Sunday, February 28, 2016

Generation Three — Chapter Two: The More the Merrier?

Nathaniel was having the worst time getting over the loss of his father. Frankly, it seemed like nothing could or would help. So, he texted Sophia. Again, sad texts. She was quick to respond, as always, inviting him over to her place to hang out. She wasn’t alone, sharing the place with her sister Elsa.  

“Nate,” Sophia greeted him out front, throwing her arms about him and giving him a good squidge. He sure needed the comfort. They gazed at the clouds for a bit and Sophia shared her deep interest in space. She truly believed Sims were not alone in this universe. He would have scoffed outright at her allegations, but for two things. He loved her and as such had no desire to trample on her feelings, and for the fact both he and his Dad had discovered aliens in disguise right here in Willow Creek. One worked at the Police Department and had died just recently. 
The couple chatted for a bit, he met her sister. Elsa was quiet but she seemed nice enough. Nathaniel really wanted to propose to Sophia. They had known each other for several months now, and he loved her deeply. She shared the same feelings. Theirs would be a good union, of that he was certain. But, he found himself so overwrought with grief, he just couldn’t bring himself to utter the words. In fact, several times during this visit he actually contemplated breaking up with her. That would have been a huge mistake. He was just beginning to think she deserved more than some emotionally broken Sim.
After a little while, Sophia had to head out to work. So, Elsa fixed a nice meal, and the two sat at the table eating and chatting the hours away. Getting to know each other, really. Nathaniel began to think counseling was something Elsa had trained for. Whatever it was she said to him, he was feeling much better by the time Sophia got home again, for which he was grateful. Finally, he could see through that thick black, ominous cloud that hovered over his head continually. 

     “Nate,” she said, stepping through the front door. “I didn’t expect you to still be here, but I’m very glad you are. All the time I was working, I couldn’t get my mind off of you. Did you and Elsa have a nice chat?”
Nathaniel grinned shyly, and nodded his head. “As a matter of fact, we did. Thank you, Elsa, for all of your advice. I do feel like a weight has rolled off of my shoulders. But, I should get going now, I’ve already taken up enough of your time. Don’t wish to wear out my welcome.”
      Sophia followed him out the door. She was hoping for a kiss good night. She wasn’t disappointed. Not only did Nathaniel kiss her sweetly, but suddenly, he was getting down on one knee. “Sophia, I’ve been wanting to ask you this for quite some time, now. I know you’re a bit older than me, but we seem so right together. Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” 

     “Nate, oh Nate! Yes, yes, yes, yes!” With that he slipped the ring on over her gloved hand. Sophia held her hand up to admire the ‘rock’.  Then she jumped up into his arms. 
“Come home with me,” he said, taking her by the hand.
Sophia moved into the Cantrell homestead that very evening. Both were tired, but excited about this new beginning. Adrenalin had kicked in for both of them, so they played chess to wind themselves down. Nathaniel decided it best to take over the ‘new’ master bedroom, a bit leery of its history. When he walked in, he was surprised to find a brand new double bed in place of his father’s bed. Jaylen was oddly hanging around, too. When Nathaniel raised an eyebrow at him, his younger brother merely shrugged and grinned. “Best of luck on your engagement,” was all he said, then turned to head back down the stairs to his room.   

Jaylen, as it came out, had many tricks up his sleeves. Well, he was a genius, and sometimes it does take a genius to figure things out. For instance, when Nathaniel goofed up on the bills allowing the electricity to get shut off, after their father died, it was Jaylen who stepped in. He continued the long-standing family tradition of gathering the wild fruits and flowers to sell. He got the bill paid, the lights back on and all seemed well. However, the bill was huge and any monies left wasn’t enough for a wedding. Once again it was Jaylen who came up with an answer. Seemingly foolish as the idea appeared, Nathaniel brushed it off.
“There’s this ancient wishing well the town Council replaced the old fountain with at Magnolia Park. Maybe I can ask it for some Simoleons. Who knows? Can’t be worse than trying to win the lottery, right?” 

