Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chapter 2-10: Hands of Time

                Uvie quicky discovered that having a puppy was not as easy as she had thought. 

                 She had to get up early in the morning to take Rumpelstiltskin outside before he had an accident in the house. 

                 Then she had to feed him and play with him to tire him of his rather endless energy. Then, go to school, come home and do all those things again.

                Most days, Carrie or Shane would leave Rump outside during the day. He required a lot of supervision and, although he hadn’t destroyed any furniture, they would rather not chance chewing or puddles. Rump would found himself interesting things to do, such as a gnome in the yard. 

                 That looked like a fun chew toy!

                 As the children got older, Shane and Carrie heard more questions from their children. They certainly were a curious lot.

                “Mom, why do I have to go to school,” Vesper would ask. “I can learn loads more here. They don’t even teach art for my grade!” Carrie tried explaining that school wasn’t just about art but Vesper just threw her bookbag to the ground, spilling half the contents as she headed to her beloved easel.

                 “Mom, why does Donta live in a weird house? And wear weird clothes,” Verne mused, after visiting his cousin’s home. Carrie didn’t bother explaining that her sister was a penny-pincher and didn’t want to upgrade the house or use something other than hand-me-downs. 

                 Shane tried to spend as much time with his children as possible. Especially Uvie as it was finally getting close to the birthday where she would officially be a teenager. One night, as Shane was getting ready to tuck Uvie in for bed, she asked an unexpected question.
                “Daddy, what’s sex?”
                Shane sputtered and freaked out a bit, wondering where in SimNation she would have heard such a word! Before he tripped over his feet, he called for Carrie.

                 After discovering that one of her classmates had talked about it a lot (though their facts were ALL wrong: mommies and daddies hugging and then a cowplant spitting up a baby), Carrie explained things a little better to her daughter. Uvie, satisfied with the answer, went back to having tea parties with her stuffed animals. And thus it was decided that Carrie would field the “hard” questions.            

                “Honey, guess what,” Shane announced with a big grin.
                “I have no idea.”
                “I got promoted,” he practically shouted, ecstatic with the news. Carrie was so proud of him and his hard work. Then, he showed her the bonus check.
                “Pick out whatever you want for the house; finish our bathroom, add to the kids’ room, anything.”

                 Granted, it wasn’t enough money to finish the house, but it was most certainly a start. They might even be able to get a table for everyone to eat together at instead of some at the bar and some on the couch. Carrie wanted her home to reflect the hard work that their family did, especially Shane. She wanted him to be proud to bring co-workers home and good enough that the kids weren’t embarrassed to bring friends over.
                Renovations were done, just in time for Uvie’s birthday. Carrie had finally settled on getting a nice living space together. There still wasn’t a dining table but she did have wall coverings and a fireplace. She had decided that the eating space could wait until she and Shane could afford the formal dining room rather than spending money on a breakfast area and then the dining room.

                 Uvie was excited to finally become a teen. Her family was there, including her Uncle Tanner and her cousin along with her friend from school whose birthday had been earlier that week. After she blew out her candles, she waited with anticipation to feel special as a teenager. All of a sudden, there it was! That special, grown up feeling. Life seemed like a brand new adventure now that she was old enough to enjoy it.

                 “Uvie, why are you in your fancy dress, playing Rump,” Carrie asked, rather perplexed one day.
                “It’s so pretty! Why leave it in the closet for just special occasions?”
                Carrie scrunched her eyebrows but just let her daughter make her own decisions.

                 The next day after school, Vesper convinced Verne to go to the art museum with her.
                “Ugh, this is boring Ves, let’s go home and do something else.”
                “It is NOT boring,” Vesper countered. She stared, fixated at a landscape. “One day, my pictures will be in a museum too.”
                Verne rolled his eyes and headed back home on his own, leaving his sister to do her homework among the hanging art.

                 Meanwhile, Uvie was leaving when one of her classmates walked up to her.
                “Hey there, did you know sperm only has two calories,” he eye waggled at her.

