Tusnelda and Trix

88. Lottery winners and losers

Before you read today’s chapter, I want to give a warning. The most recent chapters have had a lot of light and hope in addition to the mess and I could feel that the readers were with me on the path I was taking. It has given me a doubt and a form of resistance that I now choose to open up to something dark and sorrowful.
There are scenes in this chapter that are very emotional. As the title suggests, not everyone is equally lucky in the lottery of life. Some will experience themselves as winners and others as losers. Not everything is resolved in this chapter, but I hope everyone has found their gain and meaning in life by the time we reach the final chapter.

*****

Early morning in Willow Creek

As the first rays of sunlight rise over the horizon, Andy is still sleeping soundly in his cot.

The early morning light wakes the birds and at the first beep Andy is awake.

Andy loves mornings and he immediately sets about his latest favorite gymnastic exercise. Can he catch his big toe with his teeth?

Over time, even the most exciting challenge can become tediously repetitive. He sits up in the cot and listens for life. Apart from the chirping of the birds, the world seems deserted.

A closed door separates him from his dad and mum.

Andy first gives a few small whimpers before letting out a howl.

Suddenly, without him realizing how, his dad is standing next to him to offer him some comforting arms.

He is still whimpering as he sits in his father’s arms.

“Calm down kid, I’m with you.” says Allan in a calm voice.

With Andy safely in his arms, Allan walks into the living room.

When Allan places Andy in the high baby chair, Andy realizes that he probably has nothing more to whine about. High chair means breakfast is on its way.

He sends his father a grateful smile when he sees that Allan shares his opinion. Right in front of him he now sees a glorious glass of rice porridge.

Yummy! Rice porridge is definitely his favorite.

Luckily there is more where it came from. Yum!

Alice is still in bed, sleeping. She loves being able to stay in bed in the morning safe in the knowledge that Allan will take care of all of Andy’s needs.
Allan loves the morning routine with Andy, so why would she object?

Andy adores his dad. He is the embodied symbol of a continuous supply of food and security.

Allan has put Andy on the floor and goes to open the toy chest.

He returns with a colorful little koala bear in his hand.

It has been a few days since Andy has seen the little bear, so it is being examined with the thorough interest that the encounter with something new requires.

This gives Allan time and peace to eat his breakfast without interruption.

*****

Now Alice is awake.

Alice sits down with her breakfast on a stool where she can keep an eye on Andy’s play. Allan, on the other hand, cannot take his eyes off Alice.

When she stands up, he takes his chance to say a proper good morning.

Andy interrupts their venture with some loud, eager sounds: “Da da daa!”

“That’s my little clever boy! He calls his dad that he shouldn’t forget their morning exercise.” Allan says, lifting Andy high above his head.

Andy chuckles as his father makes funny snoring sounds against his stomach.

*****

Allan has placed Andy on the floor and encouraged him to crawl.

“Hey, you weren’t born a baby seal Andy. If you want to get ahead in the world you have to strengthen your arms.” Allan urges.

Andy struggles to get control of his arms and lifts his upper body high above the ground.

“That’s my boy!” Allan exclaims proudly.

Alice approaches smiling as a spectator to their joint training. There was a time when this sight would fill her with rage, but now when she feels loved in spite of everything, she has developed a milder perception.

Allan gets up from the floor and meets her gaze.

Andy bumps away from his parents as his father seems to have lost focus on his exercises.

In front of him is a cardboard dollhouse that should be investigated.

After another couple of bumps, he is at the finish line.

He grabs a small doll. It has a suitable size to be sought out with lips and teeth.

Suddenly there is a click from the bedroom door being closed and he turns around in surprise.

Where is everyone now?

His father and mother appear to have been absorbed in their own affairs.

He struggles to get up on his hands and knees.

If he is going to be able to follow them, he needs to master this technique.

After a moment, his muscles fail and he falls to his stomach with a bump.

He lies down for a while to gather new strength.

Then he’s back on his hands and knees. He tries to move one knee forward.

Bump! Here he lies again.

*****

A little later, Alice and Allan are sitting and talking on the edge of the bed. Their emerging harmony has opened up a new romance between them and they constantly reflect confirmation and love in each other’s eyes.

“Perhaps we should see what Andy is up to. He is remarkably quiet.” says Alice.

Yup! Andy is completely quiet and he probably will be for a while. It is thus up to Allan and Alice to entertain themselves for the rest of the morning.

