70. Ending

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Beacon

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For almost three years Sue and Bob Cleaver had waited. Through endless nights of waiting for phonecalls, desperate internet searches, terrible conversations with police. Through the birth of their son. Through that fateful day of seeing the news story break and the desperate, awful weeks of waiting to be able to come here because only a few families at a time had been allowed here. Through a journey in sleep to a place hidden in secrecy.

And now she was here. Now they had their daughter back. Now they could be whole once more.

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‘I can’t believe you waited until I’d gone to give me a brother!’

They laughed and cried into a family hug, holding each other as tight as possible until Henry started to squeal his disapproval at being squashed.

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Jennifer took her brother into her arms, marvelling at the younger sibling she had always longed for – she already loved him more deeply than she’d imagined was possible.

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And when she started to tickle him, the little boy squealed with delight.

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She squeezed him tight.

‘I am so happy to meet you Henry. I always wanted a little brother or sister. And I am always, always there for you.’

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Bob and Sue collapsed into each other with joyful tears as they saw the moment they had long dreamed of – their children playing together at long last.

Jenny looked different – no make-up, her hair un-styled, she was a little slimmer, a little taller – but she was still as beautiful and as lovely as the moment she was born, as the moment she was taken and as every moment inbetween.

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‘Shall we go back to our place? I want to show you some of our favourite places on the way back. Oh, and I can’t wait for you to meet Leif.’

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Bob and Sue had always envisaged fighting with Jenny over her staying out late, or boys staying over. They had never imagined the first time they would meet a serious boyfriend of hers would be them meeting her husband several months after they married. Jenny and Leif had been living in a lovely home, decorated with beautiful art that they proudly told them they’d created themselves. But meeting a new son-in-law was a somewhat strange experience.

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‘So Leif, tell us something about yourself. Where are you from? What do your parents do? Have they been out yet?’

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‘I came from Sweden, from a place called Malmo. I have two brothers and a sister – I’m the youngest one. My mother and father are both, how is it in English? Civil servants, I think you say. Work for the government. They come next week, we’re very excited to see them.’

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They chatted for over an hour, but Leif could see that Jennifer’s parents were desperate to spend some time with her, so he made excuses about needing to check on a sculpture commission and said he’d be back later.

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After a moment’s silence, Sue said what she’d been biting back for the past hour. ‘Well, he seems like a lovely boy, Jen. But I thought they said marriages could be annulled.’

‘They can. But we don’t want to. We love each other.’

‘I’m sure you do, sweetheart, but you’re only eighteen’, Bob replied.

‘Almost nineteen. And that’s beside the point. We’re adults. We love each other. We’re happy.’

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‘But at your age you shouldn’t be tied down. Marriage and kids, those things can come later. You need to live your life first, go to university, discover what you want to do.’

‘I know what I want to do. I know exactly what I want to do. I don’t need to go to university – I’ve had all the training I need.’

‘But Jenny…’

‘It’s Jennifer now. I prefer it that way.’

‘But you always hated being c… never mind. Look at your friends, look at Katie and Lucy and Emma – they’re all at university, and they’re having a great time.’

‘But that’s for them. They were always cleverer than me, always better than me at school, but I’ve found the thing I’m good at, and I’ve had so much time to dedicate to it, to my textiles, to my art.’

‘But you could go to art school.’

‘But I don’t want to. I don’t need to. I’m busy, I have work, I have commissions. Leif too – he’s such a fantastic sculptor, you’ve seen what he can do. And we have so many people wanting our work, we just don’t need to go to university. We love what we do now.’

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‘But he will be wanting to go back to Sweden and see his family. Will he really want to come home with you and live in England?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘It’s a big deal, moving to a new country. Well. You know that, of course. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… But I mean…’

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‘Mum. Dad. We are home. This is where we belong. We’re not going to live in England. We’re not going to live in Sweden either. We live here. We’re staying here.’

Sue and Bob felt it like a punch in the guts and it was a moment before either could speak. Eventually, his voice cracking, Bob made an attempt.