                 “Ew, gross. Don’t come near me again,” she exclaimed and ran back into the building.
                “Was it something I said,” he seemed confused.

                 Carrie also received news that week that she had been promoted. It wasn’t much of a promotion but she had finally earned enough experience and know-how to be a taffeta trainee. She hoped that she would move up the fashion ladder a bit faster now that she was able to work with the kids in school. She got in a real doozy that week.

                 “If I can make her pretty, I should get another promotion” Carrie muttered when her next client stepped up. It was her job to prettify all of Twinbrook though and she planned on taking it quite seriously.

                 Uvie really loves her prom dress. She hasn’t heard when the prom will be yet but she wears the dress around just because it is so pretty. She loves it more than the rest of her clothes and can’t see why her mom always shrugs her shoulders when she sees her in it.

                 An old friend stopped by, just to chat and Shane was shocked by the change.
                “Old friend indeed! Has it really been that long since we spent time together,” Shane asked.
                “Soon it will be your turn my friend, just you wait,” Emil smiled to him.

                Of course, Shane’s neurotic tendencies made him worry about aging all the more. He knew that soon he would need to choose an heir to take over after he was gone. He had been putting it off for so long, hoping that the time would never come. 

                 He figured he had least had until the twins became teenagers. If something happened to him before then…”no, I won’t think about that.”

Chapter 2.9                                                                                                                                         Chapter 2.11

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chapter 2-9: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

                Just when things had been looking pretty low, everything turned around for the Avendale family. Shane rushed home after work, excited about some good news from work.
                “Honey, you’ll never believe it,” he exclaimed. “I got a §31 an hour raise.” He didn’t bother mentioning that Shanda was no longer in charge of the crime ring and the deal she had struck with previous administration had been “lost” during her replacing. Now Shane wouldn’t have to worry about going to the police force.

                 Carrie hugged and congratulated him, proud that her husband was doing so well at work. She knew that he truly wanted a promotion, rather than a raise but, if he got the raise first, it would surely be beneficial in the long run.

                “That’s not all,” he smiled, knowing that two rewards in one day would make her day as well. “The hospital decided to honor me for all my work at the vaccination clinics. They even gave me a special plaque.”

                He showed her, and then carefully placed the plaque on the floor next to the bookshelf, under the picture of them at their high school prom. He knew he would eventually have to find it a permanent place but, for now, there would work fine. 

                 After he admired his achievement for a moment, he surprised Vesper by attacking her with the claw.

                 Just then, Uvie came home from school. It was a Friday so she wasn’t in too much of a hurry to get her homework done. Instead, she headed over to the rocking horse and jumped on.

                 “Daddy, daddy, can I have a real pony,” she shouted between her giggles of joy.
                “No, Uvie. Not until you’re older. We don’t have room for a horse right now anyway,” Shane responded, then settled in to read a story to Vesper.

                 “Uvie honey, aren’t you too old for that,” Carrie stated over her shoulder. Uvie knew that it was more of a suggestion than a question.
                “Ugh, the twins get all the good stuff,” she muttered. “Oh well, Spangles, maybe one day I can make you into a real horse.”

                 The twins had their birthday that week as well. Vesper aged up first, as she was the older of the two, by three minutes. She looked a lot like Uvie just with black hair and green eyes. Shane smiled, thinking that his father, Justin, at least from the pictures he had seen, had black hair. 

                 Next was Verne who had more of his mother’s nose rather than the Avendale one though he also had his father’s eyes.

                 “Honey, I need to talk to you for a minute,” Carrie pulled Uvie to the side. “Now that your sister is bigger, you’re going to have to share your bunk beds with her.”
                ‘But mommy, you said they were mine!”
                “I know sweetie, but for right now, you two can share. You can’t sleep in both beds at the same time.”
                Uvie rolled her eyes and glared at her sister, not liking this ‘sharing’ thing. She was determined to make it into the room first to get her pick of the beds.