*****

Early morning in Oasis Spring

Katrina lies in the dark listening to Don’s light snoring. The sound sends a satisfied shiver down the spine. He has returned.

Well begun is half done. She will return to him later, but now she will have to get up.

She has an early job today and later she will entertain a larger audience with piano playing during a family gathering. It is going to be a busy day.

When Katrina has left, Don gets out of bed.

He looks appraisingly at his own reflection in the large mirror on the wall.

It is today that he will participate in the award show in Del Sol Valley. It still puzzled him how and why he was appointed?

Someone must see something big in him. He knows he is handsome and the rest must be up to his charming appearance. It has opened doors before.

Maybe he should practice an acceptance speech? Thank his mother and his friends and supporters. He makes a few attempts but feels like an idiot since he has no idea who he will be talking to.

“Hey! I’ll be fine. I’ll win an award and move on with my life. That is it! No big deal.” He says to his mirror image.

He has not told Katrina about the show. Why should he? They are just casual friends. No obligations and expectations to participate in each other’s lives.

*****

He slips down the stairs to make breakfast.

To his surprise, he sees Joaquin Le Chien coming by with some laundry.

Don cooks up some scrambled eggs while pondering what he just saw.
He’s only been gone a few days and Joaquin is apparently part of the household now? When did it happen?

Joaquin? He is such a flamboyant hipster. What is his connection to this house?

Well, it’s not really his business, so Don tries to concentrate on the evening’s program instead.

He does the dishes and gets ready to take a shower.

Don is actually pretty decent when it comes to cleaning things up.

Half an hour later he is on his way to work. He hopes he will be able to attract the apprentices he needs without difficulty.

*****

Morning in San Myshuno

Fatima and Elijah are still close together in bed.

Elijah is awakened by a faint buzz from his cell phone. He silently slips out of bed.

He quickly leaves the bedroom so as not to wake Fatima. It is probably a customer who wants to order a photo assignment.

Customers must wait. Now he will first provide breakfast for himself and his love.

*****

A little later, Fatima wakes up and she immediately heads for the toilet.

On the way out, she sees the poster with Jade in a wedding dress.

Jade told her yesterday that Marcus finally proposed. She will become a beautiful bride.

Elijah is almost done making breakfast while his thoughts flow here and there. He remembers that he has to check his text message before planning the rest of the day.

Fatima washes her hands while thinking that this is the most horrifying bathroom she knows. She has discovered that Elijah loves black, but this room is old and worn out besides the gloomy appearance.

She quickly slips behind the shower curtain to take a shower. At least the water is hot.

*****

Fatima is surprised that Elijah is not in the kitchen, but she sees to her satisfaction that he has made her freshly made coffee. One of his many little everyday treats.

Elijah has sat down at his computer. A text message congratulated him on his lottery win. He therefore checks his bank account and can hardly believe what he sees.

Fatima! I’m a bloody MILLIONAIRE!!!!” he shouts loudly into the air.

Fatima stands over the dishes at the kitchen sink. She is unable to hear Elijah’s shouts behind two closed doors, but she hears his eagerness as he opens the kitchen door.

“Fatima! It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve won the lottery” Elijah cheers.

“You did?” replies Fatima with a big smile. Still unaware of the amount of money Elijah has won.

“I can buy you a new bathroom now!…. I can buy you ten bathrooms!” Elijah shouts enthusiastically.

“I can buy you a castle with bathrooms all over it.” he continues.

Fatima cannot avoid being infected by his joy, but so far she does not understand his ramblings. Ten bathrooms sounds pretty overkill?

She gives him a hug to calm him down.

“Fatima, you are my lucky angel. You have brought so much luck into my life. I am so grateful I have met you.” He mumbles with a soft voice.

“You can stop working and concentrate on web pages and what you love to do.” he says, stroking her cheek gently.

*****

It all sounds very good, but right now she is about to be late for work. Luckily it’s only a short walk across the hall.

She sees Marcus just inside the door to the clinic.

“Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.” Fatima says and gives Marcus a big hug.

“Congratulations? Why?” Marcus asks without understanding.

“I hear from Jade that you finally got your act together and bought her a ring.”

“Well yeah, you know what makes your woman happy serves itself big again.” says Marcus with a shrug.

