0.15 Cora’s Story (the first cut is the deepest)

So, life is coming to an end for Cora, who had an (almost) epic long life before I changed the lifespan and began this legacy. I’ll miss her terribly, but it really is time for her to go. I’ll tell her story in short (“short” as in long chapter but only one chapter instead of 10) It will only be a recap of what happened, so no great writing.

MILD SIM NUDITY WITHOUT NIPPLES IS TO BE EXPECTED IN THIS CHAPTER

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“Cora, can you stand still please, I have to paint your picture according to our family traditions.”

“Must we really?”

“Yes.” (“Frankly, I’d rather paint my desk”, Callum thought to himself.)

(They disliked each other in game for some reason.)

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Meet Cora Corona, third heir in my original pinstar legacy. She’s perceptive, grumpy, angler & outdoorsy.

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And this is her younger sister Tulip, honestly I don’t remember her traits, but I think attention whoresnob, good, star quality  & family oriented

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They don’t get along at all.

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I think their dreams sum up their personalities nicely: Cora dreams of flying a broom stick…

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And Tulip dreams of diamonds.

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Awkward ride together to the last prom. They actually ride a pink limo daily, because their mum Bee is a rock star. Ignore hand through dress.

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Tulip is certain she’ll be voted prom queen, and so is the girl behind her, thinking about her already obviously. And congrats on not wearing a terrible outfit, unknown babysitter, unless that’s your “formal wear”, in that case:

Moving on!

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However, the school has had a successful anti-bullying campaign and encouraged the students to vote for a king and queen with the best personalities, so Cora is voted queen instead ( OK ignore grumpy trait please). When she receives the crown while still burnt from an unsuccessful lab experiment, everyone is cheering. She thinks the whole king & queen drama is way over-rated but enjoys it nevertheless.

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Tulip is furious and leaves the dance early – she stays outside the school to play the guitar and attract the local paparazzi. As long as they’re still taking pictures, she plays, and stays out long after curfew.

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Finally home at 4 am, she still refuses to congratulate Cora on her win. The tension between them worsens from here on.

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They say that opposites attract, and that’s the case with Cora and George Curious (tee-hee, yes I named him, a homage to all the other punny names in the Curious family). George is determined to make it to the top before he’s 30, and Cora, well, she’s an A student but she prefers to do weird lab experiments just for the heck of it.

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The Curiouses and the Coronas are tight since Bunny & Bee were classmates, and they were in the same band until Bunny died from an overdose. She wasn’t an addict, she just partied too hard one unfortunate night. Tana was only 20 at the time and George was 13. Bee often comes to check on them to see that they’re OK.

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Cora has had a crush on George since forever, but she hasn’t had the nerve to tell him.

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At some point, it is inevitable.

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It takes all her courage but she finally dares to kiss him.

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George has already had  a short fling with Tulip, which didn’t exactly lead anywhere, but still, it is complicated.

(Autonomously, he did, and it actually didn’t lead anywhere. They had each other as romantic interests with a very low relationship.)

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He’s falling for Cora, but at the same time he knows they are very different. Tulip would be a much better match, but still it didn’t really click between them.

THE LOVE I FEEL FOR THAT AWKWARD LITTLE DANCE, IT IS IN PINK CAPS

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Bee comes over with sushi one Sunday as usual (she often brings takeaway for the siblings, to talk about the week), and when Cora has left the room she “subtly” encourages George to take it down a notch, at least until they graduate. She knows Cora could drop everything for him and she doesn’t like the effect he has on her, especially with SATs coming up.

(We don’t have those here so I’m sorry if I’m using it wrong, I figured you’d have to take it last year in high school? Foreign school systems are a mystery to me. So are proms.)

Screenshot-678 Cora doesn’t like it, but she is rational and thinks that maybe it is for the best- just for a while. She is still 100 % focused on him, while George on the other hand has doubts about how realistic their relationship is in the long run.

Screenshot-807As soon as Tulip hears they are on a (semi-)hiatus, she goes all in and tries to “subtly” seduce George, who finds it rather rude.

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She keeps trying though.

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Cora never finds out, at least not until many years after.

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Recognize this guy? No? Well, it’s Quentin Kettin, Cora’s next door neighbour.

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Quentin is all that – artistic AND a genius, friendly and loves a good party. He’s also gay.

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Honestly Cora never even thought of him “that way”, they are just really close friends.

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They usually don’t talk about their feelings much, that’s not their style. If Cora ever talks about love and crap like that, it’s usually with her berry friend Green Leaf, he’s more the touchy-feely type.

Screenshot-445Quentin is dating Albin Funke, and will move in with him and live together for 10 years until they suddenly break up for no apparent reason. And we all know who his love interest will be after that.

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(Quentin’s & Albin’s breakup was a godsend. There were no available men left for Cora in Twinbrook who wasn’t evil, and she was approaching middle age. She snatched him up the same day. It would have been him or a test tube baby.)

Screenshot-744But I’m getting ahead of myself. Cora throws her 18th birthday party at the Red Rendezvous and since she’s a celebrity it is a great success (that seems to help?), although everyone is bored and hungry and tapping their foot, as per usual.

I don’t know why Tulip is throwing a fit, perhaps because she’s not the center of attention.

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Quentin looks dapper, if somewhat overdressed. Since George has to “be somewhere”, she and Quentin dance all night.

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After graduation, George goes to Simingham Business School and Cora opens her own small private investigation firm in Twinbrook. They decide that maybe it is best to put their whatever-it-is on ice again, since none of them believe in long distance relationships. Especially not George.

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When they reunite, they realize they still have feelings for each other.

Screenshot-837 So they decide to try and date again. It is still pretty casual and Cora doesn’t dare to say she wants it to be serious, afraid it would scare him off.

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George rises quickly through the ranks and Cora doesn’t see much of him. It is business meetings, lunches with clients, breakfast with potential buyers, travels.. and also probably other women, but Cora doesn’t dare to ask, since they aren’t exclusive.

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She loses her virginity at ca 26 in his shower.

Seriously I hate that song, but I had to.

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At least she’s in a good mood that night.

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“I have no nipples but gee I’m so happy!”

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Someone’s pleased with himself.

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This picture breaks my heart a little, knowing what will happen next.

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Cora goes to sleep, thinking George will come to bed soon. Except he stays up all night, staring out the window and brooding over their relationship, and then finally goes to sleep in his old nursery, alone.

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Cora wakes when she hears the shower run in the bathroom next door. She immediately realizes she has slept alone.

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“You look lovely. Thank you for yesterday, I have to go to work now unfortunately but there’s waffles for you downstairs.”

He doesn’t kiss her – not even on the cheek – when he leaves.

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Then it finally dawns upon her that this relationship isn’t going anywhere. It is strange, because it truly feels like he loves her, at least sometimes.

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And then the insecurities set in. Isn’t she pretty enough, is it something about her nose, her glasses, her lips, her body? Does she smell, is she boring? Does her laugh sound weird? Is she too needy or too aloof? Is she bad in bed (or in this case, in the shower)?

Screenshot-1013She leaves his house feeling really bad about herself. Had it only been a one night stand, that would have been one thing, but he seems to really care about her, but he still doesn’t want to have a steady relationship – WHY?

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They still see each other, because she can’t resist. Sometimes it feels like they really are a couple, and sometimes she feels like a cheap mistress or just his “buddy”. Other people begin to notice and wonder what the hell is going on between them.

Screenshot-1188At one time, she gets so frustrated that she goes to see him at his office.

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She’s determined to give an ultimatum – either we make this official or we break it off for good.

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But when she sees him walk with confident steps and wave to colleagues inside the building, she loses her nerve.

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He is more in love with his career than he will ever be with her, perhaps with anyone.

Screenshot-1196She just stands there and stares at a random window for a long while, thinking that it could be his office – she has no idea what it looks like inside or which room is his. It’s like spying on “the other woman”. What does she look like? Why is she better than me?

Screenshot-1287Well, I decided that in the story George would have commitment issues (even if it wasn’t in his traits), but I didn’t realize he was actually having not one but TWO affairs. And one of the women finds out about Cora at a party!

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Here he’s trying to make some lame excuse why it’s OK to cheat on vampires. Because they’re “vamps” themselves, and that true vampires don’t have a concept of fidelity.

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Well, this vamp isn’t amused by that theory!

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She’s not having it, and she’s not afraid to tell him either.

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I don’t remember her name but she’s a dramatic, snobby stylist. His type I guess.

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Vampires take “storming out” to a whole new level of drama.

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Yeah yeah you’re pissed George, but what did you expect? Don’t mess with immortals, they hold a very long grudge.

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Aw. I did feel bad for her, even if she isn’t the nicest person around. Look at those sad lilac eyes.

