Category Archives: rotationalplay

The Fairfield Diaries : 1.1 Eva Capricciosa

Eva

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Two things you should know about me: 1) I never wanted to settle down, and 2) I’ve always had a soft spot for the bad boys. That’s why it’s so funny that I somehow became a married mother of three. What’s even funnier is that I love it.

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My husband is a far cry from a bad boy, but there’s this crazy, unpredictable side of him that drives me wild. I never know what to expect with Rez, and he always keeps me on my toes. Never a dull moment. That’s what drew me to him when we first met – my friends thought it was his distinguished good looks, or even his family name I found attractive. But really, I just liked that wild look in his eye.

Still, I never thought I’d marry him, or anyone really. Not until he came to me with this absolutely insane idea that we leave Willow Creek together, and create some new kind of society. One where looks don’t matter, he said, where no one knows his name or his family history.  It was all completely out of the blue, and it made no sense to me, but it didn’t matter. Love, he said, was about so much more than physical chemistry or impulsive lust. I laughed, of course, because Rez is a Hasslich! Impulsivity and lust are in his blood, and isn’t lust what brought us together in the first place? But Rez was serious – he was beyond passionate about the idea, about this traditional society where marriages are arranged and couples stay together no matter what.  It was crazy and harebrained, and just insane enough to excite me. So I said yes.

And so we eloped, Rez and I.  He took my last name, and the rest is history.

Beyond the success of Fairsfield, Rez’s biggest dream is to become a well-known comedian.  He’s on the bottom of the totem pole right now, but he’s working his way up.  For some reason, he’s required to learn to play music before he they’ll give him a chance to tell his jokes.  He’s not very good, but I like to listen to him play anyway.

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As for me, I’ve gotten a job in the tech industry.  That means I spend a lot of time playing games on the computer, so I can’t complain.  I’ve been out on maternity leave for quite awhile, but now that the kids are in school and our bills are increasing, it’s time for me to buckle down again.

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Our kids are growing up so fast.  Zelda and Zachary are always at the park, making friends with other kids their age.

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Well, Zachary is, anyway.  Zelda’s not much of a people person.

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But even our youngest, baby Myles, isn’t a baby anymore.

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But with the twins’ birthday getting closer every day, Rez and I spend time with the other Founders whenever we can. It’s important to Rez that we arrange Zelda’s and Zachary’s marriages now, so that we can surprise them with the news once they’re officially teenagers. Rez is sure they’ll be thrilled, there’s not a shred of doubt in his mind. But me? I can’t help but worry. Rez’s harebrained idea seemed exciting an interesting at the time, but my babies were only hypothetical back then. Now that they’re real, that they’re individuals with their own dreams and personalities, I wonder if arranged marriage is really what’s best.

But Rez has no doubts.  He spends hours on the phone, making the arrangements. He talks a lot with Tatiana Cloud, whose son is Zelda’s age and who Rez says is her best prospective match. They’re both loners, and will each respect the other’s need for space. Rez says he trusts Tatiana, and I wonder why he would rather talk to Tatiana than to me, but I remind myself not to be jealous.  It’s only business, so I keep my mouth shut.  I do think the Oulette’s new boy is a better fit for Zelda, though. I’ve been talking with Maaike, and we have plans of our own.

I’m sitting by the window, texting with Maaike, when I see Rez outside talking to a man I’ve never seen before. Well, they’re not talking exactly – Rez is furious, and I recognize that wild look in his eye.

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Something inside me stirs at the sight of it, and I’m filled with exhilaration.

I run outside to intervene, but if I’m honest I have no intention of breaking this up. If I know Rez, he’s said something offensive, he’s pushed too hard, he’s set the man off. And I don’t care because deep down, his wild side excites me.

But when I get there, I see that this altercation is escalating more quickly than I’d bargained for.  I like seeing Rez in caveman mode, but I don’t want to see him fight.  I step in and kiss his hands, trying to calm him down.

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But the man takes the opportunity to mock me, and Rez looses his cool.

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I standby helplessly, but luckily Rez emerges victorious, and the other man rushes away with his tail between his legs.

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And suddenly, I realize, I’m feeling frisky.

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On a whim, I throw caution to the wind.

