likes and dislikes and what she wanted out of life. Keeping the lines of communication open was important.

He wanted her right under his wing where he could protect her from herself.

When he came home one evening, he found Patrice messing around with his acoustic guitar. He smiled and proceeded to give her a few lessons in the guise of tips. In effect, he spent the next three hours mentoring her. In doing so, he finally achieved his aspiration. He passed on some knowledge to the next generation.


At age 104 days, Erik prayed he’d be around long enough to see both Ayden and Braylon reach their teen years. He was doubtful he’d make it that long. He was doing his best to wrap up as many loose ends as possible. He wrote that promised song for Zoe. And continued to harvest plants around his home. If he could just put in some flooring before he passed on …