Thursday, December 22, 2011

Chapter Ten: Older

Phoenix slid out bed, blinking sleepily. He hadn't slept very well during the night, having kept himself awake with thoughts of this morning.

Tired as he was, he still remembered to make his bed before heading to the kitchen.

Rachel had already dressed and prepared breakfast by the time Phoenix joined her at the table.

"So, are you excited about starting school today?" she asked as he pulled up his chair.

"Sure, mom," he was really curious more than anything, but he supposed that he was at least a little excited to find out what it was going to be like.

Rachel finished her cereal and got up to wash her bowl.

"I'm sorry I won't be there to see you off on your first day," she told him over her shoulder, "but I talked to the Jacobs and they said it's fine if wait over there and take the bus with Paulie."

"Mmkay," he replied, shoving more sugary flakes into his mouth.

When he was dressed and ready, Phoenix walked with his mom out to the car.

"After school you can can either come home or go to Paulie's," Rachel instructed her son, "Don't go anywhere else, and call me if you need anything."

"I'll be fine, mom," he promised.

Phoenix watched her drive away in the patrol car before dashing across the street to the Jacobs' house.

He rang the doorbell and was let in by Cemre Jacobs, who directed Phoenix to his son's room.

Paulie wasted no time in elaborting on the horrors that Phoenix was sure to experience at school: strict teachers, grueling homework, and, the most dangerous, playground bullies.

"What you really need is to be prepared," Paulie grinned, "and I just thought of what you can do!"

"I'm not scared," Phoenix protested.

Paulie ignored him and started rummaging through his toy chest.

"I know it's in here somewhere," he mumbled, throwing toys out of the way as he searched.

"There, now you're protected! Even if they can fit your head in a toilet, you'll at least have the goggles to see while they try to flush you down. Maybe I should get you a nose plug, too?" Paulie pondered as he admired his handywork.

"No way!" Phoenix was not impressed with this plan.

Before Paulie could argue, his dad joined them in the room.

"It looks like you boys are having fun, but the school bus just pulled up. Better hurry!"

Phoenix shed his helmet and goggles before following Paulie out the door.

"I hope you know what you're doing," his friend warned.

Phoenix glanced at Paulie as the bus drove into town. Why was he always trying to scare him? Phoenix Keatts was not afraid. Then again, Paulie had been telling the truth about the hot dogs...

Soon, they were pulling up in front of the school, where a large crowd was gathering on the steps. Maybe, Phoenix admitted to himself, just maybe he was a little nervous.

Luckily, it turned out that Paulie seemed to be wrong this time.

"And there's this really cool glass cage with these bugs in it, and we all have to take turns taking care of the bugs and clean the cage and stuff," Phoenix had gone back over to the Jacobs' house after school, where Paulie's dad had gotten home from work and made a snack for the boys. Phoenix could tell that Paulie was getting annoyed with his enthusiastic rambling about school, but Cemre seemed interested, so he kept talking anyway.

After they were done eating, Cemre insisted that they do their homework, despite much grumbling from Paulie.

"It's not that bad," Phoenix thought aloud.

"Maybe not for you, you have first grade homework. I'm in second grade, that means my homework is two times as hard."

They were just finishing up when Emily Jacobs returned home from the fire station.

"I just saw your mom's car driving up, Phoenix," she said when she saw that her neighbor's son was visiting. Phoenix quickly answered the last questions in his notebook and gathered his things together to go home.

Rachel had stopped by the grocery store on her way home after the gym to pick up some fresh vegetables for Phoenix. She was glad that she was able to share her favorite meal, macaroni and cheese, with her vegetarian son, but now that she was cooking for more than just herself, she thought that she should probably try to aim for a more varied and balanced diet.

As she chopped, she heard the front door open and slam shut, "Don't slam the door!" she called out, "And go wash up, dinner's almost ready."

"So, how was it? Did you have fun?" Rachel asked as they sat down to eat.

"Yes!" Phoenix happily repeated everything he had already shared with Cemre to his mom.

Rachel smiled as she watched her son chattering away and eagerly munching on autumn salad. At least I'll never have to argue with him about eating his veggies, she thought.

After dinner, Phoenix did his chores, washing the dishes and taking out the trash, and still had a little bit of free time before it was time to go to bed. Rachel was grateful that he was finally getting old enough to help out around the house.

