1.35 – Elias

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“LACHLAN!”

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“Oh – OH! Is it-?”

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“Yes, it’s time! Get my bag!”

He was rooted to the spot, muttering something.

“Go!” I hollered.


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“…losing too much blood!”

“Get him out of here!”

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Stay awake, Sarai! I tried to will myself back to consciousness…but of course I failed.

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“Mom?” There was no mistake, she was there, right in front of me. Her youthful appearance combined with the long white dress she wore gave her an angelic appearance.

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“Sarai, darling!”

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“Mom!” I screamed. Why was she so tall? I started to run right towards her but I couldn’t quite get through. There was a strange, flowing barrier between us, barely visible, but there all the same. Frustrated tears started to leak out of my eyes.

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“I’m so proud of you, sweetheart. But Sarai, you have to listen to me-”

“Sarai!” someone called, but they weren’t in the room.

“Am I dying?” I cried. “What if I let him down? Them all down?”

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“Just listen!” Mom instructed, eyes soft and kind, like an angel. Then she stepped through the barrier and enveloped me in a hug.

“Tell me how to do this.” I sobbed into her shoulder. “I don’t know how.”

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“You will know.” she promised me. “Of course you will know. You’ve worked for years to get here. You are so strong, Sarai.”

“Why am I unconscious then?” I muttered.

“SARAI!” came that same voice. Yes, I knew that voice – it was –

“Lachlan?” I whispered. Obviously I didn’t know him at ten. What’s going on?

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“You won’t be for much longer. Wake up, Sarai!” Mom let go of me and stepped back through the barrier.

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“Mom!” I barely managed a whisper as I reached out for her. “Take me back! Just for a bit! Tell me it’s OK! I need to be OK for them!” All I could think about was getting back to her; she made it through the barrier, why couldn’t I? I have to get to her…

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“Now, now, Sarai. You know I can’t do that. You have so much life to live…I’m just a ghost. But you are still alive. You’ll make it – and more. I believe in you.”

“But I-”

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“You don’t need me. You’re an adult and a person and you’re real, and I will only ever be a memory. A memory who loves you…but there are other, living people who love you too. And you’ve worked so hard. It would break all of our hearts if you left.”

Though I was only ten, I remembered years of on-and-off therapy and calling myself out for every hateful thought I tried to heap upon myself. Of teaching myself to fearlessly love Lachlan and my friends. Of pouring everything into my business and making it successful.

But I still felt like that little girl who wanted nothing more than her mother’s arms. In a way, I was…

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“Mom-”

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“Please…you can’t leave it all now. Wake up, Sarai.”

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That was my mother’s voice, fading away into the distance…I didn’t want her to go, but I have to go back.


I went back. The strange yet encouraging dream ended, and I woke to a finished labour, a relieved husband, and my new son, Elias.

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Now I’ve been home with my family for a month. My OBGYN told me that there was a tear in my uterus as I delivered. I bled too much and briefly lost consciousness, but I woke up fine. In a couple years I’ll get the all-clear to have another child, if I want to…let’s see how well I handle this one.

My son was born perfectly healthy, weighing 7lb 2oz. What a relief. Lachlan says he nearly lost his shit when I was unconscious, but we’re all fine now.

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My dream-mother’s words rang true in my head…I have a lot of life to live, and yes, I can. I’m truly a mother now, responsible for this little life Lachlan and I created in love together…it’s a daunting idea, but one I think I’m ready for.

“He’s perfect, sunshine.” He says it a lot – we both do. I think it even more.

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“You don’t have to remind me. He really is.” Gazing into his sweet little face, in my opinion the face of perfection, made me tear up. “He’s so amazing, Lachlan. I love him so much.”

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“So do I.” Lachlan’s voice cracked. “We’ve gotta do this right, Sarai.” We talked about it a lot – we never want our son to feel the way we did when we were younger. He’ll feel loved and supported by his parents.

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“We will.” I assured him, sounding more confident about it than I actually felt. Like Dianne said – it’s scary as hell. And I’m frightened…but also elated and excited.

Obviously I’ve been with Lachlan for years…and I’ve had my closest friends even longer. But with Eli, I really felt complete. Like I finally have everything I want – and it took a lot to make a lot of it happen. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat to keep what I have now.

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“This is amazing.” I said softly to myself, as Lachlan and I got lost in our son’s wide, perfect eyes. “My life is… amazing…and I love you both so much.”

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Finally I did it! I hope you were all satisfied with Sarai’s story, and that Gen 2 doesn’t take this freaking long to finish. Join me next time (probably not for quite a while, I’m on holiday and then I’m taking an exam) for the start of Generation 2: Elias.

We pick up when Elias is already six years old, so here’s pictures of him as a toddler with his parents.

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Adorable, right?

1.34 – Letter

Hi Mom,

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I found the old letter during the move. Believe it or not, it’s a move of progress, not me running away from someone yet again – I’m moving a little way out of the city. Not quite suburbia, but somewhere a little quieter. And closer to my workplace…

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A lot has changed since the last letter. I still don’t know if I believe you can read this, but I want to write it down anyway. I’m pretty anxious right  now so it’ll be nice to remind myself of how far I’ve come.

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I got married over a year ago, to a man named Lachlan Waterman. I bet you wouldn’t have guessed that from my last letter – me, afraid of love and in absolute hatred with herself. However, I got past that in a lot of ways and…I’m married now! I’m really happy with him, honestly. Lachlan is an amazing man and husband. I adore him, and we treat each other well. 

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I also started my own business with a friend. The Lotus Flower yoga studio is doing better than ever! And yes – I’ve met and made real friends as well as meeting my husband. I’m not alone anymore, Mom.

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But the real reason I wanted to write again is because I’m pregnant again. Finding out was a nice birthday present for my Lachlan. And guess what – the baby’s going to be a Hayes, like you and me! I won’t get into it but Lachlan doesn’t want the baby to be a Waterman for various reasons. He and I are overjoyed but…when I found out it got me thinking about the past. I’m so excited yet so much of the self-doubt that pours out of the old letter is setting back in. It was nearly seven years ago now, and I was so sure I couldn’t do this. And now? I’m still pretty sure at times that I can’t do this. But I’m working on it.

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August 26th – 1st day of 1st grade!

I ended up having the first baby, by the way. His name is Nolan Samuel Fox. Yes, Fox. I gave him up to an older couple with a wealthy income and nice house in Willow Creek.I get emails from his true mother, Lela, every so often. He’s six now, and I have no doubt that I made the right decision. I don’t think I could have done everything I did and grown and changed as much as I have with a baby in tow.

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Not that I’m disparaging single parents at all, obviously! I know where I came from…and I’m grateful you kept me. I still sometimes think about how sad it is that you couldn’t follow your dreams or get married to someone who deserved you or see me grow up – maybe I would have grown up different…but there’s no point dwelling on the past, I guess.

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So onto the present and future – things are different for me now. For one thing, I – we – planned this one. There’s the money to raise a kid, and the father’s obviously in the picture. But I was – and still am – so scared. I don’t know the first thing about being a mother.

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But then Dianne – yes, that Dianne, she’s my best friend now – I’m sure you’re happy – she said that nobody knows how to parent, and that every mother she knows doubted themselves at some point. Including herself – she had a baby as well! Colton is three now! She and another friend, Kaylyn, have been bringing their kids round for practice. Aunt Adela gave me some of her old parenting books and a few helpful tips. I’ve realised I had a lot of support extending beyond my husband – and I think I can do this.

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Then I found the old letter –  I’ve changed since I was pregnant the first time. That girl wasn’t ready to take care of anyone, but I’m different now, Mom. You’d be happy about that, by the way. I’m not just different. I’m a better Sarai. So maybe…but I’m still not sure. Sometimes this all feels like a mistake.

