Except, now Paisley was the one doing the calling upon. "Skye!" she shouts, and leaps into my arms. From the smell of her, she's been drinking. This is unlike her and my main cause of concern. Not that I'm not concerned that she appeared in town from several hundred miles away. "Paisley." I say, with only half enthusiasm. "What are you doing here? At..." I glance at the clock behind me. "Three AM?"
Paisley ignores the question and strides towards my bedroom. Thankfully she knows where she is going and doesn't walk into anything. "Skye, ravage my body! Take me here and now and do with me as you will" she says, theatrically before leaning against the wall and sliding down it slowly. Her eyes close, and I walk over to her slowly. When she doesn't move, I prod her in the face. Nothing. So much for her plans.
I pick Paisley up and put her on my shoulder. Trying to think of a place to put her, I eventually decide on the couch in my bedroom.
I glance at the clock on the opposite wall. 3:15. It was almost time for Haven's feed. Leaving Paisley on the sofa, I creep up the stairs in my slippers and into the nursery. In the two months since I'd given birth to her, Haven hadn't changed much. She was still as small and adorable as the day she arrived. But her siblings had aged up into children. And of course, in a feat worthy of Peter Pan I had insisted they leave the nursery. Because there's only cribs in there, and no room for beds. Because of that I decided it was safe to wake up Haven, and then feed her. I did this quietly; and then left back downstairs.
The next thing I knew I was being woken up to "GIVE IT HERE!" being shouted above me. "NO! It's MINE." comes the equally loud reply. I sigh. It seems Parker and Annie have woken up. Those two had done nothing but fight since they grew up. Not that that stopped them as toddlers. Many a time I'd had to chastise Parker for biting her younger
sister and Annie for stealing toys from the other. It was a lot to prevent, especially since I'm all alone most of the time.
I get out of bed and begin walking upstairs, but Baldur and Fenrir come to the rescue before I get there. "Will you two cut it out? I swear, if you two fighting annoys Mum one more time so that we can't age up, I will personally murder you." I hear Baldur shout across the hallway.
"Bal, don't murder your siblings. I need the slave labour." I say, and I can almost hear him roll his eyes. Yes. I use my children for slave labour.
Fenrir pokes his head out of the door and looks at me. "Mom, can we-" I interrupt him with a "Yes." before he finishes the sentence. He puts his head back into the room, cheering and I hear Baldur cheer too. It seems I just made two of my kids very, very happy.
I walk back downstairs and when I get into my room, Paisley is just waking up. "Hey you." I say, and she jumps. When she realizes it's just me, she calms down a bit before frowning. "Last night did we, I mean did you? I mean I told you to..." I cut her off with a kiss.
"Spoilers." I say, winking. "Now I'm off to get dressed and take a shower. You know where everything is if you want to get changed."
I skip off into the bathroom humming. The next half hour of my life is spent cleaning my body and singing various bits of, "If you wanna be my lover."
When I leave the bathroom, Paisley is curled up on my couch, staring out the window. "Your hair's green now." she says, not looking at me. "Yes. It is." I reply. Finally, she turns to look at me.
"I like it, but it's not you." I nod sadly. My new hair was going to go soon, I couldn't be bothered with the maintenance of green hair, and my roots were going to start showing eventually. Instead of telling her this I just say, "Waffles?" She nods enthusiastically, and I spend the next little while cooking, while her hand dips into the mixture occasionally, to steal some of the raw batter. There's enough left to pour into a waffle maker though, so we eat waffles for breakfast before the upcoming birthday party.
Fenrir ages up into a handsome young adult, and moves in with his friend, Sugar Free, a berry sim. She's got a boyfriend, his only other friend (so there's no worry of him leading her astray)
Baldur becomes a very enterprising teen. He takes his inventions down to the consignment store to sell them, but he has a lot of other outlets and business... companions as well. I even heard him on the phone later talking to one Miss Potts (like the Miss Potts.)
Of course his sisters are grumpy about not getting to grow up as well, but thy hug Fenrir as he leaves and I even see a tear in Annie's eye. They were very close when they were younger, but I'm sure they'll keep in contact.
After Fen, it's time for Haven to age up. She grows up into the most adorable toddler I have ever seen and I just want to snuggle her to death.
