User:K6ka/drafts/sims/Fanon:Pleasant family (K6ka)
Much like EA/Maxis originally intended, the Pleasant family always ends up in disaster and misery, with either Daniel or Mary-Sue being caught having an affair, and always ends up in flying dust clouds, Sims being slapped with stars flying above their heads, and me, the heartless, selfish player, just laughs at the show in front of him as if Jimmy Kimmel was there.
Who says good help is hard to find? Daniel has his eye on the maid and wants a little romance, but will his decision threaten family unity?
Part 1: A stressful morning
Daniel Pleasant opened his eyes slowly. Sunlight from the slightly open windows filtered in the gaps of the partially drawn curtains, landing on his pillow, tickling his eyes open, telling him that the night was over and it was time to get out of bed.
He rolled over to his side, facing the middle of the bed, and reached out around his partner's body. But the warm lump that slept beside him was no longer there, replaced with the lukewarm bedsheets and several wrinkles in the fabric.
Daniel rolled over again and opened his eyes, a little more forcefully, almost squinting from the sun. His wife was out of bed, combing her hair in front of the mirror. From the reflection of the mirror Daniel could see his wife... wasn't in a good mood today.
Maybe he could fix that.
"Oh please, Mary-Sue, do you need to be up so early? Just stay with me for a little bit longer..."
Mary-Sue did not take his request too kindly. "I have to work today, Daniel," she grumbled. "Today might be your day off, but it isn't mine." And with that, she disappeared into the bathroom.
Daniel sighed. He liked sleeping in on a day-off from work, but he just couldn't do it if there was nobody beside him to snuggle in with. He slowly got out of bed, the springs groaning under his weight. He made his way into the bathroom, where his wife was brushing her teeth.
"C'mon, Mary-Sue... did the Devil bite you this morning?" he asked as he reached for his face towel. He always found it silly that some Sims brushed their teeth before eating breakfast. He always brushed after eating, otherwise, as he had said, "They'll just get dirty again when you eat."[note 2]
Mary-Sue did not respond. She spat out the toothpaste, replaced her toothbrush, and left the bathroom.
Daniel sighed. He lathered a bit of soap on his face and began to scrub.
"I TOLD YOU THAT I WAS USING THE BATHROOM FIRST!"
The morning beauty shattered with Lilith's loud shriek and her fists pounding on the bathroom door.
"C'mon, Angela! This is the third time I've had to tell you: it's a Thursday and it's my turn to use the bathroom first!"
Angela, who was inside brushing her teeth and washing her hair, did not relent. "If you don't stop banging on the door until it breaks—" she screamed through the lather, "—I'm sure mom will bring out the cane again!"
"Yeah? Well, we agreed to the deal that we'd take turns using the bathroom! Don't you remember, you little... you little... wank!?"
"Just use the downstairs bathroom! How hard is that? Are you dumb or something?"
Lilith, exhausted after arguing fruitlessly, hurled some more profanity at the door before leaving a gob of spit on the doorknob. She stormed down the stairs to the downstairs bathroom, which lacked her toothbrush and comb. Her hair was a mess, her clothes were caked with dirt, and she was almost certain that it would be another horrible, horrible day. Like yesterday. And the day before that. She had seldom experienced a happy moment in life. Lilith was always the underdog of the Pleasant family. Her parents always favored Angela over her. Angela learned her toddler skills, Lilith was never taught any. Angela held a B average, Lilith held straight D's. Angela had the sweet, new clothes, Lilith had to wear century-old trash. Angela was the sun, Lilith was the thunderstorm. Angela was the light gentle breeze, Lilith was the tornado. Angela was an angel, Lilith was a...
Angela had touched the saliva-covered doorknob while exiting the bathroom, and she didn't have to ask who did it. She was now racing down the stairs to where Lilith was. "Once I get my hands on you, I swear I'll make you bleed!"
Lilith knew better than to fight, however. She ran into the bathroom and locked the door. Now it was Angela's turn to bang her fists on the door and hurl profanity at its inhabitant.
The door banging and screaming was easily heard in the parents' bedroom.
"My, do the two girls ever stop fighting?" Mary-Sue grumbled. "Sooner or later they're going to rip this house to shreds if they don't rip each other to shreds first."
Daniel did not respond. He was sitting in bed again, his mind spinning. He and his wife had not exchanged a kiss in over three months, a hug in two, and a decent conversation in one. He felt lost, dizzy, helpless, and useless. Getting married was, for a Romance Sim, bad enough, but to be coldly neglected by your own spouse? It was everybody's nightmare.
That is, if he wasn't holding his own affair...
Daniel was secretly dating the family's hired maid, Kaylynn Langerak. She was a lot younger than Mary-Sue, and a lot nicer and more cheerful. Ever since his wife paid more attention to her career than she did the rest of the family, Kaylynn was Daniel's only true friend and lover. When Daniel told her about his wife, the two joked "She should probably just marry her computer at work and sleep there and save herself the commute home."[note 3]
Like it or not, though, Daniel and Mary-Sue were still legally married. And Mary-Sue probably wouldn't be very happy to see their marriage go up in smoke.
But then again, why would she care? She pays more attention to her job anyway.
The slamming of the bedroom door snapped Daniel out of his daydream. Angela stood by the door, putting her weight on the door to prevent it from bursting open from the brutal banging on the other side. "Lilith spat on the doorknob and now she wants to kill me!!" she screamed.
Daniel sighed. He should've said "I don't" at the wedding.
Part 2: Off to work, off to Hell
The toaster pastries tasted cold and bland. Daniel's plate was chipped after it fell off the table a month ago. Lilith didn't show up for breakfast, and all Mary-Sue ate was a stale muffin.
Angela sat at the table, eating quietly. Daniel stared blankly at the ceiling. It was his day off, but it may as well be his last day on Earth. Lilith had managed to break into the bedroom and the two exchanged punches. Both of them missed, but it left two unsightly cracks in the door. Neither of them claimed responsibility. And his cold wife wasn't making the situation any better. She didn't even give him a second look after finishing up in the bathroom, as if she would turn to stone if she looked at him.[note 4]
Daniel sighed. He didn't want food. Some people ate food to feel better when they were depressed, but Daniel wasn't like that. He tried eating food as a comfort but only succeeded in getting slightly overweight as a result. Daniel didn't want to be fat. It would make being a romancer even harder.
He got up, dumped his toaster pastry into the trash bin, and dropped the dish into the sink. Normally, Angela would scold him for wasting food. But today she was silent, as if aliens (or at least her sister) twisted her tongue off.
Mary-Sue was nowhere in sight. Lilith was in the upstairs bathroom cleaning herself up. The house felt too unbearably uncomfortable, so Daniel went outside. It was warm out, a light breeze keeping it light and cool, but Daniel felt none of it. The birds were chirping, and in the distance the pad-pad of a jogger's feet were audible, but Daniel heard none of it. He sat down on a bench and lay there, staring blankly at the scene in front of him.
"I've had quite enough from the both of you!" Mary-Sue yelled at her two daughters.
Angela and Lilith were unshaken. "She deserves more punishment!" they both yelled, pointing at each other.
"She spat on the doorknob!"
"She violated our deal!"
"She tried to hit me!"
"She tried to hit me too!"
"She left a hole in the wall!"
"So did she!"
"And now she's accusing me of doing it!"
"That's because you DID!"
"Enough is enough!" Mary-Sue shouted. She was on her last string. "If you two don't stop fighting each other I'll have to call Mrs. Lawson and have her watch..."
She didn't have time to finish her sentence. Lilith took one swing at Angela and smacked her in the nose. Angela returned the favor by punching Lilith in the stomach.
"That's it!" Without thinking, Mary-Sue walked up and struck Lilith in the face. Lilith was slightly shaken, staring horrified at her mother, but she recovered quickly.
"And you slap me? You should slap Angela the demon too!"[note 5]
"Hey, you deserved it more than I did!" Angela screamed, defending herself.
Mary-Sue had no patience left. She raised her hand to strike Angela, but was cut short with a car horn honking outside.
Time for work. And she was a horrible mess, both emotionally and physically.
Mary-Sue sighed. "You two better be at school whether you like it or not! I'll ask your father when I get home, and if he tells me either one of you were staying at home I.... I will.... ugh, let's not even go there." And with that, she stormed out the door.
Her carpool was waiting by the mailbox. She turned her head to look at her husband. He had finally mustered the strength to get off the bench but apparently was too stupid to do anything useful. There he was, flirting with and kissing a sponge mop with a paper plate face on it.[note 6] Mary-Sue sighed in disgust. Why did she even marry such a man?
She got into the car and slammed the door, hopefully loud enough to snap Daniel out of his romantic trance. It didn't.
"Good morning, Mary-Sue. How was your morning so far?" her driver asked.
"You mean how screwed up my morning is?" she responded. "Oh yes, I've had quite a wonderful morning. My two daughters almost killed each other, there's a gaping hole in my bedroom door, I had stale toaster pastries for breakfast,[note 7] and my husband's kissing a sponge mop! If you consider that a good morning, then yes — I am having a great morning."
Just in front of the car was the school bus that would take Angela and Lilith to school. Mary-Sue's driver was about to drive around the bus when Mary-Sue told him to stop. "I better keep an eye on my two daughters so they'll actually get on the bus instead of hiding in the bathroom."
Angela left the house first. She hollered something inaudible towards the front door, then strode off. She caught a glance of her insane father and took one step towards him, as if to try and get him out of his trance, but retreated at the last step and continued towards the bus.
Lilith was second. She walked and shouted, hurling what must've been insults towards Angela, Mary-Sue thought. She walked several meters off the path and away from her father, as if he were infected with some contagious disease. She stopped just outside the bus door, spat on the pavement, and climbed aboard. The bus drove off into the distance...
"May we leave now?" her driver asked, snapping her out of her trance.
"Yes. We can go now."
Part 3. The house to himself
Daniel opened his eyes. A face was on top of his face. It stared at him with white, beady eyes. And its lips were... wet...
He threw the face off himself. The mop went crashing back, banging on the bench loudly before falling to the ground. The face stared up at the sky, still gleaming, still wet.
Daniel groaned. He had done it again. If only he went to college and studied Simology, he would know why things like this happen. He didn't see Derek Vijayakar, the newspaper delivery boy, drop off the SimCity Chronicle. He didn't see Mortimer Goth pass by on his morning walk. And he certainly didn't see his family leave for school and work. Now here he was, standing awkwardly on his front lawn with a sponge mop with a paper plate face for company.
Daniel picked up the mop, ripped the paper plate face off of it, then walked the mop back inside the house, where he dumped it next to the stairs. What is there to worry about? Daniel thought to himself. Things like that happen every day in SimCity alone. And besides... Kaylynn's coming today!
Kaylynn's coming today!
Kaylynn's coming today.
Daniel smacked himself in the face. So what about Kaylynn if she's coming today? Oh right, she's your only true friend ever since your wife married her computer at work, the mouse as the ring-bearer and the keyboard as the Best Man. Your wife's at work and your kids are at school. And because you're all alone in the cold, you made do with the family's hired maid... Kaylynn Langerak. And she comes every morning to clean your house...
Well, Daniel thought to himself, if she is coming over, I'd better take some of the work off her shoulders.
Daniel never had a Servo before, but he could see why Sims who had the money were going for miles to buy one. They could clean, cook, garden, take care of the kids, and even served as a nice (but sterile) spouse when you needed one. Now if he could only get a Servo to replace Mary-Sue...
Well, good luck with that. The nearest shop that sold Servos[note 8] was thirty miles away, in Downtown SimCity. And once he got there, he'd have to cough up the money to buy it too. The family's recent financial situation has been grim. Angela was unable to attend her middle school graduation trip because Daniel's check bounced, and Mary-Sue was out of the question. Nobody knew where the money went, although it seems likely Lilith was partly responsible for it. And even if he did have the money to buy one, what's the point of kissing a cold piece of metal? He may as well make do with his sponge mop, which was just as cold and unforgiving as a robot.
And anyways, if they did get a Servo, Mary-Sue would not hesitate to fire Kaylynn. And then Daniel would be a cold fish.
So Daniel did the cleaning. He walked into the kitchen and started washing the breakfast dishes, drying them with a dish towel before putting them back into the cupboard. He got out a washcloth and wiped the counter and the dining table. He then went up the stairs and into the bathroom, stepping gingerly over the puddles and the spilled shampoo on the floor. Yes, because Angela and Lilith hated each other so much they were willing to make each other slip and fall, even though they both used the bathroom themselves. Seems like they were willing to shoot themselves in the foot if it meant their sibling could get a shot of their own. And who cares about collateral damage - Daniel was out in the cold while the Pleasant family seemed to dwell in their own troubles. And here he was, playing maid. He mopped up the puddles and wiped the shampoo off the floor. With a brush, he scrubbed at the bath tub until it was clean. He scrubbed misplaced Sim waste off the sides of the toilet before cleaning up the toilet seat, which both sisters delighted in dirtying to disgust each other. The sink was the worst of all. Because both sisters shared the sink to brush their teeth, it always wound up with every part of the sink being dirty. Dried toothpaste hung on the faucet. Angela and Lilith's toothbrushes were on the floor, the cup that held them smashed next to the sink. Someone — either Angela or Lilith, maybe both — had clogged the sink with dirt and leaves, allowing the murky water to pool up. Angela had added urine to the water, and Lilith opened an oxygen absorber packet and dumped its contents into the sink. Even the mirror endured some of the assault — there was an ugly crack dividing the mirror into two. One was marked "A" for Angela, and the other "L" for Lilith. Has his two daughters really come to such a point where they won't allow each other's mirrors to see each other's faces?
Daniel was displeased. He put on gloves and swept up the smashed mug, then tossed the two toothbrushes into the garbage. After bravely sticking his gloved hand into the drain to pull out the cloggage, he drained the contaminated water and then scrubbed the sides of the sink. With a washcloth he scrubbed the faucet until the dried gunk came off.
He decided to leave the mirror alone. His daughters were already cursed with 7 years of bad luck. He didn't need to curse himself as well.[note 9]
He was just in time. He heard Kaylynn's van pull up just as soon as he was done with the sink. He ran out of the bathroom and practically rocketed down the stairs. He didn't have to worry about his daughter's rooms. Both forbade anyone but themselves from entering, and even hired personnel avoided them. He came to a stop just by the door. There was a man at the door, leaving a gigantic pink box tied up with pink string with a bow and a note taped on top.[note 10] But Daniel's attention was focused on Kaylynn. There she was, strolling up the walkway. The man greeted her with a wave and she smiled back. Now she was a sweet lady. She cared about the people around her, unlike Mary-Sue, who wouldn't lift an eyebrow if an old lady got mugged on the street in front of her eyes.