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The higher George climbs on the corporate ladder, the more obscure places he meets Cora at. When he finally breaks it off, they are in the shack at the junk yard. Cora is too innocent/too eccentric to realize he doesn’t want to be seen with her anymore.

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She also has no clue about his other women – probably for the better. Perhaps because she’s always fishing and not socializing much, I don’t know. But she’s very upset that he wants to break up.

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He tries to explain to her that their lifestyles are much too different already and are going to be even more different in the future.

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Cora pleads desperately, and tells him that she loves him.

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“Don’t make this any harder than it already is”. Essentially George is looking for either a trophy wife, a mistress or two who aren’t too demanding, or a businesswoman who is as ambitious as himself. He loves a challenge, and now when he has figured Cora out, she isn’t as interesting to him anymore. He knows it’s a shitty thing to feel, but that’s who he is.

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As a last resort, Cora mocks his ambition and tells him businessmen are all stupid suits with no moral compass, who would do anything for money.

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“Come on Cora, is that the best you can do? After all these years we’ve been friends?”

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Then she begins to cry instead and George has to console her.

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He feels bad for her, but he knows it’s the right thing to do – they have nothing in common, only chemistry. The only thing he regrets is that he let it go on for so long.

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“Cheer up, girl, you can do better than me anyway”, he jokes, knowing full well he’s the most eligible bachelor in Twinbrook.

Screenshot-1157Cora doesn’t answer, so George takes his chance to leave. He has a late night meeting with some potential partners from Shang Simla who want to see the sights (ha-ha, sights in Twinbrook) and try the cocktails at the Red Rendezvous. 

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She knew in her heart that it was coming, so why does she feel like this? It’s like the sky comes crashing down on her. She didn’t even know it was possible to feel so crushed and still continue breathing.

Screenshot-1182She spends the night in the dirty little shack, because she can’t face Tulip and the rest of the family. It’s not just the sadness, she also feels like a complete failure, wasting all those years, waiting and hoping that they would take it to the next level.

Screenshot-1181It has no logic or reason, but George really is the great passion of her life, and now he is truly gone. Can she even call him her ex?? Ex what, in that case? Ex booty call? Ex date?

Screenshot-1183So she decides from now on, she will live alone, and never get hurt like that again.

We all know how that went, but she made a really good effort and didn’t date for 10+ years. Meanwhile, her sister moved out and started dating George. I didn’t realize it was him until they were married and had two kids – like I said, Cora and Tulip weren’t close, either in the story or in the game, so they didn’t exactly meet up to chat. Some weird genetic glitch made George’s and Tulips children all white and look nothing like their dad, so had I written the whole story about Tulip & Cora, I would have created an ex-husband who were the kids’ real father. And he would have been abusive to Tulip, which is mentioned briefly in an earlier chapter. Anyhow, George was the main conflict between Cora & Tulip, even if there were also several others.

Q&A: was it wrong for Tulip to marry Cora’s ex-not-even-boyfriend-but-great-love? Perhaps, but Tulip was  too self-absorbed to realize how much George really meant to Cora, and Cora was too quiet about it. And after Tulip’s initial advances in high school, she did wait several years before she started dating him. Or in game actually not, but in the story, since there had to be an ex-husband as well. Stupid genetics! Is it wrong to date a sibling’s or a friend’s ex that many years later? I don’t know, but it’s a little weird. Then again, it’s a small town and George is pretty hot. Not sure if I can blame her.

Can we all take a moment and marvel over the fact that his mother was Bunny Curious:

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Where did those ears go, for one? Weird. Don’t remember who was dad.

So Cora never really got over George, in a way, but in another way she did, because she got married and had the twins and moved to Iceland Fharhond. I love Quentin but I never thought their relationship was that passionate, it was more like a deep friendship. And then there were some rocky years because of Declan’s mental illness, of course, but I doubt George had handled that any better than Quentin did.

George fulfilled his LTW to become a CEO of a mega corporation. Don’t know if he became a power broker as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Tulip was a scientist, medium level. Maebe lost interest in fashion and became something of a hippy who wanted to collect lots of small animals and live off the land. She grew up very pretty, even prettier than Tulip & Cora. Her brother Jared married a berry, either the grandchild or niece of Green Leaf – Guadalupe née Leaf, married name Corona – and moved into a gypsy trailer with her. They were both musicians. And then my save became so large it was unplayable and that was it. The end.

It would have been more fun to connect the Curious family tree with the Coronas than to marry the townie neighbour, but then Damon wouldn’t be Damon and Declan wouldn’t be Declan! 🙂 So I’m not sorry, even if George was a more dynamic character – and obviously more of an asshole, but that’s not a minus when you’re trying to write a story IMO. I just sometimes think “what if..” Btw, I later realized George had offspring all over town that looked like him – I counted to three illegitimate children. It would be seriously weird to play an old save of Cora and pollinate her with George and see what kind of kid they would have and then plop the offspring on some lot on Fharhond. But I think we have enough Corona genetics as it is.

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0.14 Something For the Weekend

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The days formed a week. It was Friday afternoon. “Sooo”, said Beate when they were lazily watching “A Sim world in the sun” after school, “I decided to throw a surprise party in my own honor tonight”.

“Dude, it’s not a surprise party if you throw it for yourself”, Asiaq reminded her.

“ANYwho, since I’ve opened my humble abode to two selfish little brats, I managed the food and guest list all by myself, and all you have to do is take a bath – preferably not together plz – and put on some other clothes for once. Your mother gracefully offered me some money and clean clothes for you, Damon, and I took the clothes. Money transactions can be done over the internetz these days, maybe you could inform her? It looks bad when I deal on the porch. Now, off you go!”

Screenshot-649Four hours later, there were three girls more than usual in the living room. Anders, Declan and two foreign sailors were invited, but they were a no-show.

“Ok this party sucks”, Mimi exclaimed, “why aren’t there any boys here?”

“Why didn’t you bring any men here,” Beate corrected her, “it is my birthday after all”.

“More importantly, why is that whore here?” Ylva frowned and pointed at Mimi.

Screenshot-650“Ylva, please“, Damon stood up from the sofa and tried to touch her arm, but she shook him off.

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“Not now, Damon. In fact, I’m going to write down a list over whores who shouldn’t be invited to parties at all.”

Screenshot-652“It will be an empty list, then, since no one in here has sex for money, as far as I know”, Mimi said and tried to grab the paper.

“Well I’m glad you asked, because YOU will be on it! As will all other people who try to steal other people’s boyfriend!”

“Come on you guys, it’s my party and I decide who can be whore. And no one can be whore tonight, ok? Whoredom is off limits. Ylva, why don’t you go upstairs and choose a playlist? My laptop is on the desk. Make it long. And Mimi, could you help with the pizza? The guy at the door is freezing his ass off. And don’t offer him money for sex, please. No whores!”

Ylva grabbed a bottle of cheap sparkling nectar from the table and disappeared upstairs.

Screenshot-653Little Saskia Bartley was so shocked by the conversation that she retreated to a romantic comedy on tv. She had come because she thought Declan would show up, and when he didn’t she had preferred to go straight home again, except it would be impolite. So she stayed. And besides, Ylva was her ride.

Screenshot-654After a while, Saskia was sitting in the garden texting her true feelings to Declan and Mimi had gone to the store to buy cigarettes or find a sailor, who knew. Ylva never came down with a soundtrack for the party so they just turned on the radio.

“Do you want to dance?” Damon said, offering his hand to Asiaq.

Screenshot-655She had a few drinks earlier and when Beate was rummaging in the bedroom for a lighter, she leaned forward and kissed him clumsily, missing the mouth with half an inch.

“I actually want to do this.”

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Beate who had eyes in the back of her head rushed outside. She was not going to be around when Ylva found out.

“I’m going out for a quick smoke, ok?” she said, careful not to look at them.

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Actually, the smoke wasn’t so quick, and they kissed for ten minutes, alone in the room.

Screenshot-658Asiaq was feeling dizzy, faint, weak at the knees, all the cliches.

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“I’ve been wanting to do that for a very long time now”, she whispered when she heard footsteps on the stairs.

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Ylva had joined the living, Mimi had returned from the shop and Beate was trying to persuade Saskia in the garden to not pour out her heart quite as much in text messages as her drunkenness dictated.

“I thought smoking was supposed to make you eat less”, Ylva noted dryly and watched Mimi while she picked at the chicken wings herself. “But I suppose your appetite for food matches your appetite for men. Men who are taken.”

“Just lay it off, Ylva. It was one kiss, and it was ages ago. Get over it.”

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Outside, Damon and Asiaq tried to have a talk about what had just happened between them.

“Whatever you do, don’t say you were too drunk to remember anything”, Asiaq pleaded.

