Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or so the old adage says. I wasn’t sure I felt fonder. A numbness crept around my heart after the first three nights of crying myself to sleep. I tried to remain quiet, knowing my new little nephew was sleeping next door. I didn’t want to anger my older sister. The longer I was around the baby, the more sadness I felt. If everything had happened as planned, I would’ve had my own child months before Lee did. At this point, I wondered if I ever would.
For the first month, Joseph called every day. If I didn’t answer, he would call Lee and Sammy’s home. I never wanted to talk to him. I was doing it to myself – the stabbing feeling through my chest. I just didn’t want to admit my part in this argument. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for my lack of memory. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for misunderstandings and for my disconnect from the world. I felt like I couldn’t be blamed for my lack of emotions. That’s not true. I’m not letting myself feel. I sighed heavily, swallowing back some unnamed turbulence of frustration, fear, angst, and anger. Returning to life was like learning how to ride a bike, and remembering the steps, but lacking the significance behind each step, and that fact was disrupting my entire recovery. Dr. Vatore said it was normal. This was grief.
At the beginning of the second month, Joseph texted everyday. His messages were filled with his own frustrations and fears, pleas for forgiveness, and hopes for the future. I couldn’t bring myself to reply. My heart cried to open, my will remained stronger. I didn’t want Joseph to call. I wanted him to come.
Wintonborough was as good a place as any for healing. My sister, Lee and brother-in-law, Sammy had relocated stateside, about an hour from Sim City on the eastern coast of the Sim Nation. They bought a lovely two-story home on Simsapeake Bay. Every morning I would walk barefoot through the soft grass, stopping just before the dock to nowhere, and stare out to the place where water met sky. The cumulonimbus clouds glided lazily by while the gentle waves from the sailboats wake lapped the shoreline as reeds danced in the bracing breezes.
I wondered what it would be like to soar up into the clouds, though no Sim had ever personally been granted the gift of flight. I knew of supernaturals with super speed and super strength, and even my vampiric/witch doctor could flap wings in bat form, but to truly fly… I closed my eyes, pressed my hands to my lips, and sighed. That would be a truly miraculous and spectacular gift.
Since Simtober arrived, the mornings were cooler, but still I treked out to the dock every morning, barefoot to drink in the sights. The deep blue waters acted as a mirror for the soul of the sky and each cloud rode a wave to the beach. Today Lee and Sammy were planning to go sailing, but I wasn’t ready yet to leave the comfort of the bank. Baby steps, I reminded myself. Someday. Was there hope on the horizon? I hoped so.
There was longing in my heart, but my head did not heed its call. I wanted to be free, to truly be free, but I was shackled to the impossible task of remembering my past so as to improve my present, and the heavy burden was building a dam against my future. I wasn’t sure how much longer Joseph would continue to call and text and write. My phone pinged and I grimaced. Lately he had been emailing.
Good morning, Elizabeth. It’s six a.m. here so it must be about nine a.m. there.
Joseph nearly hit the backspace. Of course, she’d know what time it is. He grimaced, wondering if she found his text messages annoying. He couldn’t help it. He missed her. The nights were long without his Lizzie. He found himself staying busy and staying with friends. It was better than staying alone. I sound so formal, he criticized. Elizabeth. Typically reserved for her parents when they were upset or mad at her, and here he was using her full name.
I wish you’d come home. If you still want space, I’ll respect your decision. I just wanted you to know…
…like I want you to know every day. His heart sank like a rock to the bottom of a lake. Plunk. Plunk. Plunk. He removed his glasses and leaned his head against the foyer wall. Did she even read his messages? Did she even care? Should he even bother?
What are you up to today, beautiful? I’m in the Springs today.
…wishing you were here.
Stayed the night at Cathy’s and Amy’s. Don’s still away on his honeymoon with Annie. The Tea-Cats needed some help moving wheelbarrows full of fertilizer and topsoil.
