The results were even better than the twins had dared to hope for.
Grace squealed, "We're going to Sim State!"
"Yes we are," Gloria grinned.
Grace insisted that this was going to be the best time of their lives. While Gloria only smiled indulgently at that, a growing feeling of anticipation inside her indicated that she silently agreed.
University was going to be awesome!
Just now though, things weren't looking too good.
Gloria kept to herself at school and was generally a quite inoffensive person. In fact, most of the time it seemed like the other students didn't even know she existed, which was perfectly fine with her. So why would someone decide to spread rumors about her all of a sudden?
"It's pretty harmless as far as rumors go," Grace tried to console her sister, "peeing yourself in public? I mean, come on! That's too ridiculous for anyone to believe anyway, and those few that do will have forgotten it by tomorrow."
"But why me?" Gloria was close to tears now. Talking about it made the whole situation feel somehow worse. "What did I do for them to want to hurt me like this?"
"I don't think it has anything to do with you personally," Grace offered, "It's just that our family is kind of in the public eye around here... you know that. And well, that's enough to make people talk. It's nothing to be troubled by."
"'Nothing to be troubled by?'" Gloria snapped, "that's easy for you to say, isn't it? Sure, you can be all nonchalant about it. No one would ever do this to you... no, never the perfect, popular Grace whom everybody loves."
Grace frowned and said nothing in reply.
Gloria finally broke the silence with a choked voice, "look, I'm sorry. It's just that..."
"Nothing to apologize for," Grace interrupted, her usual smile returning, "it's okay." She sighed briefly before continuing, "Gloria, this is just high school. And it'll be over soon. Everything's going to be better in college, trust me."
"And if it isn't?" Gloria fretted.
"Then you'll still have me."
Going to university was starting to look better and better.
Since the girls had done so well in their aptitude tests, Sim State was going all out and trying to seal the deal now. They'd sent the twins bucketloads of merchandise and goodies, which Grace dug through enthusiastically. She'd even managed to rope Gloria into putting on the silly Sim State t-shirts with her.
When the doorbell rang, their treasure hunt was briefly interrupted. Grace went to see who it was and happily shared her good news.
In the meanwhile, Gloria had shed the embarrassing t-shirt and tucked it away in a drawer. She had, however, put up the Sim State University flag above her bed and was now gazing at it pensively.
Which major should she pick? There were several that sounded good and the scholarships she'd been offered showed that Gloria was more than qualified for all of them... Oh, and how much fun it would be to explore the campus with her sister! Sim State was in a much colder climate than Starlight Shores, so they'd actually experience snow for the first time! Gloria could already see Grace acting like a little child again at the sight of it - starting snowball fights, building snowmen... and of course, convincing Gloria to join her.
Gloria smiled as she continued to daydream about the future.
"We've got to go out and celebrate," Grace called as she walked into the room.
"Alright, alright," Gloria grinned, getting up, "I'm--"
"Jamey's waiting outside! And guess what," Grace burst out hurriedly, barely pausing for effect, "he just got his results too! He's going to go to Sim State with us!"
"That's... great," Gloria managed. Well, of course Jamey was going to university too. Gloria had never had any illusions about that. And it was fine - there were bound to be times when Gloria would need time to herself, while Grace preferred to be constantly surrounded by people. It would be unfair of Gloria to demand that Grace should have no friends besides her sister... and it was only normal for Grace to have a boyfriend. So what if Gloria couldn't stand him? Grace liked him, and that was what mattered. But going out with the pair right now? Uh, no.
"Uhm, actually," Gloria said, "I kind of wanted to go over the coursebook again. Try to make up my mind, you know? But you two go have fun."
"Okay then," Grace replied, trying and failing to hide her disappointment. It was always the more the merrier for her, but she'd long since accepted her sister's need for privacy. "See you later, I guess." And she was off.
Surprisingly, Gloria did not feel like being alone just now though. It didn't take her long to find her father. "Hey Dad," she said, sitting down close to him.
"Taking a break from checking out your college stuff?" he asked with that goofy smile that hadn't left his face ever since they'd received their test results.
"Yeah," Gloria beamed. Just hearing mention of it made her so excited - was this what it felt like to be Grace?
"I'm so proud of both of you," Freddie stated for what must have been the hundredth time, "you girls are so smart. You must have gotten it from your Mom. I know you'll do great in college and become super successful... at whatever you want to do."
"Aw, shucks, Dad," Gloria replied, "I'm still not sure what to pick as my major - they offered so many different scholarships! But that's a nice problem to have, I suppose. I'm really looking forward."
Then, after a pause, Gloria mumbled, "I just wish Mom was still alive to see this."
It took a second for Freddie to register what his daughter had just said.
"Uhm... huh?" He was very confused. "Gloria, what are you -- Your Mom isn't..."
His voice trailed off as he knit his brows. Did his daughter know something he didn't? He hadn't seen Charity in what seemed like forever, but the mere thought of her being dead made his chest constrict. "Gloria, your Mom didn't..."
"Dad, it's okay," Gloria said gently, noticing her father's distress, "you don't need to protect me from the truth. I'm old enough to deal with it. Grace and I figured out ages ago that Mom died when we were little. I know she's gone. I was just thinking out loud, really."
With every word Gloria uttered, Freddie's brows furrowed further. "But... Gloria, your mother didn't die."
"Wait, what? Dad, what are you saying?" Now it was Gloria's turn to be confused. "What happened then?! Where is she?"
"I... I always thought that your grandmother already told you this... she always did all the difficult stuff for me. But I guess... I guess that this is really my responsibility." Freddie gulped. These were memories he would have much rather forgotten. "Charity, your mom I mean, left you and Grace with me right after you were born. We were still young and... well, her folks made her go away somewhere and she couldn't keep you. So she brought you here."
