Another Legacy, 5.7

The day after prom, Magdalena found herself sitting in Studio PBP for the Starlight Accolades. Nicolette had accompanied her. Courtney, the celebrity girl who had been at the prom, was there, too, with her sparkling golden pigtails and golden lapels on her starry white jacket.

It seemed that Magdalena’s first piano composition had been nominated for an award. How strange! To think that this piece she’d written to express something of the wonder and delight she felt in watching the waves around their island home might get recognized! She’d just written it for herself, then sent it off to get licensed on a whim.

Nicolette was somewhat familiar with the award ceremony, since she’d attended one back in college, when a professor had entered one of her paintings. Since then, a few of her Soccer Kid novels had been nominated, too, but with the way life gets busy, she’d never been able to make it to any of those ceremonies to claim the awards.

She was here now, though, with Magdalena, ready to see her daughter bask in the spotlight!

But something was not right with the proceedings.

Instead of the Accolades host, a stand-up comic was at the mic. Maybe this was a new thing, and he was the warm-up for the awards ceremony.

He was pretty funny.

Nicolette texted Asuka: Things are a little weird here.

Can you roll with it? Asuka texted back.

Trying to…

Magdalena had a mild freak-out, telling herself stories in Spinkoto, her invented language.

Nicki laughed at the comic, in spite of herself.

Then, when Magdalena raised her voice–and her arms–Nicki just closed her eyes and prayed. Let it be OK.

And it was OK! Magdalena calmed down. None of the other attendants seemed bothered by the loud story told with much emotion in a language they couldn’t understand.

And the comic really was funny. It was an awards ceremony like no other.

“And that, Ladies and Gentlemen,” said a cultured voice over the loud speakers, “concludes this season’s Starlight Accolades. Thank you for coming!”

And they all filed out the door in an orderly fashion, without a single award having been given.

“Hey, that was pretty fun!” said Magdalena.

“You’re OK about it?” asked Nicolette. “Even though nobody got any awards?”

“Oh, sure. No winners, no losers. And that guy was pretty funny.”

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Another Legacy, 5.6

Magdalena wasn’t exactly sure how prom was supposed to work. Kareem had asked her to go “as friends,” and then a few days later, before prom rolled around, he asked her to become his girlfriend. So, did that mean they were here as a couple, or were they here as friends?

It was all very confusing.

She found him sitting at the table with the school celebrity, who was some sort of actress or SimTok star, or something, and Principal Abe.

“So, Kareem, your last prom,” said Principal Abe. “What are your plans after graduation?”

Wait, what?

Kareem was graduating?

“You’re graduating?” she asked him.

“Yeah,” he replied, “you knew I was a senior, right?”

“Yes, I guess. I just didn’t put it together that that meant you’d be graduating three years ahead of me.”

“”We’ll just have to make the best memories,” he said. “Besides it’s not like I’m going anywhere. I’ll still be your boyfriend. It’s just that… it won’t be legal!”

He laughed.

But they had a great time at prom. They took a romantic photo together. They talked. They danced. She only saw him, and he, it seemed, only saw her.

And then, Kareem got elected Prom Royalty! And her friend, the one who was always sad, whom she was always consoling, was elected Prom Jester!

She got to dance with the Prom Royalty. It was like a fairy tale.

In fact, maybe it was. How could she be sure that this was really happening, and she wasn’t just dreaming it?

She closed her eyes to imagine what it would look like if it were her daydream. And when she opened them, she knew it had to be real, because there was no way she’d imagine a bathroom door, let alone an all-gender one. Come to think of it, her imagination never contained brick walls, either. Gold and silver, maybe, but brick? Nope.

There was some kind of drama at the after party, but Kareem didn’t seem to mind, and Magdalena didn’t bother figuring it out.

She had more important things to do, like listen to her boyfriend brag about his new crown. He really did look royal.

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Another Legacy, 5.5

One dark winter night, it happened. Jonah’s long life came to an end. He collapsed onto the kitchen floor, swirls of life-force energy lighting the air around him.

