Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Four: When Loneliness Sets In …

    Karly was turning thirty. This was a significant age in any Sims’ life, but mostly for a female. She hoped Marc remembered and that he was planning some kind of celebration for her, but if he was up to something, it was a safely guarded secret. Having the day off, she tried to make herself scarce so she wouldn’t interfere in any plans, nor spoil a surprise. Nothing happened. None of the boys said a word, either, which made her wonder. Jameson was quite a magpie and could be counted on to share with the world any secrets. 
“Marc,” she said. “I was thinking perhaps we could go out tonight? Just the two of us?”
At that moment his cell phone went off. Holding up a finger for her to wait, he read the text message. “Yeah,” he said, furiously texting his answer. “In fact, let’s go to the bar. It’s alien night. You may get a kick out of it.”
“Oh, okay,” she tried to smile. This wasn’t exactly what she had in mind.
“Just let me text my sisters to meet us there and we’ll go.”
Janeille and Megan met them at the bar. Marc shed his disguise and went in ahead of the others. Janeille and Megan immediately began to dance to the music. Karly tried to dance a bit, too, but she really wasn’t a very good dancer. After a time, several others came in. Most of them took seats at the two perpendicular couches in front of the television. Karly stood nearby and began to chat them up. She was an insider, and so very gregarious. Next thing she knew a female alien was flirting with her. Karly wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about that, but was flattered nonetheless. What she didn’t expect was for Marc to suddenly be in the rage he was in. Shades of their wedding reception. He was instantly furious. 

Male or female, it didn’t seem to matter to him. He invited the interloper outside. Karly watched through the window as Marc ranted and raved at the alien. Next thing she knew the fight got physical. Once again, Marc got his dignity handed to him. He lost the fight and was a bit dazed. This, however, only spurred his anger. He went after the female again. She kicked his behind yet again. More ranting and raving occurred. Karly grew concerned. What was up with her husband? 

Marc came back into the bar only long enough to order a drink, which he promptly took outside, renewed the ranting and threw the contents of his glass at her — or at least he tried to. Seems the drink congealed inside the glass and had taken on the consistency of gelatin. He finally upended the glass and the red stuff splatted all over the sidewalk. Karly wanted to laugh, but she knew better. Marc was very angry. So angry, he came inside and scared her with a probe. Was he now going to take out his ire on her?  

Karly braced herself. If he so much as dared to hit her … She didn’t like the almost evil look in his dark eyes. “Marc. Marc, now settle down.”
“How long have you been seeing others behind my back?”

  “Yeah, clearly this isn’t the first time. In fact, you seem to have a pattern. First you flirt with one of our wedding guest and now, right in front of me you enjoy the attention of that — that… alien.”
“Marc, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but in case you’ve forgotten you’re half-alien. I’m surprised at your prejudice. You’re xenophobic. My goodness, you of all people.”
“I’m not prejudice or xenophobic. I hate anyone whose looking and talking to you that way. You’re mine!  You know what? Let’s just go home. Evening is ruined.”  

Erik was in the midst of baking a cake when Karly came into the house. A beautiful taco casserole was sitting on the kitchen table. She took a piece and slowly tried to choke it down. She was very upset, distraught. Erik seemed to sense this, but continued on with his task. Karly, heard the boys in the dining room and took her plate in there. Marc had stomped up the stairs. She imagined he had gone to bed. Sometimes, he would do that. Not talk it out, just hide in bed.
Before long, Erik was calling her into the kitchen. The lights were off, and all she could see was the glow of the candles on a birthday cake. “Happy birthday, Karly. I didn’t forget,” he soothed. 
“Gramps, you’re the best! Thank you. I wish Marc hadn’t forgotten. Maybe that’s what’s behind his awful mood.”
“You two have a fight?”
“Well, Marc fought. Not with me, not directly. Somebody flirted with me. He went off.”
“He does love you, you know.”
“Yes, but he sure has a funny way of showing it, sometimes. Anyway, thank you for the beautiful, yummy chocolate cake. Chocolate always makes me feel better.”   

