I found Sugar standing in front of a painting she’d just completed. What had she painted that could bring such an expression of contemplative joy?
Her canvas reveals mysteries. I don’t think I’ve seen this space-scape before. This nebula speaks to me of Sugar–that vast mystery of coding within her that makes up who she is, this miracle of a Sim that is so much more than I can comprehend. She tells me that we are all miracles–digital and physical, animated all by intelligence and energy. Look into space–what echoes do you hear of who you are?
The twins, both of them, are growing up with the Bough individual style. Though we’ve never rolled goofball, this seems to be everyone’s essential trait at Cradle Rock.
I suppose if you’ve aged up a snob, it doesn’t hurt not to take yourself too seriously!
After school one day, the twins decided to celebrate their A grades by going out on the town.
“See?” Redbud asked her brother, “Isn’t this better than staying home trolling the forums alone in your room? And you know, if I’d stayed home, I would’ve just done my homework then curled up with a book. At least now, we’re out being social!”
“Red?” Alder said. “There’s just you and me here. Eating leftovers at the park with your twin brother isn’t exactly what I’d call social.”
“Yeah,” she replied. “But we were just at the gym!”
They both needed to visit community lots for their aspirations, actually: Red so she could complete the goal of meeting new people in three places, and Alder so he could work out at a gym.
“We’ve got so much to look forward to,” Red said. “Right? Finishing school. Getting married. Having careers–or not! Having kids. All of life is just waiting for us!”
“‘All of life‘ is a little abstract, Red,” Alder replied. “I’m not so much concerned about what lies ahead. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on right now!”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll never believe what just happened in the gym,” he continued. “I’m still trying to make sense of it. Was it some series of random events, or is there some meaning behind it all?”
“So I was in the gym working out, right? Really feeling the burn, like they tell you. Feeling pretty powerful, actually.”
“Next thing I know, this woman who was chatting to me drops down and starts doing push ups. Who should come by, but old Grim himself.”
Alder scratched his head.
“Now that’s pretty funny, in and of itself, Grim watching some lady doing push ups. I keep working out, you know, sticking to my routine, minding my own business.”
“Then, next I know, the woman pops up, all buff and powerful, and Grim drops down. ‘Gimme twenty,’ she says to him, ‘Marine style.'”
“What’s that all about? Is the universe trying to send me some kind of message? Too much exercise is a bad thing? Even death needs to work out? I just don’t get it.”
“Well,” said Red, “that is a tough nut to crack.”
“Maybe,” Red theorized, “the message is that Death is in training! You know, we always think of death as being the end–final. That’s it. And we also always think that Death has it all figured out. He just whips out his tablet, checks the records, sees if there’s room for negotiation, and Bingo! Job done. But what if Death weren’t perfect? What if Death also needed to train? To get in shape, to get better, to continually improve?”
“Maybe there’s no such thing as perfection or completion, even for Death!” Red said.
“Maybe,” Red said, “The message of that whole thing is that we’re always working to get better. And maybe, we’ve got something to teach Death! What do you think of that?”
“I think it was just some random incident,” Alder said.
They headed over to the lounge before going home. Alder was so tired from his workout that he took a nap on the sofa, snoozing to the jokes told by Alvaro, the formerly red-haired entertainer and long-time family friend.
“Hey, I know you!” said the man in the party outfit after Red introduced herself. “I grew up with your mom and dad. Me and your dad used to hang out in the park together.”
“You’re one of the park boys from my mom’s time?” Red asked.
“Sure am!” He replied. “I’ve been by your house a few times. I’d come by more, but, you know, unlike some of the former park boys, I’ve got a life.”
Alder woke up to a badly sung version of “Working on the SimRoad” performed by a beautiful woman in an elegant evening gown.
Normally I’d find out-of-tune singing a little sour, he thought, but there’s something absurdly divine about horrible sounds coming from something so incredible beautiful.
The twins made it home having each knocked off a milestone on their aspirations. They’ve earned their A’s and three days of vacation, so they get to take the rest of the week off of school. Maybe when Monday rolls around, they will have completed their aspirations and be working on new ones.
Back home, sweetness has returned. Tam’s mean edge softened after her mother’s death, and I often hear her laughing with her sister again.
She’s so young, Tam thinks, watching onezero. She knows that the same option for staying young is available to her: she’s got a cup of youth potion in her inventory; she’s just not sure that she wants it.
“Are you happy you’ve stayed young?” she asks onezero.
“Of course,” onezero replies. “My genes are designed for a long lifespan. It’s the right decision, for me.”
“It’s a decision I’ll have to make soon,” Tam says. “Any advice?”
“I recommend this French toast. It’s delicious.”
Tam has so much to think about.
“Tomorrow’s my birthday,” she says to Nathanael. “I know you’ve still got a while before you’re an elder, but I kinda think I want to go through with it. Doug’s my twin, you know, and he’s already an elder. It doesn’t feel right to me to be in a different life stage than him.”
“There’s a time for everything,” he says. “Life’s like gardening. Everything in its season.”
“And besides,” says Tam, “we’ve got so much, and everything is so right. Our two kids. Our home. Our family. And Sugar and onezero will be around to watch over the family. Getting old and moving on with life feels right to me.”
Experience is what matters. And Tam is thinking she wants to experience being an elder.
Right now, Sugar enjoys the experience of time to do what she wants. She’s gradually moving ahead with the Master Chef aspiration, waiting on a few promotions, but in the meantime, she has long delicious hours of autonomy: time to paint, study the universe, play with the cowplant, talk to plants, prepare family meals, and play the violin. Who she is she discovers in relation to the activities and beings around her. And this experience of doing and being is something she feels she can continue to enjoy forever.