Chapter 4.2: Just for me

Screenshot-799I did my best to postpone leaving for Berryniversity. Not because I did not want to go, but because it felt like I was abandoning my siblings and I did not want that. They were my family after all. And I loved them. And with mother gone, someone had to care for them and cook for them and make sure things worked around here.

“Are you sure you will be okay?” I asked Bittersweet for the millionth time.

Screenshot-800“Yes, yes, yes, we will be okay. I know how to treat your garden too once winter is over. And besides, Taxus and Hyacinth promised to come over every now and then and check on us. We will be fine. You need to have a life, too, sister.”

“But you’re so young” I complained even though I knew she had been by my side the entire time and that she was perfectly capable of caring for the family on her own. Watermelon and Salmon were older now and didn’t need as much supervision as they used to. But it still felt wrong to leave them.

“And you are not as young and neither have you ever got to be young and you need to do something just for you. For once.”

Screenshot-798She hit my weak spot there. For as long as I could remember I had been doing things simply because they fell in my lap, and not because I desperately wanted to do them. And that is how life is, in a way. But now that my dear sister had applied for University for me and the admission note had fallen in my lap, I hesitated.

“Okay okay. But if you ever need me for anything, call and I’ll be right back home. Okay? And please do care for the garden, I know you love it just like I do.”

“It’ll be blooming like never before once you get back home” Bittersweet grinned and I hugged her. Oh how I loved her.

Screenshot-793Salmon had always preferred Bittersweet reading to him rather than myself. It was soothing now that I would soon be leaving them. It was bittersweet to watch them (no pun intended) for Bittersweet was pushing her own needs to the side just as I had always been doing too. She stepped in like the head of the family like she was destinied to do just that and when I thought about how I had always been doing the same thing I felt disappointed in mother. She had never been there for us. Definitely not emotionally and now, not even physically.

Screenshot-788On the day I was supposed to leave, Hyacinth came over to let us meet their son, Mystery. He had the same yellow skin as his grandmother Canary, which was quite fascinating. Seeing his tiny figure made it even harder to leave. I would miss his firsts of everything and when I got back he wouldn’t have a clue who I was.

“You know” Hyacinth said as she rocked back and forth in the chair in my room. “We’ll come here and look after them. Everything will be fine. It’s your turn to have some fun now. Relax, do things just for you. Okay?”

Screenshot-802Later that day uncle Blizzard came over to bid me farewell together with his youngest son, Calypso. All these goodbyes made it even tougher but when I saw how happy Salmon was when he saw his cousin, and alike best friend, I smiled. Salmon was the baby’s family and seeing him play and laugh with Calypso without any worries calmed me down. He was growing up and he would be just fine.

Screenshot-804Once everyone had left again. I sat down to enjoy a last salad of my own vegetables at the dinner table. There was nothing that made up for the taste of your self-grown vegetables. It wasn’t just the feeling of going out in your garden to pick them fresh for the cooking, but also the fact that you knew that there was nothing added. Not while growing and not after. That was a thing that was very rare these days.

Screenshot-803“I’ll miss this” I said out loud. Bittersweet nodded for she already knew I would.

“Sis, why don’t you bring some of that fruit with you. And some seeds? You can always plant them in your room.”

“Planting indoors? It’s not the same, is it?”

“I bet it’s still better than the sprayed vegetables you could buy at the store.”

My sister was right and once I had decided to bring both vegetables and seeds with me it suddenly felt a lot easier to leave. I had been dreading sprayed vegetables without even realizing so myself. But of course, I felt that nature itself was enough to keep any plant living green and producing ripes and the simple thought of polluting anything that lived with spray just so it would grow bigger or more colorful disgusted me. Nature was fine as it was, we were the real problem.

Screenshot-808 The things I brought with me could easily fit in a single suitcase. I had never understtod why people insisted of having so much stuff. I wouldn’t miss anything even if I left most of my home at home. I had some extra clothes, some books and my vegetables along with a few seeds. It was everything I needed, and should I ever figure that something was missing it would be possible to find it.

Screenshot-809 “Bye sis! Have fun, we’ll miss you!” Bittersweet waved behind me and I felt my eyes tear up. Not because it was sad to leave, but because I would miss them too. I loved my family.

Screenshot-810I heard her shouting her goodbyes all the way towards the car but I couldn’t force myself to look back. I had to leave, she wanted me to leave and I would do the best of it. For her and our younger siblings. And for myself. Mostly for myself.

Screenshot-816It was a long drive to Berryniversity and as we passed snowy bushes and white houses I decided to close my eyes and get some rest. It would be several hours and daytime until we arrived at the destination.

When I opened my eyes again the sun was rising over the horizon and we had left winter behind and driven right in to the warm summer. The realization made me smile for I much preferred the warm spring and summer when nature rose and lived for its fullest.

