Chapter 5.1: Cannonball

Generation 5 Cover

Chapter 5.1 Cannonball

A/N: Hello all, and welcome to the start of this long-awaited album—and by album I mean generation, of course! In fitting with the theme of this generation, I’m going to pair up each of Joanne’s chapters with a song that best fits it, and Joanne herself. That being said, it may take me a few tries to get it right as I’ve never interwoven song lyrics in my writing before. The song lyrics will be depicted in italics. Also, we kick this generation off with a long chapter—just a heads up! In fact, apologies in advances if it feels like too much. I had a lot of information to go through….

The first track on our album is Cannonball by Lea Michele. Feel free to listen and read ^_^


I remember the day that I became popular very clearly.

Not that I was a reject or anything like that beforehand, but there was an exact day, an exact incredible moment in which I gained that ever coveted title of “popular.” Before then, I was simply known as mysterious.

In grade school, I was nice, respectful, and I even had a few close friends. Since I wasn’t quite sure what state of mind my dad would be in on any given day, I also tended to stay after school a lot, signing up for every activity possible. I didn’t mind though, so on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I would stay after for ballet, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would stay anyway, hiding in the dim auditorium. There I would step up onto the stage, imagine a massive crowd before me, and sing.



Break down
Break down

Break down
I was scared to death I was losing my mind
Break down
I couldn’t close my eyes I was pacing all night, oh, no,
I think I found the light at the end of the tunnel (and my doubts)
I couldn’t find the truth I was going under

Singing took me away from everything.

When Dad was on his second bottle, I was in my room, humming and trilling and belting out whatever songs came into my head. When I did this, I could drown out the sound of him getting sick in the bathroom. When I did this, I could stop worrying about the fact that I wasn’t sure if I’d seen him eat all day. When I did this, I could forget that when I’d said “hi” to him that day, he hadn’t even seen me. When I did this, I felt strong enough to deal with it—and strong enough to care for him when I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

He was all I had, after all, and Candice had told me he was very sick. I couldn’t give up on him. I needed to stay strong—and singing helped me along the way.


Since I sung so much, it wasn’t long before my classmates found out about my talent. Some of them would even linger behind after school, just to catch a quick listen of the “mysterious” voice coming from the auditorium. I could have been labeled as ‘weird’ at that point, and some of my classmates probably thought I was, but here’s the thing: I was good at singing. In fact, I was really good. So, instead of my peers feeling uncomfortable around me, they felt envy and admiration and I was saved from the ritual of social rejection.

But I wasn’t popular, and I didn’t need to be honestly. I had my best friend Hannah and my voice and that was all I needed.

But I did become popular, and I remember the exact moment that it happened.


But I won’t hide inside
I gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out
Lonely inside and light the fuse
Light it now, light it now, light it now

It’d been lunchtime and I’d been sitting among my friends and eating when Mona Blake began to taunt me. I’d rolled my eyes and ignored her though, chatting with my friends as if she wasn’t there. You see, that was just what Mona Blake did. She was, and still is, this nasty girl with this horrible attitude and she was constantly making fun of someone. She did this so often that everyone just hated her, but still, she didn’t stop, and that day I was her target.

“Little miss thinks she’s so perfect—as if your shit doesn’t stink too. You know it does, right?” that nasty girl leered, as if anyone truly cared about anything she said.


“And then he totally checked me out,” Hannah gushed as if we hadn’t been interrupted. She was excited about how one of the hottest guys in school had given her attention, and it was a well-agreed upon matter that we always ignored Mona anyway.


“Well then what?” I pressed as if I’d heard nothing but my lovely friend. I giggled lightly, feeling eager for more details.


“God, you laugh like a ferret. Like if a ferret could laugh, it would sound like that. EHEHEHEHEHE…Jesus.” Oh so clever, Mona dearest.

“Nothing…yet,” Hannah said with a sly smile, twirling a stray lock of hair around her finger.

“Oh, you!” I laughed, shaking my head. Although I could never quite get into it, Hannah always loved to play around with the boys.

“‘Oh, you?’ Seriously?” Mona asked, standing up and leaning against the table in incredulity. “She’s a total slut and you’re sitting there like ‘oh, you’?”


“Who are you even talking to?” I finally asked very loudly as I turned in Mona’s direction, my long hair whipping about my shoulders. “I seriously don’t see anyone listening to you.”

There was a moment of silence all around me, and then everyone just started laughing. I hadn’t even meant for it to happen. I had just gotten so sick of Mona and her taunting that I had snapped, and now everyone was laughing…at her. I felt a bit guilty for a moment, as I hadn’t meant to be so rude, but Mona just sneered at me.

“At least I don’t have a pathetic drunk for a dad,” she hissed…and then the moment happened. The moment I became popular.


And now I will start living today, today, today
I close the door
I got this new beginning and I will fly
I’ll fly like a cannonball, like a cannonball, like a cannonball
I’ll fly, I’ll fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball

Her words had angered me so deeply and so fully that I literally saw the color red flash before my eyes, my ears humming and drowning out all sound as I wheeled around, stood up, and slapped that revolting girl right across the face—hard. “Don’t you EVER talk about my father that way!” I’d shouted, the red only growing in my vision. “You know nothing about him!” I hissed.

It was the first time in my life that anything of the sort had happened to me. I hadn’t even known you could feel anger that was so hot and so all-consuming as mine had been that day. It wouldn’t be the only moment that I’d experience it though—I didn’t know it at the time, but I would blow up once more just a couple years later, when I learned that my biological mother was the source of all my father’s suffering.



For now though, in that moment, everyone was, of course, shocked, including myself. Mona’s eyes filled with tears and my friends all around me gasped….and then there was cheering, followed by more laughter. I wouldn’t have been able to make this stuff up if I tried. The whole cafeteria just erupted into whistles and cheers and Mona ran away crying and I was just left there in a daze, breathing heavily and with my hand burning from slapping her so hard.


“THAT WAS SO AWESOME!” Hannah had shrieked after her initial shock, literally clapping her hands in excitement.

It was a sentiment shared by the rest of my classmates—so those were the words that I heard the rest of that day. People constantly came up to tell me how awesome I was and how Mona had been wrong to talk about my dad like that. They understood…and they loved me for what I’d done.

