Briar arrives home from work to the warm homely smell of her mother’s baking. “Hi, sweetie.” Fern bends to down to slide the tray of chocolate chip cookies out. The autumn sunlight falling through the window picks out the grey and blue streaks in her hair. Briar notices how old her mother is getting. Almost a grandma, really, if Ash continued his stupid romance with that stupid girl and had equally stupid children.
Briar gives a disgusted sigh and reaches for a cookie, trying to forget that horrible Sunday. However, Fern waves her hand away with a disapproving frown. “You have to wait for Isla.” She chides her daughter. Briar rolls her eyes and grabs a PB&J from the fridge instead, impatiently waiting for her little sister to come back from after-school Art Club.
Today is Isla’s 13th birthday, and Briar had helped her mother bake the Kingston birthday cake. To her surprise, the cake hadn’t been burnt, and icing it had been pretty fun. Briar had made little fondant stars and mixed up coloured icing, and overall she is quite pleased with her work.
There is a knock on the door and a ‘I’m home Mommy!’ yell from Isla. Fern hurriedly opens the fridge to take out the cake and Christopher appears out of the master suite, fresh from a work out session and shower. He digs out a couple of party tooters from the guest room and hands it to the rest of the family. Ash rushes down the stairs and opens the door, after checking to see if everyone is ready.
“Surprise!” Isla is greeted with a cacophony of celebratory sounds and she stands open-mouthed for a second. Then she squeals and runs to her parents, who give her a big hug. “Thank you thank you thank you, mommy, daddy!” Isla giggles and dances on the spot. Christopher pats his daughter on the head, laughing. “Glad you’re so excited, little one. Now blow out your candles!”
Isla hops up to the cake, still rambling on excitedly. She hadn’t planned to have a birthday party (“I want to have an extra special 18th instead!”) but Fern and Christopher had wanted to surprise her with cake and presents nevertheless.
Her parents look on, a little tearful, as Isla thinks of a wish. After a moment, she blows out the three candles with a big smile on her face.
With a twist and a turn, glowing sparks of colour begin spinning around her, diffusing her clothes in light. She ages up to have a trait which I can’t remember. She is Artistic, Unlucky, Virtuoso and Friendly, so it’s one of those.
Ooh, she’s grown up quite pretty! I assumed she would look like Fern but actually she has her father’s features- nose, lips, probably skin and hair as well. Isla has her mother’s green eyes, though (hey, that sounds like Harry Potter).
After the present giving -a new paint set from Fern and Christopher, a soft toy from Briar, and ink pens plus a notebook from Ash- the family enjoy the cake. Briar glares at her twin when he takes a slice, dearly wishing she can throw him in the trash. He belongs there, alright.
They eat out on the patio, chattering as the sun begins setting. Isla compliments her mother and sister’s baking, taking bites of the jelly layer eagerly. Moodily, Briar peels the icing off the cake. Her little sister seems so happy, free of supernatural and brotherly troubles. She’s Unlucky, Briar reminds herself. But with her good nature and prowess at the arts, Isla is bound to have more luck than what Briar is having right now. After all… she does not have Xander Clavell’s blood running inside her.
Everyone finishes their cake before long, and Isla stands up to hug her mother. “Thank you so much, I really loved the mini-party, it was wonderful! Oh, don’t cry, Mom…”
“Sorry.” Fern covers her face, sniffling. “It’s just… all my children are growing up so fast. Briar and Ash are their own free adults and look at you, now a beautiful big girl. 13! I can still remember when you used to call me Mama and played teddy bears with your father. Now… now you won’t need your old parents anymore.”
Isla smiles at her mother. “Mom, it’s okay. I won’t ever stop needing my parents. You’ll still be my lovely mother even when I grow all old and independent like Ash. Big sis and bro still need you, isn’t that right, Briar?”
Briar looks up from her second slice of cake. “Huh? Oh yep, I still love you Mommy, even though my brother is being a nerdy arrogant git.”
Fern laughs and wipes her eyes hastily. Smoothing her skirt down, she looks at her two children proudly. “I’m so happy to have two amazing daughters like you. I can tell you will both be great mothers, even you with your reckless ways, Briar.” She raises her eyebrows. “Make sure to have lots of kiddies so I can be a grandma and bake cookies and make PB&J sandwiches when you will be too old to love them anymore. Yes, and I want to see all my children get married before I die, okay?”
“Don’t be so morbid, Mom.” Isla says, horrified.
Fern simply smiles at her daughter. “Oh, we’re all going to leave this world in the end. It’s just a matter of fulfilling our lives before that happens.”