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And a few days later…

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I’m pregnant again, and this time I hope for a sister for Zelda.

My pregnancy progresses healthily, but as the days go on, I become more and more exhausted.  The twins’ birthday is impending, and fortunately, Rez has things “under control” in the kitchen.

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He makes quite the mess, but at least the cake is actually edible.

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Zachary blows out the candles first…

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And Zelda goes next…

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And as Rez prepares to inform each of them of their betrothed, I see both of my children take a deep breath.  Rez opens his mouth, the eagerness written on his face, but just as he begins to speak, a cry escapes my mouth.

I’m in labor.

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Welcome to the family, Poppy Capricciosa!

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Zelda Capricciosa : loner, hot-headed, Fabulously Wealthy aspiration.

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Zachary Capricciosa: genius, slob, Bodybuilder aspiration

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The Orchid Cliff Chronicles 1.2 : Meet Mallory North

 

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My head is spinning.  This place is beautiful.  The old me would have loved it – the sailboats, the endless sea, the cliffs and the trees and the mountains on the horizon.  I should be happy.  I should be grateful.

I am grateful.  I come from a working class family – mom was a teacher, my dad an electrician.  I was fortunate and loved and I never wondered where our next meal would come from.  But never in my wildest dreams did I think that someday I’d wind up here, on the shores of Orchid Cliffs.  And if I did ever think it, it never would’ve occurred to me that it would happen under circumstances like these.  But there are benefits to marrying Greg.  Benefits that go even beyond his boyish good looks, his wicked sense of humor, and his undying, limitless support.  My husband is a kind and generous bleeding heart – a trait he inherited from his own parents, who are as wonderful as they are wealthy.

It’s because of my in-laws that I’m standing here now, looking out over the water, reminding myself to be grateful.  It’s hard sometimes, when my anxiety and my guilt consume me.  When the emptiness swallows me whole.

If it weren’t for my in-laws, Greg wouldn’t be taking a bath right now in the enormous jacuzzi in our enormous vacation home during our three month leave of absence from work.  We wouldn’t have this wonderful gift – this reprieve from reality to reconnect and relax and remember who we were before infertility rocked our relationship.  My in-laws are worried about us, I know.  About our well being and our future and our marriage.  I’m worried about those things too.

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I’m late again.  Greg grinned from ear to ear when I told him, which is exactly what I was afraid of.  He’s sure this is our month – just like he was sure last month, and the month before that, and month before that and that and that and that.

It’s never our month.

I shouldn’t have told him.  Now he’ll have his hopes up, just like he always does.  And just like always, I’ll let him down.  I’ll shatter his heart – this man who would do anything for me, who I love and adore and respect.  This man who should be the father of my children.  This man who was born to be a father, whose daydreams revolve not around sex or money or power, but around tea parties with his daughter, playing catch with his son.  I can’t bear to break his heart again.

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I think someday he’ll resent me, and in my darkest moments, I think about leaving him – letting him go so he can find someone else.  Some woman to do what I can’t – to give him the family he deserves.  I told him this once, and he laughed.  He squeezed my hand, and said “Never.”  He says I’m enough, but I can’t help but wonder. His life could have been so different.

I take one last look at the moon and inhale.  The pregnancy test is waiting for me inside, and despite myself I know I want to take it.  I’ve been fighting the temptation for days.  Some shred of misguided hope surges in my gut, and for a fleeting moment I think that maybe, this time, Greg is right.  I imagine a flutter in my stomach – is that a subtle wave of nausea?  Maybe it’s real this time.  Just maybe it is.

I close my eyes – I see tiny finger and tiny toes.  It’s a boy, I think, and we name him Gregory, after his father.  He plays with trains and planes, and he loves to read just like Mommy.

Just like me.

I’m reeling as I walk upstairs.  It’s like this every time.  I squat over the toilet, and I do it.  I pee on the stick, and I hold my breath.  And I wait.

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It isn’t our month.  I thought I was prepared for this, but I’m not.  I slide to the floor, pregnancy test in hand, and I cradle my head in my hands.  I feel like I’m crying – like I’m sobbing, like I can’t breathe – but there aren’t any tears.  I guess I’ve used them all up.