Kaylynn pulled out the house keys from her pockets when she approached the door but smiled and replaced them when she saw Daniel at the door. The door swung open and Daniel practically pulled her inside. Kaylynn must have really felt it, for she said, "I must be the finishing puzzle piece for your day."
"Because you are, indeed," Daniel replied. "The only thing that makes me complete." All of a sudden Daniel felt quite warm and confident inside. "Can you dance?" he asked, a wide grin appearing on his face.
Kaylynn was a bit confused. "I thought I was here to clean your house..." she began.
"I've already cleaned it, don't you worry about it!" Daniel said. "Besides, I really want you here to... erm... fill me and my empty heart..." He turned around and turned on the stereo. Salsa music filled the room, and almost naturally, Daniel began tapping his feet along. "Come on, Kaylynn," he said, laughing. "I should've taken up dance class when I was younger. Don't follow in my footsteps to failure. Let's just..."
The two almost instinctively embraced. "I've rarely danced to music in my life," she whispered in his ear. "My aunt was the only person in my family that ever played a musical instrument... and even then she wasn't very good at it..."
Part 4. The mid-morning to disaster
"Mrs. Pleasant, I'd like to see you in my office, please."
Mary-Sue walked briskly over to the controller's office. She knocked loudly on the door. "Come in!" came the reply. She opened the door and walked in.
"Ah yes, thank you for coming," the controller began. "Anyway, I need you to help me out here with the paperwork here on my desk. I need you to go through this entire stack of paper..." — he gestured towards a tall, thick stack of freshly printed paper — "...and assign priority levels to the tasks there. If you need help, you can poke Georgina first... and then ask me if she can't help you. Do you have any questions?"
"No, none at the moment," Mary-Sue replied.
"Good. Now if you'll excuse me... I have three callers waiting on the line." The controller picked up the phone and went back to work.
The stack of paper felt warm in her hands as she walked it back to her work station. The smell of freshly photocopied paper almost rejuvenated her... at least temporarily. She plopped the stack onto her desk with a loud bang. She sighed at the massive pile, then pulled out the sheet at the top of the pile and started reading.
BANG! The sound of skull meeting metal rang out through the hallway.
"I told you to keep three steps away from my locker!" Lilith shrieked.
"Hey, it wasn't my fault! Someone accidentally bumped into me and I went into the red zone!" Angela screamed back.
"What's going on here? What's all this racket?" Mr. Zimbel asked, walking out into the hallway. He groaned at the sight of the two sisters, hands to neck, banging each other's heads onto the lockers. "I thought we settled this! You two aren't supposed to be anywhere near each other! Why are you two fighting again?"
"Because she invaded my territory, so I'm just doing what I have to do!" Lilith bellowed.
"Hey, I already told you, it's not my fault!" Angela protested.
"Enough, please, enough!" Sweat ran down Mr. Zimbel's face. He looked around. A crowd was starting to gather, and even some of the teachers came out to observe the scene. "Alright, let's just let go of each other and head to class, before I call—"
The crowd shifted slightly as Lilith fell to the ground, being pushed by Angela. She just managed to get back on her feet when the dust clouds started flying. The crowd watched in awe as the two sisters fought each other to the bitter end.
"That just about does it," Mr. Zimbel sighed, in defeat. He went back inside his classroom, picked up the phone, and dialed for the principal's office.
The TV was on, tuned to an audible but comfortable volume. The 1994 movie "A Cold Affair" was on. It involved a man who was coldly neglected by his wife and children, and was secretly in love with the gardener, who came to their house every two days to tend to the family's garden. At first, their affair went unnoticed. One day, the wife got injured while at work, and she was advised to go home. The man and the gardener were making out in the living room right when his wife walked in. The results... were ugly.[note 11]
"Sounds a bit like us, right?" Kaylynn asked jokingly.
"Sure does," said Daniel. "Except the last part definitely won't happen. If Mary-Sue did get injured at work, she'd probably just rest at her desk and order takeout for dinner. She wouldn't put a single thought towards her family, let alone acknowledge that she even has one!"
"Oh, she does. Shame they're just a hunk of metal."
A commercial break came on, replacing the sobbing of the movie with a light, uplifting jingle. "Feeling lonely?", a voice said. "Can't find a decent date? Are you being rejected by your own family? Fear not, come to Rodney's Hideout! Play a round of poker, maybe a drink or two, and dance the night casually with our antique 1950's jukebox! Rodney's Hideout - Come Chill With Us!"
Daniel sighed. He wasn't looking for a date; he already had one, right in his arms, sitting right next to him. But he was certainly being rejected by his own family... what's the solution to that?
"The solution? A new one, of course", said Kaylynn, reading Daniel's mind. "The only challenge would be telling Mary-Sue and your kids... but I don't think they'll care, would they?"
Daniel did not respond. He felt smaller and smaller at the prospect of a new family and a new commitment.
"HIGH" Mary-Sue wrote on the sheet of paper and pushed it to the "Done" pile on her desk. She got up and stretched her cramped muscles, then sat back down. She took the next sheet from the "Incomplete" pile and looked at it. There was a bright pink sticky note on top of it, which read:
"Please scan through, proofread, and copy-edit these speeches as needed by tonight. I need them for a business presentation tomorrow.
Hmm, now this looks interesting, Mary-Sue thought. This is obviously a "HIGH" priority task, but this looks like a job she could do! Mary-Sue had an okay eye for syntax, and maybe she could take at least some of the workload off the controller's shoulders. Should she do it?
The controller will be impressed by my performance, Mary-Sue thought. He might promote me, even! I'll do it! Of course I'll do it!
She pulled out the document and started to scan it:
Good evening, and tank you for comnig to tis confrence.
Mary-Sue blinked and tried to re-read the text. The typos were still there. Well obviously the controller has no idea how to type properly, she thought to herself.
With a red pen she marked the typos and added her suggestions for change. She then moved on to the next paragraph and resumed scanning.
"Stop looking at each other and look at your textbooks," Mr. Chelsea, the principal, snapped. "I've already had the two of you try to kill each other in the hallways. I don't need my office to become a bloodbath!"
The two Pleasant sisters glanced down at their textbooks for a brief moment, but resumed to staring at each other with pure loathing when the principal looked down at his paperwork again. It was almost like a staring contest, except blinking was allowed... sometimes...
The principal looked up again. "Hey!" he protested, and the two looked back down at their textbooks, like people in church saying their prayers.[note 12] The words on the page swam into a blur as tears filled her eyes... No, she thought sharply. I won't let my sister see me cry! She blinked away the tears as best as she could, but the words looked like mumbo jumbo to her.
Angela snorted loudly. Hah, she can't even keep the waterfalls in! Lilith thought to herself, pride filling her soul, but drained quickly when she caught a glance from the principal. He wasn't angry or disappointed, but rather shocked, at how Lilith could be smiling when she was clearly in trouble.
Lilith clamped her hand over her mouth and tried to force it closed. Too late. Angela saw it. "I told you, Mr. Chelsea!" she wailed, a Niagara Falls of tears pouring out of her eyes. "She's enjoying it! She wants to see me cry!"
"And who's turn was it to use the bathroom first? Me of course! So you totally deserved it!" Lilith responded, a smirk on her face.
"Well yeah? You didn't have to spit on the doorknob! Or pound on the door! Or leave a hole in the wall..."
"Hey, you did it too!"
Head met desk for Mr. Chelsea. Why did I even think about putting these two in the same room... heck, the same building! Mr. Chelsea thought to himself. These two hate each other so much they practically want to see each other... get beat up, that is...
A ruler vanished from Mr. Chelsea's desk. The principal's eyes followed it to Angela, who had the utensil held behind her head, like a tomahawk.
"Don't you DARE!" Mr. Chelsea screamed.
Too late. Fortunately, Angela missed, but Mr. Chelsea had recently had his office walls repainted. Now there was a ruler stuck in the wall, thrown with such force that it actually punctured it! If that had been Lilith's head...
"Alright, both of you, sit DOWN!" He got up from his chair and stood between the two, like a referee standing between two boxers.
"Did you see that, Mr. Chelsea? She tried to KILL me!" Lilith screamed. "I have to retaliate or she'll be tormenting me for the rest of her life." Lilith tried to grab one of the inviting office tools on the principal's desk, but Mr. Chelsea wouldn't allow it. As he moved to block Lilith, Angela grabbed the pair of scissors. The principal thought fast, but at a cost. His hand reached out and pulled the scissors out of Angela's hand and away from Lilith's head. As he did so, his hand got caught between the two blades and cut some of the skin off.
Mr. Chelsea, glaring at the blood on his hand, had enough. "I need some help in here!" he called as the two sisters tried to go for it again. Almost immediately the office was filled with office staff. Chaos reigned as they tried to get the two sisters away from each other.
"You two are done!" Mr. Chelsea called out as the two were dragged out of the room. "I'm having you both expelled!"
"It's all your fault, Angela!" Lilith screamed.
"No, it's yours..." came the reply.
"Both of you, just SHUT UP already!" Mr. Chelsea was officially done. "Just get out of my office and stop breathing my air!"
After the door was closed, he looked around his now-ruined office. Man, the nerve of some kids these days! he thought. I wonder how their parents take care of them...
Lunch for Daniel and Kaylynn was unimpressive — mac and cheese — but how else could Daniel manage with no cooking skill? It would seem impolite to ask Kaylynn to cook for him; after all, this was his house.
Kaylynn fortunately wasn't interested in the food.
"Come... maybe some love will make it taste better," she said, inviting a spoon into Daniel's mouth. "At least that's how my father used to put it."
The mac and cheese made its way into Daniel's mouth. It did taste better... or at least, feel better.
"I promise you: once I get out of this lousy house, I'll take you out to the best restaurant in the city!" Daniel took out his phone and raised it high up into the air. "Our photos will be our memories, and those memories will always count." He looked at his reflection from the phone screen. He could see Kaylynn's face beaming up at it. It would make the perfect selfie.
"Out of curiosity... have you ever taken a selfie with your wife before?" Kaylynn asked.
"Nope. I don't even think she knows what a selfie is!"
Part 5. An affair to rebuke
"^ comma", Mary-Sue wrote.
There. That's all of it. She looked through the speech notes one last time. The entire thing was covered in red ink. She lost count of how many typos she fixed, and the punctuation was a laughable misery. She also completely rewrote three paragraphs and partially rewrote two more. It was just that bad, she thought to herself.
The entire ordeal had taken her more than two hours to complete. She gathered the sheets of paper and filed them neatly in the controller's inbox. She then returned to her desk and started going through the pile of paper she was originally working on.
A few minutes later, the office doors opened. The controller walked in and nodded to the receptionist. As he passed Mary-Sue, he said, "Working hard, Mrs. Pleasant?"
"Very hard," she replied. "And there's a lot left to do, still."
"Yes, I can see that." He looked at the stack of papers. "That's some Everest of paperwork you still have to do. I could've sworn it was the same size when I left the office three hours ago!"
"I found your speech notes," she said, "and I took the liberty of proofreading them for you. The notes are in your inbox."
The controller frowned and went into his office. A few minutes later, he came out again with the speech notes in his hands.
"Mrs. Pleasant, I... well, first of all, thank you for proofreading these notes. However, I had assigned Mr. Aviatis to proofread them, and I had assigned you to prioritize the stack of papers. Mr. Aviatis should be doing his assigned task and you should be doing yours. I see that you have barely scraped the tip of the iceberg and you still have a mountain of paper to go through." He shook his head in sharp disapproval. "I expected better of you, Mrs. Pleasant. I need someone who can do their assigned tasks first, before they go do something industrious."
"I...I... I'm sorry, Mr. Patel," Mary-Sue stammered.
"Apology accepted, but unfortunately I'm going to have to give your position over to the next person in line." He removed his phone from his pocket and began typing. "Starting tomorrow, I want you back on the phones as a campaign worker. You'll be kicked to the bottom of the queue, so you will need to work your way up again." He gave Mary-Sue a sober look. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Pleasant. I look forward to having you as an intern again soon. Allow me to relieve you of your current duties." He took the stack of paper and carried it off to Joey Aviatis's desk.
Mary-Sue sat quietly at her desk, staring at her computer screen, which was turned off when her computer went to sleep. The computer screen reminded her of the inky blackness of space. She felt like she was lost in it, millions of miles away from any living being, tumbling helplessly as the universe expanded away from her. She was lost, forever alone, and unable to return.
She had been demoted.
"Okay Angela, it is now time to go home. Your detention is over, and I see you finally got some of your work done. You are to go straight to your regular classes tomorrow morning, and if you see Lilith in the hallways, you are not to talk to or touch each other. And I don't want to see you in here ever again. Do you understand me?"
Mrs. Linde, the vice-principal, gave Angela a harsh, cold stare. "Do you understand me?" she repeated.
"Yes Mrs. Linde... but—"
"No 'buts'!" she snapped. "Mr. Chelsea and I are on the verge of having you expelled. We've hired enough counselors to deal with you, had to force timetable changes on you thrice, and at one point had to have the police pay you a visit. If the behavior of you and your sister doesn't improve by tomorrow, Officer Davidson will be having a lovely talk with the both of you. Now gather your things. Do you take the school bus or the transit bus?"
"The school bus."
"You will be taking the 2446 bus and not the bus you and your sister usually take. I will not tell you what bus your sister is taking, and you are not to go anywhere near her bus. If you do it will result in an immediate expulsion. The same goes for your sister. Is that understood?"
Mrs. Linde led Angela out of the office. Lilith was nowhere in sight, but Angela had been forbidden to know about the whereabouts of her sister, at least until they got home. They walked outside, where a fleet of buses were parked in the school's parking lot.
"The 2446 is over there," Mrs. Linde pointed. "The one nearest to the Stop sign."
Angela nodded and silently walked over to the bus. What else could she say? Mrs. Linde rarely expressed anger in her actions, and the fact that she was angry now meant that she — and her sister — had really blown it this time.
She climbed inside. The bus driver was staring off into space, mumbling some inaudible words, while the rest of the occupants chattered amongst themselves.
One of them recognized Angela. "Hey Angela!" he shouted. "How's the war going on?"