His face looked so sad. He truly loved life: the sunsets, the sound of the surf, the thrill of adventure when surfing the waves or snorkling. Those long-ago memories of the snow and ice and thunder-storms on the mountain. Skate-boarding through the city streets. Ah, life!

Nicki was not ready for her dad to go. He’d been everything for her. He was what kept her going and kept her anchored.

Earl York was visiting, and all the trauma of the family deaths he’d experienced came rushing back. It was too much even for Kiana, who wasn’t yet ready for Jonah to join her in translucent form.

But Magdalena was deep into her homework and didn’t even notice the commotion in the kitchen. Physics is fascinating, and for a musician, very relevant.

Besides, Kareem was coming over.

In game-play, Jonah’s passing was a mess of a glitch. Grim froze out behind the house, and in-game hours passed while he stood there. I went into build-mode and moved around gnomes and yoga mats and other things that might be boxing him in. No go. I couldn’t save, due to the in-game event of a death on the property. Eventually, I googled and found that “resetSim” works in these cases of Grim getting stuck. So I reset Grim. No progress. Then, I reset Jonah. He disappeared from the floor. I freaked out because I couldn’t find the tombstone. Fortunately, next time I went into build mode, I found it there in the family inventory, so it all worked out! But for a few days, I was afraid I’d lost him, like Case and Ira, whose tombstones were never found.

I have a plan to keep all the ghosts I can, making them household members. (I’ve played ahead by the time I’m writing this chapter, and I’ve been moving family ghosts into a specific house–a houseful of ghosts! Maybe at the end of the legacy, I’ll have the gen 10 heir earn the Best-selling Author reward trait, and she or he will write them all back into life!)

In the story of the game, it somehow fit. Jonah was not one to leave this world easily.

While Nicki introduced herself to Kareem, Magdalena had her own freak-out. She’d saved Jonah once, but the reality of him being gone hit her hard and woke up all her childhood demons. Complex PTSD is a rough thing.

But it helped having Kareem around, with his dreamy eyes, and melt-downs help, too. Plus, she knew that death was more of a transition into a new state of being, than the end. After all, her great grandma Kiana had always been there for her, and she was deader-than-a-door-nail, and always had been, as far as Magdalena was concerned.

Kareem couldn’t help smiling, even though he knew the family was deep in grief. Here he was, in Magdalena’s home, and it was even more amazing than he’d imagined. He felt honored, too, to be there on such a tough night. This is the thing that can bring people together, and he was going to draw on every bit of strength and goodness he possessed to be there for this girl he loved.

They sat together on her bed in the sleeping nook.

The grief crept up.

“I couldn’t save him this time,” she said. “Why was I reading? Why didn’t I hear them calling from the kitchen?”

Kareem’s smile seemed so out of place. But he couldn’t help it. She was so beautiful, even in grief.

Nicki came in to check on them.

“You doing OK, Magdalena?” she asked.

“Not really,” squeaked out Magdalena.

“I know it’s so hard,” Nicki said. I don’t know where she got the strength to comfort her daughter, when her own life had crumbled. “But we’ll get through it.”

For Kareem, this type of closeness, support, and love from a mother was something new, something he hadn’t experienced at home, with his own adoptive mother, who was more likely to relish than to comfort the pain of either of the kids she’d adopted.

But it made him cherish Magdalena even more, to see that she had this type of family built on support and comfort.

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Another Legacy, 5.4

It turned out that Cat Girl didn’t always wear her cat-ear sweatshirt, and it also turned out that she had a name: Jackie Oaklaw.

Jackie and Magdalena became friends. For a while, until the next BFF came along, they were best friends.

Jackie Oaklaw was in all of Magdalena’s classes. The school, as part of its general accommodations plan, kept all the kids in the same classroom with the same teacher for every subject.

Even though Magdalena’s teacher spoke in monotone with eyes closed most of the time, he knew a lot. So if you focused on the content, rather than his delivery, his classes were really interesting. Magdalena learned a lot.

After that first day, Kareem wasn’t in her class anymore. It turned out he’d made a mistake and attended the wrong class on the first day. He was a few years ahead of her, and for some reason, he thought the senior class met in that room.