“I’m definitely not going to do that, but I think I need some time to figure out what it means”.

“I know what it means to me”, Asiaq said quietly.

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“I know. I just need to slow down, figure it out by myself. Shall we go inside?”

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Inside, Beate was having her 18th birthday, without sailors, the police or the social workers, but a couple of drunk girls who were still 17 and some months old.

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“You’re going to look GREAT!” Ylva squealed, because she had just decided Beate was her new best friend.

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“Your tits were great before, but now they’re HUGE! OMG I wish I had your body! I look like a skinny little girl next to you.”

“Ok whatever, let’s dance shall we? How long did it take you to put that playlist together anyway, I thought you were asleep!”

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Three hours later, Mimi had left the party and the tenants were making discreet hints that it was getting late. Asiaq had fallen asleep on the bed with her clothes on, Damon was brushing his teeth and Beate was collecting dishes from the table.

“You can’t leave before you write at least one school whore’s name on the list”, Ylva slurred to Saskia.

“I don’t want to put a name on the list!”

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“Well, I’m your ride and I say you have to, or you have to walk all the way home in the dark. If you can’t name the whore you have to list 3 guys to kiss, 1 girl to push into the Black Dog Geyser and one teacher to blow to get an A.” Ylva laughed. Saskia was always blushing, except now – she turned white with anger instead.

“I don’t want to! Besides, I have an A in everything except gym class.”

“So I guess you’ll have to put the gym teacher’s name on the list, then.”

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She wrote Declan’s name with beautiful, distinct letters on all 3 guys to kiss, and nothing on the others.

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Then she realized Ylva was going to use that list for something, it wasn’t just a party game to her, so her only chance now was to stay awake until Ylva was asleep and then take the note from her while she slept, and then destroy it.

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Why didn’t she choose to walk home alone instead, it would have been worth it a thousand times! She had a splitting headache.

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Declan hadn’t answered a single one of her ca 20 text messages that night, and she feared she had to write her own name on the list: the girl to push into the Black Dog Geyser.

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Beate had no qualms about throwing Ylva out, but she felt bad for Saskia.

“Are you still around? I’d lend you my couch, girl, but as you can see it’s already taken by Patsy Stone.”

“She was my ride home!” Saskia whimpered.

“Seriously, are you on crack or bubbles? She stopped being your ride home four hours ago. She’s in no position to sit up, let alone drive. I’ll call a cab for you. And if you could help me haul her into the cab as well, that would be fantastic.”

Saskia quickly stuffed the list in her pocket and tried to wake Ylva up.

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The next morning was celebrated with cold pizza of different varieties. Beate was nowhere to be found.

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“How are you feeling today?” Damon asked, trying to sound like he only meant the hangover.

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“I’ll feel amazing as soon as I’ve finished another slice!” she answered, pretending like he was only asking about her hangover.

“Good. I feel pretty good too.” he said, trying to project overall ok-ness with the snogfest from the night before, while still sounding casual.

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“Aaaah, cold pizza makes me feel totally zen!”

Damon smiled. He was using a fork, she noticed, while she herself was using her entire face.

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“Beate, where are you! I really need to talk!”

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“I’m at the pool. I’m an old woman now, I have to take care of what I’ve got before everything sags.”

“Stop that right now and meet me at the coffee house in 30 minutes! It’s an emergency!” Asiaq half-whispered.

“Why don’t you come here and swim some laps with me instead? It’s good for the body and mind”, Beate said with a fake guru voice.

“Me? In the pool? Today?” Asiaq suddenly exclaimed loudly, like it was an insult.

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“Is Beate at the pool? Are you going there? We could go together!”

“Mhm.” Asiaq hung up on Beate, and twenty minutes later, they were at the pool. Asiaq kept her clothes on, thank you very much. Not that she had anything against exercise, but with a hangover, no thanks.

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“Declan! Watcher, where were you last night? There was a certain girl there who was missing you badly.”

“Who?” Declan smiled. “You know what, I got 20 texts from Saskia this morning! They just kept popping up! It took all breakfast to read them and my strawberry pancakes got cold! Mum had to re-heat them for me. She only does that when someone gets 20 text messages, she said. I never knew that was a rule! But it’s a good rule, don’t you think?”

“Did you forget to charge your phone last night, Declan?” Asiaq smiled and ruffled his hair.

“I did actually! How did you guess that? You are like an orricle or something!”

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The twins met each other with a hard embrace. “Damooooon! I’ve missed you sooo much!”

“I know, and I’ve missed you more, bro. It’s good to see you again.”

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“I thought you were angry with me! You just left us!”

“I know, Declan, that was stupid of me. I regret it. But sometimes you have to leave before something gets even worse, you know? Sometimes you’re just angry and sad and everything you say comes out wrong.”

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“Yes, I remember that. From when we were little, and I walked alone in the hills because the other children teased me. Has someone been teasing you, Damon? I can beat them up for you if they have! I’m strong now, you see.”

“No, that’s alright, no one has been teasing me. It’s just something that can happen between people. When they believe different things to be true and they are both very sure they are right.”

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Asiaq wasn’t feeling very well, so when she realized she couldn’t have a heart to heart alone with Beate, she went home again to take a nap. Damon took his chance.

“Beate, I have something I would like to say..”

“Break that girl’s heart and I’ll break your bones.”, Beate stated, matter-of-factly. “You may be stronger but I have trained MMA for 8 years.”

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“Beate, don’t be like that. It’s more complicated than that, please tell me you understand? And this isn’t a case of me taking advantage and her being the victim..”

“Look, I love you both, but Asiaq is my roommate. I have to live with her if you break her heart. See the difference? I’m the victim in that case, ME. Also, she has been in love with you for years, you must know that. And I’m guessing you’re just beginning to think about her that way.”

“Well..”

“Figure it out. And figure it out GOOD!” Beate turned around and walked toward the women’s sauna. The “conversation” was over, and Damon wondered to himself why it was that girls, or women, thought guys had no need to talk things through. He was annoyed that Beate had just assigned him the role of Casanova without even asking how he felt.

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At home, Asiaq had woken up and was downing another slice of pizza. Damon felt left out, the girls were chatting about the party like he wasn’t even there, and Asiaq didn’t seem at all worried by what had happened the night before, or even thinking about it.

He went out for a long jog by the beach to clear his head. This was just too confusing.

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When he returned, he took a long bath and went upstairs to spend the rest of the night alone. Only he saw the lights were on.

“Damon, I’m upstairs, sorry! I needed to use your desk. I’ll be done in a sec.”

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“No worries.” He arranged the pillows and sat there silently while the pen rasped against paper. He suddenly realized that Asiaq was his best friend, or one of them, but he didn’t really know her. He knew that she was sporty, like himself, but they had never talked about their hopes and dreams for the future. At least he had never really heard her.

“Why don’t you come over and talk with me for a while? I’ve been feeling kind of lonely lately.”

“Have you?” Asiaq looked genuinely surprised. “With us around you all the time, banging on the bathroom door?”

“Well… it feels like sometimes.. don’t take this the wrong way, but true Fharhondians like yourself and Beate never really let you in. You’re all wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but there’s so much attitude and banter.. all the hard love, to be honest it scares me sometimes.”

“And why do you think that is?” Asiaq asked, a little defiant.

“To not get hurt if you have to be truly alone some day”, Damon answered.

“You amaze me, Damon Corona! So much wisdom in a jock from the swamps!” she laughed and hit his shoulder.

“Ow! That’s just it, you’re all so.. hard and self-sufficient! Don’t you ever want to just throw your hands up and say I can’t take it anymore?”

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“Sure. All the time. But who would take the hit for me, if I wouldn’t?”

“You have friends. Don’t you have a family? Didn’t you say you have a sister?”

“Let’s not talk about me now. I think it’s about time you told me why you live here, with us.”

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“Fair enough.” So Damon told his story, the whole story, from his childhood in Twinbrook, Declan’s mental illness, his old friends, fishing trips in the swamp, their old house, his big rich eccentric family, the inheritance, the wildlife fund, the move to Fharhond, his relationship with his mother and his brother and his father, how he felt like when he was a child. What he felt he had given up.

“So how do you feel about it now, when you’ve had a chance to think about it? What do you dream about?”

“Honestly, I can’t decide if I want to leave it all behind and move forward, or if  I want to make Fharhond a part of me. I feel like it’s time to decide now, if it could be. I can’t be a tourist forever.”

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“That’s very true. Declan is all Fharhondian already. So why aren’t you?”

“Because it was all for him, I guess. I feel like Fharhond is a cake on someone else’s birthday. Even if it tastes really good, it was never meant for me. If you get what I’m saying.”

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“Mhmm, yeah, I get it. Although, still, you were invited to the party? I mean, that must count for something?”