Honestly, I kind of figured it was one of those “cool for a day” instances that happen once in a blue moon, but to my surprise, it continued, and I quickly became the girl that everyone wanted to be friends with. I won Homecoming Queen and then, in our senior year, I won Prom Queen. Everyone loved me.

And it was all because of that moment I feel; the moment in which I became “popular.”


I let go of fear and the peace came quickly
I was in the dark and then it hit me
I chose suffering and pain in the falling rain
I know, I gotta get out into the world again

I suppose that’s why people thought it was weird when I started talking to Oliver Saint. He was not “popular,” and I clearly was, so why was it him that I could be seen speaking to?

The answer is very simple, although people still don’t seem to understand it, and that is well, I like him.

Oliver is very sweet, and very shy, and just a lovely, good person, and he makes me happy. I also knew that he’d never try anything. While other boys at school openly gawked at me and followed me around like the hormonal beasts they were, Oliver blushed when I said hi to him, and I loved that about him.

He was pretty cautious around me at first, perhaps because he thought I was leading him on or something, but when he noticed me rejecting any other guys with eye rolls and looks of disgust, he dared to hope.


When we started to hang out, people were confused. When we started to hold hands, people were downright livid, especially the boys. Apparently it was some sort of unspoken rule that the most popular girls had to go out with the most popular boys and I had broken that social convention.

It was all so stupid. It wasn’t like I was the first one to ever do something like that, and I knew I certainly wouldn’t be the last, so I just ignored it.

Oliver made me smile, and his touch didn’t make me cringe, nor did he ever push me for anything else. If I wanted to leave it at holding hands, he accepted it, and I just loved that.


I know a lot of girls get frustrated when the guy doesn’t make a move, but I didn’t mind it at all. I also didn’t mind it when, one day after school, when we were holding hands and just talking outside of my house, I was the one to make the first move, taking a step toward him and kissing him softly on the lips. It’d been my first kiss—and it was quite pleasant.

I remember he kind of froze up, and then he smiled shyly and it was all just so…nice, and that was exactly what I wanted, so Oliver Saint it was, and absolutely no one else.


But I won’t hide inside
I gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out, gotta get out
Lonely inside and light the fuse
Light it now, light it now, light it now

That being said, the longer we dated, the more I finally felt comfortable with in our relationship. I guess I always feared that maybe one day he would push it too far, but whether he sensed that from me, or whether he was just that good of a guy, he never did.


I guess I was eventually the one to push our relationship to the next step when I invited him over at night, giving him specific instructions to use not the front door, but the trellis underneath my window. He’d given me a funny look when I suggested it, but I assured him it would be fine, so that evening, at precisely 10 o’ clock, I heard the gentle tap at my window and my heart nearly burst, my stomach flooding with butterflies.

I was putting the last finishing touches on a painting at the time, so I hastily put my stuff away and then hurried to the window, opening it wide and then stepping back as Oliver pulled himself in clumsily, falling onto the floor. I winced at the loud thump he made, but I could hear Tobias screaming in his room, so I figured no one would have really heard it.


“Sorry,” Oliver muttered. He got up slowly and then began rubbing his shoulder, wincing. “That’s a lot harder than it looks.”

I giggled softly. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He straightened his glasses and then gave me a bit of a nervous smile. “So…why the clandestine meeting?” he asked.


“I…I wanted to finally have some alone time…with you,” I said, feeling my cheeks heat up as I said it. “We rarely ever get that.” My words were a bit of an understatement, to be honest. My dad always kept us on constant watch when Oliver was over, making sure we constrained ourselves to either the dining room, the kitchen, or the living room—all very public spaces in my household where there was a lot of foot traffic. I hadn’t minded much, and I understood why of course, but I really liked Oliver…and I wanted that time with him.


“I see,” Oliver responded, biting his lip. “So…how…how far were you wanting to-to–…” he said, and then trailed off, his face suddenly this lovely shade of rose. I thought it was very sweet.

“I’m not sure,” I admitted, feeling my heart racing, and I really wasn’t. Part of me just wanted to share a few kisses and lay down with him, talking, and the other part of me wanted to give myself entirely to the unceasingly kind boy before me.

“Okay….” he said softly. He took a breath and then closed the space between us. My own breath caught in my throat, my eyes falling shut as I felt Oliver’s hand on my face. He ran his thumb gently over my cheek and then slid his hand into my hair. I leaned into his touch, my heart nearly exploding when I felt his soft lips on mine. I loved this boy’s lips—they were just as sweet as him.


I wrapped my arms around him, holding him closely as I returned the kiss. After a time, I ran my tongue lightly over his bottom lip, and he let out a sigh, his fingers now tightly entangled in my hair. Soon, our tongues were asking each other permission for entrance, and I granted it first, tingles running up and down my spine as I felt his tongue slide against mine. I felt his right hand, once resting on my hip, slide upward until it was suddenly on my breast.


I gasped and jumped slightly, my heel bumping into the wall as Oliver pushed me against it. My heart was racing. This was a step forward.

“Is this okay?” he asked quietly, his hand still in place. I wasn’t exactly sure, but I nodded, my lips on his again as his hand began to move, gently massaging it. I felt extremely jumpy, but after a time, I felt myself slowly relaxing. This wasn’t like I’d witnessed at school at least, where boys grabbed girl’s breasts as if they were bicycle horns; this was kind, and gentle, and it felt, well, nice, even if the movements were a bit awkward.

As I relaxed, I let my fingers dance across the hem of Oliver’s shirt before hesitantly sliding them underneath the fabric. This time he jumped, and I couldn’t help but smile as I felt the warm, soft skin of his abdomen.

“Is this okay?” I asked softly, slowly shrugging his shirt upward.

“Yes,” he said quietly, and then took a half-step back so I could pull his shirt up and over his head. He blushed as soon as his shirt was on the ground. “Sorry,” he said quickly, “I-I don’t exactly work out or anything,” he said uneasily.


I giggled a little. “You look lovely,” I said honestly, holding my hands flat against his abdomen and then sliding them up his chest. He closed his eyes, his lips slightly parted as he leaned in for a kiss, and I smiled. God, this sweet, sweet boy.

I kissed him softly and then felt his fingers at my waist. I knew what he was going for, so I broke the kiss and then untucked my shirt, pulling it out from the waistline of my shorts and then up and over my head. Oliver let out a soft breath, his cheeks pink once again.