Magdalena felt it was a happy mistake.

She liked her classroom so much that she often opted to stay at her desk during lunch hour or when she had free time. It was a quiet place to catch up on studying, and it smelled good, like carpet cleaner, but in a nice way, not in a way that made your eyes itch. And if she was there already, she’d be sure not to be late to the next class.

So it happened that she was sitting at her desk, opening her trig text, on career day, after all the other students had filed into the auditorium to listen to the guest speakers. She noticed, with relief, that it was so quiet in the building.

She looked up to see Principal Abe gazing down at her–or at least, facing her direction with her eyes closed.

Principal Abe didn’t say anything. She just sort of hummed.

“Can I help you with anything?” asked Magdalena.

“Career day,” said Mao Abe.

“I thought I’d stay and study. Is that OK?” replied Magdalena.

“Not really,” said the principal.

So, Magdalena shut her book and headed off to the auditorium.

First, she listened to an insurance salesperson talk about collecting premiums.

“It sounds like a job that really helps people!” said Magdalena.

“Well, in a manner of speaking,” answered the insurance agent.

Next, she spoke with a recruiter for a professional soccer team.

“So, do we get free sneakers?” Magdalena asked.

A chemist was there, too, talking about drug research.

None of these were careers that Magdalena was interested in. She wanted to be a concert pianist.

The school didn’t have much of a music program, aside from a piano and a violin upstairs. But that was all right. Magdalena had plenty of music at home.

Everyone encouraged her to join a school club. It would help with scholarships. She liked being active and exercising, so football was an option. But her fingers–she needed to keep them whole and nimble for piano. Nope, football was out. Too many injuries.

Same with cheer.

That left chess and the computer club, and Kareem, she thought, was in the computer club. Plus, she loved video games. And maybe she could get an e-sports scholarship for college.

Computer it was! And Magdalena became one happy geek.

After the first computer club meeting, her mind was spinning from all the game sounds of the computers around her in the lab, and she just wanted some quiet. She had forgotten that it was Nicolette’s birthday. When she got home, the house was packed with Jonah’s work friends, old neighbors from the city, and Nicolette’s college friends.

Magdalena took her veggie rolls into her bedroom nook.

She could hear the celebration over the partition between her nook and the kitchen, but if she didn’t focus on processing what people were saying, the sounds washed together, like an orchestra warming up, or the gulls calling to be heard over the crashing of the waves.

As people started leaving, she went through the house, collecting the dishes. If you’re working on a chore, especially one that no one wants to help with, like washing dishes, people will leave you alone, Magdalena discovered. So through the chatter, she carved space aplenty for her own thoughts.

Jonah, laughing about how good it was to be alive for one more of his daughter’s birthdays, pulled her back to this world. She’d saved him. So had Kiana. They had that bond, the three of them. They were death-defiers.

The guests left. The house became quiet. At last, Magdalena had a chance to pull out her trig text. And Nicolette, heading over to play the piano, had a moment to feel that deep gratitude that can come over us on birthdays. We made it through one more year. Let us have many more, together.

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Another Legacy, 5.3

It happened again–Grim came for Jonah. This time wasn’t due to hysterics-induced heart failure but the result of age. Jonah earned the long-lived trait by completing the body builder aspiration, and he lived a very long and active elderhood. But Grim came nonetheless one dark evening, and Jonah heard him call his name.

Magdalena wasn’t going to have anything to do with it.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said to the robed figure with the sickle–OK. It was Grim. She’d met him before, the last time he came for Jonah, when she was still a child. “Excuse me, Mr. Reaper. Please check your calendar. I think you have the wrong date. I don’t think today is the day scheduled for Jonah.”

And what do you know? She was right!

Grim checked his tablet. He’d been precipitous. He excused himself.

And Jonah rose up in a whirlwind of light!

The whirlwind became a flash.

Jonah’s body arched with the energy burst.

And look! He had a hand!

He had two!

And two legs, and a chest, and an abdomen, and two lungs, and a heart, and he was breathing, and his pulse was beating, and everything seemed to be working OK. He was spared.

