0.8 How to become a (role) model

So! I had some crashes, and a gazillion of cc got lost in the stream of time/attempt to save the saves, but I can manage. Moving on!

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In the last chapter, the twins’ cousin Jared was an adorable baby, and he is now an equally adorable child.

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Just look at that sweet face. OH WHY CAN’T HE BE MINE?

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Meanwhile, Declan is playing with his best friend (only friend) Wren, adopted child of a couple called the Gays. They are, however, not gay. Because you were asking.

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I love that Jared looks a little smaller than Damon, he’s 1 or 2 years younger.

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“So, let’s talk about my mum because she’s brilliant and all that.”

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“Yeah. So, did you see that enormous crane down at the building site? It could lift a house, I swear!”

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“Yes, wicked. Now let’s talk some more about my mummy. I love her so much!”

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“Yeah, she’s alright. Your brother though, he’s a bit .. daft. Sorry.”

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“But, like in the hall today, he smashed a wasp with a book, except it was sitting on a window so the glass broke, and then the head came and he was put in detention. You know, it’s a bit daft, isn’t it?” “I know, he’s my brother.”

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Enter Tulip & Maebe Corona, Jared’s mother & sister. The name Maebe was randomized (since it’s not my household) so I have no idea how that came about. Don’t even know if it’s supposed to be pronounced Mayb or Maybe. I think of it as “Mayb”. She looks just like Tulip, you’ll see her in a bit. She also looks a lot like her grandmother Bee. May-Bee! Sometimes the game is cleverer (?) than I am.

(Obviously it’s Loud Lab Coat Friday down at the science facility. )

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Enter also Maciek, Maebe’s schoolmate. I didn’t create him, and yet he looks and acts suspiciously like a guy from my high school. He MUST have the snobby trait, perhaps also inappropriate & loner.

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I’d play Maciek just because, but I don’t know if I could bear it.

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And yes, the game favours bangs when giving the Corona women a hair-do.

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Maciek catches on finally – a celebrity in the consignment shop!

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 And she goes to my school! And I see her daily! Yet I’m having a meltdown!

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Maebe: *blasé*

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Maciek: *I wish I was famous too*

Maebe: “You know, my school’s hotness index has so ranked up since I started!”

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“Your what now?” “Oh mum, ME of course! I am so the fittest girl in school right now.”

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“That’s great that you have been working out, love, but I don’t know about that index…”

Maciek: *wears the same trainer jacket as dad* *FAIL*

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“NO mum, I mean I look good!”

“I know you’re pretty, sweetheart, but being pretty is not everything.”

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“I’ve had three guys ask me to the dance already, but I think I’ll wait until I get a better offer.”

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“I think, by the end of next semester, I’ll have every bloke in school fancy me.”

Screenshot-220“I think some girls fancy me too, I think probably more girls than I know of. Maybe I’ll just go to the dance with the hottest girl instead! Girls have much better clothes than guys anyway.”

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“Look, Maebe, I’m happy that you have friends and that you’re confident, but I wish you would direct your ambition towards something a little more serious. You’re almost a grown up, you have to start thinking about your future. And do try and treat people with a little more respect.”

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Maebe was dumbstruck. “I don ‘t get it. How am I not treating people with respect just because I’m popular?”

(Enter Cora, missing an ear.)

Screenshot-224“That’s what worries me, that you don’t even see it. You can’t just wait for a “better” partner to the dance, for instance, either accept or say no, and be polite. And as for going with a girl..”

“You are such a bigot, mum!”

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“…I was going to say, and don’t interrupt me, that as for going with a girl, that’s perfectly fine, but it has to be with either a friend or someone you really like. You have to start taking better care of people’s… hearts, Maebe.”

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“Taking care of their hearts? Really, mum? That’s adorable.”

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“Look, it’s just a stupid school dance, this isn’t the 50s! It’s not like anyone cares. I can go with whoever. Even Maciek, LOL.”

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“MAEBE!”

“Will you chill? He didn’t hear me, he was probably thinking about some stupid fantasy book with swords and dragons and shit like that.”

“Regardless, you and I and your dad are going to have a talk about your work experience weeks.”

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“I’ve already applied for a place at the beauty salon ages ago.”

“Yes, I know that, but you were also aware at the time that we were against it, and we would much rather have you work at the hospital or the newspaper.”

“So, what, now you’re punishing me for being popular and not wanting to go to the dance with an ugly bloke?”

“No Maebe, I’m revoking your privileges because of your lack of judgment.”

“That is so unfair!! I HATE YOU!!” And with those parting words, Maebe rushed out of the consignment shop, not seeing (or caring about) the hurt look on Maciek’s face.

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“Cora! I’m so glad you’re here, I’ve been wanting to talk to you. I have a huge problem.”

“If it’s about Maebe, I heard most of it.”

“Yes, I guess you did. Well, you see… she doesn’t really listen to me anymore.”

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Cora laughed. “Sounds like a teenager to me”.

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Tulip didn’t seem to take notice. “When she was little, she always used to follow me around everywhere I went. She’d come with me to the lab and all my colleagues thought she was the sweetest thing and let her play with a microscope.”

“That’s very nice, Tulip, I hope they didn’t give her a Bunsen burner though. Now, what was the problem?”