                 As the kids sat enjoying cake, Carrie addressed the sleeping situation with Shane.
                “Did you order Verne’s bed from the department store,” she asked.
                “Oh, shit, no. I pulled up the website at work and then got called off to the ER. I never thought to go back. I’m sorry.”
                “So where are we going to put him tonight,” Carrie sighed, “Damn it Shane. That would have been so simple.”
                “You know, you’re just as capable as I am of ordering a bed. Especially considering that you’re home all day.”
                “Yeah, well, you aren’t trying to balance a kid and 2 toddlers with no car and one stroller. I know I could have done it, but going to the library was just not on my list of things to do today.”
                “Okay, let’s not fight about it. I’ll sleep on the couch and Verne can sleep with you tonight.”
                “Daddy, the sleeping bag!”
                “What Verne?”
                ‘We have a sleeping bag. Can I sleep in it, it will be like camping!”
                Shane and Carrie just looked at each other and laughed. They gave the go ahead for ‘camping’ that night. If he thought it was fun, then the sleeping bag it would be!

                A few minutes later, Verne walked into the first of a sibling spat.
                “If you don’t want me sleeping in your bunk, too bad,” Vesper snorted.
                “It’s just that when mommy and daddy gave it me, they said it was mine. They never said I had to share,” Uvie tried to explain.
                “Well, you do. So I’m taking the top.”
                “But what if I want the top,” Uvie pleaded.
                “You know what, I don’t want your stupid bed anyway. Purple is an ugly color. I’ll sleep on the floor.”

                 “How about I sleep on one of the beds and you can have the sleeping bag,” Verne offered.
                “Okay!” Both girls agreed to this and all was right in the world again.

                Saturday morning rolled around and Carrie decided to make pancakes for breakfast. As she got everything ready, she and Shane talked about the upcoming holiday. They both agreed that little presents for the kids would be nice but not anything for each other. Money was tight and they still needed to finish building the house. Shane offered to help the kids write Christmas letters while Carrie was at the salon and then, later they could all decorate a tree together.

                 Carrie headed off to work, this time leaving Shane home with the kids. He was excited to have a day with them as it was a rare occasion that he was off work.

                “Vesper, don’t touch that. Mommy is working on it,” Shane explained to her, as she stood in front of the easel.

               He got all the kids to sit at the counter to write out their letters. Uvie, though so easy-going and sweet, was determined to do her letter on her own and wouldn’t let him see it. He watched over the other two but they too wanted to do their letters themselves. 

                After everyone finished, he took them all to a movie.

                 When they got home and Carrie finally came back from work, they decorated the house for Christmas. It wasn’t much but it still lit the room with holiday cheer. Vesper was especially pleased with her ribbon draping skills.

                 Shane could see that she certainly was developing quite a bit of an artistic eye. After the kids headed to bed, Shane pulled out their letters to Santa to show his wife.
                 Shane was a little concerned that Uvie had noticed that they didn’t have much money. He wondered if the kids at school were teasing her for their small house in the nice neighborhood. Most of her list was doable though he wasn’t too interested in getting a puppy. Vesper, though her handwriting was atrocious, had taken the time to draw pretty pictures on her letter for Santa. He felt guilty when he saw that she wanted a bed. They were going to have to make sure each child had their own space. Verne had made sure to use lined paper and made his letters as even and neat as he could. All he wanted was his own room and a tv to play games on. 
                  Shane and Carrie laughed over the letters and plotted what they could get each of the children. Throughout the week, while the kids were at school and Shane was at work, Carrie would disappear to shop and then hide the presents in the unfinished master bathroom. Christmas Eve, Shane ran a last minute errand as well.

                Christmas morning dawned and Carrie got up to put all the presents under the tree. She surveyed everything to make it look perfect and then hurried back to bed to pretend to sleep. 

                 She made it just in time because shortly after she got back in bed the kids came in to wake them. 

                 The kids opened their gifts and everyone was quite happy. While Carrie started breakfast, Shane went to the back and got ready a few more surprises. They couldn’t afford two new beds but he had bought Vesper a new bedspread and Verne now had his own bed as well. Then he scooped something up and went back to the living room.

