It was graduation day. I awakened with an equal amount of nervousness and excitement. I would be graduating from high school today at five o’clock. My life would never be the same. I took a moment to daydream about my future as I propped myself up with my arms. I would be attending Edgewater Global Business College₁ in Edgewater, Louisimana₂. I wanted to open my own business. Perhaps a bakery with my cooking skills like my father. Maybe I’d follow in my mother’s footsteps and go into academics. Or perhaps I’d get into real estate like my grandpa. I wasn’t sure what yet.
Regardless, I wanted to go to Edgewater for as long as I could remember. My grandfather had attended there, and so had all the great business entrepreneurs. I had even visited last spring during my junior year, getting all the paraphernalia – pamphlets, brochures, the pendant, the #16 jersey of Charlie Moon₃, star quarterback of the Edgewater Saints, and the college sweatpants. I was going to be an Edgewater Llama₄… though why their mascot was the llama puzzled me since there weren’t any llamas in Louisimana as far as I knew.
I had barely stepped out of my bedroom when my mother accosted me. Well… she gave me a hug.
“Kassio, gattina₅, you’re so grownup today,” Mamma said.
“Oh Mamma,” I sighed as I embraced her back. “I’m not a little cat.” Mamma and her Italian terms of endearment.
“I forgot,” Mamma pulled back, still holding my arms. “You’re going to be a llama now. So big.”
“I hope not,” I put my hands on my hip. “I’d like to keep my figure.”
“Oh hush, teasing your mother on today of all days,” Mamma frowned, and I believe she was half serious. “You are growing up and moving out so soon. No longer a high school girl but a woman.”
“Mamma, I turned eighteen last Simcember. I am a woman,” I protested.
“Sì,” Mamma said with a sad smile. “What will I do without my gattina?”
“Get a real cat now?” I joked.
“Oh stop it, Kassiopeia. Go get ready for your big day. I’ll make waffles,” Mamma waved her hand and stepped down the stairs.
I hoped she wasn’t serious. Mamma didn’t usually cook. She usually let us girls make our own meals. I suppose I’d have to endure Mamma’s cooking for the day. She wanted everything to be so perfect. I decided to skip the morning bath since I had showered the night before. I did brush my pearly whites. I arched a brow as I observed myself in the mirror. Am I really a woman now?
I decided to skip getting dressed for the moment, and indulge in a cup of coffee in my pj’s. I appreciated Mamma making coffee before I arrived downstairs, a luxury I didn’t often experience. Mamma often slept in as she didn’t teach classes until the early afternoon. The dark liquid was just what I needed to help wake up. I was lucky I had slept at all with my nerves and all.
Mamma started mixing batter for waffles, and I silently prayed she wouldn’t burn them. I could always just grab an apple from the fruit bowl monstrosity in front of me. I was enjoying the peace and quiet when the telephone rang. Mamma picked up and said hello. Then she started acting weird. She lowered her voice and turned toward the sink so I couldn’t hear her too well. She even giggled at one point. I hadn’t heard my mother laugh like that in years… if ever.
“You’re in a good mood,” I mouthed to her as I stepped out of the kitchen.
She made a face at me and continued her conversation, while I slipped upstairs to get dressed. I wondered who she was talking to, especially someone who could make her laugh. Perhaps it was nonna.
My sisters were arguing loudly in the hallway when I walked upstairs. Carina just couldn’t decide what to wear to my graduation and apparently she had turned the bedroom upside down to pick out an outfit. Andi definitely didn’t appreciate this.
“I was trying to sleep in, and you’re so loud!” Andi grunted. “You walk like an elephant in your heels.”
“I do not!” Cari protested. “At least I wear heels. You’re the one with no fashion taste, loser!”
“Loser?!” Andi huffed.
“Yeah, loser,” Cari motioned the “L” sign at her forehead.
“Who needs fifteen pairs of heels anyway?” Andi rolled her eyes and walked into the bathroom, slamming the door.
“You better not take all year in there,” Cari yelled, banging on the door.
“I’m not the one who takes two hour showers,” Andi yelled through the closed door, turning on the radio and blasting Simkovsky₆.
“Yeah, well who’s loud now with her stupid classical composer junk?” Cari screeched through a closed door.
“Good morning,” I said in my most-cheerful voice.
Carina jumped, startled, and then narrowed her eyes. “Oh hi Kass.”
With that, she slammed her bedroom door and soon the sounds of Simkovsky and Punk Rock Princess₇ competed with each other at obscene volume levels.
