Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chapter 1.35

Chapter 1.35- Swan Song

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.

-T. E. Lawrence

            “Nothing at all?” Even at this eleventh hour, Helen was still trying her very hardest to convince Phedra to stay. Convince her to have a birthday party. Convince her of anything.
            “Nothing at all,” Phedra parroted her mother’s words. “I already have other plans.”
            “That don’t include your family.”
            “They include family.”

            “Just not all of your family,” said Helen. “You know we’re all going to miss you. Not just a few of us.”
            Phedra hung her head, but didn’t back down. It was the day of Phedra’s age-up, and she had taken a berth on a ship leaving the docks that very evening. Helen wanted to throw Phedra a big birthday party as a farewell. Phedra had other plans for how she wanted to age-up.

            Sighing loudly, Helen wrapped her arms around herself, looking around the girls room. It had been a while since she had really been in it or the boys room. All the pictures of Cyrus were in these rooms and the wounds were still a little too tender to make seeing them easy.
            “Not all my family is here anyway,” whispered Phedra almost hoping her mother wouldn’t hear her.

            “If you’re referring to your biological father,” Helen’s tone was needle sharp. “We can always give him a call and get him to come over, your other siblings and their mothers, too.”
            Taking in a quick breath, Phedra straightened up, throwing her shoulders back, ready to do battle. Normally Helen and Phedra’s relationship was easy. Since she had officially announced that she had a boat passage to some outlandish city where she would then take flying lessons for 6 weeks, before flying to some other outlandish city to take language lessons and prepare to live amongst a tribe of Bush-Sims to teach the children how to speak, read and write Simlish Phedra and Helen had been at loggerheads. Phedra was ready to go. Helen was determined that she was not.

            “And if you’re referring to Cyrus,” Helen raised her voice to be heard over Phedra. “If Cyrus had cared he wouldn’t have left in the first place.”
            Unable to look at her mother and confirm that she had indeed been referring to Cyrus, Phedra folded her arms looking away. Before Layla, Cyrus was the one she was closest to. Not that she wasn’t close with Helen, but sibling relationships are different. Losing Cyrus had been like losing a limb. Though she had finally learned to function without him, she missed him. And sometimes, she still ached thinking that she might have been part of the problem. But it was in the past. And the past had no more hold over her.
            The silence stretched. Helen watching Phedra’s face hoping to read some of what was going through her head.

            Finally getting an idea, Helen broke into Phedra’s thoughts.
            “What about Layla? I know she’s saying she okay with your departure, but really. You’re her reason for even going to school. You’re the friend Galen used to be for her, before he had Arden. You’re her anchor to a world with other sims in it.”
            The gentle reminder of a sister who had pulled her from a very dark place hurt Phedra. But Layla had always known that she was leaving one day. And Phedra couldn’t shield her forever.

            “Layla will learn to live her life without me,” Phedra was able to respond with confidence. “I am nobody’s crutch.”

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            “Mom came and tried to talk me out of going again.”
            It was a warm fall day, perfect for being outside. And in honor of her age up day Phedra had decided that the two girls would spend the entire day outside until it was time for her to actually age.
            “You sound like you didn’t think she’d do it,” Layla was a little bored. Normally when she was outside she was moving. Sitting still on the little island watching a boat filled with student pilots guide it in lazy and irregular circles made her chafe. She should be doing something, not watching someone else do something.

            Laying down on the grass, watching the clouds float by Phedra sighed. She knew just how restless Layla was. In fact, she was most likely the only one who knew just how restless. For a while, she worried that Layla would end up doing something she’d regret. She held it all in, kept herself cool. But she hid a fire inside that was one day going to burst forth, burning everyone in its path.
            “Laydee,” Phedra sighed. “Laydee I’m always surprised when people I know, and who supposedly know me very well, act like they didn’t see something coming that was glaringly obvious.”