I haven’t told Clarissa. I still remember how she screamed at me when she saw me pregnant the last time. And I know she wouldn’t react like that this time because the circumstances are different…but I just can’t face it. I guess I’m just a coward. I still say shit like that. Old habits die hard…but this one’s pretty dormant now. I know you’d like that.

Anyway. This has just been a pretty relaxing writing exercise, because I don’t think you can see it…it’s nice to imagine though. But I do feel better, so thanks.

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I can smell Lachlan’s teriyaki salmon cooking, and I need to go thank my wonderful husband. Might eat more than my share but I think it’s pregnant woman’s rights! This man’s child is inside me and it can get pretty uncomfortable…so I’m gonna eat his delicious food!

I love you so much, Mom.

Your happy, loving daughter, Sarai.

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1.33 – No Objections

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Lachlan didn’t want a big wedding with the formality and the massive expense of it all. Mainly because he didn’t see the point, but also because word got back to the Watermans somehow. I guess he’d told some of his high school or college friends and the news just travelled. He knew they’d muscle in and turn it into something ridiculous, expensive and impersonal that we wouldn’t even want. Having met them one Thanksgiving, I was inclined to agree.

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I was never that little girl who dreamed of her wedding day. In fact, I didn’t even think about weddings until that day I saw those rings on the computer screen. I didn’t mind at all, and given my busy schedule, decided that a small wedding would be best.

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Besides, I couldn’t imagine saying everything I wanted to say in front of so many people. The very thought made me anxious.

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It was decided that we were going to hold a tiny ceremony, practically an elopement, at Myshuno Meadows, under the same beautiful dusk that he’d proposed under. It’s been only two months since then, and the wedding’s Friday. The guest list was limited to Dianne and Kaylyn on my side, and Dax and his husband Jaron for Lachlan. Our honeymoon would take place in September – we’d planned to head to Sulani. The weather would be as good, but the prices cheaper.

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With encouragement from Lachlan and Dianne, I told Uncle Miles, Aunt Adela, and Michael of our plans.

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“I can accept that.” Miles said. “It would have been nice to see you get married, Sarai, but it’s your choice.” For a second, my stomach lurched with that familiar guilt; my brain screaming that I was making a terrible, selfish choice. It’s also for you and Lachlan, your future husband and the man you love, we kind of have to be the most important thing here.

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“But,” Adela added. “Perhaps we could host a meal or something – a barbecue! Just something small, to celebrate you two getting hitched!” she exclaimed, clasping her hands together and beaming.

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“Thank you,” Lachlan said, gratefully lowering his head. “That’s very kind of you two.”

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“What can we bring?” I asked.

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“Nothing!” Adela exclaimed. “If you think that you two are bringing anything, think again!” And we all laughed.


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“Sarai, my amazing, beautiful sunshine, you have brought so much light into my life, by being kind, warm and caring. You’re one of the strongest people I know. I love you, and I can’t wait to start our lives as husband and wife.”

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“Lachlan, angel…I don’t know what to say, apart from…from the day I met you, you have been caring, understanding and loving. You have been my rock. You’re resilient and intelligent and I couldn’t be a luckier woman. I love you so much.”

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Tears pricked the back of my eyes. Why am I crying?

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It’s because I’m absolutely on cloud nine right now, isn’t it?

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Wedding day!


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When Lachlan and I walked into the garden, we were greeted by a smattering of applause. They all looked so happy for us.

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“Hope it all went well…no objections, I hope!” Miles joked.

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“I was actually completely against my best friend marrying the man she loves.” Dianne deadpanned. “Ow, Colt, hold still! Mike, could you – I need to give Sarai a hug!” She shoved Colton into her brother’s arms and dashed over to wrap me in a bone-crushing embrace.

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Everyone else offered me their congratulations. Miles fired up the barbecue and everyone started chatting and eating and just generally having a good time. They’d picked excellent food and the weather was gorgeous.

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I was halfway through a burger when the doorbell rang. Adela immediately ran to get it, quickly returning with whoever it was. I could hear their footsteps in the hallway. Something about the clack-clack-clack of what sounded like high heels was ominously familiar…

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“It’s your sister, Miles.” Adela informed us all. A hush fell over the party.

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There she was. It’s been..five years. Five years since I saw this woman in person. The woman who raised me. She never even met Lachlan, and I’d liked it that way.

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“Did you not expect me?” she asked.

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“Well…I didn’t think…” Miles began awkwardly.

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She sat down. “It’s a family celebration, isn’t it? Hello, Dianne – what a sweet little boy, he’s growing up really well.”

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Dianne nodded and gave a wavering smile. I noticed her worriedly eye Colton and scoop him up into her arms. Good call. “Yeah, Aunt Clarissa. He’s wonderful.” Despite her complaints about his behaviour, her face lit up when she said it.

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“Look, we didn’t think you’d want to come.” Adela finally said. “Sorry, Clarissa. We were surprised is all, feel free to grab something to eat.”

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“I’ve eaten,” she said. “I wasn’t planning to stay long, I’ve got lots of work to do, and then a conference call.” On a Sunday? “Sarai? Can I speak to you?”

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I froze. Clarissa – the one person who has consistently been better at making me feel shit about myself than well, me. What was she going to say? My leg shook, my toes tapping against the ground.

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“You don’t have to.” Lachlan whispered, squeezing my hand under the table.

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I took several deep breaths, willing myself to hold it together. After all, I spent years unlearning every idea of myself that Clarissa helped me instil within myself. One conversation cannot undo all of that. It can’t. Otherwise what are you worth?

“Fine.” I said with a biting tone. “Let’s talk. The living room should be free.”

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Lachlan and Dianne gave me incredulous, frightened looks. I nodded at them, showing that ‘I got this’ – even though I really wasn’t sure if I did or not.

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Clarissa huffed and led me out of the room. When we got to the couches, she directed me to sit across from her. Like an interview – fuck that. We’re both adults talking about our lives. I sat next to her instead.

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“Why did you get married so suddenly?” she asked. “I hear nothing and out of the blue – Miles tells me that he can’t come to help me with my furnace this week because he’s hosting a celebration for your…marriage.” She screwed up her face like it was an ugly word. Maybe it was to her, because she’d never come close to that her entire life.

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“It wasn’t sudden. We’ve known each other for years. We became friends after he showed me around a property and-”

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“A property? Did you finally buy a place to live?”

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“Might buy it. I’m still renting with Lachlan but we’ll find somewhere. No, that property was for my business, which I own and run myself.” I couldn’t help adding a little boastful edge onto that. Fuck you for saying that I’d never amount to anything, that I was stupid and threw away all my opportunities and chances. I did NOT.

…I think you almost did, Clarissa. Who’s left in your life?

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“-Well.” She looked slightly stunned. “Congratulations, I suppose. Rather volatile to put all of your eggs in that basket, but if you’re happy…”

“I am.”

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“I guess Kendra would have been happy with you too.”

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It was funny. All my life she told me I never would have been enough for my mother. And I always wanted it to not be true, and I wanted to hear it from Clarissa. Now that I finally had…it didn’t matter.

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My thoughts were interrupted by a tapping on my shoulder. “I don’t think I’m wanted.” Clarissa. actually sounded rather crestfallen, and uncharacteristically soft. “I’ll leave you with this. I suppose you and your husband’ll want children someday, and they should know their family history.” It was a picture of her, my mother, and Uncle Miles, when they were young.

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Miles, Kendra (19) and I.

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“Thanks.” This might be the last time I’ll ever see her. There had been no apology, no acknowledgement of the way she treated me. She still hadn’t given me the chance to confront her – she steamrolled the conversation as always. Never change, Clarissa, I sarcastically thought.