After Phoenix was asleep, Rachel poked her head in to check on him. He was growing up so fast, he wasn't going to be her little boy for much longer. She suddenly realized that this meant that she had been getting older, too. She look at the back of her hand; did it look a little more wrinkly than it had been before? She was thirty-five years old now, and she hadn't even managed to make it into the branch of her career that she had been striving toward all this time. Had it really been fifteen years that she'd been working, with so little to show for it? Sighing, she left her son to go to bed herself.


That last picture is Rachel aging up to adult without sparkles. I have a mod that disables a bunch of little effects like musical notes and Zs while sleeping, and I've been meaning to fix it so it doesn't disable the aging sparklies, but I keep forgetting about it. She started a midlife crisis as soon as she aged, so we'll see how that affects things next chapter. :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chapter Nine: What Are Little Boys Made Of?

Rachel received another promotion the day before Phoenix's birthday, having served as a Patrol Officer for less time than any of her previous positions. To celebrate, she drove her brand new police cruiser to the salon for a long overdue makeover.

The salon was busy that evening, so she put in her name and went to sit in the waiting area. As she walked by the mirrors, however, she couldn't help but notice that one of the other patrons seemed to be starring at her. Rachel grew concerned when the woman began to follow her into the next room.

"Excuse me," the woman apologized as she approached, "I'm sorry to bother you, but you look very familiar. You live over on Forest Drive, don't you? I'm your neighbor, Emily Jacobs."

"Oh, of course," Rachel nodded, realization finally dawning on her, "You're from the new family that moved in across the street."

"Not so new anymore," Emily shrugged sheepishly, "I've always meant to get out and meet the neighbors, but with my job and a small child, it kept getting pushed to the side."

"I understand completely," Rachel sympathized, "If I'm not at work, I'm busy taking care of my son, Phoenix."

As the two chatted, Rachel discovered that they had quite a bit in common. Besides being the mother of a little boy around the same age as hers, Emily worked for the city as a firefighter, and was married to a scientist. Perhaps Rachel had finally found some residents of Anne Arbor who were actually worth socializing with.

"Well, I better let you get to your appointment," Emily said, excusing herself, "I've had mine already and need to be getting home."

"You know," Rachel stopped her, deciding at the last minute to reach beyond her comfort zone, "We're having a party this weekend for Phoenix's birthday, why don't you come? I'm sure the boys would have fun together."

Emily agreed enthusiastically, and Rachel went to meet with her stylist.

"This is what I usually wear," Rachel demonstrated.

"Ugh, so bland!" the stylist exclaimed, "We have got to get some color on you."

Rachel wasn't so certain she had come to the right place anymore, especially if the woman's current outfit was any indication of her fashion sense.

Yep, that was exactly what she was afraid of.

About an hour and ten changes of clothes later, she was finally able to argue her way into something decent.

Introducing, Lieutenant Keatts! Now she could start out her new position and her son's new life stage in style.

"It's your big day today, Birthday Boy!" Rachel cooed as she dressed Phoenix the next morning.

Mother and son left early for Tokapie Park to set up for the party.

After the decorations were done, they played on the playground together until the guests arrived. Rachel felt a tinge of guilt as she realized that they should have spent more time together like this before Phoenix grew up.

"Say hello to Mrs. Jacobs, Phoenix," Rachel instructed. Phoenix just held on tightly to his mom.

"Is he being shy today?" Emily chuckled, then introduced her family, "This is my husband, Cemre, and my son, Paulie."

"Hello!" Paulie chirped, politely.

After greetings were made, it was time for the celebration. It seemed to Rachel that it was just the other day that she was holding an infant up to the candles. She hoped that Phoenix hadn't lost as much faith in wishes as she had since then.

Her little boy was growing up so quickly.

Rachel insisted that they eat lunch before cake, but gave Phoenix his present to play with while they waited.

Phoenix excitedly unwrapped a SnapTastic camera, "Thanks, Mom!"

While the boys ran off together to take pictures, the ladies got to work on the barbeque. Unfortunately, Cemre couldn't stay any longer and took his leave early, leaving Emily and Rachel to their gossip.

"So, his father's not in the picture?" Emily asked sympathetically as she watched the kids play.

"No... he's in China," Rachel admitted.

Emily nodded knowingly, "I'm  sure most men would be in China if they had the chance," she scoffed.

