Penny Tarro is 23; Danny Tarro is 18; Anna is 9; Arabelle is 5
Ivy Pitts is 18; Anna Phoenix is 18; Alan and Richard Gold are 18; Candice Marsh is 19; Ellen and Clare Marsh are 1; Brandon Marsh is 22.
Penny Tarro gave the salesman her address, and waited for the reaction. It happened every time... sometimes, if she was lucky, it was a sympathetic look, other times it was a judgemental scowl... sometimes they hid it well, but Penny noticed it every time.
She couldn't blame them for it - a few months ago, she might have reacted the same way herself. She'd imagined a lot of different things happening in her life, but she'd never imagined herself living in a trailer park.
She could understand why people in Richmond didn't like the place. It was a reasonably wealthy town. Certainly she would never have had the money to live there, had she not paid next-to-nothing in rent while house-sitting for a family working out of town. When their plans changed and they'd had to move back unexpectedly, Penny was faced with the prospect of moving to some falling-down apartment in Redwood City East.
Even if Danny got a job as well, it would have been pretty much the only place they could afford. It was only when he had revealed that he wanted to take up a scholarship and go to college, leaving them needing two bedrooms rather than three, that she remembered the trailer park on the edge of town.
It wasn't that bad, really. The trailer was comfortable, maybe a bit close to the railway tracks, but after a while you didn't really notice the trains anyway. There was even somewhere for the girls to play outside.
But most important, it meant that she could stay in the same job and the girls could go to the same school. And it was close enough for Danny to come up from SSU every weekend and continue to do his share for the family.
She'd been skeptical at first, when he'd promised to come home on the weekends; after all, the public transport wasn't great from SSU at the best of times.
"I'll get a loan and get a car," Danny said.
"We don't need another debt right now," Penny told him.
"It won't be our debt, it'll be my debt... I'll get a job to pay it myself."
And so he had, working in the university coffee shop between classes.
And every weekend, he drove back up to Richmond in his cheap old car.
It meant that when she worked on the weekends, she didn't have to depend on anyone else for childcare. And when she wasn't working, she could go out, have a bit of fun. It was those breaks that make it all bearable, and she was pleased that Danny had enough sense of responsibility to enable her to have them.
She got back home just before the girls got off the school bus. "Your bed is coming tomorrow," she told Arabelle.
"Your big-girl bed."
"But I want to keep sleeping in your bed..."
"No, we talked about this. And I already bought the bed."
"Give it to Danny. He can sleep in the bed instead of sleeping on the sofa when he's here."
" 'Belle, you're a big girl now, you're at school. Big girls sleep in their own big-girl beds, just like Anna does."
Penny briefly wondered why, too. It would have been cheaper to not buy another bed, and there were plenty of other ways she could have used the money she got from selling the baby furniture... but somehow it seemed more normal for Arabelle to sleep in her own bed, and Penny was holding on to as much normal as she could.
Not that Arabelle understood any of that. She just wondered why she was being evicted from Penny's big, comfortable double bed. Before Penny had the chance to formulate an answer, she heard Candice yell from her own trailer.
"Penny, you there? I thought I saw you come home.."
"Yeah, we're here," Penny yelled back. Bellowing across the yard seemed to be the standard form of communication here, and Penny didn't give it a second thought any more.
Her friendship with Candice was something else she didn't give a second thought to, although there was a time when she wouldn't have imagined herself having much in common with someone like her neighbour. Candice lived in a one-bedroom trailer with a man that Penny had assumed was her partner, and two babies.
It had turned out that the man was actually Candice's brother... the twin girls were hers, though, and with no other way to support herself, Candice and the babies had moved in with him a few months before. Candice slept on a sofa bed in the living room, with a couple of cots jammed in there for the babies. And despite any initial doubts, Penny had hit it off with her from the start.
Somehow, despite their individual situations, Penny found herself laughing more with Candice than she had in a long time.
"So, what do you have planned for the weekend?" Candice asked, a little later, as they sat watching the girls play.
"There's that new little arty cinema in the city..."
"That's a bit classy for us, isn't it?"
"I don't know... you're always telling me to stretch my boundries. What do you think?"