Damon laughed quietly. “Yes, it counts for something, to be invited to the party. Maybe I’m just too stuck on it. That it was for Declan’s health we moved here. That I didn’t have a say at all.” Asiaq seemed deep in thought.

“Children never have a say. Some places are good and others aren’t so good, for kids it’s all just a big raffle. I didn’t choose Fharhond either, but then again, I have nothing to compare it with. I can tell you my story too, if you want to hear it.”

“I’d love to.”

“Ok. It’s not grand or interesting though.” Then Asiaq began to tell her story of fishermen and sailors on small islands in the archipelago, even smaller than Fharhond, and how her father went to sea and never came home.

Screenshot-734“Did he drown?” Damon asked, humbled by the graveness of it all.

“No, at least not as far as I know. He found better shores, let’s call it that. My mum never got over it. She’s an alcoholic. She still lived on Fharhond when you moved here, but she left when I was 15. I wasn’t in school much around that time, if you remember it. I moved in with Beate and her gran. She used to live here before, now she’s in Sunlit Tides most of the time. She’s a nice lady, drinks a bit too much as well, but by Fharhondian standards I guess it’s.. acceptable. People drink a lot here, maybe you’ve noticed, or they don’t drink at all. Beate doesn’t drink. Her dad was an alcoholic too. She never talks about it, and don’t ask her. You’re right, Fharhondians don’t talk about their feelings much. Doesn’t mean we don’t have them.”

“I never meant you were cold. I just meant sometimes I don’t understand you.”

“It’s alright. I don’t understand you either, half of the time.” Asiaq smiled.

Screenshot-735“And this might be horribly inappropriate by your romantic, old-fashioned swamp standards, but uh.. do you want to fool around?”

“Um.. sure? I’m still figuring us out though, so if it would make it harder for you, then maybe it’s best if we didn’t”.

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“No, sex isn’t complicated for me. Feelings are. I get horny when I’m hungover, maybe you’re the same?”

“Oh. I.. uh.. I’m not very experienced in that department, so I don’t know.”

“No, I see. I’ve noticed that you normally don’t drink very much, that’s good.”

“Yeah, that too, but I meant… uh.”

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“What are you saying, are you a virgin?”

“Uh, yeah… actually I am.”

“Ok. Then maybe this isn’t the right time for you?”

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“Actually I think this is the perfect time for me.”

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When Damon woke up that Sunday morning he felt… something, it wasn’t butterflies exactly but more like it was something he wanted to protect and explore. So when the phone rang at 9:30, he wasn’t thrilled.

“Hey… it’s me. Sorry I haven’t called you.”

“I didn’t expect you to. We’re on a break, so ..”

“Yeah.. but we’re still friends, and I admit it was selfish of me to not let you stay here.”

“A little, perhaps. But it’s ok. Really.”

“The derby week is over now and the jockeys are gone, so I thought maybe you want to come and stay here now?”

“Um, no. I live with Beate and Asiaq now, and it’s actually working out pretty great. My dad is still really angry with me but I think my mum probably would want me to come home. In another week I’ll probably do it.”

“What was that about, anyway?”

“Long story. Look, I appreciate..”

“Hey, don’t hang up, there’s this favour I would like to ask you. I know we’re on a break but could you escort me to my mum’s award thingy today? Lots of boring adults and lots of shiny prize money. I miss you, baby. And the dinner will be amazing.”

“I don’t think that would be such a good idea.”

“I know I was bitchy before but I’ll change, I’ll make it up to you, I promise! I really would like you to come. We could have a nice long talk during dinner, there’s 7 courses so there will be plenty of time.”

“Uh… Ok. But it’s for the talk, Ylva, I think we need it.”

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It was 4 in the afternoon and Damon had just collected his tux at the dry cleaner. Cora agreed to drop it off for him so he wouldn’t have to face his father just yet. Asiaq knew where he was going, because he couldn’t lie to her and she was now doing furious push-ups in the garden, with the volume on the boombox cranked up.

“Hey… I’ve missed you! You look so handsome. ” Ylva looked beautiful, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“I’ve been thinking”, said Ylva, “and if this dinner goes well and we have a good talk, maybe we could end our break. I really miss us, Damon. I miss me with you. I miss you.”

“Talk is good, I agree.” Damon replied, avoiding the proposal.

When she leaned closer to hug his arm and rest her head against his shoulder as they walked in, he wiggled loose from her grip and excused himself. “I have to make a phone call before dinner, Ylva, wait for me inside”.

—-

Look at me, using my first pose! *does a little pose dance* I only used one, though. 

0.13 That’s What Friends Are For

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Damon was already halfway to the road when Rouza came running after him. Nobody else came. He hugged her and kissed her between the ears. “I have to go away for a little while. I love you so much, Rouza.” Hot tears burned in the corner of his eyes.

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He slowly walked down to the beach because he had no particular place to go. On the night of the last school dance, he would turn 18. It was already summer, his 6th summer on Fharhond. Would there be more? His future was wide open.

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He undressed in the last rays of the sun to take a swim, only the fog rolled in before he was even in the water.

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The waves suddenly didn’t look so inviting anymore. It was past 9, and he had no idea where he would sleep that night.

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Running away from home when you’re 5 was one thing, he had done that. Curled up in a ball on a bench in the nearest park for an hour before breakfast. Nobody even noticed he had been gone when he came home for pancakes and the kids show on tv.

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Running away from home when you’re practically an adult required some planning he hadn’t done. He had a 24-hour pass to the gym, so he could always sleep there, but he really didn’t want to be alone right now.

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He didn’t want to call Ylva, but he couldn’t resist. The sea crashed cold against the shore now, and the mist was even colder.

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“Um, hi Ylva, I had a row with my parents and I kind of need a place to stay..”

“Damon, we’re on a break, if you haven’t figured it out before. I really don’t want to see you at all before prom.”

“I get that.. but this is an emergency. Sort of. It would be really cool of you. And I’ll stay out of your sight, I promise.”

Screenshot-605“And how will that work out if you’re sleeping on our sofa? Besides, it’s taken, my mum has a bunch of jockeys staying at our house, you know it’s derby week now and she’s super busy. This one guy from Monte Vista is actually really cute, but he’s so small, he’s like 40 but I swear he only reaches me up to here.. oh you can’t see, sorry, but up to my boobs. Mum’s flirting with him like crazy. Next year I may have a doll-sized step dad! Anyway, gotta go. Good luck with the couch surfing!”

Click.

“Nice, Ylva. Helpful.” So. He flipped through his contacts, Mimi was out of the question because she lived in a really small house with loads of siblings. He didn’t know Anders well enough and Saskia was kind and would say yes, but it would be terribly awkward.

Screenshot-606“Wazzup?” He could hear loud chewing on something that sounded like a carrot.

“Uh, hi. Is this Beate?”

“Sure is. What’s your predicament, young Jedi?”

Beate had this uncanny ability to always guess what was going on, even over the phone. He relaxed a little.

“Well… You probably have a full house already, but I really really need to sleep on your couch tonight. Or floor. Or a cozy tub, for that matter. Beate, please please help me.”

“Your folks throw you out?” Beate was still munching on that carrot.

“I kind of threw myself out, actually… and you really are my last hope before I break into the gym”. (A little exaggeration never hurt a drama, he thought to himself.)

“I get it. You know, tonight’s your lucky night, that crazy Goth girl that’s been living here for the last 6 months, she just vanished a week ago and I haven’t heard from her, or her bank, since. She left all her wacky stuff too. So no couch for you, but a king size bed! And a room of your own. So, what do you say?”

“I say you’re the best and I’ll draw you a picture.”

“Delighted. Hurry though, I’m dead tired.”

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“Who was that?” Asiaq and Beate were roommates. It was Beate’s grandmother’s house, but she only came to spend two weeks there in July and one over Christmas.

“Your heartthrob. Your lover boy from the swamp.” Asiaq looked puzzled.

“Oh COME ON Asiaq, it was Damon of course. Seems like he fell out with his parents. For the first time, I’d say, from the sound of it. Well it’s never too late for them to drop, I guess.” Beate grabbed her crotch and laughed.

“One day I’ll wash your mouth with lye, I swear.”

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Beate was unphased by the threat. “Ok, now for some house rules. Everyone pays for their own food & toilet paper cause I’m not your mum. First 24 hours are on the house. NO SEXIN IN MY BED! Not even heavy petting, is that clear?”

“Why are you even telling me this? I already live here. Tell him.”

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“Because I’m going to bed and I have to clean two houses before school tomorrow. Make sure he gets it. This isn’t a dorm.”

“Ok, I will. But Damon isn’t exactly a frat boy, you know.”

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“You know I adore him, but he’s a guy, and he’s a nice rich kid. I’m not going to clean up after him or cook for him or make sure he gets up in time for school. And nor should you.”

