4| Our New Reality

You know that moment when life seems to be hitting you hard, and just as you figure out how to roll with the punches, the floor falls out from under your feet? You find yourself falling down into an abyss that you cannot escape from. This is my reality.

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3.1| This Adventure Called ‘Life’

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Hi again!

Hi everyone! This Internet thing is so exciting, writing this for people I may never meet!! I am doing really well, I love waking up and seeing this world around me, it’s all so wonderful!

X22
Daddy says I came from the stars.

I started looking up at the night sky after seeing my big brother Cayson doing it. At first I just wanted to see what he saw in this activity…but now, I love seeing the nighttime sky. I came from there apparently, somewhere up in that huge cosmos…I wonder if I can visit one day? To see space…that would be amazing.

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Daddy says my art is amazing!

I like to do art like Daddy and Cayson…even if I feel like I am not that good at it yet!

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“Ew Red, you are a stinky boy!”
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Our little Girl Scout!

I’m glad Dad enrolled me into the Scouts program instead of the Acting activity Aunt Hope suggested. Being a Scout is so much fun! It’s filled with adventures, learning, and trips!

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*BOINK* Oops!
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Yuck, I wanted a FISH, not SEAWEED!

Tonight was a different kind of night. It was an important rite of passage – one I couldn’t partake in quite yet. I wasn’t old enough Dad said…so we fished instead, while my brothers did this generation’s Family Tradition, which is finding a stray pet in need of a good home…I cannot WAIT until I am old enough to find mine. Soon Dad says, soon. But how soon is soon?

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“HISS!”

On second thought…I can wait.

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Sometimes I wish I was normal.

I tried to find a stray…I did. But they all hate me. I think they know I’m not human…that I’m not from here. I hate being different sometimes.

X30
Tonight was awesome anyway!
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Whiskers is a good cat.

At least Cayson’s cat likes me.

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Coexisting siblings! SMILING!

Speaking of Cayson, he may like me a LITTLE bit better now??? Maybe? He still doesn’t really talk to me, but that’s okay. I know I kinda messed up the family dynamic when I came along. Just don’t tell Dad I know that, okay? He’ll get really upset. It’s not like it’s my fault…I was just born!

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Chores!
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Practice makes perfect!
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My room is my safe haven.

There’s some tension upstairs tonight, so I know it’s better if Beary and I stay down here.

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Whiskers and Monka are adorable!
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Imagination is a powerful brain activity.

I find the brain processes fascinating. I can sit here and dream up all sorts of adventures that aren’t even within the scope of our reality…isn’t that amazing?!

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Even if homework isn’t always fun, it’s awesome to learn new things!
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“Aw Red, you are stinky again! Just like that weird fish pie that never leaves our floor…”
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I like Oscar. Of my two brothers, he spends time with me and listens to what the other school kids call, the ‘chicken butt jokes’. They are silly, but funny!

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I think Cayson left me this violin. I found it by the stairs going down to my room this morning.

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School projects!
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Dad helps me with my projects. I know something is amiss with our family, but he won’t tell me what’s going on. I’m too young, he says. Red seems really upset about something. If only I was older, maybe I could help.

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More homework!
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Oscar sitting in my pink chair at my purple desk makes me giggle!

I help Oscar with his advanced STEM courses and he helps me with my English and History. I have the best brother ever! Although I am jealous of his STEM courses, I can’t wait for high school!

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Practice, practice, practice!
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Currently the only thing that can stand my violin playing is the strange glowing plant in the backyard. I hope my music doesn’t kill it…

X48

I think this here is my favorite memory. Oscar is helping me with an English essay and my typing while I call out my moves on his chessboard. I love my family, even if I kind of messed things up for the Brooks…oops?

Xialla

3| Thoughts On The Future

O137
I need to lose some weight if I want to make my school’s sports teams.
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It’s not exactly a walk in the park!

I’ve taken to working out…it’s not exactly my favorite thing to do! What can I say, Dad is an excellent chef….haha…but my workout was cut short, cause Dad had somewhere to show us!