She felt like slapping him. Or whipping her books at him. Maybe a punch in the gut. But she was in trouble already, and she knew better than to get herself into deeper trouble. She walked past him and sat down at the back of the bus, shielding her face with her bag. The boy kept taunting and jeering at her, gathering support from the crowd:
"Hey Angela, win any fights against your sister?"
"Angela deary, why the scowl? Aren't you the angel?"
"Archangel versus archangel! Ooh ooh! Michael versus Lucifer!"[note 13]
"Angela, you sure are nice, but your sister looks tough!"
"She'll beat you to a pulp!"
"Maybe she will get Dustin!" The passengers oohed.
"Isn't she already dating Dirk?"
"Bah, screw him!"
"Angela, maybe you can have Dirk instead!"
The bus driver finally woke up from his trance. "All of you, sit down, right now, and zip your mouths!" he barked at the baby-sitting mirror.
One by one, everyone who stood up got back into their seats, and the conversation died off.
The driver started up the bus, shut the doors, and drove off. The atmosphere on the bus relaxed, and the conversation stirred up again, this time completely unrelated to the Pleasant sisters incident.
Except for the boy who started it.
When the bus driver wasn't looking at the mirror, he got out of his seat and made his way down the aisle to where she was sitting. "Hey Angela," he whispered. "I know relationships like the back of my hand. If you want Dirk and Dustin without Lilith knowing, just let me know. I won't tell a soul. Promise?"
She had enough. "Excuse me, mister bus driver, but this kid here is harassing me!"
The boy remained silent for the rest of the trip.
Every nerve in Daniel's body tingled with excitement. Kaylynn's face danced around his vision, and every time he closed his eyes, he could still see her face.
"Where are we going?" Kaylynn asked.
The face melted away, revealing the environment around Daniel. He had led her back inside the living room and was headed towards the door to the master bedroom. He had not told Kaylynn of his desire to... well, ruin his marriage.
"I have a gift — a very special gift — that no one else can give to you," he began.
"Oh... and what gift is it? Something I can't imagine?" Her eyes closed, almost dreamily.
"You'll see." He put his lips onto hers, and the two exchanged a quiet moment. With his left hand, he managed to open his bedroom door and led Kaylynn inside. He was so distracted with Kaylynn that he forgot that his bedroom door still had a gaping hole in it, making for a window to the events inside even with the door closed.
The taxi came to a halt. Mary-Sue looked up, brushing away the tears that had gathered around her eyes.
It was her house.
Home sweet home, right?
"Here we are, ma'am," the driver said.
She had been sobbing to herself for the entire duration of her commute home. Her reputation at work had gone up in smoke. Her paycheck had now been reduced. She had to go through all that suffering again in order to regain her former position. And the world didn't seem to care.
She originally hoped to ride the train home, but the looks the other passengers gave her made her uncomfortable, so she decided to take a cab instead. The driver saw her cry for sure, but he made no comment about it.
Mary-Sue nodded. Even if life seemed to have come to a standstill, she still had to move on. Well, at least, move out of the car.
She tried to count the taxi fare, but her vision was so blurred that the bills seemed to wash away like an oil painting. She finally just handed the driver a big wad of cash, and with a "Keep the extra," opened the door and stepped outside.
A part of her just felt... empty. She felt like she had left a part of her back at work, and she was never going to get it back. Ever.
She watched as the cab drove off into the distance. Part of her felt like running after it, hoping that it would take her back to her office, back to the controller, and into his office. What would she say then? "Hey, at least I proofread your speech, so isn't that something? Huh?!"
Her legs felt weak, as if they wouldn't support her weight any longer. She grabbed the mailbox for support, but her strength was leaving her rapidly. She couldn't do it. She lay, defeated, on the sidewalk. She hoped she would just die there. There was just no point in carrying on. The world just hated her. Life hated her. She was an enemy of the heavens, condemned to eternal damnation. Damn.
She heard laughter in the distance, which slowly got louder and louder as it approached. Oh great, she thought. Some people having fun without me. Some people having fun when the sky wants to fall on me.
The laughter and conversation ceased quickly. "Mary-Sue!" a female voice shrieked. "Mary-Sue, are you all right?"
Mary-Sue looked up. Cassandra Goth's face looked down at her. "Mary-Sue?" she asked again. "Are you okay? Are you ill? Are you hurt?"
She immediately stood up. "No," she replied, dusting off her clothes. "I'm good. Great to see you!"
Cassandra breathed a sigh of relief. "Ah, good," she said. "When I saw you lying flat on the sidewalk, I thought you had fainted or something."
"Oh, it was nothing serious. I was just... um... watching the clouds!"
"Well, I'm thankful it was nothing." She cleared her throat. "Mary-Sue, meet my fiancée, Don Lothario! We're set to be married on Saturday!"
Mary-Sue quickly straightened her face up and shook Don's hand. "Pleased to meet you."
As the two women chatted, Don suddenly fell silent. The day before, he had a talk with Darren Dreamer, who also had a love interest towards Cassandra. Don was a romancer, and being one, he couldn't even bear the thought of sticking to a commitment. His lust-filled days would end with a marriage; soon, everyone in the neighborhood would know that Don was the juggler of four women. He fell in love with both Caliente sisters, Cassandra Goth, and Kaylynn Langerak, the maid (He doesn't know that Kaylynn's in love with Mary-Sue's husband yet). Cassandra took their relationship one step further, and now all of a sudden she wants to marry him! For Don, it seemed much easier to marry a mosquito. Darren was aware of this and made him a deal he couldn't refuse: he would leave Cassandra at the altar to avoid tying the knot, leaving Cassandra open to Darren. In return, Darren promised not to tell anyone that he was madly in love with three other women. His reputation was perched precariously on Darren; if Darren decided to ruin Don for good, he only had to say three words the next time he was out in public: "Don is cheating!"[note 14]
"Don, are you okay?" Cassandra asked. "You seem a bit ghostly today."
Don straightened up. "Of course I'm okay," he responded, color returning to his face. "And I certainly look forward to our wedding."
That was a lie.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Kaylynn asked, almost timidly.
"Of course I'm sure!" Daniel was bold and firm. "Besides, we're the only ones in this house, so nobody will notice. Mary-Sue's at work and the girls are at school. If we do this sooner, we'll be done long before any of them come home to catch us."
"Alright, you have a point there..."
The covers felt warm and cold at the same time. Every nerve tingled with excitement and dread. Even with Daniel's arms around her, she felt like she was trapped in a freezer.
Daniel could feel it too, but he fought to contain his fear. There is nothing to worry about, he told himself over and over again. There is nothing to worry about...
The two crept under the covers...[note 15]
A strong pulse swept the lot. Don and Mary-Sue, who were still standing by the mailbox, looked up and immediately knew something was wrong.[note 16]
Cassandra looked around, confused. "Huh?"
Don was the first to recover. "Kaylynn!" he shouted as he ran towards the door. "Who have you been talking dirty to now?!"
Mary-Sue was next. She took a few steps forward, her legs turning to jelly. "I.... I don't... I just don't..." Before she could finish her sentence, she plopped down onto the ground and giggled hysterically.[note 17]
Cassandra was still confused. "Don? Mary-Sue?" She found her friend seated on the grass, doodling with her tongue and giggling like a maniac. "Hello? Anybody?" She headed towards the house. "Don!"
Don burst into the bedroom with such force that the door was almost blown off its hinges. "Kaylynn! Get out of there right now!" he screamed at the covers. "And make sure you bring that other guy out with you!"
Daniel and Kaylynn peeked over the covers, like two kids peeking out of their hiding spot. "There you are!" Don exclaimed. "Get out right now, Kaylynn!"
"Don!" In a flash, Kaylynn was out of bed. "Don, please... I can explain..."
"Explain yourself to the Devil!" And with that, Don struck Kaylynn several times across the face. "I can't believe you decided to WooHoo with that low-life over there!"
Daniel tried to be a hero, but his courage failed him. "Don! I... I'll..." His voice trailed off.
"You'll what? You know what I'll do?" Without letting Daniel respond, Don hurled himself onto the man and brought him down with the strength and terror of a football player.
Kaylynn gasped and covered her eyes as the two men fought. "Don! It's my fault, please... leave Daniel alone! It wasn't his fault! It was all my fault! Do with me as you wish, but please don't hurt Daniel!"
Don didn't quite get the message.
"It's... fault... do... you... as... I... wish... you'll... pay!" His voice was broken up into little bits as his head popped in and out of the dust clouds. When Don was able to get his opponent into a headlock, he managed to cry out, "You'll both eat my dust for this!"
Just then, Cassandra rushed into the room.
"Don? Are you..." she began before catching sight of the fight scene. Without another word she rushed out of the room, down the hallway, and into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.[note 18]
Meanwhile, Mary-Sue was still on the front lawn.
"Hehehehehe... oooh... Daniel, oh Daniel Daniel daniel daniel daniel daniel daniel daniel...... no wait, I hate that prick!"
Her mind was spinning a mile a minute. Soon, an odd Sim in a white lab coat appeared.[note 19]
"Mary-Sue, what sort of mishaps are you in now?" he asked in a high-pitched, "ratty" tone. With some effort, he managed to move Mary-Sue into a standing position.
"Hello? Anybody home?" he shouted into Mary-Sue's ear.
His patient gave very little response. Drool trickled down from Mary-Sue's mouth, and her eyeballs continued to roll around uncontrollably.
"Ah. As always, it's one of these Sims again." He pulled out a device with a spinning color wheel and held it in front of Mary-Sue's face. "Keep an eye on the wheel... an eye on the wheel.... an eye on the wheel......"
Mary-Sue lost her balance and fell over. The mysterious Sim grabbed her just before she hit the ground. "Let's try that again, this time a little less intensively." After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, Mary-Sue was able to endure the exercise without collapsing.
"Excellent!" He shielded her eyes and whispered something inaudible to her. As soon as he removed his hand, Mary-Sue started beating her chest like a gorilla.
"Hoooh, hooh hoo hoo hoo HOOF!" she cried out exuberantly to the heavens. Any Sim who was watching the scene would've laughed out loud, but the mysterious white-coat Sim kept a straight face. "Easy now," he said. "Keep on going." When the chest-beating continued for about half-a-minute, he snapped his fingers sharply. The beating stopped and Mary-Sue's clouded eyes gave way to clarity. She looked around. She saw her house to her left, the road to her right, and a smiling Sim in front of her. "Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed, shaking his hand. "Thank you so much!"
"My pleasure, Mary-Sue. Take care of yourself now!" And with that, he pulled out his little device and disappeared into the sky.
Mary-Sue wiped the drool off her face and headed towards the house.
The sickening sound of shoe meeting buttocks rang out in the bedroom as Daniel Pleasant flew wildly out of the dust cloud, which dissipated as Don Lothario emerged victorious and satisfied, dusting his hands off. "Eat my dust," he said smugly.
Daniel rubbed his behind, which throbbed with pain with every heartbeat. Kaylynn was trying to reason with Don, without success. "You had WooHoo with that dodo over there? Inexcusable!" was Don's defense.
Every bit of his manhood had left him. He tried to make his way out the door, but was stopped short when Mary-Sue barged in. "Aha!" she cried. "There you are, you dishonest airhead!" She turned to Don and Kaylynn, who stopped arguing when she entered. "What happened?" she questioned.
"Well, I'll tell you what happened!" Don yelled. "This scumbag..." he pointed at Kaylynn, "...decided it would be just fine to snuggle in with that mugglewump..." he pointed to Daniel, who was sobbing quietly in a corner, "...right when we were outside chit-chatting..."
"Is that true?" she yelled at Daniel. Without letting him respond, she took Daniel down in a flurry of fisticuffs. "I should've known... that maid was for no good!"
Don rushed over and began taunting the hopeless romantic. "Suck it up, Daniel Fleabag!" When Daniel's head popped out of the cloud, Don spat in its face. "There! Hope that helps with the fight!"
Kaylynn had had enough. She rushed out of the room, forgetting she was still in her undies. When Cassandra saw her, she shrieked.
"Oh... I'm... I'm sorry ma'am," the maid began.
"Ugh, don't even..." Cassandra was at a loss for words. For her, nothing was making any sense. First her fiancée was playing MMA in the bedroom, then her friend began acting like a psychopath, and now there was a half-naked woman in front of her! "Just... go into the bathroom and put some clothes on!"
Kaylynn nodded and quickly hid inside the bathroom.
Cassandra headed towards the bedroom. She could hear the sounds of two Sims grappling and wrestling with each other and her fiancée's voice taunting and hurling insults. What is going on in there? she wondered.
Cassandra peeked through the hole in the door. Mary-Sue and Daniel were still fighting, with Daniel whimpering and sobbing as Mary-Sue unleashed her work stress onto him. Don gave the two fighters the raspberry and kept telling Daniel off about being a "low-life hillbilly." Ugh. The sins in the room. She couldn't bring herself to say anything else.
She headed back out into the hallway. A now-properly clothed Kaylynn was staring mindlessly at the wall. "What's going on in the master bedroom?" she asked.
Kaylynn swallowed hard. The lump felt like the gigantic wad of chewing gum she tried to swallow as a child. "Well..."
"Well what? Why is my fiancée in there as well, hurling foul language at my friend and her husband?"
Kaylynn had to think fast! She couldn't just let this stranger in on the "secret." "Well, um, I was helping Daniel clean the bedroom, and... there was a bit of a misunderstanding here, if you will. Um... Don thought that I was, well, trying to, uh..." She wanted to say "seduce" but thought that wouldn't go down very well. WooHoo? Flirt? Talk dirty? Sweet talk...
"Trying to what?"
Fortunately, Kaylynn was saved by the bell... or rather, the kick. Cassandra and Kaylynn quickly rushed inside the bedroom.
Daniel was on the floor again, tears pouring out of his eyes. Mary-Sue, like Don before her, was rubbing her hands in glee. "That'll teach you, you miserable fazbear,"[note 20] she said tauntingly.
"Mary-Sue!" Cassandra was wild-eyed. "What..."
Don realized that he had to say something convincing. Quickly! "Well," he said, interrupting Mary-Sue before she could begin, "Kaylynn Langerak over here is a good friend of mine, and I told her not to allow her virginity to be robbed from her by someone who practices adultery..."
"Hey!" Daniel and Kaylynn protested.
