Gravity always makes things fall. If the sun rises, it must also set. A flower blooms and withers and dies. There is no uncertainty. You cannot ride the the wave forever. At some point, the water must return to the ocean. I should’ve known bliss wouldn’t last. I should’ve known tomorrow would come.
When Rob pulled up to the curb outside his house and saw the sorrowful face of his baby girl in the arms of a strange woman, not her mother, I knew things would be different. I waited in the car on a rare rainy day in Oasis Springs. It was fitting to see the droplets of water crowd my view from the passenger seat as if the universe mourned the death of a relationship before it really got its wings to flutter off the ground.
When Rob returned to the car and dropped his head against the steering wheel, I knew. I knew something was terribly wrong.
“The courts settled our custody issues,” he said.
There was no anger in his tone, no ire in his voice, just inexplicable sadness. Rob had lost custody of his daughter. Catarina had received full custody and Rob would only have visitation rights. It wasn’t fair. It didn’t seem right. Rob practically raised his daughter all on his own until more recently. While we were in San Myshuno, Catarina had made a final last ditch effort to stick it to her ex… saying he was off frolicking with a much younger woman…and she won. Rob and I were barely two years apart.
“I feel like a loser,” Rob exhaled a shuddering sigh.
“You aren’t a loser,” I reached out to touch his shoulder, but he flinched beyond my grasp.
He had forty-eight hours and then Carrie would be removed to live with her mother. San Myshuno wasn’t a place to raise a little girl, Catarina had claimed. She would instead be taking their daughter back East to Brindleton Bay. Apparently, she had secured a job working in a maritime restaurant and museum as a chef, and the courts had ruled this was more stable than life with a night club manager/former bartender.
I asked what Rob was going to do. He said he didn’t have a choice. Carrie would go live with her mom. And he would finish out his affairs in the Springs and follow. I couldn’t help but feel like it almost sounded callous the way he said affairs. Was I one of those? Was that selfish?
He could find an apartment or rent out a house so he could be close to his little girl. She needed him. What about me? What if I needed him? No where in his statements or plans did he mention me. I felt horribly selfish, but I cared about him.
With a lump in my throat, I told him to go.
“Do what you need to do… and this… us…it’ll be… there will be another time.”
“I don’t know how long I’ll…”
“Ask me to wait, Rob, and I will.”
“…how long this will take… how long I’ll be…”
“It’s okay,” I said, even as my heart was breaking.
“…it wouldn’t be fair.”
“This whole thing isn’t fair, and it’s not your fault.”
“Yes, I could’ve tried harder. I should’ve gotten a lawyer. My dad warned me not to agree to this no attorney thing.”
“Rob… you couldn’t have known. And seriously, you’re worth waiting for… both of you. I’ll wait.”
“But Rob…” my face fell.
“Elizabeth,” he said, firmly. “I can’t ask you to wait. It’s over.”
And that was that. We didn’t talk about it again. I came inside with him, mostly to say my goodbyes to Carrie because I knew Rob would want to spend as much time with her as possible. Carrie was fussy tonight, and I didn’t blame her. I offered to give Carrie her night bath, and quickly brushed past Rob into the bathroom before he could disagree. As soon as I was behind the closed door, I leaned against the wood, tears stinging my eyelids.
“I don’t wanna… I don’t wanna… I don’t wanna go…” Carrie cried.
I swiped at my own tears, and tried to smile.
“I hate my mommy!”
“You don’t hate her…”
I might, but you shouldn’t.
“I haaate haaate haaate mommy…”
“No you don’t.”
“I can’t… I…” Carrie cried dramatically.
“Carrie, wait… here… look… do you see my hair? Look I got pink highlights in San Myshuno…”
“Pink?” Carrie perked up, and hiccuped.
It was her favorite color.
“See! See!” she demanded, holding her arms up to me.
“I thought you’d like them. Now they aren’t permanent… that means they won’t last… but aren’t they fun?”
I dropped to my knees and she pulled at my braid, inspecting the hair. She threw her arms around my neck and whispered.
“I luf you.”
That’s it, kid! I nearly lost it. My eyes welled with tears and I squeezed the little girl fiercely.
“I love you too,” I whispered.
