In legacy games, time only stops when you pause the game or take a break from playing.
Miracle has become an elder. She held a quiet party with family and friends. onezero, full of confidence from a good day at school, provided the entertainment, regaling the guests with binary stories ending in “either” and “or.”
A few days earlier, Salix and Chandler had shared a birthday cake to become adults.
And on the day after Miracle’s birthday, Irving and Daryl–Madrona and Lamont’s kids, who didn’t get to sip from the white cup–threw their elder party in the mansion across the street.
Earlier that morning, well before dawn and long before the cousins’ party, a fire broke out in the Boughs’ kitchen. Blame it on the brownies, which somehow, miraculously, and much to the delight of everyone’s sweet tooth, escaped the flames.
Salix and the kids felt the brunt of the stress.
While Salix and Tamarind felt a bit of an adrenaline rush, which was a little fun, actually, once they realized the fire was out and they were safe, onezero felt disturbed. Life here, she suddenly realized, could be frightening!
Still, when the invitation came for the cousins’ party, though some family members were tired, some were hungry, and most were tense, the family went anyway. It’s Irving and Daryl’s birthday, after all!
onezero told Irving all about the fire.
“That darned stove!” Irving said. “My mom told me about a kitchen fire they had when she was a kid. Man, I’m so glad you’re all ok, onez.”
The kids quickly discovered that a party inside the dark, haunted mansion where their cousins lived was maybe not the most fun activity when they were feeling stressed, and hungry, and tired, anyway.
Even with their aunt Khloe there, even with great, great, great granduncle Mesquite’s happy ghost there, there were still dark shadows, another ghost they didn’t know–who was really mad, by the way–and, nothing much to eat. They had to settle for yogurt and chips and leftover cake from some ancestor’s party maybe a few decades ago.
The cousins were happy–it’s their birthday, and they love each other. How amazing that they’ve been able to share their lives together here, in this big haunted mansion.
But onezero found the stress a bit too much to handle.
With the power of their animal hats, Doug Fir and Tamarind, once she got a few bites of stale cake inside of her, had a good time hanging in the kitchen with Mesquite.
“I think the Bach partita is the best,” Tamarind said.
“It’s ok,” said Doug, “but give me an old fiddle tune anytime.”
Music-loving Mesquite was happy to see that the violin is such an integral part of his little great grand niece and nephew’s lives.
Doug Fir, buoyed by his hysterical tiger hat, actually found it pretty fun to be over in this house across the street. After all, if he doesn’t roll goofball, it’s likely he’ll be living here with the ghosts.
“So,” he told his aunt Khloe, “I’ve measured the bathroom and it’s ten paces by ten paces. That’s double the biggest bathroom we’ve got at home!”
Tamarind wasn’t quite so sure, though.
“Do you like this house?” she asked the caterer. “It’s got a funny smell, don’t you think? It doesn’t smell like home.”
But for onezero the party at the mansion across the street was dangerously uncomfortable. She was tense from the fire, then, when the angry ghost discovered that she was an alien, she felt embarrassed, and, as the final straw, she walked into the bathroom when one of the guests was showering.
She felt very embarrassed and just a nudge away from mortified.
“You don’t look so great,” said Salix when she noticed the yellow-orange light coming from onezero. “Let’s go upstairs, where we can be alone and talk a little bit and relax, ok?”
“I feel really weird,” onezero said, “like I just want to hide. Where’s my happiness?”
Salix said, “I understand this is a new feeling for you, onez. At home, even if you feel embarrassed, you’ve still got layers and layers of happy, confident, and inspired feelings on top of that, so it’s just part of the flavor of the moment. But now, you don’t have those extra feelings, so this lets you feel the tension and the embarrassment all by itself.”
“But it feels weird,” said onezero. “I can’t imagine that Wittgenstein ever felt like this!”
“Of course he did,” explained Salix. “This is a feeling that everyone feels sometime. In fact, just knowing that everyone feels like this at some point, does that make you feel better?”
“Maybe a little.”
But onezero didn’t really feel better until the family left the party and made their way across the street to Cradle Rock.
It was still afternoon when they got home. Plenty of time for a chess game with Miracle.
Salix headed into the music room to continue composing the suite she was working on.
Sugar finished cleaning up from Miracle’s birthday party.
onezero and her brother talked late into the evening about home, and cousins, and ghosts, and the colors blue, red, and orange, and whether stale cake was really all that bad or if maybe, if it was really sweet, it was actually ok and sort of delicious in its own way.
And as they finished talking over all these very important matters, they found that they had discovered something amazing that connected them. They weren’t just siblings anymore. They were best friends.
onezero, in getting her first real taste of someplace that wasn’t home, had discovered just how amazing was this place that her family called home. Almost as amazing as these Sims she called family.