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Why would I fucking bother with her anyway?


“What are you doing?”

“Emailing my parents. The rest of them can find out through them, they’ll be complaining for a while.”

“But I thought-”

“I know what I said. But I changed my mind. What can they do anyway?” he said with a crooked grin.

1.32 – So Lucky

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Who would have thought I’d end up here? Nobody, least of all me.

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It was surprisingly enjoyable to play homemaker, though I know I’d get bored of doing that for real. And I’d start feeling guilty for not having a job…if Clarissa taught me one good lesson, it’s that I should be financially self-sufficient. I wouldn’t give up the studio for this in a million years. But on Wednesday and weekend nights, when I have easier days, I can relax and pretend.

It’s been almost three months since Lachlan and I moved in together. Two years since we started dating. Nabila’s friend took over the rest of my lease, and now Lachlan and I are renting his original apartment.

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It was scary at first. I thought he’d get tired of me if we were around each other so much. Then I found out he was thinking the same and we just had to laugh at ourselves. Laughing’s a good way to tell all of those horrible little insecurities to just fuck off.

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Making sure to be quiet, I walked into our shared home office with a plate of fish and chips – adapted to be healthier by yours truly. “How’s it going?” Lachlan had a lot of paperwork due. I’d been bringing him meals in here all week.

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“I’m actually almost finished.” he said. I went up behind him and rested my head on his shoulder, quickly kissing him on the cheek.

“Good!”

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I immediately released him once I saw what was on one side of the monitor.

Rings. Loads and loads of rings, with the name of some jewellery shop in the browser bar.

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Oh God…he can’t.

“I need to fix some schedules, I’ll be in the bedroom.” I said, rushing out of the room.

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He didn’t seem to notice that I had noticed, or even register my shock. “OK, sunshine. I’ll come keep you company when I’m done.”

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The schedules were a lie. I shouldn’t lie to him. What am I doing? Liar! He can’t marry you!

You will tell him the truth when he comes in to keep you company while you ‘work on your schedules’.

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When I saw those rings, I itched to remind him of everything – my previous inability to form relationships, my sexual history, the often overwhelming sense that I’m a disappointing, bad person.

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This man loves me despite all the shit I’ve done and how broken I was, and still am sometimes…

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Something more dawned on me.

Lachlan’s had his struggles, but I love him no matter what. He’s not always perfect – though pretty damn close – but I still love him. To me, he’s amazing.

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I guess to him I am to. Maybe our past struggles don’t make us any less loveable or marriageable – well, Lachlan’s definitely didn’t.

And to him, neither did yours.

He came into the bedroom just five minutes later; obviously having actually realised something was up. I should have clocked that on my way out of the office. The loving concern on his face made me fall for him all over again, for what felt like the millionth time.

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“Did I do something wrong?”

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“…I did all my schedules.” I admitted. “Sorry I ran away, and lied. I just…I saw…”

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His face fell. “Dammit – but don’t feel pressured or scared, please, it’s just an idea. For now. To be honest, I can see it happening, Sarai…see myself marrying you. It’s something I truly want.”

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“I just…I never thought I’d get married.” I told him, sighing. I’d never believed that anybody would stick around long enough to do so, let alone actively want to. Sometimes it was still hard to believe.

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“Neither did I…but then I started dating you.”

I could have protested and brought up all the bullshit in my past. Honestly, I was tempted. However, looking into Lachlan’s eyes, the words died on my tongue. Images of a possible future flooded my brain, and I felt myself smiling.

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I didn’t need to say anything. I think he could tell by the look on my face. But I made sure he knew it. “I love you. So much. And I think I know what my answer would be.”


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“Ra-ra!” he yelled, still unable to pronounce my name. A few flecks of mush hit me in the eye.

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“You better eat those,” Dianne chastised gently, ruffling his hair. “Anyway. Michael’s coming up as well, if you don’t mind. He and Amy had a massive fight and he’s bummed as hell. I invited him out of pity.”

“Oh shit.” I winced. That might make my news go down a little less well…dammit, I refuse to feel guilty for this! I got engaged to the person who I’m 99.9% sure is the One. Michael can handle it.

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Selfish…people get married all the time. Why do you wanna brag about it?

I wouldn’t sound too gleeful – it was just sharing news. It’s fine! I’m not bad for this.

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“Hi, Michael.” It had been too long. “How is everything? You alright?” I asked.

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He raised an eyebrow. “Did she tell you?” Turning to Dianne, he folded his arms and groaned, “Come on, Di! It’s not that bad, why’d you make it like…a thing?

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“Ok, little bro.” Dianne smirked. “Colt, come on!” she complained as he started throwing handfuls of squashed peas onto the table.

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“Want nugge’s!” he yelled.

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Dianne buried her face in her hand. “He said he didn’t want those when I started making lunch. I’m tired of this sh – stuff.” she hastily amended. “Never mind. Pretty sure you two can guess where I’m at, so how about you?”

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Catching sight of the plate of chicken nuggets on the side of the counter, I wordlessly got up to heat them.

“I got passed up for a promotion – and yeah, I am in a pretty big fight with Amy.”

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Dianne gave a sympathetic little hiss. “Damn, Mike. That’s really tough. But you work really hard, I’m sure you’ll get up there one day…and if Amy isn’t right for you, someone is.”

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“I know…” Michael muttered. “It just sucks right now. I’m pushing through it, though.”

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“That’s what you’ve gotta do.” I reflected. “Just remind yourself that things start looking up, and that feeling like shit doesn’t have to last forever.”

“Yeah…don’t hate me for saying this, but I’m amazed you came out of all of that shit when you were younger…like this.”

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I smiled and shook my head. “I guess you’re right. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself. Speaking of that…” I stuck out my left hand. “So Lachlan proposed last night.”

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Dianne gasped. “I knew he’d make an honest woman out of you! OK, we have to start planning immediately!”

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“Congrats, cuz. I’m really happy for you.” And despite what was going on in Michael’s life, he truly looked it. How did I get so lucky to have such supportive people around me?

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“Siny!” Colton shrieked, pointing at the ring. All three of us adults couldn’t help laughing a little at that. He was being a pain in the ass today, but still so cute!

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“Don’t go catching baby fever, Sarai.” said Dianne. Then she stiffened and awkwardly recoiled. “I mean…sorry.”

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“It’s fine…but I think you may be a little too late for that warning.”

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1.31 – My Sunshine

(A couple NSFW screenshots)

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“What’s eating you, sunshine?”

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I put down my phone and turned to face my boyfriend of almost a year. “Are you being sarcastic?”

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Lachlan reared back and held up his hands. “No! I call you sunshine because you light up my life. But fine. I am asking you this because I noticed you…something appears to be up.”

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Despite the news, I couldn’t help briefly smiling. He’s so sweet. I’m lucky to have him. Without Lachlan, there wouldn’t be an amazing-smelling dinner cooking in the oven, for one thing. “You’re cheesy. And it’s nothing, it’s just…Dianne cancelled lunch. Again. I haven’t seen her in months.” I complained like a child. She’d just had Colton so of course she’d have less time for me.

And you’re pouting about it like a whiny little brat. What’s wrong with you? Be happy for your friend! Isn’t this what you were like when Alexis moved out? Your friends are gonna move on without you…and truly leave you if you don’t start being happy with-

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“Earth to Sarai?”

“Oh.” Now I can’t even pay attention to my loving boyfriend. “Sorry.”

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“I know it sucks.” he said. “But we gotta remember that when life circumstances take our friends a little further away from us, it doesn’t mean they’re leaving for good? I remember you were a proponent of that a couple months ago.” He gave a crooked smile. It had been pretty hard for him, and consequently me, when his closest friend here, Dax, and his husband moved away.

