It had been just an ordinary spring evening.
That’s how people always describe the calm before the storm, she supposes. That calm moment before everything goes to hell.
In their case it might not go to hell, not just yet, but it had felt like that when the doorbell rang and Cindy had opened.
She would like to say she doesn’t recognise him, that he has changed so much, that so much time has passed his appearance no longer strikes that chord in her. But that’s not true. His eyes, her eyes, meet hers into hers and Cindy feels everything shatter, brittle like china.
Jordan. J. Her baby brother.
He had been such a pretty child, everyone said so. A head full of curls, chubby little cheeks and eyes that kept looking at you like you were his one saviour on this earth. Cindy can’t ever forget that look, those small hands grabbing her own, as desperate and painful as her memories.
I did take care of you the best I could. I was just a kid myself.
“You’re not welcome here.”
“Hey, sis, come on. I just need a place to crash. It’s only temporary.”
She shakes her head as she closes the door behind her and slips out, feeling that familiar burn in her throat, the foul taste of her past. It’s not gone. She’s been a fool to think it could ever be gone. One little thing and it all comes crashing down over her again. Boom. She’s trapped.
“Last time you said that you stole my wallet and went to Strangetown.”
Jordan sighs. For a second he looks genuinely regretful, but she probably imagines it. “Yeah, sorry about that. I was a wreck.”
“You’ve always been a wreck.”
There’s a part of her – soundly buried, but never truly dead – that knows she’s being a little bit unfair. Jordan’s been part of her messed up family, after all. He’s been raised by the same awful people, put through the same crap. She got knocked up as a teen, he became an alcoholic. Both things run in the family.
“Went to rehab,” he says, and his gaze is firm and steady. It’s not the first time he tells her he’s been to rehab but this is the first time he’s made it sound true. And like the pathetic wreck any addict in your life will turn you into, Cindy catches herself hoping it is. “I stayed for seven fucking months this time. You know how many hours I spent carving toys and painting them?”
She sighs, doesn’t want to her, doesn’t want to know. “At least you stayed.”
“I did. I mean it, this time I’m done for real.” He looks at the ground, then back up at her. “It’s been over a year now.”
“How did you get my address?” She asks because she can’t reply to his proud statement, can’t let it get to her. They always sound so sincere, they always promise and promise and it’s going to be the last time and it’s never the last time.
Jordan hesitates for a second. “Sam,” he admits after a while. “Mum’s boyfriend. She… did you know she died?”
“She doesn’t deserve to be called that. She was never a mother, we just came out of her body.”
He doesn’t say anything in response to that; she thinks it’s for the best. Everyone has different childhoods, even siblings and even their family had its moments. If he, unlike her, manages to remember those she won’t rip them out of his body.
“Hey, you’ve got kids.” He looks around and the outdoor toys that are scattered everywhere, a little smile on his face now. “More of them, I mean.”
“Four,” she says, not without pride. “And a husband. So the house is full. There’s no place for you to stay.”
Despite that, when it comes down to it, Cindy can’t throw him out.
She wishes she could – but there are no nearby hotels and her family is watching her so in the end Jordan gets invited inside, is offered a cup of coffee and a sandwich and ends up sleeping on the couch. Just for tonight, he says several times. They all know that’s not true.
Cindy overhears Eric the following morning, trying to make friends with his bother-in-law in the kitchen. It’s a noble goal, but Jordan seems fairly uncomfortable with the whole topic and keeps looking over his shoulder while Eric talks about his work as a cop.
He does, however, walk into the city to look for work immediately, which surprises her a lot. Not that Barchester has a lot to offer an ex-addict with no education whatsoever (last night she had made him admit that he never even finished high school) and no real career goal.
But Jordan does try. He even offers to play the piano in a downtown bistro just to get some coin so he can buy dinner for them that night. Says he doesn’t want to be in their debt and Cindy bites back a comment about all the simoleons he used to steal from her and how he can pay them back any day now.
After the second night in their house, Cindy gets up in the morning – in a slight state of panic since she hasn’t even heard Joanna yet – to find her brother play with Joanna’s dolls on the floor. Beside him is a happy, giggling toddler.
He barely looks up as Cindy enters. “She was awake. I picked her up and figured she was hungry.”
“You made her a bottle?”
“Yes.” Jordan sounds a bit tired. “There are pretty detailed instructions on the formula package, you know. I can read, uneducated loser than I am.”
“I’ll make breakfast,” she says, turning on her heel.
Joanna says something inaudible with a doll’s foot in her mouth and when Cindy opens the fridge, she can swear she hears Jordan laugh.
But even with Jordan in their home, life does go on. Everything becomes routine after a while, even having your baby brother more or less moving in to remind you of a history you could do anything to erase.
Jean still goes steady with August Wester and Cindy is fairly impressed to see how dedicated they are to each other but she wishes her daughter would understand that four years of college is a pretty long time to be apart and that she might find other things more interesting, even if she isn’t looking for them. She wants Jean to walk into her future with eyes open to every possibility, not playing it safe just because she happens to have a boyfriend back at home.
But that’s hardly something you can tell your teenage kid, at least not if you don’t want her to run off and do exactly what you advice against.
Petra has married her boyfriend Rutger in secrecy this spring, something the rest of the gang finds out when she invites them all out for a girls’ night.
“We’re too old to make a big deal of it,” she tells them simply.
She seems genuinely happy and at peace, which makes Cindy pleased. Her life has been chaotic ever since Ben cheated and Cindy much prefers her new husband who is stable and confident in who he is and not the type to spot a pretty girl in a crowd and feel the need to sleep with her to boost his ego or satisfy some banal need.
That trust is what she feels when she thinks about Eric and she hopes it’s what Petra feels when she thinks about Rutger, now.
It sure seems like it, because Petra is happier than she’s ever been and even tells them they’re “most definitely” trying to expand their family sooner rather than later. Cindy will keep her fingers crossed.
Their own family actually feels complete now with Joanna in it. A part of her – and a part of Eric, it seems – will always have that notion that another baby certainly wouldn’t be unwelcome, but now it seems more reasonable than not to keep their household the way it is. Before Joanna it had felt different, like something was missing.
It feels as though they have enough time for their children these days, what with both Janessa and Joshua being in school and old enough for fun activities in their spare time.
They also try to have dinner together in the evenings, which is a family thing Cindy certainly can’t remember from her own past.
One of the few advantages Cindy can see with Jordan in their family now is the fact that he doesn’t mind bringing Jean to the football field to practise in the late evenings. Since she’s the only one interested in sports in their family she usually never gets anyone to go with her and Cindy likes the thought of her daughter not having to go alone to her activities.
She seems to consider it a bonus that her uncle is pretty bad at sports, too, making her the winner of every little game they play.
* So this was one of my ROS. I immediately thought of this backstory when I rolled the household, so it was fun. Jordan is a Pleasure sim, nice and friendly but sloppy and not very ambitious.
* Jean turns 18 this round, I can’t wait to see what happens to her as a young adult! It’s a good thing she’s moving out, too, because the house is tiny and with Jordan staying there, he really does have to sleep on the couch since there’s no place to put an extra bed. 🙂