Gloria peered at her father in stunned silence, waiting for him to elaborate. When nothing came, she finally mumbled, "so... she dropped us at your doorstep and then left?"
"Well, not really like that," Freddie stammered, "but kind of, I guess."
Gloria stared blankly for a few moments, then stood.
"Gloria!" Fred called after her, but she did not respond.
Dizzy and with shaky knees, Gloria descended the stairs. Somehow, she managed to make her way to her room.
Everything she thought she had known suddenly shattered to pieces all around her.
She had been abandoned as a baby, just like that. Her mother wasn't dead. She was still alive somewhere - she simply did not want Gloria.
How many more of the simple truths of life that Gloria believed in were actually lies?
She laid down and buried her face in her hands.
"The book was better," Jamey scoffed as they emerged from the darkened movie theater into the afternoon sun.
"That's to be expected," Grace shrugged, "but the cinematography was amazing!"
"Like that scene at the pier," Grace continued dreamily.
Jamey gave her a sideways glace and quirked an eyebrow. "The one with the cheesy dip kiss?"
Grace giggled, "I thought it was sort of romantic."
Suddenly, Jamey stopped mid stride and reached for her hands.
"You mean like this?" he smirked mischievously and spun Grace around.
Grace felt the blood rise to her face when he kissed her.
Grace couldn't wipe the smile off her face as Jamey stroked her flushed cheek. He could be so sweet sometimes!
Back home, Grace quickly took care of the laundry. Chores like this needed to be done after all and Grace didn't mind helping out.
When Grace heard noise coming from upstairs, she was immediately drawn too it.
Of course it was her father, still in his pajamas, watching one of his gardening shows.
"Hey Daddy," she greeted him, "mind if I join?"
Freddie glanced furtively over at his daughter. Well, there was no way around it...
"I think I did something bad," he confessed.
"Dad," Grace gasped, "Did you mix the red and white laundry again? I told you, just leave it where it is and I'll get to it when I--"
"No," he interrupted, "that's not it."
Grace stared, her mouth hanging open, as Freddie launched into his explanation.
To his delight, Grace took it much better than Gloria had. Grace was thrilled. Their mother was alive!
"That's great news," she laughed with relief and jumped up to pull her father into a hug.
She bombarded him with questions and Fred did his best to answer them. The problem was that he didn't have any clue about Charity's whereabouts and the people that did had left or died long ago. Not that the Best clan was likely to have been helpful anyway.
"I'm so sorry," Freddie said finally, "it's all my fault that you two had the wrong idea. I never meant to keep things from you. It's just that I don't like to think about all this..."
"It's alright, Daddy," Grace assured him, "everything's fine now."
So what if there were unanswered questions? She could try and gather more information herself. All that mattered was the knowledge that her mother was alive somewhere! Grace wanted to dance with joy.
She gave her father another quick hug and raced downstairs. She needed to talk this over with Gloria. Together, they could surely come up with a plan.
"Go away," Gloria muttered sleepily when Grace barged into her room.
Well, Gloria probably just needed some time to process things her way, Grace reasoned as she set out to prepare food.
The afternoon sun approached the horizon and still Gloria hadn't left her room.
"She'll come around," Grace reassured her worried father, "you know how she is. She just needs some time to herself."
Freddie hoped Grace was right.
It was weird to think that soon his daughters would be growing up and leaving this city behind. Sure, they'd be coming back after they graduated, but for how long? Maybe they'd get jobs in another place or just go off for adventure's sake. Freddie was the last person to stop anyone from doing what they wanted, but oh, how he'd miss the twins!
This feeling of loss was all too familiar and uncomfortable for him, so his attention quickly slipped back to the wriggling hedgehog on the passenger seat. Gibson was Freddie's newest pet and exactly the twentieth animal he had caught. Strange how he had been keeping track of this seemingly arbitrary number. But still, it gave him a wonderful sense of fulfillment.
"You'll like your new home," he told Gibson, "my room is totally awesome, you'll see."
"Are you going to finish that painting you started?" Gene asked, "It's just that it's been blocking the easel for days and I have this idea..."
"You can get rid of it," Gloria mumbled, "I'm no painter."
Gene frowned. He never knew what to say when Gloria acted like this. Grace was much better at dealing with these moods of hers.
Girls, he thought glumly. Who understood them anyway? He wished he could have a brother about his age. Someone to play with besides the stupid boys at school. He'd made the mistake of telling them about his magic and then not being able to show them proof like they'd demanded. Now they wouldn't stop teasing him about it and Gene didn't like hanging out with them anymore.
Sure, his dad played with him every afternoon, but it wasn't the same.
Sometimes he just felt like he needed someone more his size... more like himself.
Well, at least he had free use of the easel now. Gene grabbed the biggest canvas he could find and started to paint.
Life was as busy as ever. On most days, Grace barely had time to buy a snack after school before she had to head over to the studio.
She enjoyed her part-time job so much that it felt wrong that she should be paid for it. There were sims in need out there - desperate souls in pools without ladders - and so she ended up donating most of her earnings to various good causes.
There was an undeniable sense of impending change hovering over everyone's heads. Sometimes it felt like the future was right there in front of them, so clear they could almost touch it.
At other times, this future seemed to ripple and shift continuously, rendering it impossible to make out anything at all.
This family has been dealing with the celebrity curse for what seems like ages. I can get over the horrible paparazzi lurking at the doorstep, but spreading rumors about poor Gloria? That's just mean :( Worked nicely for her story though!