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“I do know that.” I huffed. “It just…it sucks. She already cancelled once. And she won’t let me come over to the house, says it’s too messy. I don’t care about that!”

“She must be really overwhelmed I guess…”

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I tried not to read his tone as accusatory. That’s clearly not what he was going for. Bad person…he thinks you’re a bad person, you are a-

I forced myself to shut the voice up.

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“So maybe talk to your aunt and uncle, see if you guys can help her out a bit.”

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“She won’t want – maybe I could help her hire a cleaning service or something. Maybe she’d be OK with that.” I sighed. “It’s still a bit shit that she can’t do lunch. But,” I took a deep breath. “She’s still there. I’ll be fine.”

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“Yeah you will.” Lachlan stood up and pulled me towards him. After his little talk I felt kinda OK. I rested my head on his shoulder and smiled…cos I think we make a pretty good team.


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My good mood took a dip the second I walked into Lachlan’s apartment. Something was definitely up. Silently praying that he wasn’t getting depressed again – not that I’d mind, I just didn’t want the man I love to go through that again.

“Oh – Sarai. Hi.”

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I smiled. “I guess I’m sunshine today.” – I gently dropped onto the couch beside him, stroking his back.

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“You’re always my sunshine.” The corner of his mouth lifted slightly upwards.

“Glad to hear it. Do you wanna talk, or shall we leave this one?”

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“It’s nothing – OK, fine. It’s something. My parents are in town for some conference and they tried to ambush me at work. Luckily I was leaving for two consecutive viewings, and then they had a bunch of meetings to get to. What a shame that our schedules didn’t align more closely.” he sarcastically finished.

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“At least it wasn’t too long an interaction.” I tried to offer an optimistic spin on the situation. We’d found that helped.

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“Yeah, still too long.” He’s just irritated, it’s not a personal jab at your advice. “Anyway, it was the usual BS – why do I still work at that ‘new-build environmental crap’, why don’t I have a promotion or more money, why don’t I come home and work for them, am I still cooking? They could get me people for that!” he angrily mocked, his voice steadily rising in volume throughout the whole tirade. “Never mind that I’d rather be the fucking janitor for GreenBox instead of putting one foot into Waterman Casinos.”

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“Exactly. You made your own path, and they sound like pretty controlling people, so of course they don’t like it.”

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“The thing is, I know this crap. I mean, it’s not-” I nodded to show that I understood what he meant. “But there’s always that stupid little voice going off in the back of my mind telling me that they’re right and that everything I’ve done was a crapshoot and I’m…a failure.” His voice cracked on that last word. “I’m glad you’re here. I worked myself up into a right state.” He attempted a laugh, but it came out limp and bitter.

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“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” I assured him.


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“I have news!” Kaylyn shrieked, bursting into the office.

“Jesus!” I nearly knocked the laptop onto the floor in surprise. “Does nobody know how to knock?”

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“Sorry, sorry, I’m just really excited, really happy – like I said, hon, I’ve got news!”

“Oh…what is it?” I asked.

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“I’m pregnant!”

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I didn’t expect that. “Th-that’s great!” I stuttered out, trying to smile. Internally, my mind was racing. Would it be like when this place first opened and I did everything because I made myself, except this time it would be out of necessity? Was Kaylyn going to have as hard a time adjusting to motherhood as Dianne did, and drop out of my life for months?

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“You’re not – I’m sorry -” Kaylyn tripped over her words. I knew what she was getting at. Even after all these years my heart slightly tugged when I thought of Nolan.

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“It’s not that.” I assured her. “I’ve moved past it. I was just thinking about…well this place. It’ll be a lot-”

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“I thought of it the second we started trying! I’ll hire someone to do the reception work, so Ann can focus on helping you with management. She knows the place really well. I have it handled, Sarai – you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging.” Her tone was serious.

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“Thank you.” I gripped her hand for a second. “I’m really happy for you and Vaughn, I was just – surprised! I never knew you guys wanted a kid.”

“We’ve been considering it for a long time…and finally took the plunge.” Kaylyn said. “I found out a month ago – and I couldn’t be happier, seriously.”

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I gave her a hug and she left me to scheduling. Cognitively I was truly happy for her – she was so elated and I care about her, why wouldn’t I be? But I felt empty and alone. Even though we’re still friends.

You’re just whining because both of your friends went off to have their own families and your selfish ass can’t deal.

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Or maybe I just miss the way things used to be between us. Besides, I know that I have never once acted like both of my closest friends getting pregnant and going off to focus on that was an attack on me. Maybe I’m in the clear here.

There’s nothing wrong with missing someone.

Plus, I still have Lachlan and the studio and a few other people I know. My life is full of so many wonderful things…things I’m still not sure I deserve, given all the shit I’ve done…

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What would Lachlan do about this? After Dax moved away, he got closer to some of the people at work. Uriah and Owen and Delia are all really nice.

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Then there’s the roommate I used to have…I don’t see Alexis nearly enough since she moved out. And I remember mentioning lack of desire to have a child…


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“Hey, it’s me…it’s Sarai. I know it’s been a while. I’m sorry. Things have been crazy. Do you wanna see Maybelle Goes Away or something?”

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“Fuck yeah! Emma hates horror, she’ll love it if you take me out instead.” Alexis joked. “Let’s do it. And we can grab a meal on one end of it. It’ll be nice to catch up.”

1.30 – Held

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It had been two weeks since Lachlan had asked me out. There had been three proper dates. And I was walking on air…apart from the insecurities that wanted to get in my way. But I wouldn’t let them. He likes me. I like him. Don’t overthink it.

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And I had the weekend off. I was already thinking about stuff I wanted to do with him. Maybe we could go to the museum – there was a new modernist exhibition on. Or maybe he’d want to cook for me again. Last Sunday he’d surprised me with a large pot of lentil stew.

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“I mean…I can take it back.” he’d said, when I stood there unable to say anything. “It’s just…you said last night that you were gonna be really busy this week and wouldn’t have time to do anything so I thought-”

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“It’s perfect!” I’d exclaimed, flinging myself into his arms. I really meant it. He was the sweetest man alive and I knew I didn’t deserve him. Who would be this thoughtful?

Lachlan, that’s who.

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You’re so fucking lucky…out of all the people, why did he pick you?

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He likes me. I’ve been nice to him. I have. It’s not so implausible…


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“I’m just gonna say…I feel really lucky, Lach.”

I swear I heard him mutter something about being really lucky…why? I’m the lucky one. He’s the one who’s gonna have to put up with me and my crazy work hours and stressy bullshit.

We were on his couch watching movies. Really just watching movies. Dianne had given me a pass on Simchanted this week, but she had a good laugh when I went round to see her new place – Brice’s place – and told her of my plans with Lachlan.

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“You’re so cute.” she’d said. “I’m not trying to be bitchy or anything but you know enough to know that it isn’t just gonna be movies.”

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I flushed. “I’m not like that anymore!” I protested.

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“Slut-shaming yourself is getting really old, Sarai. And you two have known each other for aaaages. Also, just gonna say, Lachlan is fine. Hit that.”

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“Dianne!” I shrieked, as she burst into more peals of laughter.

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“Ha, you’re easy to wind up. Oh, I kind of miss being a single woman…”

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“What are you thinking about?”

I blushed and looked away. I wasn’t going to tell Lachlan about this. What if he did already want to have sex with me? I never went this slow before, but I was changing my approach to men and relationships…what if holding back was gonna make me lose him?

Be honest, came Alessandra’s voice in my head. You’ll never find the answers trying to analyse it in your head.

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I shifted off him.

“You don’t think…this is…too slow?” I questioned, cringing slightly.

“What?”