But, according to the law snuggling to death is illegal. I turn towards my bedroom, I need to go pee, and everyone has aged up that needs to and walk in. There, I see Paisley, her hair pushed back behind her ears, and putting in a pair of contacts. I shut the door and walk a little closer to her when she jumps and turns around to see me. To my surprise, one eye is yellow and the other is green. I assume the one she was putting the contact in is the yellow, but what eludes me is why. "Why are you putting yellow contacts in?" I ask. Paisley replies, "I'm putting green ones in actually. I have something I need to talk to you about." So Paisley launches into a tale of how she's now an elf (stranger things have happened) and her eyes are yellow and Ginny, Cho and some of her other kids are now elves.
I don't realize how long this takes until Annie knocks on the door and walks in. "Auntie Paisley?" she asks, quietly, "Can we go to the park please?" Paisley looks from my daughter to me, and back again. "Ask your mom." Annie's eyes flick to me, and I nod enthusiastically. "I'll go make some sandwiches or something." I say, and stand up. Annie jumps up and down and runs off to tell her siblings the news.
I hear a very male groan from Baldur, until I say, "We'll call in at KFC on the way home as well." to which he perks up considerably. The packing finished, Beckett jumps on Paisley's back, Parker on mine, and Annie takes control of the picnic basket for the short walk to the park.
Baldur strolls on ahead of us until he sees one of his friends from his elementary school, whom has also aged into a teenager. It also just so happens that this friend is female, and rather pretty. He glances back at me and I make a pushing gesture, and they stroll off towards the park together.
I have liked Amelia since we first met as children at school. The first time I saw her, we were on the see-saw together, and she fell off and hurt her knee. I picked her up and took her to Miss Lace, who was her mother and teacher. Of course, I had to explain to her what had happened, and when Miss Lace started yelling at me, Amelia took my side. From that moment on I liked her, and I never got the courage to make a move yet.
As we walk to the park down the road, Amelia is talking excitedly about the book she is writing, about a female detective called Melody Malone and her time travelling husband. I listen, avidly for a moment, until the sound of a car catches me and I turn to look at it. The vehicle speeds past us, not knowing or caring about the trials of being a teenage boy, and I turn back to face Amelia. “Bal, if you only had a day to live, how would you spend it?” she asks me, suddenly serious. We have arrived at the park by then, so I lead her to a bench to sit down. I think for a minute, and then respond. “I would do everything I had ever wanted to, and spend it with the people I loved the most.”
She nods, slowly, before turning to face me. Slowly, she brings a hand to my face, and looks at me. Then, a butterfly’s kiss on my lips. Amelia leans back from me, looking scared. “I’m sorry-“she starts to say, but then my lips are on hers. She’s warm and soft and everything a girl is supposed to be. The kiss itself is passionate, full of years of unsaid feelings and suppressed love. If this moment could go on forever, it would not be long enough.
As she pulls away, I swear I can see tears in her eyes, but it could just be the light. “Amelia,” I say, a sudden burst of courage surrounding me, “Will you marry me?” she gawks at me incredulously. “Not now obviously. Once we’re adults, and stuff. And I have a ring, and a proper proposal.” Amelia continues to look at me, and this time she does cry. “Yes.” She says, simply, before throwing her arms around me and hugging me tight.
It is then that Mum and Paisley arrive at the park, Mum shoots me a glance, at Amelia’s tight hold on me, but Paisley takes her hand and turns her away from us. I make a mental note to thank her later. But for now, Amelia.
I have to admit, when Annie and Parker first asked about going to the park, it seemed like a terrible idea, but now, sat here in Paisley’s arms while my children play and enjoy themselves in the final throes of summer, I cannot find a reason to fault it. It is the perfect picture of bliss I had always dreamed of, and the perfect person to enjoy it beside me.
Beckett runs over to us, and asks me to push him on the swings. I jump up immediately; determined to make the best of our time together. Beckett is normally a very independent child, and insists on doing everything himself (including opening jam jars, don’t get me STARTED on Beckett and his jam) so it’s not often that we get to do something together.