Nathaniel smiled broadly, chuckling out loud as he hadn’t in ages. “You know what, Jay, if you can make it work, go for it. I won’t stop you. We do need some serious funding about now.” Between the two brothers working, and even Sophia’s wages thrown in, the income wasn’t even a close match to what Ayden brought in daily. They were barely scraping by.
That very afternoon, Jaylen headed straight to the park. There it was sitting right in the center of things. Old yellowy-brown bricks, ancient vines clinging to the pillars that held the roof over it, it looked almost like a gazebo without the bench, only smaller and with a deep hole in the center of it. Come to think of it, it really didn’t look like a gazebo at all.   
There was also a lion’s face on the front of it. He stepped up to it and made a bold wish, asking for Simoleons. Suddenly, as if a volcano was about to erupt, bright light splintered forth from the mouth of the well. Jaylen took a quick step back, in awe, not sure what to make of it, of what may be coming at him. Next thing he knew, he was being pelted with gold coins. Lots of them. By the time it quit and he got it all counted there was over twenty-two thousand Simoleon’s worth! Immediately, he was humbled. He made three separate donations back to whoever or whatever lived in that well, leaving him with just over eight thousand Simoleons. He didn’t wish to be greedy. Figuring what was left would allow Nathaniel and Sophia to have a nice small affair.
Hands shaking, he deposited it straight into the family’s bank account. He brought the receipt with him to show his brother. “Nate! Nate, you’re never going to believe this!” Jaylen shoved the receipt at him. 

“What? Jaylen, your trembling. What’s wrong? What happened?” Jaylen recounted his experience with the Whispering Wishing Well. Nathaniel grabbed his brother by the arms and then clapped him to him in a bear hug.
“You and Sophia can get married now, right?”
“You are the most generous person I have ever encountered in my life. Yes. That sum should do nicely. And thank you, Best Man.”
Sophia found a dress that suited her. They purchased a wedding arch, tables and chairs, flowers and a special table to house the wedding cake Gramps was baking. Nathaniel hired a caterer, a mixologist and he and Jaylen moved their bar outdoors onto the lawn near the tables. An outdoor boombox was also purchased. Sophia chose red as her color, so the radio was also red and chrome. Red flowers in pots sat to each side of the arch. Benches were rented to seat the guests during the ceremony. Lights peppered the yard. All was in readiness. The hired help had arrived, Erik had completed his baking, placing first the cake topper upon the white confection and then carefully moving the cake onto the special red cloth-draped table out on the north patio. 
Nathaniel, dressed in his black tuxedo and Jaylen, in a dark red tuxedo of the same style came out of their rooms to greet a few of the guest as they arrived. The wedding would commence just as soon as Sophia got home from work and had a chance to shower, dress, and otherwise make herself ready. The sun had already gone down. A magnificent sunset. Perfect for an evening wedding.  Nathaniel heard Sophia come in and hurry up the stairs to their bedroom. She was good at ‘slap and dash’, so he knew it wouldn’t be long from now and they would be Sim and wife.
He went out the back door, down the steps and headed around the north side of the house. He wanted to see if Jackie had arrived. She was a good friend and he hoped she didn’t harbor any ill-will.  He never really dumped her, he just stopped seeing her. He no sooner got on the other side of the smaller north patio to the right of the back door, when he was frozen stiff, unable to move on his own accord. Out of the evening sky came an eerie bright glow. Nathaniel could feel himself being lifted right off of the grassy ground, heading toward a mysterious glowing saucer. He remembered his father telling such a tale of what happened to him upon his very late night return, once.
“You can’t keep me here, it’s my wedding day. My bride will be at the arch any minute now,” he thought to the strange black-eyed, purple beings that surrounded him.
“This won’t take long,” one cajoled, holding up a platinum looking syringe thingie. Before Nathaniel could think his objections, since thoughts were how they communicated, they injected something through his navel. He hoped they hadn’t soiled his tuxedo in doing so. Or wrinkled it in any manner…
How he got out of the ship, and all that transpired while he was aboard, was stripped from his memory. Or even how long he was there. Nathaniel ran back around the north patio to the south patio, up the steps and over to his bride. “There you are!” Sophia said, taking him by the hands, leading him over to the arch. “I thought you’d changed your mind.”

“No, I was just checking on … something. Can’t remember now what it was, but it seemed important at the time. Shall we get started?”
From that point onward, the wedding went off without a glitch. The guests had a good time, the bride and groom were elated and properly wed. They ate cake, shared drinks and soon the evening festivities came to an end. Some of the guests uttering, “Now that was a gold award wedding, if ever I attended one.”
Within a very short time, Sophia learned she was pregnant. Nathaniel was overjoyed. They both were, eager to get on with creating a family. Sophia was getting up there in age and there was no time to lose. In fact, her biggest fear was she would only have time for one child. As time went on, she grew bigger and bigger. Nathaniel, in the meantime, seemed to share her discomfort. While hers was properly ‘morning sickness’, he put his down to something he ate. He, too, started packing on a few pounds. More than a few. By the time Sophia was nearing her launch date, Nathaniel had a bigger belly than did she.  