I mourn the son who never was.  I mourn his tiny fingers and tiny toes, and I mourn the planes and trains he’ll never play with.  I mourn the stories I’ll never read to him, and the name we’ll never give him.

It’s always like this.

And when, finally, I peel myself off the floor, I stand up straight.  I go to the mirror, where I practice my smile.  Because the hardest part is the next part, the part where I tell Greg.

I force a smile at my reflection.  I practice my act, the one I put on month after month.  My charade of positivity and optimism and hope.  I contort my face until it looks like the face of someone who isn’t devastated.  Someone who isn’t me.  Someone who has faith in the future.  I make my face a mask, so that Greg doesn’t worry about me.

(He worries anyway.)

I sigh – my smile looks fake.  I think it’s no use, but I try again.  I try for Greg.

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Okay, that’s better.

I find him in the living room, and his face lights up when he sees me.  He’s so handsome, and I think I’ll never get used to that face.  We’ve been married for seven years, but his eyes still take my breath away.

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“Hey, beautiful,” he says.  I know he means it – but I don’t feel beautiful (it’s hard to feel beautiful when you don’t feel like a woman).

I see his expression flicker – I didn’t tell him I was going to take the test tonight, but he knows me too well.  He knows everything just by the look on my face.

“I’m so sorry,” I say.  My voice catches in my throat, and suddenly I’m holding back tears.  I guess I didn’t use them all up, after all.  I fight them, though, and I find my mask.  I force a laugh, and I think it sounds pretty good.  “I’m okay, Greg, I promise.  There’s always next time!”  I show my teeth and hope it passes for a smile.

He pats the seat next to him and I go.  He holds my hand and looks at me with those eyes.  I nearly crumble.  I want to give him everything – I want to give him the world – and for the millionth time I wish my body would cooperate.  I wish my body would do what it’s designed to do.

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“Mallory,” he begins, and I’m sure I’m in for another pep talk, but he surprises me.  “There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.”

“Okay.”

“I know we both want to have a family.  But we’re a family already – the rest is just frosting on the cake.  You’re my wife, and I love you.  As long as we’re together, I’m a happy man.  I hate seeing you like this.  I miss you, and I miss us, the way we were before.”

He pauses and I open my mouth to speak, but he stops me.

“What if we just…stop?  Not forever, but for now.  Just for a few months, while we’re here in Orchid Cliffs.  We can go sailing, and go to the lake, and I can take you to Sheridan Lodge.  You can read, and I can paint, and we can go to the beach.  Do all the things we love to do – the things that make us us.  Can we do that, Mal?  Can we just live in the moment together?”

I nod, and as I do a weight lifts off my shoulders.  I’ve been so consumed by becoming that I forgot to be.  I want to be, I realize.  And I want to be with Greg.

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I stand and take his hand.  I lead him to the beach, to the spot where I stood and worried alone.  It was lonely here before, but Greg is with me now, and I feel warm just knowing he is here.  The view is the same as before, but it seems different now, with Greg at my side.  I look around and this time, and I appreciate the beauty.  I feel grateful to be here.

I feel grateful to be.

“Here’s to living in the moment,” I say, and he leans down to kiss me.

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The Orchid Cliff Chronicles : 1.1 Meet Mellie Mayberry

“Sophie!!” She called up the stairs, juggling a coffee cup in one hand as she buttoned her blouse with the other. “Sophie! You’re going to be late for school!”

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Sophie bounded down the stairs two at a time, and made a wordless beeline for the refrigerator.

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“We’re out of eggs,” Mellie said over her shoulder. “Sorry, hun.”

She heard her daughter’s exasperated sigh, and watched as she rooted around in the refrigerator. Mellie cringed – she already knew there was nothing left but granola bars. She was in desperate need of a trip to the grocery store.

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Sophie ran out the door, mumbling irritably as she went, and Mellie sank heavily into her chair. Things had been far from easy since Frank left, that much was true. Every morning, as she woke to an empty bed, a surly teenager, and bare kitchen cabinets, she had to remind herself it was for the best.

Frank always did have a wandering eye, even back when they first met in college. Mellie had recognized something deceitful in him even then, but if she was honest with herself, her feelings for him were ambivalent at best. She was young and naive, and it seemed that marriage was the next logical step. Mellie knew they were never the perfect couple, but she thought that they were happy enough in their arrangement. Frank was a good father to Sophie, and Mellie turned a blind eye to his occasional transgressions.

