Chapter 5.3: Skyfall

Chapter 5.3 Skyfall
A/N: A brief excerpt in this chapter is narrated by James because it concerns events that happened back at home. I made sure to label it clearly though and after his part the point of view returns to Joanne’s for the remainder of the chapter. Also, sorry if the chapter feels rushed and/or disjointed at certain points—half of this chapter was NOT planned for AT ALL and I had to fit the event in, but I have my doubts over whether it was done well or not. I just can’t stand editing this for even one more second after spending DAYS poring over it though. Hopefully it isn’t too bad. On a final note, this chapter contains some mature content.

The track for this chapter is Skyfall by Adele. I know it’s “the James Bond” song, so it makes for a stupid chapter title, but I thought the lyrics fit this chapter pretty well. Again, feel free to listen as you read.

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This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten

Sometimes I have this nightmare. I’m very small in it—so small that I cannot fully comprehend everything that’s happening around me. In the nightmare, I can see that my father is not well and it worries me. It makes me feel afraid, but I have no idea what’s going on. He collapses then and in the nightmare I’m standing beside his lifeless form. Beside him, I begin to scream his name, over and over and over again. “Daddy! Daddy!! Daddy!” It’s the only word that I can properly say, and my tiny hands are attempting to shake him awake, but he is gone and then all I am aware of is the stinging of my tears and the loudness of my cries.

It feels so real that every time I have this nightmare, I wake up crying—flashbacks of when I was 5 years old and my dad had to be rushed to the hospital for alcohol poisoning racing through my mind.

About halfway through my first semester in college, I had this dream.

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I sat up abruptly in a cold sweat, breathing heavily and wiping tears from my eyes. In a panic, I glanced over at Hannah across the room, but she was still fast asleep, seemingly untroubled by demons.

Good, I thought to myself, I never would have heard the end of it if she saw me crying like this.

I held my face in my hands for a long moment, trying to get a grip on myself. It’d been some time since I’d last had this nightmare, and experiencing it now was unsettling, to say the least. I took a breath, removing my hands from my face and then snatching my phone off the bedside table.

6:32 AM. The numbers glowed brightly on the screen, causing me to squint. I sighed and put my phone back. I wanted to go back to sleep because my first class wasn’t until noon, but I felt too shaken up to do so, so I finally just rolled out of bed feeling as if I hadn’t slept at all.

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I stumbled as I grabbed my shower caddy and my towel from beside my bed, where I always left them neatly set up. Tears were still beading up in my eyes. I needed to get a hold of myself. I wasn’t a little girl anymore and I needed to start acting like it.

Besides, it had only been a dream and Dad had come a long way since I was five years old. There was nothing to worry about.

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I let the hot water of the shower run over my body and wash away the cold sweat of my nightmare, but nothing could rid me of the uneasy feeling that had settled in my stomach.

It remained with me the rest of the day, creeping up on me as I took notes…creeping up on me as I ate…and creeping up on me as I attempted, and failed, to get some homework done.

I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something bad had happened.

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Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

It was late when I received the phone call that confirmed all of my fears. Everyone in the dormitory had either just left to go party, or gotten ready for bed, the two divisions shifting into their preferred activities. I found myself in the latter half tonight, brushing my teeth in the common bathroom and hoping no one else walked in.

I had just rinsed out my mouth and was ready to go change into PJs when my phone rang. That was already strange on its own because these days, people typically just texted. I picked up my phone from the sink, feeling somewhat uneasy as I glanced at the screen.

“Mom,” showed up in bright gleaming letters, a photo of my mom making a funny face underneath it. It was her current Simbook profile picture. My heart began to sink in my chest. Although Mom and I were close, she ever rarely called me, preferring to send texts instead. I answered the phone with dread in my heart.

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“Hello?” I said. My hands were trembling.

“Hey Joanne,” my mom said softly, “do you have a moment to talk?”

The macaroni and cheese I’d eaten for dinner shifted uncomfortably in my stomach, making me regret my decision to eat it. “One second,” I said.

