3.17

04-23-16_12-28-03 PM

“Mum, look! Quickly!”

I smiled, and turned towards Gary. About a month ago we had gone to the park, and he had tried his hand at fishing for the first time. The information hut handed out fishing rods for a fiver to use all day, but I had a feeling I’d be buying him his own rod soon enough. I hadn’t expected him to be so taken by it, but he was and seemed to enjoy himself.

If it meant that he had a hobby he could pursue outside, I wouldn’t complain. Fishing wasn’t the most expensive hobby as long as you invested in a good fishing rod, and I could use the fish he caught for dinner. We both won.

04-23-16_12-25-21 PM

“Has he caught anything big yet?” Grandma asked, and I shook my head.

“Only goldfish.”

As if to prove my point his rod yanked him forward, and Gary nearly fell over his own feet. He caught himself just in time, sighed, and pouted.

Grandpa Milan chuckled. “One day. I’m surprised he’s caught anything at all with the equipment they let you borrow here.”

04-23-16_12-24-24 PM

“You fish?” I’d never pictured him with a fishing rod, wellies and one of those hats all fishermen seemed to wear. He fit perfectly into a science lab, or into a library, but I couldn’t imagine him reeling in a tuna.

He shrugged. “I used to. I know enough to know that the rods here aren’t brilliant.”

Grandma snorted. “What did you expect for a fiver a day?”

I smiled, and leaned back a little. Since my birthday two months ago we had gone out together more often. Willow Creak had a beautiful park, and all four of us could enjoy ourselves here. Work was busier than ever since Chief Chau gave me the most demanding cases, and I didn’t get much time to myself. This was lovely, and Gary loved to spend time outside with us.

04-23-16_12-26-43 PM

“Say, Grandpa, I’ve been thinking.”

The universe being a living being of some kind was still a little too much for me to comprehend, but there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about. I had thought a lot about what Grandpa Milan had told me on my birthday – about Gary possibly being able to live happily ever after with the one he loved – and I always arrived at the same question.

“About what?”

“About what you said to me, that the universe is adjusting itself.”

He nodded. “Go ahead.”

“You said you saved Grandma so that we could change the world for the better. That without us, the world had a bleak future and that somehow my family can change all that.”

Again, he nodded. “That’s right.”

“I know we can’t be too involved with anyone outside our family because we weren’t supposed to be here. Because I’m not supposed to exist, my interfering would change the course of someone else’s life, even if only in a small way. Correct?”

His eyes narrowed when he nodded again, trying to figure out what I was getting at.

“If our family is meant to change the world in some huge way, wouldn’t we have to interfere in the lives of other people? How can we stay away from everyone else if we’re meant to affect the world in this big fashion?”

04-23-16_12-26-38 PM

“That’s an excellent question!” Grandma said. “I’ve wondered that very same thing many times.”

Grandpa Milan looked surprised. “You did? Why didn’t you say anything?”

She shrugged. “Because, for better or for worse, I’m here now. My books are already out there, and have been for years. I may have been using a pen name for a while now to avoid suspicion, but they are still my books.”

I nodded, relieved that I wasn’t the only one who had noticed the contradiction. “So, even if you never meet your readers yourself, you have still affected their lives. You being here has touched the lives of thousands of people.” Grandma blushed and waved it off, but she was being modest. She had a massive fan base, and I knew I was right. How could we change the course of the world’s future without interacting with people? It didn’t make sense that we were supposed to alter the future in this huge life-changing way but not talk to people if it wasn’t necessary. It just didn’t work.

“Huh.” Grandpa Milan looked genuinely taken aback. “I hadn’t considered that.”

Grandma gave me a proud smile, and winked. “I can see who Gary got his smarts from.”

I blushed. I had no idea what I was talking about. At best it was a theory, but I knew I was right. It didn’t make sense any other way, and if what Grandpa Milan had told me about the universe getting used to us, then the universe knew it, too. Apparently.

Grandpa Milan borrowed a fishing rod, and joined Gary. Grandma and I laid back on the grass, and enjoyed the sunshine.

04-23-16_12-31-14 PM

“See that one there?”

I nodded. I’d never taken Grandma for someone who saw shapes in clouds, but of course it made sense. She was a writer; naturally she had a creative side.

“It looks like a daffodil, don’t you think?”

I smiled. “That’s very specific.”

Grandma traced the outline of the flower for me, but I still couldn’t see it. “Well, that’s because it is. It couldn’t be a rose – there! It’s definitely a daffodil.”

I smiled happily and closed my eyes. “I’m glad you and Grandpa Milan moved here. Gary loves you both a lot.”

04-23-16_12-30-20 PM

“I’m glad too, sweetheart. Living as long as I have isn’t always easy, but seeing my great-grandchild grow up makes it worthwhile. How many grandmas can say that?”

I chuckled. “Not many.”

For a moment we relaxed next to each other in a comfortable silence. When Grandma spoke again I realised I had nearly fallen asleep.

“Milan loves that you call him Grandpa. I don’t think he ever expected to be a part of our family. It means a lot to him.”