“You’re…you’re really beautiful,” he finally managed to say, and this time I could feel my entire body warming up with embarrassment. He pulled me closer, and then kissed me hard, causing my heart to race once again.


His hands were everywhere now, and soon we were on my bed, kissing, and touching, and licking and I was getting so worked up, but when I felt this sweet boy’s fingers at the button of my shorts, I flinched, suddenly scared out of my mind.

Oliver’s hand froze, and then he pulled away from me some, looking up at me in confusion. “Are you okay?” he asked, looking genuinely concerned.

“Yes,” I gasped, wanting it to be true, but then hastily corrected myself anyway, “I mean, no. I mean—stop…please,” I finally whispered, shutting my eyes tightly. I could barely breathe, fearing for a moment that maybe he’d be angry, or that maybe he wouldn’t want to stop at this point, but I felt his hands move away.

“Okay,” he whispered back. I slowly opened my eyes, only to see Oliver still looking at me with that look of concern. He didn’t even look a little bit angry, and I could feel my eyes tearing up as complete and total relief washed over me.


“Sorry,” I said softly, hanging my head. My long, dark hair fell around my face. “I just—” I didn’t know what to say. What could I say? It felt awkward to just start talking about how my Dad had me when he was around my age and how I was so terrified of the same thing happening that I didn’t even want to go near boys until I’d met him, so I just trailed off and silence filled the space instead.

“Don’t be sorry. You’re making me feel really awkward. It’s seriously okay,” he said with a soft laugh.

I looked up at him, my mouth slightly open. “It…it is?” I asked, hardly daring to believe it even if he was, after all, my dear, sweet boy. After all, Hannah had described her ventures with males quite differently.

“Yeah. To be honest, I’ve been freaking out ever since you invited me up here,” he admitted, giving a short, nervous laugh. “I’ve never…you know,” he said, blushing.

“Me neither,” I laughed, feeling so hugely relieved. I hopped off the bed, retrieving both of our shirts. I put mine on and then rejoined him on the bed, tossing him his shirt. I was amazed that I had found someone so kind and so perfect.

“You really haven’t?” Oliver asked, giving me a sideways glance before he hastily pulled his shirt over his head.


“Really,” I said, bending my legs. “You’re my first boyfriend. I’ve already told you that.”

“Yeah, I know,” he said, rubbing his neck and looking away from me. “It’s just—hard to believe. I mean, all the guys really like you.”

“Well I don’t like them,” I said, scrunching up my nose in distaste at the very thought of them. “They’re heathens.”

Oliver laughed, shaking his head. “You know, you really are something, Jo,” he said with a smile.

“I guess so,” I said with a small smile of my own. I looked down at the bed, biting my lip for a moment before I looked up at him again. “Could we still kiss?” I asked hopefully. “I really liked that,” I added with a blush.

This sweet boy’s lips turned up in a shy smile, a soft laugh then escaping them. “Yeah…we can,” he said.


And so we did.

And now I will start living today, today, today
I close the door
I got this new beginning and I will fly
I’ll fly like a cannonball, like a cannonball, like a cannonball
I’ll fly, I’ll fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball

I combed through my dresser again, re-debating whether I should take this top, or that top, or whether that skirt was too ‘high school’ or those jeans were too tight. I bit my lip. In college, I would be starting over. No titles, no popularity, no reputation to supersede me—just everything new.

The thought was fairly terrifying, but at least I knew that I’d have Oliver and Hannah with me. We’d all been accepted to Sims University, and had even all signed up to stay in the same co-ed dormitory. Hannah and I would be roomies, while Oliver would only be one floor above me.

But still, I thought to myself, I need to leave that school with everyone knowing my name. I wanted to be a star—and that would never happen without the right “titles”. I hoped that I could still obtain them.

I picked up a soft pink blouse, debating its status as a “take it” or “leave it” item when there was a soft knock on the door.

“Come in!” I called, firmly deciding that the blouse was a “leave it” item.


The door opened and I glanced up to see my dad enter the room. He looked a bit paler than usual, dark circles around his eyes from a clear lack of sleep. He was tapping his fingers against his thigh.


“Hey Jo,” he said with a bit of a smile, “how’s it coming?” he asked, gesturing toward all my stuff strewn about the room.

“Not wonderful,” I admitted, sighing as I bumped my drawer shut with my hip.

“You know, I’m pretty sure college kids just go to class in their PJs,” he remarked, an amused smile playing at his lips.

“They do not,” I said, scandalized, but then bit my lip, unsure. Did they really? So would I totally stick out if I dressed up? Now I wasn’t so sure.

My dad just laughed, shaking his head. He was quiet for a moment, leaving me a silent second in which to despairingly rethink all of my packing.

“You know,” he began slowly, “it’s going to be strange…not having you here. The part of my life that doesn’t have you in it is now shorter than the part of my life that does,” he said with a frown, as if just realizing it.

I paused to do the math for a moment, and then realized that he was right. Of course, that also made me much more aware of the fact that I had never actually lived a moment of my life without him. It made the idea of leaving so much more difficult, but I knew that this was what I wanted.

“I’ll miss you too,” I said softly, already knowing what he was getting at.


He let out a long, slow breath, and I knew he was trying to relax himself. I frowned, feeling uneasy. My dad suffered from “Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” otherwise known as GAD, and he took daily medication for it. For a while, he’d actually seemed pretty okay and had a strong grasp over himself, but my leaving seemed to have gotten him a bit distracted again.

“Hey.…” I said, turning toward him. “I’m going to be okay, you know? And it’s not forever. I’ll come home between semesters and I promise—I’ll spend every waking moment home with you guys,” I assured him with a smile.

He smiled a bit as well, shaking his head. “Yeah,” he said, letting out another breath. “I know.”

Yes, he probably did—and yet his anxiety was likely still crawling up his spine, nesting in his head and making him sick all day. I could tell. I had watched this man suffer for most of my life—by now I knew the signs well.


“Come on, let’s go downstairs,” I finally said with a smile. “I’m sure the others are all ready for the party. That’s why you came up here anyway, right? To call me down? I can make you a warm drink. Milk with honey, maybe?”