“Marcus stop fooling yourself, I bet there’s a decent guy hiding somewhere behind your smooth facade.” Fatima replies with a smile.

*****

On the other side of the hall, an overjoyed guy has started dancing.

With so much joy in his body, he cannot possibly sit still.

Elijah wasn’t exactly poor but now he’s wealthy!

Money is not the most important thing in life, but it is a damn good foundation for a life of free choice.

Ambrosius approaches cautiously.

Ambrosius is a lazy cat and there is a lot that surprises him about his new human friends, not least their physically restless behavior.

Elijah takes Ambrosius into his arms and gives him a hug.

“I have won the lottery” he says, as if to convince himself and the cat that it has really happened.

Elijah sits down with Ambrosius on the couch. He strokes his fur. Fortunately, no one has claimed him.

“Do you know that you are a very rich cat, Ambrosius?” he laughs.

Ambrosius doesn’t understand Elijah’s speech about wealth, but he do know he has hit the bull’s eye by moving into this home. A filled food bowl and a litter box being cleaned. That is all the wealth he desires in life.

*****

Elijah sits down at the computer to research suppliers of bathroom renovations. Maybe he should take Fatima for advice. He has a feeling that she has a strong opinion about it.

Behind the scene

A picture from my screen. Even if the language is Danish and thus probably unreadable for the majority, the amount is not to be mistaken. Elijah has really won 1.000.000 simoleons. He is a millionaire!

*****

All these considerations and emotional upheavals is overwhelming. He gets up and gives the bed a longing look.

Maybe he should take a nap?

A little later he is fast asleep.

*****

Willow Creek before noon

Allan doesn’t have to show up at the barracks today, but regardless, he still fit his daily physical exercise.

Alice finds Andy on the floor in front of the dollhouse. He stretches in pleasure after a short nap.

Alice gives him a baby bottle. She has stopped breastfeeding him but she enjoys their little close time together. He’s still her baby.

Allan pulls a few last powerful pulls on the barbell with some strained grunts. He’s going to find the toilet.

Alice is standing with Andy in her arms when she feels a touch of fever.

She lifts Andy up and gives him a light pat on the rear to help a belch on its way. She feels so happy at this moment.

After the meal, Andy needs a clean diaper.

Andy cries in annoyance and snaps his neck back. He must be tired.

It’s time for his morning nap.

Alice has an annoying rash and she takes some medicine.

Andy rubs his eyes. He is tired despite the nap at the dollhouse.

He quickly falls asleep.

Alice is not feeling well so she crawls back into bed.

Since most of the house’s inhabitants are sleeping, we will leave them here.

*****

San Myshuno Private Clinic around noon

Fatima sits bent over her work behind the clinic’s reception desk.

Something seems to be challenging her.

She looks up as she hears Marcus coming out of his office.

“Fatima, I’ve been thinking since I don’t have any more clients today, I’ll call it an early day and ask Jade out on a date. Can I leave the rest to you?” says Marcus.

“I think that sounds like a great idea.” Fatima replies with a smile.

Neither of them know yet that someone is about to arrive to change Marcus’ plan.

*****

“Mrs. Andersen? Do we have an appointment?” Marcus asks in surprise.

“I am so sorry that I am coming without an appointment, but there is something that worries me about my pregnancy.” says Tusnelda apologetically.

“I’m sure Dr. Flex can find an emergency appointment on his calendar? Can’t you?” Fatima says, giving Marcus a look that cannot be contradicted.

“Of course. Will you please come with me.” Marcus replies.

Marcus shifts his mindset from the expectation of a romantic date to a professional attitude as they walk down to his office….

There may be some concern since Martin has come to support his wife…On the other hand, it is Marcus’ experience that first-time parents can often be overly concerned. Especially after a long period of unsuccessful attempts to achieve pregnancy. To this can be added the Internet’s abundance of more or less validated informations.

Marcus therefore calmly settles down behind his desk.

“Let me hear what I can do for you?” Marcus asks with amiable excess.

“I’ve been bleeding quite a bit…It can’t be good, can it?” Tusnelda asks uneasily.

“Oh? That might be a problem, but it needs a more thorough investigation.” replies Marcus, with a barely concealed frown.

In front of him he sees a couple who don’t seem to be reassured by that statement at all.

“This need not necessarily be cause for concern, but I’d suggest you come into the hospital tomorrow morning. I can do a thorough examination with some advanced equipment. Until then, you should go home and rest.” he continues.