Karly finished her piece of cake and climbed the stairs and went to bed. As she expected Marc was fast asleep. He hadn’t even bothered to put on his disguise. Staring into his lavender face was a bit strange to her, but eventually she, too, drifted off to sleep. The next day she rose early. The house needed attention, so she got started. Marc finally arose mid-morning. As she feared, his anger still roiled. 
He showered, grabbed a bite to eat and set to work in his garden. Karly certainly hoped this would quell his rage. Seeing the row of gravestones, she went over to them and burst into tears. How could this be happening? They had three beautiful little lavender boys and now her world seemed to be coming apart. Was she truly losing Marc? He was always so busy. He’d been promoted to a full doctor, a general practitioner. He often put in long hours. He was a wonderful doctor, caring, devoted. And Karly was often racing out the door for her shift at the restaurant, just as he was getting home again. Sometimes, she felt as if she didn’t know him anymore.  
Truth be told, she enjoyed the attention the alien paid her. That probably showed on her face, which, in turn set Marc off. She was to blame for his mood, she soon recognized. Everything he did, the long hours at work, his gardening, everything was for his family. Karly wondered if maybe she should try to find more time to spend with him. Like they did in the beginning. She walked over to Marc’s garden, smiled tentatively at him. “Need some help with those weeds?” 

“Sure,” he said. “Why are you so sad?”
“How did you know I was sad?”
Marc stood up, brushed the dirt from his hands and putting his fingers to his temples, read her thoughts. “That’s how. But, I don’t feel like hugging just yet. I’m still a little steamed about last night. I thought we could use a night out. Been so long, you know? Nice when things backfire. I’m sorry. I ruined your birthday.”
“I got what I deserved,” she said. “I love you, Marc.”
“I love you, too. Let’s not let this happen again, okay? I just end up feeling lousy.”
“Me, too,” she said, hugging him tight. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Three: Growing Pains …

        Karly was pregnant again, very shortly after little Joseph was born. Marc was ecstatic and for the most part Karly was happy, but Marc became aware something was wrong. So, grabbing a couple of home-brewed lattes from the nice machine they received as a wedding present from the entire Staff at the Willow Creek Medical Center where they both worked, he sat with her at their little kitchenette table. Karly had fixed a nice breakfast for them of eggs and toast.  “So, when’s the baby due?”
“In a few Sim days,” she said, cautiously sipping at the hot brew.
“Karly,” Marc said, leaning forward. “Is everything all right? Have I done something to upset you?”
“You’re fine. I just don’t want to go back to work. But,”
“Your maternity leave is over. I understand. Why don’t you quit. If you’d be happier staying home and taking care of the children, then that’s what I want, too.”
“Do you really?”
“If you’re not happy, neither am I.” 
“Well, it’s not that I don’t want to work, it’s just that the medical clinic … well, it isn’t my true calling, so to speak. I don’t seem to have that kind of patience with people. Not like you.”
“So, just what is your true calling? Gramps would tell you to find your passion and go with it.”
“Honestly? I would love to cook for people. I’ve loved food my entire life — and stop looking at my waistline, that’s not what I meant. You take things so literally.”
Marc just smiled and shrugged. She was right. “Must be the alien in me.”
“I’ve been keeping tabs on the job market. There’s an opening at a restaurant in town.”
Marc took his cell phone from his pocket and slid it across the table to her. “Make the call.”
“Quit the clinic and put in an application for the restaurant.”
“But I won’t bring in the same pay, not up front. Not for awhile, at least —”
“Trust me, you’ll be happier.”
Karly batted her eyes against the sudden tears, “You’re an angel —”
“No, I’m a Sim-Zzxyzxian.”
“Quit it,” she teased back.  