            “See that boat?” Phedra continued, peering at the boat. “I know that boat is going to turn portside and not starboard. Why? Because that’s all it has done since we’ve been here.”
            Layla went ahead and made herself more comfy. Layla could go on for a while once she got wound up. And she looked very wound up.

            Flipping over to better see the boat, Phedra didn’t lose her thread for an instant. “I’ve looked through the book mom kept of our sayings, first words, first steps. I know that I’ve talked about taking a rocket, or an airplane, and travelling the world since I was tiny. Why should she be surprised that I didn’t change my mind?”
            There was no response. Layla’s mind had been full of her boy problem since Anthony had kissed her several days ago. Phedra had been right that someone would get hurt. But-but…but. And in the end Layla tuned Phedra out to reason with herself on her own behavior. She’d heard this argument before. Many many times before.

            “I’ve always known I wanted to travel the world,” Phedra did indeed continue. “I’m not staying here just because Cyrus ran off and left us to wonder ‘what if?’ I’m ready to chart my own course, to go out and live my life my way. I’m going to see so much that mom never did. I’m going to help people. I’m going to do things that most of the folks around here only see on tv. In short, I’m going to go and live. Why can’t she just be happy that I want to be happy?”
            There was no answer from her sister. And so the two sat and watched the boats progress. Each wondering how to solve their own problems and assuage the guilt they felt.

            Each sighed countless times, wrapped in herself and letting the silence go unbroken.
            Finally, Layla changed her position and Phedra felt that maybe Layla was finally going to be able to say something she’d obviously been gathering her courage for.
            “Please, stay,” Layla said softly, bowing her head. “For me.”
            “Layla,” Phedra felt like she was stabbing her own heart. “Layla, it’s time for you to be comfortable with who you are. It’s time for you to learn how to stand on your own two feet. It’s time for me to go.” And Phedra stood up.

            Seeing Phedra rise, Layla got up off of the ground too.
            “Quit that,” sounding a lot like Helen, Phedra was annoyed at Layla’s hangdog look. “You knew my answer a long time ago. If you want to travel someday, travel for you. But you need to learn how to live your own life.”
            She knew that Layla wasn’t going to answer, but she paused anyway allowing room for one just in case.
            “Come on,” sighed Phedra. “Let’s go. You said you’d found the spot?”
            Still not raising her head, Layla nodded soundlessly.
            “Then lead the way.”

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            “I love this view,” admitted Layla, a little shyly.
            A few days ago Phedra had approached her sister asking her to find the very best view of the sunset in the city. It had taken Layla a lot of walking, but she had finally settled on this particular hill.

            “Are you sure the sun is going to set over there?”
            “Really? ‘Cause I think we’re turned wrong.”
            “Look at your shadow, you goob.”

            “I can’t see my shadow,” Phedra was a little exasperated. She had this planned to the moment. It had to be perfect!
            Layla rolled her eyes.
            “I have no idea how you are planning to travel the world when you don’t know how to use your own shadow. It’s behind you. And it’s behind you because the sun is going to set in front of you.”
            Finally, Layla turned a little, actually looking at Fay. She giggled.
            “What?” Phedra asked, still staring hard at the distant mountains.

            “Well,” Layla couldn’t keep the smile out of her tone. “Well, you are turned the wrong way. You’re looking at the fall festival lights.”
            “Yeah, yeah. I meant to do that-to look at those.”
            Layla just nodded, a knowing look on her face.
            Standing there a moment, Phedra finally turned to Layla.
            “Right then, I’ve seen them now. Where do I look Laydee?”
            “At the twin mountain peaks in the distance over here. It sets where they split.”
            “Then let’s make sure I’m facing that way. Is it getting close now?”
            “In a little while. You really need a compass and a watch if you’re going to travel without knowing how to use what’s around you.”
            “That’s for the wilderness. I’ll be around other people who will know that stuff for me.”
            “You’re in for real surprise, Fay.”
            “Actually, you’re in for one.”
            “Yup. I’ll tell you when it’s almost sunset.”