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Tulip looked hurt. “You heard her! She’s conceited, selfish, egotistical, she has no respect for adults.. she doesn’t care about school, all she cares about is her clothes, her precious I-phone, guys, make-up…”

Cora wasn’t impressed. “Yeah I get it, she’s a brat. They all are, though, it’s part of the package. So ground her or something?”

“George and I don’t believe in grounding.” Tulip looked like she was going to say something more, but nothing came out. Cora wasn’t particularly keen on “George and I” and she would rather have the conversation end.

“Oh for Watcher’s sake, Tulip, if you have something on your mind, say it!”

Screenshot-233  “Oh Cora, would it be terribly inconvenient if Maebe came to live with you during the work experience? Please, you would be doing me such an enormous favour. She respects you, she thinks you’re “cool” or something, and I most definitely am NOT cool.”

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Cora went silent for a few seconds. “I really don’t think that would be such a good idea.”

“I know I didn’t make it sound very appealing to have her, but it’s just me she’s rebelling against.”

“I didn’t hear any rebelling from Maebe at all. Maybe she’s a little full of herself, but so are you, sometimes. Like now, for instance. Maebe is behaving like a teenager and I think you should be able to deal with that. I have twins, Tulip, and today Declan was sent to the head for breaking a window in the hall. I’m guessing you never had to deal with stuff like that.”

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“I get it, trust me I do. Why is it that you always assume everything in my life is easy? You always did that. You know my ex-husband was abusive, and you know I was unemployed for years after our divorce, and you know I only found happiness in these recent years, with George.”

With George. “Yes, I know. I’m not saying you were never unhappy. I’m just saying…” Cora sighed deeply, then paused. “That maybe it’s not my place to raise a teenage girl who in every aspect resembles you so much. Given the fact that you’re my sister. Given the fact that… well, when we were young. That we didn’t exactly see eye to eye.”

“That was a very long time ago, Cora, and I’m not in any way asking you to raise her! I just think it would be good if we all had a breather and got some perspective on.. things. And she would help around the house of course.”

Screenshot-235  Cora didn’t look convinced in the slightest that a teenage girl would “help around the house” or help her “find perspective”. And she still couldn’t really see the problem. Maebe was pretty, popular and probably not stupid. If she thought she could have all the boys and half of the girls lusting after her in school, maybe that was true, and besides, she’d be disappointed soon enough anyway. Before she hit 22 somebody would certainly break her heart in a million pieces and she’d be a mere mortal again.

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“I don’t know… I would have to ask Quentin, of course. And the twins too, but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. I’m still torn myself, though. If she would take her disappointment out on me, I’m not sure I’m up for that. I have to think of the boys first. And I fail to see the point of all this, to be honest with you. Where would you have her work, if not at the beauty salon? I know you want her to be a pillar of society and all that, but shouldn’t she have a say in it too?”

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“I was thinking.. maybe she could work for you?” Tulip sounded almost shy, like she had stepped over the final line. Cora looked at her like she was barmy.

“You know I’m hardly working anymore, and I can’t have a kid with me when I do surveillance, it’s too risky. And office work is terrible, she would hate it.”

“No no no, not the detective stuff! Of course not. I meant.. she is actually pretty good at gardening, and she likes it too. I know your garden has some old grapevines that uncle Elis brought home, she could learn how to make nectar? Basic stuff of course, but I think she would really enjoy the experience. Maybe she wouldn’t admit to it at first but.. yes, I think so. And vegetables and that too, of course.”

Cora looked at her sister with surprise – she didn’t expect this from her at all – an idea that didn’t blow!

Screenshot-239  “You know, that’s not half bad. I’ve been ignoring those poor grapevines for too long.  You know what the best part is though? She’ll be too exhausted to bitch and moan about all the make-overs she’s missing out on.”

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“I can picture her covered in grape goo, on her ass in the nectar press.”

“Remember that time we used up ALL of uncle Callum’s oil paint to decorate the wall in fire station’s backyard?”

“Um, YES? We were in house arrest for about 50 years?”

Screenshot-242 “Hah! And that wall looked so shitty when we were done with it!”

“Poor Callum! At least then we knew that we weren’t meant to follow the artistic path.”

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“Never say never! Speaking of which, I suggest you hide all your make-up and good dresses before she moves in.”

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“Is this a really terrible idea? What do you think?”

“Probably, you came up with it!” Cora protected her shoulder from a small, white fist.

“Seriously though, maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. It’s not the end of the world if it is. She’ll have a bad time and hate you for it, and perhaps hate her aunt too, I’m sure it will be character-building!”

“That’s lovely, Cora. You always were such a rock to hold on to.”

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0.7 Interlude

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In terms of plot, these pictures add nothing. I just wanted to throw them in somewhere.

On the night of the twins’ birthday, Cora’s inconsiderate sister Tulip decided to throw a random party. She had already been invited to celebrate her nephews, but did she care? No, party at 10 pm at my place, please wear formal dress! And, unlikely as it may seem, Cora actually made it there after the twins aged up, before Tulip’s family had gone to bed. Tulip wasn’t at home, of course, (classic Sim behaviour to throw a party and not show up yourself – she didn’t show at Cora’s either) but her cute son was! 

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He’s so lovely, but the graphics suddenly looked all kinds of bad.

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Beware of the Pinnocchio aunt! She is a truly terrifying thing to behold.

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This torso needs a restart badly. Or something

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Damon had his first encounter with a sitter. Her fashion sense made him sad.