Oh, what it felt like to be alive!

Grim checked his tablet again and found the real reason he’d been called to this address. It was for Pierre, the old rooster.

The rooster had led a good life and didn’t need anyone to plead for him. He felt quite ready to trot up to Grim, to receive one last scratch under his wings, and then to be scooped up by Death himself.

One flash–a burst of light that contained every rooster memory all the way back to the first peck out of an eggshell.

And Pierre the Rooster was no more–at least not on the physical plane.

Kiana sought out Magdalena in the studio and gave her a big hug.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “You gave Jonah a little more time.”

“You taught me,” Magdalena said. “It was no more than what you did.”

“Yes, but it takes courage,” replied Kiana.

“You taught me that, too.”

And so things changed between Jonah and Magdalena.

He no longer felt quite so wary of her–she was his hero.

“I’ll never be able to thank you enough,” Jonah said to her the next morning.

“There’s nothing to thank me for,” Magdalena replied. “I just did what needed to be done.”

“Still,” he said, “you did it. That takes moxie. There’s not many that would stand up to Death.”

Magdalena wasn’t so sure. It had seemed simple to her. There was the right thing to do, and when it was that straightforward–the right thing, or the wrong thing–then you do the right thing. It’s only proper.

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Another Legacy, 5.2

The day before high school started, Magdalena spent extra time with yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. She needed all the tools she could find to calm her anxiety about a new school filled with new people, new noises, new meals, and new schedules. So much change!

She was still really nervous the next morning.

But a few twitches and a few uncontrollable verbal outbursts helped her self-regulate. Whew. OK. She felt better.

“Ready for school?” Nicki asked. Nicki was careful not to ask if she was ready for a new school–just ready for school.

“Yes, Nicolette!” Magdalena replied. “I think I’m ready.”

The big island had a high school that was designed by and for neurodivergent folk. The school wasn’t exclusive–neurotypicals could go there, too. But it was a place that was set up, first-and-foremost, for neurodivergent students and staff.

It’s a school I would have liked to go to. In fact, in the large urban school district where I worked as a web editor for a few decades, we had an inclusive magnet school like this. Whenever I daydreamed about which magnet school I would have chosen if I were a student in the district, this one always made the list. Even before I realized I was autistic, there was something about this particular school I liked. I felt I’d fit in there, rather than being an outsider.

Magdalena doesn’t really suffer from social anxiety. It’s just new environments and changes to schedules and routines that throw her off balance.

When she got to the school and saw one of the students getting off the bus who looked really sad, she went up to him to see what was wrong.

“Uh, it’s my dad,” he said. “He had a heart attack.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Yeah. Well, I can’t really get it into my head that he’s not around anymore.”

Magdalena, having lost her entire family when she was little, was no stranger to grief, so she found a few gentle words to share.

They walked into the building together, and then her new friend headed to the cafeteria to get a quick breakfast before class.

Magdalena headed off to meet the principal, whom she found standing in the hallway.

“Is it loud in here?” asked the principal. “It is, isn’t it?”

“Just a bit,” said Magdalena.

“I’ve put in a request for quieter flooring and for wooden lockers with well-oiled hinges,” the principal said, “but they haven’t been approved yet. Think I should put in a requisition for noise-cancelling headphones?”

“There’s a thought,” replied Magdalena. “I’m OK, though.”

“I’m not,” said the principal, who turned back to her office.

The classroom was set up in traditional manner, with desks and rows and bookcases, and even a whiteboard, with smelly pens to write on it. But the floor was carpeted, and the room was quiet, with just the scratching of pencils in notebooks while the students waited for their teacher to show up.

One of the adjustments the school had made to accommodate students was to hold every subject in the same classroom, with the same instructor, even.

Magdalena’s instructor had a habit of talking with his eyes closed in a monotone voice. But he said really interesting things about sine curves.

But the very best thing about the school were the students.

Take Cat Girl, for example. Magdalena just could not get over her. The lip gloss! She was too purrfect.

And this guy.

Oh, this guy.