            “Is it almost time yet?” Layla had been waiting, making idle chat with Phedra for long enough. The sun was starting to set. Surely it was almost time.
            Suddenly nervous. Phedra dug the toe of her boot into the grass, making a little green stain on the suede. “Yeah.”
            She took a deep breath, looking up and around her. Throwing her shoulders back she suddenly looked very different.
            “Over there,” Fay pointed to a spot slightly behind her. “Go and stand over there. And listen to me this time. I think I’ve finally learned something and you need to learn it too.”
            Curious, Layla moved to the spot Fay had indicated.

            On tiptoe, Phedra threw her head back, arms open, rejoicing in the suns fading rays.
            “I’ve learned that being comfortable with who you are is more important than anything else. That you can’t hide from yourself. You can’t hide from others. You can’t hide behind stronger people, or with weak people at your side.”
            “You know people driving by are going to think you are nuts,” Layla threw at her.
            “Let them,” Phedra’s voice was calm and quiet. “I don’t care. I just don’t care anymore what others might think. It isn’t worth it. What you think about yourself is all that matters. Having the confidence to be you is worth more than any friend, and is stronger than any enemy. It can crumble mountains. It can dry up oceans. It can cut through diamonds, and it can be crushed like the most fragile flower. But only if you let others chip away at your confidence.”

            “I’m tired of all these layers, and this hair style I use to hide behind,” Phedra raised her arms as though she were going to take off into the sunset. “I’m tired of caring that others may not think I’m pretty enough. I’m tired of trying to be better than everyone else just to make myself feel better. I’m tired of people telling me I can’t do what I want to do. And so now, I’m going to do it. I’m going to revel in just being me. And, Layla?”
            Bowing her head, knowing she was guilty of so much of that, Layla closed her eyes tight, letting Phedra’s words wash around in her mind. What was there to be confident about when everyone else thought she was supposed to act another way? These words might work for Phedra, who was about to fulfill her dream of flying away, but it couldn’t ever work for Layla. Everyone else had it all planned out for her.
            “Layla, it’s okay for you to be you. It’s okay for you to be different than what Galen wants, or what the kids at school want. With just a little confidence, you can be free.”
            A gentle wind ruffled Layla’s hair as she stood there, humbled by Phedra’s sudden attitude toward life.

            “I am free.” Phedra said firmly, finishing her swan song.
            The wind intensified for a moment, just a tiny gust, and was replaced by the calm of twilight.
            “And I am now ready to move forward, unencumbered, unburdened, unbound.”

            Layla had raised her head, opening her eyes to see an entirely different creature in front of her. Her breath caught, jaw dropping, there was nothing she could say.
            Phedra, finally concerned at her sister’s silence, turned.

            “What’s wrong?” Phedra asked, turning.
            Shaking her head, Layla responded, “Nothing at all. It’s… It’s just-just you.

            Phedra surveyed herself for a moment. Looking over her torso, arms and legs. With her hands, she patted her hair, smiling to herself the entire time.
            At last, she looked up at her little Laydee with a bright smile and gave her two thumbs up.
            “See? Confidence!”

            Turning her eyes from the dazzling vision in front of her, Layla felt tears prick her eyes.
            Shoulders drooping, Phedra strode quickly to stand in front of Layla.
            Layla nodded.
            “It’s still me.”
            Again, Layla nodded without answering verbally.
            “Look at me, please.”

            Forcing a bright smile, Layla looked up at Phedra.
            “There’s the confidence I want you to have,” said Phedra softly. “Really. You’re going to have to start standing up for yourself and what you want. Quit letting people walk all over you. You’re too kind to be broken so early.”
            Layla nodded again. “Yeah, I have a question,” she spoke.

            “Ask away Laydee,” Phedra grinned. “There’s no need to be afraid of me just ‘cause I’m a little bit older.”
            “Take me with you,” Layla pled again.