I offered to help since I’m still…
…umemployed? He groaned softly. Ergh! I can’t say that. His job in Magnolia Promenade didn’t work out. After his temp work was complete, the company didn’t hire him. He was still doing odd jobs here and there. Munter found him a job bartending in one of his family establishments. That paid the most, but the work wasn’t steady as they only needed him a few nights a week. He entered a karaoke contest with Akira. They won two hundred Simos. It wasn’t the same without Lizzie. In fact, he wondered why he never went singing with her. She probably would’ve liked that. Karleen’s boss hired him for an afternoon to move boxes of books to and from the truck and store. Now Cathy and Amy offered to pay him to help with their garden. Truth was they could probably do it themselves, but they were being nice. It’s pity money, but I’m desperate. He slammed his fist against the wall. Plum! I wish I wasn’t.
“Joseph, is that you?” Amy’s voice called down the hallway.
Feeling like a teenager, Joseph slipped out the door and around the back and attempted to climb through the guest bedroom window. He left it propped open the night before because of the heat. Even in Simtober, the weather was still hot. Amy had given him a key for the week, but this morning, he wasn’t sure he was ready to be around people. The newlyweds were still in that ooey-gooey love phase, reminding him of all the places he wasn’t. Amy knocked on the door.
“Joseph, are you awake? I made pancakes. Cathy made some oolong tea if you’re not hungry.”
Joseph took a moment to collect himself before exiting the bedroom. He nearly collided with a frantically scurrying Amy. She gripped a bottle of orange cleaner like a woman on a mission.
“Goodness, Cathy! Your keyboard is atrocious,” Amy exclaimed.
“Five more minutes,” Cathy promised, without looking up, as she furiously typed sentences.
“Uh uh,” Amy shook her head, bottle poised in hand. “You said that a half-hour ago. I’m cleaning.”
“No,” Cathy covered the keys with her arms defiantly. “You can’t. How will I remember Akira will say in his v-log to the fans?”
“Akira?” Joseph repeated.
“Yes!” Cathy said, clasping her hands together excitedly as she turned to face Joseph. “Akira agreed to star in my made-for-TV version of my Sierra and the S-Boys novel. I don’t even need to change his name. It’s perfect.”
“That’s cool. So you landed another television deal?” Joseph replied.
“Sim.tv,” Cathy nodded. “I’ve worked with them before. They did a short mini-series for Dr. Jasmine’s Casebook. They were happy with the results, and asked about the rights to other stories. Right now they’re doing casting for S-Boys. Ooo… you know what? You should make an appearance. I bet you’d get good Simos.”
“Cathy! Shoo!” Amy urged. “You can talk over on the couches.”
“Naw,” Cathy shook her head. “We should probably get working in the garden. I have Sweet Williams and chrysanthemums to plant. However…” she eyed Joseph up and down. “I think you’d do nicely for a guest appearance.”
“Star in a show?” Joseph said, stiltedly, his eyes widening.
“Nonsense,” Amy sprayed the desk and wiped the surface with a paper towel. “Joseph works in advertising. Oh!” she turned around and nearly sprayed Joseph in the face.
“Hey! Watch it!” he exclaimed, jumping back as he removed his glasses which caught the bulk of the mist.
“Cathy, you should hook Joseph up,” Amy suggested, grabbing Joseph’s arm and sitting down suddenly at the dining table.
“Oh yes!” Cathy’s eyes widened as she connected with her wife’s train of thought. “He would most definitely like to meet Joseph.”
“Um…” Joseph chuckled, awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck.
“He’d be perfect for you,” Amy grinned.
“Ooo,” Cathy squealed. “Yes, he’s been looking for a long time.”
“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?” Joseph interjected.
“You’d be a good fit for each other,” Cathy added.
“Amy! Cathy!” Joseph said forcefully. “Explain.”
Amy laughed, and Cathy just smiled.
“How do you feel about the title Vice President Joseph Simself of Digital Advertising and Sales?” Cathy inquired, her dark eyes twinkling.
“Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?” Amy said with a soft smile, laying a hand on top of his. “Joseph, this could be your big break.”
“This food is delicious, babe,” Sammy said as he sliced into his butternut squash and cherry tomato sauce. “Perfect for a crisp fall evening.”