Oh. Man. This. Guy. Even before she learned his name, which is Kareem Okada, Magdalena fell for him. He was in her class! Sitting next to her! Oh, how lucky!

At lunch, she met Hat Girl.

Magdalena simply felt that she could be herself, no mask, no pretending to be different, and she could fit in! Everyone here was so unique!

It’s what she’d always wanted in a school, and something she was afraid she’d never get.

Even the teachers were cool. The Room 2 teacher took his lunch in the cafeteria and sat at the same table with the students. He joked and talked and interrupted them when they were studying, but it was still cool.

And then, Kareem. He sat next to her during lunch.

Magdalena didn’t know what to say, but it didn’t matter. She could just look at him all day, and it would be enough!

And when Hat Girl sat down on the lunchroom floor to do her homework, Magdalena could just about burst with happiness! It’s hard to describe how it feels to be in a group of people your own age and not be the weirdest one there! It’s liberating, comforting, accepting–it’s just all the good things! Magdalena could be herself and belong! No one would shun her if she said the wrong thing, or twitched, or had a verbal outburst. She didn’t have to hold everything in all tight and restricted. She could be herself, and she could fit in.

She was trying to work up the courage to become friends with Cat Girl. They sat next to each other in the computer lab the next day. Though neither of them spoke, Magdalena felt really happy. Just doing computer things side-by-side was sort of like a start to a friendship!

In class the next day, Magdalena looked for Kareem, but he wasn’t there. She found him after school, in the exam prep in Room 2.

“I didn’t see you in class,” she said, softly. But he heard her, anyway.

“Yeah,” he replied. “It’s really embarrassing, but I was in the wrong class. I’m supposed to be in Room 2, not Room 1.”

“Well, I’m glad you made the mistake yesterday so I had a chance to meet you,” Magdalena said.

“Me, too,” he replied.

Magdalena was so happy with her new school that she smiled the whole time while doing her homework after supper.

“Your new school suits you, eh?” asked Jonah.

“Yes,” she replied with a giggle. “And even better, I suit it!”

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Another Legacy, 5.1

Well, Bloganuary is over, and so is Gen 4! I really loved the discipline of writing a post each day, and the prompts worked well for helping me organize and coordinate the slow progression of plot that happens in Sims 4 legacy play. I also really enjoyed writing from Nicki’s perspective in Nicki Flores’ Journal.

But now it’s February! Two of the courses I’ll be teaching this spring start tomorrow, so my schedule shifts a bit, and daily updates won’t be a goal for me during the rest of the year. But I have played ahead, and I’m eager to write about what’s happened, so I’ll update fairly frequently, I hope! (At least until April, when we have GloPoWriMo/NaPoWriMo! I’m not posting the poems I write for that, since I’ll want the option of revising them to submit for publication.)

I’m planning to be the narrator for Gen. 5, which means sometimes, I’ll write from limited third-person, from any of the characters, and sometimes I’ll write from my own perspective as a game-player and thinker about Sims and Life and connections between the two.

But enough preamble! Let’s catch up with Kiana, Jonah, Nicki, and Magdalena!

One day, Magdalena was her own little self, lost in her own world while lovingly protected on her family’s island…

And the next, she was her own teenaged self, lost in her own world while lovingly protected on her family’s island.

We say “lost in their own world,” but it’s not really like that at all, is it? Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s been described that way from childhood on, I’d say that I tend to feel found in my own world. It’s the outer world I feel lost in, sometimes, but when I have plenty of time to daydream, I feel grounded, settled, and connected–that’s when I can process and regulate.

A therapist once commented to me, back when I was working two jobs, that I seemed very busy. “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I have time to daydream every day!” She seemed surprised at the answer, not really knowing how to make sense of it. But for me, scheduling time to daydream each day–or just to sit outside with a cup of coffee or tea and let my mind wander–is essential for self-regulating. If I can do that, I don’t feel “too busy.”

Magdalena is the same way, and luckily the adults around her recognize this. They don’t interfere when she’s “lost” in her own thoughts; they know she’s found.

