Saturday, October 29, 2016

Generation Eight — Chapter Three: Decisions, Decisions …

Trenton sat at the dining room table, papers spread in front of him. He had some tough decisions to make. The children were growing, fast, and were already halfway through grade school. Before he and Tiana knew it, they would have three teenagers on their hands. That meant all kinds of expenses. Since Dad had died, the family was barely scraping by. With the loss of Jett’s help in the restaurant, things were mostly left to Trenton.
Tiana sat down beside him. “You look like you could use a friend,” she said, placing a loving hand on his shoulder. Trenton gazed up at her and smiled, or at least tried to.

“Things just aren’t going as well as I expected. In the beginning, I had all kinds of vision for the Old Alcove. We’ve made some incredible changes. Upgrades. We’ve even been awarded five stars. Yet, despite how much training I invest in the Staff, we’re barely breaking even.”
“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry. I’ll try to help out. I could come manage for you.”
True to her word, Tiana did come the next day. Trenton was struggling. Being a loner with the restaurant so full of people, he was all but climbing the walls in his anxiety. Tiana smiled brightly at him as she came in.
“I’ll take over,” she said. He kissed her cheek. “Why don’t you go to the spa. Loosen up a bit.”

“I’ll see you at home,” he said. Off he went to the spa. At first he had the sauna to himself, which suited him just fine. Before long it was filled to capacity. Trenton began to feel as if he couldn’t breathe. His chest tightened up and he gulped for air. Jumping up he went to the locker room and changed back into his street clothes. He decided to walk home, figuring this would give him the much-needed time alone, he so desperately sought.
By the time he reached the front yard of his home, he’d made a decision. He was going to sell the Old Alcove. He’d seen a brand new cottage-style café going up in Magnolia Promenade. It was smaller., He’d buy that one and see if he could make it work. He set the menu to more of a breakfast/brunch, keeping it simple. He renamed the place Tiana’s Café, and they opened just a few days later. 
Starting over wasn’t as easy as he thought. The staff he hired were barely capable. The customers unforgiving. His Chef could barely crack an egg, let alone cook an omelet. With so very little in the coffers, Trenton began to realize just what a mistake this was. After a long, grueling day in his new one-star establishment, he met Tiana out front of their home, after his awful day.
“Tiana, I love you,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “I wanted so much to honor you with your own café —”
“But, it’s just not working, is it,” she said, her smile sardonic.
“You know me too well. I’m really sorry, Sweetheart. I sold it today.”
“Don’t be. I’ve already taken a job as a writer. Maybe you should try to find something different, too. After all, and I loved your father dearly. But running a restaurant was his dream. It was never yours.”
“No, it was never mine.”
“I’m so very proud of you for trying to carry on for him the way you have. I think he’d be pleased, too.”
“You know what I want to do?’
“What’s that?”
“Be an astronaut. Find out what’s up there.”
“You’re kidding, right? They’re up there. Your family knows it, first hand.”
“Yes, but that didn’t stop great-Grandpa Rory from seeking answers, even so. I’m not that into science, but I’d like to go exploring.”
Before either one of them started their new jobs, a strange thrumming sound could be heard over head one evening. Looking out into the backyard, they could see Gramps caught in a bluish beam of light. Overhead was a flying saucer. It had happened again.  They let him down easy, right in the family grave yard.

The ghost floated back inside the house and proceeded to fix the plumbing in the downstairs bathroom. Both the shower and the sink had been broken by other ghostly relatives. Again. Was almost a nightly occurrence. Were they to ever sell this place they’d have to list it as haunted. It was very haunted. Something the occupants just learned to live with. And in a strange sort of way, almost comforting.
Hannah came home from school with a B grade, whereas Betsy and Seth, who were more into mental challenges, were struggling with Cs. Trenton would have to make time to help both of them study. For now, he was ready to play some chess. Logic was something he needed in his new career. New career. That sounded just fine to him. One way or another he was going to make things work. He wanted to leave Seth with a little something more than mere family pride.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Generation Eight — Chapter Two: Hello, Goodbye, Er, Wait?