"Ignore them. They're guilty, and besides, I haven't finished yet." Don cleared his throat. "So, while we, with 'we' being me, Mrs. Pleasant, and you, Cassandra Goth, were outside in the garden talking, Daniel and Kaylynn decided to WooHoo in the bed behind me, and both Mary-Sue and I realized that something terrible was happening. Mary-Sue realized that her marriage was broken and I realized that someone was helping Mary-Sue's husband in his quest for lust..."
Daniel stepped forward. "You..." he began.
Don shoved him back. "You!" he snapped. "You are a dishonest, disloyal barfbag who brought misery into your family!" He turned to Cassandra. "I only gave him what he deserved!"
Don felt like a preacher all of a sudden, but he quickly remembered his own intentions... and quickly retreated.
Cassandra turned to Mary-Sue. "Is that true?" she asked, in a shocked voice.
"Well, I don't know if the part about Kaylynn is true or not," she said, "but I do know that, yes, my husband has apparently been having an affair with her this whole time!"
Part 6. An un-homelike homecoming
The school bus came to a halt.
"Stop 17!" the driver called out.
A few passengers got up and exited quickly.
Lilith followed at a snail's pace, her head bent down towards the ground to hide her face. She couldn't bear to show her face around the house any more. She felt like running away, hopefully with Dirk, if he complied.
The bus driver turned around in his seat. "Hurry up! I have twenty more stops to make!" he said impatiently.
Lilith did not respond. She struggled to make her way down the steps. The sidewalk received her legs, which crumpled and failed. On all fours, she managed to make the last few feet away from the bus.
The doors shut behind her and the bus drove off, leaving her in a cloud of dirt and dust. She coughed, batting away at the fumes. She slowly got onto her feet, which wobbled every which way.
She looked around. She was in Melonbrook, a small suburb two miles east of Pleasantview. The route the principal made her take never reached Pleasantview, instead servicing the Greater Duchene County in the north-east. This was the closest stop to Pleasantview. Still an hour's walk.
She had no idea where Angela was, but she was almost certain she got a bus route closer to home. The principal had forbidden them from making any contact with each other. Angela's still the charmer, and the angel. Of course they'll go easy on her. Why should they care about me? I'm better off dead than alive according to them.
She sighed and began the long walk home.
The bus came to a halt. Angela looked out of the window.
She got out of the bus, the conversation shifting uncomfortably as she walked past. The boy who harassed her had his face buried inside his shirt. He didn't even look up as Angela passed him.
Good, she thought. One more snarky remark and I hope the wrath of CrumpleBottom burns you and your family to ashes.
The bus drove off into the distance. She looked around. Her house was a few blocks away. She had no idea where Lilith was, but she was almost certain she got a bus route further from home. The vice-principal had forbidden them from making any contact with each other. Lilith's still the thunderstorm, and the demon. Of course they'll go hard on her. Why shouldn't they love me? I'm better off alive than dead according to them.
She smiled and headed towards home.
The commotion in the house had shifted to the hallway.
Mary-Sue and Kaylynn were arguing with each other. Mary-Sue's high-pitched shrills made Cassandra's ears tingle. Three notes higher and she could've cracked glass.
Daniel and Don were poking and shoving each other. Don added with his physical blows the foulest, most abhorrent words he could think of. Daniel made little attempt to defend himself from the words, however. His manhood was gone, leaving behind an empty shell that cried out enough water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Cassandra, meanwhile, was trying to get the warring parties to calm down, with no success. Every time she tried to intervene, she was coldly ignored or even told off by the combatants. And Don... he was completely unlike himself. What's up with him?
Cassandra heard the front door open. Angela Pleasant stood gaping at the scene. "What's going on?"
Cassandra quickly led her back outside. "I can explain... somewhat," she replied.
Just then, Angela caught sight of Dustin Broke walking down the street. She swallowed hard. "Uh... explain the situation to me later!" And with that, she ran towards her boyfriend.
"Angela...?" Dustin began when he was grabbed by the wrists and hurried off.
Angela was tense. "Dustin... I don't know what's going on, but my family seems completely broken today!"
"I thought your family was always broken."
"Well, not like this."
"What do you mean? What's going on in there?"
"They're arguing and yelling at a bunch of strangers! The hired maid is in there, and so is Don Lothario, the guy who last saw Bella Goth! I have no idea why my mother is mad at the maid, or why my father's mad at Don."
"I have to see this," Dustin said as he began to walk towards the house.
"No!" Angela yanked him back. "You can't go in there!"
"You don't need to intervene with my family issues!"
"But Angela..." He almost teared up. "You're my friend, companion, and lover. Why would your issues not be mine as well?"
"The thing is... I can't go back in there!" Angela was frantic. "What if my parents split up? I already can't stand the tension inside the house! If my family splits, I may as well live in a haunted house filled with dead people! ...what if I stayed at your place tonight, just to get away from this madness? I can sleep in the yard if I have to..."
"You're kidding me, right?" Dustin almost managed a smile. "You remember the last time you were at my place? My mother hollered at you so loudly, we almost had to call an ambulance for her. She doesn't like you.[note 21] If anything, I should be sleeping at your place."
"But my dad doesn't like you either. He thinks you're a gangster of some sort!"[note 22]
"Well, if your parents do split up, your dad's probably going to be the one who moves out. I won't have to worry about him."
"I don't know..."
"Would you sleep in a haunted house or would you sleep in a haunted house with me by your side?"
An inescapable question, Angela thought.
"Okay... fine," Angela relented. "But my dad's in there, and he probably won't like seeing your face around the house!"
Cassandra looked around as Dustin and Angela walked up the garden path. She had been peering through the front door, occasionally shielding her eyes as someone got assaulted, and grimacing as the four combatants continued to fight in the hallway. "It's not looking good in there," Cassandra said. "It is not looking good."
"What exactly happened?" Angela asked.
Before Cassandra could begin, she was again interrupted when Angela caught sight of Lilith walking down the sidewalk. "Lilith!" she called out.
"Ugh, and now you're talking to me? Go touch some slimy fleabag!"
"Lilith! Please! This is very serious... it concerns your parents..." Cassandra's voice trailed off.
"Who cares about my parents? My mom's almost never at home and my dad has scrambled eggs for brains. Who cares if they die in a fire? I sure as hell don't!"
"Lilith, it's not just mom and dad! It's the hired maid!" Angela cried out.
"And Don Lothario," Cassandra added.
"Uh oh." Dustin's voice was so small and quiet, it was a miracle everyone on the front lawn was able to hear it.
"What?!" The three ladies crowded onto the little porch and fought to get a glance through the doors. "What's going on?"
"Your family is no more."
Part 7. Divorce!
"I am finished with you! Completely finished! I'll be happy to see the Devil dragging you off to his furnace if that would mean never having to see you and your ugly face ever again!"
Mary-Sue's words brought the house to a sickening silence. Don and Kaylynn stopped yelling at each other to stare. Daniel was completely speechless, with the only sign of movement in his body being the tears that poured out of his eyes. Even the air conditioner, which had been running continuously while the four were fighting, came to a halt, as if it were shocked as well.
"You miserable mackerel! Disgusting gumball! Flea-bitten fungus! Oooh... if your father could see you now from heaven!" She paused momentarily, gasping for air. "If he is on Mars right now...[note 23] oooh, I bet you, if he has a space suit waiting for you on Mars, he would've destroyed it the moment he saw you WooHoo with the maid! Do you not remember the words you said at our wedding? That you promised that you would commit to me? You took me as your wife and lover, someone who must remain special and unique in your life. But yet, you had your fingers crossed behind your back the entire time! Your words were nothing but hot air, your love little more than the weak kiss a teenaged boy would have for some girl his parents forced him to marry! Never have I seen such disgusting, horrendous, abhorrent behavior from a man like you! I know many things, but this is the worst!"
No one else said anything. Kaylynn shifted uneasily. Don swallowed a lump in his throat. Daniel coughed as he choked on his own tears and mucus.
"I want nothing to do with you, ever again! I hope that your name gets cursed throughout the land, and your face to be one of the demons! I hope Mount Vesuvius erupts and sends death raining down upon your head! I hope the clouds growl with the ferocity of a lion and send a bolt of lightning to burn your miserable body to ashes! I hope the earth opens up and swallows you whole, sending you on a one-way journey to hell! And there... the Devil happily awaits your arrival!"
"M-Mary....S-S-Sue..." Daniel began.
"Oh, shut up, you dog-faced nut-barfer! This, I hope, is the last time you and I will ever talk, or even look at each other, again! When the documents for divorce come your way, you had better sign them, or else I hope your flesh rots on you while you're still alive! In fact, the best thing you can do right now is to leave! Right now!"
"Just go, Daniel! Go with Kaylynn if you want, if you really love her more. But if she follows you, I hope her name and flesh gets cursed as well!"
Kaylynn swallowed hard and tried to speak up. "Daniel, I'm..." she began.
"M-M-Mary S-S-S-Sue... I'm s-s-sorry..."
"Just go, Daniel." Mary-Sue's voice was no longer of anger, but of utter annoyance. She waved him off as if he were an insect flying over her food. "You've made your choice."
Daniel had no strength left to speak. He mustered his remaining strength and rushed out the front door.
"Daniel!" the four who were standing outside said unanimously. "Daniel!"
Daniel did not respond. He kept running, ignoring the fact that he was still in his undershirt and had no shoes on. The tears kept flowing as he ran, blurring his vision. He kept running as fast as his legs could carry him, and he ran until he had no more strength left. He wandered off the road and into the forest, where he collapsed. A few oak trees and some leaves kept him company as he cried and cried and cried, until soon there were no more tears left.
Cassandra rushed into the house. "Mary-Sue!" she cried out.
Kaylynn tried to apologize. "I-I-I'm... sorry for the trouble, Mary-Sue."
"Mom!" Angela and Lilith were unanimous in their tears and words. "Mom, why did you have to do that?"
"I don't things had to escalate the way it did," Dustin commented.
Even Don was taken aback. "That was... unnecessarily harsh."
Mary-Sue, exhausted, slumped towards the floor. She bent down and allowed the tears to fall, slowly at first, before they picked up their pace, trickling down her face like a heavy rainstorm.
Don felt uneasy. He looked at Cassandra, then at Mary-Sue, and back again. He had just witnessed a marriage go up in smoke. Initially, he had thought about dumping Cassandra at the altar on his wedding day, if only to avoid tying the knot that would've made it next to impossible to easily continue his hot, steamy nights with the Caliente sisters. But now he had not only seen the grief inflicted on Daniel, but on Mary-Sue as well. As much as he hated the thought of him marrying someone, he still loved Cassandra, and it disturbed him to think about what Cassandra would end up if he left her at the altar. He'd be free from the commitment... but not from the guilt.
The guilt of breaking her heart.
Ugh. It was about as inescapable as Darren's reasoning for doing it. What if Cassandra rejects Darren and swears not to love again? The consequences of his actions would break the town's wealthiest family, and even if he did get away from marrying Cassandra, the agony he would suffer would probably end his womanizing days. Forever.
But even if he did marry Cassandra, what was he going to do with everyone else? If he did marry Cassandra and drop his other relationships... well, first of all, that's utterly impossible. The love letters and emails Dina and Nina would send him will probably be seen and intercepted by Cassandra. And then she'd know about it. She'd know about everything. Even if that doesn't happen, news about their marriage would spread like wildfire around the country, and there's no way the two Caliente sisters would miss such a thing. They'd know about it long before Cassandra could discover what shade of pink Nina liked the most.
Oh God... there is no escape! No escape from this hell! He was screwed no matter which path he chose, which direction he went in. His demise was near.
Either marry Cassandra and wind up like Daniel Pleasant, or ditch Cassandra and wind up like Daniel Pleasant.
Don returned to his senses. Mary-Sue was still crying, with Cassandra by her side trying to console her. Angela and Lilith were crying — for Lilith, this was a first. She had never cried for her family in her entire life, since no one else cried for her. But all those tears that have built up inside of her all these years were finally coming out like a geyser, and she cried as if the world was about to end. Dustin was, naturally, by Angela's side, letting her tears dampen his shirt. Kaylynn was in a corner, sobbing quietly to herself with sorrow and regret. And Don...
The thoughts came hurtling back at him and squashed him like a pressure cooker. His legs gave way and he came crashing down to the floor. He covered his head, trying to defend himself from those thoughts, but they kept coming back at him. Soon, he surrendered, and tears sprung up out of his eyes to keep him company.
Night set upon the house stuck in a state of earnest. The warm, gentle glow of the sun gave way to a cool, but not necessarily chilling, wind as clouds filled the sky, obstructing the sun. Overhead, ghostly white cloud cover blocked out the moon and stars, making for a very unsettling end to the day.
Mary-Sue had mustered the courage to get up and wash her face. Cassandra never left her side, except to allow her to use the toilet and to take a bath. Dustin had no words to offer, only his presence, in the hopes that it would ease the uncomfortable atmosphere in the house. Don and Kaylynn were seated across from each other in the hallway, both of them staring fixedly on the ground. Neither of them dared to exchange glances or say anything. Angela and Lilith had, at least for now, forgotten about their long-lived sibling rivalry, and even sat next to each other at the dining table, albeit in silence.
At last, Kaylynn stood up and walked into the dining room.
"I'm sorry Angela, and I'm sorry Lilith. I'm sorry I was responsible for ruining your family."
Angela and Lilith did not respond. Dustin shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
"I hope that you will, at least, forgive me... and even if you don't, I fully understand." She paused. "I'm okay if you would like to terminate my contract. It's my fault and not the company's... I'll take all responsibility for this."
Silence. Not even the crickets dared to break it. Finally, Dustin spoke: "I'm sure that, whatever happens, things will be okay, eventually."
The rustling of clothes as Don rose and limped into the kitchen.
"Don! I just want to say I'm sorry..." Kaylynn began.
"No Kaylynn... it is I who should apologize." More tears emerged from his eyes, and he brushed them off with his arm. "I shouldn't have yelled at you... I was just angry you had WooHoo with Daniel, but..." His voice trailed off and his courage and charisma failed.
Fortunately, nobody pressed him on it.
The master bedroom door opened. Everyone turned around as Mary-Sue, helped by Cassandra, walked down the hallway and into the dining room. Her eyes were red from crying, but some color had returned to her face. Cassandra was most relieved to see her friend mustering the courage to present herself to her family... or at least, what's left of it.
"I would like to apologize for stealing your time," she said. "This day has not been the best for any of us, but I hope we can all get up and walk away from this." She did her best to smile. "Nevertheless, we do have some things to take care of..."