I decided to escape the drama and head for my favorite retreat – The Tea Gardens – Serenity Cove₈ just up the road. I always headed there when I wanted to think, paint, journal, or read. The Sun Valley Historical Society₉ did a nice job of preserving the grounds. I wanted to visit Simpan. This was probably the closest I’d ever get.
As I stepped outside, the cool breeze tickled the hairs on my arms and the sun warmed my back. I inhaled deeply, enjoying the morning air. I didn’t even need a sweater today. I tucked my book tightly beneath my arm and walked briskly toward my sanctuary. I had checked out nearly every book on Simpanese culture from the library. I’m sure the librarians knew me well since I was in there every other day. I reached the gardens within fifteen minutes, and quickly found a bench to settle into for my daily read. This book was an encyclopedia of Simpanese history. I wanted to be uber prepared if I ever got to go the land of the rising sun someday.
I spent nearly the entire morning at the Tea Gardens. My phone started ringing around 1:00. My friend, Ayesha Ansari₁₀ had scheduled me an appointment at the Sharma Day Spa₁₁ to, in her words, “pretty me up” before the ceremony. I had reluctantly agreed. She was calling to remind me that my appointment was at 1:30 and not to be late. I rushed home to get changed for the ceremony and rushed over to the day spa. I didn’t look half-bad. I really liked what they did with my hair. I was walking out of the spa when I saw my good friend, Gage Briody₁₂.
“Kass?” he inquired, in disbelief as he stared at me.
“I…uh… hi, Gage,” I said, the heat rising to my cheeks. I don’t know why I was embarrassed. Gage had seen me probably hundreds of times in grunge clothes when we fixed the roof of his garage with his foster dad, and in sweaty clothes when we partnered together gym class for Taibo, and in my pajamas when he had crashed at our place because his foster parents were arguing again. I don’t know why I was nervous about him seeing me all dolled up.
“Ayesha wanted me to look like this,” I pointed my hand to myself, feeling idiotic. “And I kinda like it. I think. I hope it’s not too much. Do you think it’s too much?”
“Let me see,” Gage said seriously, motioning for me to twirl.
I indulged him.
“Any guy on the street would think you’re hot,” Gage replied.
“You’re full of it,” I laughed, trying to catch my balance. My heels were making it difficult to stand on the brick pathway.
“Personally,” Gage pointed to himself. “I’d punch any guy in the face who didn’t think you were gorgeous.”
“Uh… okay…” I wasn’t sure what to say.
“But I’m just your best friend,” Gage motioned to himself. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
“Thank you?” I said awkwardly.
“You want me to say thank you?” Gage teased.
“No, you weirdo,” I said. “Never mind.”
“Are you going to the grad after party?” I asked, changing the subject.
“No way,” he said, waving his arms dramatically. “I’m so done with high school. I don’t really want to watch others get drunk and dance wildly.”
“Me neither,” I nodded. “So what are you doing?”
“I was thinking about staying home and knitting,” Gage joked.
“No really?” I punched his arm in a friendly way.
“Probably just going to watch a movie on the couch with my foster mom to be honest,” Gage admitted.
“Says who? It’s not like you’re partying hard tonight,” Gage laughed.
“Well I did get invited to Zelda Mae’s₁₃ party,” I protested.
“Really?” Gage looked at me sheepishly. “The rock-star wannabe invited you over? The one who wants to still be in high school with all of us? Since when do I ever party hard?”
“Since… never… I didn’t say I was going.”
“Good, I don’t think I could handle you joining the popular crowd.”
“Yeah, I’m probably just eating dinner at home with my family.”
“Hey, do you wanna catch a movie or something tomorrow afternoon?”
“Sure, I’d love to. Maybe we could grab a burger afterward…”
“Oh wait, hold on, gotta take this,” Gage interrupted me, pulling out his ringing cell phone. He punched a few buttons and grunted in frustration. “Stupid smart phone and fat fingers! I cut them off.”
“Who was it?” I asked, curiously.
“I don’t know. It was an out-of-the-area phone number,” Gage frowned.
“Call them back,” I shrugged.
“I guess. Oh wait… I think they left me a voicemail.”
I let him listen to the message and watched as his face went from confused to happy to ecstatic.
“YES!” he screamed. “Oh my leaping llamas!”
“What?” I asked, my eyes widening.
“Hahaha! I can’t believe it!” Gage yelled, as if I weren’t there.