Very shortly Karly got the job at the restaurant, starting at the very bottom of the field, as a dishwasher. She was okay with that, having dreams of owning her own establishment one day, she wanted to know all the ins and outs of the industry. Although the only food she would be handling up front was the uneaten portions the patrons left on their foul plates, she still had to study and take a test to obtain her Food Handler’s certificate. After what she’d seen at the clinic, she gladly wore gloves. The shift was hard, starting at nine in the evening and going to one in the morning, but, while at work, she worked on her relationships with her co-workers, studied the masters and worked very hard. Exhausted, she was very happy as Marc had promised.
The time flew by and Karly gave birth to twin boys, Jameson and Josiah. Not expecting more than one baby, she was surprised and pleased to finally make use of that beautiful alien bassinet. Very shortly, since she had just started there, she went back to work. Marc’s sisters and his ghostly great-grandfather would often wander up to the third floor to visit the little family and to help out. Marc was making his way forward as an R. N., soon to be a full-fledged doctor, he hoped, leaving him exhausted at times. He needed the extra sets of helping hands. Two babies at once was hard to manage. How did his father do it? He admired Nathaniel, all the more.  

Marc’s birthday drew near and slipped by very quietly. The girls didn’t make a big deal over it, so he decided neither would he. After all, he was now a full adult. Time he behaved like one, too, he decided. The most he did for himself, was an evening at the local Spa. He sure needed it and felt like a new person before he went home again. 
With the advent of their birthday came an unexpected announcement from the girls.
“Just so nobody is caught off-guard,” Janeille began.
“And think this is happening in any way because of any event or conversation or —” Megan added. “For any reason whatsoever than the fact we wish to be on our own.”
“This sounds like an announcement,” Erik said, as the family was grouped around Marc’s little table.

Janeille placed a hand on, or rather through, Erik’s shoulder. “We’re moving out.”
“Oh,” Karly said. “I’ll miss you both so much.”
“No, you won’t,” Megan laughed. “We’re underfoot here. Besides, it’s high time, don’t you think. I mean, thirty Sim days in one house. Come on, it’s time for a change.”
“That’s how old the three of us are,” Marc said, taking Karly’s hand. “Been here since birth. Hope you don’t mind if I take your room,” he said to his sisters.
“Not our room anymore, once we move out, little brother. The house is yours. You’re the heir, after all. Do with it what you like, but don’t sell it without giving us a fair shout-out.”
The girls didn’t take very long at all to pack up and move out. Seems they had already placed a deposit on a small house on the other side of town.  A nice little one bed, one bath, very close to the community garden, he realized. At least he wouldn’t have to worry about them going hungry. 
At first the place at Oakensted seemed lonely. Empty. But Marc got up one morning when he had two days off of work and began the process of moving his little family to the second floor. He transformed a room that started out as a dance room, to his office. He made the girls’ old room, a nursery for the twins and gave Joseph his old bedroom. He was glad, now, the original room had never been redecorated. The baby print on the walls was a nice touch. Marc couldn’t get over just how big Joseph was already. Where did the time go? The boy was all set to begin school. He sold Nathaniel’s bed and he and Karly took the new Master bedroom with the adjacent master bath for their own. Now, he felt like this was his place. 

     Joseph showed the creative talent that ran through the entire Cantrell family. He spent time at his little artist’s desk and created picture after picture after picture. Karly, being the loving mother she was, wanted to plaster the walls with her firstborn’s artwork. There just was no way, so they were kept in Joseph’s inventory. Maybe one day, when the boy was an established artist, his beginnings could be published into a nice book. Marc, shook his head, he was getting way ahead of himself. 'Michelangelo' was still just a tyke. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Generation Four — Chapter Two: He That Troubleth His Own House …

Karly’s wedding didn’t come off the way she had always dreamed it would. The first attempt to marry Marc was marred by the untimely death of his uncle. Talk about a buzz kill. This second attempt finally got them to the wedding arch, properly married, but then it appeared their marital boat was already in rough seas. She blamed herself, partly. Marc was only too attentive, and she became uncomfortable with so many eyes prying. She all but pushed him away. Next thing she knew, he was stroking the cheek of one of their female guests. And the guest seemed to enjoy it, since she jumped into his arms!
“Two can play that game,” Karly remembered thinking, turning her attention on the fellow who sat at the small kitchen table nearest her. She flirted, and he flirted back. Next thing Karly knew, Marc was fuming. Her worst fears were realized when the two Sims ended up in a brawl upstairs. She didn’t think they were at a bar. Other than this, their guests had a great time. Before she knew it, it was time for her shift down at the medical clinic. She barely got changed out of her gown and into her scrubs. Arriving at work just a couple of minutes late.
“Hey, Karly,” said the receptionist.  