Rob packed up his car in the next two days. He quit his job. He turned down the night club manager job in San Myshuno. I came to see him off. It was a mistake. I cried a river… no, more like drowned Rob’s shirt in a lake. I hated that he saw me like this. He told me not to wait. It was okay to move on. No one as beautiful and young as me should wrap her whole life up in a high-school dropout, loser bartender, single dad who just lost custody of his kid and was forced to move back east to try and make things work.
“You’re not a loser, Rob,” I sniffled. “You’re not. I could come with you.”
Rob kissed the top of my head fiercely. “I’m still a loser, but thanks. For always believing in me, Lizzie.”
“I’m the loser, Rob,” I said, barely above my breath as I waved goodbye.
I went home, and held my chin high, and pretended like things would be okay, like the courts would rule again in his favor, and he could move back to Oasis Springs, or better yet San Myshuno, and I would come with him, and we’d be together again, but I knew better. Outwardly, I was put together. Inwardly, I was a wreck.
I couldn’t even drink a cup of coffee without crying, and everyone knows how much I love coffee. I couldn’t stand to be out in the kitchen, to see the pitying faces of my family so I hid in the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and sniffled to my heart’s content, the tears plinking into my cup.
Joseph heard about my break-up through the grapevine… probably Lee to Sammy and Sammy to him. I was surprised to see a text message from him, saying he was sorry, how he wished things were different, and how he wanted me to be happy.
Some days I didn’t even get dressed, but I still somehow managed to eat, mostly because Mom or Dad made me something. Nothing tasted right to me. Not even coffee. I would sniff the bag of beans but I was too lazy and hurting too badly to make the coffee myself. Finally, Mom brewed a pot, getting tired of my moping.
“You doing okay?” Mom would ask me, ad nauseam.
“Yeah, Mom, sure,” was my standard response.
For the first time in weeks, the coffee tasted great. Maybe my taste buds were coming back. There was something familiar about the flavor. I sighed, almost happily, as I settled into a bar stool. Coffee made me smile a little. I wished it could heal my heart. My moment of happy didn’t last as Lee sauntered into the kitchen humming.
Lee had been away on a solo trip with Sammy also. They visited Monte Vista in his home country so she could meet his family. I returned, brokenhearted, and she came back engaged. Of course, she came back with a rock the size of all Simtalia on her finger.
“Please… Emily!” I used her given name as I rubbed the sides of my forehead. “I have a headache.”
“Oh sorry…” Lee covered her mouth with her hand. “I didn’t even realize.”
“Yeah, well realize!” I folded my arms over my chest.
“Elizabeth, you don’t have to be a bear!” Mom chided.
“Oh you finally broke into the Simlombian coffee bag!” Lee exclaimed.
“It’s Simlombian coffee?” I perked up. “But that stuff’s expensive…” I frowned, looking at my mother.
“Don’t look at me,” Mom shrugged.
“It’s from Joseph, silly!” Lee giggled, leaning over the counter as she poured herself a cup. “He sent it over as a ‘cheer up’ gift for Lizzie.”
Nora was a little better than the rest of the family. She was still pining after Julian, evidently. She tried to understand. It wasn’t the same. She reheated a piece of tilapia that Dad grilled, and even garnished the plate with a lemon and a sprig of fresh garden herbs. I almost cried when I saw the summer savory, thinking of all the herbs I harvested in San Myshuno.
“What? No herbs?” Nora asked, widening her eyes. “You love herbs.”
“Rob…” I whimpered, laying my head on my arms resting on the counter.
“Right? Got it!” Nora cleared off the herbs and replaced them with a piece of spinach and plunked large cups of Simlombian coffee on the island.
“Thanks… Norie…” I smiled, sadly.
Coffee was my lifeline. I sent Joseph a thank you text.
The family was oddly worried to leave me alone. I was heartbroken, but I wasn’t a danger to myself. I purposely avoided texting or calling Rob, waiting for him to contact me. I figured it was better that way. He texted once to say he arrived, but not since then.