Martin can’t keep his body still and he gets up from the chair. The only thing he has heard is that Tusnelda will be hospitalized tomorrow. There is no need to stay here any longer.

“Martin, will you wait for me outside? I want to ask the doctor something.” says Tusnelda.

“Of course Sweetie.” he replies in an unfamiliar despondent voice.

“Can I ask you some questions Doctor?” continues Tusnelda, addressing Marcus.

Martin hears the doctor’s and Tusnelda’s voices in the background, barely comprehensible as they are filtered through water.

That’s how quickly a mood can change from over the top happiness to deep concern.

“Won’t you sit down Mrs. Andersen so we can talk calmly together.” says Marcus.

In the waiting room, Fatima has sat down next to Martin.

“You look very depressed. Would you like to tell me a little bit about what’s going on?” she asks kindly.

“We have waited so long for my wife to become pregnant and now that she has finally succeeded, I think she is about to have an involuntary abortion.”

“Oh, I see.” Fatima answers sympathetically.

“Well, as long as you haven’t gotten a definite answer from the doctor, there’s still hope.” Fatima says.

Martin looks at her inquisitively as he looks for any sign that she believes her own statement.

“You are welcome to ask me any question and I will answer to the best of my ability.” says Marcus welcomingly.

“I think I have harmed my own fetus. I mean I didn’t think it required any special consideration and my work…I may have inhaled unhealthy smoke and…”

“You can’t take the blame Mrs. Andersen. A healthy fetus can survive in the most extreme conditions, but some fetuses just aren’t meant to be.” says Marcus calmly.

“So it’s dead!” Tusnelda exclaims in alarm.

“We don’t know that yet. Bleeding does not mean the fetus has perished, but may mean that you have to take some extra precautions during your pregnancy.” Marcus answers seriously.

“But it might be dead?” says Tusnelda despairingly.

Meanwhile, Fatima has listened to all of Martin’s concerns.

“I can follow your concern and I would say that it is important you share your thoughts with your wife. You are in this together.” says Fatima.

“But how can I possibly burden her with my thoughts?” Martin asks heavily.

Fatima feels a worry. She has seen several times how disappointments like these can tear couples apart due to unnecessary consideration.

“You should go home now and try to relax, then I will see you tomorrow at the hospital…. If you get worse, just go there regardless of the time and a colleague will be on duty.” Marcus says seriously.

“Thank you doctor.” Tusnelda replies in a barely audible voice.

Tusnelda slowly rises to her feet as she looks up as if searching for something up there that can give her some kind of strength.

The only sentence she hears repeated in her head the whole way through is: Some fetuses are not meant to be.

She looks over at Martin.

She can see that he is absorbed in his own worries. He has wanted this baby for so long.

Fatima looks up when she hears her coming.

She gets up quickly and comes towards her.

“How are you dear.” she asks.

“I’m so sad. I know I should feel hope, but I can feel something is wrong.” says Tusnelda.

“Oh dear, tell me if there’s anything I can do for you.” Fatima answers kindly.

“Thank you, but I just need to get home.” replies Tusnelda.

Where is Martin? He is the one who should be standing next to her now.

Martin casts an uncertain glance at Tusnelda as she approaches.

This is how they sit with an unspoken sadness as a barrier between them.

“I’m sorry Martin. I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment to you.” she says.

“But how can it be your fault?” Martin asks.

What if it’s her fault? She dares not say out loud what she thinks.

“I’m sad Tusnelda. It’s nothing to do with you. I’m just worried and sad.” he says.

“Will you take me home now Martin?” she asks.

“Yeah we better get going.” he says with a deep sigh.

Martin goes ahead to the elevator. Tusnelda stops. Her stomach hurts and she feels sick and very alone.

When they get down to the street, the nausea returns. That should be a good sign, shouldn’t it? A sign of hope.

I will return to Tusnelda and Martin in the next chapter. There will now be a natural break. Also, I will have to let them go because I can’t stand being in this feeling anymore.

*****

Willow Creek just after noon

We will now turn to this couple, where the atmosphere is fortunately playful and bright.

“Are you feeling better?” Allan asks kindly.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Alice replies with a smile.

Allan is stretching when he hears the doorbell ring.

“I see who it is.” he says.

As he walks towards the door he sees the outline of his superior. It is highly unexpected.

