Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Chapter 8: Colors and Promises
The following morning, Kieran awakens to the delighted shouts of children ringing in his ears and the smell of baking bread wafting through the air. With a yawn, he glances around his distinctly medieval surroundings and absently pulls a piece of hay out of his hair, wondering what to do next. He doesn’t have to wait long, however, as a faint giggle suddenly alerts him to the presence of another person in the barn.
Kieran immediately locates the source of the noise, and with a drowsy smile he beckons her closer. “Hello there,” he calls out. “What’s your name?”
The girl’s eyes widen in surprise, and her face turns a deep shade of scarlet. “B-B-B-B-Brigid,” she stutters.
“You don’t have to hide,” he tells her as he rises to his feet. “I don’t bite.” The girl, however, refuses to budge, and Kieran can’t help but notice that she looks absolutely petrified of him.
“M-M-Mama says you n-need t-t-t-t-to come in for breakfast n-now, and she w-wanted me to t-t-t-t-tell you that she p-packed you a lunch t-to take to the vineyard.”
“Okay, I’ll be right there.” He grins at her again, hoping to talk with her some more, but Brigid stubbornly avoids his curious gaze. Mumbling something under her breath, she hands him some clothes and abruptly turns around and scampers away.
With a confused shrug, Kieran changes into his new wardrobe and follows Brigid’s path back to the small, rundown cottage at the other end of the property.
“I’m Quinn O’Hara!” a young girl with curly brown hair announces as soon as Kieran walks through the door. “What’s your name?”
Kieran smiles down at the enthusiastic child. “Kieran,” he replies. “Kieran Everard.”
“Mama says you’re gonna stay with us for a while and help us with our vineyard, and I think that’s neat. We don’t have any men ‘round here anymore since daddy left, and I miss gettin' to go fishing. Will you take me fishing?!”
Kieran rubs his head awkwardly, trying to think up an answer. “Well, I’d love to, but I don’t-”
“YAY!” Quinn screams, jumping up and down in gleeful excitement. “Did you hear that Shannon?! He promised to take me fishin’! Just me and not you!” she adds as she sticks out her tongue at the redhead on the floor.
“Now wait a minute,” Kieran tries to explain. “I never said-”
“You’re the greatest, Kieran,” Quinn tells him as she wraps her thin little arms around his waist. “And I just know that we’re going to be best friends.”
“That’s enough, Quinn,” Juno, the grandmother, barks from the corner. “Leave the poor boy alone.”
“Brigid, why don’t you take Kieran outside and show him around?” Eileen instructs her eldest daughter in a stern tone of voice. “Once I’ve fed the baby, we can head over to the vineyard and get started,” she adds as she turns to face Kieran.
Obediently following her mother’s orders, Brigid leads Kieran around their tiny farm and silently points things out to him. She still refuses to look at him, however, and every time Kieran speaks she seems to jump out of her skin. Finally, at the chicken coop, he decides to ask her about it.
“Do I frighten you, Brigid?” he says as kindly as he can.
Brigid shakes her head and picks up one of the baby chicks, stroking it gently and cooing to it in a high pitched voice.
“Then why won’t you talk to me?” he demands with a bemused frown.
“I s-s-s-s-stutter,” she whispers, her face full of shame. “I d-d-don’t want you to t-t-t-tease me.”
Shaking his head, Kieran bends down and reaches out for one of the chicks, but they hurriedly waddle away. “Do your sisters tease you about it?” he asks softly.
Brigid nods. “Everybody d-does. Mama says I’ll n-never marry b-b-because I c-can’t talk right.”
“Well, you talk fine to me,” Kieran tells her without a moment’s hesitation. “And anyway, stuttering is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s no big deal. Really,” he adds, noticing her skeptical expression.
Brigid shrugs nonchalantly, but her pale face lights up at his words. “You don’t have t-t-t-t-to be nice to me,” she replies in a meek voice.
Kieran chuckles. “It’s true though,” he insists.
Over the next few weeks, Kieran struggles to cope with the demands of his new medieval life. Each and every day begins at the crack of dawn with the rising of the sun. As soon as he awakens, Kieran heads to the well for drinking water, feeds and grooms the horses, chops the firewood, tends to the livestock, and mucks out the stables. After breakfast and a few more chores, he walks the three mile trek down to the O’Hara’s vineyard, where he spends the rest of his day plowing, sowing, digging, hoeing, reaping, weeding, tilling, and harvesting the grapevines. By the time the sun sets each night, he can barely muster the energy to make the long hike back to the farm, where even more chores await him.
However, despite his blistering hands and aching muscles, Kieran throws himself into his duties, and soon his body starts to adjust to the backbreaking labor. Indeed, the harder he works, the easier the job becomes, and within a couple of weeks the work starts to feel like second nature to him.