I left the bathroom like a zombie, shuffling into my dorm room and privately thanking the heavens above that Hannah was in the party shift tonight. “Okay, I’m good,” I said. I went to sit on my bed, but then immediately stood back up, too anxious to stay still. I paced.

“Jo, honey, I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

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“Is it Dad?” I asked, remembering my nightmare. My voice was barely a whisper. I could feel a cold chill running up my spine. I suddenly felt dizzy.

“No. I mean—” she started none too reassuringly, and then sighed. “Honey, Grandma passed away last night.”

What?” I asked. My eyes opened wide. “What happened!?” I couldn’t believe it. MY grandmother, the woman who played soccer and volunteered at every event she possibly could, SHE was…was….I could feel tears beginning to fill my eyes.

“Oh honey, we’re not actually sure yet. She and Grandpa came home from a date last night, I suppose, and she was in the kitchen and she just…collapsed. You have to remember she was very old.”

She had never seemed old to me, this woman who jogged around the neighborhood for hours on end; who would spend her evenings breaking thick oak boards in the basement and then beating the living daylights out of a training dummy.

“I think they kind of knew,” she continued softly. “Your grandpa had seemed upset that day, and they both went out and then….oh, I’m so sorry, honey.”

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“You said last night. Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” I asked, beginning to feel angry. This time my mom was silent for a moment. I would have thought the phone disconnected if it hadn’t been for the sound of her shaky intakes of breath. My blood ran cold.

“It’s been…hard,” she managed to say. I remembered her answer to my first question about Dad being okay: “No, I mean–” I mean…what?

“Dad….” I whispered, and then felt my words get stuck in my throat.

 

~*~James~*~

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For this is the end
I’ve drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I’m stolen

My mother was gone.

I took in a slow intake of breath, walking back and forth across the living room floor. I could hear my dad crying softly in his bedroom—a sound that I’d never heard before this day. It sounded foreign and rattled my nerves, chilling me to the core.

I’m not even that old.

Didn’t people typically lose their parents much later in life? Then again, my mom had been a bit older herself when she had me, and she had already outlived her twin. I took in another intake of breath, my path back and forth across the living room unbroken. The fireplace was lit up brightly, the flames strong and high, but I couldn’t feel it no matter how close I got to it. I was freezing.

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

“Babe…?” I suddenly heard whispered from beside me. I turned, startled, and came face to face with my wife. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, her brows pulled together in concern. I looked at her for a long moment, not knowing what to say.

She approached me slowly, almost as if she was afraid. I reached out a hand for her shakily and she took it, holding it so firmly that the slight pain seemed to bring me back for a moment. Back from what?

I looked at her again. I felt my eyes begin to sting.

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“She’s gone,” I whispered, and Candice nodded some, her eyes also filling up with tears. I took in a shuddering breath. What were the right things to say? What were the right things to do? I felt as if I’d shattered once again—a deeply threaded ache pulsed from within my chest.

“Come on, love. It’s 3 AM,” she said gently, slowly leading me away from the fire.

“It is?” I asked, bewildered. How had I lost track of so many hours?

“Yes. Let’s go to bed, okay?”

“It hurts,” I said, and then felt my throat close up, tears falling down my face as I tried to breathe.

“I know,” she responded. I watched as a tear fell down her face too.

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I wanted to say something else at that point. I wanted to be strong. I wanted time to go back to yesterday morning, when my mom had sought me in my office and given me a tight hug. I’d had no idea why she hugged me. No idea why Dad looked so withdrawn that day. I might have thought it strange, but then the two of them went out that day and I hadn’t thought about it again.

I remembered her strong arms wrapped around me now, the kiss she placed on my temple, and then the smile she had given me. “You know, I’m so proud of you,” she’d whispered, and I’d just nodded some, confused.

I wanted to stay confused. I didn’t want to know why she’d done that, like I did so well now.

But I couldn’t have any of those things, not one, and so I collapsed in my wife’s arms, sobbing as she held me close.

“Oh, James,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall
That skyfall

I don’t know how long I cried. I don’t know how long my wife held me tightly, as if fearing that if she let go, she’d lose me. I didn’t really know anything.

