Thursday, March 28, 2013

part 5: metaphors in caramel

This is not LH yet. Petaluma, California. Time unknown.

It wasn't New Year's Eve yet, though the calendar said it was December. The bunch of them had stopped StorySkipping for long enough to take note of the time of year. Winter. Christmastime? There was no snow here like they were used to in Lakeside Heights, but just a chill and early, darkened nights, and the overwhelming pressure of holiday cheer with none of the stress of celebration. None of them expected to be here long enough to need to buy presents.

Carly arrived that evening and April's bar was full of the usual suspects, apart from one. "Is Kyle here? He told me to meet him here."

"Yeah, he's here," April said, pausing her pour for a second to look around. "Somewhere."

"There's a football game in the other room," Carly said. "He's probably comatose."

Kyle was there, somewhere. That was how Carly felt about him in general -- that he was there, somewhere, not quite tangible but not quite negligible either, and she didn't know what she was supposed to expect from their relationship.

In the life Carly had been written out of, her boyfriend Joe had just asked her to marry him. It was a relief, in a way, because she hadn't been sure what to say. She didn't know how to decide. She thought they loved each other, but she was also quite sure he was cheating on her, so where marriage fit into his plans boggled her mind. He had all these plans -- he had quit DJ'ing in clubs and he picked up a gig doing weddings instead. They bought a house in the suburbs together. He would change, he told her. He would be different, except she didn't believe him.

And then she was here, and he wasn't, and a weight was lifted from her. She didn't have to decide anymore. Not about Joe, anyway.

Carly was just generally depressed, and April was a good listener. She could pour, take orders, and listen at the same time. She listened and refilled martinis as the last sip of the first went down. She offered gentle assurance without giving advice -- nobody really wanted advice anyway. And Carly found herself spilling her guts a little more freely than she might have had she not had three martinis first.

Then, from three seats down, Tyler said, "Yeah, Kyle's not really "husband" material, is he?"

And Beau said, "But he's handy -- he helped me move that fridge out of April's old apartment. And he's funny sometimes."

"And he's not ugly," Tyler said, with his mouth full of buffalo wings.

"No, not ugly," Beau added. "Maybe a little short."

"But not too short," Tyler said. "Not too short for Carly anyway. Hey, Carly, how tall are you?"

"You guys," April scolded. "No comments from the peanut gallery. Don't listen to them, Carly. They're just being assholes."

Carly found herself stunned, with half the bar discussing her boyfriends faults and virtues while he floated around, somewhere, standing in front of a football game, oblivious.

But all the while, some of them thought they had it all figured out. Carly didn't know Leila, exactly, though she knew of her through Corbin (there was one mind-boggling experience Carly was glad to have over and done with), and Leila caught Carly's attention by spouting off big ideas about how this life was just a dream, and some other metaphysical bullshit Carly wasn't in the mood for right now.

And when Corbin left her for a moment to use the bathroom, Carly had something to say about it.

"I do not appreciate you going around telling everyone this place is just a dream. This is not a dream! It must be nice for you to have a big fat novel to go back to some day. It must be great for you to have an anticipated release date. Well some of us weren't so lucky. Some of us got written out of our stories, and this one is all that's left. And if you think this isn't real, then what the fuck am I!?"

Carly reached a hand back and started to swing, unsure if it would end up being a slap or if her fingers would decide to grasp for Leila's long, stringy hair. But she stopped just short of it as a pair of tiny but surprisingly strong hands pulled her back, pushed her onto a bar stool, and placed a glass of ice water in her hands.

April hugged her. Carly was far too mad for a hug, especially not from a pint-sized girl who smelled like candy and spilled liquor, but Carly was too dejected to care. "I need a cigarette," Carly said. "Nobody smokes in this awful place."

"You're right," April whispered.

"You smoke?"

"No, I mean about this not being a dream."

There was a small quiver in April's voice as she slid onto a barstool and leaned in to whisper. "I think The Author might be writing me out of my story too."


April nodded. "I just have this feeling. There's something about my being here that just feels too big. It's too much. Like, if all of this was going to be in the books, then it wouldn't be happening here. And because it is happening here, that means something."

"But I thought She liked you," Carly said. "I know She likes you. It seemed like She really likes you."

"Maybe that's even worse," April said. "You know how people say, 'Sometimes The Author just needs to kill off her darlings?'" April frowned. "I think I might be a darling."

"Oh, honey," Carly said. The idea of it felt so grave and hopeless. They had no say in any of it, not even if they were The Author's favorite. Carly reached an arm around April and squeezed her shoulder. "If any one of us was a darling, it would definitely be you."


"Kyle," Carly started that evening, sitting next to him on his horrible wicker sofa. "Do you ever feel like something could be good, but still just not right?"

He didn't answer, just gaped at her with surprise. It annoyed her that he was so surprised.

