"College!", Bloom huffed under his breath. He still couldn't believe it! He had never pictured himself attending university - in fact, he hadn't thought much about his own future at all. In his teen years, he had always been too busy painting, playing games or working on his meager social skills to think about what to do after high school. He hadn't even found a place to stay on campus yet! But that was something to worry about later, for now he needed to get to the University Meet & Greet - and that alone made him so nervous that he had trouble keeping his bike straight.
When Bloom entered the building and saw many other students, standing in small groups and talking excitedly, Bloom instantly felt shy again. Did they all know each other already? He thoroughly studied the curriculum for the Fine Arts major and pondered how many of the freebies he could get away with taking. It gave him a jolt when he suddenly felt a presence behind him.
Bloom was relieved when he noticed that it had just been a pretty girl walking by and not someone calling him out for snagging yet another frisbee - hey, they'd make nice gifts for his siblings back home. For a moment, recalling the charisma class he had taken so long ago, he thought about approaching her, when a voice behind him stopped him.
"Dude, don't even think about it. She's a bloodsucker, and I'm not talking about the fact that she's a vampire."
"A vampire?" Bloom shot one more glance at the girl, who was staring at him intently. Had she heard them? But even if he'd still been able to muster up the courage to talk to her, it was too late. She had already left and he was stuck listening to this weird guy.
"You know, if you're so much into platformers, you really need to meet this guy I know, Gary. He lives in the fraternity house, but he's alright, trust me. Actually, he told me that they unexpectedly have an empty room this term."
Bloom was a little unsure about approaching someone he'd never met about something like this, but it did look like his only chance to have a roof over his head for this term. Gary was a nice guy though and immediately warmed up to Bloom when he mentioned Richard. Gary told him that usually only members of the fraternity were allowed to stay at the house, but they would make an exception because they really needed someone to share the rent.
And so it came that Bloom did find a place to stay in the end. It was a nice, bright little room - to his dismay, he found out later that people kept using it as a shortcut to get to the bathroom next door - but at least that way Bloom could rehydrate whenever he needed it. Bloom immediately unpacked his art supplies and started painting.
Much to his surprise, he had a great time living at the fraternity house. Most of the other students living there were pretty friendly, and if all else failed, they always bonded when he steered the conversation to games.
Bloom spent hours on end playing online with his siblings back home and other students at the university. He played so much that he was actually getting quite known around campus for his gaming skills and met a bunch of new friends with similar interests. Apparently people were calling them the "nerd social group", but Bloom really didn't mind at all. A while ago, he couldn't have imagined fitting in with any social group at all!
One of his new best friends was Blair Jansenovich, another so-called nerd who loved games and art just as much as Bloom did. Blair even managed to convince Bloom to upload some of his paintings to an online gallery like he had done himself.
"Bloom, you need to get your work seen. How else would you ever become a game artist?", Blair asked, all earnest.
Bloom could only smile at that. A game artist? Now that really sounded too good to ever be true.
Bloom didn't quite know what he was going to do after getting his Fine Arts degree, but for now he just enjoyed that drawing and painting was a daily - and required - part of his life. Drawing classes outside were the best!
Sometimes he tried to capture quick portraits of the other students while they weren't looking. He was still too shy to show them the end results!
So it was quite a surprise for Bloom when a girl he had seen in one of his courses approached him one day.
"You're really great at drawing! I saw that portrait you did today."
"Uh... you did? Um, th-... thanks." Dang! He had tried to sound casual, not painfully awkward!
"You have to draw me sometime, ok?"
"Draw you? Uh, sure, if you want..."
"Alright, it's a deal! See you around, Bloom! My name's Brenda, by the way."
She winked at him before walking away. Bloom was left behind, mouth agape.
As much fun as the actual drawing classes were, the lectures could be painfully boring. Bloom tried to pay attention, but mostly he ended up doodling instead of taking notes.
Sometimes he even fell asleep - just like everyone else in the room!
In his free time, on the rare occasions when he wasn't painting or playing games, Bloom explored the campus. He had never felt the need to eat, but the brownies at the local coffeeshop looked too good to pass up.
He was very excited as he picked a table to sit at. How come he had never done this before?
Barely able to contain his delight, he bit into the soft, doughy, sweet brownie.
"Yuck!" He quickly dropped it back on its plate. Alright, so eating normal food definitely wasn't for him. Now he knew. Hey, college was supposed to be all about ingesting new substances, right? But he'd stick to good old water from here on out.
Soon he got excited again when he saw that there were designated graffiti spots on the upper floor of the coffeeshop. He hadn't quite gotten the hang of spray cans yet, but it sure was fun!
Even more amazing was the huge garden out back! Walking among the many different plants reminded Bloom of his mother's little indoor pots back home. It made him feel so peaceful. Maybe he should get a couple of plants for his room at the fraternity house.
When he got back there later that evening, however, all thoughts of gardening quickly vanished. There was a huge party in progress - just like every night, actually - and Bloom wanted in on the fun. He always saw any kind of social event as a test of sorts, a way to face his fears and hone his charisma skill. Today he felt up for a challenge! He even decided to pour himself some juice from the keg. It was much closer to water than a brownie, so maybe he'd actually enjoy having it!