She’s an amazing pianist. Nicki is a music lover and plays the piano well, often by choice. Kiana, in her ghost form, recently accomplished the Musical Genius aspiration (which Magdalena is currently working on). And Nicki has the music-lover trait, and loves to play all the instruments. But none of them play like Magdalena does.

When Magdalena joined the family, her Emotional Control bar was in the red–so whenever possible, she’s been writing in her journal or “playing with emotion” to start to slowly shift the Emotional Control meter into the green. I tried having her play with toys, but she never showed interest in that. She’d much rather play piano.

And the incredible thing is that the sound recordings for when she plays are so good! I hadn’t realized that the game had such subtle variations–you can hear the difference as Sims gain skill, of course. But there is actual individual variation. The way Magdalena plays is far more expressive than the way Kiana and Nicki play.

We know it’s because she’s playing from within her “own little world.”

She’s in Scouts for now.

She likes being part of it. She hasn’t yet selected what high school club, if any, she wants to join.

I often catch Jonah giving her suspicious looks. He’s fond of her, of course, but he’s not quite sure of her.

For one thing, she has a habit of making mean, cutting comments to people, especially men, in the middle of an otherwise pleasant conversation. Some people just let it ride by–she’ll apologize, and they’ll move on. But Jonah is very sensitive and gets hurt easily. He’s somewhat on edge around her.

All the adults have been working with her to try to gain some impulse control around those mean comments. They talk about it with her, give her hugs and assurance, try to help her see the other person’s perspective. It might be doing some good, but there are still moments, especially after conversations where she’s grown closer to someone, where she will lash out with an insult.

But he puts his hurt feelings aside and keeps trying.

“Have a good time as scouts today?” he asks.

Mmmm…. maybe don’t interrupt someone when they’re writing?

She has a much easier time with Kiana and Nicki. They enjoy dance parties in the studio. And dancing is a great time for chatting and catching up on things.

Nicki always has a calming influence on Magdalena. She doesn’t have to talk, just her being there helps Magdalena to relax and feel safe.

Nicki sometimes wonders how it came to be that this amazing person, with indescribable talents–and indescribable needs–has come to live with them. In her memory, Magdalena’s adoption profile photo shines bright. She thinks of that moment when she saw it and felt a flash run through her, knowing that this was the child she needed to adopt–not a mini-me, but someone who is her own unique individual, someone who needed a home.

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Another Legacy, 4.20

Bloganuary Daily Prompt for January 31, 2023: Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

From Nicki Flores’ Journal

Dad has a mission: To find the best place to watch the sunset.

He’s asking everyone he meets, including Father Winter, when he showed up at our place on WinterFest, dressed in his swimming trunks. At least his swim shorts were WinterFest white and blue! I guess if you live on an island that can only be reached by boat, swimming, or wading across a sandbar, then you’re bound to have everyone, from Father Winter to the mail deliverer show up in swim attire.

Magdalena had a mission of her own: To find a best friend.

She tried to invent friend potion on the chemistry set.

I told her I would be her best friend, but she said that while I make a very good friend, for a best friend, she wants someone her own age. That’s wise, I suppose.

She asked Father Winter if he could give her a best friend.

“What’s this?” she wondered when she opened the box he gave her.

“It’s friend magic,” he replied.

Magdalena definitely believes in magic, so she seemed disappointed when she came home from school, and she still didn’t have a best friend.

She went to Asuka. I’ve noticed that when she has a problem or something that worries her, she’ll seek out Asuka, if Asuka is over. If not, she’ll come to me or Dad, but Asuka is always her first choice. I’d feel jealous if I didn’t feel so grateful. I mean, I know what a good person Asuka is to talk with, so I’m glad that Magdalena has her, too.

Asuka just has a special touch when it comes to listening, finding solutions, and being supportive.

“You know,” Asuka said, “I might know of some people who could be good friends for you! Do you know the Fields? They have a little girl about your age named Azure. Shall I invite her over?”

“Azure Fields!” said Magdalena. “That sounds like something out of a magic book!”

Azure Fields may not be out of a magic book, but she is very cool.

She and Magdalena played chess, told jokes, shared secrets, and became best friends.

