Meet the Eldridge family; Joseph and Zdena, their three children Jiri, Jan and Adela and their little dog Pochie.
They are on the way to Aurora Springs. Aurora Springs, the town Zdena’s whole family comes from. A family she barely knows anything about since her mother refused to speak of them as she was growing up.
Why? Well, read on and you’ll find out.
The Lustig homestead; a somewhat run down farm on the outskirts of Aurora Springs. Not in complete disrepair but weathered and worn down by the hard lean times during and following the great Sim war.
Farmers in Aurora Springs are a peculiar breed. Endless work and little pay means they are constantly eking out enough to live on in the harsh climate of short summers and long cold winters. In the early morning Bodil makes her girls breakfast, they are the reason she and Arne slave on the farm. Their girls are going to have a better life than them. A life they could only dream about.
The aftermath of war can be seen everywhere, the once thriving dairy farm now only houses one working horse too old to sell for profit. The cows were all sold during the blockade, and now calves are too expensive to come by. Arne does his best trying to train the one thing that could pay for the girl’s schooling, but it’s an uphill battle.
There isn’t really enough time for it anyway. There is always more work to be done somewhere else on the farm. The orchard has to be tended, it’s a reliable source of income after all, and there’s still a mortgage to pay off.
Between the orchard and the money they get from selling Bodil’s eggs, they get by. But it’s backbreaking work that seemingly never stops.
Arne spends his evenings in the study working on the ledgers and trying to find a way to save a penny or two for the twins.
Bodil works just as hard in the kitchen. Baking a pie or two to sell at the market in town helps make some extra money. Money for clothes and books and all the other things teenage girls need.
Britta is the rebel twin. She spends her days dreaming about a life far away from the farm. A life where things such as music and laughter are not only to be consumed on Sunday afternoons when you are free from chores but embraced and celebrated as a way of life.
Ulla has dreams too, she’s just not as vocal about it. She has a way of getting what she wants in the end by always winning the argument, and she can’t understand why her sister is always railing about the “man” when it never does her any good.
A perfect example is the chores they have to do. No one likes weeding the vegetable patch, but will complaining about it really get you out of it?
Why? What will this give me? I hate pumpkin pie!
All that screaming and Britta still has to get her hands dirty. And her sister finishes way earlier than her and gets to go off and paint her silly pictures too. Life really isn’t fair. Poor, poor Britta.
Life would be almost unbearable if she wouldn’t sneak away from time to time. The gypsy camp in the woods is a refuge, a place where she can be herself and forget about the monotony of life.
The years pass, as years are wont to do. The chores never end, and neither does Britta’s need to escape the confines of the homestead. She still spends her evenings in the gypsy camp, where her music is appreciated and she can pretend there is more to life than weeding vegetables.
There might be one other reason she’s been there so often lately. His name is Keiski Rysava, a young handsome man with a silver tongue.
Your music is poetry speaking directly to my soul Britta, you are too good for toiling on a farm, you should be a princess traveling the world by my side, he whispers in her ear.
The words enflame Britta’s heart and in a moment of reckless passion she embraces her gypsy prince.
To travel the world by your side would make me the happiest woman in the world. We could see cities and ancient wonders. Nothing would keep us chained to the earth my love.
They spend a blissful summer in each other’s arms before the gypsies leave for their winter home in more southern climes.
Maybe too blissful? Because 9 months later Zdena arrive.
My precious little girl, I can’t wait till your father comes back, he will take us with him and together we will travel the world!
But when spring arrives the gypsies never come!
Britta is enraged. Was all those sweet words only lies? What will her parents say now? They already complain about her having a child out of wedlock, and now the father have gone missing. She can feel her heart break piece by piece.
To dull her sorrow she takes up drinking, she puts away her guitar and takes up mixology instead. But it’s only a temporary fix, every morning her heartache returns with renewed force.
Her late nights also make her sleep most of the day. No time for chores or work around the homestead. No time to take care of her sweet little girl. It’s an untenable situation; she can’t go on this way.
Arne and Bodil don’t know what to do. All their hopes and dreams of Britta making a better life for herself seem bound to fail. She won’t work, she won’t take care of her daughter, and all she seems to want to do is mix drinks and try them out herself.
We can’t let her do this to herself Arne, she’s hurting both herself and out granddaughter!
But what are we to do Bodil? She won’t even come downstairs!
You have to talk to her, father to daughter. She has to get a job to support herself and Zdena, she can’t expect us to pay her way, the harvest is rather poor this year and her sister has found work at the library, why shouldn’t Britta be able to find some work too?
I will try my best darling, but how will I make her see reason?
That evening a tense Bodil watched Ulla teach Zdena how to walk. She tried to look relaxed and smile when Ulla throws her worried glances.
Maybe I should talk to her first, mother? I haven’t really been here for her since I’ve been working so much. She is my twin and we used to talk all the time…
Ulla, don’t take on any responsibility for your sisters actions. You are both adults and she has to realize that she is a mother now and that means she needs to act like one, starting with thinking more about her daughter than herself.
In the study words get heated. There is arguing, accusations, shouting and then…SLAP!
They both become quite because they know this crosses a line they can never uncross. This is something that can’t ever be undone.
Arne stays in the background feeling awkward. He doesn’t want Britta to go, he still loves her, but his pride won’t allow him to ask her to stay. Bodil hugs her granddaughter close; will she ever see her sweet little Zdena again? And her daughter, will she even write to tell her they are doing well? They have grown so far apart this past year, if only there was some way to turn back time…
You have to write and tell me how you are doing sister dear. If you need anything just let me know, Ulla tells Britta as she hugs her close.
Britta doesn’t say anything but she squeezes her sister as hard as she can. She’s feeling so ashamed right now, she can’t even bare to look at her father. How could she ever face him and her mother again, she just wants to run far, far away from all this shame, guilt and pain. Maybe if they start over, just her and Zdena, life will get better…
Heartbroken and too ashamed to stay with her parents, Britta travels with Zdena to Sunlit Tides, a tropical paradise where people go to forget their troubles and start a new life. Coming to grips with the fact that what she thought was love eternal only was a passing fancy for Keiski a while, but as time pass Britta decides to straighten up her life. All she needs to do now is make something of herself, so she can go back home and show her parents she’s not a complete failure after all.
Now all that time spent mixing drinks comes in handy. Britta gets a job picking up odd hours at the beach bar and best of all – no one asks any awkward questions. And if they do, well Britta has a plan for that. She’s changed her last name to Rysava, bought a cheap wedding ring at the volcano pawn shop and practiced telling the story of how her husband died in a house fire.
Britta has sworn off men, but some men won’t take no for an answer. Neither will they be deterred by a wedding ring.
And some women will always put the blame on another woman, regardless of whose fault it really was. Having come up on the bad side of the islands crime boss, there was nothing left to do for Britta than pack up her daughter and their meager belongings and hightail it out of there.
Aurora Springs, Sunlit Tides, Hidden Springs, Appaloosa Plains and now Lucky Palms. Zdena has lived in more places by the age of 7 than most adults. She can’t understand why her mother has to move all the time… And she’s the one with gypsy blood in her veins!