“I mean…we…”

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“I like the way things are.” Lachlan reassured me. “Do you not? Because I’ll-”

“I do!” I hurriedly protested. He placed an arm around me and squeezing me tight, “Honestly. I’m happy, Lachlan. I’m so glad you asked me out.”

He lifted me back into his lap and looked straight into my eyes.

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“I’ll tell you something…when the kind, beautiful woman I’d just leased a property to gave me a reminder of where the past is in the lobby of that restaurant, I could have kissed her right there. It’s been over a year since then, hasn’t it?”

“I didn’t realise you…” He’d liked me all along? Even before I properly knew his history, and how to help him? I’d been enough without that connection? Impossible…but he wouldn’t lie to me. I know he wouldn’t.

“Yeah. Took a while for me to grow some balls, huh?” he laughed. “My point is…I’ve waited this long; I can wait longer.”

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“OK.” I sighed in relief and rested my head on his shoulder.

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I woke up an hour later having used him as a pillow. “Evening.” he said. Just that word sent happy shivers down my spine. It felt so good to be held like that…but not just because I was being held. It was good because it’s Lachlan.


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“Sarai, you are absolutely glowing today!” Ann exclaimed when I walked past the desk on Monday. “Good weekend?”

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“Yeah.” I replied, with a smile. Despite the early hour, there was definitely a bounce in my step.

It had been. I’d actually gotten one off because Cherie and Kaylyn wanted to run a meditation thing. Apparently it had gone well for them, but I’d guess that my weekend was even better.


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I’ve gone through it so many times. I know what I’m going to say. It’s been a month and a half. I asked Dianne and looked shit up online. This is fine. I’m not being weird…not completely weird.

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My stomach roiled and churned in fear. It’s such a difficult conversation to have…but I need to have it. I’m chasing my happiness. And I’m allowed to do so, I reminded myself.

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“What is it, Sarai?” Lachlan asked once I opened the door. “Decided to flick me already?” he joked with a grimace, though pain was evident on his face.

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“What? No!” I almost snapped. “Uh…sorry if it sounded that way. I wanna talk…about this.” I gestured between us.

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He relaxed. “Oh. I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions and saying that. It was shitty of me.”

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“It’s alright. I still…I just wanna say-” Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck, here goes nothing. “I was wondering if you want to make things official. Be my boyfriend?”

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“Damn, that’s way better than what I thought – again, I’m sorry for that! Yes, absolutely yes!” he exclaimed. His smile was infectious, and I started to beam as well.

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Then my face fell when I remembered the rest of my little rehearsed spiel.

Of course he noticed. He’s always been so good at picking up on my moods and what I’m thinking. “We’re cut from the same cloth,” he’d said last week.

Sad, but true.

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“What else, Sarai?”

“But I need to tell you…I haven’t had a real relationship before. Of course I’ve dated.” Lots of dates. So many that you never let get anywhere. But I was doing so now. And maybe if I had I wouldn’t be with this amazing man next to me. “But never like…a long-term boyfriend. I was always too-” Memories of the stinging hatred and disgust I felt towards myself played over in my head, reminding me of the misery I caused myself. “Too scared. I was scared. But I think it’s something you should know.”

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He shrugged. “It’s awful you felt that way. But you don’t anymore – that’s important. And as I’ve said to you before, whatever is in the past is there. I like you now. And look, now you do have a boyfriend.” he joked.

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“I know! And I couldn’t be happier! But I might be…really bad at it. This relationship thing.” Are you trying to ruin this, I shouted at myself.

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“Sarai, my past relationships have been no picnic, let me tell you that. A shitty attitude and depression kinda does it. And it’s been a couple years since I had one. So my history ain’t great either – let’s face it together.” He took my hand. “I’ll tell you this – it’s not going to be perfect.”

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“I know. But…it’s you.” I whispered. Even though it was cheesy.

“And it’s you too, Sarai. This’ll be enough for us. More than enough.”

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1.29 – I Like You

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It’s been nearly three months since the studio opened. I was such a fucking wreck…

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Two weeks in Kaylyn made me go back to a therapist. She asked me how I was doing at work and I completely lost my voice. Not literally, it’s just…I couldn’t think of what to say, and when I fudged something I sounded so small and low and broken. Then she handed me a tissue, and I realised that there were tears running down my face, and I felt broken.

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“I can’t afford it.” was my response to the therapy suggestion. “I’m putting everything into this place.”

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“Then let me make up the difference.” I opened my mouth to protest, but Kaylyn held out a hand. “Don’t. Don’t argue with me. Look at it this way – is this place going to do well with a sad and anxious manager? I don’t think so. You’ll help out both our wallets in the long run, hon. Please go.”

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“I’m doing fine now.” I tried to argue. “And so is the place.”

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“You’re gonna burn out like this. Please. You gotta get some help.”

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I returned to Alessandra. I was so afraid that she’d think I had failed. I never realised just how much I’d wanted her to be proud of me…

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But she was reassuring and told me it was normal for shit like this to reappear during times of high stress. I spent a couple years after the first round of therapy teaching myself to just take kindness at face level…and I guess I managed to keep some of it up? It was surprisingly easy for me to accept her advice and consolation.

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I’m finding some semblance of a healthy psyche again. Kaylyn was right. And I’m starting to truly believe that I’ve got friends who will always be here for me.

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Dianne, my cousin, who comes over for movie nights and still invites me for dinner with Uncle Miles, Aunt Adela and Michael. Who reached out to me when I was pregnant and alone, despite how I’d been treating her all our lives…

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Kaylyn, who good-naturedly competes with me in all things fitness and trusted me enough to go into business with me…

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Alexis, who has lived with and supported me for years; she’s moving out soon but I’ve found a new roommate in no small part due to her help, so that’s fine, and even if I hadn’t…I would really be happy for her…

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And Lachlan, who I haven’t even known a full year yet, but who understands me better than anyone else…

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As Alessandra tells me: I had a relapse. Things got kinda bad again. But it doesn’t make everything I worked on after Nolan invalid.

And I’ve come out…pretty much unscathed.


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“How are you doing?” I asked. If Lachlan took my last class of the day, he came to talk to me afterwards. He attended three nights a week, and this was one of them.

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“Better. Not so tired…and I feel like shit’s worth it again, ya know.”

“Well,” I gave a bright laugh. “Same. Here’s to mental health.”

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“To mental health.” Lachlan chuckled, giving me a high-five. “Your classes are better now that you’re less anxious – not that they weren’t good before.” he hastily added. I smirked. I knew what he meant…but I could mess with my friends sometimes, right? “They were very good.” he rambled. “As amazing as the woman teaching them.”

“Thanks.” I said.

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Damn you, Lachlan, I thought, as my cheeks heated up. Whenever he said crap like that my heart always skipped a beat, my stomach flipping around. Full-on butterflies. Because you like him.

It’s useless. Why would he like you, I snidely thought. You’re you.

And I’m…fine, I reminded myself. I’m a decent person. But he’s a friend and he definitely doesn’t feel the same way…he can’t.

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“Smoothies tonight? Or we could go to that bakery you like?” I asked as we headed out of the studio. I could cut loose with desserts tonight, right? I do so much yoga nowadays that it really wouldn’t make a difference to my physique.

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“Sorry, I have a bunch of paperwork I kind of let pile up, and some is due for tomorrow. How about Friday we-?”

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“You don’t come here on Fridays.” I said in confusion. Realising I’d interrupted him, I cringed and apologised. “Sorry.”

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“No.” he muttered, rubbing his forehead. “No, but I was – fuck, what am I – I mean, I would like to come here anyway and…” He trailed off. His mouth was moving but he wasn’t actually saying anything I could hear.

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“Make up the smoothie date?” I lightly offered. Fuck! Date?! Why did you say that?