Asiaq nodded violently like an obedient child, her eyebrows raised. Beate pretended to smack her over the head.

“Last house rule, but the most important one. NO DRAMA. For my sanity and so I can keep the house. I’m under the radar for now but there can’t be any coppers here, no social workers, no worried parents, no huge parties with people puking outside and no bloody pregnancies or ANY shit like that. I mean it, Asiaq.”

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“I get it! I’m in the same boat as you.”

“Actually you’re not, because I’m your under-aged illegal landlord and you’re just a kid who didn’t know any better. It’s bad enough my gran is never here, but the police don’t mind as long as I keep a low profile. HOWEVER, they all know the deal I have with her, so if I fuck up.. well, it’s NOT good if I fuck up.”

“I know, Beate. Trust me, I’ll put handcuffs and a gag on Damon. No drama! We’ll watch telly every night!”

“Good. And may I just say, YAAAAY for you and go get him tiger!”

Beate held two thumbs aloft and smiled a terrifying smile.

Screenshot-614“Hello? Hi, you guys. ” Damon pushed the garden door open and a cold draft announced his presence. 

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“Watcher, don’t you knock!?” Asiaq made an 180 degree turn and looked terrified. Had he heard?

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“Sorry, I rang, but the door bell doesn’t seem to work. Not to sound all Oliver Twist, but my knuckles are so cold it hurts to knock. You don’t happen to have a cup of.. something?”

It didn’t seem like he had. He just looked frozen, slightly wet and tired.

“I’ll fix you a cup of tea. Beate is going to bed, so I’ll give you the grand tour.”

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“It really is great of you to let me stay here. You’re a life saver.”

“I wouldn’t know about that..  and it’s not up to me, it’s Beate’s house.”

She then realized that might sound unfriendly.

“I mean, if it WERE up to me, you could stay as long as you like of course!”

Screenshot-617“I know I could.” Damon smiled.

Damn. Had he heard everything after all? Or was that only a phrase. Or was she that obvious?

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“I’d tell you what happened, but right now I’m just really tired and would like to go to sleep. If you could make the grand tour the very short tour, that would be nice. Not to sound ungrateful.”

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“No, of course not. Or I mean, yes. But are you alright?”

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“I’m fine. I made a big mess but I’ll clean it up. I just want to sleep first. Forget about the tea.” He smiled weakly but hugged her tight, then went upstairs alone. Asiaq knew better than to fuss with clean sheets.

Screenshot-622The room upstairs was the biggest bedroom in the house, he noted, but he was too tired to form an opinion on the design.

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The bed felt wonderfully soft and smelled faintly of that hippy chick perfume, patchouli was it?

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Actually it felt kind of nice to sleep in a stranger’s sheets. Like he had company, without having to actually talk or explain.

Screenshot-625Asiaq went to bed early too, determined to stay awake to mull over what all this could mean.

Screenshot-626She watched Beate sleep and hoped she could keep her promise. No drama. No ma’m! Not from her, at least.

Screenshot-628Damon got up at 9, because they had late classes that day, and realized he had slept for 11 hours. He had the chance to look around at the room – it looked like the secret bride of Declan had decorated it, only Declan would never choose anything even remotely scary.

Screenshot-629“Did you oversleep, Beate? Did we keep you up?”

“Are you kidding me? I slept like a log, and I got up at 4:30. Did you think this was a night gown? I paid good money for this dress, I did.”

“The dress looks great on you, sorry, I’m just confused. SHITE, I have to change.”

“Are you changing pajamas? Why?” Beate stared at her knickers.

“Because! I left my clothes in the bathroom and I can’t sit out there with him in this!”

“Why not? T-shirt is 3 numbers too small so it shows off your flat chest nicely. Your ass is great, in all aspects of the word, so why try to hide it?”

“You are a terrible landlord. I’m changing.”

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“What the hell IS that even?”

“It’s Nyan cat!”

“You look like a sack of potatoes. But you do show some side boob in that, so ok.”

“I’m not trying to be sexy!! Quite the opposite in fact.”

“In that case it’s a great success! Way to not look sexy!!”

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Damon had already helped himself to some cereal.

“I’ll shop on my way home from school, Beate, I promise.”

“No worries, mate. First 24 hours are on the house, didn’t Asiaq tell you?”

Damon’s confused expression told her she hadn’t. “I’ll tell him later. Promise.”

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His first breakfast in the new house was a quiet affair. Yesterday was slowly sinking in – what he had said, what his parents had said. His head was spinning. He would have needed a week off just to think, but in 1 hour they would all sit in a class room, like every day. Soon enough there would be no classes, no homework. Or if he went to uni, there would.

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“So, all settled in upstairs? Found any dead bats under the pillow? Sheets smell funky, huh?”

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“That girl, I think she held black masses up there. Some art student. Looked more like a witch to me. Not like a regular punk or goth, really weird you know? Mumbled to herself. And then one day she just left. Hadn’t paid the rent for a month and she didn’t come to collect her stuff either. Don’t know what to do with it, if we should just chuck it.”

Screenshot-635Damon didn’t answer, his mind was elsewhere. He was thankful that they appeared to have other worries. He didn’t like to be in the spotlight. He glanced at Asiaq’s chest.

“Cool t-shirt. Or.. top. I dunno.” He pointed with the spoon at Asiaq, as if anyone had doubts what a “top” was.

“Thanks! It’s Nyan cat!”

“I can see that.” Damon smiled. “I didn’t know they had stuff like that in the shops here.”

“They don’t! I bought it online.” Asiaq beamed. Beate rolled her eyes under the heavy fringe.

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“So.. I suppose you want to know why I came last night.”

Asiaq waited for him to continue. He didn’t.

“I do. But you don’t have to tell me. Not if you don’t want to.”

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“I will tell you eventually, later today perhaps, but not now. It’s too long and complicated.”

“Ok. Tell me when you’re ready.”

“I’m so lucky to have you. You and Beate. I was feeling quite alone.”

“I know how that feels. Don’t worry.” She hugged his arm reassuringly.

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“Beate, why are you sitting back there?”

“Too much raging hormones in the front for my liking”, Beate scoffed.

Screenshot-639Everyone was deep in their own thoughts. Damon wondered how long he was going to stay in Beate’s gran’s bedroom, and if he should have texted his parents yesterday. His phone had been on mute all night. He now realized he had 10 new messages and his heart sank.

Asiaq suddenly worried about the size of her bum, and Beate thought of her upcoming birthday. She had to throw a party then if not before. After all, it was her 18th.

Screenshot-640Asiaq glanced up and saw Ylva watching them from a window. When she met Asiaq’s glance, she didn’t wave, she just turned around and left.

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After class, Mimi shook Asiaq’s hand like it was the first time they met. Weird after 3 years, but they had actually never really spoken.

“I don’t think we have officially met, but we seem to have a mutual friend”, Mimi said. Asiaq raised an eyebrow. “Damon. Word travels fast, I hear he’s your new roomie? We have maths together. And geography. Damon has been tutoring me.”

“Yeah… so I’ve heard.” It wasn’t exactly a secret that Mimi was after Damon. Then again, lots of girls were after Damon, since the supply of cute guys in town wasn’t brimming. Also, Mimi was after a lot of guys.

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“So, what are your plans after school?” Mimi asked with her raspy voice. Asiaq found her rather intimidating.

“I don’t know really. Perhaps I’ll go live with my sister on the mainland for a while. You?”

“Depends on who stays on Fharhond.” she said with a sly look and touched Damon’s neck with her finger as he passed. He turned around and she pretended she just happened to touch him by accident. “Sorry”, she smiled at him. He smiled back.

“Are you serious?” Asiaq tried to laugh it off. “You can’t base your future on who stays on Fharhond, not really? You’re clever, surely there’s an internship for you at a science center somewhere?” (“far away”, she added in her head.)

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“Of course it matters”, Mimi said and gave her a look she couldn’t quite figure out. Half mocking, half sad, sizing her up.

“This is Fharhond. Who we meet now and the people we know now are probably the same people we will know in 20 years as well. If you haven’t met someone at 22, you might as well leave the island.” she said. If that was a threat or her own defeatist philosophy was hard to tell, but Asiaq didn’t like the sound of it. She sat down far from Mimi to do her homework, and she hoped Damon would sit down next to her. But he was on the phone with his dad, and she could hear shouting on the other end. He didn’t even hang up to say hi to his brother, who ran away from him.

