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Someone Else's Happiness






Kevin Beare is 39; Heather Beare is  36; Autumn Beare is 18; Jay Johnson is 19; Thomas is 14; Alana is 11; David is 7; Isaac and Shannon are 1

David Beare peered around the living room doorway.  Dad and Autumn were arguing again.  He knew they would, as soon as she’d run down the stairs and thrown a pile of papers on the coffee table in front of him.
"What is this?" Autumn demanded.


"College catalogs," her father replied.  "It’s a bit late, I know, but maybe for next semester - "
"I told you I'm not going to college!"


"But I just thought - "
"I'm 18 years old now.  You can't tell me what to do."



Neither of them noticed David running away from the room.  He knew that Autumn was leaving to go live with her boyfriend soon, she'd been talking about it for months.  She and Dad had been arguing about college almost as long.

He slipped quietly into his father's studio.  He liked it in there, with paint smells and half-finished pictures that he could try to imagine completed.  He went there a lot, when he wanted to hide from everyone else. No one ever looked for him there, if they looked for him at all.



Probably, with all the kids and babies and noise and arguments in the house, they never even noticed that he was gone.  He stayed there until the house was quiet, then he sneaked up to the bedroom he shared with his older brother, taking care that no one saw him.

As long as he didn't talk to anyone, he didn't have to know what had happened with Dad and Autumn.  He couldn’t remember whether or not his parents had argued before his mother left, but he imagined they might have.  Autumn had promised that she’d visit them all the time, but if she and Dad argued much more, she’d be just like Mum and he’d never see her again.

He didn't understand why he never saw his mother any more.  He knew other kids whose parents lived apart, and they visited their mothers and fathers all the time.  He did understand why she'd left, though.   He'd heard people talking about it.  They said it was because she had too many kids.  He was her youngest kid.  It wasn’t hard to work out.

He crawled into bed, and closed his eyes tightly, pretending to be asleep when Thomas came to bed.  He lay awake a long time wondering, as he had so many nights since the arguments started,  if his sister would still be there in the morning.  The last time he dared to look at the clock, it was after midnight.  More time passed, before he finally fell into a deep sleep.

---

"I wish she'd just slow down, that's all..."  
"I'm not getting in the middle of this," Heather said.  "You know that."  She'd seen this conversation coming when they'd argued again last night.  She got on well with her eldest stepdaughter, but Kevin was her husband, and even appearing to take sides in this wouldn’t help her relationship with either of them.



"I know," he said. "But I just don't know what to do about her."
Maybe there's nothing you can do, Heather thought.  She is 18 now.  She could understand why Kevin was upset, but the truth was, she could see both their sides.  

Autumn had been with Jay for two years, and he had moved to Richmond  to be close to her, when he finished high school a year ago.  She was understandably in a hurry to start their lives together.  Heather could imagine she would have been the same, had she been in love at 18.  Kevin, on the other hand, had been in love at 18, with his ex-wife Cherry.  That love had produced Autumn, and later their three younger children, but it had also come to a disastrous end, with Cherry meeting someone else and completely absenting herself from their lives after the divorce.

Heather didn’t imagine it would be easy taking on an instant family under any circumstances.  At first glance, it might seem an advantage to have her husband’s ex completely out of the picture, but that created a whole new set of problems for the children.  Having the twins had helped consolidate them as a family, but there was still a long way to go.  



"It'd be different if Jay had been college material," Kevin went on, "but he barely made it thought high school.  He's selling cars, for crying out loud.  She works in a bookstore.  What kind of a future is there in that?  How are they ever going to - "



"Wait," said Heather suddenly.  "I thought I heard... "  Yes, she did hear it - someone was yelling and fighting down the hall.
"The boys..." Kevin said. 'I'll go, you finished getting dressed."

He found Thomas yelling at a tearful David in their bedroom.  "What's going on?" he asked.



"He pee'd the bed!"  Thomas yelled.  "He's disgusting.  Why do I have to share a room with a stinky baby that pees the bed?"
Kevin bent down to David. "What happened?" He asked.  "Did you just sleep really heavily or something?"
"Uh-huh" David sobbed.


