Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chapter Seventeen: Going Forward

Rachel had gotten lost in thought while gazing at old photos of her little boy when a honk from outside brought her back to the present.

She walked slowly out to the car where her son sat behind the wheel waiting for her; she wasn't in at all in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Phoenix, who had insisted on driving, checked his tassel impatiently in the mirror; as far as he was concerned they couldn't get to the graduation ceremony soon enough.

And soon enough, indeed, Phoenix was leaving city hall with his diploma clutched triumphantly in his hand.

Rachel sniffled, trying to hold back her tears so her melancholy wouldn't mar Phoenix's big day.

She wasn't the only who was emotional about such a life-changing event, though.

"I can't believe it, it's over and we'll never be high school students again," Sadie's voice quivered. 

"Hey, that's a good thing," Phoenix comforted her, "Who needs high school when we've got the whole world open to us now?"

"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Sadie tried to smile bravely.

Rachel tried not to think too hard about what her rebellious son might do with the whole wide world at his fingertips.

And she was right to worry. Phoenix knew that his mother never would have given her permission while he was a minor, so his first act as a high school graduate was to get the tattoo he'd always wanted.

"There, all done," Janette Velez stood back to admire her work, "You handled that pretty well, most people are pretty squeamish their first time."

"It wasn't so bad," Phoenix shrugged before thanking her and setting off for the next item on his to-do list.

Now that he'd had some fun, it was time to get a bit more serious and apply for the work program at the hospital. 

Tanner Rice was visiting and looked somewhat concerned that someone with dyed hair and skulls on their shirt was going to be working there, but I don't think he recognised Phoenix as his old acquaintance's son.

Phoenix paused at the door, uncertain for a moment himself. Had he really made the right decision? What if he didn't get into the program?

He had nothing to worry about, however, and a few hours later he strode out of the building confidently, having been accepted immediately after filling out the required paperwork.

The next morning Phoenix awoke to his mother making breakfast in the kichen, which was uncommon for a weekday, "That smells delicious, mom, I'm starving!"

Rachel had the day off and had decided to send her son to his first day of work with a warm meal in his belly. She didn't want to give any reason for this day to not go smoothly for him, so she bit her lip and tried not to stare when she noticed the fresh ink on his shoulder.

She watched as Phoenix scarfed down his pancakes and hurried to get ready. She was so proud of how he had figured out what he wanted to do and was making it all come together as he moved forward in his life. 

Then the carpool was there and Phoenix was calling a quick goodbye as he sped out the door.

After clearing away breakfast, getting dressed and tidying up the house, Rachel settled down with the newspaper, not knowing what else to do with her free time and an empty house.

She was browsing aimlessly through the headlines when one caught her eye. The annual international Sim Fu competition was coming up, and that was always worth reading about. This year it was going to be held in Shang Simla, China, at the Phoenix Martial Arts Academy.

Rachel slowly folder the newspaper and put it down. A jolt had shot through her body when she read the name of the city that had changed her life. She knew that Zhan couldn't be living in Shang Simla anymore - he would have gotten her letter if he was - but would he visit for an international competition? Would he even want to see her after all these years? Did she still want to see him?

Her heart racing as these thoughts tumbled through her mind, Rachel decided she needed to meditate on this new information before making a decision on what, if anything, she wanted to do.


Bonus graduation pics:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chapter Sixteen: Once Again

"Mom, mom, I've got it! I figured out what I'm going to do!" Phoenix rushed into the kitchen after school one day, excited and out of breath.

"That's great, honey!" Rachel turned away from the sink full of dirty dishes to greet her son, "So, what is it?"

"Well, we went on a field trip to Anne Arbor General Hospital today, and they were telling us all about this work/study program they have, that you can start right out of high school. So, that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to be a doctor!"

Phoenix was so excited to finally have a goal to work toward that he didn't want to wait until graduation, and started diving into his medical studies to the best of his ability in his free time. Rachel was proud to see her son striving so diligently; she figured she must have managed to pass on her work ethic to him somehow, after all.

Of course, he still managed to find time for all the usual senior activities, too.

"So, Sadie, will you go to prom with me?"

"Oh! Well, I supposed, since no one's asked me out yet this time," Sadie agreed, teasingly.

It wasn't long after that when she showed up at the Keatts' all dressed up for the dance.

"Wow, you look... great," Phoenix found his vocabulary lacking in this regard.

"Thanks, I made the dress myself," Sadie blushed, not seeming to mind.

"Aren't you two the cutest!" Rachel interrupted.

"Let me get a picture," she convinced the teens to pose while she snapped several shots with her phone. Luckily, the rented limo arrived before that went on too long.

"Have fun! But not too much! Behave yourselves!" Rachel called after them as they left.

Phoenix leaned back with a sigh of relief once inside the vehicle, "I was afraid she wasn't going to let us go for a minute there."

"I think it's kind of sweet," Sadie replied, waving out the window.

The gesture was lost on Rachel, however, since the tinted windows blocked her view as the limo pulled away from the curb. Still, she watched until it turned around the corner before heading back inside.

Printing out one of the photos she had taken, she hung it on the wall to add to her ever-growing collection of pictures of her not-so-little-anymore boy. Tonight would be his last night of teenage fun before having to face the responsibilities of adulthood. She had confindence in him - he was ready and she felt she had prepared him well - but she was suddenly realizing that she might not be quite ready for this herself.

Rachel stayed up late to wait for Phoenix to come home, keeping herself busy with work on the computer. When he finally returned, he had worked up quite an appetite from all of the dancing, so she joined him in the kitchen as he dug into a carton of ice cream.

"What's this?" Rachel asked as he pushed a silver crown toward her on the table.

"I got voted prom king," Phoenix shrugged nonchalantly, but his mother thought she could see a hint of a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.

"Well, congratulations!" Rachel was as surprised as her son had been when he had first heard. Apparently the kids in his class had appreciated him freeing the science lab frogs more than he had realized; they might not have agreed with his animal rights philosophies, but standing up to authority was something they could get behind. Plus, he got everyone out of science class for the day while the resulting mess was cleaned up. If Phoenix hadn't been so absorbed in his relationship with Sadie, he might have noticed that his fellow students had adopted a much friendlier attitude toward him since Paulie had left the school, as well.

There was no time to recover from the excitement of the prom, as the next day Sadie was back over to celebrate Phoenix's birthday.

Eighteen years old and now officially a young adult.

Phoenix had convinced Sadie to celebrate her birthday at the same time, so it was his turn to cheer next.

When that was over, Rachel helped herself a slice of cake and took it inside.

Phoenix and Sadie took advantage of the privacy.

"So, this is it, we're going to be graduates in a few days," Sadie looked toward Phoenix, "Guess that means you'll start working at the hospital, then?"

"Yeah, and you'll be working with your dad?"

"Yeah," they nodded solemnly at each other in agreement of some unspoken resolve before turning to watch the sun set slowly behind the hills.


And that's officially the end of generation one! 'Bout time, eh? ^^;

I kept Phoenix and Sadie's YA outfits as close to their teen outfits as possible to make the age transition seem less jarring. Sadie kind of ruined it by showing up in her first teen outfit rather than her more recent one, though. I got the idea for that at Sandy from ATS's blog, specifically this post:

I was kind of upset that Phoenix got prom king since his only friend in school was Sadie and it made no sense, so I had to come up with some reason why that would have happened. If anyone knows of any mods that make it harder to be prom king/queen, please let me know. I've only seen mods that make it easier, and I already think that it's so easy that it makes it boring and pointless.

Anyway, updates should be coming regularly for awhile now, so be sure to check back next Friday! :)