Alice sees the Grand Marshal standing and talking to Allan. He looks upset. It can’t be good news.

She goes into Andy’s room and picks him up from the cot.

She sees Rasmus’ gentle features on his face. He is such a blessed little child.

She sits uneasily in the rocking chair with Andy on her arm.

She has a really bad feeling about this visit.

*****

Allan and the Grand Marshal have sat down at the dining table to talk.

“I received an order from the Ministry this morning. This is highly classified material. This applies to the health and safety of the entire community.” says the Grand Marshal.

“I’m sorry to come to your house, but I preferred to deliver the message face to face. I will ask you to lead this special operation.” he continues.

“It would be an honor. When do I travel to StrangerVille?” asks Allan.

“You will have two days to get ready. Everything practical regarding accommodation has been taken care of. A small special team will be appointed for you to lead.” replies the Grand Marshal.

“Two days! That’s not much time….How much time does this special task require?” says Allan somewhat shocked.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to settle in for many months. Maybe until the mission is over. The city is under quarantine, so once you’ve arrived you’re not allowed to leave it again.”

“Oh! That’s a lot to take in.” Allan says, scratching thoughtfully under his chin.

“I know you have a wife and a small kid. I’m sorry you’re being singled out, Sergeant Minor.” says the Grand Marshal.

“It is an honor and more than my rank entitles me to.” Allan says as they stand up.

“This is not about rank, but about finding the best qualified. You have shown that you are able to work effectively towards your goals.” says the Grand Marshal.

“Salute Sergeant Minor.” says the Grand Marshal and salutes.

“Grand Marshal!” Allan replies seriously.

The Grand Marshal remains standing and looks with gentle eyes at Allan.

“Come on, Allan.” he exclaims, giving Allan a hug.

It is strongly against all rules, but Alan gratefully accepts it. For him the Grand Marshal is a role model, like a father he has missed.

*****

After the Grand Marshal leaves, Allan goes into Andy’s room to talk to Alice, but she completely ignores him.

“Should we find you some toys Andy? What do you say?” she babbles, turning her back on Allan.

With Andy on her arm, she walks into the living room, leaving Allan behind.

*****

“What’s going on Alice? I’m trying to communicate with you.” says Allan uncomprehendingly.

“I know very well what it is you want to say and I will not accept it. You cannot abandon your family and leave us in the lurch.” she says angrily.

“But it’s my job. It’s my duty.” says Allan, taken aback by the strength in her voice.

“I don’t give a damn Allan. Find another job. You have responsibilities and obligations here.” she says angrily.

Unfortunately, we also now have to leave this home in a tense atmosphere. That’s how quickly a mood can change.

*****

Afternoon at Starlight Boulevard in Del Sol Valley

That brings us to this guy who is absolutely unbound by obligations and considerations.

I guess we can all use a little lightness now and we know that Don is a master of taking the easy way to pleasures.

Now he is fast approaching Studio PBP where the award winners will be appointed.

He slows down when he sees a guard at the front door.

“There is no entry for the uninvited.” she says brusquely, measuring him from head to toe.

Perhaps he should have worn a suit, but the invitations made no mention of a dress code.

“My name is Don Lothario. I have an invitation.” he says with his most charming smile.

He hears her talking to a superior through her headset.

“Welcome Mr. Lothario. You may enter now.” she says coquettishly.

How do you do it Don? Turns one woman after another into docile lambs.

Don looks at the empty chairs in the room. He cannot see that anyone else has arrived.

He goes up to the bar and orders a drink. Slowly, more guests begin to arrive.

Since Don is a passionate sportsman, he orders sparkling water.

A single guy has sat in the front row. Perhaps readers will recognize Valentino.

He recognizes Don from the photograph on Delphine’s desk as he sits down in an empty chair next to him.

“You seem to love sparkling water.” he says with a friendly smile.

“Sorry what did you say?” Don asks, a bit taken aback.

“Let me introduce myself. I’m Valentino, a retired pilot from Selvadorada.”

“Oh, I’m Don Lothario. Personal trainer from Oasis Springs.” Don says.

“I have heard of you Mr. Lothario.” says Valentino.

“You have?” Don replies in surprise.

“Are you also here to receive an award?” Don asks

“No, I’ve come to present a special award to one of the award recipients, but I can’t reveal who.” Valentino replies kindly.