O139
It’s time for the Family Tradition!

So, every generation of our family has adopted a stray for themselves basically…and now it’s our turn. I found this elderly puppers pretty quickly.

O140
He seems to listen pretty well…or is it a she?
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“You need a good bath and a brushing, don’t you?”
O142
Oh yes…a bath time is much needed!
O143
Brotherly love.

I spent some time chatting with Cayson. He’s been struggling lately…but he won’t let me in on it. Understandable – I’m his little brother, and big bros don’t talk to little bros about their crap you know? That’s what my friends at school say anyway. Ah well, eventually he’ll talk to me.

O144
“Scrub a dub in this tub Monka!”
O145
“Oi! Don’t make ME wet you furball!”
O146
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“Good boy Monka…or a girl? Yeesh haha!”

I named my new puppers Monka, seemed like a good name! He’s…she’s…*AN: I don’t remember…* a sweet puppers. I love her already!

O147
I’m getting better at athletics!
O148
Gotta keep pushing on through the pain!
O149
Another Scouts badge!

I am doing excellent at my schoolwork, and as a Scout…life is going pretty good for me. I just wish I knew what I want to do with my life. I could do anything…I have an interest in science, mathematics, computers…but I am also pretty active, I don’t want to sit at a desk forever you know? There must be something…

O150
Monka is a dirty doggo…thankfully I am a responsible pet owner!
O151
“Hey Oscar honey…have you seen or heard from Marin by chance?”
O152
“No Aunt Hope…I haven’t. Have you asked Cayson?”

My cousin Marin is missing…I knew she had troubles at home, and her and her mom fought a lot, but I can’t imagine running away from home…maybe something happened to her? The cops can’t find her, Dad’s military contacts can’t find her…she’s not DEAD is she? Surely not…Cayson says he knows nothing about her being gone, but I know he’s lying. He has a tell; his left pinkie twitches and curls ever so slightly when he lies. I don’t know if I should confront him or not…

O153
I knew Dad is struggling with Marin and Aunt Hope, so I helped out with Xialla’s studies.

At least things are going good with my little sister. It’s refreshing to hang out with her…she sees the world with such bright eyes, and if I have any issues with my Calculus 2 homework she can help me instantly…and I help her in turn with History and English. She loves school and doing her homework with me.

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Don’t worry, I take some time for myself too!
O155
My favorite genre is Mystery…spies are pretty cool!
O156

Dad got me a present for my Scout progress and excellent grades, a chess table and a computer for my room! I love to spend my evenings getting better at chess and Logic while thinking on the future. There’s a college and career fair soon at school, and I plan on attending. Britechester has a lot of great programs, as does Foxbury…but I like the idea of Britechester more. Still, Dad’s right…I have some time to decide still. I just want to make a decision soon, in order to properly prepare.

Until next time…Oscar

3| Ups and Downs

C214

Having a teenage brother is kinda cool. I can finally show him the funny memes I’ve been collecting these last few weeks!

C215
Where do I belong in this world?

I am doing okay. I keep a facade on…but I know that Marin is gone now. I know it. If she isn’t gone, she will be soon. I hate having to keep this secret, I do, but…she would do it for me. She needs this. I don’t know where she is exactly…and that’s by design. This secret is eating away at me…I just hope she gets in contact soon and lets everyone know she is okay.

C216
The night sky is soothing.

I didn’t tell her how this knowledge eats away at me, of her running away. I knew she wouldn’t let me in on any of it then, she would be too concerned. It’s better that I know than if I didn’t…I think I would honestly go crazy if I didn’t know what she had planned. It has to be this way…the family wouldn’t let her go at all, even if she asked nicely. She said she tried to talk to her mom about leaving before, and Aunt Hope got really upset.

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Cooking is my passion.
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I like connecting with other chefs through my videos.