"It's ok," Kevin said.  "We can clean it up."  
"Why  can't I have my own room?"  Thomas asked.  "When we moved here you said you'd fix up that old bathroom to make a bedroom for me, and you still haven't done it.  Alana will have her own room when Autumn's gone.  Why should I have to share with a baby?"
"We'll talk about that later," Kevin said.  "As for now, you can take David's bedding down to the washing machine while he has a shower."
"Why?!  It stinks!  Why can't he clean up his own mess?"
"Just do it."
"But - "
"Do it," Kevin said warningly, "if you even want me to think about that bedroom..."


Thomas didn't reply.  When their father left, he grabbed David.
"Owwww,"  David protested.  "What was that for?"



"For being a stupid baby and making a mess that I have to clean up.  Now go and wash or the pee will stick to you and you'll stink all day."
-----

Kevin spent most of the day at home painting.  He and Heather took it in turns, either staying home with the kids or running the shop.  He'd met Heather soon after Cherry left.  Richmond Art and Gifts needed a manager now that Kevin was a single father, and she had been perfect for the job.  Their relationship had progressed quickly, and their twins were born shortly after their wedding a year ago.  


The phone rang, and Kevin tensed, then listened as Thomas answered it in the other room.  The boy started chatting to a classmate, and Kevin relaxed.  He was always on edge when Cherry was back in town.  He didn't know if she ever thought about the kids, and part of him hoped she didn't, because then she'd have no reason to try to contact them or push her way back into their lives.  But another part of him wanted to believe that she thought about them all the time.

That was the part that he'd concentrated on, during all the lonely nights before he met Heather.  It was the part he held on to, when he struggled to keep his business afloat and care for four unhappy children who couldn't understand why their mother didn't want to be married to their father any more.  It was the part that hoped like hell that she was missing them, and hurting just as much as he had when she left.  She had no right to the children, she'd given that up when she walked out the door.  As far as he was concerned, they had no mother.

Except for Heather, that is, and that was one of the reasons he wanted - needed - Cherry to stay away.  The kids were forgetting her now, accepting Heather in her place.  They were growing into a real family.  So maybe they had a few rough moments now and then, but all in all, they were doing well.  He didn't need his ex-wife turning up now to ruin his happiness a second time.

And speaking of rough moments... he put his brushes down and wandered upstairs to the empty room that had been a large third upstairs bathroom until they'd had the plumbing moved downstairs where it was more needed.


Thomas was right, he had neglected his promise to turn it into a bedroom. If it would stop the kids fighting, then it was time for some painting that had nothing to do with art.

---

Instead of going home after work, Autumn went to Jay's apartment.  She felt more at home there now, anyway.  Even his pets made her feel welcome.


... not that Jay wasn't pleased to see her, too...


Later, while he made dinner, she went out to the easel he'd set up on the deck for her.  Yes, this felt like home now.  The only reason she hadn't moved in, was that she'd agreed to help Dad and Heather with the little kids until school started back.


She was a natural artist, or so her father had said.  He'd even talked about selling her paintings in his shop, although that was before he started on with this whole college thing.  She didn't want it to be like this.  She wanted her father to be happy for her, but she couldn't see a way for that to happen.  She didn't want to do what he wanted, and he didn't care - hell, he didn't even know - what she wanted.  She couldn't live her life for someone else's happiness.

Abruptly, Autumn put down her brush, realizing where she'd heard those words before.  At fourteen, she'd found the attitude selfish, especially coming from her departing mother.  At eighteen, maybe she understood a little bit more.  It didn't make what her mother did right, and it didn't change the fact that she should have at least visited once in a while, Autumn thought, but maybe she just understood a little bit more.

---

It was late, and Autumn hadn't come home.  Maybe she wasn't coming home.  No, David didn't want to believe that.  She hadn't said goodbye, and even Mum had said goodbye before she left.  But Autumn wasn't Mum, and maybe she wouldn't even say goodbye, maybe she'd just go...



When he heard the front door open, he wanted to run downstairs and hug her.   But he heard his father's raised voice, and stopped.  They were arguing again.  Maybe if he stayed here, got into bed and put the pillow over his head, he could pretend it wasn't happening.  Then he remembered he couldn't go to bed yet.  He had to wait until everyone was asleep, then there was something he needed to do.
---

Heather knocked lightly on Autumn's door.  To hell with trying to stay out of it, someone had to do something here.  When the girl didn't answer, she knocked a little harder.  "Can I come in?"
"Whatever."
Heather sat at the end of the bed.  "He's not trying to make it hard for you."