So while Melinda Mayberry was not at all surprised to find her husband in bed with another woman, she never expected him to vanish from their lives the way he did. It had been two years since Frank walked out on them, and the only contact she’d had with him had been through their divorce attorneys. Twenty-four months without so much as a phone call, or a card for Sophie’s birthday. For all Mellie knew, he was halfway around the world by now.

Mellie took her coffee to the porch and settled in on a weathered wicker chair. She had twenty minutes before she had to leave for the gallery, and she intended to use her time wisely. The screened-in porch, with it’s painted blue floor and abundance of natural light, was her favorite part of the little house she now called home. It wasn’t much, but it was hers, and that had to count for something.

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Her coffee had gone cold by the time she got around to drinking it, but the cool liquid was refreshing on such a warm morning. Mellie browsed through the newspaper, a daily routine she clung to as the rest of the world dove further into their gadgets, getting the news on their cell phones and laptops. She checked her horoscope first, as she always did, and Sophie’s, too, before moving on to the obituaries and the classifieds.

Turning the page to the local news, a photograph in the lower corner caught her eye. It was a small photo, accompanied by a brief article and a title that read, “Historic Orchid Cliff Lodge Set to Re-Open.”

Mellie felt her jaw drop as she quickly read and re-read the article. Her eyes drifted again over the photograph, studying it closer this time. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The Orchid Cliff Lodge had been defunct for years, crumbling in disrepair, full of broken windows and graffiti. She’d seen it once, in an impulsive moment after the divorce, when nostalgia had gotten the better of her. She’d driven out to the place in search of some piece of her former self, but the sight of it had brought her to tears.

The building in the photograph looked nothing like the dilapidated ruins she found that autumn day, but she recognized it nonetheless. The building in the photograph was pristine, painstakingly restored to it’s former glory, contemporary in a way that only added to it’s historic charm. It was breathtaking.

The memories floated to the surface in waves, one after the other, sepia-toned snapshots of her past. Far from the hustle of everyday life, The Orchid Cliff Lodge was a peaceful retreat for the affluent. It had been a stretch for her middle-class family, but Mellie spent a full month there each and every summer from the time she was six years old until her seventeenth birthday. The Orchid Cliff Lodge was the site of her first kiss, the backdrop for her first romance. It was there that she held a paintbrush for the very first time, that she caught her first fish off the lodge’s wooden dock. It was at Orchid Cliff that she first met Enid, headstrong and impossibly sure of herself, even as a kid.

The thought of Enid snapped her back to reality. Mellie glanced at her watch and immediately jumped into action. She should have left for work ten minutes ago, and Enid would tear her apart if she was late again. But as Mellie hurried along, her latest painting tucked safely under her arm, she knew all would be forgotten once she told Enid about the Lodge.

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If there was anyone who loved Orchid Cliff as much as she did, it was Enid.


 

Enid was waiting for her at the door, her arm protectively draped across her pregnant belly.

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“You’re losing money by the second, Mel. Every second you make these buyers wait is another strike against you. And when you lose money, I lose money. Capiche?”

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Mellie smiled apologetically. She and Enid had been friends for more than twenty years. Enid had been by her side through it all – through the childhood innocence, the teenage angst, and that first ill-fated young love.  It was Enid who’d stood up as the maid of honor at her wedding to Frank, and it was Enid who dried her tears after the divorce.  It was Enid who believed in her talent, who pushed her to follow her dream.  And last year, it was Enid who co-signed the business loan for the Melenid Gallery of Art.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry I’m late, but – Enid! Did you read the paper this morning? The Orchid Cliff Lodge is re-opening!”

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Enid stared at her, slack-jawed. “You can’t be serious!” Excitement filled her eyes.  “You know this has to be him, right?”

Mellie stared at the ground in silence, and Enid shook her head in disbelief.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to Windenburg?” Enid gasped.

I’m not going to Windenburg, Enid.  We are.”

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This is the first installment of my new Windenburg rotational story, The Orchid Cliff Chronicles.  You can read more about my plans for the story HERE!


 

 

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