There was just something about putting brush to canvas that appealed to Gloria.
However, what was supposed to simply be a relaxing pastime, quickly turned into agony as Gloria questioned every single stroke she made. The colors were off somehow, and what was that stupid pattern supposed to be anyway? It had looked different in her mind before she started painting. Now the whole idea just felt stupid and pretentious...
"This sucks," she said, taking a step back. "I'm just no good at this." And Gloria dropped her brush.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Grace worried. Her Dad was acting strange today. Well, stranger than usual.
"Yeah, I'm cool," Freddie replied. "I just had a couple Kona beans. They're great!"
Grace frowned as a wave of her father's coffee breath hit her straight in the face. He struck her as being anything but cool, actually. But then again, she'd be the one doing all the driving anyway.
Concerned, she kept glancing over at her father as he fidgeted with his seat belt, but apart from being a little nervous, he seemed fine. Good. Today was an important day!
When she arrived back home, now a proud owner of an official driver's license, Grace quickly made some calls to double-check that everyone was ready.
"And this one I got for learning how to make a fire," Gene bragged to his uncle Félix, "But they said they'd take the badge away if I made a fire anywhere outside the fire pit again. Lame!"
As the guests kept filing in, some of them made an effort to get reacquainted with each other.
"So, Faye," Todd murmured with a seductive smirk, "I've been wondering - are you and your sister identical all over?"
Francis was growing out his hair for an upcoming role in a feature film. To everyone's surprise, he had gone against his proclaimed lifetime wish of becoming a distinguished director in favor of pursuing a career in acting instead.
"The house looks awesome," Fred complimented his daughter.
Unlike him, Grace had managed to find the place where Evelyn had stored her endless supply of party decorations.
Finally, it was time. Standing in front of a birthday cake like this had always made Freddie a little nervous. Today was no exception.
But he supposed there was no way around it. He closed his eyes, made his wish and then shuddered at the familiar tingling sensation all over his body.
Well, that wasn't so bad actually. Freddie didn't feel any different.
"You're doing fine," Félix encouraged his younger brother once more. "The kids look happy. Mom would have been proud of you."
"I keep worrying that I'll accidentally kill one of them or something," Freddie admitted.
"All parents feel like that," Félix assured him. "Besides, they're old enough to take care of themselves by now."
"I mean, just look at this awesome party they're throwing for you!"
They did look happy, Freddie thought. And they'd even gotten him gifts!
This was the best birthday Freddie had ever had!
Gene loved that he had a dad that would ask him to play tag instead of the other way around! Father and son spent many afternoons like this, simply running around on the beach until one of them got too tired to continue.
"Stop, enough," Freddie panted. "I give up. When did you become such a fast runner? Pretty amazing for a guy your size."
"I can do something even better than that," Gene announced. "Look, Daddy!" He lifted off the ground just a couple of inches and floated there for a moment before dropping down onto the sand with a soft thud.
"I can't control it very well," Gene mumbled abashedly as he clambered up again and dusted off the seat of his shorts. "It usually never works when I'm trying to show someone though. This was the first time anyone's seen me do this!"
"Your mom would float sometimes too," Freddie remembered. "And she could do all sorts of awesome stuff." At Gene's despondent look, Fred quickly added, "But she was much older than you already. I'm sure you'll learn it all with time."
Gene really hoped that what his daddy said was true and he would get better at this magic stuff eventually. He was so tired of people not believing him!
"You were right," Gloria admitted. "I really enjoyed myself. Love and Truffles was absolutely beautiful."
"Right? It's movies like this that make me love cinema," Grace gushed. "That scene where they see the shooting star and he says he has nothing to wish for because he already has her? Swoon!"
"Do you know where in the world they shot that part?" Gloria wondered. "I've never seen a place that wonderful. Come to think of it, it must have been a set."
"Nu-uh," Grace shook her head excitedly. "It's real! I had to look it up when I saw the movie for the first time. I think the place is called Monte Vista."
"Wow," Gloria breathed. "I'd love to visit it someday."
"We should go together!" Grace suggested, beaming.
Gloria smiled back at her sister. It was impossible not to be affected by Grace's enthusiasm sometimes. It would be nice to travel with her. Anywhere, really. After their heart-to heart the other day, the twins had grown closer than ever and Gloria felt incredibly lucky to have such an amazing friend. Well, her only friend, but that didn't matter.
"Hey there!" Grace's shout tore Gloria from her thoughts. "Over here!"
Confused, Gloria followed her sister's gaze. Then she spotted Grace's boyfriend Jamey in the crowd. Oh.
"Gracie," Jamey grinned as he approached, "I should have guessed! Bet you were here to watch Love and Truffles again, huh? Am I right or am I right?"
Grace giggled. "Maybe?" She grinned back at him. "I just had to show my sister the best movie ever made."
Jamey took a glance at Gloria, as if just noticing her for the first time. "Oh, hi there," he said quickly before turning back to Grace. "I can't count how many times you've dragged me to see it. Seriously, everyone thinks it's so sophisticated because it's a foreign film, but in reality it's just a glorified chick flick! That's why it has become so mainstream that they're even showing it at the Movie Cineplex."
"And I can't count how many times you've said that," Grace retorted with a wink, "and how many times I told you that I still think it's great." Then, nodding toward her sister, she added, "Gloria agrees with me, by the way. Maybe you really have to be a girl to appreciate the intricacies."