“Hey, sorry, I’m late. Got to grab some coffee.” She hurried back to the doctor’s lounge. Coffee didn’t dispel her mood, however. Karly found herself in a full-blown snit, taking it out on anybody and everybody. Just whom did she marry? Was Marc someone other than who she thought he was? He was normally so sweet and so attentive, yet just an hour after they were wed, he was busy working the room.  

Things only got worse in her mind, when Karly walked into an examination room to treat her first patient of the day. Madeline Crow. Anger roiled up through her. She lost what little composure she had and lit into the Sim in a verbal tirade. “I don’t know who you think you are, but you better stay away from my husband! Just what was that, last night? In my kitchen, too. How dare you. In fact, how dare you even come to the clinic where we work. Get out. Go somewhere else to be treated.”
“Karly, Karly, calm down,” Madeline said. “I wasn’t feeling too well last night. Your new husband is a doctor, and he was trying to render me aid. In the end he’s the one who sent me down here. To be seen. I swear. I’m sick. Take my temperature, if you don’t believe me.”
“Oh, I’ll run a few tests on you…”

The door to the examination room pushed open. “Karly, what’s going on in here? I could hear your raised voice all the way out in the waiting room,” her co-worker said.
“Nothing,” Karly said. “Would you mind taking care of this patient?”
“Well, sure. I can do that. Are you okay?”
“No. No, I’m not okay. Thanks to this, this floozy, I didn’t get my wedding night! She’s all but stolen my new husband from me.”
“Karly, Karly, you’re shouting again. Please,” the nurse said. “Why don’t you knock off early. Go home. No, I insist.”
Still trembling with rage, Karly withdrew her cell phone and called home to let Marc know she would be home early.
“Early, that’s great,” he said. “Everything all right? You didn’t get canned for being slightly late, did you?”
“No. I haven’t been fired. I’ll be right home. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Sweetheart. Hurry home.”
Marc all but did a ‘happy dance’ about the room. It was still early enough in the day for them to enjoy some much needed time together, without keeping them up so very late they’d be unfit for work the next day. He all but crushed his bride to him, the moment she crossed the threshold. “Did you know, he said, guiding her to the downstairs closet, “that it was considered good luck for a Sim to carry his bride over the threshold the first time they entered their new home?” 

“Hm,” Karly said. “Do you suppose that’s what we did wrong? We just followed our guests inside. You should have carried me, instead?”
“Maybe. But, at any rate, I would love to ‘start over’, if I may.” Opening the closet door, he stepped inside, and gently pulled her in with him. Being the first time for both of them, they managed to woohoo with little difficulty. They then went to the third floor, which had been transformed to a small apartment for the couple. His two sisters and his ghostly great-grandfather still lived in the family home. This would give a semblance of privacy to the newlyweds. The couple had some fun decorating. They even had their own kitchen. The place was self-sustaining.
     Within a couple of months Karly announced she was pregnant. Marc smiled and hugged her. Then he drew her outside to the patio to chat with her. All of this time, he’d managed to keep his true ethnicity hidden. She needed to know his deep secret. Their child could end up with lavender skin, after all, and the ability to read her thoughts. What was the new mother to make of that? Rather than have her fear the worst, he needed to disclose himself to her.
“Karly,” he began.
“Marc, what is it. You are happy about the baby, right? This is what you wanted. A family.”
“Yes, and I’m thrilled, more than I can say. But, there is something you should know. Something that may affect the baby.”
“You have a condition?” she said, touching his arm. Marc nodded his head from one side to another.   

     “I suppose that’s one way of describing it.” As he spoke, he slowly removed his outer clothes.
“Marc, we’re out on the patio. What are you doing? Our neighbor's have quite a view of our lot from that short cliff.” From where she stood she could see the lights burning in the neighbor's house.
“It’s okay, I’m not getting naked. Not in that sense. All of my private parts will remain so. But, I’m not who I appear to be. I’m not fully Sim.”
       “First my elderly grandfather was abducted. Then on my father’s wedding day, right before the ceremony began, my father was abducted.”
“So, his wedding got messed up, too?”
“Yeah, and his wife, Sophia, got pregnant on their wedding night. She gave birth to a girl, Janeille —” Marc, totally unmasked, set the last piece of his Sim clothing upon the patio rail. He stood before her dressed only in his alienwear. A one piece jumpsuit of white with glowing green piping. “A few hours later, my father gave birth to Megan and then to me. So, we aren’t exactly triplets. Not in the true sense of the word.”  