Kaylynn was practically on her knees. "I'm sorry! I'll take full responsibility! You can fire me or replace me! I won't object to it..."
Mary-Sue just waved that comment off. "Whatever, Kaylynn. You're done anyway. You can go home now, if you want. It's getting late..."
Kaylynn nodded. "Good night, and sorry for the trouble." And with that, she exited the room, followed shortly by the sound of an engine starting up. The headlights of her van were briefly visible in the window before disappearing into the night.
"Don and Cassandra, thank you for taking the time to be here..."
"It's the least I can do, Mary-Sue," Cassandra replied. Don nodded weakly, and said, "I'm sorry for my seemingly impudent behavior... that wasn't necessary at all."
"In any case, I don't want to keep you here any longer. If you would like to leave and go home, you may... I wish you luck in your marriage!"
Don nodded and left. Cassandra was about to follow when she turned around and asked, "Will you be alright?"
"I can do just fine. Thank you, Cassandra."
"If you need me, just call me." Soon, Cassandra was gone.
Mary-Sue turned to Dustin. Dustin was the first to speak: "I apologize if I caused any trouble, um, Mrs. Pleasant..."
"Please, please, you can call me Miss Pleasant from now on. And, do you, perchance, date any of my daughters?"
Before Dustin could speak, Angela spoke up. "He only came to dry my tears, mom.... he didn't mean any harm."
"Thank you for coming for my daughter... oh, by the way, what is your name?"
"Dustin Broke, Miss Pleasant."
"Mr. Broke, I'm sorry if I wasted your time." She looked around. "If you would like to leave, you may."
"Please go home, Dustin. Your mother's already pretty angry."
Dustin nodded. He would've kissed Angela before leaving if Lilith and Mary-Sue weren't watching. He gave her a hug before leaving the house.
"And now... my daughters. My two daughters."
Angela and Lilith said nothing.
"I... I'd like to apologize for what happened today. I know you liked your father dearly and that his absence will no doubt make things much more difficult for you..."
Angela swallowed. "Um... Lilith? I'm, uh, sorry..."
"I should be sorry, Angela... I shouldn't have spat on the doorknob..."
"I shouldn't have used the bathroom before you."
"I shouldn't have hit you."
"I shouldn't have hit you too."
"I shouldn't have attacked you at school."
"I shouldn't have smiled at you when we were in trouble."
"I shouldn't have thrown that ruler at your head."
"I'm just sorry for everything I did..."
"I'm sorry too."
Mary-Sue was taken aback. Her daughters were actually apologizing to each other now! Could her daughters finally become the fruitful, joyful young ladies she had always hoped for them to be?
She took a step forward. "Well, I'm sure everything will be alright, as long as we stick together and..."
"What exactly did YOU do for us?" Angela demanded.
"You're the reason we fought!" Lilith added.
Wait, what? Mary-Sue had thought that the terrorist reign of her daughters was over, but now they were making a comeback, this time aimed at her! "My dears, I did the best I could..."
"The best you could to live at work!"
"Why would you favor Angela over me?"
"Why did you even marry such a twat?"
"I'd prefer never existing in the first place to being where I am right now!"
"And now this..."
"And now that!"
"What in blazes are you two talking about?!" Mary-Sue was losing her patience. "What do you two know about never being conceived? If I had never met Daniel, you two wouldn't be here right now! You wouldn't be here telling me such ear-fouling nonsense!"
"Our family is in ruins!"
"It was always in ruins!"
"Things would be better if it never started!"
"I'm happier not existing than I am existing in such a miserable state!"
"Now Daniel's out in the cold!"
"And so is the maid!"
"Cassandra's probably suffering from insomnia now."
"God knows what state Don is in!"
"Dustin's probably getting yelled at by his mom right now."
"See, everyone's unhappy because of you!"
"Enough, enough!" Mary-Sue snapped. "I have just lost a husband and now I see my own children turning against me! I can't fathom how anybody would have the nerve to accuse me of their own existence! You two may do as you please, and I hold no responsibility if you wind up dead in an alleyway. I'm done mothering you two." And with that, she left the dining room and headed towards the master bedroom, slamming the door shut behind her.
"I don't care what you think!" Lilith screamed at the empty hallway. "You were never a mother anyways!"
Part 8. Division
The cold, refreshing night air of the city rejuvenated Jennifer Burb as she stepped outside. It was a welcome relief from the three, torturous hours of evening classes in a hot classroom. Without air conditioning.
She looked at her watch. 11:30 PM, it read.
It's getting very late, she thought. It will be well past midnight by the time I get home. She pulled out her cell phone, dialed ten numbers, and waited.
Five rings passed before her call was answered. "H-Hello?" a sleepy voice said.
"Hey honey, it's me, Jennifer."
"Oh." The sounds of bedsheets being rumpled could be heard. John Burb was the "early to bed, early to rise" type, and put himself to bed almost immediately after putting dear Lucy to bed. "What happened? I thought class was supposed to end... half-an-hour ago!"
"Class ran late. Some lame substitute teacher taught today's lesson, and he had no sense of timing, let alone the concept of tiredness."
"Do you need me to come pick you up?"
"No, I'm alright. I'll take the train home." She checked her watch again. "If I'm quick enough, I should be able to catch the next train for Pleasantview, which leaves at 11:45. I'll be home in about an hour, hopefully."
"Okay then. Take care."
The door behind her opened as she put her phone back into her pocket. "What did you think of that lesson, Patricia?" she asked as a man and a woman emerged.
"Boring. As usual." She glanced at her phone, almost impatiently. "I can never understand how such un-charismatic teachers ever got the job!"
"The guy today is truly magical," the man commented. "I swear, his monotone voice could cure insomnia. I'm not even joking."
"Oh, you're so hilarious, Derek!" Jennifer said playfully.
"Hey, it's true!"
"My father's an insomniac," Patricia said. "I think I should enroll him in this course!"
"We can change the name of this course too. 'Sleeping 101' — The Number One Cure For Insomnia!"
The three laughed together.
"Say, how are you two getting home tonight?" Derek asked.
"I'm calling a cab home, you?" Patricia answered.
"I'm subway-ing it, hopefully I can get some sleep without being pickpocketed this time." He patted his own pocket, making sure that his own wallet was still there. "What about you, Jenny? Is your husband coming to pick you up?"
She shook her head. "I'm going to take the train home... in fact, it leaves in about twelve minutes! As much as I'd like to chat with you two, I have to run now. See ya!"
The cold air bit at her as she hurried down the sidewalk. The train station wasn't too far — only a few blocks — but it still took at least five minutes to get there on foot. A traffic light in front of her turned red, and she quietly cursed to herself for not running fast enough.
As she waited impatiently for the light to change, she caught sight of a familiar figure emerging from a liquor store on the same corner. The figure looked dark and shady, yet defeated and ready to resign. In its hand it carried a large, plastic bag filled with bottles of alcoholic beverages.
Could it be...
The figure turned its head but did not stop walking. Jennifer headed towards it. "Daniel!"
"Go away, Jennifer. I'm a goner," the figure said when she approached.
"Oh, for God's sake, don't give me that! I'm your sister!" She scavenged through the bag. "Hard liquor? And in such quantities too! Are you crazy? What's up with you?"
The figure did not reply. "Daniel, don't do this to yourself!"
"Go away, Jennifer. Go home and go to your husband. I am no longer one." He half-ran, half-limped across a street when the light turned green, as if he were attempting to escape Jennifer, but she persisted and kept up with him. "Daniel! I don't know what happened, but while you might have lost your marriage, you can't lose the fact that we're siblings!"
Daniel ignored her and headed into a park.
"Daniel! Please, just let me talk to you!" She tried to grab him, but he shrugged her off. He was so weak, however, that he stumbled into another man, sending him off the path and into a bush.
"Ugh, Daniel. If you're not going to take care of yourself, at least don't disregard the well-being of other Sims!" She helped the stranger back to his feet, then ran to catch up with her brother. "Daniel..."
Daniel plopped down onto a park bench and turned around to face away from Jennifer. His sister sat down with him. "Daniel, you don't have to worry about talking to me! I'm your sister... I'm here for you! If there's anything on your mind, you can tell me. I'm not your enemy, I'm your friend. You don't need to drink! You're too good for this!"
There was a loud POP! as the cork of a bottle went flying. The sound of liquid being swallowed, the gurgle of it dribbling out of the mouth, and the gasp of air as the drinker stopped to catch his breath...
"Daniel! Don't be so stupid!" She wrestled with her brother as she tried to pull the bottle away from his hands. "You can't possibly expect alcohol to solve everything!"
"Nothing can solve my troubles!" Daniel snapped. He turned around, tears streaming out of his eyes. His clothes looked used and worn, as if he had swiped them from a Salvation Army donation box. "Nobody can help me, not even you! Can't you see how much pain I have suffered? My wife loathes the sight of me, my family has turned against me, and even my only true lover and friend fears me! What sort of pain have YOU endured? Can't you see nobody can help me?! My alcohol is the only thing that will help me forget about this ordeal!" He took another swig from his bottle, with most of its contents emptying out onto his shirt and face rather than his mouth. "Don't stay here with me, Jenny. Go home and go have a good life with your husband. I'll sleep here on this park bench tonight. I don't care if I get robbed or beat up. I have nothing to live for! Nothing!!"
He hiccuped, followed shortly by more crying. "I-I-I t-t-thought she d-d-didn't l-l-love m-m-me," he managed between sobs. "I-I-I thought s-s-she... she l-l-loved h-h-h-her work m-m-more than she l-l-loved me."
Jennifer put an arm around her brother. "Well, I'm sure she—"
"No she doesn't!" Daniel protested before she could even finish the sentence. "She doesn't love me! At all! She hasn't even looked at me in the eye for a week!"
"Well, if she didn't love you, why would she bother kicking you out of the house?"
Daniel did not respond. Instead he put his head between his knees and let the tears fall.
"Well." Jennifer looked around. "You can't sleep in this place. It's not safe here."
"I-I-I don't c-c-care." Daniel sniffed loudly. "I-I-I'd rather d-d-die here..."
"You're better than this, Daniel. I mean, c'mon! You're a household name in SimCity! I mean, you're the assistant coach of the SimCity Tigers Soccer Team! Assistant coach for the city's biggest soccer team! That's not a position to take lightly! Would you really want to give it all up now?"
Daniel straightened up, selected another bottle, and started drinking.
"Oh, stop with that!" Jennifer scolded, grabbing the bottle from his hands.
"Don't butt in Jenny... this liquor loves me more than Mary-Sue does."
"But I love you more than liquor does... I'm your sister!"
Daniel could only shake his head. "Please Jenny, just go home and go to bed with your husband... I'll stay out here in the cold."
"You can't help me in any way!" Daniel screamed. "You cannot bring my lovers back to me. You cannot repair my broken marriage. You cannot stop my inevitable death out here in the cold!"
Jennifer laughed softly. "Oh Daniel," she said. "You're wrong on the last one."
"Daniel, I understand if you don't want to go back to your family. But you deserve better than this. You don't have to sleep out here on this park bench. You can sleep at my place! I have a rollaway I can let you use. It's a lot more comfortable than this plastic bench."
Daniel responded with a low-pitched groan.
"Look, Daniel, if you're going to drink, at least don't do it here. I—" she paused, thinking about her next words "—you'd be a lot better sampling some of my own wine! I have some nice Portuguese port wine at home... you can drink that instead of this hard booze here! Really Daniel..."
Daniel convulsed. He turned around and, with a sickening sound, vomited into the bush behind him.
"...you're also better off vomiting in a toilet, and not out here in the open." Jennifer was desperate for a way to get Daniel off the streets. "Whatever the case may be, Daniel, at least put a roof over your head! That's the least you can do right now, Daniel. We can work this out later."
Daniel did not respond. He hugged his bag of liquor tightly to his chest, allowing the tears to continue streaming down his face. Finally, he relaxed and let the bag down onto the ground with a loud thud. Oh great, Jennifer thought. Now we have broken glass to clean.
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed. A few rings later, John's voice answered: "Hello?"
"Jenny! Are you on the train home?"
"Is everything all right?" There was concern in his voice.
"Can you pick us up? Sorry to bother you."
"Of course I will... wait, 'us'?"
"Yes. I'll explain everything once we're in the car."
The bed felt warm and comfortable. Daniel reclined on the rollaway, which was set out in the living room, as his sister and her husband brought him the things he needed for the night. Daniel had finally agreed to Jennifer's offer after the sky opened up and started raining. Daniel and Jennifer were soaked to the bone by the time John came around with the car. There was no way anyone could sleep while being drenched in a vicious shower of water.
Jennifer walked into the living room with a cup of lemon tea[note 24] in her hands and a few shawls tucked under her arm. John came up from the basement with a pillow, a blanket, and a mattress. "The rollaway will probably leave your spine wobbly and loose," John explained. "This mattress should make things more comfortable."
With clean, comfortable bedsheets under him, the scent of lemon tea in his nose, and two selfless beings who didn't seem to mind it being a quarter before 2, Daniel felt much, much better. He took a sip and relaxed almost immediately. He hadn't felt this way for almost two years.
"If it doesn't bother you that much, could you tell us what happened?" Jennifer asked. "You can leave it until morning, if you wish."
Daniel sighed. "Well, I would leave it until morning, but I can't seem to get the thought of my head, and I don't think I'll be able to sleep with that thought still ricocheting around in my brain..." After a brief silence, Daniel returned: "Well, firstly, thank you for taking the time..."
"It is the least we can do," Jennifer and John said, almost simultaneously.
Daniel gently stirred his cup of tea for a few minutes before he again spoke: "Well, I suppose if I want to make this story understandable, I should start from the very beginning...
"It all started when I first met Mary-Sue. At first, we were just childhood friends. We played with each other during recess, and even though I was the shy one at school, I never hesitated to tell Mary-Sue about my troubles with schoolwork. I was never a good student, and I struggled to stay above the waterline with my Cs and Ds. Mary-Sue used to help me with my homework, and in return I would help her with soccer. She played aggressively back then, although she stopped playing when she got to high school. That's when things started turning downhill.
"When I hit puberty, I started admiring a lot of the girls around the school. I wanted to ask them out, but I was much too shy to do so. I joined the school soccer team, where I played well and was well respected by my teammates. The girls would often watch us practice and play, and no matter how many times I wanted to speak with them, my lips would fail me. The only person I had the guts to even approach was Mary-Sue.
