Friday, February 19, 2016

Chapter 3.15- Time to Move On

I know I am but summer to your heart, 
And not the full four seasons of the year; 
And you must welcome from another part 
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear. 
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell 
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing; 
And I have loved you all too long and well 
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring. 
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes, 
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums, 
That you may hail anew the bird and rose 
When I come back to you, as summer comes. 
Else will you seek, at some not distant time, 
Even your summer in another clime. 
-Edna St.Vincent Milay
“I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)”, American Poetry, 1922

            Balancing kids, home, tarot classes and managing the Institute had proven much much more difficult than Mariah had imagined. At first, anyway. Her first day of tarot classes was the twins first day of school was Dove’s second first day of second grade was the first time she’d found a speck of dust on the bookshelf was the first time she’d forced herself to take a deep breath and walk away.
            Then she found little tricks to helping her keep the house going. This discovery led to others equally important. Putting her foot down with Delphine occasionally meant the center realized more in profits. Studying first thing in the morning before she went to class meant she needed to study less in the evenings. Not picking up after her kids constantly, continually, left her more time to spend with them instead. Maybe their rooms were a little messier than usual, but they didn’t seem to be hurt by it. She still spent one day a week cleaning to her hearts content so the germs didn’t rise up in the night and pummel them all, and that was enough.
            Thursdays were never a class day. These days Mariah usually devoted to Delphine learning everything she could about the Institute and bullying Delphine to spend less, but not today. Today she was taking a day to go to her cabin. Maybe it wasn’t a getaway trip like she’d made there as a kid, but it was still an escape.

            Mariah closed the door softly behind her, glancing wistfully at the chairs before grabbing a duster and setting to work in the uppermost corners. Today wasn’t a day to come here and relax. It was a day to clean it up and out. Time to sweep out all those nasty old memories along with the dust and dirt accumulated in recent years of neglect.
            If Roger had moved on, shouldn’t she move on also?

            The cobwebs dangling just out of the reach of her duster infuriated her to the point of tears. If only she’d brought a ladder or step stool. If only she’d had some duct tape to attach the duster to the broo… oh wait.
            Mariah blinked in confusion as the solution presented itself. She’d just use the broom overhead. It had been there all along.

            Nose wrinkled at the amount of dust and dirt now swirling around her feet, the broom still stuck in her head even as her hands pushed it across the floor. This particular broom was old and very worn. Yet she’d had it so long it felt almost as an old friend; always present, always reliable. Like this cabin had been to her. The same way Roger had been.
            Gah. It wasn’t time for that yet. Clean first. Move on later.

            Now here was an opportunity to literally sweep some of her anger away. She’d vacuum up Andre’s soul. . . In her imagination at least. Maybe she should have made a paper effigy and burned it and then she could really vacuum up his ashes. Wow was she obsess-. Why isn’t this stupid thing working?
            Kicking the large canister gave her no satisfaction and a throbbing toe. But the machine hummed to life leaving her to scramble to pick up the hose again. Almost exactly like Andre had left her.

            Scrub a dub dub. The memories of that rug. And the rug burn. That’s it. She’d have to burn the rug. Even if Dove would adore it. Oh well.
            Frustrated the cleaning wasn’t as cathartic as she’d hoped, Mariah tossed her rag into the bucket and threw herself in front of the fireplace.

            Cleaning out the fireplace was a task she hated. At home, she’d swapped the real logs out for gas so she wouldn’t have to face that dreaded chore. It wasn’t an option out here, and anyway, there was a time the task brought a smile to her face. Roger had taught her how to properly maintain it when they were little more than kids.
            The place was now mostly clean, it was time to get down to the real reason for such a long overdue visit. Her home was not a place for her to sort through her feelings anymore; there was too much else to claim her attention. But out here, she might finally be able to make peace with Roger and his girlfriend.