——————

So, yes, Damon is the heir, or technically the founder of this legacy. It had nothing to do with Declan being insane, I could have worked with that, even if I’m not crazy (he he) about how the insanity trait is portrayed in Sims. The choice has to do with genetics. Declan is actually a clone of Quentin – not REALLY a clone, but he looks like one. It’s not obvious with the different hairstyles and different ages, but he is, and I’m not wild about clones. Damon looks a lot like Cora, obviously, but he actually has genetics from his dad as well, around the chin. I aged them up in CAS when they were toddlers to check, so I’ve known Damon would be the founder all along. But since Declan would have to move out eventually, I tried to make him a very large part of the story instead, since I don’t like to think of non-heirs as “spares”. I love them both! 

0.12 Differences

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According to Ylva’s wishes, the young couple now mainly met at home, at the gym or the pool. It was practical for Damon, because he was going there four times a week anyway, but it was also a little stressful. He didn’t get all he needed from the workout when Ylva was with him, because she didn’t really want to get sweaty but was mainly just prancing around the machines or splashing water at him.

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“Isn’t this SO much more fun, working out together instead of going to that crummy old bar? It is so much more healthy!”

“Mhm.”

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“Now train me! I want to get into my new dress and it’s tiny!”

“You know, building muscle actually would make you bigger than you are now. And you are thin already.”

“Thank you! But I want to be thinner.”

“Then don’t work out, I guess?”

“But train me so I don’t become all big and muscly, then!”

“I don’t know how to do that, it’s not exactly my area of expertise.” Damon turned to the weight lifting machine.

“Mr Grumpy! Oh come on mr Grumpy, just make me pass out on the treadmill! Scream at me! Make me beg for mercy!”

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“Seriously, Ylva, you’re hardly working out at all, so I don’t get why you want to go here. I’d rather go to the pub, really. All our friends are there, don’t you think it’s a little weird to meet at the gym every Saturday night? It’s like you’re avoiding them, almost.”

“Well, maybe I want to get to know YOU! Maybe I want to do something YOU like to do, unlike you who never ask me what I want to do!”

“But I’ve already told you I prefer the pub. I don’t really want to meet at the gym or the pool, I only do it because you insist on it.”

“But this is your DOMAIN! Like, you work out all the time!”

“Yes, I spend a lot of time in the gym and the pool, and that’s why I don’t want to go on dates there. I’m sure your mum doesn’t want to go on dates at the equestrian center either.”

“My MUM? Why are you talking about my mum? What do you think I want to do, then? You have a better grasp on my mum’s interests than mine!”

“Because you don’t really have any? Or I don’t know, shopping?”

“Asshole! I’m the school master at chess! Just as an example!”

“Then why don’t we play some chess?” Damon felt hopelessness fall over him and the entire conversation like a wet, heavy blanket. From here on, this would lead nowhere but downward, and yet it was unstoppable.

“It would be boring to play against you, on your level. Maybe this is hard for you to grasp, being such a big manly man, but I’m actually smarter than you are, Damon.”

“I never said you weren’t. I’ve always known you’re smarter than me. That’s one of the reasons I fell for you. I just said you don’t really seem to have any hobbies. Or friends, which frankly is a little weird for the prettiest girl in school.”

“Asshole!” Ylva exclaimed again “I do have friends! I have the chess club, and the study group, and Saskia and I hang out quite often. Studying actually takes up a lot of my time. And I like to read. Perhaps you would like me to read for you on our dates.”

“No thank you. I would like to do normal stuff, like going to the diner or the park, or the beach, or – GASP – the pub! To meet people our own age!”

“So you just can’t stand seeing me alone, is that it?”

“You know I want to see you alone, and we do see each other alone, but once in a while it would be nice to just say hello to someone else? And not just be cooped up in front of the telly with your mum and a bowl of candy. ”

“Like that’s all we do!”

“Actually, it’s what we do a lot of the time when we’re not standing around in the gym doing nothing.”

Damon knew that wasn’t a smart move, and Ylva stomped out of the gym, making clear that this date was officially over. “You’re still going to the dance with me, and you’re going to look good!” Ylva shouted over her shoulder. Even if she was upset, she didn’t lose the ability to plan ahead. Going alone to the last big school dance certainly wasn’t on her agenda, nor was the public disgrace of breaking up the school’s cutest couple just before graduation.

Damon sighed. This was a setback, but it didn’t change the fact that he had loved Ylva probably since he was 11. Maybe he didn’t fall in love with her romantically until they were in their teens, but it had always been her. It would always be her, and no matter if she said he was stupid or beneath her, it would still be her.

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Monday afternoon meant swimming practice, and Declan usually came with, although he still sometimes feared “the waves”.

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“Just breathe, Declan. Breathe, and focus on the edge of the pool. Swim to the edge!” Damon shouted from the trampoline.

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“I can’t find it! What edge? I don’t know where it is!”

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“It’s gone! There’s no edge and the waves are BAD!”

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“Just wait a moment, Declan, I’ll save you in a sec.”

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Damon wasn’t panicking, because he knew Declan was a good swimmer and that he wouldn’t drown.

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He also knew his fears were real to him and that he actually would have to “save” him, again and again. But he didn’t complain about it anymore, that’s how Declan was. No use being angry or sad about it. He was still his twin, and they were inseparable.

Screenshot-231Declan was a handful, but he admired and obeyed Damon, so if Damon said they were going to do their homework, that’s what Declan did. Thus, his grades were still average and he didn’t even need special schooling.

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“I’ll be so happy when school is over, won’t you, Damon?” Declan sighed, in his usual childish manner.

“I’m not sure. I suppose yes, in a way, but at the same time, school is easy compared to actual work. The responsibilities… I don’t really want to have any of that right now. It’s hard enough as it is.”

“Work is easy!” Declan smiled. “I’m already working at the cinema!”

“Are you?” Damon looked up, surprised. Neither of the twins needed to work if they didn’t want to, their parents preferred it if they did their homework and just generally stayed out of trouble. Damon used his free time for practice, and no one really expected Declan to work, perhaps even as an adult.

“I sweep popcorn and pick up trash! Oh I love it there, Damon, the thick red carpet and the sound of the cinema machine..”

“The projector”, Damon filled in his brother’s poetic speech.

“Yes, the projector! And the smell of popcorn and the popcorn in the carpet, they are so pretty, like little stars on a dark red sky!”

“Sounds like you’ve found your calling.”, Damon laughed.

“My what?”

“Your dream job. Sounds like you’ve come to the right place.”

“Yes”, Declan said dreamily, “work is wonderful! But school SUCKS.”

Screenshot-234Outside the pool was little Saskia Bartley, who was crushing on Declan something fierce. She was terribly shy though, and spoke so quietly it was hardly more than a whisper.

“Hi Saskia! Great to see you! Where you looking for me?” Saskia blushed and stammered no, she was going to the pool with her dad. Actually she would probably die of fright if Declan saw her in a bathing suit.

“My dad is probably waiting for me”, she said very fast and very quietly.

“Sure thing! Do you want to go to the school dance with me? I can’t drive you or anything, but my mum can hire a limo?”

Saskia just stared at him in disbelief for a few seconds, then nodded vigorously. “Yes!!! I’ll go with you.”

“Fantastic! See you at the dance, then! If not before.” Declan winked at her, because besides being nuts he was also a big flirt and aware, if not really interested in using it, that many girls fancied him for his looks. He just enjoyed the attention.

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Another Corona who loves attention.

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One Sunday morning when the whole family was gathered, Cora and Quentin asked the boys to stay at the table. They had something important to discuss, as a family. Declan looked curious and Damon looked as if he feared the sky would fall down.

Screenshot-307“Boys, there’s something I want to discuss with you before you finish school. As you may remember, we used to live in quite a large house in Twinbrook and didn’t miss anything in terms of worldly means..” Declan looked like a living question mark.

“She means we were rich, Declan”, Damon explained. Cora made a kind of smile-frown that Damon knew all too well. It meant she was worried and a little annoyed at the same time.

“Yes, thank you, Damon. But, since we moved to Fharhond, we have lived in a much smaller house. This was part because it was the house we were offered when we first came here…” her voice drifted off, like she didn’t know how to continue. “But”, she composed herself, “it was also so that we could save some money. You see, before we moved from Twinbrook, I put aside a large sum of money for the preservation of Twinbrook’s water and wildlife. A fund. I hesitated at first, because I wanted you to have all the things I’ve enjoyed in my life – never having to worry about money, never having to decide between what’s fun and interesting to do and what pays the bills and feeds my family. But the Coronas weren’t destined to be rich but to do something that matters, and I think, in the end, that this fund will benefit more living creatures than just my family.”

Declan still looked curious but didn’t really grasp the meaning of all this. To him, it sounded like his mother was some god who talked about her creation. Damon looked shocked, dumb-struck, but he patiently waited for his mother to continue.