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Only a Sim teenager would wear this and leave the house. BROWN SWEAT PANTS WITH SHIRT TUCKED IN? And tiny 50s heels in some kind of slipper style. Top the ensemble off with two tight braids, complete with center parting and red bows.

 Screenshot-159 “Babysitter Cheri! You are much too tanned! You will get skin cancer if you don’t wear a higher SPF!”

Screenshot-160“But you see, I want to be on the cover of Beach Illustrated one day, so my tan is very important to me!”

 Screenshot-162“Yes, I see now how that’s a very reasonable explanation and I applaud your ambition, Cheri!”

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What Declan did when he was supposed to clean the bug cage. Like he promised. He could have said no, but he said definitely! And then forgot about it 3 minutes after.

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“Yes you are my Cuddles! Yes you are! Yes you are! You are so cute, yes you are!”

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That doll is spoiled rotten. Rouza, on the other hand, is so lonely she is talking to portraits.

Screenshot-181“Bee and Anna, come back to me! You would take care of me so much better!”

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“Wouf? Wouf?”

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“I am so lonely.”

Screenshot-184“Sigh.”

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“BRUSH ME! PLAY WITH ME! HUG ME!”

Screenshot-149The very likely event of inviting your sister over, cooking for her – and she brought her own sushi. Which she eats on a fluorescent plate.

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No matter what Cora does or who she talks to, she will always talk about fishing. Always. She should have been an angler, clearly, not a detective. All her life she has been rolling wishes for catching a bigger fish or more fish or a rarer fish.

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Declan wants to be best friend with his dad. Don’t know if that is going to happen. 😦

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He also wants to go jogging. And do jumping jacks all day long.

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Whereas Damon just wants to experiment with his chemistry set and play chess.

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He’s supposed to be athletic too, but he’s not acting the part at all.

—————–

A jump back in time is to be expected soon, and it’s not just an excuse to rant about my old legacy, it is actually “written” (so far only in my head) specifically for this story. On the one hand, I’m a little in love with my prologue to this legacy but on the other hand, I would like to get going with the current generation. But in the end, I think the prologue will make it more fun to play out Declan and Damon. And hopefully also more interesting to read!

0.6 Cake cake cake (actually no cake)

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“That’s some serious super model slouch you got there, girlfriend!”

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“What? I walk like this all the time.” “Uh, okay.. But you look great in it! Really great!”

“Thanks.”

“So, the twins are starting school already, huh? Crazy!”

“Yeah.”

*awkward silence* *swig of nectar* *another swig*

“Wanna dance?”

“YES!”

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“Isn’t this song AMAZING?” “I know! Did you know I saw them live once, in a really small club in Bridgeport.” “Shut UP!” “It was fantastic, and the bass player was wearing a gun holster and had these really sexy sideburns..” “Their first bass player, I know, he had such amazing style.. pity he should quit.” “I didn’t know he had!”

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“Nice party! A little odd for a child’s birthday, but fun! Soooo.. I thought Cora couldn’t stand Peanut?”

“Me too, to be honest. And this is probably very inappropriate, but you are the hottest Prudence I’ve met.”

“Uh, that is in fact inappropriate. And you have only met my mum. ”

“And you are so much hotter than she was! You look like Pocahontas. I was madly in love with her when I was a boy.”

“This conversation is making me uncomfortable. And I need to use the bathroom, which is why I have to go home and take care of some things.”

“Why? We have three bathrooms and none is occupied.”

“I HAVE TO GO HOME AND TAKE CARE OF SOME THINGS.”

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Before the twins do their little birthday twirl, here’s some stats: Damon is Friendly, Athletic and a Genius.

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Declan is Friendly, Athletic and another trait that will be revealed in time.  I can tell you this much: it was random, just like Damon’s genius.

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“Hey adults! Stop doing the tango and appreciate my big leap into the school age!”

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“Yaaa…. aay. Hello?”

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“Hurry, Tana! If you hobble quickly, you’ll make it to the twirl!”

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“Sorry, you missed it.”

Aaaaaaw. 😦 I don’t know if my house is too small/cluttered or what, but they seldom make it in time for the birthday candles to be blown out anyway, so cake is kind of pointless unless it’s just the family there. The boys were dead tired and just wanted to go to bed afterwards.

“That was a GREAT birthday party, darling!”

“I am so sloshed. Is that bad?”

“Maybe a little. Me too. Is there more nectar?”

Screenshot-166b Next day was first day of school, and both Cora & Quentin had a terrible hangover and didn’t argue when Declan had sushi for breakfast. Damon was done before they even got up, he had made himself a jam sandwich and everything, and was waiting eagerly in the garden for the bus to arrive. They felt like the worst parents in the history of Twinbrook. Which was not true, considering.. well, the Rackets, for one. Let’s just take a moment and think about Marigold Racket.

/moment

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“Are you nervous about school?”

“Nah. But it seems well boring though. To sit in a row and do nothing.”

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“Who told you that? You do lots of things in school. Like read and write. And maths. ”

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“Seems dumb to me.”

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“Dad, what does garbage taste like? Can you cook it?” “No, Declan.” “I wasn’t talking to you, I asked dad.”

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“Your mum’s right, you can’t eat garbage.” “Why not? Rouza does it. And that cute racoon.” “Yes, but Rouza also usually throws up afterwards. Because it’s unsanitary.” “What does that mean?” “That it’s dirty. That’s why you throw it away. Now eat up.”