“Doesn’t he have a family? Outside us, I mean?” I was ashamed that I’d never thought about it. I was so used to calling him Grandpa that it hadn’t occurred to me.

Grandma shook her head. “His parents lived in Bridgeport, but they died many years ago. He never married, and he has no children of his own. We’re all he has.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t imagine us without him.”

Grandma rolled onto her side, and smiled at me. “Me neither, sweetheart.”

The strangeness of it all struck me. My grandma was over a hundred years old but looked younger than I did. Her own child – my mum – had died of a proud old age, and still she looked younger than me. Grandpa Milan was only a part of our family because he had made a deal with a spirit – who now kept him alive and young – and had resurrected Grandma. The only reason I was here was because of an odd, supernatural exception.

We were a strange little family, but I wouldn’t have changed any of it.

——————————–

And with that, Sophia’s gen is officially over! I’ll take a few weeks to plot Gary’s story, and then he’ll take over very soon 😉

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3.16

04-02-16_2-05-41 PM

“Mummy?” I looked up from my book to see Gary standing next to me, his eyes shy and his hands restelss. I had heard him sneak in, but I had a feeling this was something he needed to say for himself, without me pushing him. “Do you have a moment?”

“Of course I do, baby!” I patted the spot next to me. “Come here, sit down.”

It was 10pm – several hours past his bedtime. Any other night I would have made an issue out of it, but if this was keeping him awake then I wanted to hear it.

“What’s wrong?”

He shuffled with his feet, and scooted closer.

“Do I have a daddy?”

My heart sank. I had dreaded this conversation, but I was prepared as well as I could be.

I nodded. “You did. He died before you were born.” Gary was smart, and he needed to learn about death some when. I didn’t need to give him all the details, but I didn’t have to lie about it, either.

“Oh,” he said, and leaned into me. “What was he like?”

04-02-16_2-07-06 PM

I smiled. This I could answer easily. “He was a good man. He was a police officer, just like me.”

“How did you meet him?” I was glad to see him so interested. I had been worried that Gary would resent Emery for leaving us, but instead he was curious. In his intelligent little head, he had worked out that Emery hadn’t meant to leave us, and that it wasn’t his fault.

“He was my partner at work. Your daddy was very brave, he helped me stop a lot of bad people.”

“Like batman?”

I pulled my son into my arms. “Yes, baby. Just like batman.”

Gary hesitated, then said: “Is that why he isn’t here now?”

My smile faded. I wanted him to know the truth, but how much detail did an eight-year old need? “It is. There was a very bad man, but thanks to your daddy he can’t hurt anyone any more. Don’t worry, baby, you’re safe.”

Gary nodded, but didn’t meet my eyes. “I know. You’re like batman, too.”

04-02-16_2-07-12 PM

Just like that, I knew what to say to lift his mood. “You know, your daddy loved to cook.”

His eyes went wide. “He did?”

“Hmh. One night he stayed with me to protect me from the bad man, and he cooked me dinner. He was a really good cook!”

“Better than you?”

I laughed, and my heart swelled. If Emery had still been with us, my cooking wouldn’t have stood a chance against his. “Much better than me.”

“Can I make breakfast tomorrow?”

04-02-16_2-07-42 PM

“Of course you can, baby. I love it when you cook for me.” Maybe Gary had just wanted a connection to his father. He couldn’t meet him, and he’d never know the sound of his voice, but he’d always share his father’s passion for food. Gary had made breakfast a couple of times now, and each time he had served me either cereal or toast with cheese. On Mother’s Day he had brought me breakfast in bed – two different kinds of cereal, two slices of toast, cheese, ham and raspberry jam. It was simple, but I knew he had put his everything into it.

Once he was older there’d be no keeping him from the stove and oven.

I felt myself well up. Gary had needed a connection to his father, but maybe I had needed one, too. He looked so much like Emery that it was impossible not to see him in our son, but it felt amazing that Gary had inherited more than his father’s good looks.

My birthday sneaked up on me, but thanks for Grandma and Grandpa Milan I remembered to throw a party.

04-02-16_2-30-07 PM

It wasn’t a big deal. Grandma and Grandpa Milan came, and Chief Chau made it as well as a few other people from work. After the nightmare with Blaine I was paranoid that some of his minions remained despite everything we’d done to identify them, but there were a few people I trusted. They had helped me take him down, and had been supportive after Emery’s death. We had grown close over the years, and they were the closest thing I had to friends.

Once everything had calmed down a little and Gary was occupied telling my colleagues all about the secret to a great ham sandwich (mustard), Grandpa Milan asked me for a chat.

04-02-16_2-31-26 PM

“You’ve got news, then?”

I had tried not to dwell on it, but now that he finally had something my heart was racing.

He nodded. “I do, but I’m not sure how to put it.” My heart sank. Nothing good ever started with those words.

“So it’s my fault, after all?”

“No, no, that’s not what- How much do you know about the universe?”

His question took me by surprise, and I blinked in confusion. “Not much. Why?”

Grandpa Milan tapped his chin, trying to think of an explanation. “It’s difficult to explain. Have you ever watched Doctor Who?”