To take my mind off of things, I threw myself into my hobbies. However I wasn’t able to do this long…Dad took all of us out to Deadgrass Island to pass on the ‘Family Tradition’…

C219
This dog and I didn’t get along…AT ALL.

Dad was very excited to show us this place…basically, Grandma adopted a stray cat, then she took Aunt Hope and Dad to adopt some strays, and now it’s our turn. Alright, I guess. I tried to get along with this dog, but he hated me…

C220
“Wanna come home with me fella?”

But, after getting growled at and nearly bit, I abandoned that dog and kept wandering about the island…don’t get me wrong, this tradition is cool and all, but I am just not into it now. Xialla seems to be the only one excited, but she’s not old enough yet and Oscar is probably just doing it to appease Dad, the people-pleaser he’s grown up to be. Ugh.

C221
This cat has pretty eyes.

Eventually, I heard a little meow…and found this adorable cat staring up at me.

C222
“Hi there, do you want to come home with me?”

This cat seemed cold, but also very intelligent. Those amber eyes…I feel like this cat could sense the turmoil going on inside my soul. It meowed once more, and I couldn’t help but reach down to rub its ears, and the purrs it gave off soothed me.

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“You’re kinda playful, aren’t you?”

I happened to have a laser in my pocket, and it was quite enjoyable to sit here and play with this cat.

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“Let’s go home Whiskers.”

After a while, I named it Whiskers and with a lighter heart, I took my kitty home.

C225
I swear, this house is haunted.
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I spent some time painting.
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Whiskers likes to climb!
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“Hooman! Why you not leave your room? Silly boy…go outside! Stop moping!”

Oscar’s dog, Monka, kept coming into my room and annoying me slightly. Just slightly…fine, I’ve been in my room a lot…but I haven’t been moping…just busy.

But I wasn’t all gloomy allllll the time! I met someone new at school, she’s pretty cool.

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C231
I hope you are okay Marin…wherever you are.

Still…I couldn’t completely escape my troubles. They were always there, waiting on me.

C232
“Come on Cayson, these grades are unacceptable.”

Mom was getting on my case a lot…sure, my grades were slipping, but I just…I don’t really care right now. It’s all I can do to keep myself together…but the drinks and pills my friends at school give me in the bathroom help some. I know it’s shady…but they are my friends! They won’t give me anything that’s harmful. I trust them.

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Whiskers loves her new home.
C234

Mom is seriously concerned about my grades…because she is quite sick and yet she is infecting my project! Although if my teacher is out for finals…maybe we’ll all get an A…Mom, would you sneeze on this part right here?

C235
“Hey Mom, I got a B in History!”

Still, despite my grumbling, I tried a little bit harder in school. I’m a C student, but I am slowly getting B’s. Slowly.

C236
Science isn’t SO bad…

I also swallowed my pride and asked Blaz for help with Biology and the other sciencey stuff. He’s a huge geek for all of it, and that meant one less bad grade for Mom to gripe over.

C237

And with better grades, that means more time for haunted house cooking! YAY!

C239
I’m getting better at this editing thing.
C240
Meet Lucia Hathaway.
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She’s a new friend from school.
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She’s really nice.
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And very pretty.
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We both are a bit awkward.
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But we’re totally just friends.
C246
Weirdos! Just kiss already! I better watch this young one…
C247

Later that night I took Red for a bit of a jog, feeling pretty nice and energized! Grades are doing well, my social life is booming…

C248

I can totally do this. I’ll be okay. I will be!

C249
Hooman, stop drinking that poison you idiot!

But…maybe a little bit of this can’t hurt…

Cayson

3| Family Tradition and News

It’s been a while. Autumn is nearly done, winter is soon to come. To be honest, it’s hard to tell what’s autumn and what’s winter here in Strangerville…I miss the snow of Granite Falls.