"It's not exactly like that--"

"Paulie Jacobs, you leave those bugs alone!" Emily cut her off, saving her from having to try and explain exactly how it was like.

Meanwhile, Paulie was abandoning the bugs as requested in order to impart some of his vast stores of knowledge unto Phoenix. Being a whole year and a half older, he felt that this was his duty.

"Do you know what hot dogs are made of?" he asked his pupil, making clear that he, of course, knew quite well.

"No, what?" Phoenix prompted, warily.

"They're made from ground up animal guts and bones and brains," he said, putting particular emphasis on the last ingredient.

"That's gross," Phoenix covered his mouth with his hands to prevent himself from gagging.

"It's true!" Paulie insisted.

"I don't believe you, I'm going to go take more pictures," Phoenix rolled his eyes as he walked away.

"Why don't you take some more pictures of me?" his self-appointed tutor offered.

"No thanks," he grumbled.

"Boys! Lunch is ready!" Emily announced as Rachel was putting the hot dogs on a plate.

"Mmm! I can't wait to eat some delicious ground up dead animals!" Paulie snickered as he heeded the call.

Phoenix hesitated as he sat at the table, watching the others chow down on their food.

"Mom, hot dogs aren't made out of ground up dead animals, are they?"

"Wha- why?" Rachel was taken completely aback, she wasn't prepared at all to answer a question like that.

"They're not, right?" Phoenix insisted.

"Well, they are made out of pieces of meat, yes," she admitted.

"And meat is dead animals," he stared blankly at the plate in front of him.

"Phoenix, honey, we need to eat protein in order to be strong and healthy," Rachel's voice had a taken on a note of desperation.

"And it tastes delicious!" Paulie contributed before stuffing his mouth with a huge bite.

"I don't want to eat dead animals!" Phoenix sprung away from the table and the offending dish, "I won't, I won't!"

Rachel nearly choked she was so shocked by such an extreme, unexpected outburst.

"Phoenix!" she called after him, before turning to apologize to their guests, "I'm so sorry, I don't know what got into him. I guess I better take him home."

"Thanks for the hot dogs, Mrs. Keatts!" Paulie called after her as she went after her son.

"That's Ms., Paulie, she's not married," Rachel could hear Emily correcting her son as she walked away.

"Huh? Doesn't Phoenix have a dad?"

Rachel sped up, she didn't want to hear the response to that question; even she couldn't think of an explanation for her family that didn't make her sound like a floozy. The circumstances of her pregnancy had never bothered her before, but she had never previously discussed them with others, either. Just imagining the gossip that people could make out of it made her realize how much easier it had been being a loner and not having to deal with that kind of nonsense.

Back at home, Phoenix was still rather upset, so Rachel tried to cheer him up by letting him eat cake for dinner since they hadn't gotten to at the party due to its abrupt ending.

"This is just for your birthday, though," Rachel warned, "You're going to have to eat real food tomorrow."

"As long as it's not dead animals," Phoenix mumbled into the frosting.

Rachel sighed, what on earth was she going to do with this kid?


The chapter title is a reference to an old nursery rhyme and, if it's not obvious by now, Phoenix's new trait is vegetarian. Disclaimer: I'm actually vegan myself, although I've never used the vegetarian trait in the sims before now. I was much older than Phoenix when I stopped eating meat, and had much different reasons than he does, and over all his experience of vegetarinism isn't necessarily going to reflect my personal beliefs. Just thought I'd throw that out there. :P

Anyway, SP had moved in a motley crew of sims across the street awhile ago, and I mostly ignored them due to Rachel's anti-social nature. Turns out that two of them had gotten married and had a kid, although I didn't even notice until he was most of the way through the toddler stage. When I investigated and found out that the little tyke had the Evil trait, I knew I just had to work him into the story as a contrast to Phoenix's Good trait. So, I kicked the excess sims out of the house and arranged a chance encounter between Rachel and Emily, and voilĂ ! I'm very excited to see where things go from here. ^_^

As far as the generation rolls, Rachel is one promotion away from joining the forensic career track, and her children and misc fun (multi-cultural) goals were basically completed when Phoenix was born. She has been kind of stuck on the opportunist goal for awhile, though. She got an opportunity to gain a skill point in martial arts right before she left for China, and she got one while she was there, but it didn't register and it's been taking her forever to get another one since then. She is working on it though, so it still counts!