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“I’m finished. But someday I’ll be a bin man and then I’ll eat all the garbage I want!”

*COUGH*

“Declan, please put your plate and fork in the dishwasher. And bin men don’t eat garbage!”

“Well I would!”

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What seemed like just a few hours later to Quentin, especially with a splitting headache, Damon came home – alone.

“Where’s your brother?” He was almost in a state of panic. “How should I know?” Damon shrugged. He had two homeworks, maths and Simlish, and wanted to do them right away, and he had a lot of other things to think about than his stupid brother.

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“What did I tell you this morning? Stick together! Take care of your brother!” “Well I’m not his BABY SITTER, am I! And b’sides, he didn’t get on the bus so if I waited I would have missed the bus too.”

“You could have called us, Damon. We would have picked you up. Never leave your brother alone again after school, do you hear?”

“That is so unfair!” He stormed down to the basement, tears burning in the corners of his eyes.

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Declan came home about five hours later, when Cora had already locked herself up in the bathroom because she couldn’t take Quentin’s constant dialing to different friends and neighbours. As the twins grew, it seemed like her worries had faded somewhat and Quentin’s had threefolded.

“It’s 7 pm! Where have you been?”

“In the hills, I found a really long, dark hole, it went on forever! It’s really cool!”

“You are not allowed to go to the old mine by yourself! It’s very dangerous! After school, you take the school bus home, do your homework and then you tell us where you’re going, if you’re going to play outside.”

“Are you cross?”

“Yes Declan, I am very cross. And your brother is upset because I yelled at him when you didn’t come home.”

“Why did you yell at Damon when you’re cross with me?”

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“Now go upstairs and tell your mum you’re OK. You had us all worried.”

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“I would rather be a fish”, Declan declared with a sad face.

“Than what?” Quentin felt very tired.

“Than me, of course! You are so dumb, dad.”

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“Just go upstairs, please, and talk to your mum. And have some dinner. It’s cold now.”

Screenshot-289After he had calmed down a bit, Quentin tried to interest his son in some ABCs. Declan had forgotten his backpack in the mine, luckily near the entrance because “it was scary” inside. Damon grudgingly let him borrow his book.

“The lla-ma lives in Pe-ru. The lla-ma has a long neck.”, Quentin read aloud, pointing at the text.

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“No, it’s a rounders team or some such”, Declan yawned. “That’s right Declan, very good! But it’s also an animal.”

“It can’t be both.”

“Well, sometimes things can be two things at the same time.”

“No they can’t. That’s dumb. This story is boring, why don’t you read about llamas to Damon instead.”

“Because he has already done both his homeworks.” Quentin’s feeble attempt at guilt-tripping did not work.

“So he can do them again. He likes them. If I like something, I want to do it again and again. And if I don’t like something, I only want to do it one time. So tomorrow I will not go to school, because I didn’t like it there.”

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Before Quentin had a chance to tell him the dire news that he had 12 years of school ahead of him, he promptly fell asleep.

Screenshot-291Quentin simply didn’t have the heart (or energy) to carry him to his own bed. He got to sleep beside his mum, perhaps for the last time. He was a big boy now and had big boy responsibilities, like homework and keeping track of the time. Quentin felt sorry for him in a way. He went downstairs to say goodnight to Damon, but he had already put the lights out. Quentin could have sworn he saw them on through the railing in the staircase, but when he called out “Damon?” quietly, it was pitch black and not a sound.

“I’m sorry, Damon”, he said to the darkness. He waited for a moment, no answer.

Then he went upstairs and fell asleep in Declan’s narrow bed.

0.5 It’s Your Baby, You Rock It

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“Declan, do you want to go outside with us for a bit? Rouza would really like to see the park today.”

“No.”

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“You’ve been playing with Cuddles since breakfast, I bet Cuddles would like some time on his own too.”

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“No! No no no no!” Many mornings with Declan looked like that, with him crying in quiet despair or throwing fits of rage, and saying few words to express what he really wanted. He seldom played with any other toys than his rag doll.

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He did master the potty fairly quickly though, because dirty nappies seemed to cause him extreme anguish.

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“I would like to have him tested”, Cora said one morning. “For what?” Quentin looked surprised. “I don’t know. Something. He’s kind of … slow.” “Every child is different. He’s just a slow starter.” “But he’s almost 3. And he seems so insecure.”

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“Is it really that important that our child is super bright, talented, strong and confident at the age of 3? Almost 3.” Quentin put the fork down. “If you haven’t noticed, your other son is still not potty trained.”

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“So what are you saying, that it’s a competition?” “No, but you seem to think that, since Damon has developed faster in almost every aspect.” “No, I want to have Declan tested because I’m worried about him. You should be too.”

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“I prefer to worry when there’s something to worry about. He’s not sick and he’s not unhappy.” “If you think he’s not unhappy, clearly you haven’t been watching him close enough. I’m calling the psychiatric center now.”

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Quentin clenched his teeth, but stayed to listen to the conversation.

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“Mhm. I see. What? No, I can’t do that. No.”

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“Because he’s not even 3. I can’t..”

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“No, YOU listen! We are talking about a small child who is already anxious, do you really think it’s a good idea…”

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“No of COURSE you have to monitor him, I get it, but why can’t you do that in his own home? This is absurd!”