            Kelly. She’d nearly puked right there when she’d learned what the faceless name was to her Roger. Stupid of her to think he was warming up to her again three years after she’d rejected his proposal. His friendliness was only a ploy to trick her into letting the kids go with him. And after Dove’s reaction, she’d not fall for it again
            What had happened to their early agreement that co-parenting meant they had to be totally transparent and honest with the other? Clearly, he’d been violating that decision for a long time. No way would be bring a new girlfriend to meet his kids. Their relationship had to be fairly comfortable for him to take such a step.

            But no matter how much she tried to be angry or hurt with Roger and Kelly her anger never lasted long. Instead she’d find herself swept up in his embrace. He’d admit he knew all along the kids would need to be older before she’d be comfortable marrying. Then Roger would confess that Kelly only happened in an effort to make her jealous, that he was lonely and she was just there. Meaningless. Disposable. The only one he’d ever need was her. Her. Together they’d conquer the world now that they understood each other perfectly. Together? They were infinite.
            He’d be back for her. She knew it.

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            It had appeared in a field near the river overnight; a sea of black and white striped canvas tents disrupting the smooth green everyone was so used to. The only thing denoting sim presence was a sign dangling from the unopened gates announcing the circus would open at sunset. Otherwise it appeared almost deserted.
            Kids at school talked of nothing all day long and when Dove, Ceeven and Vivia arrived home all three begged to go right then. Mariah stalled and laughed, her classes that day had been particularly difficult and tiring. Her darlings won in the end, though. They always did.

            “We’re the last ones here!” Ceeven cried as they neared the circus. It was rare for him to assert himself on anything. For him to actually show eagerness was incredibly unusual. “We’ll miss it all! It will close before we’re finished looking!”
            “We’ll leave long before that, Cee,” Mariah said, startled at how enthusiastic her usually placid little boy was. “There’s still school tomorrow.”
            “Aw, do we hafta go to school tomorrow?”
            Mariah contented herself with a sigh, ignoring Vivia, before heading for the entrance.

            Ceeven stopped them once they’d gained the courtyard.
            Even Dove had nothing to complain of as they gazed about them, trying to figure out where they were.

            On one side a lady juggled swords for a small crowd gathered around her. One guy flinched as a sword came close. The lady smiled, promising the safety of all who watched her.

            On Mariah’s left, a pair of sims on a platform, still as statues, were entwined with each other.
            Ceeven turned slowly on the spot until he’d managed to somehow decide where to go.
            “Let’s go!” And he ran off, leaving a family baffled by his sudden burst of enthusiasm to scramble after him.

            It was only now that Mariah began to see just how different this circus was. They’d caught up with Ceeven in front of another lady performing in the open for a crowd. This lady was also dressed head to toe in black, however she wielded no swords.
            Instead, suspended between her hands was an oversized playing card spinning wildly while she stared hard at it. Softening her gaze the card came to a standstill, hovering in the air as she lowered her arms, clasping her hands behind her back.
            “Lookit the card, lookit the card!” Ceeven shouted.
            Sure enough the card’s face was shifting. From the ace of spades to the king of clubs to the queen of hearts to the jack of diamonds and back to spades the card’s face melted, again and again. Then, with a smiling glance at Ceeven’s excitement, The Illusionist threw her arms upward and the card erupted in a spray of bubbles.

            The crowd gasped along with Ceeven this time. These were no ordinary bubbles either. They kept coming, faster and faster. Each iridescent orb that appeared had a different hue from the last until finally The Illusionist dropped her hands and the bubbles simultaneously popped.
            Vivia and Dove cheered along, though Dove claimed to have gotten soap in one eye. This, however, didn’t cause her to miss the Illusionist summoning Ceeven to her side.

            Pacing a few steps away from him, the Illusionist aimed a flattened palm at Ceeven’s waist. She stood this way for barely a breath before leveling her palm off and raising her arm. As she raised it, so did Ceeven.
            “Ceeven! You’re flying!” Dove and Vivia were breathless with giddy laughter at the look on Ceeven’s face. The joy of the moment before replaced with shock as he kicked in midair.
            Gently, he was placed on the ground again while the gathered crowd applauded. A blink later, and the illusionist was nowhere to be seen.
            Instead of taking a moment to revel in his fame, Ceeven grabbed Mariah’s hand as soon as he could, tugging her down another path in quest of another performance.