"Will Danny be up tonight?"
"He usually is... he can watch your girls, too."
"Ok... it's not that Brandon doesn't mean well, he'd never harm the kids deliberately, but he's an idiot. He'd forget they were there or something if I left them with him... also, he's got some really strange friends..."
Candice's brother did have some strange friends, Penny had seen them from time to time. Brandon said that they were people he worked with, but he was quite vague about what that work actually involved. Candice didn't really know what he did, either - he had a job, and that was enough for her. But Brandon made Penny uneasy, and she avoided him as much as she could. Things were going so well now, and she didn't want anything going wrong to mess it all up again.
"So, what do you have planned for the weekend?" When Ivy didn't answer, Richard sat down next to her on the steps of the house they shared with a group of other students. "Hello... Earth to Ivy...?"
"What... oh, sorry... what did you say? I was a million miles away."
"I noticed. I said, what do you have planned for the weekend?"
Ivy shrugged. "Whatever I do, it won't involve Danny."
"He going up to Richmond again?"
Ivy nodded. "I mean, I always knew he would, but I kind of hoped maybe once in a while, he'd stay here... even when he is here, he's so busy... I miss him."
"Have you told him that?"
"Sort of... I just don't like putting more pressure on him when he's got so much going on."
"He really feels strongly about visiting his family every weekend, doesn't he?"
"It's more than just visiting," Ivy said. "His mother died a little over a year ago, and his father was out of the picture long before that. He and his sisters ended up with an aunt not much older than he is. She had a pretty carefree life before they came, and she's having a hard time adjusting to being responsible for two little kids..."
"... so he feels he has to give her some time off on the weekends?"
"It's not even that, really. Danny's his sisters' closest relative, and he's an adult now. He feels like he should be fully responsible for them... it's like Penny's giving him time off during the week, so he has to be there for the weekend."
"Yeah, and I don't - "
"Shhh!" Richard gestured and Ivy saw Danny approaching with their room mate Anna.
"What's up?" Danny asked.
"Oh... nothing," Ivy said, getting up. "How was class?"
Anna answered for him. "Those philosophy lectures just drag on! I don't know how anyone stays awake..."
"Maybe they're trying to bore you guys into actually picking a major?" Richard teased. Ivy looked at Danny questioningly.
"I'll think about it over the weekend," he said. "I'll have some time when the girls are asleep. What about you - what are you planning?"
When Ivy hesitated, Anna answered for her. "We'll probably all go down to the Student Union again... I heard there's a new band playing... pity you couldn't come some time, its a lot of fun."
Danny shook his head. "I'm going home for the weekend."
"Figures," Anna said. 'Always running home to Mummy. Do you even know how to have fun?"
"Anna, don't - " Ivy and Richard both started, but Danny had already disappeared into the house. Ivy turned and followed him.
"What?" Anna asked.
Richard just shook his head and followed the others.
Danny wiped down the bench and cleaned the sink for the fourth time. It wasn't that Penny didn't keep it clean anyway, and he knew he should be studying now that the kids were asleep, but he just couldn't concentrate. He was tired, the late nights were really catching up on him now, and so was the conversation earlier.
Do you even know how to have fun?
The comment still grated at Danny, hours later. He used to know how to have fun. Ok, so it was a long time since he could have called himself carefree, but still... he'd thought high school was difficult, but compared to now, hell... fun didn't even figure in things any more. Sometimes he wondered why he'd ever wanted to go to college in the first place.
When he wasn't at class, he was working, making as much money as he could to meet his car payments and other expenses. Even study got pushed to the extreme ends of the day.
He'd finally crawl into bed next to Ivy when he was too tired to concentrate any more, and there just wasn't enough time to sleep before the alarm went off and it started all over again.
No, he'd have to leave the fun to people like Anna and Richard. And Ivy. He looked at the time. They'd be at the Student Union now, probably... she'd told him about their nights out there, and it did sound like fun...
... and that was the other thing that grated at Danny. Whenever Ivy talked about it, way too much of that fun seemed to include Richard.
They seemed to be together all the time. Danny had seen the way they stopped talking when he came home that afternoon... he'd noticed how Ivy had jumped up so quickly, like she'd been caught doing something she shouldn't.