I made up all sorts of horrid scenarios in my head – the worst that he reconciled with Catarina so he could be close to Carrie and they could be a family again… without me. I buried myself in books. I could escape into literature. A novel never cared if I was in my pajamas all day without makeup. A novel never told me I looked like llama crap. And best yet, a novel never asked me if I was okay. My sisters took shifts watching over me… hovering near me in the interest of spending time, but I think they felt bad.
Dad didn’t try to understand, but he did try to make me laugh. He tried the whole “lost his arm” thing… under his vest.
“Dad, I’m not five years old!” I protested.
“Sorry…” he rubbed his head awkwardly. “I just want you to be okay.”
“I will be, Dad,” I sighed, heavily. “Eventually.”
I wasn’t even sure what I was mourning. Did I miss Rob? Did I regret taking the trip? I covered my mouth and told Dad I wasn’t feeling well, bolting from the balcony. Did I regret our night together? Maybe I should’ve been sure first… really sure… that I loved him and he loved me… and that we’d be together forever. I didn’t need a ring… because I wasn’t sure I was ready to get married, but I needed more. I needed something. I had something and it was yanked away, and it was yanked away after I gave away everything. Was I being punished? Suddenly, everything that made sense didn’t anymore. I needed to get out of the house.
When I did venture outside, I didn’t want to be recognized. I buried myself in a comfy teal cat track suit, and pulled the hood up. I jogged around town. I ran past Rob’s old house. The curtains in the windows made me cry, the ones we picked out at the House Depot. I’m pathetic.
I couldn’t help but notice the for sale sign in Joseph’s yard. He was moving? He did mention an opportunity to work in San Myshuno awhile back, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I kind-of wished I had an opportunity to pop off to the city and pull my life back together.
I stopped running and returned to the house, staring at the sign. He’s really leaving. For some reason, this left a heavy weight in my heart.
“Excuse me?” a woman in a sharp business suit and heels walked across the lawn. “Are you interested in buying a house?”
“Who me?” I looked around.
“Yes, you,” she replied. “It’s a one-bedroom, one bath with a kitchen, dining, living area, and very reasonably priced. The owner wanted a quick sale.”
“He did, did he?”
“Yes…” she frowned. “Excuse me? Do you know the owner?”
“Um… have a nice day…” I ran away before she could see my tears.
Rob left. Joseph was leaving. I was pathetic. I needed to leave too. I had to get out of here.
I decided I had to do something productive. I popped into the library and started writing. At first, everything I wrote sounded like crap, and then it started to make sense. The words flowed freely from my fingers. They had heart. They had soul. They had grit. I wrote for hours and hours, until the library was closing, and then I went home and wrote more. I wrote more than I had ever written before in my life, and before I knew it, I had a story… and I felt alive.
Within a week, I submitted my first draft to my beta readers – Teresa, Ali, and Cathy. All three gave me constructive, but positive feedback. Cathy put me in touch with her publisher in San Myshuno. I sent my draft in.
After another two weeks, I was contacted by an agent, who wanted to represent me. The publishing company accepted my book, and they wanted to know if there would be another in the series. I was on the phone with my agent for the third time when I realized something.
“Are you related to Brooklyn Chambers?”
“Yes, she’s my daughter. Oh my! Wait! Lizzie? The Lizzie Green? I should’ve known, even with the E.G. Green! Oh my goodness! We’re neighbors…” she sounded like she pulled the phone away from her mouth. “Honey… we’re neighbors with my latest client… Oh my gawd! Lizzie… how exciting! Yes, you’ve babysat my daughter and son many times…Dallas!” she yelled away from the phone again. “Honey? Lizzie is my neighbor… wait… can you see me?” she seemed to direct to me.
I walked to the balcony so I could see Holland Chambers waving to me from the window of the house across the street.
“Hey,” I waved awkwardly. “So tell me more about this book series thing?”
Holland gushed on and on for a few minutes, excitedly filling me in on the details of publication.
“…and we’ve got you scheduled for a book tour in Simvada, Califorsimia, and Simizona…”
“Wait… what? Book tour?”
“Oh yes, it’s fairly standard when the company loves a book and wants to promote their newest author. You’re gonna love it!”
“Wait… how soon would I leave?”
“Well, right away… if you can… and then keep ’em coming! They loved your book. Loved your book. They want more. I want more. It’s gonna be great.”