"It's like caramel," she said. "I understand that it tastes good. I'll admit that. I understand for a lot of people, it tastes really good. But for me, it's just... okay. I mean, I'll eat it if it's there, but I never crave it. If I have the choice between caramel and something else, I think the strawberry cheesecake, or the peanut butter cup, or the coconut creme pie would probably make me happier. Do you like caramel?"

"Sure," he said, watching her carefully. "You're not talking about caramel though, are you?"

It's not because he's more confusing than he is mysterious, or that he's more childish than he is dangerous. It's not because his furniture doesn't match or lacks color, or is wicker -- though there really is no excuse for wicker furniture in any circumstance. She isn't sure if she wants to break up with him, or if she just wants to move on. Or if she just isn't sure either way.

Or if maybe he's a robot? Yes, that would explain a lot.

"We're here for a reason," she said. "Whether you believe that or not. We're not here forever. We wake up every day and all we know is that it's one less day we have left. And I think you're wonderful, and funny, and lovely, really, but I just don't feel like I know where this is going." She paused. "No, actually, I don't feel it's going anywhere."

"What, you want an itinerary or something? I thought we were having fun."

"I spent twelve years with someone who just wanted to have fun, and I'm sorry, but I don't have another twelve years. Maybe I do want an itinerary."

"Wow," he said.

"So I think maybe we should take a little time-out."

"Is that what you want?"

"Want? I want you to feel something, and I don't think you do. And it's not that I don't think you could, I just think you're not in that place. And that's fine, if that's where you want to be. You're fine, I think, but sometimes 'fine' is just not enough."

"I... don't know what to say."

She exhaled heavily. "I suspected as much."

But she shook her head. She needed to stop -- if he had loved her, this wouldn't be how she'd want to find out anyway. Maybe she was still drunk, maybe it was the fight with Leila. Maybe she just needed a good sleep and a cigarette, wherever it was she might find one. Like hell if she was going to cry over this, in front of him, dissolve into a puddle of tears when he clearly didn't feel a thing.

"I'm going to go now," she said. Before I make it worse than it already is... she didn't say.

His lips began to move, to crinkle, to churn, as if he were trying to muster up something to say. And she waited for it, seconds, a minute, two whole minutes she stood there waiting. But nothing came out. And somehow she knew it would end that way.



  1. That's a great shot of Carly at the end there. It looks like she's been waiting for Kyle to speak and she's just about to sigh and walk away. Perfect.

    Poor Kyle. Carly kind of wrote him out of her own story there! But if it's not right, it's not right.

  2. Carla, Carly just gives me the best expressions. TS3 Sims can be kind of blank-faced sometimes, but her features have such range! I could take pictures of her all day! :)

    Oh, Kyle, he's such a trip, lol! I do have a bit of a gameplay note for him, actually. I guess I'll post that here because it doesn't really warrant a trip over to LH babble:

    Kyle mystifies me. Kyle-the-Sim mystifies me, which makes his character mystify me even more.

    What I really like about this game (talking gameplay now) is that when Carly met him, and as she was dating him, I knew just as little about him as she did. And so he was a complete mystery to both of us for the longest time. But they had decent chemistry (in game, 8 out of 10), and they generally got along with each other. And I guess the point of this episode is that after so many months, besides having fun (in bed, lol!), she still hardly knew him, as in... his hopes, dreams, what he wants in life kind of stuff, if he really, really likes her? And having been dicked around so much before, she's just not feeling up to it again right now.

    I was even beginning to wonder if maybe it was because he was a NPC to start, a tattoo artist, that maybe she *couldn't* know him any better than she did, as per the game mechanics. Or invite him to move in with her or progress their relationship any further?

    But that theory was blown out of the water when he opened up to somebody else, as you'll find in the next episode.

    So what's his problem then? Ah, that's for us to discover and make sense of as we go along, I think. :)

  3. I've been catching up on this, and its getting interesting. I'm generally not a fan of 4th-wall-breaking or meta-type stories and the like, but the concept here is interesting. Also, its fun to see familiar characters in their TS3 form and in a different place and situation. Looking forward to seeing how this develops.

    1. I'm glad you're on board! Thanks for reading! :)

  4. Poor Carly and poor April! I just want to hug them both. And Carly does give good face. I get annoyed with my Sims sometimes.. some of them look blank faced all the time.

    Quick question.. you may have answered at LH Babble, but I don't remember seeing it, in TS3 how are you checking their chemistry?

    1. The attraction score comes with Twallan's Woohooer mod, it's an add-on called "scoring"

      Facial expressions are a big stumbling point for me in this game, as far as storytelling pictures go. The in-game poses are often ridiculous or extreme, so you go download custom poses and those end up coming with completely blank or inappropriate facial expressions, because the expression is coded into the pose. Ugh! I miss my TS2 facial overlays SO bad!

      Until then, I take whatever I can get, and then I have my liquify tool on Photoshop for the rest, lol! ;)

  5. Yes! I've actually had that in for a while, and just used the check attractiveness in my legacy for the first time. I didn't know it gave you a number out of 10.

    And yes, I struggle over facial expressions with my legacy and story, I hope we eventually get some facial overlays!