I love to see this side of Magdalena. She spends so much time alone, often in what seems like her own world of imagination, and that’s wonderful. At the same time, to see her talk with a living friend with the same excitement with which she talks to her imaginary friends felt so good.

I feel that she’s adjusting and making it past her traumatic early years.

We’ve made it through the winter rainy season. The tropical warmth extends into the evening, and Magdalena often swims when she gets home from school, after she’s done her homework.

She’s left her slow dog paddle behind, and now she races through our bay in a strong free-style.

She and Azure text each other all hours of the day and night. I don’t want to put limits on it. I’m happy Magdalena has a friend and that she’s always there for Azure, just as Azure is always there for her.

And Dad? His search for the perfect sunset vista continues.

He told me the other day that he has both found it, and not found it.

“It’s not really something that can ever be actually found,” he said, in his cryptic way. “It’s more something that has to be discovered within you. If you’re alive and here to see the sunset for one more day, then anywhere is the best place to view the sunset. Wherever you are, that’s the best place.”

It’s an easy truth to realize when you’re living in paradise.

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Another Legacy, 4.19

Bloganuary Daily Prompt for January 30, 2023: What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?

From Nicki Flores’ Journal

My publisher asked me the other day if I would consider writing an autobiography. My collections of short stories have been selling well, and I’ve also published a few fitness and motivational books. The publisher thinks my readers would enjoy learning more about “The Nicki behind the Nicolette.”

But I’m so young. Autobiographies should be written once one knows their life’s voyage, looking back with the wisdom of what one’s learned along the way, and I’m still looking forward.

However, with the rain falling outside the studio window, and music from my high school prom playing on the little souvenir juke-box, I’m feeling nostalgic.

Looking back, how would I organize my life so far into chapters?

Prelude: The Before

I don’t think about the time before Dad adopted me. I know those memories are there, and sometimes they come to me in waves of sense-memories. Someday, I may need to unpack them, and I suppose if I ever actually did write an autobiography, I’d do that. But for right now, I’m content to leave them in a box tied up with a big black ribbon and labeled “Before.” I pretend that this time doesn’t count.

Chapter 1: Home

This is when my life began, the moment Dad said to me that he, too, felt overwhelmed looking out of the window in the foyer of our apartment.

“So high up!”

I had a home. My dad chose me.

And that’s set the tone for the rest of my life.

Chapter 2: Growing Up in the City

I loved being a city girl. I had free-run of our district, a safe village full of friends and neighbors, always looking out for us little kids. That’s where I met Asuka.

Sometimes we talk about moving back there. I’m not sure we will, knowing how life seems to move forward, rather than circle back. But you never know! Magdalena is getting pretty serious with her music, and the city offers opportunities for classical pianists that aren’t found in Sulani.

At any rate, my city life would deserve a chapter.

Chapter 3: Coming of Age in Copperdale

Crushes, awkward moments, long hours running on wooded paths and sandy beaches, playing football, studying, taking tests, dreaming and planning for the future: those years in Copperdale were when I transitioned from being a kid with no cares to a young adult ready for the world. I made so many plans!

They didn’t all work out, but the seeds for my current life were set during those important years.

That was when Grandma passed, too, and I learned that her presence will always be part of my life.

Chapter 4: Not a Super Star

Somehow, my dreams always included me becoming a super star athlete in college, then a professional athlete, then marrying Kaito and settling down in the city to raise our own kids and adopt a few others.

I never really made this dream explicit, but it was there, in the back of my mind, all through high school.

College brought reality.

You can play well, but if you’re on a losing team, you won’t become a super star. The recruiters never called.

The guy you have a crush on can be gorgeous and make your heart flutter, but if he’s not a supportive friend, it might not be worth pursuing an actual relationship.

But if some dreams wither, others flourish.

Music, art, writing, and Asuka took the place of sports and Kaito.

It still hurts when dreams die–and it feels like bliss when new dreams rise.

Chapter 5: Island Life

Our little house on our own tiny island, my writing studio, the star-filled night sky, palm trees, sand, the whispers of waves, the rhythms of tides, and the breeze–that salty, soothing island breeze!