I nodded, more confused than before.

“It may be fiction, but they’ve got one thing right. You don’t mess with the past. There are fixed points in time which mustn’t be altered.”

I felt a shiver run through me. “I’m with you so far.”

“When I made the bargain with the spirit to save Morrigan, I changed something I shouldn’t have interfered with. She was supposed to die, but because of me she lived. Not only that, but because I meddled with her fate – with the universe – she had a child. There’s now a bloodline that shouldn’t have existed. Your family has touched all sorts of things since then. Morrigan has written some influential books, your mother’s contribution to charity was immense, and now you are actively making the world better as a detective. The universe doesn’t know what to make of that – for lack of better words.”

I nodded, but my head was spinning. “Are you saying that we were a mistake?”

04-02-16_2-32-25 PM

“Oh no, not at all! I may have messed the universe around a little, but I don’t regret it for one moment.”

I didn’t know whether to feel better or not. Just what was he trying to tell me? “I don’t see where Emery and I come in.”

“The spirits don’t believe that his death was your doing. He was a cop, Sophia. It’s a dangerous line of work. Your interfering might have sped his death up a little, but sooner or later he would have been in an equally dangerous situation. It was inevitable. But this is where it gets interesting. The spirits aren’t sure, because the universe isn’t sure.”

04-02-16_2-31-47 PM

“I don’t-” Was the universe conscious? He talked about it like it was a living thing!

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have interfered, but I did and it confused the cosmic order of things. But the universe is older and more powerful than any of us can imagine. It… adjusts. You could say it’s getting used to your presence.”

My heart jumped. Was he implying- “So I could grow old with someone I love?”

Grandpa Milan shook his head, but it didn’t look confident. “No. The spirits seem sure that it’s too early for you, but Gary might be able to. I advice caution, in case it’s too soon for him, too, but some day in the future your family will be able to love. Your grandchild might be able to have a normal life.”

It was too much to comprehend in one sitting. I thanked him, and said I understood but really I needed time to think it all through. The universe adjusts to my family? That would make it sentient, wouldn’t it? Or was it even more complicated than that?

I wasn’t sure if it was too much for me to understand, or if the drinks Mum had been mixing all evening were to blame, but either way I needed time.

04-02-16_2-17-00 PM

Gary had a passion for drawing and painting. He enjoyed his art classes at school, and asked me for a drawing table and some paints for his ninth birthday. His teacher thought he had a talent for it, and I was happy to see him immerse himself so much. He still liked to cook, but he was too young to really get into it. He wasn’t allowed at the stove or to use the oven, and eventually he got bored of making toasts and salads all the time. His drawing table gave him something different to do, and soon the walls in his room were covered in drawings.

04-02-16_2-41-52 PM

“You could be a big artist one day,” I said one afternoon after adding another drawing to his wall. “Like Picasso, or da Vinci.”

He smiled, but shook his head. “Nuh, I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“It’s fun, but I don’t think it’s for me.” I smiled at his choice of words. He was so grown-up it was easy to forget that he was only nine years old.

“What do you want to be when you’re older, then?”

“An awesome chef, like you and daddy!”

04-02-16_2-42-04 PM

I smiled, and resisted the urge to pull him into a hug. He was getting too old to be hugged constantly by his mother, and I didn’t want to be clingy. I wanted him to know that he could be whatever he wanted to be – not what I wanted him to be.

“Then I’d better start saving for culinary school!”

Even if he decided on something else later on, it’d be good to have a college fund set up. A good education wouldn’t be cheap, and with his mind he’d be able to get into the best school there was. I didn’t want to hold back on his education. If he wanted to be a chef, I’d have the savings set aside to make it happen.

I gladly hugged back when he hugged me. Emery would have been proud of him. I knew I was.

Interlude

“Make it quick, mortal.”

He balled his hands into fists, and reminded himself that he needed to stay calm. It had taken the spirits a while to agree to this meeting. Now that he was here he wouldn’t waste the opportunity.

He had already achieved more than any other human alive, had asked for more than any other human alive – and he’d been granted it. He needed no favours this time, only an answer. A simple thing.

He had promised her.

He hadn’t expected to become a part of their family. If he could help by asking one simple question, then he would.

“Was it Sophia’s fault that Emery Dwyer died?” 

In front of him, the spirit broke into a grin. The spirit inside him moved around like an excited child in a bouncy castle. 

His palms were sweating, and his forehead was wet. 

“You beg an audience for this? You used to be more ambitious, mortal.”

“I’m not here for myself.”

The spirit’s grin widened, and he no longer knew what he was dealing with. Most spirits were curious, but there were others. Benevolent ones. Malevolent ones. Once he had confused the spirit that used him as a host as the latter, but in time he had realised that he’d been wrong. The spirit he shared a body with – the spirit that had kept him alive for so long – was merely curious.

He didn’t think that the one he was talking to now was merely curious.

“No, you are here for her. Another mortal. The reason the universe is in turmoil.”