Cora spat out a few more “preposterous” and “are you serious?” to the person on the other end, and then hung up. “They would have to monitor him for several days to be able to make an assessment. But for some incomprehensible reason, that can only be done at the Pediatric Psychology Center in Elmira City. And I just can’t. He can’t sleep in a hospital, for Watcher’s sake! Or in a hotel bed for that matter. Or ride in a taxi, or a train. You know how he gets.”

“Well I’m happy that’s something we agree on.”

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They didn’t say anything at all for a long while. Then Cora’s phone rang.

They called back from the PPC in Elmira City, she talked for another 20 minutes with a doctor, and kept getting angrier. “Mrs Corona, all children are tested at the age of 4. Before that, it is very difficult to make a reliable assessment. Your son is probably perfectly fine. Maybe he’s having nightmares, many children do at that age.”

“Like I would call a psychiatrist every time my son is afraid of the bogeyman”, she snarled. Quentin’s silence suggested that was exactly what she was doing.

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Something changed between them after that. Cora somehow lost her energy, and Quentin in turn started to watch Declan more closely – how he played, what he said, when he had his “attacks” of rage and tears. He still maintained that “if you look for something to worry about, you will probably find it too”. Cora didn’t even answer anymore. She just shrugged.

Since they couldn’t agree or come to a solution on the big matters, they focused on the little things like home cooked (and home-grown) meals, singing and reading to the twins, dressing them in cute little ecological outfits. They talked very little about other subjects than their sons, and they never mentioned the testing again.

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“I hope all of this will just go away when they start school, like a bad dream”, Cora thought to herself.

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But once again, Declan was too anxious to even sit down in the stroller during the short walk to the park, and once again, Quentin didn’t even seem to notice, because Damon was so excited he was literally punching the air with joy, and babbling loudly.

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“This is just a phase. This is normal. All kids are different.” she repeated.

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Once they reached the park, the twins calmed down and Mr & Mrs Corona loosened up a little bit as well. They kept reassuring each other: “This is fun, isn’t it? This is lovely.” And it was a lovely day. The twins behaved like angels.

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But at the same time she caught herself thinking “I swear that dog is more intuitive than he is.” It was true that Rouza seemed more interested in Declan than in Damon, even Quentin had noticed. “Maybe he’s just calmer, easier to trust.”

Dogs can smell wounds deep inside the body, even cancer. So why not anxiety, or confusion?” she thought.

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“What if, in 30 years, we’re sitting on a bench over there and Declan and Damon are teaching their little ones to walk, where they are sitting now, and their wives are hanging out on these swings.” Quentin mused.

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“What do you think their names will be?” he continued dreamily.

“Emily and Isabella most likely.”

“So both will have daughters then?”

“I thought you meant the wives.”

Quentin gave her a quizzical look. “I’m hungry, and I actually brought some tofu dogs. So I should go and leech off that grill over there, I see it’s still smoking. Before the kids get too tired. You know.” Cora began searching for the bag in Damon’s stroller.

“Yeah. Actually, I think Damon needs a nappy change, but maybe you can manage Declan on your own?”

“See you in a bit.”

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Cora felt guilty about being so relieved that the lovely family outing was over, and that she could scoff down two tofu dogs in peace, among strangers. Her son was amusing himself with Watcher knows what, but at least he seemed perfectly content.

————

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Family life trudged on, until Cora announced one day: “I think we should throw a birthday party.”

“I thought you weren’t a big fan of birthday parties.”

“We’re throwing a birthday party, and I’m inviting everyone in the family. Peanut too!”

0.4 Everyday I’m Toddling

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Meet Damon, the one who most likely will look exactly like his mother, but with green eyes like gran.

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Goodmorning sunshine foghorn.

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Let’s get you some breakfast, then.

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And this is Declan, who will probably look exactly like his dad, except with grey eyes instead of dad’s weird purple.

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Sushi mash, the base of all celeb babies´food pyramid.

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Quentin ignored the dirty looks Cora gave the dolls that an unknown “aunt” sent the twins, and assured her that they were in fact just toys. “I swear to Watcher that they are being monitored somehow through those dolls”, she muttered. “MY aunt is dead, and as far as I know, you don’t have any.” “Maybe it’s just an advertisement”, Quentin said. “For nappies or nooboo food or something. The kids seem to really love them, though”. “So I’ve noticed. Those creepy dolls are like nooboo catnip.”

Cora“, Quentin pleaded.

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Damon developed fast, soon he was talking about fishing rods.

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And computer rodents.

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Cora decided to try and teach Declan to walk, since language only seemed to frustrate him. He talked a LOT, but it wasn’t in Simlish. It seemed like he already had invented his own words for different objects. Or she would ask him “where’s the dog, where’s Rouza” and he would point at himself, every time. If she said no, he would throw a tantrum.

But that wasn’t her biggest problem right now. There was a paparazzi standing in her garden, pointing a camera at her son.

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Clearly that woman did not value her life.

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“WHAT THE HELL? Erase those pictures right away!” Cora reached for her camera, but the woman was quicker.

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“I have the right to take pictures, there’s press freedom in this country you know”. “NOT ON MY PROPERTY!”