I never could have dreamed this because I didn’t know this existed.

Yet this! This is life.

This is where I feel so alive, so in harmony, so connected with family, friends, my creative life!

I’ve been able to write. I have time for painting and music.

And Dad is the happiest he’s ever been in his life.

Chapter 6: Open Your Eyes

It was adopting Magdalena that has showed me that there is so much more to life–and death–than what we see with our normal eyes.

Some individuals, like Magdalena, have heightened perception.

And, perhaps, all of us can learn to see, in the right circumstances or if we find a way to release our preconceived notions. Or if we are able to truly listen to the gifted sighted amongst us.

Becoming Magdalena’s mom has changed me.

I wanted to give her a home because she needed one, and we had one to share.

And what I’ve discovered is that she is the one to introduce me to so much more than I ever dreamed was possible.

Now, I don’t know if I would include this in an actual biography. Some things carry such power that you want to keep them for yourselves, and sharing them might backfire.

But this is my journal. This is me casting my mind back through the journey of my life so far, a life that feels it’s just begun, in all its possibilities, and any chapter list would be incomplete without including the miracles and mysteries.

I can’t wait to discover what’s yet to come!

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Another Legacy, 4.18

Bloganuary Daily Prompt for January 29, 2023: What is something you learned recently?

From Nicki Flores’ Journal

Strange and terrifying things have happened recently, but let me start with the normal. Magdalena joined scouts.

My dad and I were both scouts, and being a scout, I feel, helped me develop so many good personal qualities, like discipline, kindness, helpfulness, and application. Dad says he thinks that, through scouts, we learn how to learn, so that we have a leg up on any future skills or subjects. He’s probably right.

Anyway, Magdalena often asked about our scout trophies, and she loved to listen to us tell stories about scout trips and earning badges, so when we asked her if she wanted to be a scout, she replied with an enthusiastic yes.

“You look great in your scout uniform,” I said when she stood before me on her way to the first meeting. “How does it feel?”

“It’s scratchy,” she replied, “but I can put up with it. I’m a scout.”

She must have liked it OK, for she stayed in her uniform after her meeting, while she played and wrote in her journal.

This is our first rainy season here, and I’ve been simply amazed at how much rain falls. Copperdale is pretty rainy, so I thought I knew what rain was, but a tropical rain is nothing like a temperate rain!

We were thankful for our solid home and double-insulated windows.

But it wasn’t just the rain and lightning storms that were strange and terrifying.

Something happened to Dad.

He was in the kitchen, cooking an omelette and chuckling to himself, when he started laughing.

I heard a thump and then Magdalena screamed.

I thought maybe she’d dropped something, but when I got to the kitchen, Dad lay on the floor, collapsed.

I went to the sink to get some water for a compress, and, over my shoulder, I sensed both a dark presence and a blue light.

I heard my grandma say, “You’re not taking him. Not now. You’re mistaken. It’s not his time.”

There was a low rumble in response, and then a flash of light as Dad ascended.

I don’t know what to make of it.

But he stood there, strong as ever.

So that was strange and terrifying. But it wasn’t the strangest part. The strangest part was that it was as if my vision had somehow shifted through the shock of it all. The blue light coalesced into the form of Grandma, and the dark presence solidified into a robed figure with a sickle–the classic Grim Reaper!

I don’t know what to make of this, except to think that, perhaps, close encounters with death snap us out of our normal perception, allowing us to see with our eyes what is usually hidden from us.

Maybe this is what has allowed Magdalena to see Grandma all along.

Dad says that he’s learned that we can befriend death. “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Dad says.

At any rate, since Death is an inevitable aspect of Life, I suppose it can’t hurt to accept it without resistance when it invites itself into your home.

Of course, it’s easier for me to befriend death when my dad managed to escape it. I’m not sure I could accept his presence or his friendship if he’d claimed Dad.

We were lucky that Asuka was there. I was in such an altered state that I wasn’t really available to check in on Magdalena. But Asuka, who’d been taking a nap in the studio when all this happened, had a clear mind. She stepped in and made sure that Magdalena was fine.

Which she was.

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