‘But… you can’t. This place…’

‘This place is my home. When I came here I was so upset, so disoriented, we all were. But soon I realised that this was the best thing that had ever happened to me – to be chosen because of my talents, chosen because of what I could do, to have those talents nurtured… I was never bright like Katie or Lucy or Emma, I was never going to be the brainiest girl in class, but here I’ve been given so many opportunities and I was so – I didn’t know at the time, I thought you had chosen, you and school, I thought it was all planned – and I was so happy. It felt so right.’

Tears streamed down Sue’s face and she felt them stinging against the blotchy skin on her cheeks but she couldn’t stop them as she tried to reason with her daughter.

‘But we didn’t… how could we have… I mean none of it was…’

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‘I know you didn’t choose it. And I know it’s been awful for you and I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry you went through that, I’m so sorry I can’t make that better. And I know you’re mad at this place and you have every right to be. But you have to understand that this has made me. It’s made me who I was born to be – it’s brought me the man I love, it’s helped me develop my purpose. And I wish I could take your pain away, but you have Henry now. And we will visit. They’re allowing us leave and we can visit you, and Leif’s family, and our friends, and that will be great. I can’t wait to visit the girls at their universities and to go to Sweden and to come back and see granny and grandad and grandma and everyone else. And you can come visit us here too, and they’ll sort out your travel and it will all be OK.

I promise you won’t ever lose me again. I love you so much, I really do. And Henry. I can’t wait to get to know him better. But this is my home. This is where I belong. I’m not your little girl any more, I’m not Jenny Cleaver now. I’m Jennifer Craft, and I’m married to Leif Craft, and I have a passport in two nationalities now – British and Beaconese. I love you so much, and I’ll always be your daughter, but… you always taught me to be what I wanted. You always said you’d support me in what I chose to do. So this is my choice. This is what I want. This is my life.’

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The water from Leif’s sculpture splashed into its bowl before journeying back to its source and once more cascading down. Sue, Bob and Jennifer sat in silence for a moment until Henry’s call punctured the air.

‘I go play now?’

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Over the next two days before their return, Sue and Bob got to know Leif and got to learn who Jennifer was – something of the old Jenny, their little girl, but something else – someone else. A woman in her own right.

Losing their daughter was the worst experience of their lives but it had given them a son – two sons. And now they had the pleasure of getting to know the remarkable young woman they’d brought into the world all over again.

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As the time came for them to bid farewell – only for now, not forever, for Jenny… Jennifer and Leif had promised to visit soon – they remembered that had she spent those last years of her childhood at home, she would still, by now, have no doubt left – perhaps for university, perhaps to travel – growing up and leaving home was what young people did best.

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The years that had been taken from them could never be replaced, not by any amount of compensation nor any ‘official apology.’ But during that time their daughter had been given something they could never have provided, and she was happy. Their lives would form a sequence of travelling and returning, parting and coming together. As they watched the sea roll its way towards the shore they remembered this was the natural order of things. The ebb and flow, the waves and the crashes, the calm and the storm.

They held each other tight and listened to their son’s breath as he lay sleeping in the middle of their embrace, living and growing between them.

Author’s note: So this is it! Or is it? Whilst the story ends here, there were a few characters whose journeys I felt had further to go. For that reason, I’ve written five little epilogues, each set five years in the future. You can read them here:

Standing
Freedom
Living
Horizons
Merry Christmas

Thank you so much for reading this story. I’ll put a longer thanks in the next entry. I know some people will still have questions, so I’ve got a Q&A page now. Please ask things there and I’ll put up any answers…

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About Rad

Sheffield based academic and entertainment geek.
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20 Responses to 70. Ending

  1. pinkfiend1 says:

    Absolutely brilliant story Rad. It’s strange thinking that some newer people are staying whilst older residents are leaving.
    It must be hard for Jenny’s parents to know she won’t come home to them. But at least she is happy with her life.

  2. marsar2 says:

    I read this final chapter a couple of days ago, but didn’t comment on it then, since I wanted to think about what I wanted to say first :D.