Our kids are growing up. Cayson is distant, has been for a while. I don’t know what to do about that…I am sure he will come to me eventually. Oscar may be a teenager now, but he’s nothing like his older brother. He isn’t afraid to tell us what is going on, and he loves his little sister. Xialla is growing by leaps and bounds too, she’s doing well in school and Scouts, which is great! Really, it is. I just wish the worry in my stomach and tightness in my chest would ease every time she walked out that front door. I am deeply afraid for her safety, especially here in Strangerville.

I am tired more often now.

I find myself feeling my age more and more. Red will often be by me as I nap, and I find more and more grey hairs when I stare in the mirror.

He takes his studies seriously.

Of my three children, I worry the least about Oscar. He has a good head on his shoulders. He’s talking about sports teams, universities…he’s thinking of Britechester. He worries about what he will do with his life, but I keep telling him he has time to decide. University is a place to discover yourself, is it not?

Taking my little girl for some late night fishing.

But enough of that. I am sure you are curious about the ‘Family Tradition’ part of this post, and here it is. I finally decided it’s time for my brood to learn about the Family Tradition. Hope took her kids to the docks, I took mine to the island of strays. Xialla is a bit young to find one herself, so she and I spent our time fishing while her older brothers went and found their strays.

Cayson had some trouble finding a compatible pet while Oscar found Monka right away! Success, another generation of strays!

Despite my worries and troubles, I am very proud of my boys, and what great young men they have become. I hope they pass this tradition onto their kids…I explained it to them, and how Mom did this for us, but ultimately, it is their decision.

Monka seems grateful and happy in her new home.

Xialla is still our little princess, and despite the strange circumstances of her birth, Lyssa considers her a daughter. If only she didn’t have to grow up…

Unfortunately, time never stops, even if that’s all we wish for. Soon my babies will be grown and gone, and Lys and I will just be dust in the ground. With more free time on my hands, I think on the future a lot. Will they be okay without us? What about Blaz and Marin? Does Hope think on the same things that I do? It sucks being an adult, it really does.

Yes, life does go on. Unfortunately, it likes to throw curveballs…Hope came by one night as I was installing the latest firewalls on Oscar’s new computer. Couldn’t be too cautious, right? She was nervous…and worried. I could see the tear stains through her makeup. What was going on?

“Andi…have you seen Marin by chance?”

Marin? What’s wrong with Marin? “No, haven’t seen her or talked with her. Why?”

“I…maybe it’s nothing. A teenager thing maybe. She left home last night, I’m not sure where she is.”

“Well…I can ask some of my conta-“

“No, don’t. She’ll come home, I’m sure of it.” She swallowed with difficulty as tears leaked from her eyes. “She and I haven’t been getting along recently…so it’s probably just that. Maybe she needs some time to be by herself…”

“Will you and Erwin be okay? How’s Panda handling this?” She shook her head.

“Blaz doesn’t know, yet. Erwin is trying to track her social media, you know how he is…I’ve looked all over Del Sol, but there’s nothing so far. She’s off the grid, for now. I’ll be okay. As soon as I find her, I will be fine. Don’t worry.”

I did what I could to comfort her, but I worried. I worried greatly.

I quietly looked into the Marin situation, and Lyssa made sure to keep Cayson in line. His grades were beginning to plummet, and his attitude was slipping. She was able to smile and record, and it was all I could do to not curl up and scream at the world. Why…why was this all happening?

I hid all of this from Xi though. She was too young and innocent. It was my job as her father to protect her, and to keep her spirits up. Red kept patrolling her room, he was such a good boy! I made sure her projects were excellent quality and that she had hugs and a good bedtime story. She wouldn’t be affected by all of this, if I could help it.

Speaking of Cayson…a girl came by the other day. They seemed rather chummy.

Sibling love.

I am grateful to Oscar for helping Xialla with her homework. She still struggles with simple concepts, but she can do his Calculus homework with ease. I suppose it’s how her brain is different from a normal sim’s? She enjoys his company, which is great, because Cayson just kind of coexists with her and that’s it. I worry this hurts her in some way.