Of course, it’s obvious, so Don doesn’t ask any more questions.

*****

Afternoon in San Myshuno

For Fatima, it is only a few steps across the hall and she is back with Elijah.

She goes into the bedroom to change her clothes.

Now she sees to her astonishment that Elijah is sleeping.

“Elijah! Are you sick?”

He jumps out of bed in surprise. What time is it?

He gives Fatima a kiss on the cheek.

I was just a little overwhelmed. I’m fine…How was your day?”

“Don’t ask me. I think I’ve had the worst day in a long time.” Fatima says seriously.

“Why? Was it Marcus? What happened?” asks Elijah on guard.

“It has nothing to do with Marcus. He was as professional as you could ask for, but we have this sweet couple in treatment….. They have been clients at the clinic for a long time and they have finally succeeded in achieving pregnancy . I’m afraid she’s about to lose the baby.” says Fatima.

“Oh, that sounds terrible!” Elijah exclaims sympathetically.

“Yes, maybe the baby can be saved if she stays in bed for the whole pregnancy, but it’s not certain that it will help….I feel so sorry for them.” continues Fatima.

Wordlessly, Elijah offers to massage her shoulders.

Fatima tries to let go of all worries. It’s not hers to solve. She can just listen and be caring.

Elijah can feel her letting go.

“Are you feeling better now?” he asks.

“Sort of!” she replies.

“Fatima, I think I know what might lighten your mood.”

“Oh?” she replies.

“You and I are going to a music festival together… Are you with me.” he says eagerly.

“I don’t really know if I’m in the mood.” she says hesitantly…

“Well, never mind.” she surrenders.

“That’s my woman! Just the right spirit.” Elijah replies with a wink.

Somehow, Elijah always makes her feel good about herself.

*****

Late afternoon in Willow Creek

Alice is still trying to convince Allan that he should quit his job.

“I will not discuss it further Alice. I cannot fail an entire community. It is my duty and I leave the day after tomorrow. ” Allan says dismissively.

“You are a stupid selfish bully! What about Andy!? What about me!? I hate you!!!” Alice cries desperately.

“Calm down Alice.” Allan fends off.

“I can’t calm down. I hate to lose what we’ve got Allan. We’re good together now,” she cries.

He hates seeing her like this. He knows she is not as strong of character like him.

*****

Alice goes into the kitchen and Allan starts giving Andy his dinner.

Andy eagerly reaches for the spoonful of food.

“You’re such a little foodie. Will you ever learn to eat nicely?” Allan says softly.

He is definitely not unfazed by having to leave all of this.

Andy shows a worried face. The shouting in his family makes him uneasy.

Allan picks him up and puts him on the floor with his toys.

*****

“Alice I will support you all I can. We can hire a nanny and we can talk on the phone together…. Can’t we enjoy the last days together?” he asks gently.

“I guess so…but I’m scared, Allan.” she says.

“I know, but I believe in us. I believe we can make it.” he says.

When Andy hears his father and mother talking calmly together, he relaxes and he takes the first crawls across the floor.

With his own help, he has crawled the short distance across the floor to the koala teddy bear. His world is still good.

The world is safe as long as his father and mother stick together.

*****

Magnolia Blossom Park in Willow Creek

A singer sits at a piano in front of her audience.

The audience stands close together facing the artist.

In the first row we find Elijah and Fatima.

It is Fatima’s first outdoor music festival and she excited lets herself be carried away by the atmosphere.

Elijah looks alternately towards the musician and Fatima’s contagious joy.

He turns and gives her a kiss. She is irresistible.

A view of the happy audience… although not everyone continues to maintain the good mood.

I may have mentioned on one occasion that Elijah had a brief relationship with Akira Kibo. It must be said that Akira was far more in love with Elijah than the other way around, and it seems that Akira is now having a jealous rage at the sight of Elijah and Fatima together.

Elijah barely seems to notice him.

The first performer bows to the audience and there will be a short break in the music.

Fatima gives Elijah a kiss on the cheek which seems to rekindle Akira’s rage.

Elijah pick up some food at a food stall during the break.

The next musician takes the stage.

Elijah looks at Fatima. She is absolutely amazing when she listens to the music.

One last picture before we move on.

*****

Evening at Studio PBP in Del Sol Valley

We are back in Studio PBP, where the world-renowned actress Judith Ward is in the process of giving a moving acceptance speech. She can surely deliver a role so convincing that it can make any audience member cry. A performance that can make Don doubt his own legitimacy.