“In turmoil?” He’d known when he had asked his favour many years ago that he was manipulating things out of reach to humans. Resurrecting the dead wasn’t within their abilities for a reason, yet he had asked – no, begged – it regardless. He had believed her family to be what the world needed. Had he been wrong?

“Your little experiment has shaken the universe and the stars themselves, mortal. What did you expect?”

He swallowed. That was a very good question. What did he expect? Not this.

But his time was limited. He could only stay for so long, and he wouldn’t leave without an answer. 

“Was it her fault? Is she responsible for his death?”

The spirit laughed. “You are asking the wrong questions, mortal.”

He thought for a second, and grew cold when he considered the impossible. “Will the universe recover?”

A hundred grins appeared around him, and for the first time he saw the spirit world as it truly was. He was merely a visitor, a guest. This was their home, and they were everywhere and in all things.

“It has already started, mortal. The universe was… unsure, when we gave her life. It was unsure, too, when we halted her ageing. But the universe is larger than you can imagine. It can deal with all manner of things, and it can recover from worse.”

“That doesn’t answer my question.”

“She is not to blame for the man’s death. Not directly. Her actions sent smaller ripples through the nebulae than her mother’s actions, or her grandmother’s.”

He felt dizzy at the implications. “Does this mean that she can find love, and grow old with someone?

The grins around him dimmed. “No. Not her. It is too early.”

“But one day? Will her son be able to?”

“I do not know, mortal. I only know that your request and our granting it has forever changed the way of things. I cannot say if that is for better or for worse, only that it is.”

He smiled, despite it all. Sophia wouldn’t get her happily ever after, but perhaps it was possible for Gary. How could this be for the worst? Love was always a good thing. The spirits didn’t understand – they didn’t love as humans did – but he understood. 

One day his family would find love, and he looked forward to the day it happened.

3.15

11-21-15_1-26-46 PM

Gary’s birthday came around much too fast. Between work and catching up with housework time had flown by, and before I knew it I was throwing him a birthday party.

Grandma and Grandpa Milan were thrilled to spend the day with us, and showered him with presents. I loved having them here, but nice as it was it drove home the truth that Emery should have celebrated with us. Mum and Momma should have been here, too, but I hurt the most for Emery. At least my parents had died of old age, after having lived a long, fulfilled life. Emery never got that chance.

Gary would have many questions, and I had no idea how to answer some of them. Would he be too young to understand what happened to his father? Would it scar him? How on earth was I supposed to explain why his great-grandparents looked younger than I did?

11-21-15_1-27-31 PM

I had never been as aware of time as I was on his birthday. My memory of Emery was fading, and it didn’t seem real that he had been gone for five years already. That Mum had been gone for five years.

That, while I was still young, my own grandparents looked younger than me. That my baby was no longer a baby, but a little boy who would start school soon.

Time seemed to be slipping through my fingers, and it scared me.

Grandma and Grandpa stood around the crip with me, and the three of us sang together.

“Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday dear Gary… Happy Birthday to you!”

11-21-15_1-39-12 PM

Gary looked so much like his father I couldn’t believe the resemblance at first. Emery’s sun-kissed skin, his bright eyes, even his brown hair – Gary could have been his twin. He had my nose, but it was impossible not to see his father in him.

I smiled. Even though my memory of Emery was fading, Gary would always be a perfect reminder.

Grandma and Grandpa stayed for cake and dinner. Gary was busy trying out his new toys and everything else around the house, which gave us a chance to talk.

11-21-15_1-38-42 PM

“Any news?” I asked Grandma while Grandpa Milan introduced my five-year old to chess in the garden.

She shook her head. “Not yet. He’s trying, Soph. He’ll be over as soon as he knows something, I promise. And didn’t I tell you not to worry?”

Suddenly I found it hard to swallow my chilli. It had gotten easier over the years, but the feeling that I had caused Emery’s death still haunted me at times. Especially at night, when I couldn’t sleep and my mind wandered without my permission. If I hadn’t fallen for Emery, he would still be alive. I knew that Grandma was right – he had known the risks when he had joined the force – but it was my fault that he had gotten mixed up in this mess. Maybe, if I hadn’t involved him and told him about the notes and that someone had been in my house, he wouldn’t have come to my rescue when Blaine tried to kill me.

My heart ached at all the things that could be different. Emery could be alive, but I wouldn’t have Gary. Would we still have slept together if I hadn’t involved him? Would we still have had that moment of weakness, or would it have been easier to ignore my feelings? Would it have been more difficult?

I felt guilty and ashamed that his death was my fault, but I didn’t want to live in a world without my son. He was everything to me, and with the only exception of Blaine’s death Gary was the one good thing that had come out of this.

I couldn’t imagine a life without him any more. I just wished it could have been a world with Emery in it. Gary deserved to know his father, every child did, but I had to accept that it wasn’t meant to be for my family.

The happily every after I had wanted since I was a child couldn’t be for us. I knew I had to come to terms with it, but it was hard.