            They found a small crowd gathered about a third female standing in the dark, a pair of metal fans clutched in her hands.
            Excitement making him bold, Ceeven took the chance to be extra close this time.

            Just as he took a another baby step forward, the fan tips burst into flame, making him jump backward.
            Vivia laughed. “You got scared, Cee.”
            “Did not!”

            Unnoticed by the twins bickering, Dove had also been startled by the flames. Her gasp was loud enough to draw the gaze of some across the crowd as well as from the performer herself. Though it couldn’t have been possible, Mariah swore the flames became smaller after Dove’s cry.

            Taking a step back the woman began twirling the fans around her fingers as the crowd began to swell. Slowly at first, then faster until the flames were nothing more than a streaks of light she continued. Even the crisp fall air felt warmer as she moved in time to music Mariah was sure hadn’t been there before.

            Slowing down her spinning fans, the Fire Artist turned and fixed her gaze on Dove as she moved.
            Dove had her arms up in fear, as though she might be burnt. Vivia’s laughter was no longer for Ceeven, but for her sister. Ceeven, however, was too spellbound to care and cheered with the crowd when the lady suddenly grasped her fans, flipping them over her hands before tossing them high.

            There were some in the crowd not as enamored as Ceeven, but Dove was still the most vocal. She was convinced someone’s hair would catch fire and that the lady was dangerous.
            Vivia finally had had enough of Dove’s whining and reached over to poke her sister hard, telling her with a glare to “Shut.Up.” Wrinkling her nose, Dove stuck her tongue out at her sister, but did at least stay silent.

            For a moment at least. As though she realized Dove was holding back, she chose that moment to breathe a cloud of fire above the heads of the audience making quite a few sims scream, including Dove who jumped back behind Mariah for protection
            Ceeven took the opportunity to step further forward, laughing and cheering as the breeze ruffled his hair.

            After such a crowning trick, the Fire Artist waved her fans a final time and the space where she’d been performing lit the audience as they cheered. Ceeven loudest of all.

            Barely waiting for the crowd to hide the Fire Artist from his sight, Ceeven darted off determined to find another performance.
            Dove complained loudly. The tents they passed had open flaps and enticing signs. Why did they have to follow Ceeven? Why couldn’t they go explore something else?
            But Mariah didn’t have breath to answer her. Ceeven was so far ahead at times he was lost to her sight and she couldn’t stand the thought that he might get disappear.
            They finally caught up to him near a low platform.

            The platform contained only a glass pedestal with a black cube on top and a ball. Vivia announced it must be an animal act, which effectively shut up Dove, again. Ceeven took two steps away from them and refused to join in any speculation. His attention was fixed solely on the cube. Besides, they were distracting him from all that he wanted to see.

            Vivia had tired of conjecture and the crowd had stopped growing. Even Mariah was ready to concede they’d arrived for the performance too early and ought to move on when the cube proved itself to be anything but. It was a box. And the lid was being pushed open from the inside.

            Slowly, a woman emerged from the box, dropping lightly to the ground where she began to stretch as though she’d been in there a very long time.

            Mariah was bored by it. So she had been in a box and it was cramped. Maybe it was time indeed to move on.

            The thought had barely formed when the lady flipped herself over and sat on her own head. A man in the crowd attempted to be funny when Ceeven cut him off.
            “Lookit the box! There’s another hand!”
            Sure enough, there was a hand gripping the side. Mariah had just time to digest, and be impressed by, the fact that there’d been two sims in that box before the next woman, a mirrored twin of the first, unfolded herself.

            While the second woman stretched (by pulling her left leg behind her over her right ear, Mariah’s hips ached,) the first woman walked over to the ball. With great effort she rolled it in front of the pedestal and box, ensuring they could hear that it was solid. Then, as though it weighed nothing, she flipped it onto her back and curled herself around it as her sister slinkied to the ground.

            Once the Black Contortionist was freely standing on her own shoulders, the White Contortionist rolled the ball smoothly onto her sister’s knees before placing a foot on the back of her head while… Yeah.
            “You’re not supposed to be able to bend like that!” Vivia exclaimed while Mariah had to remind herself to breathe. Afraid the ball would drop and damage these fragile performers, she’d been unknowingly holding her breath.