“I’m not sure what I’m doing in this gathering.” Don whispers to Valentino.

“You have received an invitation, haven’t you?” Valentino whispers back.

“I’m sure you’re as entitled as anyone here.” continues Valentino.

“What movie did you act in?” asks a woman in a green kimono

That is exactly the problem. Everyone in the room is an actor or a famous musician, so Don feels like he’s in the wrong show.

Now Don is called up to the stage.

“What did she say?” Don asks.

“She called your name” says Valentino.

“Did he have a role in The fighter?” asks the Kimono Lady.

“No, he’s an athlete.” Valentino answers.

Don receives his award for being a promising young athletic talent.

Afterwards, he can’t remember a single word from his acceptance speech.

However, he never forgets the rush of being named a winner.

Suddenly, it is all over….

*****

….However, not completely.

When Don wants to sit back in the chair, Valentino gets up.

“On behalf of the Committee for the Adventurers’ Club in Selvadorada, I want to present you with this special award.” Valentino says solemnly as he hands Don a gift.

“Another award for me!?” Don asks in surprise.

“You can call it both a certificate of honor as well as a travel grant.” Valentino explains.

Don carefully unfolds the diploma to read the full text.

Translation available here

*****

Wow! Don feels all giddy. He is going to participate in a jungle expedition with a famous professor.

He has no idea how he was singled out for this honor, but maybe it will give him a fresh start in life, as well as solve his current housing problems.

*****

Evening at Magnolia Blossom Park in Willow Creek

There is still music going on and good sales in the souvenir shop at the music festival.

Fatima is the wildest audience member of them all and the thoughts of her heavy day have long since disappeared.

As darkness descends, the last singer ends the concert.

The final number is a quiet tribute to the night.

Then it’s all over.

“Do you want to go home?” Elijah says, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Not before…!” Fatima says, interrupting her own sentence.

“You can wait until we get home. I’m going to take you under thorough treatment.” Elijah says with an emphasis that sounds more like a promise than a threat.

*****

Half an hour later they are home in Elijah’s bedroom.

Fatima approaches slowly.

We will leave them here as they stand in a sweet embrace. What they later spend the night on must be their own business.

*****

Late night at Studio PBP in Del Sol Valley

Don is living the life. He willingly strikes a pose for the many photographers.

Even the famous Judith Ward takes a picture of him. It gives him a thrill of pride.

Brytani Cho is a Solid Storyteller with acting dreams. She always tries to get the best connections until the film industry.

She is of course on the wrong track when it comes to Don’s director connections, but why would he disappoint her.

He graciously poses for a photograph and then writes a nice autograph on the picture for her.

*****

When the admiration of the excited fans wears off after a while, Valentino offers Don a drink.

Don gratefully says yes thanks.

Sure, Don is used to seducing women with his charm, but this extravagant celebration has been completely over the top.

There are still some awards to be handed out but Don lets these actors and musicians play their own game.

“I still don’t understand how I ended up at this award show? I mean actors and entertainers?” Don says.

“Maybe you just have to take the offers that come your way.” replies Valentino.

“That’s exactly my life philosophy and look where it’s taken me now. The audience cheered me on like a winner.” Don says.

“Yeah you sure got a lot of attention.” says Valentino.

“So that’s your biggest goal in life, to take it easy and let yourself be cheered like a young god? Aren’t you afraid of being lonely when the luster of youth fades?” asks Valentino.

Lonely!? …Don feels a stab in his chest. Where did that question suddenly come from?

“I don’t usually think that far ahead…I guess it’s not really part of the easy living philosophy.” Don says uncomfortably.

Valentino doesn’t answer, but instead takes a sip of his drink.

“I don’t usually talk about it, but lately I’ve been having a lot of doubts about what is the meaning of life?” Don says seriously.

“I can listen and I won’t tell anyone.” Valentino replies calmly.

They both take a sip of their drink and prepare for a long night of conversation. Somehow, Don has come to trust the laid-back old guy.

*****

We will end the chapter here. Quite unusual without pink sparks but with a view of the alluring lights of the big city.

Here the dream of fame and worship beckons. Many have lost their mind along the way and only a few achieve the big win.

Perhaps meaning and gain in life must be sought in a completely different place.