I managed to gather everyone, except Dad around the table for my news. We Simype-d him in from his interview in Newcrest.
“This is so exciting! I’m so proud of you, Lizzie!”
“This is such a wonderful opportunity,” my mother smiled. “We’ll miss you.”
“Wow… all such exciting things happening for us,” Nora clapped her hands.
She was heading off to university. Lee would be leaving to accompany Sammy back to Simtalia on an acquisitions trip for their work. They would be back for a few weeks around Christmas and then both received assignment in the Sim Union. I didn’t ask. Government secrets and all.
“I’m going to miss all my girls… aww… hugs...” Dad said, through the screen.
I decided to take one last walk through Desert Bloom Park before leaving. I would be busy in the next few days saying goodbye to friends, packing, and prepping for my book promotions tour. I was complaining to myself about wearing the wrong shoes, annoyed that my boot heel kept getting caught in the dirt when I ran into Joseph.
“Uh… hey…” he said.
“Hi…” I replied, sort-of stunned to see him.
“I thought you left…”
“I heard you came by…”
We both grinned, talking over one another again.
“I didn’t leave,” he went first. “Not yet. I’m moving a week from Tuesday.”
“Yeah, I’m going on a book tour for my latest novel, Orphan Song. It’s being published by a real publishing house,” I added.
“Lizzie, that’s great!” Joseph said, excitedly. “I’m really…”
I didn’t miss that he swallowed hard, and my heart twinged. Did he miss me too? Did the thought of me leaving make him unhappy?
“…happy for you. Your book tour doesn’t happen to swing through San Myshuno?” Joseph winced, hopefully.
“No…Califorsimia and Simizona… so I’m flying south,” I chuckled. “San Myshuno? So you got the Simstagram job?”
“Yeah, I left Nookstone News about three months ago and I’ve been telecommuting, but it’s time I move up there,” he explained. “I won’t have my own place right away. I’ll have roommates.”
“So you’re heading north?” I hated the annoying little catch in my throat.
What’s wrong with you, Lizzie?
“Say, Lizzie! Let me throw you a goodbye party!”
“Yeah, a sort-of farewell celebratory thing before you go on tour.”
“But your house? It’s… you’ve… I mean… aren’t you busy packing and moving and everything? I can’t ask you to…”
“You’re not. I’m offering.”
“Are you sure?”
“Lizzie Green… look at you… published author… this is worth throwing a party.”
“Okay… I guess… thanks…”
“You’re welcome… and Lizzie?”
“Promise you’ll keep in touch?”
Author Notes: Sorry the world’s longest chapter. HA! Now that I have my game up-to-date and reinstalled on my new desktop (as of late January) and all my saves are there, I can most definitely jump ahead and play the next chapter. (Yes, all this time I’ve been using screenshots from my games with no access to the game itself). Hopefully no more glitches.
In game, Catarina moved to Brindleton Bay and in a glitch, Carrie ended up in her household. I cheated to place Carrie back in Oasis Springs for the few shots in which you see her. But Rob broke up with Lizzie autonomously, but then they both cried. They were both so depressingly sad. It was so distressing and heart breaking. I didn’t really need a song to get in the mood, but I was listening to this song – Diana Krall’s cover of How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? Lizzie took a long time, more time than usual, to “get over” Rob if you can call it that. I’m planning to jump ahead in the story a bit because it just makes sense and the play time was semi-boring in here anyhow.
Then the game took a surprisingly happy turn. Lizzie was promoted to novelist over time and I decided whomever the first person she met with (who she had never met before) would be her agent. And that’s how Lizzie met Holland. Super glitchy game prevented pictures.
And then, Lizzie met Joseph in the park by pure chance. He chatted with her, complimented her, and then he invited her to a party. Unfortunately, my game crashed right when I sent her to the party, so I had to creatively come up with an alternate ending. I think this one will suffice. 😛
Thanks for reading. FYI, Simtalia is my Simworld version of Italy and the Sim Union is my Simworld version of Europe. This chapter featured pammiechick’s Holland Chambers, Joseph Simself from LegacySims2017, and InfraGreen’s/Trip’s Rob Buckley and Carrie.