She had laughed it off when Danny had hinted at his concern over their relationship. He was just a friend, she'd said... hell, he was her cousin even! But that didn't make a difference, Danny thought - Ivy was adopted into her family, and she'd told him herself that her elder, also-adopted sister had married a cousin... so, no, the cousin thing didn't reassure him at all.
Danny sighed. This wasn't going to get his assignment done. After checking the kids, he pulled out his books, and tried to push the thought of Ivy and Richard together out of his mind.
---"You didn't have to walk me home... but thanks," Ivy said.
"It's ok," Richard said. "I could see you weren't really into it tonight..."
"It's still early... are you going back?"
"No... I'm tired. I think I'll call it a night, too."
"Glad Danny and I aren't the only ones who doesn't know how to have fun, then... ". She forced a weak laugh but really, she looked like she wanted to cry.
On impulse, he gave her a quick hug. "It's ok," he said. "Anna doesn't mean anything by it. She's just never had a difficult day in her life... "
"Thanks... ". She stepped away, started to leave, then turned back to say goodnight.
"Sleep well," he replied, and watched her walk up the stairs.
An hour later, Ivy was still awake. She got up and got her phone, called Danny's number.
When he didn't answer, she went back to bed. It was a long time before she finally fell asleep.
Monday morning always came around too quickly for Penny. As usual, Danny got the girls ready for school early, then left in time to make his first class back at SSU.
"See you next weekend?"
"Of course," he said. Then he turned to the girls. "Be good, ok? I'll see you in a week."
Penny waved as he drove away, and smiled to herself. It was good to have next weekend to look forward to. She might not have expected it to work out like this, but she couldn't complain. Things really were going well.
So, I finally got back to these guys! I meant to write this ages ago, Kyle and Cory and all their dramas kind of hijacked the story for a bit :)
Candice is the Sim I mentioned here with the unexpected and bizarre pregnancies... I got attached enough to her to move them to the new hood... it meant that the babies became toddlers way sooner than they should have, but Candice hadn't been in the story before now, so we'll just pretend they were born a year earlier than they were :) I just loved her first load screen picture, its like, what the hell am I supposed to do with these?! :)
I originally moved the Tarro family out of their house because it was buggy... well, in the end the whole hood was buggy but she and Candice were already friends and I decided to stick with the trailer park storyline in the new hood.
As you'll see from the ages at the top of the page, Richard has a twin brother, Alan... he didn't really make it into the story but he lives with them too. He's a bit geeky...
... and he can't dance. He had a bit of drunken fun with Anna, though...
Ivy and Richard thought it was worth gossiping about...
... but its not going anywhere. They're cousins - Alan and Richard are the sons of Ashley Pitts' sister Grace, and Anna is the daughter of Allie Phoenix, the daughter Ashley's father had with April Hutchins Green.
As I mentioned, there are two pairs of married cousins in my hood (Rose & Cory, and Ivy's sister, who has a similar relationship to her husband), but in both cases, there is an adoption involved and they're not 'biologically' related, so I let it go. But not for Alan and Anna - no adoptions there, so sorry, guys, its not going to happen! Actually, she's Romance and he's Knowledge, so I'm probably sparing him a great deal of heartbreak further down the line... :)
One other random funny thing - see the uni townie chick in the yellow top at the coffee shop where Danny's working? And see, the same girl shows up at the Student Union when they're dancing? The funny part is that the two pictures were taken in different versions of my hood! Weird co-incidence, and there must be a set group of uni townies just like the downtownies... hmmm... I've got a few sims who met their future partners at uni, so there are probably some other familiar faces around here... :)
Sorry for the very delayed update... r/l calls big-time right now! At the end of October I have my final University exams... and by that, I mean, final-ever, assuming I pass. And I had better pass, I've failed this paper once before... in sim-speak, I'm on academic probation and rolling a lot of fears around that right now :). So a lot of studying happening right now, and not much else. I'm still fitting in a bit of sim-time, though, and I'll try to get one or two more updates out this month, but I can't promise anything really...
November = Freedom! :)