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“Yeah! But…like, not smoothies? Like…a restaurant? There’s this really nice fish restaurant that’s pretty close…and the date part as well. Thank you for saying that. That is…that’s what I was going to…”

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“You wanna take me on a date?” I decided to put him out of his misery. No point messing with him for this.

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He sighed in relief. “Yes. Yes I do. I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t want to given the complete hash I made of asking you.”

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“It’s OK. You were nervous…I dunno why tho.” I said, shrugging. It’s just me.

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“Cos I like you?” he mumbled. “There, I’ve played my whole hand, I-”

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“I want to!” I cried. “I like you as well, Lach…and I like, fish…” When was I ever this flustered? I truly didn’t judge Lachlan for completely losing his cool, but now I actually understood how and why it happened. “So yeah. Fish restaurant. Date. It’ll be fun.”

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“See you then.” He pulled me into a hug. His arms felt so nice wrapped around my waist. I rested my head on his shoulder and nuzzled into his neck. Lachlan liked me. He asked me out.

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I stepped back from the embrace…and then leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. His eyes widened in surprise…but he smiled, grasped my hands, and then finally headed off.

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He really does like me…


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“Sarai!” Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Dianne charging into the office, looking frantic.

“What is it, Di?” I didn’t really appreciate being interrupted on my break…you’re selfish. But I was still gonna help her out…or hear her out, whatever it was.

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“I’m engaged!” she exclaimed.

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I nearly knocked over my granola bowl. “Wh – what? To Brice?” They’d only been dating nine months, and I never got the impression that her feelings ran that deep…what do you know, you’ve never had a real relationship!

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If Dianne, who’s obviously amazing, but has had a slew of relationships that ended pretty awfully, can get engaged…maybe there’s hope for me too.

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“Yeah…” she sighed. Not the dreamy sigh I’d expect out of someone newly engaged, but rather more… resigned. “And I’m also pregnant. That’s sort of…”

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“You got engaged ‘cos you’re pregnant?” I repeated incredulously.

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“I don’t know…I guess I would have married him anyway. He’s a good guy and he loves me.” Dianne considered. “I dunno. It’s a lot. Anyway, be my maid of honour?”

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“But…what about all your other friends?” I asked. Dianne isn’t like me – she formed friendships easily. She’d been to college and knew lots of people from there – and she wouldn’t pass all of them up for the cousin who wasn’t even nice to her until she – I – needed someone…would she? I’d done my best to be there for her since but…

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“None of them are as good as you.” Dianne said with a smile. “Please?”

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“If that’s what you want.” I agreed. “And please come over on the weekend…we can talk more about this. I’m not blowing you off, it’s just that I’ve only got five minutes left of my break.”

“OK.” She nodded slowly. “And…anything up with you?”

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I smiled. “Just working as usual…oh, and I have a date with Lachlan tonight.”

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I’m pretty sure Ann’s alarmed look into the office was caused entirely by Dianne’s squeal.


A/N: Gen 2 is upon us soon! 6 chapters left after this. I’d love to have some of your guys’ Sims in it! I’ll lay out a few character types. I can just make them myself if needed, so submit anything you wish under #HayesGen2 – my only rule is no aliens, vamps or mermaids pls.

  • Nerd-type teenagers, mixture of girls and boys.
  • More regular teenagers as well.
  • A…denizen of the hidden economy, so to say. Basically – career criminal. I could be more specific but I don’t want to spoil anything.
  • Manual labourers – can be either men or women.
  • 30+ wealthy-looking clientele (say…the sort that might frequent a yoga studio lol)

Also, blooper:

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1.27 – Stressed

 

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After months of work, opening day was finally upon us. I’d loved every second of it. The designing, the making of the schedules, getting to come up with my own routines – even being stuck in a headstand while someone took photos for our website was enjoyable, despite the blood rush.

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I didn’t even have time to straighten my hair most days, so I just stopped. It was strange to abandon a habit I’d been started on at eight, but I like it curly. It was Clarissa who didn’t…and I don’t heed any of her advice anymore.

I had a full schedule of classes and a lot of nerves building up within me. Now the pressure was on me to not completely screw it up. Kaylyn, though she loved yoga and fitness, had a lot else on her plate. Her role was putting in capital, plus a little financial management. She and Vaughn had other investments to deal with. So I was managing this place.

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“Hey.” Kaylyn gently shook my shoulder. “Chin up. Look – we did all this!”

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“I’m nervous.” I admitted.

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“I drowned the nerves in a glass of wine.” Kaylyn joked. “I get it, though. It’s normal to be nervous – you’re running your own business, that’s crazy and scary and all! But Sarai, in all the time I’ve known you I’ve never seen you give less than 100%! So you’re gon’ crush this, sweetie. And it’s not just you. You’re not alone. We’ve got our team, remember?” Her eyes shone like she really did believe in me. Why? Why would she do that? Why would she go into business with you? This doesn’t make sense. You screw things up.

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This has been going well so far, I reminded myself.

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Our team – Mikhail, Cherie and Ann – filing into the studio stopped the impending thought-spiral. Kaylyn had invited them all in for drinks before we opened tomorrow.

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“Cheers.” Ann, the studio hostess, said, clinking glasses with Kaylyn. “I need this job, and this place looks amazing. Thanks for the opportunity.”

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“Doesn’t it!” Mikhail, a very muscular instructor with a background in Pilates, exclaimed. “I’m pretty damn excited, I gotta say!”

Cherie, our final instructor, and in charge of  the meditation sessions tacked onto the end of some classes, silently nodded her agreement.

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“To the Lotus Flower!” Kaylyn cheered. She drained her glass and set it down. I drank from my own and tried to ignore the growing anxiety gnawing at my stomach.


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It was so fucking real. For a good five seconds after I woke up, I was sure that I was back in that apartment, destined to live there forever.

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It reminded me of the nightmares I had when I was younger. Clarissa would put me into the street and I’d be alone, and then nobody would want me. It probably didn’t help that Clarissa was wholly unsympathetic when I snivelled my way through the next morning. Then, like all kids, I grew out of that.

Waking up, almost in tears, after dreaming something so relevant to my life made me feel like that scared kid stuck under her cold, cruel aunt again.

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I applied a thick layer of concealer under my eyes and pulled my hair up, leaving it curly. Then I put on my new set of workout gear and prepared myself to face the day.

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Because adults can’t cry through a morning. Adults have to get up and face the day like nothing even happened. And I’m a successful adult with my own business. Ha, successful? Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. And it’s Kaylyn’s anyway, you were too fucking broke. And you will be once you fail.

I took a deep breath and left for my first class.

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Was I off my game? Each class brought a few words of praise. Maybe they were just being polite. They’d probably never come back. Kaylyn and Vaughn had emphasised over and over again that we needed a strong client base to succeed.

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And you offered to get that – you, the girl who could never get anyone to stick around. How many people left you? How many did you leave?

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I don’t need to think about that. Dianne, Kaylyn, Alexis, Lachlan, Michael, Uncle Miles, Aunt Adela. They had stuck around for a while now.

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But memories kept on flooding my brain, washing over me in a painful haze, reminding me of how greatly they were outweighed by those who were no longer in my life. At several points I had to take deep breaths, just so I didn’t cry, because there would be no coming back from that one.

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Between the morning and lunchtime classes, I locked myself in the office. Ann went on her break. I sat with my head in my hands and took quick, heavy breaths. Pull yourself together. You can’t fuck this up. You can’t!

Someone knocked on the door.

“I’m busy!” I breathlessly called. “Just – uh -”

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“Yeah, I get it.” I recognised the voice as Lachlan’s. Why was he here? It’s not like he cares, he got the property leased after all. Wait, that’s fucking stupid, why would he have kept up a friendship for months after the fact if that was the case? “Can I tempt you with a smoothie break then? Mixed berry’s your favourite, right?” He sounded so hopeful, and I knew I couldn’t leave him hanging, not if he’d come all this way. The place down the road is also excellent…

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“OK.” I came out of the office.

