Holly Reynolds was a superstar in Sims City. She was a multi-faceted talent, as she was an actress, a musician and singer, a comedian, and a songwriter. She was also known to attempt writing her own screenplays, and was very eager to succeed in all domains of the entertainment industry.
Lately, her singing career was what she was focusing on. She had her own personal studio – complete with a karaoke machine – in her garage, and she rehearsed daily, to perfect her art.
Though her voice was hypnotizing and sultry, her songs still weren’t well known and she was struggling to pierce through in the music industry.
But her young niece Caitlyn Reynolds had no idea of this, as she stumbled into the garage the morning after she moved into Holly’s home. She heard her aunt’s tantalizing voice and was frozen in the doorway, captivated by her lyrics. Wow, she thought, having had no clue that her aunt was so talented.
It took a few moments for Holly to realize that Caitlyn was watching her rehearse, and she brutally stopped. “Oh dear, I’m so sorry to intrude, Holly,” exclaimed Caitlyn, feeling bad for having interrupted her aunt. Holly smiled weakly, seeming a bit uncomfortable. “Oh sweetie, it’s okay. I was just surprised to see you there. I’ll keep going, if you don’t mind; I have to sing this song tonight,” she replied, as Caitlyn nodded.
Caitlyn and Holly barely knew each other; Caroline was barely on speaking terms with Holly for the longest time, which was unfortunate for poor Caitlyn, who didn’t really get a chance to get to know her aunt. Holly felt the same way, but a little more intensely: she was not used to teenagers, and wasn’t acquainted with how to act around them.
Meanwhile, Caroline was busy obsessing over the neighborhood of Newcrest, where Holly’s house was located. She was checking for known criminals, repeat offenders, or anything suspicious; and seemingly, this area of the city was calm, peaceful and respectful, with nothing strange to report. She bookmarked the website she found the information on, wanting to return and check it daily for updates; Caroline wouldn’t feel safe anywhere until she knew for sure that the monster who murdered her husband was behind bars, even though she didn’t know exactly who he – or she – was.
Caroline paid no attention to the music coming from the garage. Her favorite way to relax and unwind was to cook; and so she went through Holly’s fridge, hoping to find some ingredients to make a decent meal. She didn’t find much, but she was used to cooking from scratch and with little to no food; Caroline had immense talent for cooking, and she was excited to put it to use in Holly’s household.
She knew that her sister wasn’t much of a chef, and was a little on the lazy side; I’ll provide her with some delicious home cooked meals, to thank her for letting us stay here, thought Caroline positively, always wanting to thank those who helped her in any way.
After throwing a few things in a bowl and beginning to mix them together, Caroline heard a strange noise that didn’t seem to be coming from anywhere in the house. She put the bowl down and paused, looking towards the front door. Hmm, she thought, feeling uncomfortable. She then heard the noise again and it almost made her jump. She backed away from the kitchen counter, and began to approach the door slowly, wishing she had some kind of weapon in her hands, just in case.
She tiptoed to the door, looked out of the glass windows, but saw nothing. Caroline quietly opened the door and walked outside, creeping discreetly up the path and stopping at the main sidewalk. No one is here, she realized, as the neighborhood seemed creepily empty. She circled around the house, double checking to make sure there truly was no one lurking about; and once she felt satisfied that no one was spying on her, she returned inside the house, although she still had a strange feeling that she couldn’t quite place.
Caroline tried to get back to her baking, though her heart wasn’t truly in it; investigating the source of the noise she heard proved to be pointless, as she found nothing, and she wasn’t reassured by this.
She resumed her cooking – she baked a delicious smelling loaf of rosemary bread, and was cutting slices as she heard another distinctive noise, this one louder and clearly coming from inside the house. She almost dropped the bread on the floor as she jumped backwards, and she took a deep breath. Calm down, Caro, she reassured herself, knowing she needed to relax.
She slowly and silently tiptoed backwards, scared that someone may jump out and kill her; and just as she approached the hallway, the garage door opened and Holly exited from it, all dressed up in a beautiful, black silk dress and her hair gorgeously put together. “I’m heading off to my show, I’ll be back later tonight!” she yelled as she walked out the front door. Caroline sighed loudly, feeling stupid for having freaked out so much. She set down the bread and took a moment to catch her breath. People make noises, Caro. And you live with other people. Calm the freak down, okay?
Eventually, Caroline decided to cook some actual dinner, and just as she was getting started, Caitlyn waltzed into the kitchen. She had gone off to her new school to meet with her teachers and principal, and to get acquainted with everyone, get her books and check out her schedule. Caroline was mildly surprised, as she didn’t hear Caitlyn enter, but she was reassured when she saw her only daughter’s face and felt safer knowing she was there. “I’m making some experimental tacos tonight, you interested?” she asked, as Caitlyn laughed and nodded. She loved her mom’s “experimental” cooking, and was looking forward to having dinner.
As they ate dinner, the mother and daughter bonded, as they usually did. Caroline asked Caitlyn about her new school. “Everyone seemed pretty nice and friendly. They didn’t ask too many questions, weren’t too nosy, and seemed to respect my privacy. I think they’re really focused on education here, not so much on gossip and fashion,” answered Caitlyn in between bites of her tacos. Caroline was happy to hear that her daughter had no issues with her new school, and hoped she’d fit in and adjust well.