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The woman then held some snotty, well-rehearsed speech about how “fame was a deal with photographers and journalists” and that to enjoy the benefits of it you also had to “give a little”. “I NEVER ASKED FOR THIS! I’m not enjoying any benefits! Do I ever go to any stupid red carpet events? NO! Do I ever cut any ribbons? NO, because I don’t WANT to be famous! I haven’t DONE anything to be famous!”

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“Have I EVER, at ANY point, shown ANY interest in appearing on the cover of The Ripple? NO! Now get off my lawn before I call the police. And if I see you here again I will rub your face in the flower bed until my tomato plants die from the stench!”

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“Ok, FINE, crazy lady! But if you call the police, I will tell them about your threats! And go easy on the preaching, I’ve seen you spying on people. At least what I do is a fair trade-off. You may not like being famous, but most people do. And the free bathtub that was delivered to your house last week, did you leave it at the city dump?”

“I sent it back. Not that it’s any of your concern, but I send all of it back.”

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“Whatever. Anyway, I’m leaving. No need to spray me with the hose, soccer mom.”

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HAHA, loved that so much.

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But when she had left, Cora began to think about her chosen path. Sometimes she did really help people, unlike the paparazzi, but the methods.. well, even if they weren’t illegal, they didn’t make her feel proud of what she did either.

“I’m glad we’re rid of her”, Quentin muttered. “Yeah..” she said with a flat voice.

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When she was in her 20s, she had really enjoyed being a P.I. She thought it was thrilling.

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Back then, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It was like a dream come true, to come from a celebrity family and yet be able to do something that was secret, even a little shady. The pay was bad but she didn’t really need the money anyway.

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She always saw herself as one of the “good guys” – going after criminals, solving mysteries. And she did solve some interesting cases sometimes, but mostly it was infidelity, lost property, fraud and her least favourite: pre-marital investigations.

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Before she married Quentin, the press wasn’t very interested in her. There was always some other Corona to follow around, and she could actually snoop in her own home town and not be noticed. Of course people would recognize her, but they didn’t realize she was doing detective work. Green Leaf knew, and no one else, except her clients, and they had a personal interest in not telling anyone. By keeping herself to herself, she could do her job.

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But since the twins had been born, she had to take more and more cases in Elmira City and Bridgeport to be able to work at all, because she was more recognizable now. A mama magazine had even wanted to do a feature about her and the twins – of course she refused. But she hadn’t realized the paparazzi actually watched her do surveillance, and this was not good news at all. Perhaps they didn’t really get why she was “spying” on people, but it would only be a matter of time.

“At least what I do is a fair trade-off”, the woman had said.  That could mean she knew. Or it could mean she was just defending herself, and that spying on people for your own interest was stalking. Or whatever she thought it was she did. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all.

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Apart from the thrill, she had always thought her job had the most beautiful workplace – Twinbrook at night, and at the break of dawn. Being up when no one else was, except criminals, and the police. She couldn’t help but wonder which category her line of work fitted best into. When she was 26, she would have said “the police” without even blinking. But now?

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It was getting dark, and Quentin had taken the twins inside for some play time before bed. “Weeeee! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nooo, it’s Damooon!” Damon was gurgling with joy. Declan had found Rouza’s disgusting old bone and was happily sucking on it. “Declan, DON’T! Ok, that’s enough play time for you. Bed!”

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“NOOO BED!” “Yes, bed!” Suddenly, she stopped and stared at her child. “Quentin, did you hear that?” “How could I NOT hear that, he’s wailing like a police siren.” Quentin tucked in Damon in the other room, who fell asleep like a budgie covered with a blanket. “No, I mean, did you listen?” Declan was still sobbing “no bed”, but quietly, to himself. “He’s talking!!” Quentin’s face lit up. “At least he knows how to say no”, Cora chuckled. “Wonder who he got that from.”

0.3 Little Sister

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“Stand still, you’re all blurry”. Tulip was getting restless in her thin hoodie. “It’s COLD, Cora, can we go inside now? You have about 300 photos of my belly already”. “True, but 297 look like shit.”

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“That’s nice”, Tulip huffed. “Well, it’s not YOUR fault, you look like a delicate flower. As always.”

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“Oh come on Tulip, let me listen to him. Hey nooboo! It’s time to come out and play with your cousins!”

“He’s not even kicking. Now can we please go inside?”

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“I can so hear him!” “If you hear something, it’s probably just the rumbling in my gut. You were saying something about pie when you called me?”

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“Seriously though, Cora, I.. I’m really happy you invited me.” “It’s just tea and pie, not a Nobel banquet.”

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“Cora, I’m trying to say something here. We haven’t exactly been close, you and I, but I would really like it if we could change that. It’s like we have more in common now, with the babies, and you married and all.. Quentin is so very good for you and I’m so happy you two found each other.” Cora didn’t say anything. She agreed, over all, that perhaps the babies really was their only real common ground, and that it was a rather sad prospect since they were sisters, after all, but it was still better than a cold war.

They had their key lime pie and tea, which was a bit stewed but Tulip said she liked it that way (because she was always polite), and then they talked about how Bee had loved key lime pie. And how she told the story over and over that her mother always used to make it “and that it was our only luxury”, Tulip and Cora said as one and laughed. Bee may have been just a tad over-dramatic when it came to how poor they were when she was a girl. “I miss her so much, Cora.” “I know, I miss her too.”

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“Do you think she’s watching over us?” “No, not really. I think she’s on a celestial tour bus, drinking Sim’s Comfort, blasting the clouds to pieces with her old boombox.” Tulip smiled quietly, not entirely ready to embrace this particular vision of the Hereafter.