11-21-15_1-45-27 PM

Gary was clever, and took to chess easily. Once a week Grandpa Milan came over to play with him, but on all other days he wanted to play with me. It didn’t take long for him to beat me, and I wondered who he had gotten his smarts from. Both I and Emery had been clever, but neither of us had been a protegee at five. Or maybe he was simply good at chess?

I was a good cop, and Emery had been even better. He had loved to cook and everything about food. I couldn’t help but wonder if Gary had inherited his love for cooking.

11-21-15_1-58-00 PM

He did well at school. I loved helping him with his homework, but most of the time he didn’t need my help.

To see if he did enjoy cooking I brought him into the kitchen more, and he loved to assist me.

11-21-15_2-00-10 PM

He did everything he could to help with our meals, and soon he came into the kitchen without me needing to ask him. It warmed my heart to see him take after his father so much, and hoped that it was more than just a son wanting to help his Mum.

I had been sad that Emery’s memory had faded, but now it never would. He lived on through our son, and I was immensely grateful for that. I was a little sad that my son didn’t take more after me, but if that meant that Emery wouldn’t be forgotten so soon I could live with that. He had been a great man, and I was beyond happy that Gary was so much like him.

I promised myself to nurture his talent in every way I could. If he wanted to grow his own fruit and vegetables, I’d make room for a garden. Our plot was large enough to house a good-sized vegetable garden, or whatever else he wanted to grow. It wouldn’t be an issue. If he wanted to go to culinary school, I’d pay his fees. I had the beginnings of a respectable financial safety net, and by the time Gary was old enough to chose what he wanted to do with his life I’d be able to support him.

Besides my grandparents, he was my only immediate family. I had accepted that I’d never have the large family I had dreamed of, but I’d invest all my love into Gary.

I just hoped he’d never ask me for a sibling. Maybe a puppy would do if he did.

——————————————

[rant on] I know I’ve said this before but I hate how quickly babies age up!! The gap between newborn and fully-grown child is much too big. It doesn’t bother me when I’m playing just for fun, but for these stories? Far too unrealistic!! -.- [rant off]

3.14

11-21-15_12-10-44 PM

Gary was a very smiley baby, and the first soft tufts of brown hair were starting to show on his head. His eyes were so much like Emery’s it was impossible not to see him in his son. I wondered if he would look like me at all when he was older, but loved him all the same. Emery had been a handsome man, and I didn’t care who Gary took after more. He was healthy and happy, that was all I wanted.

Half a year after he was born, Mum was hospitalized. Grandma called and told me what the doctors had told her – that we should say goodbye now if we wanted to have the chance. I wasn’t sure whether I should arrange for someone to look after Gary or whether he should come with me, but decided to take him with me in the end. Mum wouldn’t get to see him grow up. I wanted her to be able to see him again.

11-21-15_12-18-22 PM - Copy

I stayed for the funeral. Once I was back home I put all my energy into losing the baby fat. I was still on maternity leave for another month, so I hadn’t had the same kind of busy routine I’d had before Gary was born. My body wasn’t used to being lazy, and the first two weeks of working out did a number on my body. I felt like I was sore everywhere, even though my boxing bag was my only training partner.

It felt good to be more active again. I loved being home with Gary but I looked forward to being back at work, too.

11-21-15_1-14-35 PM - Copy

Chief Chau put me on a number of different jobs, to help me get settled back in. I wanted something bigger, but she insisted I take it slow after having been gone for months. I knew she was right, but I missed being on the street, fighting crime directly. All I could do here was take fingerprints and take mugshots. The things some of the criminals thought they could smuggle into prison amazed me every day.

And then, finally, we received a bit of good news.

Blaine Raegan had died in prison.

I thought I’d be ecstatic, but instead I only felt relief. It really was over now. The man I had sworn I’d hunt down was gone. Mum and Emery could rest in peace, and I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Grandma and Grandpa Milan moved closer to me. Now that Mum was gone they wanted to be closer to their family and bought a house together, only two roads away from me. Having them so close to me felt great, and I loved that they’d be a part of Gary’s life.

11-21-15_1-02-09 PM - Copy

“I love your house, Grandpa.” Grandpa Milan had insisted that I don’t call him ‘Grandpa’ since we weren’t related, but I insisted. He felt like a grandfather to me, and using the title felt natural. He had earned it, and I wasn’t about to let him forget how important he was to us.

“Your grandmother chose it. She has good taste.” They had turned the small spare bedroom into an office for her, so she could continue writing her books.

“I need to talk to her. Does she have a moment?” I didn’t want to interrupt her while she was writing, but there was something important I needed to ask her.

“Of course!” I got up, ready to knock on her door when he stopped me. “Wait. Sophia, I’ve been meaning to talk to you. I don’t want you to think that I’ve forgotten about what you’ve asked me. I’ve been trying to get in touch with the spirits, but they haven’t been very… forthcoming.”

My heart sank. “What do you mean?”

“It’s their realm, their home. I can’t force my way in, and neither can the spirit that lives inside me since he’s bound to me.”

“I don’t understand.” What did this mean? Did the spirits avoid him because they knew I was right? Did spirits have appointments? Would they care whether their answer hurt me or not?

