Chapter 8.16 – Simplicity

After the Jones clan’s successful bid to ruin the Barimen fortune, Amber took every precaution to safeguard against another attempt at a legal broadsides.
 
Now it seems her diligence was well worth the effort. A summons had been delivered via messenger to the estate. Both Luke and his cousin, Makayla, listen as Amber reads the document:
You have been summoned to appear before the Sunset Valley Town Council at the specified date and time, to provide testimony regarding possible improper business practices perpetrated by Barimen Holdings inc, in violation of proposed legislation § 104-A (e), (g), (j), (k) and (m). Testimony provided during this summons may be used as basis of legal action against Barimen Holdings inc…
 
Luke sits in contemplative silence while Amber and Makayla hash out a legal battle plan. This is exactly what Sandi’s father wants them to do. There is something amiss here, and Luke feels that the worst possible outcome would be to play along with the summons. So while his mother and cousin begin to prepare a defense against the unknown, Luke readies an offensive that should allow them to completely avoid the unknown. Divide et impera.
 
Later, in an effort to break the tension of the situation, Luke shares a few drinks and laughs with his cousin. He’d always liked Makayla best among Aunt Tina’s kids (who, technically, are all distant relations three times removed). She’s a rare brand of genius when it comes to the law books. And she radiates both confidence and beauty. But much like Luke, Makayla keeps her ego in check with gracious humility.
 
Having four siblings of varying ages, plus twins on the way, Makayla’s family is a sharp contrast to Luke’s. There have been many times when she has come to the estate to escape the madness for awhile.
 
Although they’re nearly identical in age, he and Makayla couldn’t have been more different during their childhood. But over the years, her relentless work ethic has emerged, and she has become one of the most promising, young lawyers to hit the bar in many, many years. Luke considers himself fortunate that she’s on their side.
 
 
Late in the day, after Makayla leaves, Luke walks down to the beach with a fishing pole. In generations past, fishing had been a pass-time that the Barimen family would often enjoy together. But somewhere down the line, the gene was lost (or possibly forgotten). He marvels at the simplicity of it. At one time, a sim’s day-to-day survival might have hinged upon the day’s catch.
 
In many ways, it is much the same with reverence. The simplicity of giving thanks for the blessings in a sim’s life seems to have become passe, or to some, unnecessary. But why? Is piety the sacrifice given in exchange for modern conveniences and easy living?
 
 —
 
Luke contemplates these thoughts for some time while reeling in pathetic, little bait fish. A gusting seaward wind blows at Luke’s hair and clothes, masking the tentative footfalls approaching him in the sand. He is somewhat startled, but does well to conceal his reaction, when Anna gently calls out his name from behind.
 
When he turns, she offers a sheepish smile, stating that Amber told her she would find him here. Luke grins with a sideways smile, wincing from his still-sore lip, and asks if she came to clock him in the jaw again.
 
The contrite expression she wears does not resemble the Anna he has come to know over the past few weeks. After a short pause, Luke quietly asks if she is okay. Anna is not the type to cry at the drop of a hat, like Sandi. On the contrary, Anna is as tough as nails and has the emotional fortitude of gunship. So understandably, she seems almost confused by the unusual wetness that has begun to fill her eyes and drip down her cheek.
 
 —
 
As though wanting to get it over as quickly as possible, Anna forces out an apology, but immediately grimaces at the insincerity of her gesture. She collects herself, then apologizes again, taking time to make eye contact and give the effort some credibility.
 
It is probably at this moment that she notices the deep, blue color of Luke’s eyes for the first time. And during this moment, she realizes that while she has had countless liaisons with countless sims, she has always just looked at their eyes. Before today, she had never looked into a sims eyes. Finding herself speechless and letting down her guard, Anna pulls the sweater she’s wearing tighter around her shoulders; pretending that it is the wind causing her to shiver. All those sims… and never once a connection…
 
They begin walking the beach without speaking; Luke waiting for her to let go of whatever she came here to talk about, and Anna trying to figure out why she is still here, walking with Luke. The wind turns cold as dusk approaches. Luke sees that Anna has started to chatter her teeth from the exposure. Like sleep, the elements have never seemed to bother Luke one bit. All the same, he does not want Anna to leave just yet, so they begin the long trek together up the bluff to the estate.
 