“Oh my heavens!” Gage shrieked.
“What!?” I asked, trying to stay calm. “Did something happen?”
“Did something happen!?” Gage repeated with sarcasm.
He doubled over laughing hysterically. I just stood there, unsure of what to do.
“Gage?” I looked at him worriedly.
“Oh Kass, I got in. I got into my dream school!”
“What?” I exclaimed. “You mean Northwestern University in Illinoisim₁₄?”
“Yeah, in Simcago,” Gage gasped, barely breathing. “Oh! I can’t believe it!”
“I’m… so… happy…for you…” I said, stiltedly.
Truth was, I was really hoping he’d come with me to Edgewater in the fall. I knew he hadn’t heard back from any of the schools he had applied to, and I was hoping we could stay together for college. I would really miss him. I had spent the last six years of my life with him, and he was one of the only reasons I survived middle school, my parents’ divorce, and high school.
Gage squeezed me tightly, jerking me out of my thoughts.
“Thanks Kass. I know you were hoping with me.”
Yeah, to come with me to Louisimana, not Illinoisim. I’m being selfish, I mentally kicked myself.
“I know…” I swallowed hard.
Gage took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I’m so relieved. I was so worried I wasn’t going to get in anywhere.”
But you did! You got accepted to Edgewater, I almost said, but bit my tongue.
“I know you really wanted to be in Riverview₁₅ and get to know your bio family,” I said, instead.
A few months ago, Gage had started a search for his biological family. I had fully supported his decision, wanting to help him find the closure he needed. He discovered he had distant cousins living in Riverview, just outside Simcago. His father, whose name he had discovered was Dakota Burroughs₁₆, was the younger brother of Missouri Burroughs Bagley₁₇. She was a widow, living in Riverview, with her two children, Rhoda₁₈ and Sam Bagley₁₉. Gage had wanted to meet his family so during spring break we drove across country to Riverview together. Missouri had cried. She had never seen her brother, Dakota, after he ran away, but when Gage had contacted her, she felt like he was alive again. Dakota had unfortunately been killed during a hunting accident. Gage wasn’t sure who his mother was.
Missouri told Gage if he ever wanted to move to Riverview, he was welcome. She even invited me to come and stay with them if I wanted. I was weirded out, but I decided to be play nice for Gage’s sake. But now he was moving to Illinoisim… all the way across country. And I’d be going to Louisimiana… way far south.
“My aunt Missy said I could live with them until I can find a place in Simcago. I didn’t get room and board. I can’t afford it,” Gage explained.
“That’s nice… I guess,” I shrugged.
“You don’t sound so excited,” he puzzled, furrowing his brow.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” I said, trying to stay calm. “Gage, I don’t know how I feel about you living with criminals.”
“Ex-criminals,” Gage corrected. “My aunt is a reformed thief.”
“Yeah, but a reformed thief is still a thief,” I said.
“I would’ve thought you’d be less judgmental, Kass, and happy for me,” Gage grunted.
“I’m… sorry… sorry…” I stammered. “I… just don’t think you can move. You’re not ready. What about your foster parents?”
“Pablo and Jennifer?” Gage blinked rapidly. “They’ll be fine.”
“Do they support your decision?” I asked.
“Why does it matter? You’re just jealous. You’re jealous because I’m getting to reconnect with my family.”
“What are you talking about?” I waved my hands. “I have my family.”
“Yeah, but your dad isn’t in your life anymore.”
Ouch! My face fell. I couldn’t believe he just said that to me… accused me of being jealous because he got to be with his aunt and I didn’t have a dad around anymore.
“It’s not like you’re reconnecting with your dad either, ok?” Gage said.
“Well at least my dad’s alive,” I snapped.
“What is wrong with you?” Gage grunted.
“I am trying to be your friend and you’re being a jerkface,” I said, about to burst into tears.
“Kass, stop it. Okay. I’m moving to Riverview. I don’t need your permission. I don’t need Pablo and Jennifer’s permission. I don’t need anyone’s permission. You’re just like everyone else. You don’t believe in me. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You get to go to Edgewater. That’s your dream. Why can’t you support mine?”
“Gage, I…” I stopped myself before I continued. I don’t want to lose you. I don’t trust her. I don’t want you to go. I want to protect you. I care about you. I’m just like everybody else? That was below the belt. How many times had I stuck by him before? How many times did I go above and beyond to be the best friend he needed? I wanted to curse him out. I wanted to scream at him. I wanted to hurt him. But instead, I bit my tongue.