The juice was really quite pleasant! Bloom felt the water in it, which his body absorbed quickly, just like it usually did, but he also noticed the other components. It was sweet, but also bitter and... uh, what had he been thinking about again? His head was all woozy...
When he saw one of his roommates running by completely naked, he quickly put down his cup. That was some potent stuff! Better get to bed.
Somehow he had made his way into his room when he heard the door behind him open and slam shut again. He spun around, which made him a little dizzy.
"Oh, hey! It's Brenda, right? Didn't know you were at the party." Wow, he may have been juiced, but he did notice that this was way more smooth than anything he had ever been able to say to a girl before. So that's why Sims loved their juice so much!
"You promised to draw me, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. Wait, you mean now? I don't know if I'm really..."
"Aw, come on! You promised!", she giggled.
"Well, okay I guess..."
Bloom went to get his sketchbook from the drawer he kept it in, almost stumbling over his own feet in the process. Ugh, that damn juice! When he turned around, he almost fell over again.
Brenda had stripped out of all her clothes and thrown herself into a pose, grinning mischievously.
Not quite knowing what to do, Bloom sat down with his sketchbook, just like he would in life drawing class.
Soon he was too intent on the drawing to think about the awkwardness of it all. He really wasn't sure whether he could draw at all in his current state.
But when he showed Brenda the final product, she seemed more than happy. Bloom was surprised he had been able to draw something that remotely resembled a Sim - well, maybe he hadn't, and Brenda was just too juiced to notice. Bloom turned around to tear off the page and put his sketchbook back in its drawer, moving extra slowly, to give Brenda a chance to get dressed again.
Bloom held the sketchbook page in his hand, still wondering whether it was alright to turn around again, when Brenda grabbed him from behind and pulled him into a tight hug.
"Thank you so much, Bloom! That was the sweetest thing,... the sweetest thing..." Her voice trailed off and she looked at him intently, still not releasing him.
Wow, she must have really had a lot of juice, Bloom thought. Or did she... did she want him to kiss her? Was that it? Should he really?
Suddenly, a familiar voice echoed in his head. 'Freak!', Shameka spat. 'I only went out with you because I was curious about you... you FREAK!'
Bloom tensed and bit his lip as the old memories came flooding back in.
He carefully disentangled himself and smoothed out the sketch that had gotten slightly wrinkled in Brenda's sudden embrace.
"Um, here you go.", he said, averting his gaze as he held the paper out to her.
She looked puzzled. "Uh... I..."
She grabbed the page, and stuffed it into her backpack that had been lying on the floor. As she started walking towards the door, she glanced back at Bloom for a split second.
Brenda left without saying another word.
When Bloom woke up the next day, he thought his head was going to split in two. So this was what a hangover felt like! What had he been thinking last night? ... last night! Ugh! He cringed. He had no idea what the right way to react would have been, but it certainly hadn't been what he did. He was such a dork!
He needed something to get his mind off of this, so he attempted to read his mother's research notes. With his headache it was almost impossible though.
So Bloom did what he always did to feel better - paint. He even finished the painting that had been sitting on his easel for ages!
But soon enough, it was time for class. Another boring lecture. He had brought the research notes and attempted to read them once again, hoping to pass the time until the next course started.
That day they had an actual fairy posing for them in life drawing class! Bloom was feeling much better by then and wondered how he was going to capture the glow of her wings in pencil.
As so many times before, Blair had decided to come see Bloom exactly during the nude figure drawing class.
"Man, I really should have taken art as my major. Epic fail on my part!"
Bloom quickly got up and pulled Blair aside before he could embarrass him further.
When Bloom told him about the events of the previous night, Blair listened with his eyes wide open.
"You're kidding me. A naked girl in your room and you didn't do anything? Dude, she obviously wanted you. What's wrong with you?!"
"Nothing! ... I think. I don't know." Bloom wondered if it had been a bad idea to tell Blair about all this. "It just... didn't feel right. I don't love her. I barely know her! I don't even know if we have anything in common."
"Love?! Oh man, I really hope you're kidding. You know what you could have had in common? You could have both been NAKED. Dude, seriously. Epic, EPIC fail."
Bloom listened for a while longer to his friend's stinging jokes before heading back to his room. Was Blair right? Was Bloom being stupid? Wasting his college years? Maybe he should give Brenda a call... maybe...
He almost jumped when his phone rang all of a sudden.
"Hello, is this Bloom Wyman I'm speaking to?"
That most certainly was not Brenda's voice.
"Um, yes, that's me. Who is there?"
"Mr. Wyman, I'm calling you on behalf of Simtendo Games. Our researchers found your portfolio online and were very impressed. We are currently working on a project that your style would be perfect for and we would like to invite you to come and join our team in Bridgeport!"
Bloom's breath caught in his throat. Had he heard right? The voice on the other end spoke again.
"Hello? Mr. Wyman? Are you--"
"Yes... YES!" Bloom almost shouted.
And so it came that Bloom packed his suitcase and left the fraternity house that very evening.
"Bridgeport!", Bloom huffed under his breath. He still couldn't believe it!