Monday, November 28, 2011

Running Away - Audrey DeBarbarak

Does it do any good to deny change when it comes to you? Can you cling to your old life, refusing to let change take over? Or are you powerless against it?

Audrey sighed heavily and picked at her gelato. It was seasonably cool in Rome that day, but her stomach wasn’t having anything heavier than the gentle, sweet fior di latte gelato that morning. Audrey thought was a perfect day to sit outside, enjoy the sunshine, and obsess over things out of your control.

It had all started with a doctor’s visit for stomach flu. Well, the whole situation actually hadn’t started there, but that’s about where this particular break-down had begun.

Nauseous, achy and exhausted, she had gone in to see Dr. Vogel for an appointment. He had done the usual: checked her out, given her some antibiotics and ran some labwork. It was when she got a call that she needed to be seen again, to go over her results, that the red flag was raised.

“It’s got to be pneumonia. Or influenza. Or, or… Upside-Down Face Plague! That’s what it is. I’m dying of Upside-Down Face Plague! So what if they say it’s extinct, they could be wrong!”

Audrey sat alone in the cold, sterile exam room, mulling over various, painful, debilitating diseases until Dr. Vogel came in. Somehow, the news he brought with him was SO much worse, in Audie’s opinion, than Upside-Down Face Plague.



The word repeated itself over and over again in her mind as she sat in airport, waiting for her flight.


How it was even possible, she didn’t know. Surely one stupid night with Joe (of all sims in the world, JOE), couldn’t equal a pregnancy. It just couldn’t! She had always been careful, safe, when she was with Matt. With her other boyfriends – or boyfriend, rather – too. What kind of irony was it, that the first night she ever drank more than she could handle, the first night she ever went home with a man and wasn’t safe, that she would end up, end up…



First she arrived in Kyoto. She spent days shut in her room in the little ryokan just outside the city, eating, bonding with the little old lady who ran the inn, and making it a point to avoid taking calls from her family.

When the walls of the ryokan seemed to be closing in, Audie took flight again, this time setting out across the China Sea for Taizhou, China. Then to Tibet. Then to Agra, India.

Whenever she was overcome by morning sickness, or when the waistband of her jeans got a little bit tighter, she was nearly choked by the desire to run, to get so far away that maybe, somehow, she might be able to leave her problems behind.

What she didn’t realize, was that it’s very difficult to run from something when that something is part of you.


Audrey had been in Rome for a while now. Her mother had been calling daily, concerned that she'd hadn't heard from her eldest child in close to two weeks. Her mom didn't even know she was in Italy, Audrey realized. Last time they'd talked, Audie had still been in India, and the last time she spoke with her brother, she'd been in Japan. That was all less than a handful of weeks ago, Audie knew, but still, it seemed time to get in touch with her family back in SimNation.

Audie finished her gelato, and stared down at the cellphone in her hand.

“Com'on. Just dial. Mum will be making herself sick, and making Gabe and Frank crazy. I should just call... I owe them that much,” she thought to herself.

What was she going to say when she got them on the phone? “Hi, Mum, I'm still on my jaunt 'round the world. Oh, I assure you, this is a completely normal reaction to getting fired, and finding out... finding out....”

She grimaced, and glanced downward. Her clothes were tightening around her mid-section. If she wanted to, she could likely attribute that fact to the enormous amounts of Japanese, Chinese, Tibetan, Indian and Italian food she'd consumed during her journey from Simberry Fields to international destinations unknown. She wished that was the reason for her nausea, her growing waistline and her increasingly bad complexion. She wished it had nothing to do with the fact that she was, at the moment, 'up the spout', as her Aunt Carrie had always said.

Audie cringed again, and tugged on the fabric of her sweater to help cover the emerging bump.

Again, she glanced down at her cell phone. Without a second thought - almost as a reflex - she tossed it over her shoulder, and it landed with a splash in the crystalline water of the fountain. The sound made Audrey smile. Even though putting off telling her family wouldn't rectify the situation, it somehow made it easier to disregard, at least for the moment.

With a deep breath, Audie stood, and strode off towards the Villa Borghese gardens for what she hoped to be a relaxing day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obsessing - Joe Devereaux

There wasn't much in life that succeeded in shaking Joe Devereaux. Physically he was what some would call bombproof – six foot three and muscle-bound from years working for his family’s construction company. He was mentally sharp, quick-witted and frequently exercised great – or at least decent – self-control. Give the man a problem and he could solve it; a dispute, he could settle it; a deadline, he could make it. Joe was just that kind of sim.

There was only one aspect of his life that Joe didn’t feel he had complete control over. And that aspect involved women.


It had been a long, hard day at work for Joe. He'd spent the morning running all over Simberry for three different jobs he was supervising, then he hit the office to take care of employee reviews and to battle budget crunches. After lunch he had stopped by the Paige house to oversee his crew's final touches on the property, then it had been off to meet with a perspective client. In other words, it was just another day, but Joe was particularly beat that night when he got home.