“I even got a few phone numbers already. Strictly for school purposes, of course. A few people said they’d help forward me some of the current assignments and lessons, and we exchanged numbers. I might make friends quickly here!” continued Caitlyn, sounding excited. Caroline watched her daughter, pretending to be happy; but in truth, she wasn’t too sure how to feel about her already getting close with other students.
What if those kids hurt her? What if they know who she is? What if they link her to me?
Caroline’s mind was racing; she couldn’t help but worry about her daughter and her safety. Obviously, home-schooling wasn’t an option as it would draw too much attention, and Caitlyn would probably hate her for it. But Caroline was afraid that public school would be dangerous and risky. Maybe private school? I could get a job and find a way to afford it, thought Caroline, brainstorming as she watched Caitlyn chatting away on her phone with her potential new friends.
She shivered; there were too many dangers to consider in this new town, and Caroline didn’t feel comfortable.
She returned to the computer and pulled up the saved website with information on the town of Newcrest. She expanded her research to the other suburbs of Sims City: San Myshuno, Windenburg, Willow Creek and Oasis Springs. The first three came up as safe, peaceful places in the community with no crime to report; but Oasis Springs came up with the nickname “Slums” and didn’t seem to be a nice area to visit.
She proceeded to check the Caitlyn’s school registry, to see how many teens were from Oasis Springs; luckily, it seemed the majority of the kids in Sims City weren’t located in what were called the Slums, and Caroline’s mind was somewhat put at ease. She frowned at the computer screen. Why is it called the “Slums”? What about it is so bad? She looked up pictures of the area, and nothing seemed immediately negative about the neighborhood of Oasis Springs. It was mainly desert, and some of the houses were smaller and a little beaten down, but there was still a certain charm to it. She made a mental note to ask Holly about this fact later on, and turned her computer off. She had done enough research for one day.
When Caroline came out of the computer room, Caitlyn was gone. She walked by her daughter’s room and heard music, and assumed she was in there, preparing her school stuff and relaxing.
Caroline went to the living room and turned on the T.V, deciding to watch a movie until Holly got home. She settled comfortably on the couch, and realized all too soon that the movie she was watching was about a widower.
She couldn’t stop the tears from falling; she thought of her poor husband, the quick burial and funeral services she held for him with her daughter, and the idea of never having him by her side again; she remembered his scent, his touch, his voice, and realized she’d never get to experience any of this again; and next thing she knew, her face was wet with tears.
Caroline was so busy crying that she didn’t hear Holly walk in. “Sis? You okay?” she asked, as Caroline jumped up from the couch and wiped her face. “Holly! Geeze, announce yourself or something! I’m fine… sad movie,” she lied, blinking through her tears and trying her best to stop them from running down her cheeks. Holly approached her sister and looked at her closely. “You’re lying,” she said, watching the T.V screen. The current scene was a comedic one, and Caroline had no reason to be crying in front of it. “Tell me the truth. Why are you crying?” insisted Holly, as she grabbed the remote and turned the volume down. Caroline shrugged. Should I tell her the truth?
Caroline swallowed her pride. “Jim’s dead,” she confessed. Holly gasped, and immediately hugged her sister tightly. “Dead? Jim, your husband? Caro, I’m so sorry! What the hell happened?” she squealed, genuinely worried. Caroline’s tears began to flow again, threatening to flood the entire room. She hadn’t allowed herself to truly cry in weeks, wanting to seem strong for Caitlyn; but right now, in front of Holly, she couldn’t lie anymore.
“He was murdered. Look, I don’t want to get into the details, for obvious reasons, but because of what happened to him I feel that Caitlyn and I aren’t really safe. That’s why we moved so far away. That’s why I came to you, sis,” she admitted, as Holly rubbed her back and sniffled, crying as well. “Oh Caro, this is horrible. Murdered? You’re sure?” she questioned, ignoring Caroline’s request to not get into details. Caroline nodded. “I saw it happen, Hol. The whole thing. And I’m pretty sure they know I saw it,” she spoke, as Holly pulled away in shock. “You saw Jim’s murderer?” she whispered loudly, her face full of questions. Caroline nodded. “I didn’t see his or her face, just the outline of the body. I was too frazzled to remember real details, so I probably wouldn’t be able to identify him or her. But it still puts me in danger. It puts Caitlyn in danger. We need help, Hol,” whispered Caroline. Holly nodded and turned to face the T.V. She was silent for a moment, as if pondering and considering the information given, and then she sighed. “I think I know someone who can help. I know someone who may be able to provide protection, or at least some type of surveillance. I’ll bring you to her tomorrow,” she stated simply, and Caroline smiled. “You do? You will? Oh Holly, you’re the best. I can’t thank you enough,” she exclaimed quietly. Holly shook her head. “Don’t thank me yet. I don’t have any guarantees, but this lady has some power and at the very least, we can get some answers and guidance,” she explained. Caroline nodded. That’s a good starting point, she thought.
Later that night, Caroline went to bed feeling partially reassured. There was someone in this town who had the kind of power to protect her and her daughter. I’m sure there will be a price to pay, she realized. But she was willing to sacrifice almost anything for her and her daughter’s safety. She just wanted to live in peace, and not have to pay for her husband’s death. She didn’t want to pay for his business mistakes. She loved him with all her heart, but she didn’t want to end up like him, and she didn’t deserve to.
And Caitlyn deserved to have a normal life. Maybe, tomorrow, I will know if that’s a possibility.