As I push my child on the swings I take the moment to look around at everything else around me. There are other mothers with toddlers in prams; Paisley is on the see-saw with Parker; Bal and Amy are over under the willow tree talking. Everything is so perfect. And in the blink of an eye, this could all be gone and my challenge will be over.
I turn behind me on the swing to look at Mom. She looks sad. Mom looks sad a lot now. I don’t know why. But when she looks at Aunty Paisley she looks happy again, and I think it’s going to be all right. When she stops pushing me, and looks around at the park, I jump off the swing.
She doesn't notice me, so I hug her tightly and that gets her attention. “What was that for, honey?” she asks. I shrug, but Momma doesn't buy it. “I don’t want you to be sad any more Momma. I hope whatever it is, it goes away so you can come back and play with us more.”
I must have said something wrong, because Momma starts to cry and runs away quickly to the gazebrabo or whatever it’s called, and sits down on a bench. I start to follow you, but Baldur and Amelia come up behind me and stop me. “Don’t,” he says, “Let Paisley go to her. Paisley will know what to do.”
What Beckett had said had made me realise that I was sad a lot, and I had no cause to be. I had a better life than most people on the street did, and a huge, loving family to care for and be cared by. I had to reason to be sad, and I resolved not to be any longer.
Paisley was walking up the stairs to the gazebo when I calmed down. “Hey.” She says, quietly. “Hi.” I respond.
“Are you feeling better?” Paisley asks. I nod. “It’s getting little late, we should go home.” I say. Paisley agrees with me, and we gather everybody up. I ask Amelia if she wants to come to KFC with us as well, but she declines and explains that she has to go home.
We enter the fast food place and order some… I hesitate to call it food, but I don’t have much of a choice here. The next half hour is spent jovially, laughing. I take a bite of chicken, and say, “Are you trying to poison me?” which merits a roar of laughter from everyone. Eventually, we leave and set off home.
By the side of the building is a young girl, no more than fifteen huddled up with a toddler clasped to her chest. “Excuse me, are you alright?” I ask. The girl says nothing, but shivers again in the rapidly cooling night. “Do you have anywhere to go?” I ask.
She shakes her head, and the toddler in her jacket cries. I take her hand and pull her up. “My name’s Skye. I’m going to take you somewhere safe.” I tell her. The girl nods her assent, and starts to walk. Paisley ushers the kids off, and I pick up the girl and her child (I assume) in my arms. “Carmen, and Evita.” She whispers. “We’re Carmen and Evita.”
I carry her for the short walk up the hill to my home, and set her down inside. “Do you want something to eat” I ask. Carmen nods and I walk to the fridge and grab some leftover waffles from breakfast. She immediately sets upon them, and I pick up the young child. Closer up, I can see that she has beautiful blue eyes, and her hair is a dark black colour, under a layer of grime. I take the toddler to the kitchen and grab a bottle of formula milk for her. The toddler drinks just as eagerly as the other girl did, and yawns soon afterwards.
I look over to the older girl and she is talking quietly to Beckett. He takes one of her hands and examines it. I don’t want to interrupt their conversation, but I venture over, Evita in my arms. “She’s tired. If it’s okay with you I’m going to put her to bed and let her sleep. Then you can have a bath.” I tell Carmen. She seems to be okay with this and nods.
I take Evita upstairs and put her in one of the cots. Then, realising they probably won’t want to be separated in a stranger’s home; I set up a sleeping bag on the floor for Carmen and walk downstairs to run the bath. When this is done, I call her in and she changes out of her muddy clothes behind a screen. When she comes out, I realise just how skinny she is. She gets into the bath and starts to wash off some of the dirt on her body, while I go sit on the toilet behind the screen to give her some privacy.
I hear her get out not long after, and I grab a towel for her and take her upstairs to the nursery where she snuggles into the sleeping bag and falls asleep almost instantly.
Not long after, I go to bed myself and find Paisley sat reading a book. “That was a nice thing you did. Taking in a homeless girl.” So, the unspoken truth is realised aloud, I’m going to keep and care for the child. “She needed somewhere, and I can offer her care. If you really need me to justify it, she and the kid can count towards my challenge.” I tell her. I realise how callous that could have sounded, but Paisley doesn’t care.
I slip under the covers beside her, and fall into a dreamless sleep in Paisley’s arms. Life is good.