 Trenton was uncertain just why Jett announced early one morning that he was moving out. He’d been doing some fabulous work at the restaurant, making all the changes Trenton had discussed with both him and James. He couldn’t help but think it was the triplets.  Yes, three babies could be very demanding and quite noisy. Trenton had taken to stuffing cotton in his ears upon his return home. If Jett required quiet, then Trenton was okay with his moving out. However, he also quit the restaurant, leaving the task to just James and himself. This he was not okay with. Without Jett’s help, the restaurant had become a burden.

  Without his excellent management, the restaurant wobbled between four and a half stars to a full five star rating. Trenton made sure his chefs were fully trained. Sergio had maxed out his cooking and mixology skills. Trenton gave him a raise and was always quick to praise him and give the occasional inspirational speech, if needed. But, just the other day, he realized his head chef was getting older. 
While the restaurant cranked along at top speed churning out delicious meals, and the Wait Staff maintained its Excellence in Service, Trenton was struggling with his fear of crowds. He was a loner by trait, and welcomed Jett’s willingness to come in at a moment’s notice and give Trenton the needed break. That was no longer. Dad did his best to help fill in, but he was still working for that other place bringing in the much-needed Simoleons. With Mom gone, they were down to really only one paycheck. Trying to get the proper Ambiance for the Old Alcove was proving costly. He was only slightly annoyed that yet again, even after the cloth covered tables and the booths were replaced with cloth-covered chairs, the change in chandeliers, et al, that this critique still popped up at him. What more was he supposed to do?   

   Stopping off at the mailbox on his way in,   he found the utility bill in the stack of mostly junk mail. Carefully breaking the seal, he unfolded the statement and perused the bottom line. Then he ran a hand through his jet black hair. “How in this world? I don’t have the money for this.”  Somehow, he owed over ten thousand Simoleons! The third floor was all but bare,   stripped of everything that had once made it a nice cozy apartment.   Did he need to peal off the wallpaper next, pull up the flooring? Looking around him, there was so very little left to sell.
Setting the bill on the desk, he decided to go out back and relax by sliding on the Slippery Slide. He hadn’t done so in a very long time. Besides, he heard his father out there laughing and having a good old time.
“Dad,” Trenton said, joining his father on the patio.
“I didn’t hear you come in, when did you get home?” James said, smiling.
“Oh, not long ago. Thought I’d work off some of the steam by taking a few slides.”
James clapped his son on the shoulder. “No better way to relax, unless you sit in a sauna.”
     “I seriously contemplated that on my way home. But I wanted to see my babies. They’re only babies once and won’t be for much longer.”  After the two made a couple of rounds sliding down the mat, it turned into a bit of a competition. Trick slides became the order of the day. Then suddenly, something went amiss. James had stopped for a bit to rest and was up on the patio. He was in no way close to being exhausted. James watched in horror as his father suddenly collapsed. In what seemed like slow motion, the elder came to rest on the patio floor. Trenton ran up the short set of stairs, while Gramps floated onto the scene. Looking over their shoulders, they both saw Grimmie.  
    “No, Dad, no! It can’t be time. Please,” Trenton began to sob. Now, he really felt alone.

   Tiana came running out of the house. 
   “Trent, what is it, what’s wrong?” 
“I’m an orphan. Dad’s gone.” 

      “I’m so sorry. I really liked your Dad. He was a good Sim.”
“I just keep wondering what are we going to do, now?” 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Generation Eight — Chapter One: Baby, Oh, Baby, Oh BABY, It's Triplets!