“I’ll keep trying, Sophia. I promise.”

I nodded, needing to change the subject.

“Sit down over there,” he said, and nodded to the table. “I’ll get Morrigan.”

11-21-15_1-03-36 PM - Copy

I quickly went to check up on Gary who slept in his pram in the kitchen, and sat down.

“I need to ask you a favour,” I said once we were all sitting together. “A big one.” Grandma was as dedicated to our strange cause as anyone could be. If anyone agreed, it’d be her.

“What’s the matter, sweetheart?”

“I was wondering if you could write about what happened here, at the police department. We’ve got the names of officers, politicians and other high-ranking people who were all conspiring with Blaine. If you write about it – an accurate record, not the stuff they publish in the paper – you could stop the same thing from happening again.” I didn’t know if it would really work. It could backfire, too, and people could end up blaming us for allowing the corruption to get so out of hand in the first place.

Grandma nodded. “That would help us work towards a better future, if the people were to be made aware. I see what you’re getting at.”

“Blaine was a bad man,” I said, my hands balled into fists. “I want people to understand how influential criminals can get, how ruthless they can be, and that it’s possible to stop people like him.”

There was a gleam in Grandma’s eyes that gave me hope. “A story like this could really inspire someone, Soph.”

“Your name is famous. If you write it they will read it.”

If I didn’t know my Grandma any better I’d have thought she blushed. “I’d love to help you. Of course I’ll do it.”

“I’ll speak to the Chief on Monday. We might be able to give you access to our files.”

For the first time since Emery’s death I felt truly hopeful. I had lost Emery and I had lost Mum, but I had Gary, Blaine Raegan was dead and with Grandma’s help we could really do some good. It was exciting to think about it all.

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I had achieved my dream. My father was gone. My future belonged to my son now. When Chief Chau asked me to be her replacement, I would accept. Willow Creak wasn’t a large city by any means, but I’d make it a save place for Gary and all other residents. Something like what had happened with Blaine wouldn’t happen again. Not on my watch.

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I could focus on work while I was at the station, but while I was home I belonged to Gary. Being a single Mum wouldn’t be easy, but my grandparents weren’t far away any more and I’d manage on my own. Gary would have everything he needed to be happy.

I swore my life on it.

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Extra Pic

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I gave Morrigan and Milan a small make-over to go with their new home ^^

Apologies if Lilliana’s death seemed sudden. I’m sure you wanted pictures. I did, too. The game didn’t even tell me that she was close to dying, so I was just as surprised as you were when her portrait was greyed out -.-

3.13

10-02-15_8-10-27 PM

The nursery was the first room in my new house that I decorated. Mum, Grandma and Grandpa Milan helped me pick the furniture and move things around until I was happy with it all. It was a bare room, with the mere essentials – just the cot, a couple of pictures and a mobile – but money was tight and I did what I could. My family offered to chip in more and buy the baby some presents, but I wanted to do this on my own. I was starting over, and I needed to do it alone.

10-02-15_8-06-00 PM

I loved the house. It wasn’t as big as Mum’s but it was bigger than my previous home and it was cosy. The rooms weren’t too large – in fact, the kitchen was a little small – and I found it easier to relax every day. It was hard, thinking about Emery but at least we hadn’t shared this house. Besides cooking and his favourite TV shows there was nothing here to remind me of him, and I was grateful for the fresh start.

The only time I really felt his absence was at work. Chief Chau hadn’t assigned me a new partner for the time being since I was a Sergeant now and she knew that I could this alone. At first I had been mad, but the more time passed the more grateful I was. She was right, I could do this on my own, and I had a feeling that maybe she was testing me. Layla was a good Chief but she had never wanted the position and would have been happier in another. She did her best and wasn’t going to leave the job without good reason, but I knew that she wanted a replacement.

There was chatter around the office that she wanted me to be that replacement.

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I didn’t know if it was true, I was nowhere near being promoted to Chief, but it gave me something to focus on. At home I had the baby, and at work I had a new goal. I didn’t want to be coddled but it was nice to be looked out for, and I welcomed the distraction.

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Especially when Mum had a nasty fall in the shower. She broke an arm and her right foot, and was banned from working out until everything had healed. With everything that had happened I hadn’t even considered her health, or her age, but Grandma gave me the gentle nudge I needed to face the inevitable. Mum was getting old, and unlike Grandma and Grandpa Milan she wasn’t immortal. She had lived a good, healthy life, but sooner or later…

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I didn’t want to think about it just yet. For the time being Mum was still very much alive, and I had baby-prep to do. I read every book on pregnancy and birth preparation that I could find, and I even started watching kids shows on TV. I didn’t know if it was hormones or if I had genuinely developed an interest in Pokemon, but it was addictive and I couldn’t stop. Inside me my baby was moving and punching, and I knew he or she was happy, too.

I had failed Emery and my baby did not face the kind of future I had always wanted for my kids, but I wouldn’t fail him or her, too. I’d do my best to be a good Mum. We didn’t have much to look forward to with our fate looming over our heads, but we’d have each other and I’d be damned if I let this baby down!

