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.”
“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.”
“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.”