Trenton barely got home from the restaurant when Tiana went into labor. Seemed like it was only yesterday Tiana announced the Big News. Jumping around in a near panic, he could hardly believe it was time. If only his mother had hung on one more day. The irony was stupefying. But he had no time to wallow, he needed to run around, flailing his arms about, and doing absolutely nothing to help. What was it he was supposed to do? Regulate her breathing? Call the doctor? Get her luggage and her into the car? What?
What he did know is he was hungry, from the long shift. So, he foraged in the fridge, hoping for a tasty leftover, but he discovered he was going to have to make something for himself. Tiana was upstairs, napping. Doing her best to follow her doctor’s orders, which was for her to conserve her energy. They were to contact the doctor when the contractions were five minutes apart for about an hour. Or, was that an hour apart for five minutes? He was still in panic mode, unable to think.
What was it the doctor had said? Oh, yeah, first babies took a long time. So Trenton filled his time fixing a bite to eat. Then, he’d check on Tiana.
With Tiana fully asleep, Trenton was having difficulty judging the time between the contractions. He couldn’t even tell if she was still in labor. Next thing he knew, she sat up in bed, moaning, and went to stand before that strange alien bassinet his family had kept over the years. He soon realized they’d waited too long. This birth was going to happen at home. Or in the car, if he dared try to take her to the hospital at this point.
But, why stand before the bassinet? Wouldn’t gravity pull the baby downward? Wouldn’t it be more likely to fall on its head? Is that where the old adage, Bouncing baby boy came from? He just knew he didn’t want his child bouncing onto the floor. He tried to get Tiana to come back to bed, but she continued to stand before the bassinet, moaning, grabbing a her abdomen and all but calling him names. 

Finally, a baby appeared in the bassinet. A girl. They named her Betsy. Tiana was back to moaning, however. Next thing he knew a bassinet appeared out of nowhere with another baby tucked inside. Another girl. They called her Hannah. Still Tiana moaned some more. Trenton was getting nervous at this point. Twins. And Tiana, apparently wasn’t done! Baby, oh, baby, oh, baby, he sighed. Twins. Then Tiana moaned really, really hard and out popped another baby, into a bassinet that just appeared out of nowhere. My, but Social Services had some interesting abilities. This child was his long awaited son. They named him Seth.
Triplets. Trenton shook his head. At least they got their family in one shot. Good thing they wanted more than just the one child. But, … triplets? The thought of what life had just become was staggering to the new father. If he was worried about feeding one child, he now had three little mouths to keep full. And oh, the diapers! How many cases would be required?

James, Gramps and even Jett were all on hand when the three began to wail in unison. Tiana, barely on her feet, breast-fed Betsy, while James fed a bottle to Hannah, and Gramps bottle fed Seth. Happily, these Sims were experienced. They agreed to be ‘on duty’ for the next go-around, with Tiana breast-feeding Hannah, next and then Seth the round after that. Seeing they had more hands than required, Trenton slapped Jett on the back and said, “I’m going to bed, what about you?”
“Congratulations, Nephew. You outdid yourself. Triplets. Wow. I’m crawling off to bed, too. We have a restaurant to run, after all.”  

Monday, October 3, 2016

Generation Seven — Chapter Eleven: That Strange, Weird Thing Called Life …

Carley seemed her normal self. Perky, spunky, and walking with a little spring to her step. She made a point, however, of inviting her two middle sons, who had long moved out of the house, over for an afternoon of fun. Johnny, and Jaron found her out in the back yard, along with their brothers, James and Jett, and their nephew Trenton. Tiana was there, too. They all sat together at the patio table eating sausage and peppers, and drinking those nice fizzie drinks, James had made, catching up with each other.

Smiling, Tiana said, “I have some Big News!”
“Oh, yeah,” the two brothers chorused.
“Trenton and I are having a baby!”
“Wait a minute,” Johnny complained, “That would make me a grand-uncle.”
“Can’t complain about that,” Jett said, then frowned. “Oh, wait, I’m not even thirty, yet! What’re you doing to me? But, seriously, that’s great news.”
“Congratulations, you two.” Jaron said.

After a time, the two brothers left, giving hugs all around. Carley seemed subdued, perhaps a tad wistful as they left. The next day, she went to work, as usual. Trenton went to work at the restaurant. The day was full, busy and exhausting. He fired one waitress, hired a new one, set up classes for their new chef, promoted the senior chef and his host, and made sure to check on all of the tables, which were full. In some cases he expedited their orders, on other occasions, he simply chatted. He became aware there was a Foodie among the guests, catching the Sim busily making notes. Were they being Reviewed?