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When I was only a month away from my due date everything hurt. My back was killing me, my feet were swollen and ached whether I stood up or sat down, and I was huge. My family visited as often as they could and even moved in for the last two weeks, but Mum’s constant reassuring cooing at my massive belly only helped so much. I was ready for this baby to be born, now.10-02-15_8-25-22 PM

Finally, a week after my due date, my water broke. I had gotten up at 2am because I was starving and needed pancakes, and was in the middle of mixing the dough when the worst pain imaginable shot through me. Everyone was asleep since it was the middle of the night, but they woke up instantly when I screamed.

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Unlike me who had read all those books they were much better prepared. Everyone was running through the house getting me the things I needed, while I tried my best not to freak out. I was giving birth, to my and Emery’s baby. Right. Fucking. Now.

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Mum helped me through the contractions and I was immensely grateful that they were there. Grandpa Milan waited outside but Mum and Grandpa were with me, making sure I had everything I needed.

After ten hours of wishing the little one would just pop out already, it was time.

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My son, my Gary, was born, and I could see the resemblance to Emery already. I loved him instantly.

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Just to give you an idea of where things are at-

Sophia is currently a Sergeant as I mentioned above, that translates to lvl 6 of her career. In her aspiration she’s still lvl 1 since it’s the successful lineage one and she needed to have a child before I could make any progress 🙂 Now that Gary was born it should progress nicely since most of the goals are set around interacting with her kid. Before you get excited – she only needs the one child to max it out, so sadly no more babies are required 😉

I hope this gives you an idea of how things are progressing 🙂

3.12

10-02-15_7-12-20 PM

I couldn’t stay in this house any more. When I had bought it I had dreamed of a family, kids, a white picket fence – none of those things had happened since then. Instead, only bad things had happened inside this house and I couldn’t wait to see the back of it. First Blaine had threatened me, then Mum told me that Momma had passed away, Blaine attacked me and fatally injured Emery – I needed to get out and start over. Maybe a family and children were still somewhere in my future, but they weren’t here.

Together with Mum I looked over some listings and after four viewings I chose the perfect house for my new future.

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I still had no family or children, but I had the white fence. It wasn’t much but it was a start, and I knew this was the right one when we visited it. It was too big for me, but I saw the fence as a good luck charm and couldn’t resist. It was a sign, or a good omen or whatever people called it, and that was just what I needed after everything that had happened.

The previous owners were still in the process of moving, so I had a month to pack everything up and prepare for the move myself. I wasn’t looking forward to living in this reminder for another day, but would do what I always did to cope with a bad situation. I would throw myself into work. Chief  Chau insisted I take some time off to adjust and to allow myself time to mourn, but I didn’t want to be alone and there was a lot of work to get done. Blaine had left a minefield in his wake, and while I wasn’t allowed to interrogate him myself I could still research everything else he had had a hand in for the past several years. His accomplices within the station soon sang and gave us all the information we needed, worrying as it all was. They had not been the only corrupt agents working for him. He had people everywhere, from the smallest shops working as spies to important politicians. It seemed there was no end to his corruptions, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Without realising it he had done me a favour. He had robbed me of my partner and man I loved, but he had also given me something to focus on. Something important.

10-01-15_7-02-53 PM

Mum, Grandma and Grandpa Milan came over a week later for Emery’s funeral. I had had too much time to think in this empty house, and had begun to question some things I should just be leaving alone. There was nothing I could do to answer them now but I wanted to ask Grandma and Grandpa Milan when I had a quiet moment alone with them.

For now I was just grateful that I wasn’t alone. Mum stayed with me for two weeks after the funeral, and only went back briefly for Momma’s funeral and wake. I was dreading another ceremony but was glad to be out of the house, too.

10-02-15_6-07-23 PM

Being amongst all those people was overwhelming. There were so many I had never even met before, people who had worked with Momma, her business partners, and old employees who still held her in high regard. It was great seeing all these people coming together and tell stories about my Momma, but at the same time it was too much. The house soon felt crowded, and I felt faint. I needed some fresh air, and headed upstairs to the balcony.

10-02-15_6-09-14 PM

The warm breeze was just what I had needed. It was familiar and comforting, and made me feel about as good as I could feel.

It was strange to be back. So much had changed that I could see from my little spot, but it was still exactly the same place as I had grown up in, too. The rocks and palm trees were the same, the sand and the air were the same, and even the small convenience store off in the distance was the same. So much had changed since I had moved, but my home town was still my home town. It was comforting to see it like this.

10-02-15_6-09-40 PM

My childhood seemed like a lifetime ago. My eighteenth birthday felt like it had happened centuries ago, when in reality only a few years had passed. I could still smell Momma’s cooking, feeling the sweat on my skin from working out all morning with Mum, and I could still here Marvin’s laughter in the garden. I wondered where he was now. If he was still in Riverview, or if he had moved up in the world. Whether he had gotten married by now, and what she’d be like.

I sighed. Marvin was still alive and kicking but he seemed as far away as Emery in that moment.