It was what my dad always made me if he noticed I was ever stressed, or sad. I remember always trying to hide whenever I was feeling bad so that I wouldn’t give my dad something extra to worry about, but he somehow always saw through me, and then the next thing I’d know he’d knock on my bedroom door, and I’d answer, and he’d be holding out a warm mug for me. Sometimes I could tell that he was very sick (or, as I guess I know now, very drunk), but still he’d be there with the mug. My throat felt tight even thinking about it. No matter how bad it got, he never stopped trying. He still never stops.


“Nah, I’m fine,” he said, shrugging it off. “We should head downstairs though. Like you said, they’re all waiting. Augustus is already threatening to eat your cake if you don’t show up in the next five minutes,” he added with a laugh.

I sighed. That was another thing I always remembered. My dad was always so stubborn about getting help. He insisted on dealing with everything himself—and sometimes with horrible consequences.

“Okay,” I finally said.

There was no point in arguing otherwise, and besides, he didn’t seem too bad. I think.

Screenshot-193 Screenshot-191

We went downstairs and I was immediately bombarded with the sounds of voices yelling “Happy Birthday!” to me, none louder than my wonderful mom, who was always so filled with energy that I envied her.

“Thank you,” I said with a smile. I allowed my family to usher me into the dining room, where a cake already sat waiting for me. My heart beat a little faster. This was it. I was really growing up.

Screenshot-196 Screenshot-453 Screenshot-201

As I stood in front of that cake, listening to everyone sing a fairly off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday” I began to wonder what I should wish for. Fame? Friends? Success? I looked around the room at my family members, all happy and cheering.

My grandparents, still as active and outgoing as ever, refusing to let their age slow them down; Gemma, ever the astute one, who would probably be inquiring into the origins of birthday parties soon after this; Augustus, so cheerful and full of life, having just come back from a scouts promotion ceremony; Tobias, who was nearly old enough now to attend school himself; my mother, quite honestly the strongest woman that I had ever met; and then, of course, Dad.

My eyes settled on him, my stomach turning as an uneasy feeling wheedled itself into it because he still looked so anxious. He was, however, smiling, and it wasn’t a false smile like so many of the others I’d seen him give before—he was happy to see me growing up.

I knew then what my wish would be, and I couldn’t think of anything else I would rather it be.


I wish for my dad to stay happy.


“Happy birthday, Jo,” Oliver said to me shyly later that night. He’d been a little late, but he was here now, at least. He took my hands in his. “So what did you wish for?”

I opened my mouth to answer, but was momentarily distracted by Gemma and Augustus making “kissy faces” at us and giggling madly. It caught the attention of my parents who both glanced in my direction. My mother gave us an embarrassing “thumbs up” while my dad looked, well…begrudgingly tolerant.

I think it was honestly a disappointment for him when he realized that Oliver wasn’t a bad person. Dad had pulled him into a conversation the very day I finally brought him home, and I’m sure he was expecting to exit the conversation thoroughly unimpressed, but Oliver had nearly had a heart attack upon meeting James Winters, writer extraordinaire, and had immediately launched into a detailed discussion of the uses of light imagery in his most recently successful novel, Cinnamon.

I had, of course, blushed furiously and nearly died, especially because Cinnamon was literally the only romance novel my dad had ever written, but Dad seemed rather interested in his literary analysis, and then the next thing I knew my boyfriend was spending more time with my father than he was with me. At first I’d been patient, smiling and nodding, but eventually I gotten restless. I’d tossed my hair, tugged on his hand, even stepped on his toes—but still Oliver had been engaged in that accursed conversation. It’d taken waving some physics homework in front of his face to finally direct his attention back to me. Go figure.


“Are you still with me, Jo?” I finally heard Oliver saying. That is, the Oliver in front of me, and not the one in my memories. He was waving his hand in front of my face.

“Yes,” I blushed. “Sorry. What did you ask?”

“Your birthday wish,” he said, an amused smile on his face, “what was it?”

“Oh. Well, success, of course,” I lied with a smile, and then leaned in to kiss his cheek.

Wishes never came true if you told them to someone.


I woke up the next morning feeling incredibly sick to my stomach. My skin had broken out into a cold sweat, and my heart couldn’t stop pounding. Today was the day Hannah would be dropping by with the small moving truck she’d rented. I’d pack up my stuff with hers…and then, I would be leaving.

I was barely aware of anything that I did, going through my daily morning routine like a zombie. The whole house was buzzing, and I could already hear screams and laughter from downstairs.


As soon as I came down from my room, I saw Gemma and Augustus run by screaming, “Stupefy! Stupefy!” They were pretending to hold something in their hands and I continued to walk down the hallway, puzzled.

Not a second later though I nearly had a heart attack when both of my parents suddenly jumped into view from around the corner, roaring.


“It’s no use! We’ll never get them if we don’t coordinate. Come on then, August, together!” Gemma shouted, stopping in place to turn around. She struck a pose of bravery, standing confidently to face my, presumably draconic, parents.

“Are you crazy!? They’ll kill us!” Augustus shouted.

“Crazy about my LIFE!” Gemma responded, holding up her imaginary wand. “On three! ONE, TWO—”


“STUPEFY!” the twins shouted together. I quickly turned my head toward my parents, whose eyes suddenly went wide as they froze into place and then dramatically crumbled to the ground. The twins began squealing about their victory, running up to my parents, but as soon as they got too close my parents sprang into action as one, each of them grabbing a twin with a “ROAR!” and tickling them.

“Now you have to get ready for school, BWAHAHAH!” Mom cried out as Gemma giggled and squirmed out of her arms.


It all should have been funny to me, and it was, but I suddenly just felt really, well, sad.

I was going to miss them all so much.

Break down
I was scared to death I was losing my mind
Break down
I gotta get out into the world again

By the time I got the text from Hannah that she’d be here in thirty minutes I was a wreck, checking and rechecking all my stuff and pacing around the living room like a maniac. The only thing that distracted me was saying goodbye to the twins before they raced off to school, and my grandparents, who were attending some kind of volunteer function, but I felt like those things made everything worse. I wouldn’t see them again for months.


I bit my thumbnail, staring out the window anxiously and vaguely wondering where my parents had gone, when a bright orange moving truck suddenly came into view. I had a brief moment of panic, thinking that my parents wouldn’t be here to see me off, but a moment after Hannah honked the horn on the truck, they walked in, smiles on their faces.