"One afternoon, I decided to try and show Mary-Sue my affection towards her. As my lips approached, however, she suddenly jerked her head back. 'Are you crazy, Daniel?' she said in a horrified voice. 'We can't do this. This is absurd.' And with that, she turned away and left. My face turned white as blood rapidly left my head. I must have fainted, because the next thing I knew my face was on the floor, my phone jacked and my wallet empty.
"I couldn't sleep that night. 'Why would Mary-Sue be so cold to me?' I thought. 'Doesn't she remember what we did as children?' If it wasn't for her, I'd be in military school[note 25] right now, and if it wasn't for me, she'd be bullied every moment of the day. Why doesn't she share the same affection towards me?
"She must've felt it too, because the day after she came to me while I was sulking at the foot of the stairwell. She apologized for being so rude to me the day before, and we timidly came together and kissed. My feet left the ground and I felt like I was ascending to the heavens... but some part of me suddenly started ticking, telling me that something just wasn't right. I couldn't figure out what it was, though.
"Me and Mary-Sue dated for about a year. For once I felt confident to traverse the streets. I knew I wasn't a cold fish who was left in the rain now. I had my own friend, my own lover, my own girl. Some of the boys grew jealous of me and Mary-Sue. She was so youthful and lively back then... I don't understand how it faded.
"One morning, she, perhaps unintentionally, asked me to start a real commitment with her. She wanted to go steady with me! I almost gasped when she asked me this, but she must've thought it came as a pleasant surprise. For me, it felt like she just shot me with a rifle and all my organs were falling out. A commitment? No way! But for some reason, and perhaps because everyone else was watching... I reluctantly agreed. I had glued myself to this inevitable doom.
"When we became adults, we got married, a commitment that turned my stomach. She was still so sweet and cute, so I never would've thought our marriage could be broken. Sure, I was now stuck with her, but she was still cheerful and frolic. We went on a honeymoon in Sunlit Tides,[note 26] and from what I can remember, that was the only happy time of our marriage."
Daniel paused briefly. John and Jennifer were speechless. The only sound in the room was the pitter-patter of the rain as it beat down against the windows.
"So you never wanted a commitment," Jennifer finally spoke. "You didn't want to marry anyone. You just wanted to love and love and love, with a few steamy nights here and there. Right?"
"I haven't told you the worst part of the story," Daniel said. "Being married to Mary-Sue was, in itself, pretty bad, but even then it would've been somewhat bearable if we hadn't...
"...taken it to the next level. I say this because this is what I had feared all along when Mary-Sue wanted to go steady with me. One morning, Mary-Sue woke up suddenly and rushed to the bathroom. I could hear her throwing up. After a visit to the doctor and a pregnancy test, it was confirmed that she was, indeed, pregnant.
"I was so scared later that night, I couldn't sleep. I was soon going to be a father. If I left now, not only would Mary-Sue be left for dead, but so would her children! My reputation would plummet once the world knew I had abandoned a family. For lust. I couldn't do it. I couldn't stand it anymore. Why did I say 'I do' at the wedding? 'I do'... yes, I do agree on being tortured by my own family!
"Things turned out okay, though, at first, when Angela and Lilith were born. Mary-Sue and I immediately liked Angela, and... I think that was the mistake. We seldom cared for Lilith, preferring to give love and attention to Angela. Even though I feared having to care for children, I still loved Angela enough to potty train her. Not very fun for me, but Mary-Sue was happy I helped her care for the baby while she was busy at work. By the way, she got a job not too long after the twins were born. She said she had to 'work harder to keep the money flowing, now with two new mouths to feed.'
"Just before the twins' birthday, both of my parents died. It was a devastating blow to me, especially the death of my father, Jeff. Jeff had always dreamed of being the first man to walk on Mars,[note 23] and had initially hoped to join the SimNation Martian Colonization Program, but he was turned down due to heart problems. He died, never having achieved his dream. When I was young, he always told me about how he planned to set foot on the red planet and 'Say hello to little green men.' Still, after his death, I continued to work hard in my job and climbed the career ladder with every promotion.
"Things around the house got very messy and chaotic as my daughters grew up, making messes as they went. Part of it was caused by their youthful nature, most of it because the two hated each other. I had always refrained from intervening with their conflicts, since it was so bitter and full of hatred. Mary-Sue yelled at me for not 'taking care of the family' while she was gone. She worked hard to keep her job, but her grumpy mood didn't sit very well with her bosses. Every morning, without looking into my eye, she would brush her teeth, eat breakfast, yell at Angela or Lilith if they did something wrong (Which was almost every day), and then leave for work. She would not return until 7 or 8 PM, and would usually come home to a messy house. I tried to clean up around the house, but as soon as I had cleaned up a smashed vase or a broken mirror, the two would go at it again, and the house again looked like a tornado whirled through. So we hired a maid to help keep things in check when both of us weren't around.
"With hired help around the house, Mary-Sue saw fewer and fewer reasons to stay at home, so she spent most of her time at work. She worked from 9 to 6, leaving home at 7:30 in the morning and often didn't come home until 9 or 10. The twins barely had the opportunity to see their mother, and they often never saw me either when I was at work. Kaylynn helped fill in the gaps and kept the house clean and tidy while we were at work and the kids were either at school or making a mess around the house.
"At first, Kaylynn was indifferent to the rest of us. Gradually, though, I started taking a liking towards Kaylynn. She was young and sublime, and I started to move closer towards her. We would always do our thing when Mary-Sue was at work and the twins were at school, and Kaylynn often left before anyone else came home, or just pretend that nothing special was happening and that she was still cleaning the house.
"We flew mostly under the radar. We had a few close calls, but we were quick to bail and avoided being caught. However, today we... slipped up. I had wanted to have WooHoo with Kaylynn for a long time. Kaylynn offered more energy and love than Mary-Sue did, and she didn't reject me for my first kiss with her. Since Mary-Sue had mostly been snubbing me for the past few months, having Kaylynn next to me was heartwarming and thawed me out. However, when we WooHoo'ed, we didn't realize that Mary-Sue was, in fact, at home. She told me that she had been demoted recently and that she got sent home early. She was outside chatting with Cassandra Goth and Don Lothario when we crawled under the covers.
"I don't know how Don entered the picture, but he claimed to be a 'friend' of Kaylynn and that he had warned her not to WooHoo with me, whom he described as a 'low-life hillbilly'. He hit Kaylynn a few times, and then got into a fight with me. Not long after he won, Mary-Sue suddenly barged into the bedroom and had a fight with me as well. By the time the ordeal was over, I was bruised and abused, and my courage was gone.
"I ran from the house as quickly as I could, forgetting that I was still in my underwear after WooHoo. I raided a Salvation Army donation box and got some cheap clothes for myself to wear.[note 27] I used the fingerprint scanner at an ATM to access my bank funds and I managed to get some money to take the subway downtown. I sat at the back of the train, trying unsuccessfully to conceal my tears. I headed straight for a liquor store — "Bentley's Suds" — a store I knew well, and bought myself the hardest liquor I could afford. When I left the shop, Jennifer saw me and followed me to a park, where she coaxed me to come here and escape the cold and rain.
"And that brings me here. That is it. That is the whole story, the sad, miserable story of my brokenness."
Daniel looked up. John and Jennifer were staring at him, aghast at his tale.
"So what do you plan on doing, now?" John finally asked.
"I don't know..." Daniel was sullen. "I don't know..."
The rain was still coming down as Mary-Sue waited by the bus stop. She had asked her carpool driver not to pick her up anymore, since she wasn't in the mood to sit alone next to someone for a grueling commute. The little bus stop shelter defended her and a few other Sims from the relentless downpour. The shelter provided protection from the rain and the wind, but not from the cold. Mary-Sue shivered in her raincoat. This was much too cold for June.
She had been thinking about her broken marriage the entire night. She slept on-and-off as her mind kept waking her up. Daniel's out in the cold now, her brain kept whispering to her. Daniel's in the cold now, shame on you...
Oh shut up!
Her thoughts came back to her career. Well, so what? She had been demoted, and now she had to go around harassing people to vote for her candidate. Again.
She was now on her way to the office to call people, in the middle of the day, to advertise and promote politics with the best propaganda, er, "democratic your-voice-is-being-heard-by-this-one-guy-and-the-others-just-want-to-increase-your-taxes" nonsense. She hated the job when she had it, but it was still money, and she worked hard to move forward. She had been euphoric when she finally got promoted to be the controller's intern. It made her feel like she was getting some positive attention from the world.
Well, now the world has just flipped upside-down.
The bus came to a screeching halt. Water from the curb sprayed onto Mary-Sue. Ugh.
She climbed onto the bus.
"Fare?" the driver asked.
Oh, right. She smiled and nodded weakly as she fumbled through her pocket looking for her tokens. She rarely rode public transit; this was evidence enough.
She finally pulled out her token — one that she had bought years ago and which sat under the couch until this morning, when she managed to dig it out — and dropped it into the coin slot. She sat down just as soon as the bus took off.
Where was I again? Oh yes... right.
Now how am I going to show my face in the office today?
Mary-Sue yawned. On-and-off sleep took its toll on her, and she was not a morning person today. She tried to stay awake, but her eyelids almost dreamily closed, and she soon nodded off.
She didn't wake up until the passenger sitting next to her nudged her shoulder. "Excuse me, ma'am," she said.
Mary-Sue blinked. She looked out the window. The bus had stopped at the bus terminal and all the other passengers had disembarked. "A little nap couldn't hurt." Yeah, right. What a load of bull.
She nodded to her seatmate and got up. "Sorry... just not having the best of mornings today." She stepped off the bus, the smell of diesel awakening her. At least stay awake until you get to the train, she told herself.
The passageway leading to the subway station had an unsettling quietness to it, in spite of the activity. Everyone moved, almost silently, as if they would be shot if one dared to disturb the crickets.
Or maybe it was just Mary-Sue, minus caffeine and sleep.
She slapped herself across the face. Stay awake! But her mind was still spinning a mile a minute. Her feet almost stepped off the stairs and she would've fallen had her hands not have shot out and grabbed the handrail.
Lack of sleep? Job demotion? Divorce? Which one of these was the culprit?
She felt a hand on her shoulder. "Are you alright, miss?"
She turned around and came face-to-face with a middle-aged man. "Oh, uh... yes... I am..." she began.
"I was hoping I'd find you here. My wife told me about you..."
"Wait wait wait... Who? What? When? Why?" Mary-Sue rubbed her eyes. "Sorry, it's just that I haven't had much sleep last night and..."
"Oh. My apologies." The man cleared his through. "I'm John Burb. My wife is Jennifer Burb. She's the sister of your husband, Dan—"
Mary-Sue shook him off. "Ugh, don't talk to me about him! That man can get cut by a chipped screwdriver for all I care! If that man wants to spend his days WooHoo'ing with every woman in town, then let him do it. Just don't let him be my husband!"
She strode off, with John following in close pursuit. "Wait! Please, let me continue... your husband came to our house last night..."
"Good!" she shot back. "I hope he stays there and never leaves it!"
John opened his mouth to speak, but Mary-Sue shushed him. "Don't follow me, and don't talk to me." And with that, she descended down the escalator onto the train platform.
She did get harsher, John thought. And nastier.
Mary-Sue walked into the train and plopped down into a seat. She was fuming, both at the thought of her ex-husband, and the fact that some stranger bothered to talk about him.
Seriously, who the hell cares about him? At least I don't.
The train left the station and headed down the tunnel. Mary-Sue stared at the window, watching as the inky darkness of the tunnel sped past, occasionally broken by the passing tunnel light. She could see a woman in the reflection,[note 28] staring back at her. Her hair was in disarray, her eyes were redder than rust, and her mouth in a scowl that was so nasty that it even shocked itself with it.
What is up with me?
"Lilith, Lilith, baaaaad bad Lilith!"
Lilith refused to look at her classmates in the eyes. Shut up, shut up! she wanted to say. But every time she tried to say those two simple words, her mouth failed to open.
"Ooh, Lilith, you got detention yesterday!"
"Lilith, did your mother spank you?"
"Lilith, your days with Dirk are done! You're gonna get expelled!"
"Hey Lilith, have you killed Angela yet?"
"Kill 'er with fire!"
"Or a knife. There has to be a knife in your kitchen, right? Just throw it at Angela!"
"Oooh Lilith, you're a baaaaaaaaaaaad girl!"
"Oh man, you're so dangerous!"
"'That girl is so dangerous!'"
"Yeah, she's so dangerous!"
"That girl is a..."
"BAD GIRL!"[note 29]
Ms. Joyce, who was standing in the hallway on the phone, poked her head inside the classroom. "Sit down, right now, all of you!" she barked. "If I hear more profanity in this room, I'll sent you straight down to the office! I don't care how many people go down today, but if the whole class is responsible, I will send each and every one of you down for a lovely day with Mr. Chelsea!"
The students that stood up slowly retreated back to their seats. When Ms. Joyce turned her back on the room, a few students gave Lilith the raspberry before returning to work. Or at least, pretending to work, as Lilith could tell. She was fuming. Why won't these nutheads just leave me the hell alone?!
Ms. Joyce re-entered the room, a thick binder in her hands. "Back to work!" she shouted, and the class quickly bent their heads over their books. Lilith followed suit, but she couldn't bring herself to read her assignment. She blinked a couple of times, brushing away the tears that followed. She could make out a few letters here and there, but nothing eligible could be seen...
"Lilith! Stop admiring your sheet and do your work!"
A few students laughed, and Ms. Joyce reprimanded them as well. "Since when did being lazy and unproductive become funny?"
Lilith tried again. No use. The tears kept coming back. Tears of frustration at her classmates, her family, the divorce. She tried to picture Dirk, but only succeeded in replaying the face and posture of her mother as she ordered her husband to leave the house.
I don't get it! Why am I crying for my crappy parents? She had no idea why she felt such affection towards her caregivers. Or rather, the lack of them. Her parents had seldom paid much attention towards her, let alone feed her and love her. Love, that was something she had never felt before, until she met Dirk. She never liked her parents, and her parents never liked her. Why, then, was she crying for them?
"Lilith! Enough with the waterworks; do your work!"
A boy in the front row laughed out loud. "Gabe, go to Mr. Chelsea's office immediately!" Ms. Joyce hollered at him.
"What? Why me? Maybe you should send Lilith down as well, since she's not doing any work!"
"Don't talk back to me! Just do as you're told!"
The boy reluctantly got up. Before he left the classroom, he stuck his tongue out at Lilith.