                “Uvie, come here please. This, is for you,” he said, holding a small, fuzzy bundle in his hands.
                “Oh my gosh, daddy for me!!!”
                “Yes, he is yours. But you have to take care of him; feed him, take him out, he is your responsibility.”
                “Oh yay, Daddy! Thank you, thank you! I will name him Rumplestiltskin,” Uvie exclaimed having just read some fairy tales.

                 All in all, it was a wonderful Christmas and, the most important thing of all was the time spent with the family. Shane and Carrie snuggled into bed that night, grateful that they had three beautiful children and enough money to take care of their family.

Chapter 2.8                                                                                                                                         Chapter 2.10

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chapter 2-8: If I Could Turn Back Time

                It was quickly apparent to both Shane and Carrie that three kids were a bit more of a workload than they had expected, Shane especially. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything that needs to be done. Carrie had expected there to be some scheduling conflicts, having grown up in a large family herself but what she hadn’t accounted for was the fact that her grandparents had been around to help raise the four of them. With just her and Shane, it always seemed one baby was left out. Either someone was getting potty trained and another being taught to talk while the last was getting into mischief or someone was learning to walk while the other was getting read to, while the last was left to fend for him/herself. There just weren’t enough hands to go around.

                 Just a few short weeks after the twins’ birthday, it was time to celebrate Shane’s. This was a birthday that he was not looking forward to. He stared down at his cake, wishing that he could turn back time, do something better with his life. He knew that was a wish that couldn’t come true. He blew out the candles and half-heartedly wished for the enough money to take care of his children so that they wouldn’t have to worry like he did.

                 The next morning, he had to head over to the graveyard to do some more immunizations. Why in the world the hospital was holding the clinic there was beyond him. Few people showed up so Shane spent most of the time agonizing over his life. 

                  He had spent all of his life loving Carrie, but life now seemed so short. They rarely talked anymore, rarely spent time together and never had money to take off and go out without the children. Everything had happened so fast. “Maybe I made a mistake,” he thought to himself. He quickly snapped out of it as a patient came up, ready for their shot. Almost immediately after they headed away, he fell back into his musings. “I think I am getting fat,” he thought to himself, patting his belly and wondering where the extra flab had come from.

                 He headed back home and, upon walking in the door, realized he had missed Uvie’s birthday. She just gave him a sad, disappointed look and ignored him. 

                 Knowing that nothing would fix it, he decided to just go about as normal as possible. He scooped Verne up and took him to the potty. Finally! One good thing all day and it happened to be that he had potty trained his son. Small victories were still victories though.

                 On her way to bed, Carrie heard a shriek from the bedroom. She rushed in, wondering what was wrong. “I hope it’s not a spider,” she shuddered.

                “Oh, mommy, it’s so pretty,” Uvie launched herself at her mom. Carrie smiled, happy that her daughter liked the bedset she had picked out. “I have two beds, mommy! And they’re both purple! I’m gonna sleep on the bottom tonight. Can I sleep on the top tomorrow, can I?” Carrie laughed and told Uvie that she could sleep in whichever bed she wanted. She was lucky her daughter was so easy to please.

                 That night, after getting all the kids down for bed, Shane and Carrie quickly fell asleep themselves. Both tried not to think about the fact that it had been weeks since they had been intimate. They both ignored the fact that they rarely even cuddled anymore. Their days were long and, when it finally came time to sleep, that’s all either of them wanted to do. Unfortunately, Shane wouldn’t be getting much. He was called away to an emergency at the hospital, in the wee hours of dawn with a long shift looming later that day.

                 Carrie had her own work to do. With Uvie now in school, Carrie could get a sitter for the twins during the day, though she didn’t do it often. This time though, she had a special request for a makeover. The customer was specifically asking for her and Carrie figured that one day with a babysitter would be good for both her and the little ones. She arrived at the salon to find Kyle waiting, rather anxious.