This time has to be different. She’s starting school soon, and she really would like to make some friends. Good thing there is a wishing well in this town. Maybe it can turn her mother’s luck around?
I hope we can stay here for ever and ever! I hope we can have a real home and not live out of our suitcases! I hope there is someone out there that wants to be friends with me!
Lucky Palms offer lots of employment opportunities, Britta gets a job as a cocktail waitress at one of the casinos. The pay is good and all she has to do is wear tight shorts and bring high rollers their drinks. Oh, and maybe flirt with them a little too.
She even gets to sing as part of the entertainment! Having the chance to express herself through music makes this one of the best jobs ever. And Zdena is doing so good in school too. Maybe she should send that letter to her sister she’s written, to show them that she’s managed to straighten out her life by now?
Four years without a man is a long time, and Carlos has sweet talked her for months now, a little on the job romance couldn’t hurt, could it? Zdena wants a proper family, maybe it is time to take a chance on love once more?
Oops! Britta’s bad taste in men comes back to bite her in the butt once more. It turns out Carlos is already engaged! To this angry woman, who also happens to be the casino owner’s daughter. Now Britta is out of both a job and a man…the letter remains unsent.
Poor Zdena, all those wished and only one of them came true. But she has to leave her new friend behind as they move to Twinbrook. Will she ever have some place to call home?
Mom, you promise we’ll be staying here for the rest of High School – right?
Zdena, why would I lie about that? Just because things haven’t worked out before doesn’t mean they won’t this time.
That’s what you said in Twinbrook and Sunset Valley and Riverview and Starlight Shores too! Why can’t I just go live with my grandparents if you can’t stay in one place loge enough for me to even make a friend?
That’s enough sass form you, young lady. The topic of your grandparents is not open for discussion, you know that! Now time for bed, you have to register for school tomorrow and I have my first day of work.
Bridgeport High is huge! How will I ever find my way?
Starting a new school always plum, but when you are doing it mid-term the last year of High School, it’s even worse. Everyone has all the friends they need and no one has time for the new girl. I just hope I’ll be able to get my grades up to get my diploma…
Britta is very optimistic about her new job. Sure it’s only a mixologist gig at a bar. But it’s a lesbian bar, which means no men to get her in trouble. This time she’s determined to not let her daughter down!
Joseph lived with his parents in one of the quieter Bridgeport suburbs. Nothing exciting or dangerous ever happened here and life was good just the way it was. Sure he had days where life seemed a drag, but he enjoyed school, had lots of friends and a goal to work towards. He wanted to just like his dad when he grew up, and in just a few months he would graduate High School and be old enough to pursue his dream.
Ryan was a patrol officer keeping the streets of Bridgeport safe both day and night. He enjoyed his job, and didn’t let the lure of promotions make him become a workaholic. He wanted to teach his son to value family over money and career ambition, and in order to do that he needed to be home with his family. Staying a patrolman was good enough for him.
Serena came from a large family and she always wanted a large one herself. Unfortunately their efforts had only produced one son so far, a son she had stayed home to raise. Now that he was almost grown up she had gone back to work pushing papers and printing reports at the business tower, everything was on track, if only she wouldn’t feel so nauseous all the time. Was she coming down with something?
The Eldridge family had a sweet life. But, even a well-adjusted and happy teen will feel bored sometime. If only something would happen, anything to make time move faster.
Wait! Who’s that?
Zdena didn’t know what to think when the boy she had spied across the road showed up at
her bus stop the next morning. She was even more surprised when he started talking to her! In all the other towns she’d been invisible in the beginning. Maybe this was a sign things were about to take a turn for the better?
Joseph: Hi! I saw you move in yesterday. So, what year are you in?
Zdena: Um, I’m in senior year.
Joseph: Cool, me too – do you want me to show you around?
Zdena: Sure, I’d love that!
Scratch that, this was going to get better. And my good was he cute!
The Eldridges welcomed the Rysavas into the neighborhood with open arms. They had bbq’s together, helped each other collect their kids from after school activities and enjoyed each other’s company.
Serena and Britta became close friends, and Britta even told Serena the truth about her past. She was almost the twin sister she was missing so desperately. Serena didn’t judge but gently encouraged her to contact her family again, maybe it was time to turn a new leaf and forget all that old hurt, now that life was good for her and Zdena? Serena also shared some happy news of her own, she was having another baby!
Under the watchful eyes of their parents Joseph and Zdena were growing closer and closer. They spent as much time as possible together and when prom came around Joseph asked Zdena if she would go as his date.
When she immediately said yes, he whipped out the bouquet of roses he had hidden in his backpack and asked her to go steady with him.
You can guess how she answered…
…yes! She’d love to. And she gave him his first kiss too!
It was a proud moment seeing their children off to prom.
They make a cute couple, don’t you think Britta?
You’re right, Serena, they are adorable together.
Mooooom, stop talking about us as if we weren’t here!
You’ll have to bear it kids, now get in the car I’m driving you over to the gymnasium.
Dad, did you have to sign up for chaperoning duty?
Of course I did, now don’t grumble and help Zdena to the car like I told you about.
Graduation day brought happy tears and joy to both families. Joseph was voted most likely to save a sim, which made his father very proud. Zdena was just happy she managed to get a diploma at all, with so many transfers and a rather spotty school history it was quite a feat.
Joseph went straight back to the school bench when he joined the police academy. The hours were long and the lessons hard, sometimes he thought he’d crumble under all that extra pressure brought on by being a policeman’s son, but he persevered.
Zdena didn’t have good enough grades to apply for a University scholarship, and without a scholarship there was no way she and Britta could afford the tuition. And with the job market being what it was for sims just barely finishing High School she had to make due with part time work at the grocery store for now.
Since Joseph was staying in the Police Academy Barracks for the three year program and Zdena working odd hours the few times they could get together were spent out on the town enjoying themselves. A few stolen moments here and there was all they had before it was time for Joseph to go back to the academy and Zdena had to go to work at the grocery store again.
While working in the produce section Zdena realized she wanted to know more about vegetables and fruit. Britta wasn’t so keen on Zdena showing their farming roots, since she had tried so hard to get away from it herself. In order to avoid fighting with her mother, whom she was still living with, Zdena volunteered at a local public garden where she could hone her skills and learn from other horticultural enthusiasts.
While Zdena was working in the gardens Joseph was working on his muscles. The long hours on the exercise machines would mean success in apprehending burglars, but they were a pain to get through
Joseph barely had time to see his sister grow from a toddler to a young girl. But he made sure to spend at least part of his free time with his family teaching his sister all she needed to know. He was proud to show off his new uniform, signifying he was now done with the academy and ready to hit the streets solving and preventing crime.
The summer after Joseph’s graduation he and Zdena tied the knot in a simple family ceremony.
It was the happiest day of their lives. And as a wedding present they received a down payment on an apartment from Joseph’s parents. Finally they would have a place to call their own!
The next couple years passed quickly, with Joseph advancing to the position of traffic cop and Zdena taking horticulture classes at the science center in between her work at the public garden and her new job as hostess at a newly opened conference center. Before they knew it Joseph was turning 30, and they decided it was time to start a family.