"Right," said Autumn sceptically.
"No, really," Heather said.  "He's just worried about you.  He doesn't want you to make mistakes..."
"You mean mistakes like having a baby too quick then getting married and having a bunch of other kids before you finally figure out that it was a mistake?"


Heather took a breath.  "Yeah, I think that probably is what he means."
"I'm not Mum.  I'm never going to walk out and leave my kids behind."
"But what are you going to do?" Heather said.  "That's what your father's worried about.  He wants to know that you've got some kind of plan for the future... "
"We do have a plan," Autumn said.  "We're going to get married and get a house and have kids, and one day Jay will open his own gardening shop, and - "
" - and you're going to do all this, with what he earns at the car sales, and what you earn at the bookstore?"



Autumn stared at her.  "Who said anything about staying at the bookstore?"

---

"The police force?!"


"Yeah.  I've already put in the application," Autumn said.  "I'm just waiting to hear from them."
"Why didn't you say something?" said Kevin.


"You wouldn't have listened if I had.  You were too busy putting college catalogs in my room."
"Autumn... " Heather said warningly.
"I tried to get Jay to apply too, but he didn't want to," she went on quickly.   "He says he's learning all kinds of stuff at the car sales that'll be useful when he has his own shop.  He likes that kind of learning, doing stuff instead of sitting in classes.  So do I."


Kevin looked at Heather, then back at Autumn.  He hadn't thought about it that way.
"I know we won't have a lot of money,"Autumn said, "but maybe I can make a little extra by painting in my spare time... that is, if I can still find a shop to sell my paintings... " she added tentatively.
Kevin smiled.  "I think we'll be able to work something out."

---

Long after the house was quiet and everyone else had gone to bed, David tiptoed down the stairs and into his father's studio.  He'd use the phone here, where they wouldn't be able to hear him upstairs.  He got the dirty, creased piece of paper out of his pocket.  He'd copied the number from his Dad's diary ages ago, but he'd never had the nerve to call it until now.


It rung briefly, then David gasped a little at the familiar woman's voice. Just hearing it made him hurt inside.
'Hi, you've reached Cherry and Talin's answer machine.  We're too busy to take your call right now, but if you - '
David hung up before the message tone.  He'd heard all he needed to.  Even his Mum was too busy to talk to him now.


He didn't go back to his bedroom. Instead, lay down on the old sofa in the studio.  At least there, he didn't have to worry about Thomas hearing him if he cried himself to sleep, or getting mad at him if he made a mess again.

----

One problem with large families, is that I don't manage to fit all the kids into the update! :)  Not a lot going on with Alana or the twins at this point, anyway...

For anyone who happens to pay attention to these things, I know that there's something weird going on with the ages of the guys from the SSU frat house... lol... Ashley Pitts (the SSU one) is long gone and his son is an elder, but here's Kevin in his 30's with young kids.  Blame my early gameplay experiences... when I was relatively new to the game, I sent young Becky Green to SSU, my first playable student.  She met Ashley and they fell in love.  

I realized that I'd have to play him so that they could graduate together.  But when I loaded the frat house, I found it too busy and confusing to play four playable students (remember I was new to this! :)  ).  So I moved Ashley and Becky into their own place, they eventually graduated, married, raised a family, etc, etc.  Years later, one of their grandchildren developed a relationship with one of the other frat house guys.  So that was when I played the rest of the house, and in my sim-world Ashley exists in a different generation to the others :).

One funny side effect of this - seeing the other frat house guys crushing over the now elderly, widowed Becky!  As time had been 'frozen' for them, they still remembered her visits as a YA! :)

8 comments:

  1. Wow, it was great seeing the other side of the family and seeing how both sides feel such deep pain, but they really don't have to.

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  2. Well, it looks like at the very least Autumn and Kevin might be able to start getting along a little better now. Kevin knows she's got a plan to support herself now and that might help him let go a little.

