Kiki wakes in the predawn on the first morning of summer break. She has a plan.
While the rest of the household sleeps, she descends to the kitchen, still dark. She’s going for a run while the sun rises.
This summer, she’s going to get fit.
She isn’t sure if she’ll like running so early in the day. During the last half of spring semester, she fell into the pattern of running when she got home from school–if you could call it running. It was more like running five paces, jogging three, walking two, then stopping out of breath and waiting for her heart to stop pounding so hard. But after a bit, five paces became ten, then twenty, then she found her rhythm and could run for two or three minutes before needing to slow to a jog, and by the end of the semester, she didn’t need to stop to catch her breath at all.
But this was all late in the day, after her mind had been stimulated, and she had used the running/jogging sessions to clear and process all the confusing social input that she’d encountered that day.
But early in the morning? Before her mind had activated itself? Would she fall into some sort of trance, or something?
And sure enough, that is exactly what happens. While she runs in the early morning, her mind, not yet stimulated into a state of wakefulness, falls into a deep still quiet, without a thought. Everything becomes the rhythm of her feet on the ground, the pulsing of blood through her veins, the contraction and release of muscles, the steadiness of her breath. It’s an altered state, and she finds it almost mystical. Transcendent.
But she doesn’t have to go to school and interact with peers and teachers, so she realizes it’s OK if she’s in this state. She doesn’t have to appear normal. She’s at home, with no demands that she mask. So if she’s in a nonverbal state, that’s OK.
But perhaps the most amazing discovery is that this nonverbal, transcendent state, while recurring, is not permanent! She can move into it, but she doesn’t become it. She can still talk! And think in words. And states come and go, that is the discovery which pleases and intrigues her most.
It’s Aadhya who teaches her this, when she drops by with a “Happy Summer” gift shortly after Kiki returns from her sunrise run.
“Your first day of summer!” Aadhya says, with her dear smile that crinkles her eyes.
And Kiki finds herself thinking a torrent: How sweet! Is this a tradition? Look how adorable Aadhya is! How thoughtful. Does she share this kindness with everyone?
And when she opens her mouth, she says, “Thank you. I’ve never had a happy-summer gift before!”
It’s a set of oil paints, linseed oil, and turpenoid, which is exactly what Kiki wanted if she’d stopped to think about her other summer goal of painting.
She has this idea of creating a series of post-industrial landscapes. She loves the way that the relics of refineries, shipping containers, and warehouses have gained a patina that makes them recede into the landscape, as if they were landmarks of forgotten times, eclipsed by the trees and vines that now obscure them. She wants to remember them through her paintings. After all, her birth parents had worked there, just as Case had worked to shut them down. And now they stood, like her, really, as the junction of the industrial and the ecological. This is what comes out of that.
She has other goals for the summer, too. She wants to win a chess game against Case. She’s drawn against him once or twice. But a win? Not even close. She doesn’t know if the goal is reasonable, but she feels it’s worthy, for in striving to be the victor, she’ll develop her mind, specifically, her ability to detect patterns, visualize, and plan, and those skills, she feels, will be especially useful as she goes into her sophomore year of high school. At least her mind won’t have stagnated over the summer.
The best part, though, of the chess goal is that it ensures she’ll spend regular time with Case. Right now, as it’s been the past 13 years, Case is her favorite person on the planet. When they’re together, they can talk or not. They mostly don’t talk during chess because, you know… chess. But at other times, in the kitchen, or over meals, or in the garden, they can talk or not. It doesn’t matter. It’s comfortable, regardless.
When Kiki gets up from the chessboard and walks into the house, this is how I find Case looking after her.
Moments like this are times when The Sims 4 really gets it right. His face–that pride and love and tenderness and protectiveness–that face says it all.