While I was hard at work on my outline and chapters for my latest story Spice Corridor, Joseph would often go jogging, especially when I was major league frustrated with my inability to phrase things the way I wanted. Plum words. Sometimes the stray cats tried to keep up as Joseph slowed his pace with a smile. They seemed to take a liking to him. I tried to find a way to include these neighborhood cuties as they seemed to hang out in Thymes Square on almost a nightly basis. Sometimes I’d take a journal, sit on a colorful park bench, pop in my headphones to listen to some soothing jazz, and scribble all sorts of notes, imagining all the different people from different walks of life over the decades pass through this area, and all the little animals who inserted themselves into their lives.
“Are the kits yours?” a bearded man in a blue-button down shirt and jeans inquired.
“Naw…but they sure like to follow me,” Joseph replied, bending down to scratch one of the cats on the side of her face.
She purred gratefully.
“Are they strays?” the man prodded.
“I guess,” Joseph shrugged.
“They seem well fed.”
“This is the city. They find scraps anywhere. And people are usually nice enough to feed them around. You new around here?”
“Yeah, just moved from back East. My family’s from around here though. My grandfather settled in that very building…” he pointed. “The name is Ace… Ace Reynolds.”
The men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
After his shower, Joseph joined me in the office, plopping down to play a game of Blicblock.
“Wait! Ace Reynolds!?” I exclaimed. “The spaceship pilot?”
Now I was bummed I hadn’t taken out my earbuds and paid closer attention to the park gatherers.
“I don’t know about that,” Joseph shrugged. “He said he was in video game programming.”
“Do you know any other Ace Reynolds?” I said, whirling from my computer screen excitedly. “Oh I’d love to interview him for this book. Did you get contact info for him?”
“No,” Joseph shrugged, clicking a few buttons. “I just met the guy.”
“He moved from back East,” I placed the pieces together. “The Reynolds family are pioneers in space exploration. They lived for generations in this very neighborhood…” I flipped through my books. “I came across it in my research, I know.”
“Okay, well, I’m sure we’ll see him again since he said he moved into the neighborhood.”
I squealed and clapped my hands. “I am so putting together a list of questions to ask him.”
At the end of the month, my neighbor, Annie arranged a little get together as celebration for finishing my first draft of Spice Corridor. I even managed to land an interview with the much elusive Ace Reynolds. He was pretty shy and generally avoided writers as a rule of thumb, but he made an exception for an up-and-coming author. You never know what kinds of celebrities you’ll run into in the city.
Annie drove Anne Charming, Amy Cat, and myself to Magnolia Promenade across the border in northern Wasimington. I had never been before, and I wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy shopping. I typically went alone when I needed new clothes. Mostly because I liked to get in and out of stores quickly. Annie seemed to have an endless supply of crop tops and she claimed Magnolia Promenade had the best. Amy also said something about enjoying “dressing” other people, picking out outfits and the like. She seemed to have an eye for interesting patterns. Anne wanted to find a new perfume and a few shirts for her workplace. I was the only one who didn’t have a shopping agenda.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” I eyed Annie sharply.
“Too late to back out now,” she said, and linked arms with me. “Come on. It’ll be fun, Lizzie.”
Annie convinced me to try out the outfit from the model in the window.
“Too pale,” I said as she ‘ooo’ed and ‘ahh’ed.
I did like the long sweater look though, even if I wasn’t a fan of the leggings.
“What are you saying, Lizzie? I like the sparkle!” Annie smiled.
“I already have an outfit like this,” I remarked. “I like the blue a bit better.”
“It’s more your colors anyway, Annie,” Anne said, while admiring some perfume bottles. “What do you think of this scent, Amy?” she asked her roommate.
Amy sniffed. “Ugh! Definitely not. I’m going upstairs.”
“I kinda like it,” Anne replied.
Annie convinced me to try on another outfit from one of the models.
“You look nice in leather,” the clerk complimented.
I wasn’t sure what her angle was. I didn’t like the distressed jeans. Plus tan really wasn’t my color. What’s up with all the bland colors here? Plus the model wore it better. She was way skinnier. They needed plus size mannequins, and I determined to leave a comment card.
Amy took a shining to a white jean jacket and blue tank layered look.
While Annie chatted up a male patron in pink jeans, I tried one more outfit. I tried to match the model’s serious look while the mannequin child seemed to be eyeing me up and down. I was actually a fan of the hat and the skirt, but the nylons were itchy and the boots were just okay. I still preferred a higher boot. Maybe the store had some knee high boots… or better yet…thigh high. Dream on Lizzie! I thought to myself. Gotta get in better shape for those. I made a mental note to start working out next month.
As I walked away, comfortable to be back in my own clothes, I noticed a conservative looking blazer hanging along the wall. I might be able to use one of those for work, I thought. The male mannequin rocked the black shirt.
“Hey, I think an old friend of mine has that exact dress,” I exclaimed as I walked past a pastel blue flowered dress.
“I like the hat,” Anne remarked as she bypassed me, approaching a table with neatly folded tee shirts and socks.