“Right on time!” my mom announced, looking as excited as I probably should have been. “Now, remember, separate your light clothes from your dark clothes, don’t go anywhere alone at night if you can help it, and always use protection,” she stated seriously.

“Mom!” I cried out in horror, my face bright red.


She laughed and then pulled me into a tight hug the likes of which only she could give. I hugged her back, immediately feeling a hard lump form in the back of my throat. It suddenly felt too difficult to speak. This was all so much harder than I’d thought it would be.

“I’ll miss you—so you better make sure you stay in touch or else I’ll post embarrassing pictures of you on Simbook that’ll force you to pay attention to me. You know, like the one of you laughing that you claim makes you look like you have a triple-chin.”

I pulled away from her, shocked. “You wouldn’t!” I gasped.

“Do you want to take that risk?” she asked, her eyebrows raised high. I laughed, shaking my head vigorously. “Good,” she said. “Take care of yourself.”

I nodded and then she stepped aside, my Dad coming into view again.


As soon as he did I could feel my eyes beginning to burn, my throat and chest suddenly feeling so tight that it hurt. I could barely breathe, but he was, surprisingly, smiling.

“I guess this is it,” he said, rocking back a bit on his heels. “It’s been some road, huh?” he asked, still smiling.

I managed a tiny nod. I couldn’t get my limbs to move. After worrying for so long about how my dad would take it if I left to go to college, I was suddenly realizing that he would be fine—he had Mom, and the kids. He had his career. He had his peace.


I glanced up at him, looking perfectly fine, and my eyes began to fill up with tears.

It was me who wouldn’t be fine. Whereas Dad had me for the majority of his life, I’d had my dad in mine for my entire life.

“Will you miss me at all?” I found myself whispering, and I knew then that the tears I’d been trying to hold back had long since won their battle.


My dad’s face crumbled, his brow furrowed in concern, and he took a step forward, pulling me into his arms. “Of course I will,” he said, seeming taken aback that I’d even asked. “You’re my daughter—why wouldn’t I?”

I knew it’d been a stupid question—maybe even a selfish one, but I couldn’t help it. I felt five years old again as I broke down into sobs in my father’s arms. I didn’t know how to live without him. I didn’t know how to live without any of them. I could hear Hannah outside, honking on the truck’s horn again.


I pulled away some, tears still falling down my cheeks. “I love you, Daddy,” I murmured.

“I love you too, Jo,” he said quietly. When it was clear that I still couldn’t stop crying, my dad sighed, kissing me gently on the forehead. “You’re going to be just fine,” he assured me softly. Now I really felt like I was five years old again, but I didn’t even care.

I wanted to stay there for an eternity—just freeze time and allow myself to stay in the safe limbo of my father’s arms forever, but I knew that that was impossible. I took a deep breath, nodded my head, and then finally pulled away from him.


“Ugh, Hannah’s going to make fun of me,” I said, wiping my eyes in annoyance.

“Pfft, make fun of her back,” my mom chimed in, and I couldn’t help but laugh just a bit. Dad smiled as well.


Mom squeezed my shoulder and then we each grabbed up a box or suitcase, heading outside to load them into the truck.

By the time we finished, we were already running a bit late and Hannah was growing impatient, so I gave my parents one last hug, forcing myself not to break down again, and then climbed into the passenger side of the truck.

I could see my parents in the rear-view mirror, grasping each other’s hands firmly as they watched me go, but their figures grew smaller and smaller as Hannah pressed down on the gas. We were really on our way.

And now I will start living today, today, today
I close the door
I got this new beginning and I will fly
I’ll fly like a cannonball, like a cannonball, like a cannonball


On our way to what exactly, I honestly couldn’t say. I had been on a long road so far and the road ahead of me seemed even longer.

I stared out the window, watching Starlight Shores speed by and I could feel my eyes beginning to fill with tears all over again, but I knew that it was time to begin my journey.

I’ll fly, I’ll fly, I’ll fly like a cannonball


A/N: Wahoo! So what do you guys think!?! 😉 I know Joanne is a different character than what I usually write, but variety is the spice of life and this blog is called Different Winters, so I decided to change it up. Also, I know this chapter went longer than usual, and I definitely don’t plan to always do this, but when I do have chapters like these, do they feel too long? I always freak out and worry a lot before I post one like this >.< Thanks for your input and thanks for reading! I hope you’re as excited as I am to see the rest of this generation through Smile


38 thoughts on “Chapter 5.1: Cannonball”

  1. And so it begins! I think she’s going to have a great time at college and I know she’ll be able to keep in touch with her parents. I always feel sad for my sims at university and I make them talk to their parents long distance once a week which is what I did when I was away for school lol. She turned out so beautiful, I hope things keep going well and strong with Charlie. He is such a sweet boy. I just love him to bits!
    Also, kudos on the awesome banner picture! Jo looks so awesome!

    1. Aww, I should do the phone call thing too! I am actually extremely bad at maintaining any relationships between sims unless they’re in the same household, and even then I have moments where I’m like “oh crap, this kid isn’t friends with his parents anymore!” lol. I’m always focused on skilling XD

      Joanne really is stunning! I’m very pleased with how she turned out 🙂 I’m also noticing more and more just how strong Jiang’s genetics are–they seemed to have passed down to every kid since him so far, whether getting his hair, eyes, nose, etc. Not a bad thing because the kids have been adorable, but I do like variety! lol

      Oliver really is a nice guy ^_^ Some of the cute/shy facial expressions that he makes in game just kill me.

      Lastly, thank you!! I like how the banner came out too. It came out much better than I expected considering I have no photo editing software, lol.

      1. I am really bad with relationships too. So I always end up purchasing the “long distance friend” reward so I basically never have to talk to them again and they stay pretty high up on the friend scale. That thing is my life saver. I’ve also noticed too that the other person will always make a phone call when the relationship bar is about to plummet from friend to acquaintance.

  2. I’m really liking the start of Joanne’s story! It’s interesting how you find out things about characters that you never knew about until you get inside their head. Even if they play a big role in the life of someone else. For instance, I knew that Jo liked singing, and I knew that she knew her dad was “sick”. But I didn’t know that she used singing to get her through the hard times so that she could help James out. Though that makes total sense!