"Now, Lilith, do your work! I'm in no mood to send anyone down to the office today, but if I have to, I will!"
Lilith brushed an angry arm over her eyes. It took most of the tears away, but it also reddened them, causing more tears to flow back to console and comfort the eyes. Ugh. No use. She picked up her pencil and tried to write. By the time she was able to see clearly again, Ms. Joyce was standing over her.
"Lilith, since when did the answer to question one become a bunch of lines and squiggles?"
The class laughed momentarily before everyone cupped their hands over their mouths.
"Lilith, my patience is wearing thin. Do your work or you'll be joining Gabe in the office."
Lilith tried to focus on the text on her sheets. Everything was a blur, distorted by the water that clouded her vision. She rubbed her eyes, hoping to get rid of the liquid. She could make out a few words here and there: "What", "the", "liquid", "cup", "filled", "ratio"...
Lilith raised her hand. "Ms. Joyce, can I just go to the principal's office? I can't stand it in here!"
As she walked towards the door, the other students snickered.
"She's going back to Mr. Chelsea's office!"
"Maybe she'll get expelled now."
Ms. Joyce was irate. She grabbed a textbook and slammed it onto the ground with a loud BANG! "Shut up, all of you, and DO your damn work!" She turned to Lilith and said, "Be out and on your way. I will buzz down to Mr. Chelsea and if you're not in his office within five minutes, the police will be called!"
Lilith sighed. The world just absolutely hated her. As soon as she was a good distance away from the wretched classroom, she sought refuge by the water fountain and sobbed.
The doors swung open, allowing the thick, heavy rain to billow inside the stairwell. It was a downpour — had been since midnight — and showed no sign of stopping.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Angela asked.
"What? It's just water." Dustin bent down to retie his shoelaces. "We'll just run like maniacs until we get to that tree over there—" He pointed to a large oak tree in the yard, "—and then we'll plot our next watery run from there."
Angela looked at the oak tree with uncertainty. The massive tree looked so dreary and small in the rain. On the best of days it was a relief from the sun, on the worst of days seemed to blend in with the weather. The rain amplified any outdoor travel distance so that even the shortest of journeys was as long and dreadful as Magellan's voyage around the world.[note 30] A short walk. A long run.
"Don't be so negative, Angela. We can dry ourselves off later. And I promise I won't let ourselves get caught. Trust me."
Angela took a deep breath. "Alright then... if you say so..."
The water felt like sharp knives plunging into her skin. It took the life straight out of her, relentlessly jabbing at her body until she thought her skeleton would collapse. The world was a white foam of terror and chaos. Everything was uniform in appearance, of maximum entropy, and with no sign of yielding. Droplets of water ricocheted off the hard, asphalt surface, composing an orchestra of cacophony as they landed. Her shoes were sopping wet, her socks waterlogged and frozen. It was like stepping into the Arctic Ocean, naked and in the midst of a blizzard. She could feel Dustin's hands, cold and clammy, and she could her his footsteps in the deluge, but these senses were as foreign to her as the rain.
And then, all of a sudden, it stopped.
She blinked. The white sheet of water was a few feet in front of her, still coming down with the fury of God. Her clothes were dripping, and she shivered uncontrollably. Her backpack, she hoped, was still dry on the inside.
Above her head were magnificent branches that grew leaves, so thick and in such incredible density that it caught almost all of the rain, save for the occasional drop that made their way through the roof. The ground to the trunk of the tree had a slight incline, and was almost perfectly dry at the top. It was a little hideout, a shelter from the rain, almost unreal, as if it came from a fairy tale.
The two sat down by the trunk, their clothes dampening the dry ground. Goosebumps lined every inch of skin on Angela, and when she looked over, she could see a similar pattern on Dustin as well.
"Well, that was some joyride!"
"I've never seen such intense rain in my life," Angela managed.
"Me neither. And for so long, too! I think it got more intense since the time school started."
"Do you think we should continue?"
Dustin nodded. "Probably, but it seems like the world just got bigger. That few feet to the tree seemed like a few miles. Who knows how long it'll take for us to get to the bus stop?"
Angela looked around. "If we stay here..."
"We won't get caught," Dustin said, addressing her fears. "Who's gonna go out into the rain to look for us?"
"You're right." Angela smiled. "Actually, it didn't feel too bad."
"The run in the rain. It was better than I had expected."
"Because of you, silly boy," she said, playfully pushing him over. "No really, compared to what happened last night, running in the rain with you was a lot warmer than my parents's divorce."
"How did your mother feel about me being there?"
"Nothing much. She was more livid with her family being torn apart."
The world seemed to float effortlessly like the clouds of heaven. Her senses tingled, quivered, and then fell silent. She felt like she was dreaming, with the world a pleasant illusion that would soon go away when she woke up. She didn't want to wake up. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to prevent the dream from escaping. It floated above her, like a butterfly, dancing gracefully above her head. She tried to catch it, but her arms felt like nothingness, moving in an infinite void of emptiness. She could see her arms move, but could not feel it. She could see her hands pass right through the butterfly as if neither existed. She felt like crying out to the butterfly, "Don't leave me!", but it did not listen. It continued to fly upwards, spiraling gracefully until it got smaller and smaller, until all that was left was a tiny dot in the sky.
"You OK, Angela?"
She blinked. Dustin's arm was around her back, and she hadn't yet realized that they were embracing. Huh? When did this ever happen? She had heard her grandmother say "Love can make you stupid sometimes." Was this it? Was this what she meant?
Well, if love makes me stupid, then let me be the dumbest thing in existence.
"I'm fine," she replied.
Her senses were now returning. Back came the rain, the tree, the damp ground they were sitting on. Her clothes were still wet, and she was still shivering. But these only made up a tiny portion of the picture — she could see Dustin, who dominated her sensation of reality. Just about everything she could see, hear, smell, feel, and think of, was of or from him. And it was clear he had an offer she couldn't refuse.
Am I really fine?
Well, if I'm not fine, then let me be in trouble!
"Whether you want it or not, just promise me one thing: don't tell your mother."
Who cares? She probably doesn't. Angela wanted to say something, but she seemed to have some difficulty communicating with her mouth. Speak! she ordered her mouth. But her words faded like an echo in her own head, with no response from her subject. Is it just me or is it the cold? She tried to speak again, but the connection between her mouth and her brain seemed to have been severed.
As his lips approached, Angela almost hesitated. Do it!! one part of her body told her. Just do it and make it happen! But the other half of her fought back, saying 'If you kiss him, you'll never be the sweet, good Angela ever, ever again!'
So what? I'm no longer the sweet Angela. Screw that. It's time for me to grow up.
Angela felt like running away. She felt like turning her head to avoid the lips, to avoid his face. At the same time, she felt like grabbing him and pressing her lips into his. At the very least, she wanted to check to see if someone was watching them.
No, of course not. It's raining and if someone was out here, we would've heard them by now.
That was the last thought she could think of before it came.
She had always wondered how anyone could possibly handle something so disgusting. The lips were saliva-ridden, covered with all the food and liquids a Sim could hope to consume. They were the gates inside the body, straight into the digestive system, which grossed out three girls in biology class last year, herself included. And the mouth, if she can remember her biology teacher, was "a zoo filled with a relentless horde of bacteria that never goes away."
But here she was! Something that has repulsed her as a child felt like the best — and worst — thing in the world at the same time! As soon as they met, a strong impulse deep within her urged her to keep on going. She wanted to scream. She wanted to laugh. She wanted to cry. She felt like slapping him across the face. But the only thing she could manage to move was her arms, which felt nothing but the fabric of Dustin's shirt. Up and up they went, rising higher into a sky of infinite proportions, when they broke at the top and gasped for air.
"Not bad for a first timer," Dustin managed between gasps.
Well, Angela thought. Well, the deed has been done! She was now officially in trouble with her father for "kissing a highwayman." She was pretty sure her mother would not approve of it either. A part of her wanted to split up with him, to avoid further scandal, to save herself the lecture her parents would no doubt give to her, even if it meant getting back together as a family. The rest of her, however, felt so guilty and satisfied at the same time it was almost like another emotion. "If love is illegal," it said, "then be a criminal."
Dustin's eyes were fixed on hers. "Do you want to try it again?" he asked.
Oh, how dare he! It seemed appropriate then to just slap him across the cheek and be done for the day. But Angela's mind was no longer in his hazy mist of dreaminess. "Why don't we get to the bus stop instead?" she said, "Before this rain slows down and reveals us?"
"Hello! My name is Mary-Sue, and I'm calling on behalf of Diane Wolosenko..."
BANG! She could hear the receiver coming down with the force of a gavel. Clearly there are some ill-mannered Sims, especially when it comes to SimCity politics.
She crossed the name off her list. One down, three million more to go. She dialed the next number on her list and waited. The phone began to ring.
She straightened her back and cleared her throat. Having a good voice is essential to any telephone job. She had tried numerous methods of getting the "correct" voice, from gargling with water to rinsing her mouth with mouthwash to simply brushing her teeth, the latter of which made it impossible for her to enjoy her mug of coffee.[note 31] If she ever wanted to get back to her previous position as an intern, she had better start practicing in front of the mirror again. Maybe a formidable lecture for Lilith will do as well.
"Hello! My name is Mary-Sue, and I'm calling on behalf of Diane Wolosenko..."
"Ah, pardon me, but I have no interest in buying into your crappy lies and propaganda!"
"My sincere apologies for being of bother..."
"Yeah, well, the only person you're really bothering right now is yourself! You're working for a turdface of a politician!"
"I don't trust no damn conservative government! Look at what that Wolosenko twathead promised as a councillor! Subways! Parks! Schools! Look at what she did! She did nothing! Absolutely nothing! She sat quietly in her chair while the rest of her ward was suffering under a major drug cartel war!"
"You better quit your job right now and work for someone else! I don't care who it is, as long as it isn't Missus Wolosenko and her inability to do anything!" *click*
Mary-Sue sighed. Another happy SimCity resident. She crossed the name off and moved on to the next person to hassle.
John Burb | (101) 201-1960[note 32] | 225 Main Street, Pleasantview, Greater SimCity Area
John Burb? Mary-Sue's mind raced back to the events that happened earlier that morning. John Burb... the guy who was married to the sister of your ex-husband. Hmmph. I don't care if my husband moved in with them, just so long as they don't talk about it when I'm around!
She wanted to just cross the name off and move on. But something inside of her stopped her dead in her tracks. "Let's keep our personal grudges out of politics," she could hear her campaign manager say. Just to be sure, she looked up. Her campaign manager was standing over top of her, watching with a look of disapproval. "Working hard, Mrs. Pleasant?" he asked.
Oh God. She absolutely hated that question! She wanted to say, "Please, it's Miss Pleasant," but her manager was not impressed. "Get back to work, Mrs. Pleasant," he said. "Your day is far from over."
She nodded, picked up the phone, and dialed. There was a brief pause, and then the phone began to ring.
Don't pick up... don't pick up... don't pick up...
Uh oh. "Hello, my name is Mary-Sue, and I'm calling on behalf of Diane Wolosenko. May I please speak with John Burb?"
"I'm sorry, he's not available," a female voice answered. "But I'm his husband, so you may speak with me."
"That is fine! I would like to start by asking for your opinion of..."
"Is... is that... Mary-Sue?" a male voice said in the background.
"Yeah, it is, but I don't think it's appropriate to interrupt her while she's at work..."
Mary-Sue felt like hanging up. No... rip the phone out of the wall and throw it across the room. She would've done that, had it not been for that damn manager strolling past her desk. He gave her a look that Mary-Sue was certain said: "Working hard, Mrs. Pleasant?"
It's not "Mrs. Pleasant", it's Miss Pleasant!
"My apologies, I don't want to intervene in any of your personal issues. Is there another, more appropriate time I could call back?" she asked, trying to be polite.
"Please, Jenny, let me speak with her!"
Mary-Sue looked over her shoulder. The manager was still there. "Hello? Once again, I apologize..."
"It's not your fault, Mary-Sue," came the female voice. "I—"
"Please, Mary-Sue! I'm sorry! I'm so, so sorry!" Daniel's voice was desperate. "I admit it, I admit it... I was on a quest for lust! I genuinely thought you did not love me! I... I th-th-thought that..." There were audible sobs, followed by heavy breathing. A gulp, then, "Please Mary-Sue... forgive me..."
The manager was still watching her. Mary-Sue felt like throwing her pencil at him. Why won't he just go away? She wanted to leave a snarky remark for Daniel, but she couldn't do it with that damn manager burning holes into her back with his eyes. "Perhaps I should call another time. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience." Without another word, she hung up and crossed the name off the list.
The manager inhaled deeply, as if he were about to rebuke her, but simply nodded and started to walk away.
Good, she thought. He's finally going away!
She resumed scanning the list and picked out the next caller. She lifted the receiver and began to dial. As the phone began to ring, she looked up. The manager was again over her:
"Working hard, Mrs. Pleasant?"
Lilith sat quietly in her chair, her eyes focused on her textbook. Mathematics. The most useless school subject in the history of the universe. After her bout of tears by the water fountain, she made the voyage to Mr. Chelsea's office in earnest. She was admitted with little fanfare or even acknowledgement. Mr. Chelsea was much too tired and defeated from yesterday to bother looking at her.
Gabe was sitting across from her, his chair closer to the principal's desk than hers. He flipped through his textbook mindlessly, as if it were a children's picture book, before slouching over his papers and pretending to write.
Mr. Chelsea was quietly stirring his mug of coffee, his face staring blankly at the clock. His eyes were red, his beard unshaven, and his hair in disarray. Occasionally, he would take light sips from his mug, his eyes still fixated on their targets, and resumed stirring its contents right after he set it down. He made no move to answer the phone or tend to his computer. His only purpose in the office, it seemed, was to be there as a mindless ragdoll, doing absolutely nothing useful.
The only thing that made sense in the room was the sound of the rain, its sheer power and force, which showed no signs of waning, composing a symphony on the windows. Its rhythmic pattern was broken occasionally by the wind as it blew large clouds of water onto the windows, like some sort of an irregular bass drum.
There was a knock on the door. "Mr. Chelsea?" a female voice asked. "Mr. Chelsea, are you there?"
The principal rubbed his eyes. "Yeah yeah... come in," he said in a tired voice.
The door swung open. "Mr. Chelsea, I've just got a call from Mrs. Tang," she said. "Angela Pleasant and Dustin Broke are not in class, and have not been for the past forty minutes."