It took a while, but eventually a new family member was on his or her way.
They broke the good news to the family at Sunday BBQ night. Everyone was happy, and Britta even cried a little.
Some months later Jiri, a healthy baby boy, joined the family.
This happy news made Britta think about her family back in Aurora Springs once more. Maybe it was time to take out all those letters she never sent, and write a new one?
Once the letter home was posted she wrote a letter for Zdena too, it was time she found out what really happened all those years ago. She planned on giving them to her as soon as she got a response from home.
They celebrated Joseph’s birthday early that year because Serena, Ryan and Britta were going on a trip to Isla de Paradiso together. They had been talking about doing it for ages, and now that Cecelia was old enough to stay home alone. She was going to crash on Josephs and Zdena’s couch and get some extra money for babysitting. It was only going to be 2 weeks after all, nothing permanent.
The two weeks Cecelia stayed with them were hectic. Even if he was just a baby Jiri took a lot of effort to look after and Cecelia often fell asleep on the couch as soon as Joseph and Zdena walked through the door. Living in such close proximity was not without complications, and both brother and sister were looking forward to some time away from each other.
Joseph got a call in the middle of the night. Was he the son of Ryan and Serena Eldridge? There had been a terrible accident…
It turned out their plane had crashed soon after leaving Isla de Paradiso. It was unsure at this time what had caused this accident but all indicators were pointing to technical failure of some kind. There were no survivors. Did he by any chance know of a Zdena Eldridge? It seems she was listed at the same address and he had a notification to make for her as well…
The time after the news was a blur for all three in the house, it was only Jiri who seemed unaffected, even if he was left alone a little more than usual. On the day of the funeral Zdena’s stomach rebelled as she was on her way out the door.
They had a simple ceremony for all three of their dearly departed. They were put to rest close to each other in the cemetery and Zdena decorated her mother’s tombstone with her favorite Aurora Springs flower. It was a nod to her past and felt fitting.
Cecelia’s godmother who was also called Cecelia (Cecelia Romero) arrived form Hidden Springs in time for the funeral and she stood by the now reduced family in their trying time.
Out of all of them Cecilia was the one taking it the hardest, she had lost both her parents before she was an adult herself and her whole life seemed destroyed.
Joseph tried to console his sister but she would hear nothing of it.
You have a new family and you don’t care that ours is destroyed! She raged. Get out of my sight and don’t pretend to be my father – my dad is dead and you will never be as great as him!
Joseph didn’t know how to tackle the distraught teen sister and felt as if he was losing her too. Zdena tried to comfort him, but she was also grieving. How would they be able to get over this?
Cecelia Romano suggested that Cecilia come stay with her in Hidden Springs for a while. She was Cecelia’s godmother and was happy to take her in. And it was clear to her that Cecelia and Joseph needed some space and time away from each other to begin the grieving process. A cramped apartment with a baby and a two young adults who were working all the time just could not give Cecelia the security she needed at this point.
Zdena and Cecelia Romero agreed that Cecelia should come visit often, and that at least they should stay in touch making sure everyone knew about how the others were doing. Zdena didn’t want a repeat of her own history, where she had no contact at all with either her mother’s or her father’s family.
When they had waved good bye to Cecelia and Cecelia Zdena once again started feeling sick. This time Joseph noticed and wanted to know what was wrong. Zdena had to tell him – I think I’m pregnant!
Dear Ms Cecelia,
Thank you for writing me to tell me how Cecelia is doing. Joseph and I worry about her a lot and Jiri misses her too. It is strange in this City having no close relatives nearby. I know you and Joseph have a large family but you all live so far from each other. We miss Serena and Ryan and it’s so sad they will never meet their next grandchild.
It has been a calm pregnancy so far and tomorrow I will go on my next doctor’s appointment, if all goes as planned Cecelia will be able to tell you if we are having a girl or a boy when she gets my next letter. Now I’m going over to my mother’s former house to continue cleaning because we have to move everything out before the end of the month, her lease is up and we will not be renewing it.
Many thanks Zdena
I miss you, Joseph misses you and Jiri misses you too! We wish you will come visit soon! Thank you for sending pictures of your new room, I think it suits you very well and I hope you will like living in Hidden Springs. How is the new school?
Joseph has set aside your part of the inheritance as well as half the money for the house in a collage fund and we really hope you would consider going to University when you graduate. But, it is all up to you of course.
I have spent a lot of time sorting through my mother’s papers and even found a letter from her to me. I will let you know more about it as soon as I can. I hope it is some information about who her family is.
When I visited the doctor I found out that you, aunt Cecelia, will have to put up with another boy. Maybe we will try for a girl next time to make you happy? Would you like to come visit when he is born?
Lots of love Zedena
PS. Joseph sends his hugs. DS
My sweet patient daughter,
Seeing you as a mother yourself, has completed me more than I ever thought I needed. I am so proud of all that you have accomplished and it fills my heart with joy and happiness that you have managed to avoid a lot of the pain and problems I faced as a young woman. You and Joseph are clearly meant for each other, and I hope you both realize what a prize you have in each other. I and your father was never meant to be, and if I had not been as stubborn as I was I might have realized it before it brought such a rift between me and my own parents.
I know you have never understood why I left Aurora Springs all those years ago, and looking back at my actions now I can barely understand myself. But I will try to explain to the best of my ability, because I know you deserve to know the truth, and finally I have come to a place that has allowed me to be strong enough to tell you. I hope this will allow you to let go of any lingering questions about your past and let you put all your strength towards teaching your children how to be as strong as yourself.
See, I am rambling again. It is only because I’m nervous, which is also the reason I’m writing this down. I don’t trust my words to come out right. Enough procrastination! You were born in Aurora Springs…
…Your mother (if you will still have me?) Britta
Dear Ms Cecelia,
Sometimes life throws you more than you think you can handle. I was hesitant to let Cecelia go with you but now I am happy she is doing so well. Also, I do not think I would have the strength to deal with her problems right now. The combination of losing both Josephs parents and my mother as well as having a baby boy and another on the way is wearing me out these days.
After the chock of learning of my grandparents and finding out that my mother has a sister I received an even greater one. Apparently my mother had contacted her family shortly before her death, because a letter arrived to her house yesterday. It was from my aunt’s attorney and told of my grandparents passing seven years ago in influenza. My aunt herself was not reachable because she was on some kind of archeological dig in the middle of the Al Simharan desert but would be in contact as soon as she was back again.
I didn’t know what to think, am I followed by death? I sent of a quick letter apprising the attorney of my mother’s demise and left a contact number for my aunt. I don’t know if I fear her calling more than I’m worried she won’t. I have no memories of this woman who apparently cared for me as a small child. Your friendship gives me strength in these trying times.
The expected delivery date of our next boy is in two weeks’ time, it would be ideal if you and Cecelia could visit two weeks after that, will that work for you?