*****

Author’s note: I had no doubts about Abbas’ song for this chapter. Not because of the lyrics, but because of the atmosphere, which apparently celebrates a winner, but basically the song describes the loser. Winning or losing. Everyone faces it in life. The important question is what to do when it hits us. Enjoy!

*****

Credit:

Thanks to Mercuryfoam for her Music Festival and Concert Mod that brings The Sim Sessions event back into the game, every Sunday on the outskirts of Magnolia Park.
Mercuryfoam has also helped me with a small mod that made it possible for Don to receive an award. 💖

5 Comments

  • cathytea

    I’m glad that you are willing to share with us all the various flavors, joys, and challenges of life. I’m really interested in this new development for Don!

  • GlacierSnow

    This chapter is an example of why I love this story so much. Things can be going amazing for one set of characters while at the same time the floor has dropped out from under another set of characters and they are in free-fall into a dark abyss. Everyone’s lives intertwine, but they are still separate and experiencing such different things at the same time.

    I think I feel the most worry for Martin at the moment. He seems so lost at this bad news, even more than Tsunelda right now.

    I also am concerned for Alice and Allan. Even though Alice sort of seems like she’s accepting the situation by the end of the chapter, Allan is still going into a situation that may be very dangerous.

    Don wearing his athlete’s outfit to the fancy awards ceremony with all those celebrities in tuxedos and evening gowns, cracked me up though. He certainly made an impression! And that “jungle expedition with a famous professor” invite handed over by Valentino… 🤣 Very subtle there, Delphine and/or Valentino, very subtle. 😜

    • MonaSolstraale

      Thank you for your comment. It made my day 💖

      I’ve been a bit worried about the readers’ reaction to me letting the floor disappear under Martin and Tusnelda.
      Martin is devastated, but he has some strategies that make him a survivor. Tusnelda is less grounded and she has a tendency to get carried away in emotional chaos 💔

      What surprised me the most when I played through the scene with Alice and Allan is that he managed to let himself be showered without throwing a tantrum. I had to double check his traits and he is still hot headed and jealous, which usually made him an explosive cocktail. Yoga seems to have made a difference.
      Alice feels let down now that their relationship has finally landed in a good place. He has made a huge effort. She, perhaps not so much.

      Don is absolutely clueless about what’s going on, although the name Deli Ohnelli might spark a flash. It doesn’t. He’s got his head buried too far in his own ego 😂

  • Yimiki

    Allan and Alice really have come a long way. I was scared for the future of that household, but they’ve really risen above their issues… is what I want to say but Allan going away on military business for a very long time does pose a real problem. And while Allan has grown, Alice has not. I hope she can grow too, and not fall right back into cheating out of loneliness. I guess time will tell.

    Seeing Don so happy over getting an award is heartwarming! I still don’t like him with Katrina, though. Maybe his new acquaintance will be able to steer him towards someone better, someone in Sulani who still hasn’t forgotten him.

    Congratulations to Elijah for winning the lottery! Fun fact. In real life, the ratio of people whose lives are completely ruined after winning big in the lottery is absurdly high. Hopefully the sims universe is kinder, haha. Go for it, you two! Get that new bathroom! Heck, get whatever you like. Fate has been very kind 😄

    Poor Tusnelda and Martin. My heart breaks for both of them – dealing with complications during pregnancy is always tough to handle. Especially if a child has been so wished for. In case that things do end up as they fear, I hope that they can comfort each other and come out stronger for it. But knowing how strong Tusnelda and Martin are together… something tells me that both of them are resourceful enough to reach a happy family in a different way.

    • MonaSolstraale

      Thank you for your comment. I see I haven’t answered yet ❤

      Allan in particular has come a long way to a degree I didn’t know was possible in the game.
      Alice is on more precarious ground. She loves what Allan has become and she leans confidently on him. What will happen after he leaves future chapters will show.

      Don is proud, happy and quite surprised. He seems to have made a new friend but is otherwise completely clueless.

      Elijah winning the lottery was an unexpected surprise. It was actually revealed while I was playing Tusnelda’s family. In many ways, Elijah seems to have been born under a lucky star. I’m so glad he got a place in my story. He and Fatima help create a balance between tragedy and joy.

      I elaborate a lot more on Tusnelda and Martin’s difficult situation in the next chapter. I have great empathy for them and I have a personal reason why I have chosen for them to go through what is happening to them now.

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