“How are you doing?” he asked.

“Fine.” I answered, after a moment’s hesitation.

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He raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure?”

You must look like a real fucking mess.

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“I’m s – OK, well I’m stressed. I’m really fucking stressed. Everything just feels wrong.” The words tumbled out of my mouth, and guilt began to eat at me. Lachlan didn’t come here for this.

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“Of course you’re stressed! You – it’s the first day of your new business. That’s pretty stressful. But remember what I said? This – what you’re doing here – that’s cool as hell. I’d never have the balls to work for myself.”

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I managed to crack a smile. “Thanks, but…I don’t know, it’s…it’s pressure.” I sounded like a gabbling idiot. Why did he put up with me? Why wasn’t he halfway out the building by now?

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“Of course. Look – businesses fail, that’s a fact of life. I don’t think yours will. I just saw loads of people leave.”

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“It’s just the first day. And Lachlan – I can’t let them down!”I burst out, close to angry tears. I didn’t want to shout at him and be a bitch like I used to – and still sometimes am – but why wouldn’t he get it?

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“No matter what, you’ll still have the people who matter in your life. And you – you, Sarai Hayes – have not failed if you did everything in your power to help your studio. And from what I know, you’ve worked your ass off. You’ve already succeeded, OK?” He took a breath. “Phew. Dunno where that came from. But you’re amazing, and this place is amazing – and I wanna buy your largest class bundle.”

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“Thanks.” I mumbled. Suddenly, I had fallen into his arms.

Yeah, right. If you fuck this up, you’re the fuckup. 

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“Seriously, Sarai. You’re doing great.” he whispered into my hair, and despite the anxiety growing within me, I smiled.

 

 

1.26 – The Same Thing

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After we had signed the papers, I’d caught Kaylyn slipping my number to Lachlan. Nice try, I thought. I rolled my eyes at her and she suppressed a grin, eyes innocently twinkling.

He actually used the number to congratulate me when the paperwork went through and our lease was official. Kaylyn, also a possessor of the number, invited him to dinner with her husband, herself, and I.

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“Sorry…if this is weird.” I apologised. “It’s OK, you made the sale, you don’t need to hang around me anymore.”

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He shrugged. “It’s not like I’m forcing myself to attend. You’re actually really nice – both of you. This’ll be fun – plus I heard the fish here is amazing.”

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Over dessert – which I managed to let myself eat for once – the topic of childhoods came up with Vaughn’s innocuous ‘so did you grow up here?’ question, directed at Lachlan.

Awkwardly shifting, he stared down and away from us. “I…no. I was raised in Sunlit Tides. But I got out of there quite quickly.”

“Sunlit Tides is gorgeous though!” Kaylyn gushed. “Blue skies all year, that beautiful ocean…I don’t think I’d ever leave.”

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I noticed Lachlan squirming slightly, opening and closing his mouth several times. He eventually settled on saying nothing.

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“I guess the economy’s pretty tourism-dependent; there’s far more jobs here.” Vaughn considered. Lachlan quickly agreed and the topic was dropped in favour of a discussion of our dream vacations.

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I recognised his facial expression because it was the same one I felt myself wearing whenever the past and ‘where did you grow up’ came up at social events – recently, I’d been networking with Kaylyn to put the word about our yoga studio out there. The biting of the lip, eyes darting frantically as you try desperately to not make things awkward with a sad story…

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“Never mind Sunlit Tides.” I told Lachlan, as we left the restaurant. “Whatever’s there is there. You don’t have to talk about it. Or think about it.”

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He simply nodded and thanked me, but despite a voice in my head telling me I’d fucked it all up, I could see and accept that…he actually appreciated my clumsy, cryptic advice. And maybe, he knew that I knew, so he knew that I had the same thing going on.


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Whatever it was, it seemed that moment was what led to Lachlan and I becoming actual friends. Despite Kaylyn’s attempts, that was all…but he did add even more good to my life.


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I’d known Dianne since we were kids, so I knew her ‘ideas’ face. She’d been wearing it when I let her in. Plus, she was murmuring to herself while she used the new coffee machine. In conclusion, she was up to something.

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“So,” She sauntered over and sat down, mug in hand. “Khalil’s friend Raj is coming back into town tomorrow and your date is on Thursday, you’re welcome.”

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I raised an eyebrow. “…Aren’t you and Khalil breaking up?” Why would you remind her of that. Shitty, worthless friend – well, actually, I said it because it was relevant to the conversation at hand. So that inner voice could shut it.

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“Yeah. We are. So?”

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“So why am I going on a date with your ex’s friend?” I asked, sighing. Dating’s something I’ve stayed away from for a long time. I haven’t even had sex since that random guy two months after Nolan was born (real classy, huh, Sarai?). I’m at a stable place. Things are good. Why risk fucking it all up? I’d just make the same stupid, whorish decisions I used to…

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“Because it’s all set up and you need to get back out there.” she retorted.

“Says who?”

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“Says I. I know you best. Plus you’re always complaining about being alone-”

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“That’s just me joking. Yes, I’m single, but I don’t – I don’t want to date again. It’s too much.” I protested. “You know I’m afraid of going…back to how I used to be.” I cringed. It was so fucking pointless to remind her of my old ways and self, yet of course I’d done it. You always-

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Dianne’s face fell slightly, her eyes hard and serious. “OK, OK, mine’s just jokes as well. I won’t force you, Sarai. But…I just want to say, I think you are ready for real, true romance. You’ve put in so much work. And if you do sleep with this guy and never call him again – so what? Don’t shame yourself if you enjoyed yourself.”

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I suppressed a scoff. She still doesn’t really get it. I’d give everything to whatever guy said I’m pretty, get lost and swept up in a moment, desperate for any kind of fucking attention only to run away from the situation in the end. I wanted to avoid that. I’d seen that it was an unhealthy pattern, and I know I can’t go back.

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She seemed to know what I was thinking. “Obviously only do that if you really want to. Not just…for the hell of it, y’know?” she fudged, awkwardly gesturing. This was uncomfortable. I made her uncomfortable.

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“Sorry. I’ll do it. The date, I mean.” I told her, just wanting to end the conversation.

“What are you apologising for? Come on, we have to watch Simchanted now. I’ve gotta be at work in an hour.” That was the whole reason she was here; it was our show on Saturday evenings – the same evenings she worked behind the bar at a restaurant on Kells Avenue.

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“You’ll definitely be late.” I pointed out.

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“Not late enough to get in trouble – if you hurry up and turn the TV on.”


Five days later, I was regretting giving in so easily. Well, not so much giving in as being weak and agreeing to avoid a conversation. Coward.

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I’d had to cancel on Lachlan. Most Thursdays we got together at one of our places, I’d teach him yoga stuff, he’d make us food and we’d watch one of his geeky films. I’d grown to enjoy those movies and those times, and now I was skipping it…for this.

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“So you’re – what was it, Dianne’s cousin.”

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“Yeah.” I answered, not really sure what else to say to such a greeting. No ‘hi’ and introduction? Really?

You’ve fucked guys without getting that, I sneeringly reminded myself. With gentle chastisement, I told myself that that fact didn’t mean I’d do so now.

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Our date didn’t last long. Raj would not stop talking about himself, and even if I didn’t always believe it, I knew that in relationships, the other person should take an interest in me. Mutual interest is healthy, like Alessandra said. God, how did I still rely on my CBT quotes to guide me through basic socialisation?