In friendship Zdena
Your visit meant so much to us! Jiri is asking for you all the time and just wants you to come back again. Jan is doing fine and I am so happy you agreed to be his godmother! Maybe we can convince you to come visit us again this summer? I know the last year of High School is intense so I won’t badger you about coming any more until you graduate. Joseph will be there for your ceremony, he’s already put in a request for leave but I have to stay here with the boys, because Jiri’s ear infection is really acting up and he might have to get an operation.
I got that call today, the one we have all been waiting for. My aunt Ulla rang me and we talked for hours. She’d gotten my note two weeks ago (thank God she didn’t call straight away, it would have been a madhouse here!) but had wanted some time to mourn her sister before calling me.
She’s an archeologist, and travels all over the world uncovering treasures. Kind of like Sim Jones in the movies I imagine. She still has the house in Aurora Springs, but rarely spends any time there. We talked of me coming to visit one of these days, to see the place I grew up. Maybe you could come too?
Now I won’t keep you from your studies, just two more weeks before you take that aptitude test! Break a leg! Joseph and I both know you will do great.
Dear Aunt Ulla,
It’s been a few months since we last talked but I received your last letter yesterday. I can’t believe you are in Dragon Valley taking part in that dig for giant dragons of old! We saw the first part in a documentary series about it just the other day, are you part of that? We will be glued to the TV to find out.
Jiri is almost five now and can read and write a bit already. I’m enclosing a letter from him as well. Thank you for those beautifully illustrated children’s books you sent from Shang Simla, you are spoiling us with all your presents. Jiri has taken a keen interest in them and won’t let poor Jan even touch them, which is probably wise since he is at the stage when everything goes into his mouth and gets chewed and destroyed.
How long will you be in Dragon Valley?
Your niece Zdena
Dear Aunt Ulla,
I’m so excited to hear about the dragon eggs! I am sure if anyone can unlock the mystery of what became of dragons it is you! Two more years in Dragon Valley you said, are you thinking of settling there permanently?
Jiri is now in school and Jan has started going to a daycare nearby, I am trying to get some work but it’s a very competitive work market at the moment so I will have to look some more. I could go back to my old job as a receptionist, but the only open position is for a night porter, and I don’t want to be away from the boys at night, since Joseph already have to work the night shift some weeks.
I’m sending you this picture of our day out at the local bird and butterfly park. Jiri is really interested in animals as well as reading. He begs me to go to the library all the time, and we drag huge bags of books about animals and wildlife back and forth between the library and the apartment. He loved that book about dragons you sent him, but was even more interested in the one about Dragon Valley fish and insects. I will call next week, because I miss hearing your voice.
Your niece Zdena
How is University life treating you? I hope you get some studying done in between all those parties I see you post pictures of online. I am sorry to hear that you have broken up with Martin, was it a mutual decision?
Have you decided where you want to go after you graduate? And are you still considering applying for that internship here in Bridgeport? Naturally I would love for you to come here, but don’t forget that you were really excited about the trainee position at the Lunar Lakes Science Facility before you two got together. You have just as much right as him to apply for that position. It could really be the chance of a lifetime!
My aunt Ulla is still in Dragon Valley working with her dragon eggs. Sometimes it hits me how strange it is that we haven’t met since we reconnected, but going to Dragon Valley just isn’t in our budget at the moment. Even with the money from the sale of the house, the apartment is really taxing our budget. Having two growing boys is not helping. Just the other day I think Jiri and Jan grew three inches just to spite me. I have to get them new clothes again!
Aunt Ulla has offered us the homestead in Aurora Springs if we want to relocate, but I’m just not sure if I am ready for that at the moment. Because, I’m pregnant again! Maybe third time’s the charm and you’ll get a niece this time?
It’s a girl! We are going to call her Adela, aunt Ulla suggested it and it supposedly means noble. Aunt Ulla will be her godmother.
I can’t write long since things are crazy here at the moment, as you can imagine, with the boys having the summer of from school and me having to juggle a screaming baby when I try to entertain them. Jan is turning five in just four months and is all over the place. I can’t remember Jiri ever being this energetic!
Joseph is up for promotion, but the city is cutting back on staff so he might get skipped over this time. We are hoping for the best, but things are uncertain at the moment.
Congratulations on landing that position in Lunar Lakes! We are all thrilled for you and can’t wait to hear about life on another planet! We would of course have loved to have you here as well, but both boys are so proud to tell their friends about their aunt on the moon.
Zdena and the gang
PS. Jiri sends a note and Jan sends an artwork. DS
Dear Ms Cecelia,
How exciting was that film Cecelia sent us from Lunar Lakes? I never imagined that trees could look that way!
It was so good of you to come over and help out a few weeks. I never thought I would break a leg trying to play soccer with Jan, it was so embarrassing, and with Joseph having to work extra shifts because of the cutbacks I was wondering how to cope.
Bridgeport really isn’t the same since the city council started having financial difficulties, and I’m not sure I feel safe raising our children here. I would love to find somewhere in the suburbs to live, but the housing market is in a decline and we can’t buy something new unless we sell the apartment.
I would love for the boys and Adela to grow up somewhere that has trees and flowers instead of concrete. Even the playgrounds are dismal here and I’m starting to worry about Jiri’s breathing. I think he might have asthma, because he wheezes so whenever he exerts himself. Maybe we should consider my aunts offer of taking over the homestead. What do you think?
How is retirement treating you by the way? Planning any exciting trips, to Lunar Lakes maybe?
Your friend Zdena
We are all so happy that you are enjoying yourself in Lunar Lakes, and congratulations to landing a permanent position! Are you planning any trips plane side in the foreseeable future? And if so, is Steve coming with you?
If you want to visit, you might not find us in Bridgeport at all! Joseph and I have been talking about maybe relocating to Aurora Springs, for several different reasons. One of them being that we would have a large house instead of a cramped apartment, so the kids would get their own rooms and not be forced to share, a two bedroom apartment really isn’t ideal for a family with three kids. Secondly a change of air might do Jiri’s asthma good and Jan would hopefully have a lot of space to run off some of his energy so he won’t get on my nerves so much.
Your brother has put in a request for a transfer, but before we make any final decisions we will go visit with my aunt Ulla at the homestead. I’m both excited and slightly apprehensive about seeing the place I was born after all this time. I will send pictures as soon as we get there, and Joseph said he’d call you later this week.
Hugs Zdena and the (driving me crazy) gang
Dear Aunt Ulla,
I will keep this short as I’m packing as I write. We are delighted to spend the summer at the homestead, and hope you will not tire of us so soon. I am so thankful you have agreed to take some time out of your busy schedule to come visit with us.
At the moment nothing is decided, I guess we will see how we like it and go from there. Joseph has had no news from the department about the transfer, but has also applied for a teaching position at the Aurora Springs Police Academy, maybe that will pan out.
I hope you are not scared of dogs because we just bought a puppy for the boys. His name is Pochie and he is tiny, a mixed breed of some kind that we picked up at a rescue shelter. I hope it won’t be a terrible inconvenience.
I will see you soon.
Your niece Zdena.