He dropped his jacket, papers and toolbelt at the door and kicked off his shoes, heading for the kitchen and making b-line for a beer in the fridge. Exhausted, he flopped down on his couch in front of the tv, and flicked it on. He stared at the picture for a moment, before lulling his head back, already distracted.

'Ya screwed up good this time, boy,' he thought ruefully to himself. With a sigh he closed his eyes, but - just as it had been for the past month - all he could see was Audrey, the pushy, workaholic designer that had made him crazy for the past few months since he and his company had been contracted by Aero Architectural Designs Inc.

This woman... she'd pushed his buttons and tested his patience, with her constant changing of designs halfway through the building process and her continuous nit-picking. Perfectionist didn't begin to describe the woman. She made him nuts, and they always seemed to get into verbal altercations over one thing or another when they were on the job, about what she had changed or what he and his crew had or hadn't done. She drove him completely, unequivocally crazy....

But that wasn't the Audrey he saw when he closed his eyes. All he could see was her, spread out on her bed before him, her skin bronze in the candle light. He could see her reaching for him, pulling herself into his arms. He could see, oh, he could see….

"Oh, hell," he growled aloud to the empty room, shaking those images out of his head.

It had all started that night at the pub downtown. He had gone for a much needed drink, after a long day at work. He'd come in and there she was, surrounded by a group of her friends across the bar. Simberry was small enough, and it wasn't long before the day's good gossip had reached Joe's ears. She was dragged there by her friends to drink away the memory of walking in on her boyfriend cheating with her boss. He'd hazarded a glance over at her more than a few times that night, and it seemed to him like she’d wanted to be anywhere but in that smoky pub, a feeling that must’ve been tripled when Matt, that scrawny little shit of an assistant – or boyfriend, Joe thought with a snort – came sauntering in with his new girl. Joe had seen the look on Audie’s face. She’d looked like a shot deer, confused and hurt. Joe took a swig of his beer, and shook his head again.

None of that changed the fact that he’d made a mistake. Never in his life had he taken a woman home who was as plastered as Audie had ended up being that night. It didn’t matter why she was drunk, it didn’t matter that she’d initiated the encounter, it didn’t matter that he’d wanted her… all that mattered was that it had happened, and he had been just drunk enough to allow himself to do it.

When he woke up in her house the next morning, she was long gone. He’d dressed and let himself out, and tried to call her later that day (and the next, and the next), but he never got an answer. It was only on the next Monday when he went in to meet with her about the Paige project that he'd found out what had happened. Thanks to the drama with her former boyfriend, and her then-boss, she’d ended up quitting – or getting fired, he wasn’t quite sure which, and had apparently fled the office (and, if he’d listened to the gossip, fled the country).

That was over a sim-month ago, and Joe hadn’t seen or heard from Audrey since. With a frustrated sigh, Joe resolved to push her from his mind – something an angry call from his ex made exponentially easier – and he had completely put her from his mind by the time he was climbing into bed that night. Somewhere between thinking about the timber order he'd would receive the next day, about needing to replace his fleet of trucks, needing to get the bill of the Page house to Aero, and needing to get some semblance of food on the house, he found his mind drifting back to her . He fell asleep, trying not to think of her sharp wit and quick temper, her soft skin and the taste of her lips on his. Needless to say, he failed miserably.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bakery Blues - Neeve Boudin-Bexley

Exhaustion. Pure and simple. Neeve had spent only twelve hours at the bakery that day - a short day, compared to other recent workdays - but she felt like she had been on her feet for no less than twenty hours straight.

Neeve locked up that night after the last of her employees left, and climbed the stairs to her family's home, a cozy apartment above the bakery. It was past eleven o'clock already, she realized as she scaled the stairs, picking up discarded toys and shoes as she climbed.

Dragging her weary feet across the carpet, she first checked in on little Killian. He was fast asleep, tucked into his crib, his dark curls spread out around his head like a halo. Little baby Ryan, so pale and tiny, didn't stir at all when she kissed him gently on the head, inhaling the sweet smell of baby powder.

The last place she stopped before her own bedroom was to see Sheenagh. Neeve saw the light pouring out of the little pink bedroom, and her brow furrowed. Peeking her head in, she saw her little daughter, asleep with a book clutched in her hand. Neeve smiled and went to tuck her in, but as soon as she slipped the book from the little hand, the girl woke up.

"You're late tonight, Mama," Sheenagh grumbled sleepily. "You said you'd read to me."

Neeve frowned and nodded, speaking softly to her little girl. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. It's too late now...."

"Just one chapter, Mama?"

"No, baby."

"Just a little? Please, Mama?"

"I...." Neeve stopped herself, looking down at her sweet little redhead. "Just a little."

She sat cross-legged on the floor beside her daughter's bed, and cracked open 'The Hobbit', her daughter's favorite book.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit..."