“However, that doesn’t mean that we’re flat broke.” Cora smiled faintly at Damon. “This is what I have planned for you two, if you agree on it: Damon will have the cabin and a selection of old machinery and other things from Twinbrook that our family has used for generations to drill for gems and make nectar etcetera, that is if you are at all interested in these things, else they will be sold. I didn’t want to ship them over until someone had any use for them here, but they are in storage. The cabin has free electricity and water, so it’s a cheap house to live in, which will make your life easier in the beginning. Your dad and I will still live here until the day we die, so if you prefer to live alone, you will have to arrange something else with your own means. But you’re a clever boy and I’m sure it will not cause you any trouble.

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As for you, Declan, there’s a small house downtown that is furnished comfortably, if not luxuriously. It has room for you and three other people, should you want to share with a friend or.. a sweetheart. In short, there’s room for a family. It is paid for in full and the remaining costs will be covered by a reasonable part of your health insurance.”

Declan still looked like he hadn’t understood a word his mum was saying.

“She says you have a house, Declan, and you don’t have to work to pay the rent as long as you live.” Damon said, somewhat curtly. Cora stared at the table and Quentin gave him a stern look.

“But I’m going to live with you, aren’t I? Are you sending me away?” Declan’s lower lip trembled.

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“Certainly not, my boy, this is just to tell you in advance what will happen when we die. How much money you have and how you will be provided for.”

“You’re not going to die, are you? You can’t die!” Declan’s eyes was teary.

“Of course we’re going to die! All living things die, Declan, surely you know that.” Cora said, bluntly.

“We’re not going to die for a long, long time”, Quentin assured his son, sending his wife a disapproving look over the table. “We’re not talking about what will happen next week or even next year. We just want you to be prepared, that’s all.”

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“Let me get this straight”, said Damon who was turning white, “Declan will live rent free in a big house and not work a day in his life, and I get the science center’s left over cabin that nobody wants, and free electricity and water in a country where electricity and water costs next to nothing anyway. And on top of that, I get some rusty old machines, IF I send for them from Twinbrook! Cob webs on the house! A handsome gift indeed, from the wealthiest family in Twinbrook!”

Cora looked at him with pain in her eyes. Quentin grabbed his arm hard, but Damon shook him off easily. He had been stronger than his father since he was 13.

“Don’t you dare talk to your mother like that, who left everything behind so that you two would have a secure and happy childhood, free from paparazzi!”

Damon looked at his father with distaste. “She may have left everything, but it sure wasn’t for me. It was always for Declan. Everything for poor little Declan. The best care and the best school and the best opportunities for Declan. Had I stayed in Twinbrook, I would have been scouted for one of the top universities easily. I was the best at my soccer team and the best at my baseball team AND swimming team. This town doesn’t even HAVE a baseball team, and their soccer is mediocre. I don’t blame you for moving here, but at least you could have sent me to boarding school so I would have had a shot at a decent career. What the hell can I ever dream of becoming on Fharhond? A toddler coach? Teaching fishermen how to swim? Did you know they seldom know how to swim here, although they spend most of their life at sea?” Damon laughed bitterly.

Quentin stared at him like he wanted to hit him, but at the same time he didn’t have anything to say. It was Cora who spoke.

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“I didn’t want to send you away, Damon. I don’t think it’s good for a little kid to be without his mother. Or father.” Her voice was sad, but held no grudge. It was flat. Damon had never yelled at her, never contradicted her, never rebelled, never called her anything mean or disrespectful. He hadn’t even stayed out after curfew more than a handful of times, and it was always by mistake. Even if she knew most of the kids on Fharhond didn’t have a curfew, he didn’t protest against his. She had never seen him drunk and his teachers had never had any concerns for him. To blame this outburst on him being a bad kid would be untruthful, and it wouldn’t be fair. But those were harsh words, and Declan was crying quietly, big round tears rolling down his cheeks. He was now convinced his brother hated him, and had always hated him, and it confused him and hurt him like nothing else could.

“I’m just saying, it would have been nice if not ALL my inheritance had gone to the little birds and fishes in the town where I had my entire world, but you took that away from me. It’s so ironic it’s not even funny that you decide to place your money there, of all places, in the world you left behind. It’s like showering money over a… a mummy! Why not here, at least, why not start a fund on Fharhond? It would make more sense.”

Cora stared at the table, too hurt to speak. Quentin found his voice again.

“Don’t be stupid, Damon, a town doesn’t get wiped from the map just because you don’t live in it anymore. And you have friends here, don’t you? They come over to dinner all the time, and a steady girlfriend since you were 15, a very clever and pretty one at that. There’s a fund for your university studies, naturally,  what do you take us for? You don’t have to get a scholarship to be able to study – and you’re free to leave Fharhond the day you turn 18, just like any other adult. You’re not a victim, Damon. Your life won’t be any different from any other young man’s – in fact it will be a lot easier, for not everyone has a free house to live in. Being rich isn’t a given right, and you don’t have any claim to money you didn’t work for. Your mother can do what she sees fit with the money she and your grandmother and your great grandmother invested for the future, it isn’t up to you to decide. Now ask your mother and brother for forgiveness for the terrible things you said to them!”

Damon stood up, and looked at them all. His meek artistic father, who had sudden bouts of dominant conservative short-sighted rants, and his strong-willed mother who often totally lost the big picture. And then his over-protected brother, who was mentally unstable but apparently able to make his own money, get ok grades in school, take care of his health, and ask a very pretty girl to the dance, and his parents probably didn’t know a thing about it. To them he was still a sickly baby. But he wasn’t going to baby-sit Declan a minute longer, for he suspected at this point Declan had a better chance at a happy, care-free life than he had. For what about Declan was different from any other teenage boy in this town, right now? Nothing.

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“No. I’m not going to do that. Those may have been hard words, but they were true, and I meant them. Declan has a job, did you know that? An actual job that pays good money. Something I can’t get, because I’m busy looking after him, going to practice and trying to keep my grades up. I can’t help but wonder who would need the extra support right now, him or me? That steady girlfriend of mine, she’s about to dump me after the dance, I’m pretty sure of that. I can’t seem to recall why, but I think it had something to do with me trying to keep some friends at the same time as I try to please her, and do school work, baby-sit my brother, and try to get a stellar career as a soccer coach for fishermen’s children. And, of course, all while I fail at being a good son, despite my best efforts.”

He turned and walked towards the bedroom. Quentin roared: “You stay right here, Damon! We are NOT done!”

“No. I’m getting dressed, and then I’m going out.”

0.11 Growing up under the midnight sun

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It wasn’t just Rouza who acclimatized herself to Fharhond, Quentin loved the light and the open space for his art, and the boys settled in well in the small community. The climate was cold, but the Fharhondians were warm and accepting people.

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Damon was still under strict orders to “guard” Declan after school, and at least make sure that he did his homework before he began his usual wanderings. Declan had a healthy respect for the mountains and the hot springs after his dad had told him that trolls lived there, so he preferred to just wander around town. While doing so, he actually made some friends. The people of Fharhond were used to eccentrics – not many “normal” people chose to come here to live, where the summers were short and the winters so terribly long.

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When Damon’s childhood friend Ylva turned 14, he fell madly in love with her.

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Cora saw that coming a mile away, so she had already made it clear that he was allowed to date, but after 7 pm only under adult supervision.

“That is so 1950s!”

“It’s that or nothing, young man. And it’s what Ylva’s mum and I agree on.”

“Have you been talking about us?? You’re too much!”

“This isn’t Elmira City. People talk. It’s important that you protect Ylva’s reputation as well as your own. She’s so young.”

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“Mum! You’re embarrassing! I haven’t even asked her out yet!”

Cora chuckled. “No, son, but you will.”

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And he did. Or he sort of did. He said he thought she was cute, which I guess counts when you’re a 15-year-old boy.

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He thought he would die of shame knowing that his parents was in the other room and his brother in the same, but he still dared to kiss her.

Ylva was the daughter of a professional horsewoman, and even if Fharhond was a modern and open community, as a single mum she was still more apprehensive and protective of her daughter than most parents. She had Ylva when she was 20, and she didn’t want to become a grandmother at 35. It didn’t exactly help that Ylva grew up so pretty, with her blond hair and bright green eyes. But she was also very ambitious. Ylva’s mum Thorianna traveled a lot for horse shows and competitions, but she trusted her daughter, and she trusted Cora to be Ylva’s “extra mum” when she was away over weekends.

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Quentin was so wrapped up in his art and dealing paintings at the antiques & consignment shop – he even got offers from larger galleries on the mainland after a local dealer had looked at them – that he completely forgot about his birthday.

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Declan, Damon, Asiaq and Ylva happened to be there, so at least he wasn’t alone.