    That Mona chick… She totally deserved that slap to the face. People like that seriously need to be taken off of their high horse. It’s interesting how both times that Jo snapped, it wasn’t because someone attacked her, it was because someone attacked James. You can see that she really loves her dad.

    I will admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I found out that she was heir (mainly because I was very interested in “personally” getting to know one of the other 3, which is kinda dumb), but I’m liking her story so far!

    Oliver is a nice guy! It’s a good thing that he isn’t pressuring Jo into doing anything until she is ready. I wonder how their relationship is going to progress as time goes on. So far in your story, early relationships aren’t the lasting ones… So it’ll be interesting to see if Oliver and Jo can stand the test of time.

    I can’t wait to see what happens at college! And obviously whatever after! And I think you did well with the song! Great chapter!

    1. Ps. Joanne is definitely quite the looker! I think that something that adds to her good looks would be her “coloring”, the pale skin with the black hair is really nice. And then you’ve got those green eyes to go with it, which pop out so much more on Jo than they did on Maddie! All in all, she’s really pretty!

      1. Isn’t she just?! I think you’re spot on about the coloring. Although, now that you put it that way, I realize her coloring is a lot like Reed’s then–he had black hair, pale skin, and green eyes too! They look very different though, so maybe I haven’t completely failed at my attempts to diversify the gene pool, lol. I really like how she came out…she just seems really, well, cute! haha.

    2. That was actually one of the reasons why I chose Joanne in the first place–I felt like there was a lot going on in her head that no one was actually aware of. The other kids do as well, of course, but as they’re not as old, their stories haven’t really developed yet, so I would have been starting completely from scratch, whereas with Joanne, her story was already unraveling in my mind.

      I’m glad that you noticed the only two times she has snapped has been to defend her Dad. She does really love him and as you’ve seen she’s very protective of him. It’s funny though because it seriously could have been a completely different story, considering James’ issues. For instance, if he had been an aggressive, rather a depressive drunk; if Joanne didn’t have her singing; if Candice had never shown up to explain to her what was going on and help her get through it, etc. If only one thing was different, she could have hated him, but that clearly did not end up being the case.

      lol also, that’s true, Aubrey has so far been the only character who stayed with her first relationship. I promise that that will happen again, but for the sake of not giving away anything, I can’t say whether that will be this generation, or a future one 😉

      I’m glad that you thought the song was done well too…I really struggled there, haha. Hopefully it’ll become more natural to me with future chapters. Thank you!

  3. I’m so glad you picked Jo. I like her story so far. She’s very strong…outwardly. I know she wants fame, but will it really make her happy?

    As for Oliver, I really like him. He really is so sweet. It’s cute that sweet and nice is what Jo was looking for in a boy. I wonder if that will always be the case as fame catches up with her.

  4. I really like that despite his issues, Jo’s father really loved his daughter. That’s my intention for the future. Despite any of my own problems, I plan to love my family.

    1. It was definitely the one thing he tried to stay true to no matter how bad everything got. Jo was honestly the only thing that kept him from completely losing it too–the one tether that kept him fighting.

      I feel the same way about family, so I guess that’s why it comes out in my writing too.

      Also, welcome and thank you for commenting. I really appreciate it 🙂

  5. I didn’t think it was too long 🙂 It felt fine to me to read. And, I’ve always liked Jo. Even when she was a little thing, you could see her spunk. I found her so adorable. And she still is so adorable. I’m honestly glad you picked her; even though I could tell from the start 😉 She always had some powerful lungs! Was Jo the first to go to school? I thought Kira went to a school in France? Or maybe I’m wrong… *shrugs* hehe…

    Really great chapter! I’m close to catching up! 😀 I saw that you did, which is awesome and exciting. I’m working on chapter nine; I’m about halfway done with getting the pictures for it. So expect another chapter soon!

    1. I’m glad you feel that way because this chapter no longer seems long to me compared to some of Jo’s other chapters, lol. I eventually stopped worrying about it and just wrote what I wanted to XD

      Jo definitely has some spunk and she was actually always meant to be the 5th Generation heiress, even if I played it off as if the choice were open, lol.

      I mean, even from the very first moment she’s introduced as a baby, the only thing that soothes her colicky self is music 😉

      Jo was the first one to officially go to school in the sense that she’s the only Winters who I’ve actually taken to college and obtained a degree for, but Kira did first “attend” a school in France, lol.

      Thanks so much! I’m actually really excited for you to catch up and to see your reactions along the way, and now I’m really excited too to see your next chapter! Squee!

      1. Haha! Well, I’m sure I’ll survive 😉 Your chapters are too interesting that it doesn’t matter to me the length 🙂 I’m a book reader anyways, so I’m used to it.

        Yeah! That was something I noticed to. Always when I read DITFT, I always look for the clues as to who is going to be it. Her lungs and loving music were my auto know XD Well, and I saw her face everywhere XD bwuahah… That’s what happens when you’re not caught up. But hey! I will be for next generation! As will you 🙂

        I knew what you meant when you said that,I was just yanking your chain 😛 It’s cool though! Jo’s gonna do awesome! I really felt for her when she had to leave. I’m getting married in three months, and I’m moving about two hours away. So I was relating to the feeling that I’m probably going to have…

        Yup! I’ll make sure to comment as much as I remember too XD I’m so spacey all the time. Look can’t wait for you to read it 😀

  6. So. New generation. I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes! You’re tossing all of these expansion packs and stuff at me I don’t know where to look! Epic vacation spot with sweet activities! University life where people throw keggers (juicers?) every night! But one thing is for certain. I really need to work on the bio thing due tomorrow (lol. totally did less than a quarter over the past week.). Well, that and that Jo is beautiful.
    I’m sort of sad to see James’ gen wrap up in some way, but happy that it turned out alright in the end. Related to that, I find it weird to have characters grow old and then be interacted with from another point of view. I think it is very different from my idea of them in my head most of the time and that’s just plain disconcerting for me.
    But James is really young. I’m going to have to get used to it.
    Yay! Gen 5! Go!