With five active daughters to care for and seven hungry mouths to feed, Eileen and Juno welcome Kieran into their home with open arms, and as the days pass by he quickly grows to feel like part of their family.
Quinn, the tomboy of the group, was disappointed to learn that Kieran can’t fish, but soon she discovers that he has another, better talent. The stories he weaves are like none she’s ever heard before.
“Kieran, will you take me fishin' tomorrow?” Quinn demands after he finishes up his nightly tale.
“I thought we went over this, squirt,” Kieran chuckles as she climbs up into his arms. “I don’t know how to fish, and anyway I’ve got to work at the vineyard all day tomorrow.”
Quinn sticks out her bottom lip. “But, Kieran,” she whines, “Mama said you should take a day off. She told me so herself.”
Kieran sighs. “You know I’d love to Quinn, but I can’t. I’ve already been here for three weeks now, and I’m nowhere close to finishing the harvest.”
“Pleeeeease?” Quinn begs, her eyes wide with hopeful anticipation.
“Remind me how I got talked into this again?” Kieran scowls as he leads their horse along the river bank the following morning.
Brigid smirks at him. “You should n-never let Quinn give you her p-puppy dog eyes. B-B-Big mistake.”
“He wouldn’t have agreed if he didn’t want to go!” Shannon, the redhead, pipes up. “You do want to go with us, right Kieran?” she adds nervously.
“Of course I do!” He smiles at her warmly, but inside he feels a twinge of guilt. The sooner he gets the vineyard harvested, the sooner he can find Atticus and figure out how to get home. Taking a day off just delays his return to the present. To Delilah, he thinks before sternly pushing her memory out of his mind.
Nevertheless, Kieran thoroughly enjoys his time with the O'Hara girls. The Arundel of a thousand years ago looks jaw-droppingly beautiful compared to the Arundel he knew in his own time, and the peace and quiet of the countryside is a welcome change from his hectic life at mage school. Admittedly, the adjustment was hard at first, but the longer he spends with the O’Haras the easier it becomes to forget about all the many, many things he left behind.
All but one.
He found the pictures in his wallet the day after he arrived. He almost wishes that he didn’t have them, that he didn’t have the chance to look at her face every night and remember the girl he so desperately yearns to forget, but each time he tries to get rid of them something holds him back. Some foolish, misguided hope that someday, somehow, she may find a way to love him too.
Layers of sumptuous white silk cascade down around Delilah’s ankles, rustling ever so faintly as she paces back and forth through the luxurious bridal suite, but with each step the once spacious room seems to grow smaller and smaller. Stopping suddenly, Delilah presses her forehead against the cold glass window and stares outside, watching as a couple of children scamper by on the beach below. They play together in the surf for a moment, splashing around in the gentle ocean waves before continuing on their way down the shoreline. The sight leaves a lump in her throat, a painful longing for the simplicity of her own childhood.
Shaking her head, Delilah brings her mind back to the present. On the surface, marrying Beau feels like the right decision. He will provide a safe and secure future for her kids, and with enough time Lila knows that she can learn to love him too. After all, what choice does she have? Raising three infants alone seems like a ridiculous and impossible alternative to her.
“You look beautiful,” Beau whispers.
Delilah jumps back, startled by his hand on her shoulder.
“Are you nervous?” he asks as he brushes his lips against her fingertips.
“No,” Lila forces herself to smile. “Are you?”
“A little bit,” he chuckles. “After all, this is the biggest day of my life.”
Delilah laughs uneasily. “You make it sound so serious!” she exclaims.
Beau nods. “It’s a promise, my darling, a lifelong commitment and nothing less. I take these vows very seriously, for a happy marriage is the foundation of a happy life. But enough chatter,” he tells her with an indulgent grin. “Let’s go and check out the wedding site now.”
“Wow!” Delilah breathes as Beau guides her to the clearing where they plan to exchange their vows. “How did you do all this?” she demands. “You only proposed three days ago…”
Beau smirks at her. “I knew you’d say yes,” he replies in an infuriatingly casual tone. “I ironed out the details before we left Jericho.”
Delilah scowls at him, feeling both pleased and put out. “I could’ve said no,” she reminds him stubbornly.
Beau laughs. “You could have, but you didn’t,” he retorts.
“How did you know that I’d agree to get married out here anyway, so far from my family? That seems like a pretty big gamble, even for you.”
“Now that I wasn’t sure about, so I came up with a backup plan.”
“A backup plan?” Delilah repeats skeptically.
And then, as if on cue…
“DELILAH!” Oona screams as she jumps up and down and waves her arms about in gleeful excitement.
“Oona?” Delilah laughs at her sister’s enthusiasm. “And Rigby and Heidi?! Beau, did you-”
“I flew them out here, just for you,” Beau whispers as he wraps his arms around her neck. “Pretty good surprise, huh?”