“Nate,” Erik said. The ghost accompanied his grandsons at the dining table. “I think we should talk about fitness. You’re starting to get on the portly side, there, my boy.”
“I’d be happy to work out with you at the gym anytime,” Jaylen offered. He was the team mascot, and as such was duty-bound to stay fit. “I’d be more than willing to show you some beneficial exercises. Get rid of that tire wrapped around your gut, there, big brother.” He gestured with his fork.  

Unconsciously, Nathaniel ran his hand over his bulging belly, much like they’d all seen Sophia do.  “I don’t know. I’m just not feeling right, these days. I’m not really sick, I’m just feeling, well, you know kinda erky. Not right. I can’t really put it into words.”
“You’re a writer, and you can’t describe it? Oh, brother,” Jaylen said.
Nathaniel shrugged and tried again, “Sometimes, it’s a lot like my gut is twisting around itself inside. Then I get what feels like something pummeling me. It doesn’t really hurt, it’s just weird, you know?”
“No, I don’t know and I think I’m glad of it. Maybe you’re pregnant,” Jaylen teased.
“Oh, don’t even go there. I’m a guy, remember? Physically impossible.”
Jaylen got up from the table, taking his plate with him. “Says he with the big fat, pregnant-looking gut. I’ve heard of guys having pseudo-pregnancies alongside their wives, but you, Big brother, and I really do mean Big, have taken it to the enth degree.”   

Before too long, Sophia went into labor. She walked across the long living room, since sitting only worsened the pain. Then she tried watching some television. She had the insane urge to clean things all of a sudden. Resting only allayed the pain for a short time. The next thing she knew the baby was here. A beautiful little girl. They named her Janeille Cantrell. She was perfect. All her little fingers, all her little toes. Sophia took care of her and then grabbed something to eat. She was starving. After that she went to bed. Erik floated up stairs to take a peek at the tiny girl. He gently lifted her into his ghostly arms, cooed at her and then fed her a bottle.
Nathaniel got home from work and gazed at his sweet little daughter. He too, held her, cooed at her and then cuddled her. His big belly helped to support her as he held her on his shoulder. He wished he felt physically better, as it was a bit ridiculous to walk around so fat when his wife was no longer pregnant. But, he just didn’t feel well — at all. In the next several hours he experienced some random cramping and his guts no longer flopped around inside of him so much as before. In fact, all seemed unusually quiet in there. As he went about his business, mostly eating and sleeping, at one point the pain was so intense he thought he would die — or that his gut would burst. One of the two. Jaylen’s words had played on him so much, he purchased a second bassinet — just in case. 

Suddenly, he hurt so badly, that just when he couldn’t take it any longer, a small baby squeezed out of his belly button to his astonishment. “What the —” Nathaniel held the little purple girl, staring down at her in awe. Suddenly, his memories opened up and he recalled that odd platinum syringe being emptied into his navel. “Oh, you didn’t … Owwww—” He barely had time to place the girl into the bassinet when another infant slid out of his navel. A baby boy, this time. He, too, was purple in color. A very nice shade of lavender, actually.  Looking around him, wondering just where he was to place this third baby, he found a very alien-looking bassinet in another room. Putting the baby boy inside, he brought it into the master bedroom. Nathaniel  named the twins Megan and Marc. 
Looking downward, he was gratified to see his stomach was flat again, too. Much as it had been on his wedding day. But, oh, what a surprise. Three children, born within hours of each other, like actual triplets. Did he and Sophia ever have their hands full.  

Jaylen came upstairs after his shift was over, Erik having apprised him of the new development in the family. He stood gazing into the three bassinets, two ordinary ones and one that looked decidedly alien in design and even seemed to levitate above the ground a bit. He held Janeille and fed her a bottle. Cuddled her and put her back into her little bed. Then he went to the boy, held him. Then he went to the boy’s twin to change her dirty diaper. Jaylen was squeamish and after he’d rescued the tiny purple thing from the yuk in her pants, he stepped back, himself, and shuddered.  “Eww, icky. Grossness. And aren’t you all just so … cute?” He shuddered again.

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