“Hmm…” Lee blinked a few times before focusing on her husband.
Her mind was wrapped up with a certain occupant in the guest bedroom. Lizzie had barely left her room, save her morning walks down to the pier. She had tried to convince Lizzie to join them on a family outing, but like usual, Lizzie chose to stay at the house. Sailing had been particularly fun this morning, and it was nice to enjoy time alone with Sammy as it was a rare treat since the birth of baby Presley. Still… Lee twisted her lower lip. She was worried for Lizzie… and scared for her sister’s marriage.
“Is Presley sleeping?” Sammy inquired.
“Yes, finally,” she replied, wearily.
Her three-month-old was a precious bundle of energy, and had a set of lungs on him. She didn’t even feel guilty that Lizzie’s room was next to the baby’s and their room was on the second floor, even if it meant tripping sleepily down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night.
“Did you have a good afternoon at the office?” she asked.
“I did,” he smiled, and wiped his mouth with a napkin. “Do you miss the action?”
“You know I do,” she replied. “But we agreed this is best for us right now. And I can’t very well go traipsing through the jungles of Selvadorada with a baby strapped to my back and gun strapped to my hip.”
Sammy laughed. “Next family vacation?”
Lee gave him a friendly punch in the arm.
“Come on, babe. You gotta admit. It would be hot,” he teased.
“In more than one way,” she replied, and began mock-fanning herself before sobering as she noticed Lizzie leave the bedroom and walk to the bathroom across the hallway. “There’s…” she didn’t even manage to say ‘dinner,’ before her sister closed the door, ignoring her statement.
“She’s been here for seven weeks,” Sammy remarked. “Any improvement?”
“No,” Lee shook her head. “I’m afraid things are still quite… frosty with them.”
A loud wailing interrupted their conversation. Sammy set down his fork and stood.
“Okay, my turn,” he offered.
Lee sighed. “Thanks, babe. I’ll clean up in here.”
Sammy started into the other room. Lee began shuffling her dishes around, carrying them to the sink. The house phone rang, and she glanced over, pretty certain she knew what name would flash on the caller ID.
“No, she’s in the shower…” she said.
Or at least that’s what she thought.
“I’ll tell her you called.”
Suddenly overcome with gratitude for her working marriage and the husband who adored her, Lee set down the dish brush and walked into the baby’s room. She grabbed her husband, tugged him close, and planted a deep kiss on his mouth.
“What was that for?” Sammy asked.
Lee stared deeply into his eyes. “I love you.”
Author Note: Thanks for reading, everyone. So Wintonborough is not a place in Sims 4… but it is in my Simworld. Recently, I was redoing some of my surrounding towns just for fun, and then I came across Peacemaker’s rebuilds of Windenburg. I got lazy, and Peace’s designs are way better than my own. Sammy and Lee Sarafin had moved to the east coast of the Sim Nation from Windenburg, and I decided to just make it work for the story, thus Wintonborough was born. Located in Simsapeake (a.k.a. Maryland and Virginia) and close to Sim City (a.k.a. the Capitol), Wintonborough is the perfect place for Lizzie to hide out and heal.
The name was inspired by a few of Peace’s lots entitled “Winton” something. Although as the title implies, things are starting to look up so don’t worry. I won’t keep you in ‘heartbreak land’ forever. I’ve been playing Peace’s lots for a few weeks now and they are gorgeous. I highly recommend checking them out. I decided to follow Lizzie and Joseph over the course of separation. Since I control my Sim and my Sim only, I moved Lizzie out to her sister’s. When I switched back to Joseph, all of his actions were autonomous decisions or whims he rolled.
If you haven’t already, you should totally check out Cathy Tea’s stories, including Sierra and the S-Boys. And if you have the opportunity, you should check out Shadami’s ISBI challenge with Antwan Plum and company. In addition to Cathy Tea and Amy Cat, this chapter featured LegacySims2017‘s Joseph Simself, MINEZ‘ Sammy Sarafin, my Sim-sister, Lee Green, and introducing Presley Sarafin, my Simself’s nephew.