“You know”, Quentin mused, “I thought I’d be sad to become old, but I’m really happy here on Fharhond! I’ve never had so much time to paint, and I’ve never felt so inspired! Actually, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday, than after selling a painting I’m truly proud of, surrounded by my beloved sons and their fine young friends!”

Damon blushed. “Dad!” Then he hugged him hard and said quietly “Happy birthday! I don’t have a present right now, but I’ll find something really cool later!”

“Damon, I have everything I have ever wished for right here and right now. You really don’t have to buy me anything!”

But the next day he found a tube of oil paint he had been short of for a while, lying in the pocket of his jacket. He smiled, because he knew that was the very best the shops on Fharhond could offer, and what’s more, if was just what he needed.

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Damon wasn’t pressured to get outstanding grades, because his parents knew he was doing very well even without the pressure, and they also felt bad because he was babysitting Declan so often. A normal week consisted of homework, practice, bringing home friends for dinner (encouraged by his parents), Friday & Saturday was date night or hanging out at the local pub (no beer of course, the bartender knew all the kids in town), Sunday was usually spent with the family.

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The other kids in school thought Damon & Declan had very nice but somewhat conservative parents. Both Declan & Damon practiced several sports – mainly basket ball, soccer and swimming – and they did their homework every day, and came home for dinner on time every day. Fharhondian parents were generally pretty lax with rules, except when it came to boating and mountaineering. The weather on and around the island was treacherous , and no kid was allowed to hike in the mountains alone, or go out in a boat without an adult. But otherwise teens stayed out all night in the summer when the sun only set for a single hour. “Curfew” was unheard of, and kids were usually allowed to date as soon as they wanted to.

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Damon only threw one single teen party, when his parents went for a 2 day hike in the mountains, and he had a fit when Cora texted “will be back tonight, dad hurt an ankle”. The kids had brought a few beers, and they were only 5 people, but Damon still rushed them to the door.

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“Yoy have to leave RIGHT NOW! My mum is going to strangle me if she finds you here!”

“Oh come on, of course she won’t! She’ll laugh and have a beer with us, right?” Anders wasn’t in a hurry.

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“You don’t know my mum! I’ll be in house arrest until I’m 30 if she sees that beer! Now GO!”

“Ok, mama’s boy. Nice party. See you Monday, I guess.” Anders drank up and took the remaining cans with him. Asiaq turned around and smiled at Damon in the doorway before she left. Damon didn’t notice, he was cramming the beer cans into the bottom of the dust bin and covered them with old salad and used coffee filters. He left the front door open to air out the faint smell of beer and cheap cotton candy perfume & hairspray the girls had left behind.

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The small island had two pubs, The Last Frontier and The Sea Shack. The Last Frontier was mainly frequented by foreign scientists and hikers, and also some older locals, fishermen and the like. The Sea Shack was for the younger crowd, and sometimes a band played there. Damon had several close friends who were girls – Asiaq & Beate being his closest, and they spent a lot of their free time at The Shack. He and Ylva had been going out for two years now, and she was constantly complaining about it.

“You’re always bringing all those other girls when we go out together!”

“I don’t bring them, and I can’t forbid them to come to the pub just because we’re on a date can I?”

“I guess, but we could do something else besides going to this stupid pub all the time!”

“I like the Shack! And we go to see every new film there is, but we can’t really watch it twice?”

“There must be something else to do around here. Like.. we could go to the pool!”

“At 8 pm on a Saturday night? If you want to, but you know I have swimming practice several times a week. I don’t find it all that.. date like.”

“I want to go to the pool! Now!”

“I don’t have my trunks with me, or a towel for that matter. What is this really about, baby?”

Ylva liked to be called things like baby and darling, but he always seemed to use those endearing words with the worst timing.

“Don’t baby me! This isn’t “about” anything, I just don’t want to be one of your gazillion girls!”

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Damon didn’t “break up” with his female friends though, in fact he began thinking about them slightly differently. Ylva had always been his dream girl, but he couldn’t help but notice that he got attention from other girls as well. Mimi, for example.

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They met up in weird places to talk and do their homework together, like the graveyard. He didn’t like to think they were hiding from anyone, but they probably were. In any case, it was nice to be completely alone with Mimi, it seemed to make her calm. He thought she deserved it. She lived in a small house and had many siblings, and she preferred to not spend too much time at home. She was a rather serious girl compared to Ylva, but also more mature, and quite beautiful in her own way. Damon enjoyed her company. She was smart and she had a dark, husky voice that he quite liked.

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“It’s not that I don’t like my brother”, he said, “but sometimes I just feel so trapped. That I always have to take care of him, and worry about him. I’m supposed to be with him right now, as a matter of fact, but I dumped him on Saskia, you know that shy girl in the geography class? I know she fancies him and she’ll watch his every step.”

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“I know how you feel. I have to babysit my brother every other day, and he’s a little pest. When my parents are in the room, he’s a right angel, but as soon as they leave, he’s just out to torture me. There’s no way they would believe me. Sometimes I want to install cameras and rig microphones all over the house just so they could hear him at his worst.”

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They both sat quiet and close, looking at an equation like it was the most intriguing thing.

“They will never let me date, either.” she continued, hesitant. “Either I have to babysit or I have to do homework. My only shot at a future is if I can become a scientist.” He could feel her warmth through the woolen jumper, and he laid his arm around her shoulder, reassuring her. “You’ll be alright”, he said, and tried to make it sound like an absolute truth. In fact, what did he know? She leaned in and kissed him, mouth open. Her tongue was hard, different. He met her, held her close for just a few seconds, knowing how much she needed it at that moment. Also, it wasn’t that he didn’t want to.

“The chapel is open”, she murmured into his hair. “You just have to push the door hard.”

“I know”, he said softly, for he had made out with Ylva in the chapel many times, and almost something more, but not quite. It was always unlocked, always dark, always cold, and always forgiving. “But it’s not right. It’s not fair to Ylva.”

“She wouldn’t have to know”, Mimi said, close to his ear, her breath felt hot in the cold Spring air.

“No, perhaps. But I would know. And it’s getting dark. I have to go home, my parents…”

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“Yeah yeah, your parents. Anyway. It was just a thought. It seemed like you wanted to.” Some hurt, some sarcasm in her voice.

“No harm done. I won’t tell anyone. I hope this doesn’t change the fact that we’re friends.” Damon gathered his books.

“Of course not. Buddy.” She smiled faintly, but she looked tired beyond her years. Damon suspected things weren’t so good at Mimi’s home, but he wasn’t going to ask her, not tonight.

She wanted to follow her home at least, but she preferred to stay although the stars were coming out and it was beginning to get quite cold. “Are you alright, Mimi? You know I care about you.”

“I’m fine, now go home. Your daddy and mummy are waiting to tuck you in.”

“Suit yourself.” He had tried to let her down gently, but perhaps there isn’t a gentle way to be let down.

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The last big high school dance was approaching, and soon it would be summer. A short, cold summer but bathing in light the clock around. Declan met up with Asiaq on the beach and asked her to the dance, but she didn’t plan to go, she said. “If I work weekends at the hospital, I get double pay. And I really need the money right now. I’m planning to leave Fharhond.”

“Why? I think Fharhond is like paradise”, Declan said, Asiaq searched in vain for sarcasm in his voice. She laughed. “I guess it can be”, she said, “if you’re not alone.”

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“You’re not alone? Everyone loves you here!” One of Declan’s strengths, and weaknesses, was his absolute honesty.

“I know I have friends here, and I’m grateful for that. But I want to find love and start a family. It’s what I’ve always wanted. And the person I love doesn’t love me back, and I have come to terms with that, so I’m leaving before it’s too late.”

Declan felt insecure when bombarded with all this seriousness. All he wanted was a pretty and fun girl to take to the dance, and Asiaq was very pretty, and a girl, and fun, and his friend too. He made a doodle in the coarse, dark sand with his foot.

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“I really appreciate you asking me, though. And I wouldn’t have gone with anyone else either, so don’t feel bad.”

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“I never feel bad”, smiled Declan.

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And then  he made a very silly face. Asiaq laughed and made one just as silly.

“No, I guess you don’t”, she said with warmth in her voice. “What a wonderful life you must have, Declan.”

“I love my life! And I love you!” Declan kissed her cheek swiftly and ran away, laughing.

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Springtime on the glacier was just like winter on the glacier, just sunnier. The ice and snow didn’t melt, but it was nicer out. Rouza mastered hunting one late May evening, and got dirty in the process.

“I don’t get it, how can you become so dirty by running around in the snow? Logically you would just become cleaner!”

Rouza didn’t answer, just panted happily while Cora brushed her matted fur.

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“You really are a lot happier here than in Twinbrook, aren’t you? Then I’m glad we came here. Even if I’ll never get used to it myself, but that’s just between you and me, girl. It will be our secret.”