    1. Ha! I admit even I don’t know where to look half the time with all those expansion packs. I doubt that I’ve actually FULLY explored any of them, honestly. I own them all though except Into the Future, which I never got because I wasn’t interested in even one aspect of the pack, which is really saying something considering I’ve bought every other one. I guess if I can’t ever see it fitting into a story though, it’s hard for me to get into it. Maybe I’ll get it someday though just to complete the collection *shrugs*

      My my, I know exactly what you mean. I was also sad to see James’ generation wrap up, and to be honest even to this point I STILL have this weird, lingering feeling that I might have ended it prematurely. I have no idea what else I would have written, but it felt so weird to end it there even if I had nothing more to say. Odd, isn’t it? And even odder to now to have to write James from Jo’s perspective. It was, and still is, disconcerting for me too, though at this point I’ve more or less made my peace with it, lol. James really is young…he’s STILL not an elder in my game and Jo has what, probably five chapters left most likely? Goodness, lol.

      Yay Generation 5 indeed! Joanne is so stunning. She’s one of the most unique and adorable sims I’ve ever had in my game ^_^

      Thanks as always for commenting and good luck with that biology assignment!

  7. I know that Jo has had a difficult start in life, but all that she has been through has turned her into a beautiful, strong and kind person with a good head on her shoulders. James may have struggled most of her life, but he should be proud of the woman she is now.

    Oliver is adorable, but, knowing you ;), I worry that life isn’t going to remain sunshine and roses for them. That old adage about something being too perfect is floating around my head at the moment!

    I really appreciated the Harry Potter sketch there. Perfect homage to Jo’s namesake 🙂

    1. Yes! The Harry Potter sketch was largely included as an homage to Jo’s namesake; so glad you caught that!

      James is definitely proud of the woman she’s become. As you said, she’s beautiful, strong, and kind! She also has a good head on her shoulders….for now 😉

      Ahahaha, lips are sealed on the Oliver front–wouldn’t want to give anything away 😉

  8. I loved how Joanne handled the girl at school. I find so often, that whole attitude that girl had, is a power play, like even though everyone hated her, she felt like she had power saying random hateful things towards people. What was cool is that Joanne took that power away from her just by asking who she was talking to.
    The scene with her and Oliver was cute, they’re both so innocent still in that department, LOL, and I like that you again went with the less conventional, where Oliver wasn’t another Trey. I think boys get a bad rep in high school, sure some of them are horny jerks who don’t respect anyone, but I feel like with boys a lot of it is talk. I’m fairly certain the reason it seems like all boys just want to get into girls’ pants, is because they want to look cool in front of their friends, and I bet half of them haven’t even done anything with a girl. High school is full of people telling lies to get themselves to look better in the eyes of others. LOL. I think Joanne is really smart, using her dad’s mistakes as learning opportunities, she didn’t take the attitude some people have of ‘Oh that’ll never happen to me,’ it’s like she doesn’t think she’s smarter than her dad and she’s invincible, it’s that she’s actually smart and knows she’s not invincible, so she should be careful.
    Strangely, when she grew up, she didn’t look much different than she did as a teenager. She’s always been really pretty, though, so it’s not a bad thing. 😀 I find it cool how some Sims don’t really have a major appearance change, and then others are just like O_O WHOA! LOL. *cough Candice cough*
    I had never heard Cannonball before, but I think it fits Joanne’s personality really well, and it was a great first song for her. She’s fiery, and she’ll blow up in your face if you push the wrong button. LOL. I saw a little bit of Tamara in her as far as her attitude and outlook on life.

    1. Oooh, I love how you put it that way! Joanne really did take away her power. Of course, she wasn’t consciously thinking that, no, not at all. Mona had just struck the final chord within her by insulting her father and if there is one thing that you can say without a doubt about Joanne, it’s that she is fiercely loyal to, and protective of, her father. Though, by taking the action that she did, she did essentially strip Mona of her power, which is why all her classmates thought she was so awesome. Since Joanne just sees it as standing up for her dad, she didn’t quite get this, but her classmates saw it exactly as you did: Joanne took that bully’s power away!

      Hehe, yes they are quite innocent in that regard XD I totally agree though that not all high school guys are horny jerks and that the majority of the time it’s all just talk, so I wanted to include a good guy this time around ^_^ High school seems like it is THE place of lies to make yourself look better, LOL. Adolescence is marked by the desire to get peer approval, so that leads teens to doing a lot of ridiculous things, although they admittedly didn’t seem ridiculous at the time, rofl XD

      Joanne has definitely learned a lot from her father’s mistakes, though you’ll see that she didn’t learn from all of them 😉 That being said, you are very right that she’s much more aware of these things than most people her age.

      I didn’t think she looked too different either when she grew up. That could be because I kept her hair, makeup, and clothing style pretty consistent, whereas with Candice I completely changed her look, but I think part of it really is that Joanne looked pretty similar from teen to adult, lol. She’s adorable 🙂

      You know, I had never heard the song before I wrote this chapter either LOL, but in searching for something that would freaking fit I came across it and I was like, hey, this totally works! She’s definitely got a touch of her grandmother’s fire 😉

      Welcome to Gen 5! It looks like you’re catching up =O

  9. I’m loving this generation so far, Jo is so spunky and adorable. It was interesting learning that she used singing to cope with daddy’s ‘illness’, I knew that Candice told her that they just needed to keep loving him because he was sick and that she had an amazing voice, I just didn’t know that she began utilizing her amazing voice because of James alcoholism.
    Jo’s quite the looker, haha, it’s no wonder that all the boys have a crush on her!
    I’m glad that she doesn’t want her father’s history of becoming a teen parent to be hers, so she lets Oliver know when things need to stop, though I’m a bit worried that Jo will think that there’s no way that that’ll happen to her, because she’s smarter and it’s her, she’s not her father…
    I’m excited to see her at uni! I love the uni EP, there’s so many neat things (plus, the clothing and hairstyles that are added, in my opinion, are probably the best of any EA EP) for sims to experience. 🙂

    1. So glad you’re loving it right off the bat! Yesss I was glad I was finally able to show that. I did try to hint at it (James often hears Joanne singing; when James snapped at Joanne that one day he came back inside to hear her singing in her room; etc), but it really isn’t evident until you see Jo’s point of view here 🙂

      Joanne is super adorable! I constantly want to reach in through the screen and pinch her cheeks or poke her cute little nose, lmao. Plus Maddie’s green eyes are so striking on her–it must be because of the black hair. OMG #POTTER5EVER

      Yes, Joanne is trying not to repeat her father’s mistakes, but of course things are not always as simple as they seem, so who knows how successful she’ll be in that regard…..