    Poor David though...Thomas could be a little more understanding but he's 14, so what can you expect?

    BTW, is that Heather Huffington? She made one of the prettiest kids ever in my game (pre-Sullivan, so it's no one anyone would know!).

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  3. Apple, I wanted to put the family's update next to Cherry's to give both sides together... and, yeah, basically everyone involved is unhappy... that's why David kept crying and Thomas kept picking on him in-game... both in low aspiration.

    Carla, Thomas is in a bad mood with everyone, I think! He spends half his time picking on the younger kids and the other half arguing with his father & stepmother.

    She's a different Heather (I downloaded her somewhere ages ago)... didn't even think about Heather Huffington but she already had a connection to Kevin, or would have if I had played the Maxis SSU students in sync.

    Heather H is still around in my hood somewhere (non-playable playable), and she's got pretty kids here, too. They're close to teens now so might turn up in the blog if they get involved with my playable sims.

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  4. So Issac and Shannon are with Heather then? And the first four are with Cherry? That's a big family!

    Oh, poor David, he's just caught right in the middle of all of this, isn't he? He's breaking my heart! :(

    LOL @ Autumn! I love her snark! :) She's right though, he can't punish her for the mistakes he made. She's more likely not to make the same mistakes he made. Sounds like she has a solid plan. Ah, young love. You can't tell them differently anyway ;)

    LOL, I thought she was Heather Huffington too! Looks a lot like her. My Heather Huffington is hooked up with Max (on the side) - she never had any kids in my game, but maybe I should fix that before she gets too old... And my Kevin Beare is gay and was Luke Centowski's first boyfriend, before he dumped Luke for the bisexual llama mascot, lol! How's that for a prequel story? So funny all the lives these Sims lead!

    I played most of the other premades from Uni too. Ashley Pitts married into my first generation, as did Castor Nova. Jimmy Phoenix and Brittney Upsnot founded my Phoenix family. Most of them ended up in my first generation, but Heather is second generation, and Kevin is third. So yeah, mine are all mixed up too! But I don't pay any mind to all of that. I forget almost all of their premade histories anyway. You know, like making Kevin gay, lol!

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  5. Laura, that's right, the first four are with Cherry then the twins with Heather... Heather rolled a baby want when they married, and so I thought it was fair to let her have one, but of course given my usual luck in these things, one turned out to be two. Kevin would have more if I let him! Family sims...! :)

    David is so hard to make happy - he rolls things like get an A+ (when he's currently getting D's) or chat on the phone to his mother (in-game, it wasn't at night but he really did get her voicemail)... now he wants to learn anger management - didn't even know kids could do that!

    Autumn and Jay are both family sims so, no, I'm sure you couldn't tell them differently!

    Rotflol @ Kevin in your game!! I'm probably going to look at him quite differently now, even in my game! :) Can't remember where I downloaded this Heather, she has a sister too via the back-story the creator gave them. Maybe the creator based her on the SSU Heather, because I see the resemblance now, too.

    In my game, most of the Uni premades are contemporaries of Kevin etc - Jimmy Phoenix & family are playable, Joshua Ruben married Cory's ex and his brother married the youngest Centowski sister.

    Brittany married into the Centowski family too, and Castor Nova may become playable again as my current Chief of Staff is going to retire soon & he's the next most likely candidate (or Joshua - am still deciding :) ). The others are still around as non-playables.

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  6. Poor David, going throigh life with the thought that his mother left because of him. It's so sad!
    He worries a lot I think. But maybe that's understandable seeing what already happend in his young life.

    It's understandable how Kevin thinks, with his past he wants something else for his daughter, but he should let her make her own mistakes, after all it's her life, and it seems to me like she has it planned out already.

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  7. Tanja, David does worry a lot, more than he needs to, if only everyone wasn't too busy to realize and talk to him about it.

    Autumn and her boyfriend Jay have a lot of plans, she has already moved in with him now in my game, and they'll get their own update later.

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  8. Poor, David. My heart just breaks for him. I really want to just give him a hug. I really wish someone would just take the time out and tell him that everything is not his fault.

    Even though Autumn and Jay have a lot of plans. I hope that they don't get derailed.

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Thanks for reading and commenting!