                “Carrie, I know it’s silly but after Tanner and I broke up, I started worrying about love,” she fretted. “Look at my hair, it’s awful. That fringe on my head looks like ba curtains. And what about my hips? I think they’re getting bigger?” Kyle went on and on.
                “Kyle, calm down,” Carrie interrupted, unable to take another second. “Do you want a full makeover?”

                 “Um…,” Kyle paused, suddenly unsure about her decision. “Actually, let’s just do a new hairstyle.”
                When Carrie finished, Kyle took one look in the mirror and squealed like a piglet being chased for the slaughterhouse.
                “Ohmigodiloveit!!!” Carrie flinched at the high pitch.
                “Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou! Now I have to go see Tanner!”
                Carried just shook her head and covered her face, not sure whether to laugh at the girl’s enthusiasm or cringe at her efforts to get a guy back that she hadn’t really cared about in the first place.

                 She went home that evening, fed the twins and tucked them into bed and then helped Uvie with her homework. Although she loved her job, being home with her children was really the place that she liked to be.

                “Mommy, can you read me a bedtime story,” Uvie asked as she put her homework back in her bag.
                “Sure thing sweetheart. What did you have in mind?”

                 Uvie brought her a book on logic and chess. Though Carrie couldn’t quite see the appeal, she figured that it would be as good a book as any to help put her oldest to sleep. Sure enough, two pages in and Uvie’s head dropped to the pillow. Carrie kissed her goodnight, turned her light down, and left her snuggled cozily on her bottom bunk.

                Jeannie called Shane into her office that afternoon.
                “I’ve noticed that you’ve done some pretty great work. There’s one more thing I need you to do.”
                “Jeannie, you can’t be serious,” he exclaimed, after she had explained the predicament.
                “I am. Do this, and I’m sure a promotion won’t be far off.”
                With a feeling of trepidation, he set of for the Red Rendezvous.

                 While Shane was heading to town, Carrie was teaching Verne to talk. Meanwhile, Vesper was scooting around the house as fast as her chubby, baby legs could take her. Walking was the first skill she had mastered and it was all Carrie could do to keep her in the house. At least the xylophone kept her entertained. 

                 “Look Shanda, I need some help,” Shane said to the bartender.
                “Huh,” she snorted, “the hospital sent you, eh?”
                “The prior administration made a deal with you. My superiors wants to take care of that once and for all. The last thing the hospital needs is an arrangement with the local crime gang made public. It would shadow all the good we’ve been doing.”
                “Yeah, yeah, well we need things too.”
                “Name it,” Shane blurted, without considering what Shanda might ask for.
                “The local police force has been bolstering their tropps. They’re still recruiting. Convince them to scale back the new hires and I’ll tear up the contract from the hospital. It will be like it never existed,” and with that, he was dismissed.

                Shane headed home, discouraged and unsure of how he might be able to approach the police headquarters to discuss this. When he arrived home, tired and dejected, he was greeted with the sight of the twins jabbering to themselves on the floor and his wife hunched over a piece of cake. He kissed Uvie goodnight and scooped up Verne for bed. Carrie got Vesper and, together, they put the kids to bed.

                 “Honey, I’m sorry, I thought I would around more to help teach them to talk,” Shane apologized.
                “Huh,” she said, surprised.
                “Aren’t you upset because I’m never here?
                “No,” she whimpered, her chin quivering. “Dorothy called me. Daddy passed away today,” and with that she burst into tears. He gave her a big hug, rubbing her back, sick at seeing his wife so upset.
                “I was mad at him but I never thought I might not get a chance to talk to him about it. He died thinking I hated him. Oh Shane, what if it’s my fault?”

                 Shane knew that he was going to have to think of a way to comfort his wife and get the police force to lay off all the while trying to make a merry Christmas for his family when they didn’t even have much money for a complete home, much less gifts. Shane was started to feel like Scrooge already.

Chapter 2.7                                                                                                                                         Chapter 2.9