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That night, Cora sat by her laptop for three hours, writing drafts for a letter to her dead mother, and also drafts to Tulip and to.. some other people. She ended up just closing the lid. It was too late for that now.

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Meanwhile, the twins aged up. The lamp fixture was apparently a lot more interesting to Quentin.

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Cora looked like she would rather be eating glass.

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If I get one clone of dad and one of mum, I will be just as bored as Cora. I hope that’s not the case.

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Awesome Mother of the Year Award is – a sleeping bag! Congratulations!

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Yes, it was a very exciting event for the whole family.

0.2 Married Life

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Quentin moved in with Cora, there wasn’t any discussion about it. Besides, Albin took the house when he and Quentin split up so he didn’t really have a place. Albin & Quentin were still living together when Cora proposed, because of Quentin’s financial problems and lack of small studios in town, but Quentin had moved into Albin’s old nursery where he kept his paint and brushes, he didn’t own much else because he was a starving artist of lesser ambition. Cora didn’t care. She also didn’t care that he “used to be gay”, as people whispered around town. He loved her now and she had money to provide for them both and still make enough to save, so why worry about it?

Actually she was quite wealthy, and she toyed with the idea of starting a fund for the preservation of fish, water and wildlife in Twinbrook. The town was quite rural now, but she had seen some suspicious looking green sludge pouring out of the science lab, and if no one put an end to it before it was too late, maybe the peaceful fishing waters and wild horses grazing around the marshland would just be stories to tell grandchildren of future Coronas, Prudences and Bulls.

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Quentin wasn’t mush of a debater, so he just smiled and said “Whatever you think is best, hun” and went back to painting some lawn gnomes or whatever it was, Cora could’t quite figure it out yet. She met up with her best friend Green Leaf to discuss, as he shared her interest in these matters. To Cora it was more that she really liked her community and she loved fishing and camping, and Green was more of an environmental activist, so together they could surely think of something. Green was already frothing at the mouth when Cora mentioned the green sludge. They had a long, nice (or sometimes a bit heated) talk over Fairtrade coffee down at the Brunton’s, which Cora happened to own, so coffee was on the house. It was her grandmother Anna Corona who bought the place, probably just to spite her nasty old boss. After she bought it, she was actually seldom there, but she did come up with the first vegan menu in Twinbrook. “Locally grown” wasn’t a big selling point out here obviously, but the tragic clownfish was a bit happier than usual. The Baylesses still claim it was Anna Corona’s fault they had to start stealing copper from church roofs to make a living. And that it was only for a very brief and dark period in our family. Whatever.

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Quentin and she liked to go to bed quite early so they had plenty of time to both talk and woohoo, because Cora loved to talk and they both loved to woohoo. She had all kinds of small projects going on and things she thought about, and Quentin liked to listen to her, although he rarely had much to say. Not that he lacked ideas, the man was clearly a genius, but not a very talkative one.

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Cora loved that quality about him, that he was so unassuming. Her family was full of brash eccentrics and ambitious workaholics: her rock star mother Bee, who had been a wonderful person no doubt but everyone seemed to fade into nothing in comparison. Then there was her world famous chef grandmother, whom she never knew but had heard so much about. Then two uncles and an aunt, all equally weird and flamboyant, and able to do whatever heck they pleased since the family was wealthy at that point. Elis travelled the world and eventually died of a bacteria the local hospital didn’t have the competence to treat properly, “a bug I caught in the jungle”, Elis called it. It killed him slowly and he spent years living with his older sister Bodhi, Anna’s & grandpa Josiah’s first child, the one they had when she was just a waitress at Brunton’s and he was a handyman.

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Anna &  Josiah in the early days.

To Cora, it was apparent that it was Bee who was the shining star in the family but to Bee, Bodhi was always the heroine, the leading lady. She became a firefighter and saved hundreds of lives, and she was an odd bird indeed. She lived in an old water tower downtown with a Native Simlian artist. They had one child, Cora’s cousin Chayton, and then Chayton had Dorian with “some girl” (according to Bee) while he was doing military service. That “some girl” soon disappeared out of the picture and Chayton raised Dorian with his parents. Or actually, he didn’t do much of the raising himself since he stayed in the military and was often abroad. Bodhi loved Dorian as her own but she raised him according to her own standards, which were a bit offbeat. The only negative thing Cora ever heard Bee say about Bodhi was when she turned a rag doll into a human just to please Dorian. “It’s unethical”, she muttered, “to give someone life just so they can be kept as company”. Bodhi and Bee argued and debated this many, many times, so Cora sort of inherited her mom’s views on the topic of dolls made human. However, her own approach was simpler – she thought it was creepy. She hated their high-pitched voices and stupid blue hair.

“You’re a rag doll racist, my dear”, Quentin yawned when she started talking about Peanut. “Peanut is a good guy, even if he happens to be just a toy. I hope he finds happiness out in the world. Or here in Twinbrook.” Then she would nag him that Twinbrook was in fact part of the world, and they would then start a tickle war or a pillow fight or just grunt and turn to the morning paper they didn’t bother to read earlier in the day. Or they would woohoo, but generally not after discussing Peanut.