Dear Ms Cecelia,
How was your trip to Monte Vista? Is it as charming and sophisticated as we anticipated? I’m so happy you are enjoying your retirement, you deserve it and with Cece in Lunar Lakes you have no reason to stay put in Hidden Springs all the time. So tell me all about it! How was the food, the fashions, the people?
We arrived in Aurora Springs just fine, the car and ferry trip was surprisingly pleasant with three kids, way better than we both expected. My aunt met me with open arms and hugged me before I even had time to hesitate. Before I knew how we were all settled around the kitchen table in the homesteads main house and talking like we’ve spent just last week together. Jiri was so enamored of his great aunt and wouldn’t leave her side all evening, it’s really sweet and he isn’t usually that fond of strangers (well I guess she is technically family, but you get my point).
Going inside the house is like stepping back in time, everything is like it was when my mother left all those years ago. Ulla told me that once mom went away my grandparents just waited for her to come back, things got so bad that Ulla decided she needed to get away, and so a super star archeologist was born. She says she’s not really comfortable staying in the house, because it brings back so many memories, and she wishes me to have it to, as she puts it, create happier memories for the future.
We will stay two months for now, Joseph still has to go back to Bridgeport over the weekends and Ulla is leaving in two weeks, but I think it will be enough time for the kids and me to get a feel of the place to see if we like it. Already we’ve spent a restful night here but the décor needs to go! I’ll call you next week and tell you more.
I was so angry when Cece called us to tell about Steve stealing her research and passing it off as his own! I’m glad she decided to report him and kicked him out of their apartment. I know my mom said some men will do anything to take advantage of a woman, I just never believed it till now. Joseph is frustrated about not being able to be there to support Cece more, but I think he worries about that more than she is upset for him not being there for her. I just hope she won’t swear of men, and that she is more careful in her choice of companion the next time
How are you getting on? My offer to contact some friends from the Police Academy to rough him up for you still stands if that creep is giving you any trouble. And if you want to get away from it all you can always come visit us in our new digs, the homestead in Aurora Springs. Yes, that’s right; we’ve decided to settle here permanently.
I got offered a teaching position at the AS Police Academy as an intermediate instructor and will mostly be in charge of teaching the cadets proper procedure, how to apprehend burglars and basic patrolman skills. I’m looking forward to the new job because it means no more weeks away from the family when I go to Bridgeport to work. I know Zdena is ecstatic to have me home more and help her out with the kids.
Jiri is now in school and Jan will start kindergarten in two weeks, Zdena is looking forward to having more free time to spend on fixing the house up, and maybe clearing some of the dead trees from the old orchard. Something she just hasn’t had any time for with three kids constantly under foot. We are also looking for a nursery school for Adela because we want her to make lots of friends here and this far we haven’t managed to get to know any of our neighbors. The school we are looking into is called Tiny Prodigies Early Learning Center and we think it will be a great place for Adela to develop her skills.
I’m going back to Bridgeport for the last time this week to finish up my paperwork (I’m officially on loan to the AS Police Academy from the Bridgeport force) and to finalize the sale of our apartment. We didn’t get as much as we had hoped for in the sale, but the money will be great for giving the kids at least a start on a Collage fund.
I got to run, it’s my turn to walk Adela around the yard as she tries to master the art of walking. Being outdoors is key to a happy home these days since it lets Jan blow of steam with physical activity and lets Jiri breath some fresh air which we are told is great for his asthma.
Please let me know how you are doing, I worry about you even if you think that’s not cool. I love you.
Your big brother Joseph
We are settling in well at the homestead. Joseph’s first month at the Academy was a
little tough, because he had to study up on teaching manuals and the rule book. But, we have a lot more time to spend as a family and I am thankful every day for your generous offer to come and stay here.
The homestead is still mostly as it was on the outside, except for a new coat of paint, but I have been making some small and gradual changes inside and in the barn. We converted the barn into part storage room and part home gym, so Joseph can stay in shape for his job, and we have somewhere to keep the furniture we brought from Bridgeport. Jiri has claimed the loft as his own play pen and we aren’t even allowed up there (he’s so cute!).
School for the boys seems to go well, even if Jiri has a little trouble to make friends. Jan on the other hand is fast building up a group of little buddies to hang out with and play tag with. I love having this big yard for all of them to run around in. Your goddaughter is enjoying herself at the Prodigies Learning Center three days a week and seems particularly interested in music and movement. And she already has a favorite song that she wants to listen to on the stereo!
When are you coming for a visit? We all miss you and Jiri especially asks about you a lot. It would be great if you could send him a postcard or something, I think he would really appreciate it.
To the greatest great aunt in the world!
Hello aunt Ulla. Is it true? Did you really get an egg to hatch and a dragon to pop out? We have a lot of eggs here in out chicken coop, but there are no dragons coming from them. I have checked many times.
Will you bring the dragon when you visit? What color is it? Can it do magic?
Jan never wants to talk about this interesting stuff. All he wants to do is play soccer or some other silly ball game. Adele might be fine later. But for now she is boring and only cares about pressing the buttons on the stereo. Dad is working and mom is always cleaning or cooking or painting or carrying stuff around.
I have a secret hideaway where I can go and be alone whenever I want to. No one else is allowed up there, but if you came to visit you could come in. I have all the presents you sent me there, and all the books I need to do my research and my writing. Right now I am writing a story about a boy who finds a dragon egg and gets a dragon. I will send you my first chapter as soon as I am done.
Please come visit soon!
Hi Jo !
I had so much fun when we all went camping last weekend! I had always heard that the lights of Aurora Skies was something beyond the usual, but seeing it with my own eyes was really special!
I can’t get over the fact that Adele is a little girl already about to start school this fall, and to think just a moment ago she was a tiny baby. Jan is a handful and I don’t envy you having to keep him on the straight and narrow big brother! It’s a good thing he’s interested in sports or you’d never have any peace around the house. He really is the complete opposite of Jiri who I barely saw all weekend. Did he even leave the tent?
I know you have been pushing for me applying for a position there in Aurora Springs when my current contract runs out next month, but I think I’ll have to come up with an alternate plan. You remember Douran, the guy I have been dating for a while, don’t you? Well, it turns out we were a little bit too enthusiastic one day and as a result we are having a baby. Now DO NOT FREAK OUT! This is a good thing for me and I know Douran is the right guy for me, the way he just smiled when I told him the news and hugged me in happiness shows he’s a far cry from the less than stellar men I’ve dated in the past.
As you can imagine we will not be moving from Lunar Lakes in the near future. Douran’s position as city architect has two more years before it’s up for possible renewal and he really has put his mark on this city. I will do some freelance stuff while I’m home with the baby, and housing here is really taken care of since Douran gets accommodation as part of his salary. So don’t worry about us (I am an us now, how cool it that!?).
I’m sorry we didn’t talk about how serious I’m about Douran last weekend, but with all the kids around there simply wasn’t enough time. Look on the bright side now, your kids will have a cousin!
Hugs and kisses,
I’m back home and already I’m getting fed up with all the people Jan insist on bringing over all the time. Why does he feel the need to be constantly around people? The noice alone makes me want to scream. I spend most of my time up on my loft, but even that is not much of a refuge these days ever since he and his stupid friends joined the school soccer team and hang out at our place to use dad’s gym. When they are outside I only get the constant banging in wall at least that’s a bit more tolerable.