Another hour later we stopped outside a pink and green dormitory. A few students stood outside chatting with each other but overall it seemed quiet and peaceful. I felt excited when I walked towards the entrance and my new experience.

Screenshot-836My roommate was a strictly looking blue woman named Atlantic. She was a few years older than me but she seemed nice. We didn’t have much time for introducing ourselves to each other, though, for as soon as she had shaken my hand she excused herself and rushed off.

I didn’t mind being left on my own even if that too was a new experience for me. Not that I was all by myself for outside the door to our shared little room other student’s huffed and puffed in the stairs as they moved in to their respective rooms.

Screenshot-817My own bag had been easy to carry upstairs and I unpacked it fast. The most precious things I had brought were the planters and the seeds and when I placed them on the floor next to my bed the room suddenly felt a lot more homely.

I planted tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms before I took off for the Meet and Greet.

Screenshot-822Everything in the University area was colored in bright and happy colors and when I pedaled towards the grey main buildings I smiled. Birds sang in the treetops and overall this seemed like the best place in the world. All the worries of my family back home disappeared to some box in the back parts of my brain. I wouldn’t need to worry while I was here for Bittersweet would care for them all and I would do just like she had told me to and enjoy myself.

Screenshot-825The main hall was really big and as I stepped inside I felt quite overwhelmed right away. Students talked with each other in the corners of the room and most of them seemed to already have their friends here. I felt quite lonely but tried to suppress it for I wanted this experience to be happy and it would simply not do anything good to start worry. I would get friends too, eventually.

Screenshot-823I walked up to one of the welcome tables to grab my schedule and the information I needed when a green llama suddenly appeared behind my back. He walked past me with confident steps as if the giant silly llama costume was the most common thing in the world to wear. When he was right next to me he turned to look at me and shot off a bright smile but didn’t say anything. I looked confused after him and then looked around but none of the other students seemed to have noticed him. Perhaps it was a common thing around here to walk around in giant green llama costumes. Who was I to judge?

Screenshot-827“You’re new?” a man’s voice asked and tapped my shoulder lightly. I turned around and saw a man about my own age with the friendliest smile one could ever have.

“How could you tell?” I smiled back.

“It’s your eyes” he replied. “Every new student looks at the things here in a curious way that no old students do. Being here for a term or more does that to you, you start taking the things for granted. Shame, because there is sure a lot to look at. I’m Romeo, by the way.” He offered me his hand and I took it.

“I’m Coral.”

Screenshot-828Romeo smiled again and I wondered if he was always that happy. He seemed like such a person, the kind who tried to be happy about everything and who tried to make the best of everything. A bit like me, perhaps. At least I liked to see myself like that, like I tried to do the best of everything without worrying too much.

“Nice to meet you Coral” Romeo said and I nodded in agreement. “Come, I’ll show you around a bit.”

Screenshot-831Romeo guided me upstairs where a few students were playing games together or just stood talking to each other. “Once the studies start, this place will be filled with studying students. These pool tables and the pong tables are rarely used other than during these first days actually. I’d say if you’re of the kind that wants to study in group this is the place to go. You’re not required to be as quiet as on the library and here is usually a few teachers running about who you can grab if you need to ask anything. It’s a rather nice place for studying, actually.”

“What do you study?” I asked, hoping he would be in the same class as me. It would be nice to know someone when the classes started the next day.

“Art” he replied and smiled even wider. “I did science last term but I was shit at it. I’m much better at arts. Honestly, I don’t know why I even chose Science in the first place.”

“I’m in science” I said and looked down.

“Oh, I was so sure you’d be an art student” Romeo smiled again and also looked down.

Screenshot-833“I mean, a girl with no shoes? Bound to be an artist” he continued and laughed a little.

“Oh. I just don’t like shoes” I said and wiggled my toes a little. “I like having the contact with the ground I walk. It makes me feel a lot more free and in touch with nature.”

Romeo narrowed his brows and I realized I must have sounded like a complete idiot. In touch with nature? But Romeo didn’t laugh at me, neither did he seem to think I was an idiot for he simply replied: “I think I’ll have to introduce you to my friends, Coral.”

Screenshot-830“Really?”

Romeo nodded and explained how they all had about the same views of nature and human impact as I did. His explanation gave me a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach and I found myself wishing I could let Bittersweet meet him too. If Romeo and his friends were like me, they would also be like Bittersweet and she would like them. At least I found that I much liked Romeo.

When we finally said our goodbyes I was rather certain that I had just made my first friend except for Bittersweet and when I got to bed that night I fell asleep swiftly.


A big thanks to Minty for letting me use the absolutely adorable Romeo Parfait. He is a spare from the Alfalfa legacy

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