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He didn’t say anything when I ordered a sparkling water, and later explained that I didn’t drink when he asked me, but he got this weird look in his eye. Like I was a freak. The appetisers looked really good but I pretended that I didn’t want any of them because I wanted it to be over. I nearly always skipped dessert anyway.

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I left the restaurant thinking about the fact that Lachlan’s incredulous reaction to this whole situation made me laugh twice as hard as anything that guy said throughout the whole hour and a half. And I really regretted skipping out on him.

 

1.25 – My Own

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Life had been pretty good…for a while. I knew I didn’t really deserve it but I was supposed to forget about that, right?

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Alexis wanted to move out of our apartment, with its dampness issues and temperamental appliances. I resigned myself to finding a new roommate and wished her the best before she told me she wanted me to come along.

That had been really fucking new.

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I turned twenty-five, and actually had a real party. My stomach flipped and churned when all those people showed up at my apartment, with me expected to host and entertain them all. But it wasn’t bad.

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I attended my first wedding-of-a-friend (in fact, my first wedding at all) when Kaylyn finally married Vaughn. It was probably strange that I hadn’t been to one before that…just goes to show how fucking cold I used to be…that’s in the past. I had a good time celebrating anyway.

Lately, I’d been getting more and more sick of working at studios. It wasn’t my employers’ fault – they were good to me. But I wanted to do things my own way, and work for myself.

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I said as much to Kaylyn, after we’d had lunch.

“-but that’s pretty stupid – isn’t it? I should be happy, with what I have.” I continued. I’m not good at business and stuff like that. That’s Clarissa’s domain. She went to college. You dropped out at nineteen.

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“Before you shot your own idea down in a fit of self-doubt,” Kaylyn smiled and shook her head, eyes twinkling. “I was about to say, that’s a great idea and Vaughn and I have been looking into getting into the fitness market around here. It’s growing nice and getting real competitive.”

Heart banging in my chest,  I dared to think she was going to ask me. Believe in yourself and your abilities, you’re very strong, as Alessandra had told me. “You mean…you’d want me?” My voice was small and childish. I could hardly believe she would.

“I would love to work with you, hon! You’re hard-working and strong as hell – and gorgeous! I’d even want to put you all over the…the promotional materials, that’s what it is.”

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“I stopped doing that after…” I could model again, if it was a favour for a friend.

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“Your baby.” Kaylyn mumbled, looking into her lap. “Right, well it’s only an idea. And trust me, you wouldn’t be just a pretty face. We’d have you instructing, maybe even managing – you do know the industry very well. That’s where Vaughn and I need the help.”

“I…”

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“You’d be my number-one woman for the job, though.” A strange feeling of both elation and treacherous disbelief washed over me.

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I seemed ungrateful, gazing stupidly in silence.”I mean – amazing. Wonderful, I-” I stuttered out. Tears pricked my eyes.

“Sarai? Honey?”

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“I – just – thank you, but there’s so many better – better people – you don’t need me-” I bent my head, sheltering my eyes with one hand.

Kaylyn sighed. “I’d rather have you than anyone else. And two minutes ago you were talking like you wanted to start running your own place, so-”

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“It’s just…you want me?” I weakly finished.

That was what got me, that someone wanted me and trusted me for something like this. Which I’d wanted for a while…but even after everything I learned, the friendships and all the therapy, after I stopped being a pathetic slut and having sex just to feel, I couldn’t believe that I was good enough to be properly wanted. To be someone’s first choice.

You’ll never be, said the evil little voice that still liked to come around.

Shut up, I mentally snapped back at it as I prepared to leave.

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“Come here.” Kaylyn stopped me. “I know you don’t see yourself for the amazing person that you are, but don’t you fret about this! Ooh, it’s so perfect! We’ll work so well together! You’re the best I can think of for this.”

“But I-”

She wasn’t having it. “Yes, you are. Let’s get to work, huh?”

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This is objectively something good, I reminded myself. You didn’t trick her, she knows you, and she seems to really want you on board. And of course I wanted this too. So I didn’t argue.

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“Here we are. 35 Palm Leaf Avenue. Ooh, it’s such a gorgeous neighbourhood.” Kaylyn gushed. “We’re…just on time. Hope the realtor’s there this time.” She was referring to our last viewing, when we were kept waiting for half an hour without so much as a courtesy text.

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I attempted to laugh and smile as a normal person would, but I was a little too fidgety and anxious. I clenched my hands, wrapping my fingers around each other, as if that would leach all the tension out.

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“Also, I’ve made some calls and I have two more lined up if this doesn’t go well, so don’t worry so much, alright? There’ll be somewhere.”

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Immediately squirming inside with guilt, I started making excuses. Coward. “Well, I was busy…with work, and I know I should do more but-”

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“Exactly, you work full-time. I don’t mind at all – and you’ll have a heavy workload once this starts up.” Kaylyn grinned and nudged me. “Come on, let’s go in.”

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Our realtor was nicely on time. “Good afternoon,” he greeted, extending a hand. “I’m Lachlan Waterman from GreenBox, and I’ll be showing you around today.”

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As always, Kaylyn took the lead, shaking his hand and introducing us. “I’m Kaylyn Adams, this is my business partner Sarai Hayes, and it’s very nice to meet you, Lachlan.”

“Likewise. Now, I’ll show you to the front area…”

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The property was beautiful, the best out of the three we’d seen so far. There were gorgeous airy windows in the front, perfect for a lobby. The space at the back could be easily made into locker rooms. And the two studios, one upstairs, one down, were large and light and calming, exactly what Kaylyn and I wanted.

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We finished the tour on the balcony. Kaylyn was musing to herself about getting plants and little stools to set up a meditation area.

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“What’s this all for?” Lachlan asked me.

“Well…” God, he would think it was stupid…why did I care? “Me and my friend, we’re, uh, looking to open up a yoga studio.”

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“Oh, that’s…interesting.” he fudged. I was ready to make excuses and leave in shame – seemed like I couldn’t sell any kind of idea. No wonder you need Kaylyn, you weak-“That’s really cool, striking out on your own.”

“Thanks.” I fidgeted. Was he being sincere?

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“Seriously,” he laughed, visibly relaxing. His wide brown eyes lit up. “I guess…do you teach, or invest-?”

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“I do. Teach. But, I want to…work for myself. Even if that’s-”

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“It’s really cool.” he insisted. “Hell, I’m just…GreenBox’s lackey.”

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I found myself smiling. “And I’m the same for gyms across this city.”

“Touché. Good on you for getting out of that. Well…I hope this place suited. I kind of need the commission.” he joked.

“Thanks and…yeah, it does.”

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“This place is perfect!” Kaylyn squealed.

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“So you wanna take it?” I asked her.

“I’m a hundred percent sure, honey, but I’ll do nothing without your approval.” she assured, grasping my hands.

“Well…the office is a five minute walk.” said Lachlan. “Um…I’m gonna get a coffee on the way, would either of you like one?”

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“Just take Sarai, I’ve got the address, I’ll meet you there.” Kaylyn ushered us away and picked up her phone. “That’s my husband. Come on, Sarai, go.” She winked at me.

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I glared back, but still followed Lachlan and his gorgeous brown eyes. He’d been nice after all.


Author’s Note: Yeah, so I’m back after about…a year? Honestly, this last year has been crazy and pretty difficult at times for me. Sarai’s story was really hard to write about, plus I was losing interest in playing the Sims myself (though I’ve been keeping up on many wonderful stories, if not commenting), so I did stop for a long time…but things are better right now and I do want to continue this. Sorry if the screenshots are a little shaky, it’s been a while! Also, credit to skcaga9 for the wonderful Kaylyn (and her brother Kody, visible at Sarai’s party).

Also, I don’t know shit about real estate so sorry for any inaccuracies.