I have asked mom if I can redo one of the rooms in the old house to be a study, but she says it’s not safe. And any time I try to use the study in the house Adela is running out and in the door blasting her music and telling me to “look at me, look at me!” while she is doing one of her silly ballet moves. I wish I was back with you in Dragon Valley but school is on and I guess I can’t really miss the last year of High School, mom would have a fit.
Besides, even if you promised me money for tuition I know mom won’t let me accept it unless I also have at least a partly scholarship. She’s very conscious about money, I think it’s because she didn’t have very much growing up. Right now I’m thinking about a double major in history and biology, even though mom wants me to take business classes.
I’ll let you know more once I’ve taken the aptitude test.
You are the best godmother in the world for sending me the new cleats. I made the school team and if I work hard at soccer camp coach told me I could have a permanent position at center field!
I’m taking Karin Lundin to prom, she’s really sweet and I like her a lot. Mom is really excited because Jiri never took a girl to prom and she even said I could rent a limo so we arrive in style.
Karin’s dad is a bit scary but he likes soccer so I just keep the conversation at that. He asked me if I was a Lustig, and I didn’t know what to say. Am I a Lustig even if my name is Eldridge? It seemed to be important to him so I said yes. Karin’s mom and sister are nice though, so things never got to tense!
Adela is never home these days because she has a different dance class every day.
Mom says she’s very talented and needs to express herself, me and Jiri just think she’s spoiled because she’s the baby girl.
Oh, did you hear about dad maybe getting a promotion? The headmaster of the school is retiring and he is one of the people shortlisted!
Dear Ms Cecelia,
Life has been pretty hectic but now that summer is here again me and Joseph are planning a trip to visit you. It’s something we have been talking about for a long time, and with him settling in as the head of the Strategic Response department he will have more vacation time to take this summer.
It will be great to see each other to have a proper talk; I need some advice about what to do now that the kids are getting older. The homestead is in tip top condition and I have been thinking about converting the old house into rooms for rent. There has been a recent influx of tourists to Aurora Springs and with my past in the hospitality industry it seems like a good move. It also means I can continue working on the old orchard without having to rely on the unpredictable nature of crops to bring in the money.
Jiri is with my aunt in Dragon Valley and will go straight from there to University. I am happy they have such a close relationship, but I wish he’d talk to me more about what is going on in his life. I feel horrible for saying this but many days I am jealous that my aunt seems to have a closer relationship with him than me.
Jan is going to spend a month at a special soccer camp for High School kids organized by the local team the AS Wolverines, he is one off 15 boys his age and older that were selected and he now thinks he’s going to become a big soccer star! I love his enthusiasm, but worry his dreams will be crushed. Professional sports are so very competitive and I don’t know if he will have what it takes to make it.
Adela is also going away to camp, dance camp for her of course. I have been wearing my fingers down in front of the sewing machine this spring because she’s had four different dance recitals with her different dance troupes. I wish she’d pick just one of them to save my poor fingers.
Lots of hugs and see you soon.
Uni is like another world! I love it here and there is so much to learn. But, that’s not why I’m writing. You see there is this really cool girl in my class and I wanted to ask her out. I think I kind of did and we are meeting up at the comic shop next weekend (can’t do it this weekend because we are having out first exam). So, how do I know if it’s like a date date or just a friends date?
Hope you can give me some help.
Um, ignore my note. It sorted itself out…
Hi aunt Ulla,
Thank you for the car you sent me for graduation, it will come in quite handy when I and Karin go on our honeymoon. That’s right! I’m getting married, and it wasn’t easy to get permission from her father. For some reason he’s never liked me, even if I think I’m a pretty likable guy.
He’s always going on about the importance of Aurora Springs people sticking together, and seem to place a lot of importance on who’s related to who in the community. Eldridge is not a very popular name in his book, and he even told me straight to my face that no daughter of his would ever carry such a foreign name. I didn’t even bother asking him what he thought about the name Rysava.
He was making all of us uncomfortable with his ramblings (his wife is from Champs de Sims after all!) so I threw out a comment about us taking the name Lustig after we got married – and he jumped on it! So, I guess we’ll be off to City Hall to change names after the ceremony. It will be kind of cool to have the same name as you and our grandparents I think.
Anyway, Karin and I are so excited about you coming here for the ceremony. Please don’t hate us if we put you next to Karin’s dad. Not very many people get along with him, but he really admires your work, and how you’ve put Aurora Springs on the map, so we know he’ll behave if you are there.
I have to run, off to help Karin pick out a wedding cake and then I have a game to prepare for.
Hi Jo !
I can’t believe my boys are already four! It seems just yesterday I was telling you about us expecting and all of a sudden they are both talking a mile a minute and running around like crazy. All our effort in teaching them life skills must have paid
As time goes by I find we are spending more and more time in the Memories of Hidden Springs Park, I really miss the air and lush nature in Hidden Springs. Being on the moon in exciting and scientifically I don’t know if I could be any more groundbreaking and forward thinking. I know it’s been the same for Douran, a whole town to transform to his vision has been like a dream, but now that the boys are growing up we really would love to live somewhere where parks aren’t under a dome and the flora and fauna isn’t hazardous to sims.
So, we have actively started looking for options. Now, don’t get too excited because it’s highly unlikely we will come to Aurora Springs, as you know Douran’s architectural aesthetic is very modern, so I doubt he’d be very popular there. At the moment Starlight Shores is a promising option, because they have recently started massive renovations on some of the bigger venues.
Please tell Jan we are sorry we couldn’t come for the wedding, the pictures they sent out were wonderful and I can’t believe he’s big enough to get married! Our own ceremony was a lot more understated since we only went to City Hall to sign the papers. Maybe when we are back planet side we will have a family get together. I know the boys would love that, and so would I.
I will let you know more as soon as I know myself.
Hugs Cece and the family
Hi mom and dad,
Nicola and I arrived in Twinbrook last week and everything has been most organized and in perfect working order. We have a house right in the swamp and the animal and insect life is very fascinating to watch.
Nicola has started her experiments on the hidden origins of the robot fish and I have been acquainting myself with the terrain in anticipation of the start of my project inventorying the Swamp Crawlers. It’s a very interesting project where we see if the hypothesis claiming that the Spotted Swamp Crawlers prefer habitats with a high percentage of swamp grass or if they are just as prevalent in drier areas. I’m very excited to put all my knowledge into practice!
I have also met Nicolas family. They hosted a little welcoming party for us the first night we were here. Her Grandmother Estrella also came, and she brought a surprising present, a matching pair of wedding bands. Apparently she had organized and planned a surprise wedding for us!
I must therefore apologize for not inviting you to my wedding, but I feel that in this case I could not ask them to postpone it. Estrella is sick and not expected to last very long, and when she asked Nicola to do this as her dying wish, how could I say no? I send you a picture of the family and some video of the ceremony.
Please come visit soon.