Ten minutes later, with the little girl off in dreamland, Neeve heaved herself upwards and turned off the light, sliding the book into Sheenagh's full bookcase.

She came into the bedroom, kicking off her shoes, and closed the door quietly behind her.

"Hello, love."

She turned with a tired smile to see Tristan relaxing on the bed, a book in his hand.

"Ye said ye would be up an hour ago. And an hour before that," he pointed out in his heavy brouge, but he didn't sound mad.

"I know," she admitted, scuffing her way toward the bed, not bothering to even remove her apron before she climbed up. In an instant she was wrapped in the comfortable embrace of her husband's arms.

He kissed the top of her head, "Yer exhausted, darlin'. Why don't you let me open up the shop tomorrow mornin'?"

Already half asleep, Neeve grunted. "I have a delivery of flour coming at five, and you've got to be to work yourself...."

"The office can wait, love. Ye need to catch up on sleep."

All Neeve could do was sigh. She didn't require any further persuasion.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Strained: Jimmie Page

The roar of the crowd was deafening as Jimmie finished her set. She used every ounce of energy she had to make her last song her best, and when she finished, the crowd erupted again.

"Thank you! Good night!"

Out of breath and covered in a thin sheen of sweat she hurried off stage, through the maze of rigging and instruments, being flanked by security on one side and her manager on the other.

"Excellent show, Jim," Ashur, her stalwart manager, shouted over the din of the crowd as he hurried her towards the tour bus, draping a towel over her shoulder. "Now! It's eighteen hours to the next city and you've got three signings and an interview at KSIM in Siminneapolis before your next show. The reps from Impact called, by the way, and when we get back to Simberry, it's straight to the recording studio to finish up that track you're doing for the movie, that, that...."

"Caesar’s Ghost?" Jimmie panted, mopping at the back of her neck.

"Yes! That's it."

"That's great, Ashur," Jimmie sighed, exiting out of the arena and into the cool night air. She made a B-line for her tour bus, and offered her manager an unconvincing smile as she threw the door open and climbed in. "See you in Simmneapolis!"

She slammed the door behind her, and tossed her towel aside. Taking a deep breath she pressed her eyes closed and sighed aloud.

Her adrenaline rush was starting to wane already, and she knew from experience that it was only a matter of time before exhaustion set in.

She stripped out of the eye-catching outfit she'd worn on stage that night, and pulled out her comfiest pair of pajamas. She washed the ten-pounds of makeup off her face, and brushed through her hair, tying it loosely into a braid before she collapsed onto her bed.

Flipping through a magazine - somewhere between eager to see the article that was written about her, and dreading it completely - she let her mind wander. She wondered how her dogs were faring at home, way back in Simberry. She wondered how the remodeling of her grandmother's house was going. She wondered if the beaches were closing up for the season yet or not, and she wondered how long she would be able to put off going back into the studio once she arrived home.

It wasn't that she didn't love her job. She had dreamed of being in the spotlight since she was a child, always performing in school plays and singing at talent competitions. She had just never expected things to blow up the way they had; she never expected it to go so far.

Now, at the tail end of a thirty city tour, with another international one planned for kick-off in only a few short months, she wondered if she had the stamina for it.

She didn't have long to ponder it, with a knock sounding on the door of the bus. She briefly pondered telling the intruder to go away, but instead she tossed her magazine down and called wearily, "Com'on in!"

It wasn't a moment before Leander Snow's happy face peered in her doorway, and he climbed up.

"Bonzer show tonight, Jim!" He announced, grinning from ear to ear, still dressed in his own on-stage outfit.

Jimmie gave him a tired smile. "I take it that means 'good'?"

The Aussie laughed, "It means great! Spectacular! You really gave 'em somethin' to talk about tonight. I dunno how you just get better and better."

Jimmie rolled her eyes, "I don't know if I do. But thanks, Leander. So, are you all ready to tuck in?"

"Nah!" He declared,"No way! I've got a few new songs I'm workin' on, need to get 'em polished up by the time we get back to Simberry! That and I've got to get a bite of somethin' to eat, and I've got a pretty girl that needs emailin'."

Jimmie's eyebrows shot up, and she grinned at him. "Is that right?"

"Oh, yeah. Avery. She's a darlin'."

"Meet her on the tour, did you? Be careful of those groupies, Leander. You never know what you're gonna get with them!"

"Nah, Jim! A friend o' mine introduced me to her back in Simberry. Dunno if she's interested in me really - we haven't seen much of each other - but she's... she's….”

Jimmie chuckled at the sudden, dreamy expression on his face. “Bonzer?” She offered, and he threw his head back and laughed.

“Exactly! Well, better go. G’night Jim!”

“Night, Leander.”

Alone again, Jimmie laid back and spread out on her bed. It was sweet that Leander had a girl – someone to go home to, or at least look forward to seeing. Jimmie frowned in the darkness, and suddenly she wondered, what good was all the recognition, all the accomplishment, if at the end of the day, you have no one to share it with?