Mr. Chelsea groaned. The school's reputation was tarnished, and so was his office from yesterday's war. The students, he thought, the students have become spoiled, incompetent, disloyal dandyprats![note 33] All the ills in this school somehow revolve around those Pleasantview kids! "I've no patience left. Go and give the local police station a phone call and tell them that an Angela Pleasant and a Dustin Broke have some explaining to do once they appear in my office!"
The woman nodded. "Should I contact their parents as well?"
"Yes, and tell them they need to get their asses in here as well!" Mr. Chelsea paused to take a sip from his coffee mug. "Not only will there be consequences from the school, but they'll also have some quality time with the thin blue line![note 34] My patience is gone, and so are the extra chances I'm giving them!"
When the woman left, Mr. Chelsea turned to Lilith and said, "You at least came to my office, so I'm proud of you, even though you're in trouble. Your sister's not going to enjoy her opulent status as an angel anymore."
Lilith could only sigh. She could hear Gabe covering up his laughter with coughing. She thought that, after her parents got divorced, things couldn't have gotten any worse for her family.
She was proven wrong.
Part 9. Arrest
A green tarp billowed out from under the tiny bus stop shelter, flapping loudly in the wind. Its two occupants, clinging tightly to its edges, rushed towards a waiting bus, crossing a massive puddle to get there. By the time she had four walls and a roof over her head, Angela was soaked to the bone once more.
Dustin struggled with the tarp, shaking water off as best as he could. "Some weather!"
The bus drove off. Angela grabbed the stanchion to keep herself from falling over, although she preferred Dustin's hand. He was shaking the water off the tarp, stuffing it in a messy clump into his backpack.
Soon, the two were seated at the back of the bus, away from the eyes of most passengers.
"You sure we won't be caught?" Angela asked timidly.
"Not if we don't slip up," Dustin replied. "But really, who's gonna find us? The rain will be our shield, our shroud, our guard."
The bus came to a halt. Angela looked up and almost gasped. Two cops boarded the bus. "Quick! Hide your face!" she said to Dustin.
Angela's face disappeared behind a magazine while Dustin bent down and buried his face in his phone. The magazine was a tad bit over the top for Angela as she pretended to read it. Plastic people. Plastic people with plastic eyeliners and totally-not-Photoshopped waistlines and teeth. Plastic people that seemed to have... temporarily misplaced their clothing. Angela was tempted to close the magazine, but the cops were still there. I hope they didn't see the cover, Angela thought worriedly.
Dustin sensed her discomfort. "Here, let's switch places. I can handle the stuff." Angela pretended to text while Dustin flipped through the magazine, consuming the shocking images like a child devouring chocolate. How could anybody approve of such a thing? Angela thought to herself.
The cops didn't sit down, but remained standing as they chatted with one another. Their conversations weren't work-related, but they still made Angela uncomfortable. What if they're just waiting for us to let our guard down so we'll do something stupid?
"Did Jim steal your lunch again?"
"Yeah, he did, but I made him pay for it by taking his wallet!"
"Hot damn! ...you returned it, didn't you?"
"Yeah, of course I did. I took a few bills, that's all. I did leave a snarky note behind."
"What did it say?"
"I don't wanna say it out here in public, but it had something to do with his inability to play golf."
"What about it?"
"Okay, so last week we were out at the tee, and Jim comes up looking like a dolt. He takes a swing, misses the ball, and sends the club flying at some old lady. She needed stitches after that."
The bus stopped suddenly, sending its standing passengers tumbling forward. "My apologies," the driver said. "Saw a pedestrian run by."
The cops were slightly shaken and looked around the bus suspiciously.
Uh oh... please, don't look here, don't look here!
They must've looked towards Angela's direction, but didn't take much notice of her. After a minute, they resumed chatting.
"That was close," Dustin whispered into her ear.
Mary-Sue hung up the phone and crossed another name off her list. Another happy SimCity citizen, she thought to herself.
Just then, her manager came into the room. "Mary-Sue!" he called out.
What did I do now?
"Mary-Sue," he said, a little more gently. "I just got a phone call from Bonavista High saying that your daughter isn't in school right now..."
"How dare that Lilith..." she began.
"No no no... not 'Lilith'. I was told that an Angela Pleasant left school property in the middle of class, along with someone named Dustin Broke. The principal of the school wants you there immediately."
Mary-Sue's anger flared. Now my daughters have swapped places with each other! All of a sudden, Angela was the demon in angel's clothing, skipping classes with that man! She got up, crammed her belongings into her bag, and stormed towards the manager's office. "I need to speak with the school and get things straight."
Her call was answered in three rings. "I'd like to speak with Lilith Pleasant, please," she said.
There was an audible verbal fight between the principal and Lilith: "Your mother wants to speak with you..." ... "I don't wanna speak with her!" ... "She's your mother..." ... "Tell her I don't know anything!". After a few minutes, the phone was finally handed over to her. "What, mom?"
Mary-Sue cut to the chase. "Where's your sister?"
"I don't know, mom... I honestly don't know..."
"I don't want you to hide anything from me!" Mary-Sue snapped. "By spilling the beans, you're sparing yourself — and your sister — from extra punishment!"
"Mom! I'm telling the truth, I really don't know what happened to Angela. I was in class until I got sent down randomly, and the principal got told that Angela and Dustin weren't in school. That's all I know, mom. I never plotted anything."
"You better not! I'm coming over right now to cross-examine you, and if I sense even the slightest that you might be lying, you'll be sharing Angela's punishment!" And with that, she slammed the phone down.
"Mary-Sue, please... don't ruin my office..." the manager said.
"My life is in worse condition," she insisted. And she stormed out of the office.
Daniel was reclining on the couch, his eyes closed. Jennifer was in the kitchen, preparing lunch. Both John and Jennifer had taken the day off[note 35] to care for him: John had gone out to try to talk to his wife, while Jennifer was just doing what a sibling was supposed to do. Definitely better than living with Mary-Sue, Daniel thought.
The morning had gone by roughly, but not because of the Burbs. Mary-Sue had called as part of her job, and Daniel was desperate to talk to her. Mary-Sue didn't even lose her professionalism, continuing to talk like one of those stereotypical robo callers that annoyed everybody at the most inconvenient times of day, sounding awkward and out of place when they had to go off script. Eventually, she simply hung up, and Daniel was wallowing in a flood of tears. He consumed an entire box of tissues before he was able to get himself together.
Jennifer walked into the living room carrying two bowls. "Mac and cheese," she explained. "After today's events, I thought you could use some comfort food."
Mac and cheese... Daniel thought. The last lunch I had with Kaylynn...
"Thanks," he said, breaking himself out of his trance. He accepted the bowl and spoon, dug out a chunk, and ate it. Jennifer sure knew how to make mac and cheese better than he did. This wasn't the dried stuff that costed §2 a box that university students lived off of; this was real mac and cheese, made with real effort and real skill. Daniel allowed the wonderful taste and gooeyness float across his tongue. Mmmm...
"You know, mom used to make the best mac and cheese," he said. "Now that she's not around, you've taken her place as the best mac and cheese chef around town![note 36]"
Jennifer laughed politely at his comment as she sampled a spoonful from her own bowl. "You should've visited our place more often! Me and John love to cook together in the kitchen, and often we'd sing or hum along to some catchy tune we heard on the radio earlier that day. John loves to tend to the garden, and we grow our own vegetables in the backyard. I'm more of a baker, and I love turning the kitchen into a little laboratory where I measure ingredients like a scientist, and it sure does baffle John, who'd prefer quietly stirring stew on the stove. John is okay at baking, though, and I'm okay with cooking, so it's not like we're polar opposites."
The front door swung open. Enter John Burb, wrapped up with a yellow rain poncho like some sort of a mummy, shivering from the cold. Following closely behind him was the torrent of rain, which showed no sign of stopping anytime soon. The floor of the living room was wet in no time, as if a monsoon had just blown in.
"Goodness!" Jennifer cried out as she rushed to help her husband close the door. "This sure is some rain!"
"Some rain? It looks like the Great Flood is upon us!" John struggled to get out of the rain poncho. Even with that on, his clothes were still soaking wet. The poncho was hung up, the water dripping down into an unsightly puddle below it. "I figured it's time to start building an Ark and gathering two of every animal."
The three of them laughed.
"There's some mac and cheese in the kitchen," Jennifer said as she got out a mop and started cleaning up the mess. "Why don't you grab some lunch while I clean up this watery mess?"
John nodded his agreement. "Sounds like a good idea." He went into the kitchen, grabbed a bowl and spoon, and joined Daniel in the living room. "I underestimated the weather report yesterday. It was an adventure just getting young Lucy to the school bus today!"
To be continued...
- The Pleasant family's story begins on a Thursday, as it does in-game.
slowMotioncheat was used while taking this photo.
- This is a statement that I myself have said in real life. Because seriously, what's the point of brushing your teeth before dirtying them again?
- This is a reference to Eric Walter's We all Fall Down: "'Then maybe you should just sleep here and save yourself the commute home,' I said sarcastically." (Walters 48)
- This is a reference to the Greek monster Medusa, a hideous woman who had snakes as hair. Looking directly into her eyes would turn onlookers into stone.
- I realize EAxis' careful selection of names here. "Angela" and "Lilith" are closely linked to the terms "angel" and "demon". Angels and demons are often widely perceived as being opposites, although this is likely not the case. The origin of angels and demons are moot, but they are often perceived as all being created by God. God, in His nature, cannot create something sinful, so He did not actually create demons. The most consistent explanation for the origin of demons were that they were former angels who joined the rebellion against God, led by the angel Lucifer. In response, God kicked Lucifer and his rebellion out of heaven. Jesus himself made it very clear that angels who sided with Lucifer were demons with Matthew 25:41. In short, demons are, in fact, angels that have fallen. This may have been EAxis' intentions in the Pleasant family story, in that Angela and Lilith are both of the same family, and are even twins, to be precise. While Angela remained a prominent and loved figure in the family, Lilith fell into darker realms and may have been perceived by some players (and certainly her parents) as being "evil," possibly a nod as to how angels, who were created with the intention of serving the holy, could turn their heads and do the opposite.
- This is the aspiration desperation for the Romance aspiration, see Romance#Aspiration Desperation.
- This is, admittedly, an oversight by me. Mary-Sue was previously mentioned as having only eaten a stale muffin, instead of the toaster pastries that were served for breakfast. However, in this statement, Mary-Sue said to have eaten the toaster pastries.
- Shops that sold Servos is something I had attempted in Sim-owned businesses. Admittedly, I used cheats to spawn the Servos, but they made good money.
- This popular myth originated from the time of the Ancient Romans.
- See Rod Humble.
- SPOILER ALERT: Foreshadowing. You have been warned!
- This was inspired by a phrase in Roald Dahl's book "Danny the Champion of the World": "[And] the class bent their heads over their books like people in church saying their prayers." (Dahl 116)
- The term "Archangel vs. archangel" is of my invention, but it stems from biblical roots. Lucifer was an archangel of God; the term archangel refers to a high-ranking angel. Lucifer was initially created to be the most beautiful, magnificent angel of God meant to adorn the throne room of heaven, but greed overwhelmed him, and when he attempted to ascend higher than God, he was promptly dismissed. Michael, another honored archangel, was described in Revelation 12:7 as having fought Lucifer, who is depicted as a dragon. Lucifer and his angels eventually lost, and they have been permanently banished from heaven.
- See Fanon:Dreamer family (K6ka)#Part 2. A plan is a plan.
- See WooHoo.
- Sims can catch their spouse or lover cheating when they WooHoo, even if they are not in the same room. See Affair#Getting caught.
- See aspiration failure.
- Shy Sims will run and hide if they witness a fight, unless they are unable to leave the room. See Fighting#The Sims 2 and The Sims Stories.
- See Therapist.
- This is a reference to Freddy Fazbear.
- At the start of the game, Brandi Broke doesn't even know Angela.
- At the start of the game, Daniel is enemies with Dustin, showing clear disapproval over his daughter dating him.
- In The Sims, Jeff Pleasant's bio says he has a dream to become the first man to walk on Mars, a possible nod to the cancelled SimMars.
- Lemon tea has many medicinal benefits, as well as being a nice, hot drink to enjoy. Lemons are rich with Vitamin C, help impede the development of cancer cells, and can control blood sugar levels.
- Children in The Sims could be sent to military school if their grades remained at an F for too long. In The Sims 2, children are simply taken away by the social worker instead, which is a lot less exciting.
- Daniel and Mary-Sue make an appearance in The Sims 3 in the downloadable world Sunlit Tides. See Sunlit Tides#Returning families.
- The Salvation Army often collects used clothing in large donation boxes in order to clothe the poor.
- This is called partial reflection/refraction, where some of the light is reflected and some of the light goes through. This effect is very noticeable on a subway train, where the darkness of the subway tunnel makes it easier for one to see their reflection in the windows.
- This is a reference to Kardinal Offishall's Dangerous (lyrics)
- Ferdinand Magellan is a Portuguese explorer who is credited as the first person to organize a naval expedition that successfully circumnavigated the earth. While Magellan did not complete the entire voyage, having died in a battle in which is now the Philippines, Juan Sebastián Elcano took command after his death and succeeded in getting one ship back home.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash might be good for oral hygiene, but they don't exactly agree with food. Toothpaste is notorious for making sweet things, like orange juice, taste bitter. Mouthwash contains alcohol (wood alcohol, not the glorious alcohol for consumption) or fluoride, which can be toxic if swallowed in high concentrations; thus, most mouthwashes recommend waiting at least half-an-hour after swishing before any food or drinks can be consumed.
- This is Will Wright's birthday in DDM-YYYY format (20 January, 1960).
- "Dandyprat" isn't a real word (although "Dandiprat" is). This usage of the word was inspired by Roald Dahl's book "Danny the Champion of the World": "'Cheating is a repulsive habit practiced by gutter-snipes and dandyprats!' [Captain Lancaster] said." (Dahl 113)
- "Thin blue line" is a colloquial term for the police. See Wiktionary:thin blue line.
- At the start of the game, both John and Jennifer are unemployed.
- At the start of the game, both John and Jennifer have no cooking skill.
- Walters, Eric. We All Fall Down. ISBN-10 0-7704-2992-0. ISBN-13 978-0-7704-2992-8.
- Dahl, Roald. Danny the Champion of the World. Puffin Books ISBN 978-0-14-241033-2.