“Can we just table the discussion until after graduation?” I said instead.
“Tomorrow,” he agreed reluctantly. “Want a ride to the ceremony?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said, unenthusiastically. Good. Change the subject. “Mamma dropped me off and Ayesha had to leave because of an emergency at home. A water line or something broke.”
We walked in silence to the parking lot, two old friends… two old friends who knew how best to care for one another… and hurt one another. I felt like I was going to lose him. Who knows what kinds of adventures awaited him in Riverview and Simcago?
We reached the parking lot.
“Gage?” I began, my throat catching as I turned around to face him.
“Yes?” he looked around me nervously.
“I’m not like everybody else,” I said, defensively, as my voice cracked.
His arms were already around me. “Kassio,” he said in a soft voice. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said it. You’re still going to be my best friend, ya know?”
“I know,” I said, choking back the tears. I was not going to ruin my makeover, and I didn’t want him to see me cry.
His hand lingered on my neck, his fingers tickling my skin. I flushed and hoped Gage would think my face was pink because of the early Simune heat.
“You’re so important to me,” Gage smiled, his eyes staring into mine. “And what you think matters, but I’m moving to Riverview. Promise me you’ll support me and that you will still be my friend?”
So he was thinking the same thing. But I’m not just like everybody else. His words still lingered in my mind.
“You aren’t going to lose me, you silly llama,” I pulled him quickly back into a hug so he couldn’t read the emotion in my eyes. “I’ll always be here for you whether you’re on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.”
“Good, cuz you’ll always be my best friend too,” Gage grinned. “Let’s get to graduation.”
Chapter Two Coming Soon
- Will we learn more about Kass and Gage’s friendship?
- Will Gage really go to Riverview to live with his infamous relatives?
- Is this the only big thing that happens on Kass’ graduation day?
Author Notes: What’s different?
- Italian is changed to Simtalian.
- Yes is changed to “Sì.”
- Grandma is changed to Nonna.
- Japan and Japanese is changed to Simpan and Simpanese.
- The location is Edgewater Global Business College is changed from Bluewater Village to Edgewater.
- Dates were changed.
- Edgewater Global Business College is a university in my SimWorld located in Louisimana.
- Edgewater Global Business College was moved to Edgewater, Louisimana.
- Charlie Moon is a professional quarterback for the pro-Louisimana team, The Edgewater Saints, a play off the New Orleans Saints. Charlie’s cousin, Anoki Moon, also attends Edgewater Global Business College and is also a football player.
- The llama is the university mascot for The Sims 3.
- Gattina is an Italian term of endearment meaning ‘little cat.’
- Simkovsky is a classical composer in my SimWorld, a play on Tchaikovsky.
- Punk Rock Princess is a band in my SimWorld.
- The Japanese Tea Gardens was a downloadable lot. I named it Serenity Cove.
- Sun Valley Historical Society is an organization in my SimWorld.
- Ayesha Ansari is a character in The Sims 3: Sunset Valley. In my SimWorld, she is a grade ahead of Kass and she’s been out of high school for a year. She is one of her best friends.
- Sharma Day Spa is a business in The Sims 3: Sunset Valley.
- Gage Briody is a pre-made townie introduced in The Sims 3: Sunset Valley. He is the foster son of Pablo and Jennifer Martinez. He is best friends with Kass.
- Zelda Mae is a pre-made townie introduced in The Sims 3: Sunset Valley. She is an adult Sim in my story who has a reputation for partying and for not acting her age.
- Northwestern University is located in Chicago, Illinois. In my SimWorld, Northwestern University is located in Simcago, Illinoisim a.k.a. Chicago, Illinois.
- Riverview is a town available for from The Sims Store.
- Dakota Burroughs was the name of Gage’s father. It is unknown at this point why he has a different last name.
- Missouri Burroughs Bagley is the modified version of Ma Bagley. She is the sister of Dakota Burroughs, the late wife of Sam Bagley, the mother of Rhoda and Sam Bagley, and the aunt to Gage Briody, whom he calls Aunt Missy. She lives in Riverview with her two kids.
- Rhoda Bagley is the daughter of Sam and Missouri ‘Ma’ Bagley, the sister to Sam, and the cousin of Gage. She lives in Riverview with her mom and brother.
- Sam Bagley is a highly adapted character (on my part). His name originally was Sherman. He is named after his late father, and lives with his Ma and sister, Rhoda Bagley.