Trenton drew in a breath. He just wanted to make this business a success. Between him and Jett, they’d already raised their rating to Four-Stars, of which James was quite proud. Trenton, now with a baby on the way, felt the responsibility of needing to continue improving things, on his shoulders. Perhaps, he had a son on the way? One who would ultimately inherit this restaurant after Trenton. Certainly, his son would one day carry on the family Legacy. The crush of customers was upon him, breaking into his reverie. He spoke to the servers, the chefs, the customers, all the while wishing to be alone. He was a loner by trait and being in a sea of Simanity such as he was, currently, was sorely testing his wherewithal. He could feel the tension building up in him. Never a good thing. 
Patrons came in waves. The first rush left, and slowly the ones who filled the interim came trickling in. Sometimes in groups of two or three, sometimes, alone. Trenton wished to be alone. Then he got a beep on his cell phone. He drew the device out of his pocket, swiped his finger across the screen and read the text. 
Taking center stage, “All right, people,” he said to his staff, “listen up. We just got ourselves a Five-Star Review! Well done. Let’s not let down now. Five-Star Review, that’s HUGE. Thank you so much, we did it!” A few hand-slaps later, “Okay, let’s get back to work, we have customers to serve!”
Again, the Old Alcove Diner was besieged with patrons. Trenton, growing weary, from a seemingly endless stream of customers, spotted yet another Foodie in their midst. Could they wow this Sim as they did the other one? If so, their overall rating would undoubtedly go up. What a perfect gift to his father that would be. James, who only had the one child, had taken a chance on this restaurant, too.
As the afternoon grew into evening Jett came along to take over as Manager. “Trenton, I’m here. Why don’t you go grab some sleep.”
“Thanks, Jett.” Before he got two steps away, his phone beeped again. Another text. “Jett, you’ll be happy to know this is our second Five-Star Review today.” He held his phone so Jett could read it.
“Yeah, two reviews in one day. Two different Foodies. We’re in. This is a big deal. I feel like a million Simoleons.”
“Well, okay then. I’ll finish this shift and close up shop.”
     By the time closing came around, Jett got the word they needed to work on their ambiance. Looking around at the tiny place he thought to himself. Ambiance. Where were they lacking in that? Making an executive decision, he changed out their simple square tables for ones with tablecloths. Taking it a step further, he decided perhaps a small vase of flowers in the center of the tables would make a nice appointment. Putting the last vase in place, he stood back admiring his handiwork, and  then he went home.

Jett and Trenton were discussing the changes when it was time for Carley to return home from work. Hearing a noise out front, they went to investigate. To their horror, they found the elderly Carley curled in a fetal position out on the brick drive. 

“Mom,” Trenton gasped. “Mom? No, you can’t be gone. Mom, the baby isn’t here, yet. You were supposed to wait. It’s any time, now. Mom. Mom!”
Jett held his nephew back as the young adult all but collapsed by his mother’s side. James had already gone off to work, for the evening. Jett watched, helplessly, as the Grim Reaper did its thing. Floating on that dark gray cloud, whacking at the lifeless form of his sister-in-law with that huge sickle. In a moment, it was over. He took out his cell and made the painful phone call for the authorities to collect the body. Trenton was in deep despair. When Tiana came outside to see what all the flashing lights were about, the young Sim grabbed her, turned her back to the house. “Babe, it’s Mom, she’s gone. Let’s go back inside. Get you out of the night air.”

“But —”
“Not in your condition,” he said, taking her arm, drawing her back toward the front door. “Let’s just go inside. Jett said he’d take care of telling Dad.”
“Oh, Trent. Trenton, hold me tight, that could be me soon.”
“Tiana, that will be all of us sooner or later. It’s how it goes. This strange, weird thing called life. Here one minute, gone the next.”
“But, —” 
“No, buts. Mom was happy right up until the end. And that’s how we need to remember her.”
“Are you okay?”
“No. Mom was my stalwart. I didn’t even get to tell her about the Five-Star Reviews we got today. I was so excited to tell her.”
“I’m sure she knows. Wherever she is. She knows.”