Dear aunt Ulla,
I can’t believe both my boys are married already! Jan and Karin are so young; I hope they know what they are doing! And guess what? They already have a child on the way! I’m going to be a grandmother soon, how exciting!
We are in the middle of renovating the old house to be part apartment for Jan and Karin and part lodging for the boarders I have been taking on. Jan is away a lot with the Wolverines playing in other towns and Karin doesn’t want to be in a house by herself, and staying with her parents was apparently not an option. The old house is big enough to fit both an apartment and the four rooms I want for boarders. Any more of them and it’s too much work I have found.
Adela is doing well in school despite traveling so much for her dancing. She was in Starlight Shores dancing with the Grand Ballet troupe just last week. She was very excited and tells me that Starlight Shores is the place to be. She’s decided to apply for a scholarship to attend the Ballet Academy there when she graduates in two years.
In the mean time she is pretty happy to dance the days away and to spend her time off from dancing to work on her strength and body control with the acrobatic tricks she’s been doing. She’s a natural born performer your goddaughter.
Dear Ms Cecelia,
I am sorry you have been unwell. How were the test results, or have you not gotten them back yet? I do hope there is something the doctors can do to help you. I have talked to Joseph and Jan and Karin and decided me and Joseph are coming to visit you and help you out for a couple of weeks or maybe months. You took such excellent care of Cece when we couldn’t so this is our way to pay you back.
Jan will start traveling again next week after the short midseason break, but Karin assures me she will be fine, and that her sister is coming to stay with her and the twins. Her mother has agreed to come over as well to help run the boarding house business when we are with you.
Adela has to focus on school, but will perform at the Art Gallery in Hidden Springs in three weeks’ time, and she is looking forward to seeing you. Jiri has promised me he’ll write you, but you know how he gets when the Swamp Crawlers are in mating season. There is no talking to him!
We will see you soon.
Your friend Zdena
Come home please!
They just called from the hospital in Bridgeport and told me Jan was in a car accident. They wouldn’t tell me much but I think the words “career ending injury” were whispered. He’ll be flown home on the Wolverines plane as soon as he’s stable enough to move. I’m on my way to the airport to go to him in Bridgeport right now. Please come home, we, and Jan, need you right now.
I am sorry I could not stay longer after the funeral. Ms Cecelia was a dear friend of mine and I will miss her a lot. Are you going to stay in Hidden Springs long? If you want to you are welcome to visit us here at the Homestead before going home to Starlight Shore. I know you miss Douran when he has to go back to work, but I know Jan would really love to have you and your boys visit.
He is doing well considering the circumstances but it is now clear he will never be well enough to play professionally again. His left leg was crushed and broken in five places and the doctors think he will always walk with a limp. But he is slowly getting stronger and is already able to sit with us for dinner without having to go rest. His girls have just started crawling so the house it chaotic right now. I have decided to stop taking in boarders for the time being since Francine has to go back to work and Lena is attending University to study medicine. So, it will be me and Karin who’ll care for the little ones while Jan is recuperating.
Adela and I are fighting a lot these days ever since I asked her not to do any more dangerous acrobatic stunts. I just don’t think my heart could take having her in constant life threatening danger throwing knives and torches around. Of course she doesn’t see things the same way and mostly just mopes around the house or trains at the center. She has her own car now, so I don’t have to take her there anymore.
My thoughts are with you.
Don’t be upset at mom, she’s just scared right now. Besides, it’s not like she told you not to dance anymore, right? That would be hard. I think you should talk to Jan and ask her to help you out, me and mom have never really been able to talk to each other that well. Or maybe you should call aunt Ulla, she’s your godmother and should be the one to give you advice and stuff.
If you want a break you are welcome to come visit us here in Twinbrook. The Swamp Crawlers’ hatching season is coming up and we could go on an excursion in the swamp together, nothing like the natural wonders of the world to help get your mind of things!
It would really be great if you came, because I think Nicola would like some female company when she is in her nesting period (her words not mine!). She has another two months to go before our little wonder is born, or hatched like we say. We have no idea what it will be yet but I don’t think girl or boy will make any difference. We just hope he or she will love science.
Your big brother
Hi aunt Ulla,
Thank you for sending that Chang Shimla liniment, it has really improved the pain I feel in damp weather. I have been hard at work training on the treadmill, but it is slow going learning how to walk without crutches again. I just have to take it one day at a time and one foot in front of the other. The girls have been a big motivation, I really would love to be able to do outdoor things with them once they are older. They are already starting to walk and I want to be there to run with them when that time comes.
Karin has been working so hard taking care of me, plum and Oona. I used the money you sent to give her a day at the spa. She came home looking more relaxed than she had in a long time, so thank you so much for that.
All this time lying around has given me a lot of time for soul searching. Once I realized I can’t go back to my first love, playing soccer, I have to come up with a new plan in life. I still want to work outside and I would love to motivate young sims to become better at sports. Right now I’m considering going back to school to get a teachers degree. Same deal as with Jiri right? If I get in you’ll help pay tuition? Don’t worry, we haven’t told mom or dad.
Adela and mom are still fighting a lot and she spends most of her time away from the house. Has she called you? If not maybe you could call her? I know things have been tough for her since my accident, and mom has become hyper protective and won’t let her try her wings like me and Jiri could. Maybe you could offer her to come visit a weekend?
Karin and mom are working hard at reopening the boarding house, and they have decided to expand the operation building additional rooms in the barn. Karin is kind of mom’s protégé and I think that makes Adela even more upset. She’s used to being the center of mom’s world, and with me sick and mom and Karin sharing the same interests all of a sudden she’s not mom’s main focus anymore.
I have promised to step in and work as the High School soccer coach while Mr Donner is in Lucky Palms taking care of his sick mother. It will be a very interesting experience that should tell me if working with kids is really what I should to in the future.
When are you coming for a visit? And did you see the pictures of Jiri and Nicolas little wonders? I can’t believe he got three girls! Aunt Cece’s boys will have a hard time with all the wild girls running around all of a sudden.
Dear Joseph and Zdena,
I am so looking forward to Adela’s graduation. I will come to Aurora Skies with the train on the 7th, can someone pick me up at the Station? My eyesight has worsened the past year and now I have to walk with a cane which makes me slower than ever.
Adela and I have had a chat and we both agree that she should come with me to Dragon Valley for the summer, and then go straight to the Ballet Academy in Starlight Shores from there. It will give you all a break from each other, something that will probably do your relationship good. I feel Adela is so like my sister in temperament and remember how tense things were when your mother and our parents were fighting. I hope you agree that this would help you all to take a step back and come back to the way things used to be between you before the accident.
I have been home from Twinbrook for almost a month now and can safely say that the girls will either make or break Jiri. I know we have a lot of twins in the family but triplets are a whole new level of craziness. And I don’t even want to think about how they will be as teenagers. Somehow I don’t feel bad about not being around for that.
It is sad that Nicola’s grandmother couldn’t be there to see the girls, but I guess her time had come. I guess I feel almost philosophical about death these days, nearing 90 will do that to a sim I supposed. I know you don’t like to think about death, but we really have to go through some things when I come. I have acquired a lot of things in my life, and it all has to go somewhere when I die. Steel yourself Zdena, because this is one time when I will not back down. We will have this discussion, it is about time.