            Slowly, this time moving almost in tandem, the two formed a table. As the Black Contortionist moved, she kept the ball balanced. Once in position with her sister, she rolled it along until it sat balanced between the two.
            Ceeven’s cheers were as breathless as Mariah felt. What they were doing seemed as impossible as every other act had been tonight.

            Their final position had the crowd roaring. How they managed to get the ball up there without using their hands was nearly miraculous to Mariah’s way of thinking.

            While Ceeven cheered himself hoarse, Dove finally gave in. As they applauded she looked up at Mariah, eyes wide.
            “It’s almost like magic, isn’t it Mom?”
            “Almost baby. Almost.”

            With two of the three kids visibly exhausted from the little they’d done so far, Mariah insisted they head for the entrance and home. However, the statues in the courtyard snagged the attention of the very two who most needed bed in her opinion.
            Though the two sims appeared to be in exactly the same position as they were earlier, Mariah could detect that they’d moved. She smirked while Vivia made a bid to go watch two women charming snakes in the same spot the sword juggler had been when they’d arrived.

            Watching as Ceeven and Dove stood transfixed she was astounded to notice that the sim statues moved more than she thought originally. The clock outside the gates had rung in a new hour and the statues were in entirely different positions.
            Vivia was now begging to see the man and his assistant who had brought out several lions on leashes and had them performing where the snake charmers had been so long ago.
            “Lions?” Mariah jumped at Vivia’s cheer.
            “Yes! Can I go see them mom? Huh? CanIcanI?”
            “No, we’re almost done here. I think.”

            The performances in the corner had long ended and still they stood. The crowd left in attendance was thicker now, though it appeared most of them were in this area so they could exit.
            Somehow, in the slow and graceful movements, the two sim statues had gained a flower and a scrap of fabric. Dove accepted the small red bloom offered her by the man before he was properly on one knee. Ceeven, though, had to be urged by obvious movements to take the folded red cloth the lady offered to him. As both children came back to a complaining Vivia (“Why didn’t they offer me something? I’ve been standing watching them as long as you have! My knee hurts! I’m thirsty. Are we going home now?”) Ceeven was starry eyed.
            “It’s the best place ever, Mom,” he said in his usual small voice as he unfolded a deep red scarf he immediately wound round his neck. “The very best ever.”

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Things for Mariah have come full circle. Once, Roger dreamed of her. Now, she dreams of him despite the odds against it ever happening.

I swear the circus was more than just filler. Lol. There really is some important stuff going on within it all, both pictures and words. And we’ll probably be visiting that circus several more times as generation 4 progresses. For those curious, or looking for a good read, it’s inspired by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

HUGE huge huge thanks to all the wonderful legacy writers who have offered up sims that I used here.
Carrie's Rosie as the Illusionist.
Urunwa’s Oriana as the Fire Artist.
The Sim(human) Statues are Rose and Myles Belcher by Gemma.
Since I didn’t feel comfortable twisting known sims into pretzels, The Contortionists are based on Nina Ha found here.
There are many more familiar faces in the crowd from more legaciests, Nirar’s Claudio Monty (whom I didn’t fix up nearly as well as deserved) as well as Jack Kahekili are among the crowd. Ali’s Dory, Ann’s Mia and Renard; Carrie’s Ashton; Gemma’s Taylor; Urunwa’s Bashir, Lucky and Odin; Melissa’s Jack; and ASimpleSparkle’s Ildred are also all hanging around watching the performances. There’s a blooper on the bloopers blog as well as a Spot My Sim! Feature. These are unedited photos showing where your sims were in the crowd in the majority of the scenes. My apologies if your sims didn’t appear. After about the 4th day in CAS agonizing over hair and clothing and skin I just went and grabbed a bunch of households from the exchange to dump in so I could get things moving. Hopefully more sims will appear later on. 

A final huge thanks! To all of you for sticking around waiting on The Sixkillers to appear again. <3