    This was the perfect ending to such a wonderful -and wonderfully told- story, as it feels that the cycle is now complete. It may be far from for perfect to all the people involved in this story, but they’ve all grown and learnt some valuable lessons along the way.

    I loved how you used a dystopian world (well, it wasn’t *that* dystopian in the end, but still) to talk about, well, humankind: about their fears, inconsistencies and the constant search for… something.

    Beacon and the other communities may have meant well, but they failed to acknowledge (in my opinion) that it’s the freedom to be our own individuals that makes us human beings. Hopefully, those will become ‘healthier’ places now that the people who are staying back have really chosen to live there.

    PS: I do hope you didn’t mind my comment too much, I sometimes get too carried away with my thoughts.

  3. SimBlip says:

    Yes. A brilliant story and a perfect ending.
    The ‘speech’ from Jenny/Jennifer gave me goosebumps. And the last scene with Bob, Sue and little Henry was beautiful.
    To forgive without forgetting, to start anew without regretting… that is ideal.
    Thank you so much for this story!

    • Rad says:

      Thank you for all your reading/commenting, it’s lovely to have people who kept going with it despite my long gaps in the middle between updates 🙂

  4. christina says:

    Omigosh, I read like the whole thing today and its sooo good! I was clutching my tablet the whole time. I think I may need more counselling than Susie. :O

  5. I was kinda unsure on what to say in my comment so I left it for a few days before commenting in case I sounded really stupid haha 😀

    This ending was amazing! And even better I finished reading it on my birthday which was on the 28th of December and it was a good ending to my day. I’ve loved every minute reading your story, waiting (sometimes not patiently, haha) for the next chapter and being really happy reading them.

    This last chapter made me cry, just a litle bit. This was because of a few things. I’ve read this from the start and it has been told amazingly well and I wish I could have your talents of story telling and photography in sims 🙂 and because of Jenny, or Jennifer’s, speech. I thought she would of went and spoke to Katie, but I like the ending you told. I like that Jenny and Henry get on so well too.

    Every character had an amazing ending and you made it all flow nicely together and although I’m sad it’s finished, I have time to read more of your other stories now and hopefully I’m soaked into them as much I was this one! Thanks for the amazing ending 🙂

    • Rad says:

      I was going to put in Jenny and Katie’s phone call, but it wouldn’t have added anything to the story and would have just been there for the sake of it, so decided it was enough that you knew it had happened. Thanks for a lovely comment!

  6. Heather says:

    I have gotten so much joy out of this story for so long. I bet it feels weird to have it winding to a complete close. Your stuff was the first stuff I ever found when I goggled “Sims 3 Story Ideas” to inspire my own gameplay which had become a bit boring. It was a LONG time ago! And with your inspiration, and the inspiration of others like you, I even have my own little happening blog. I don’t know what I’m really trying to say – thank you? Mixed with adoration for you lovely story. It’s been a fun journey.

    • Rad says:

      I am glad, and a little sad, to have finished this story. And bless you, that’s very sweet of you, thank you so much for being a loyal reader!

  7. Tipix says:

    Bitter-sweet to be reading the final chapter, felt a tad like waking up slowly after a great dream. But, it is lovely to see Jennifer reunited with her family again after all this time! Fantastic wrap up of a story with so many different parts, I am especially glad you’ve added those few epilogues.

    • Rad says:

      Thank you – and thank you for being there for the whole journey! I know I’m behind with your legacy, but am off work this week so I get to catch up! Yay!

      • Tipix says:

        Well, with my lack of Sim-designated time I feel more like the nosy neighbour peeking in once in a while, but it was great to be able to read a few chapters at a go each time. Enjoy your week off!

  8. Florallure says:

    While it’s really late of me to stumble upon this story but I just have to say, awesome plot and narration! It didn’t take me long to finish 70 chapters because of how interesting it is and how I just kept wanting to delve further in! I have tried story telling with Sims 3 and I know it’s not easy, especially with the photo takings / poses etc. I do hope you get notified of new comments as it’s always nice to know someone still appreciates your hard work years later. 🙂 Cheers!

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