     “Oh,” Karly said, moisture standing in her brown eyes. “You’re, you’re lavender. My favorite color. Oh, and you’re just so beautiful — i-in a manly way. Why have you been hiding yourself?” Karly threw her arms around him and held him tight. “I love you. I don’t care that you’re alien.”
“You don’t? I’m so glad. And I’m only half-alien. My Father was a Sim and his father and his father before him. Now, my great-grandfather’s only sister married an alien, but she knew he was half up front.”
“I’m so glad we had this talk.”
“Me, too.”
The couple fell into a nice routine. They both worked at the same medical clinic, but mostly different hours. Every now and again their schedules would overlap a bit. Then they would have lunch together during their break. Marc was further up the ladder than she. But, his grades had given him a boost. He’d also started at the third level, whereas Karly started from the bottom. Marc was an RN by this time. Today, his shift at work had been a long line of ear-checking, tongue depressors, body-scans and thermometers. He passed out at one point, crawling on top of his bed for a nap when he first got home again.        
       He needed the rest, but not just because he was exhausted. When he awakened, Karly was in labor. Just at that moment, a very loud thrumming sound came through the roof at them. Ominous, Marc was instantly nervous. Afraid. Aware his twin was in danger. Going to the third story window, he watched in horror as Megan, caught in the Beam their father so often warned them against, was elevated upward. Floating right through the air. “Megan! No, don’t you dare! Don’t you dare take her from me!” he shouted. Suddenly, the thrumming stopped.
Karly bent over in pain, cast him a look. “What’s wrong with Megan, who’s taking her and where? Oh, owwww! This baby hates me,” she moaned. 

Torn in two, Marc stood before the stairs that led to the second floor. Should he stay here to guide his wife through her labor, or race outdoors to protect his sister? Stuck, inertia having its way with him, it soon occurred to him Megan was aboard the craft— the craft that no longer seemed to be above the house, noticing how quiet it was. There was nothing he could do. Whereas, he could help his wife deliver their baby. Donning a fresh pair of the surgical purple gloves, he got down to the business at hand. Before long, Karly gave birth to a beautiful, lavender, baby boy. “Oh, look at you, look at you,” Karly chortled, as her husband placed the child into her waiting arms. “Marc, he’s beautiful — just like you.” Carefully, she placed the infant in the bassinet the Social Services had supplied. Karly had wanted to use the alien bassinet, her late father-in-law had kept, but it seemed only first generation aliens were allowed it’s use. At least the new one was a neutral yellow color. She could live with it. 

They named him Joseph after his second great-grandfather, Erik’s father.
About two hours later, the thrumming sound was back. Marc, who was resting on the bed, jumped up and ran down the stairs to the second floor, across the hall and turning left, ran down that set of stairs to the first floor. Megan was there at the base of the stairs. She seemed a tad off to him. Dazed, he quickly realized. “Marc!”
“Megan, are you all right? What did they do to you? You realize you just lived out Dad’s worst nightmare. He was so sure they’d return and try to take us back to Zzxyzx.”
“I don’t think we got that far. I kicked one of them in the groin. I thought it was his knee-cap. My bad. They turned the ship around and dropped me off. Literally. They just threw me back into the beam of light! Then they muttered a few insults about Sims. I never!”

“Well, can you blame them?” 

“It’s their own fault. They’re the ones experimenting on all of Simanity. Maybe they should be more selective of their potential mates. I think I’m going to go take a nap.”
“Okay,” Marc said. “By the way, you have a nephew. He’s lavender, too.”
“Oh,” she squealed, “I can’t wait to hold him. Congrats, Daddy.”
“Thanks. I’m just glad you’re okay and that you’re back.”