 
Luke serves hot coffee in the parlor and sits with Anna. She comments about never having seen the inside of the estate. It looks huge from the outside. But it is even more massive inside. Luke laughs and reminisces about being a child and drawing maps of the entire place. He’d explored every last tiny corner of “his fortress” before he was seven years old. They laugh together for a short while and talk about their friendship as kids. But Luke can sense there is still something she’s holding on to.
 
Bluntness is Luke’s specialty. So he asks pointedly what it is that’s on her mind. Looking again into Luke’s eyes from over the rim of her coffee cup, her expression changes from a faint smile to an uncomfortable frown. She confesses that she felt insulted and angry last night when he refused woo-hoo with her (something no other sim had done before). Afterward, as she lay awake and alone in her bed, she asked herself why she was so angry. Then she started to think about how she and Luke used to play tag together as kids. It was so easy back then. They could just be friends, with no expectations of any kind, and still come back to play again the next day.
 
Somewhere along the way, she has lost the ability to do that.
 
Maybe it was her abusive father, or the first few men she became active with during her teens. They, of course, turned out to be just like him. Anna’s face contorts while she admits that, for some sick and twisted reason, she wanted Luke to be like those other men. So she tried to fit him into that mold.
 
Who knows why? Maybe to prove to herself just how worthless she really is. It took all night laying awake, but she finally realized that she wasn’t angry with Luke at all. She was angry at herself.
 
For a third time today, Anna finds herself staring into Luke’s eyes. And for the first time, ever, she finds herself herself wondering whether he is looking into her eyes, or just looking at them. Has he noticed the difference? Anna breaks the contact and laughs, then takes another drink of coffee. Whoever thought there could be so much power and wisdom behind a word so simple as, “No”?
 
Anna stands for a long time, staring out the large window that offers a spectacular view of Sunset Valley at night. It might be an hour or more that passes while they just reflect; Anna lost in her own thoughts, and Luke waiting for her to release the worries that have kept her here so late.
 
Finally, Luke asks the question that has been fidgeting impatiently on his mind since she showed up on the beach. The question itself is innocent enough. It is nothing more than him asking what else is going on with her, followed by an offer to help. The fear and anxiety that surfaces, provides him with just enough warning to conceal his own alarm upon hearing her very uneasy response.
 
Luke, do you believe in ghosts?
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5 thoughts on “Chapter 8.16 – Simplicity

  1. im starting to like Anna, and she is actually quite pretty. At first i thought she looked weird cuz she looked different as a child. Does this mean that she sees ghosts also? if not then i am really curious why she asked the question. great chapter

    -Nate

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    • She looked so EA-ordinary after changing from Luke’s imaginary friend into a girl, I decided to make a few tweaks inside CAS. At first it was just hair and eye color, but I ended up giving her a real make-over, hehe.

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  2. Anna sees ghosts too?? :O YES! That means he’ll never be with Sandi! I really don’t like her. Anna is much much better :3
    Wait, Anna was his imaginary friend? 😮 does that come into the story? Oo. (probably not, since she had parents)

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    • No. In the story she’s just some random military brat Luke used to hang out with. But in the game, she’s been a part of the household since Luke got the IF in the mailbox, hehe. Amber is non-stop breaking space rock blocks on the board breaker, so finding the rainbow gem was easy.
      Just FYI, that is a very quick way to get your household rich. Tiberium comes up quite often, and you can generally get 40-50k out of each one. Just hold the rock in your inventory and wait till your sim gets sick. Then presto! a small crystal. Just drop in in the grass and it will grow to a big crystal.

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