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The days weren’t so different from before she got married, though. She hadn’t cleared out the boys’ rooms yet, she just didn’t have the energy. And she worked cases just like before; endless rummaging in trash bins and snooping around, frankly she was a little tired of it.

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When it had been almost a year since their marriage, she called a fertility clinic. She didn’t have the time to wait any longer, she needed a baby. Those were the exact words that came to mind, she “needed” it. Not wanted one or longed for one. A new Corona had to be born and preferably before she was an old hag.

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The fertility treatment worked straight away, fortunately, and Quentin was thrilled. Cora was all business like about it  and said it was good that part was over with, but Quentin started to notice subtle changes about her. Like, she’d never be caught chit-chatting with a random stranger before, or exchanging recipes. She wasn’t exactly a loner but a little moody and suspicious of people, that they were only talking to her because her family was famous. In school she was actually voted Class Clown, so deep within her a big old goof was lurking and clawing to get out. But during the last 15 years or so, she had turned into a bit of a recluse who only socialized with her family and a select few friends. Quentin, who had known her longer than that, missed that old goofball. Sure, he loved Cora the Investigator too, and thought her work outfit kind of hot in a vintage sort of way, but he preferred it when she laughed.

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She seemed to have a good time with the unknown cook for a little while, talking about cooking and the ups and downs of pregnancy, but it didn’t last very long. The woman said it was sad that Bee and her uncle, “that fine artist”, should die on the year of her wedding. And that Bee would never see her grandchild.

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“Thanks”, Cora said rather curtly. The conversation was over, and Quentin didn’t see her chatting up strangers after that.

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If she left the house at all, it was only to fish or hang out at the Red Rendezvous, often alone. “You’re not drinking, I hope?” Quentin dared to ask. “What do you take me for, an idiot? Id’ prefer to stay in the garden and read, if you must know, but I get these stupid stir crazy moodlets if I do. And all you do is paint, paint, paint. The stink of turpentine is repulsive!” Quentin promised he’d stick to charcoal drawings during the rest of the pregnancy, but she wouldn’t have it. Instead she went to the Red Rendezvous as usual.

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“Are you trying to poison me? Take this vile dish out of my sight!” Cora wasn’t usually a snob, but pregnancy didn’t exactly do wonders for her naturally grumpy self. Not even Green called quite as often as usual. It was a dull time for Cora.

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When Cora came home one night, cranky as usual, Quentin looked her in the eyes and said, “This may be the last time we are ever truly alone together, have you ever thought of that? That it’s just us now, and soon we will be a family”. Cora stifled a “That is such a cliche!” and returned the long gaze, and even if it was a cliche, wasn’t a Sim’s whole life a cliche?

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That night, she dreamed of her grandmother Anna, whom she had never known.

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Then she dreamed that she was Anna, and that Bodhi was her own firstborn, and that she was very poor but still somehow she lived in her own house, except some furniture were different. Grandpa Josiah (or in the dream, her husband) said that maybe it was best to give the baby to the werewolves.

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Then the gnomes played croquet with the King Tut figure uncle Elis brought home from Al Simhara, except he was alive and said “Firby nurbs” in some ancient strange Simlish, and looked at all of them very stern and accusing. The rest she forgot.

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That morning, Cora went into labor. Somewhat unexpectedly, she had the time of her life.

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Until she got terribly bored with the whole thing.

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“I’m having a baby, YAWN”. (note gnomes in background, DUN DUN DUN DUN)

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“All these faces I pull are giving me wrinkles, I’ll need a face mask afterwards!”

(Note NO gnomes in background, DUN DUN DUN DUN)

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“Honey, don’t you think we should go to the hospital?” “Nah, I’m good.”

(Sorry for the lack of dramatic input, but Sim births always look exactly the same. Cora shares my sentiment.)

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“Hi nooboo! I’ve been expecting you!” Nooboo: *yeah, that’s usually how it works*

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Baby resting peacefully in mother’s arms. But WAIT, what’s that bundle camouflaged in the carpet?

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Shock and bewilderment. Yes, so say we all.

(Actually, I seem to have bought the fertility award for Cora at some point, but I didn’t remember that because it was long before she met a fella. She’s from an old save I played over a year ago, so you can’t expect me to remember such things! In my head, it was a “natural” twin birth but I saw later that it actually wasn’t. Fun surprise though! Like hiding presents for yourself.)

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Then nooboo # 1 got the bottle, because obviously Sims don’t have any nipples.

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This isn’t too bad!

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Actually, could you be a nooboo on a slightly lower volume?

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Ok, come to daddy, nooboo.

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“So, what should we call them? I like Derek.” “I’m sorry Quentin, but Derek sucks.” “How can Derek SUCK? It’s a perfectly good name! I know two Dereks and they are really good guys!” “Yeah? Well, a Derek kissed me by force in 7th grade and he had braces that slit my tongue!” “Ooook… so maybe not Derek then. Hey wait, was that Derek Drudge?” “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

David  Daniel  Don Donatello  “Are you NUTS?” “I think it’s classy!” “Well if you think being bullied into Sims 4 is classy, then be my guest, call our son Donatello! It’s a TURTLE!” “Well I was thinking about the sculptor, actually.” Dixon  Dax “Sounds like a dachshund” “In that case you’re saying it wrong.” “It’s le-vi-OOO-sa, not lev-i-o-SAAR”. “Exactly.”

The babies were named Declan and Damon, and both parents were happy with their Cora’s decision.