“We are telling them today, right?” Briar asks nervously. She brushes a leaf off her jacket. The two had arrived early at the park and are now waiting for their families to come. Max grins at her. “You know everyone will be happy for us… well, almost everyone.” He frowns, and the unspoken name floats between them, making Briar shiver.
Christopher and Wisteria Oliver jump out of their cars and lead the two families over, baskets swinging from their elbows. Will strides over, laughing with his girlfriend Kelsey, and spreads two checkered blankets on the grass. The rest of the two chattering families arrive, filling the gentle Saturday morning with joy and contented talk.
The Kingstons and Olivers all sit down to hot dogs, fresh fruit and juice. They often get up and swap places, so each blanket is full of different conversations. Fern and Kelsey discuss her ballet career, Isla talks enthusiastically to Wisteria about the art inspiration at the beach, and Ash exchanges basketball game tactics with Will.
The sun gives life to the flowers and sparkles on the gushing fountain, melting the increasing chill of the air. More Sims come into the park with their food and laughter. It’s a lovely setting for the two families to celebrate their years-long friendship.
“Can I have everyone’s attention.” Will speaks up after an hour or two. All faces turn expectantly to him, Briar still stuffing her face with watermelon. Will takes his girlfriend’s hand and pulls her up, much to her surprise. “I have something to say.” He takes a deep breath. “Looking around me, I see the decade of friendship still strong within our two families.”
Briar coughs and glares at her brother. “Ours got ruined by a pompous monster.” She hisses out of the corner of her mouth. Fern shushes her daughter. Will ignores them and continues. “But we still have one member of this picnic who is yet to be truly included in this family. Kels, you are the most kind, beautiful, sweet girl I have ever met, and I love you. I would be honoured to ask if you would officially become part of our family.”
Will bends down on one knee and instantly all the picnickers know what is happening. Max wolf-whistles loudly and Will throws his younger brother a glare before reaching into his pocket. “Will you, Kelsey Green, marry me?”
“I would love to.” Kelsey sighs happily and allows Will to slip a brilliant diamond ring onto her finger. The rest of the family burst into whoops, getting up to congratulate the two. Fern launches into an excited discussion of wedding plans with Wisteria and Kelsey, while Max slaps his older brother’s shoulder in pride. “I’ll be an uncle soon.” He teases. This makes Will flush and hit him over the head.
Cue the adorable proposal pictures ❤
The two families soon settle down to finish off the lunch, the chatter renewed with the talk of the wedding. Smiling, Kelsey asks if Briar and Isla would like to be her bridesmaids. Briar agrees, but she can feel her anxiety growing as Max throws her questioning glances. It’s okay, no one will kill you, she tries to tell herself.
“Um… I have, er, an announcement to make.” Briar shoots up to her feet, looking at the sky instead of her family. She tries to ignore how everyone is staring at her curiously and attempts to catch her voice. “So, um, so… me and Matt… I mean Max…” Briar stumbles over her words and blushes furiously when Isla giggles. Why does this have to be so hard?
Luckily, Max quickly saves the situation. “What Briar is trying to say is…” He grabs her hands and kisses her, “… we’re boyfriend and girlfriend now.”
As expected, Isla cracks up laughing and the fathers exchange knowing glances. Wisteria wraps them both in a gigantic hug. “Us four were waiting for that to happen for years!” She whispers, gesturing to her husband Scott, Christopher and Fern. “I’m glad it finally did.” She smiles and goes off to ruffle her son’s hair, who ducks and complains, “Moooom!”.
Fern embraces her daughter joyfully. “Oh, I’m so happy for you!” She jumps up and down like a little kid, and Briar can almost forget the wrinkles on her mother’s face. “First of my children to date!” From that, Briar derives that Ash has not told their mother about that idiotic girl. She frowns over that as Fern continues talking happily. A secret relationship, huh?
“Seriously? Of all the people you could have dated, you chose my best friend?” A voice says coldly behind her. Briar turns around to find her brother staring at her angrily. “What’s your problem with that?” Briar says defiantly.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe that you’re practically stealing my only friend right now away from me?” Under the outrage Briar feels at those words, she wonders why her brother only has one friend, since he was quite popular in high school. “Oh please, you have your secret girlfriend.” Briar lowers her voice to a furious whisper. “Or is she just someone to screw around with?”
At that, Ash’s face contorts into the scariest expression Briar has seen in her entire life. A chill running through her, she takes a step back nervously. Maybe she has gone too far. Conflicting emotions flicker across her twin’s face and Briar can actually see him trying to control himself. Finally, his expression settles into one of ice.
“You. Understand. Nothing.”
With that, Ash turns and walks out of the park.