It seems like all I do is worry now. It’s been a few days, and I can’t find Marin. The MILITARY cannot find my niece, and not for lack of trying. It’s as if she has disappeared from the face of the earth. My heart is sick for Hope, for our family. I can only pray Marin will come home soon. As for Cayson, I fear the worst is yet to come with him…what am I going to do? What can I do to prevent this happening to my family? Marin…if you are reading this, please come home. We love you, your Mom loves you. Please…come home.

Andi

3| It’s Time

I’d say my teen years have gone pretty good for me. I’m a Llamacorn Scout and a straight A high school student. I’ve led a pretty awesome life, but I know there is more to this world than just Del Sol.

What lies in wait for me at the end of this week? My birthday is soon, and my mind is full of questions.

My heart yearns for freedom and the thrill of adventure.

I could become anyone, do anything. I am fierce. I am Marin Brooks.

Yet…doubt lingers. Can I really leave this all behind?

Despite our problems, I truly do love my family. If I were to leave, I would miss them terribly.

Aw Cinnamon. I think I’ll miss you the most.

I can’t chicken out. The world is a scary place, sure, but I want to go experience it. I’m a free-spirit, and free-spirits need to roam.

I just hope my family will understand.

They won’t know where I will have gone, except Cayson. He knows. He’s always known. I know it’s a huge burden on him to keep my secret…but he’s been the bestest cousin and friend a girl could ask for.

When it came time for Mom to pass down the family tradition, I paid attention and observed them as I fished. I wouldn’t be in any position to take care of a pet for a long while, but maybe once I get settled I could find a little one that needs a good loving home.

Could I really do it? Leave all of this behind? I love my family. This is going to hurt them terrribly, Watcher knows I would kill Blaz if he did what I am about to do. Am I being selfish?

I slept on it, but slept poorly. I really want this, even though it will hurt me too. It’s not an easy decision to make.

I could stay, and keep them happy. I would not be. I would become…I don’t know what I will do if I stay. I have no idea who I will become when/if I go, but I’ll figure it out.

The answers lie beyond this valley and beyond the shadow of my family’s legacy. It’s time for me to leave school and all of this behind and find my niche in this world. Thus, I made my decision.

Later that night I harvested everything I could from the flourishing garden, questioning my decision. Could I really do this?

I could, I knew that. I was Marin Brooks, and a Brooks never gave up. I’d succeed and become…whoever I want to be.

I’ve done the research. I’ve charted my maps. I know what to do. I know where I am going. I’ve prepared…and said my goodbyes. I left a note. I’m too much of a chicken to tell my family in person…and I know Mom would never let me go. She wants to protect me, but that’s not up to her anymore. It’s time for me to chart my own path.

I looked around my room one last time, it’s been a wonderful safe haven for a long time. Maybe soon it will be filled with another free spirit like me, one of Blaz’s children. Maybe I will come back and visit…no, I definitely will. I have their numbers, I can contact them if I want to. One day I will.

It’s time to go and find my own destiny.

It took several hours and some of my carefully saved pocket money to get out here to Brindleton Bay…goodness it’s COLD! I am more of a warm weather person, which is where I am going.

I am excited to take these steps to this adventure…but I also worry if I am making a mistake. I am hurting my family doing this, I’m so selfish…

Yet here I am doing it anyway. There is no easy way to do this, no easy fix. If I stay I am suffocating, but they are happy. If I leave, they are hurting and worried but I am happy. There is no way to make both parties happy, because Mom would never support my dream in this. One day I will find a way to make this right, I swear.

The answers await for me, in Sulani. Goodbye Del Sol…goodbye Strangerville…goodbye Uncle Andi, Aunt Lyssa, Cayson, Oscar, Xialla, Blaz, Dad…goodbye Mom. One day we will meet again, and I will find a way to explain everything. For now, do not worry, I will be safe, I will make it in life. After all, I’m a Brooks, and you all have taught me well. I know I will be happy, and I want you all to be happy too. So goodbye, for now. I love you all.

Marin