      Hehe, I love the Uni EP too. The clothes are awesome and it’s a great way to get your sim away from the rest of the household for a bit and just concentrate on building their relationships and skillling 🙂 Plus, it’s just fun!

  10. I liked the way you wrote Jo. She’s fiery but got a shy sweet side. And I like that you did some research on anxiety, I too have GAD, it is not fun. At all. You constantly worry about everything. All the time. The signs would’ve been there when James was a child but no one saw them which is sad. And then Jo being born and the death of Maddie would’ve exacerbated the situation. I feel for him I really do, because I can relate so much.

    Anyway, great start to the generation!

    1. That’s exactly how I intended Joanne to come across, so I’m glad that you see that 🙂

      One of my closest friends has GAD too. She takes medication for it and the worries still race through her head. Therapy has helped, but it’s a continuous fight for sure.

      The signs were there when James was a child, but as you said no one saw them…largely because James was always so quiet and kept to himself typing away on his laptop. Of course, it also wasn’t that bad then…until Maddie’s suicide, like you said. That’s what was really the trigger that made it become full-blown. Although he still struggles with it at times though, he really has come a very long way.

      Thank you ^_^ I hope you continue to enjoy it!

      1. It can be a tough road with GAD, well with any mental illness. But the rewards when you get to a point where you aren’t JUST functioning, where you’re actually LIVING, it can’t be rivalled.

  11. *shocked face* There were a few screenshots of adult Jo, where you could really see Maddie in her. Kind of took me by surprise there.
    The idea of mixing music and chapters is very interesting, and I’m curious to see where you’re going to take it. I had to repeat the song a couple of times, but even so there were at least three or four occasions where the lyrics completely matched up. (actually a little creepy)
    Gaaahhh, I went on your tumblr page at some point and saw what looked like Jo in the arms of a Brown-haired stranger who was probably NOT Oliver…(I didn’t think i’d see a spoiler darn it)

    1. Oh, really? That’s interesting because whenever I look at Joanne all I really see is James, haha. I know that I write that she looks like Maddie, but I always have difficulties actually seeing it. Then again, I’m pretty bad at recognizing where sim genetics come from, lol. It’s only now that I’ve even begun to be able to tell XD Of course, now you’ve made me really curious about it, so I’m sitting here staring at up-close pictures of both Maddie and Joanne snapped to each side of my screen, LOL. I see what you’re saying. I think, if I’m not completely off base, Joanne’s lips and eye shape are her mother’s–and of course those striking green eyes. The roundness of Joanne’s face and her nose though I think come from James, and those are the features that I often notice first =)

      Haha, thanks. It has both been fun and a pain to do the song thing. Fun because when it all works out I feel like it really adds something special to the chapter, but a pain because sometimes it’s been very difficult to find something that actually matches up. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on it as the chapters continue ^_^ Some of them I’m pretty proud of, others ehhh, I TRIED, lol.

      Oh dear =( I’m sorry! Unfortunately since I’ve been on this generation for so long there are quite a few spoilers out there, I think. However, I’m almost positive that you’ll still be surprised when you see how things actually unfold :X

      1. Yeah, it’s only when I saw her full face that I had the “is that actually maddie with a wig on?”
        I’ll definitely continue transmitting my thoughts. *can probably here some distant electronic beeping*
        It’ll teach me to go searching before it’s time XD, I just know to appreciate Oliver as much as I can now…

        1. Hahaha, oh no, she definitely has James’ nose and round face, that’s for sure! XD Maddie has a totally different nose and a longer chin, but I definitely see the rest now! Gah that’s actually awesome because it means she really is a good mix of her parents ^_^ ❤

          LOL yes….I believe I do hear some distant electronic beeping….either that or someone's smoke detector is out XD

          Haha aw no, going to my Tumblr shouldn't have been spoiler-y but it was I realize because of my backgroundddddd :X

          But yes, now you get the benefit of knowing that you should appreciate him while he's here…because I think for others his departure was a bit of a nasty shock, haha. It may still come as surprising though!

          ….Hmm, wondering now if I should edit these comments so as not to spoil it for future readers! lol

            1. Which is especially lucky since my game likes to spit out clones and I usually don’t even realize until they grow into adults o_o

              Like Tobias? I don’t think this is a spoiler, but he’s totally a James clone with different coloring and I didn’t notice until RECENTLY. Fail, lol.

    1. Ahh!!! Thank you so much!!! I’m especially glad that you enjoy the song lyrics because there’s definitely been times when I’ve gotten frustrated trying to find lyrics that fit, so knowing that the extra effort was worth it makes me happy!! Thank you again and fdhfjdfalfks reading it a second time!? Ahhhhh it makes me smile so much knowing you enjoyed it enough to read it again. THANK YOU! ❤

      1. Totally deserves all the praise! The “Primadonna” chapter is my favorite, and I think about this story frequently haha — it’s part of what inspired me to write my own sims story! All the characters are so well fleshed out and the dialogue is impeccable 🙂

        1. Thank you!!! And wow. I definitely remember having serious issues writing Primadonna and then being anxious after I posted it, so having you say it’s your favorite fdjkfsaffsdhk T_T You’re too kinddddd. And impeccable, you say? *dyinggggg* I’m just going to keep reading your comment over and over, seriously, lol. It makes me smile so much. I can’t say it enough: Thank you ❤ ❤ ❤

  12. This was seriously such a beautiful, beautiful chapter and I was like tearing up through it all. Oliver is the SWEETEST boy and even in this short time you have made me adore what a doof he is. And her father ;_; I’m glad that it looks like he’s going to be okay.
    Also, Mona is a bitch 😛

    1. Thank you!!! Oliver truly is a sweetheart. Kind, a little awkward, smart, and just plain sweet, which is exactly what Joanne found so endearing about him. Oliver, meanwhile, was still a bit stunned that she liked him at all, but she so did and even though their fellow classmates might have found it odd, I think we all know better, hehe XD Oliver is quite the catch! ❤

      Yesss her father T____T His story is my favorite generation to be honest. I think this fifth generation is the best written, but I think my heart will always be with the fourth ❤

      Also, AGREED, LOL. XD

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