"Some people will never understand why a truffle is so much more than just a mushroom," Gloria quoted the movie.
Grace immediately burst into laughter and Gloria giggled with her. The muscles in Jamey's jaw tensed almost imperceptibly.
"I was actually going to call you earlier," Jamey changed the subject abruptly. "I was going to ask you if you wanted to get something to eat with me, Grace."
"That sounds awesome," Grace exclaimed and Jamey beamed. "I'm ravenous and I bet Gloria is too! Right, Gloria?"
And so they were a group of three all of the sudden. The only one not frowning was Grace.
Gloria was more than happy to let Grace have the steering wheel. Sure, she had recently gotten her license too, but she still didn't have much practice driving and felt too embarrassed to let Jamey see. There just was something about him that made her uncomfortable.
Gloria kept close to her sister as she desperately searched for an excuse to get out of this. It was just too awkward hanging out with Grace and her boyfriend!
... but Grace looked so excited. Gloria didn't want to spoil her fun.
Somehow, Gloria made it through the meal, mostly listening to the other two converse.
It wasn't that bad, actually. She listened, occasionally responded to direct questions from Grace, but mostly just let her mind wander. Slowly, she felt herself relax.
Only to tense up again when Grace announced she was heading inside to pick up the check.
"I'll go with you," Gloria said quickly.
"Nah, I've got this," Grace replied. "Besides, you need to keep Jamey entertained while I'm gone!" And with a wink, she slipped back into the restaurant.
"Uhm..." Gloria had never been much of a conversationalist, but for Grace's sake, she made an effort. "I've never seen you with glasses before. I didn't know you had to wear them."
Jamey furrowed his brows for a moment. Then, in a tone that implied that it was obvious, he said, "I don't have to wear glasses. I'm just wearing them today."
At Gloria's questioning look, Jamey sighed in exasperation. "They're an accessory? It's ironic. Duh."
Gloria was taken aback. Why was Jamey being so impolite? Had she said something wrong? Ugh. Better change the subject.
"So," she began reluctantly, extending the sound to give her time to think. What did people her age like to talk about, anyway? She had to come up with something. "Erm... what's your favorite band, Jamey?"
Jamey sighed once again before replying, "They're really obscure. You've probably never heard of them."
And that was the end of their conversation.
It was a relief when Grace finally reappeared, but Jamey immediately claimed all her attention again.
It felt like ages before Jamey finally said his goodbyes and the twins got on their way home.
"So," Gloria began awkwardly. "Jamey was a little weird the other day. When I asked him what kind of music he likes, he kind of just shrugged off the question and said I wouldn't know it anyway."
"Oh, that," Grace smiled indulgently and shrugged. "I know, Jamey can come off a little aloof sometimes, but he's actually very nice. Really smart too. We should all go out again together. I'm sure you'll like him when you get to know him better!"
Aloof? More like douchey, Gloria thought, but said nothing.
"Sim State University is supposed to have an amazing film program," Grace suddenly changed the subject. "Most courses are focused on the visuals, but it's said to be the best in all of SimNation. I've been thinking about enrolling. I have the application forms here, but I haven't gotten around to filling them out yet. There's an aptitude test, you see, and with that they'll decide if you get a scholarship and extra credits or not. And well, free extra credits always come in handy..."
"Wait, you're already thinking about college courses?" Gloria asked incredulously. "Grace, our birthday is still ages away."
"I know, but it never hurts to be prepared," Grace grinned.
"It's not a race, you know," Gloria continued. "I mean, wow. Getting a degree in film? Don't you think your part-time job is going to give you enough of a leg up in the industry already? It's cool that you're so dedicated, but... just whoa. I don't even know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and you're planning out your entire life."
"You mean you haven't decided what you want to do after school?" Now it was Grace's turn to look incredulous.
"No idea," Gloria admitted.
"None whatsoever," she mumbled, hanging her head. "I'm not really good at anything, so..."
"What are you talking about?!" Grace burst out, "You're great at so many different things! You can cook and fish and write and paint... and don't even get me started on your logical thinking! I can never beat you at chess, you're just too incredibly smart. Sim State would love to have you, Gloria. I bet you could get a full ride scholarship, even! With your skills? They'd be idiots not to snatch you up."
Hearing Grace, the amazing Grace who always did everything so perfectly, praise her like this made Gloria feel just a little bit taller. She sat up straight. Maybe her sister was right. Maybe she could do something wonderful with her life!
A slow smile formed on Gloria's face as she watched her twin go on and on, excitedly planning ahead for both of them now.
"We should totally share a dorm room," Grace babbled on, "It'll be so much fun! Or you can have your own if you prefer of course... but next to mine! And we can take classes together - or just meet in between for lunch. Oh, and we can create a study group and sit in a café and have cookies while we study and chat and--"
"Alright, alright," Gloria interrupted. "You can stop now, you've already convinced me. Let's take those damn aptitude tests already!"
The sounds of pencils scratching over paper filled the room.
They'd spent their entire childhood building up their skills.
This could be the culmination of everything they had been working for.
It was their time to shine!
Fun fact: apparently brooding sims learn the painting, writing and cooking skills 10% slower. This may or may not be significant for Gloria's future.