Fighting back tears, Delilah can merely nod and kiss him in gratitude. It’s been ages since she’s gotten to hang out with her brother and his wife (Delilah’s closest friend), and longer still since she’s even seen her little sister. To Lila, calling it a “pretty good surprise” seems like the understatement of the century.
After spending the rest of the afternoon catching up with her siblings, Delilah forgets all about her previous apprehensions, and as the last light of day fades from the sky in a glorious blaze of pink sunlight she and Beau exchange their vows.
…And seal their union with a kiss.
While she thoroughly enjoyed her vacation, Lila is grateful to be back at home with her kids.
With the triplet’s first birthday just around the corner, the newlyweds discuss the possibility of Delilah going back to work now, but at Beau’s urging she decides to postpone it for a while longer. Not hiding the disdain in his voice, Beau insists that she can practice her music by singing lullabies to the babies, and as he absolutely refuses to even consider hiring a nanny what other options are there? Delilah halfheartedly tries to explain to him that her job is quite a bit more complicated than that, pointing out that there is no way she can write music or promote the band if she’s stuck at home all the time, but eventually, however, she relents. Surely her fans will still be waiting for her whenever she’s ready to come back, right?
In what seems like no time, it’s the day of the triplet’s birthday. Beau is out of town this week shooting some scenes for a fancy new crime drama he’s starring in, so in place of a big party Delilah invites Rigby and Heidi over to celebrate.
Lila realizes that helping her daughter blow out the candles on her first birthday cake should be a happy occasion, but she struggles to feel anything but empty inside. Kieran has been gone from her life for over a year now, but his absence still stings, especially at moments like these.
The triplets age into toddlers.
Rigby and Heidi are expecting their first child soon, too, so while Delilah coos over her best friend’s belly…
Rigby spends some time practicing his child rearing skills on his nephews.
For Delilah, the following weeks seem to drag by. With Beau’s shoot running woefully behind schedule right now, she is left to care for the triplets all by herself, and after a while the loneliness and boredom really begin to grate on her.
It’s not that Lila doesn’t love her kids; indeed, she loves them very much. But with three rambunctious toddlers to look after, she rarely gets a minute to herself anymore.
Only three more days until Beau gets back, Delilah patiently reminds herself as she puts an unusually fussy Phoenix to bed for the third time tonight. And then he and I are going to have a long conversation about me going back to work, and this time I won’t take no for an answer.
Phoenix cries a bit as Delilah shuts the door behind her, so she dutifully waits outside his bedroom to see if he quiets down, and sure enough within minutes his tearful wails begin to subside. With a grateful sigh, Lila peaks her head inside the room to check that he’s asleep, before turning and stumbling down the dimly lit hallway to her own bedroom.
She never quite makes it there, however.
The man smiles at her, his wild blue eyes agleam with triumph, and for a split second Delilah swears she can literally smell the insanity oozing out of his skin like festering maggots on a dying man’s last breath.
“Are you going to be a good little girl tonight, Delilah?” the man whispers as he viciously slams her head against the wall. “Or are you going to scream and cry and plead for mercy like your mother did?”
So now you guys know for sure who the triplet’s daddy is! *cheers and claps like a sim at a birthday party* On some level, Delilah probably already suspected that they were Kieran’s kids by this point as well, as I kind of picture the babies growing wisps of hair before they age into toddlers and I’m sure she immediately recognized that particular shade of blonde, but the question is, will Beau? ;)
It does bring up an interesting argument, however, one that I have not exactly figured out an answer to yet. As a player, I know that a sim will either inherit his mother’s exact hair color or his father’s exact hair color (or perhaps one of the grandparents’ hair colors), but do sims know that? Because, if Beau and Delilah had a child with Fable’s coloring in the real world, nobody would think twice about it. His golden blonde and her deep brunette could easily produce a kid with that medium blonde shade. It definitely requires some thinking on my part, but as always I'd welcome opinions!
Those pictures that Kieran “found in his wallet” were supposed to be the ones that he and Lila took waaaay back when she was still pregnant with the triplets, here and here. In my mind, Kieran nailed them to that piece of wood after he arrived at the O’Hara’s farm, but I couldn’t find any other way to display them so I did the best I could with what the game had to offer. I hope it was still somewhat believable. :/
Soooo, anyone recognize the psycho sim at the end? =D (Not that I expect you too, of course, but if someone does I will be beyond impressed.)
Thanks for reading guys! *hugs*
P.S. If the title seems kind of random, well, it is. No, not really, but sort of. It's the second line from the song "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri. If you want a really big spoiler, listen to it sometime (here's a link to the "official" music video on YouTube... Don't actually watch the video though, cause it's some Twilight crap, just listen to the words in the song). It's eerily similar to my story in a lot of ways.