            Phedra looked at Layla sadly. Her words had bounced right off hadn’t they? The message hadn’t gotten through. She’d so hoped that she could help her baby sister before she left, to help her gain a firmer footing. But the time for her help was over, and her boat was already in the docks ready to sail at any moment.
            “No,” shaking her head. “No, Layla. It’s time for you to use your own wings. I can’t help you fly anymore.”

            A sudden blast in the distance made both of the girls jump.
            “That’s the boat,” gasped Phedra. “Quick!”
            She pulled Layla into a brief hug that would have to last for a very long time.
            “If I find Cyrus, I’ll send him to you first,” she whispered.
            Layla nodded against her shoulder. Phedra was going to use her down time between flying and language lessons to try to track down their half-brother. Helen had no idea, and never would.

            Standing at the apex, Layla watched her sister run down the hill and hail a cab. She stood and watched until the night sky swallowed all but the twinkling lights of the little town. And suddenly, she felt alone.

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I really wanted Phedra to go out in a special way. Her character is so big that I just couldn’t do the cheesy poses and sparkles and traditional cake. Besides, Phedra hates tradition. Phedra breaks molds. That’s her MO.
Also, I know that the sunset pics don’t quite line up, but it took me an entire DAY to get that just right so just shift the sun down about half a degree in your imagination in her second sunset swan pic. 
Last thing, there is a better pic of Phedra as a YA under the Generational Goals tab at the top.


  1. The pics came out awesome! Phedra aged up so pretty, too. I feel a little bad for Layla, but something tells me that she too will learn to fly...someday ;)

    1. Thanks!
      Yes she did!
      Layla will get some self-confidence too. It's hard to rush that happening though.

  2. <3
    Phedra isn't just beautiful, she's wise too! Very strong words she had to say to Layla, and very true. I hope Layla takes them on board and they help her grow.
    I hope Phedra comes back at some point. I can't never see that face again! Jheeez.

    I loved the scene's where Layla and Phedra were sitting around outside, they were really simple and worked so well.

    (Where is Phedra's hair from? I need it, I don't think I've got it...)

    1. Phedra had her an epiphany. I'm not sure yet if we'll see her again. Just haven't planned it perfectly. Sometimes I think we will, and sometimes I don't think we will at all.
      Sometimes simple is best!
      I'll have to look up Phedra's hair for you. I cannot remember off the top of my head at all today. lol

      There you go. I have the original, but some folks prefer the retextures. So there's both for you.

    3. Thank you, I have it now, but you knew that...

      I agree, sometimes simple is best.
      I hope we do see Phedra again. Layla and her were really close, so it would make perfect sense for her to come back at some time.

  3. Congrats to Phedra on growing up and learning to fly!
    She grew up very lovely.

  4. I loved Phedra's age up! It was fantastic! I can't believe what Helen said about Cyrus though *glares at her*

    1. Thank you! Phedra liked it, too. I've got a blooper pic of her when I gave her her cake that I've got to get posted. She was REALLY happy to get out from behind those layers of clothes and the hair in her face. lol
      Helen will never, and has never understood Cyrus and is using that as an excuse for his behavior that doesn't involve her. Also why if Phedra finds him, she won't send him to Helen and why Helen won't know that the girls would really like to know what became of him.

  5. I LOVE all of the emotion each character has. You're a fabulous writer. I felt a bit bad for Layla, but she will have to learn to be her own person.

    1. Layla will have to learn to be her own sim. She's always hid behind someone else. First it was Galen, then it was Phedra. Everyone has to grow up sometime.

  6. That whole scene of Phedra's age-up was simply perfect! Beautiful pics, awesome writing :-). Just what Phedra deserved.

  7. The age-up was so Phedra. Loved it.
    Time for Layla to cut the umbilical cord. This might be what she needs. Now about that whole boyfriend mess.... :)

    1. Layla's got to stop identifying herself by those around her, for sure. As for the 'boyfriend' mess? lol. At least she's not identifying herself through that. Ha!

  8. Phedra's age-up was beautiful. Epic. A great way to go out!