Hi Mom, Hi Dad,
I don’t know how to say this but Ulla made me promise to tell you straight away. I am not in Starlight Shores like I said I would be. I, well I guess you could say I ran away to the circus. I am in Moonlight Falls applying for a position as an acrobat in the Traveling Circus show.
Dad, you have to keep mom calm, I’m not doing this to make her upset, I just have to follow my dreams not hers. Dancing is fun, but not a passion like acrobatics has become for me. I just can’t live not doing it, and even if it’s dangerous it’s a chance I’m willing to take in order for me to live my life to the fullest.
A funny thing happened to me at the application desk. I met a guy whose name was Rysava, and when I told him my mother’s name was Rysava he was very surprised. Apparently only the people in his “clan” carry that name, whatever that means. He’s really nice and has just joined the troupe, he introduced me to some of the people there and most of the men were named Rysava too! One of the older men asked me how come your name was Rysava and when I told what I know of the story, he insisted that I meet his grandmother, so that’s where I’m going tonight. Maybe I’ll get to know more about granddad?
I’ll let you know more soon. And please don’t be mad at me!
Title: Hi Mom and Dad
How are you? Please don’t be mad at me anymore! I just can’t live my life the way you want me to, and acrobatics is not that dangerous if you know what you are doing – which is why I came to the Circus in the first place – to learn to be safe!
Anyway, Heino brought me home to his mother’s camp yesterday and I got to meet the whole family. His dad Derash is your cousin, and his grandmother Miriam is the youngest sister of grandpa Keiski. She wasn’t there because she is living at the Rysava camp. She wants me to go there to meet her and grandpa’s other sisters Una and Aino. I’m going over there in a few days when Aino comes home from visiting her son Ashrom in Midnight Hollow. He’s living there with his wife. Apparently, any guy from the clan who marries a woman moves in with her, which is why uncle Derash isn’t living at the same camp as great aunt Miriam.
Mom, you have so many cousins! And so do I, I get to count them as cousins right? A lot of the guys at the Circus are relatives of ours too. Two of my instructors are the sons of grandpa’s sister Una, and they are hard taskmasters! They have been with the circus for over 30 years and traveled all over the world. How cool is that?
I’ll write you with more news as soon as I have been to visit with the Miriam and her sisters. I can’t wait to see them. I wonder if I get to know more about grandpa.
To: jiri.eldridge@sciencecenter.TWB.sim ; firstname.lastname@example.org.HS.AS.sim
Title: Hi Jiri and Jan!
Wow, Moonlight Falls is really cool you guys! Jiri I know you’d get a kick out of all the glowing mushrooms that grow in this valley and Jan the physician at the circus should take a look at your leg, they deal with all kinds of injuries, it couldn’t hurt – right? Thank you so much for encouraging me to follow my dreams! If it weren’t for you two I would never have come here to Moonlight Falls, and if I hadn’t done that I would never have met all our relatives. I’m having a blast at the circus, even if the hours are longa and I haven’t even qualified to be in one of the shows yet.
It was so strange to meet our great aunts. And our great grandmother too! Can you believe she’s over 120 years old?! How can that even be possible? Miriam told me some strange tale of how the family had a secret recipe to cook the fruits of life, but I know she must be kidding, right? Jiri, there is no such thing as a life fruit, right?
Anyway, she’s forbidden anyone in the clan to tell me anything about grandpa Keiski until mom get’s here. And they all listen to her as if she’s the law or something like that. I called mom yesterday and she and dad are coming next week. I don’t know what to think, but I hope she’ll give mom some good news. Because mom sounded really freaked out when I called her and told her what great grandma Heini had said.
I really hope one of you can come with mom and dad here .
From: : email@example.com
Title: Aunt Ulla, I miss you!
The last two weeks have been mental! I’ve spent all my free time meeting and getting to know my relatives in the Rysava clan. It seems like every day there is some new cousin or uncle coming home to the camp that I need to meet. I have so many uncle’s it’s crazy! There are five of them! And they all treat me as if I need to be protected from anything and anyone. I’m mostly annoyed about the anyone – how will I ever meet a guy if I have my five uncles scaring all the boys away?
At least I have one aunt and Calda is so nice! And her daughter is 17, just one year younger than me so me and Singoalla get along great. She’s nothing like Heino’s stuck up sister Pirjo who looks down her nose at me all the time. Singoalla is even trying to teach me about magic, even if I’m not sure I believe in it. But being with her is great because I can get away from all the nosey men who now seem to want to run my life. I thought running away to the circus would make my life easier, but it seems like complicated just follows me around.
Heino and Pekka are helping me pick up mom and dad at the airport soon, so tonight I’ll hopefully find out more about grandpa Keiski. I’ll let you know a.s.a.p.
Title: My head is spinning
My dearest Ulla
I am half laughing and half in tears as I’m writing this to you. I have met my grandmother, a lady who I thought long dead, and I have learned things about my father that puts him in a whole different light. I have always resented him in a way, not because he abandoned me, but because of how he hurt my mother and made her doubt she was worthy of any love. But now I… maybe you should read the attached file and see for yourself. I will write you back tomorrow when I’m more together. I just thought you deserved to know.
Keiski came home from Aurora Springs that summer with love on his mind. He was over the moon for his blond princess and told me of his desire to wed her.
But as is the custom of our people I had already agreed on a marriage contract for him with the Kirra clan of Sunlit Tides and I told him he had to honor this. To do otherwise would be to shame our clan, to shame me and to shame his sisters. How would they gain a suitable marriage alliance if our clan got the reputation of going back on our word? Our fight was ugly and I forbade him to leave the camp until he agreed to the marriage.
His sisters and father tried their best to lift up his spirits, but after several months it was clear that your mother had stolen his heart, and that he would never be whole without her. My darling Matti was always the calm reason behind my fiery temper and after some time he managed to convince me that forcing our son to go through with the marriage would not make anyone happy. His wife would surely be unhappy to be married to someone who longed for another, and so I met with the head of clan Kirra and proposed an alternative, one of my daughters would take a Kirra man for her husband and our alliance would still stand.
Wise to our mistake the first time, this time we invited the Kirra’s to come visit and Miriam and Pela found each other pleasing. After their wedding we told Keiski, that if he found a way to pay the bride prize for your mother, we would welcome her to our clan and she would be a Rysava in truth.
Keisiki traveled to the far islands to search for treasure. He braved the dangers of the deep in order to win your mother. And he was successful; he amassed a fortune and paid a bride prize in jewels and pearls to rival the riches of one of the great clans. The prize was accepted and their marriage was recorded in the book of records.
But danger lurks under the waves and as Keiski was on his way to your mother the monster of the deep came and took him from us. They never found his body, and we had no way of finding your mother.
But we always hoped she and you would come home to us one day. Now my restless bones can finally rest, because I have seen the miracles the crystal balled told of and I need not cling to this mortal realm no more. Welcome home granddaughter – my heart sings that I can hold you at last.