“So find anything fabulous?” Annie asked.
“Not really,” I sighed. “You?”
“About a half dozen cute tops,” Annie said. “You didn’t find anything?”
I winced. “Maybe a hat and skirt, but I’d like more color. I’m thinking green.”
“That’s your favorite, right?” Amy interjected as she joined us.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“I might be able to help you out,” Amy smiled and took my arm. “Come with me.”
Annie picked out a bright pink and yellow dress while Anne tried on a floor-length wild print gown with vibrant oranges, yellows, and hot pinks. Amy, on the other hand, handed me the brown cap I had been eyeing, a green blouse, and a brown pencil skirt. I snagged a little necklace from the counter to complete the ensemble as Anne kicked me a pair of goldenrod platforms.
“I’ll take them,” I agreed, after eyeing myself seriously in the mirror, still trying to perfect the mannequin stare.
“And you’re taking this too,” Amy said, pulling a yellow dress in my size from the rack. “No protesting. I’m buying it for you.”
“Wait… why?” I frowned.
“Because you’re going to look great!” Amy insisted.
“The price!” I gasped.
“Don’t worry about it. We’re celebrating your completion of your novel. Think of it as a present.”
“Well, yellow is kind-of inspiring,” I smiled. “Okay. An exchange? I’m buying you that purple blouse and jean jacket you wanted.”
“Deal,” Amy grinned.
On the final weekend in Simgust, Amy invited us up to Planet Honey Pop for a night of karaoke and cocktails. Unfortunately, she was working in back, but she did promise to pop out later and got us discounted drinks and entry. Annie showed up, rocking her new shiny white skinny jeans and a gold little crop top she picked up in Magnolia Promenade. I, of course, wore my yellow dress and boots. Maybe I was going for a little Simeron Diaz in Knight and Day. We took the floor by surprise with our country duet of Life is a Highway.
Ali showed up and teased us for starting without her.
“I think I can take you,” she said.
“Oh really?” I placed a hand on my hip. “Let’s go.”
We tried… emphasis on tried… to sing a version of I Need a Hero. Ali brought her own special brand of awesome with her shy smile and graceful arm gestures. I just let loose and belted my heart out.
After two songs, my pipes needed a rest. I joined Anne at a nearby table and sipped a glass of wine. Annie, on the other hand, enthusiastically showed her support for the latest singer, a blonde bearded man singing a jazz favorite, Fly Me to the Moon. There wasn’t a single person sitting in the house when he finished. Everyone clapped, cheered, and whistled. He was the real deal. I’m pretty sure Annie wanted to fly just about anywhere with the guy. She even approached him after his song to give him accolades personally.
“You’ve got an amazing voice,” Annie gushed. “I just want to curl up with this song and a cup of hot cocoa… with my cat and a warm blanket draped across my lap while I’m in my windowsill on an early spring day. That’s what your music makes me think.”
“Well aren’t you just a tall glass of bubbly champagne,” he said.
She blushed and nearly fell off the stage in her high heels. He, of course, caught her. We let Annie be alone with her latest crush.
On my way out of the karaoke bar, I spotted Akira.
“Going so soon?” he inquired. “The night is just getting started.”
“Akira?” I waved, surprised to see him. “It’s almost one in the morning.”
I still couldn’t get over the fact that I knew Akira Kibo, pop singer with a dozen singles and a half dozen records.
“Sleep when you’re dead,” Akira shrugged, his hood scrunched up around his face as he moved his shoulders. “Don’t you want to sway among the stars? And dance like there’s no tomorrow? We’re young. It’s time to be alive.”
“I’d like to be alive…”
“So you aren’t alive?”
“Ha! No… yes…” I yawned. “I mean…I’m sleepy and in need of my pillow.”
“Going to bed so soon?” Akira teased. “There’s a great little club in Uptown that doesn’t close until dawn. I was headed there now. You should come. The chairs are so comfy, I bet they’d feel better than your pillow.”
Was he flirting with me?
“Uptown? Haven’t been there yet,” I said, trying to keep my tone neutral. “And I think I’ll go home and sleep with my husband.”
Akira clicked his tongue. “Suit yourself.”
“I’d like to go home when I can still remain upright,” I chuckled. “But thanks for the offer.”
I was tired alright. So tired I couldn’t even make it to the bed as I laid down on the couch. Joseph came to check on me around two-thirty.
“Alright, come on, Lizzie,” he said, nudging me from my resting place.
“Joseph… sorry… I meant to come to bed, but…” I began, leaning my tired head on his shoulder. “Mmm… you make a nice pillow.”
“Pillow?” he made a face.
“Long story, but trust me… you plus pillow equals a…mazing…”
Author Note: Hi everyone, thanks for reading. I really enjoyed all the autonomous actions in this chapter. Ace Reynolds is a Sim I created awhile ago and he finally popped up in one of my stories. Yay! FYI, Simeron Diaz is a play on Cameron Diaz and if you haven’t watched the hilarious spy parody, Knight and Day… here.