Behind me the door opened, and two sets of footsteps entered the balcony behind me. I didn’t need to turn around to know who it was. I still recognised the sound.

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“Hey, sweety” Grandpa Milan said.

“We thought you looked like you needed to talk.”

I nodded, finally turning around as the chance I’d been waiting for presented itself.

“I do. Are you sure now is a good moment?” As much as I needed to get this question of my chest I didn’t want Mum to be alone today.

“Of course. Don’t worry about Lilli, Gemma’s friends are keeping her company.”

I awkwardly fiddled with my hands as they sat down on the bench, not really knowing what to do with myself. Now that I finally had the chance to ask my question I wasn’t sure that I still wanted to know the answer.

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“How are you holding up?” Grandma asked, motioning for me to sit between them like we did when I was young, but I shook my head. I needed to feel the touch of air on my arms for this.

“Badly” I said truthfully. “I miss him, Grandma.” I didn’t care if she made a remark about how she had warned me not to fall in love. Right now I just needed to talk to someone.

“I’m sorry, sweety. Is there anything we can do?” I shook my head no. Unless they had a way of bringing Emery back I wasn’t interested, and that was out of the question. Nothing else would do.

Without wanting to waste more time, I asked my question.

10-02-15_6-16-39 PM

“Is it my fault he’s gone, Grandpa?” Their eyes went wide, and Grandma reached out for my hands.

“Of course it isn’t. You couldn’t know that lunatic would be there or what he would do. Why would you think this was your fault?”

“Because you told me not to fall in love, and I did it anyway. You told me our family can’t live happily ever after like I wanted to, but I tried to do it anyway. Am I being punished?” My nose stung and my eyes burnt, but I didn’t care. I was far beyond the age where I couldn’t let anyone see me cry.

Their faces had turned ashen, and I knew I was right. This was my fault. Emery was gone because of me.

10-02-15_6-14-37 PM

“Sweety, that’s not true. The spirits would never punish us like this.” I wanted to believe him but I couldn’t.

“How do you know? Have you asked them?”

He looked uncomfortable in his seat when he replied. “No, but if you really want me to I can.”

I nodded. “Please?”

“I don’t know when I’ll be able to, but I’ll give you a call once I know if you like.”

Next to him Grandma shook her head.

10-02-15_6-14-30 PM

“Now, listen here, sweetheart. You’re not being punished, his death had nothing to do with you. I know this is hard to hear, but people die and you are in a dangerous job. You both knew the risks when you signed up, or am I wrong?”

I sniffled, feeling like a little girl. “No. You’re right. But I can’t help but feel that he’d still be alive if I hadn’t interfered. I wanted to keep our relationship professional, Grandma, I really did.”

They both got up, hugging me from both sides at once. Holding on to my grandparents I cried into their clothes, the familiar smells not doing anything to comfort me.

“It’ll be all right, sweetheart. You’ll see.” I wanted to believe her more than anything, but the reality of our fate began to really sink in. I had told myself I could have a family and love, but maybe there was nothing I could do to get either. I had the very beginnings of love with Emery, and he had been taken away from me. Mum had managed to cheat it, but only because she made Gemma work her butt off. They hadn’t spent as much time together as they should have done, just to be allowed to be together at all.

“How do you cope?”

Milan stepped away as Grandma held me close. “Your mother was very lucky with Gemma, but you saw how little time they got to spend together. When they did they were tired from their careers. And I barely left my office, Soph.” The reminder of Emery stung like nothing had ever stung before. I could almost hear my nickname in his voice, pretend my Grandma’s arms were his. “I used Lilli’s father, and never saw him again. He never even knew I was pregnant, and Lilli never knew him.”

I didn’t know if her words helped or not. “So you focused on your career?”

Grandma pulled away just enough to be able to look into my eyes and cup my face with her hands. “I did. It helped.” There was the hint of something else behind her eyes. Did Grandma regret not being able to fall in love? Mum and I had given her a hard time for always reminding us that we couldn’t fall in love, but it had never occurred to me that Grandma wanted her happily ever after just as much as I did.

“What do you say we go back inside? I’ll get you a drink.”

“In a minute, you go ahead.” I needed to be alone, and think. Or not think.

10-02-15_6-14-45 PM

This wasn’t fair. I wasn’t sure I could do what Grandma had done, and have someone’s baby without any love involved. I couldn’t use someone like that. How could anyone? How had Grandma? Knowing that I’d force my child into the same fate I now suffered through made it even worse. How could I be so cruel?

I wondered what the universe would do if I just never had children. Milan had said that my family was important, vital to the world’s future. Did I really have to chose between passing on our fate and saving the world? Between my child and everybody else? How could anyone make such a decision?

I didn’t have to wait long to realise that the decision was no longer mine to make.

10-02-15_6-47-52 PM

I found out a week before moving into my new house. Our new house.

I was pregnant.

 

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Tour of the house:

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1st Floor:

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2nd Floor

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I tried to make it small but cosy, and am really pleased with how it turned out :3 Although the garden needs work 😛
You’ll see the nursery in the next update, along with gen 4 😉