“Come on,” Candice whispered in my ear, taking a step back and lifting my chin to look into my eyes. “Let’s go upstairs. Let’s sleep.”

I nodded, taking in a shaky breath. I wiped my eyes. “Okay,” I answered hoarsely. She kissed my forehead and then walked ahead, her hand reaching out for me behind her. I went to grasp it, but then froze up, my lungs suddenly seizing.

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I couldn’t breathe. I tried to—I tried so hard, but my lungs were frozen. A sharp pain ran across my chest and I clutched at it, fearing at that moment that I was going to die. I’d been shattered too many times before. Pieces of me were dust and I’d never be able to fill those gaps again. My body broke out into a cold sweat, and I felt the floor underneath my feet careen.

“James?” I heard Candice’s voice say, startled, and then she ran up to me, placing her hand on my back.

“I can’t—I can’t—” I tried to say, but then couldn’t even get enough air to say the words I desperately needed to say: I can’t breathe.

“James, stay with me, love. You’re having a panic attack. You’ve had them before, remember? Stop thinking about how you feel. Just listen to me, please.”

I held my hand out and she gripped it so tightly I thought my fingers would break. “I’m right here—remember this? You can feel this. You need to stay here, with me. You’re going to be okay.”

I shook my head. No, this was impossible. I really was going to die this time. I couldn’t, I can’t.

“JAMES!” Candice shouted, tugging on my hand, and I gasped, air suddenly flooding my lungs. “See, look?” she said softly, and I could tell she was relieved. “You can breathe. You know you’re going to be okay.”

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I took in a deep breath, let it out slowly. I’d been here before. Not in a long time, but I remembered this. I knew what to do. I counted to five—took in another breath.

“There you go,” Candice whispered, gradually loosening her grip on my hand, but still holding it within her own.

I nodded shakily, and then started at the beginning once again.

My mother was gone.

 

~*~Joanne~*~

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Skyfall is where we start
A thousand miles and poles apart
Where worlds collide and days are dark
You may have my number, you can take my name
But you’ll never have my heart

“Well take him to the hospital!” I cried out, enraged that my mother hadn’t done this in the first place.

“He doesn’t want to go,” she tiredly. “This is honestly just something he needs to work through. He knows how to, and he can. He’s going to be fine.”

“I’m coming home,” I finally said, not caring that it was the middle of the semester and that mid-terms were just around the corner.

“No, you aren’t,” my mom said firmly, her voice so sharp that it cut through me even over the phone. I felt tears bead up in my eyes again. This wasn’t fair. I needed to be there to take care of him. She wasn’t doing a good job. He wasn’t going to be okay. “If you come home it’ll make everything worse because he’ll feel guilty that you dropped out of school, and that’s the last thing he needs. You need to trust me—I’ve gotten your dad through worse,” she reminded me grimly. “He just needs to grieve.”

I sighed, looking up at the ceiling. I knew that she was right. I was being stupid. I could feel my anger dissipating, and all that was left now was anguish.

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“How’s everyone else?” I finally asked, resigned.

I could hear my mother let out a short sigh of relief that I’d dropped the idea, and then she hastily answered my question, “Coping. We just need to remember that she lived a really full life. Your grandma was pretty awesome.”

“Yeah, I know,” I whispered. “She really was.”

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Rest in peace, Tamara Winters. You’re on but the next great adventure.

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Let the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all together

It was late—nearing 1 AM. I shivered slightly, folding my arms across my chest as I paced by the dormitory entrance, waiting. He should be back soon. He’d texted me that he was on his way. The battery-powered clock on the wall ticked away, each tick a grating annoyance to my ears. It was funny—during the day I never even noticed it there, and now it was so loud to me that I marveled at the fact that it wasn’t waking up the entire dorm.

I heard a beep—someone holding their key card against the door, and then it swung open. I took in a sharp intake of breath as I saw Oliver walk in, his shoulders slumped, his hair tousled, and his eyes red from lack of sleep. He looked exhausted, but when his eyes found mine they still lit up and he managed a bit of a smile.

“What’s up?” he asked, closing the door behind him. He looked at me again and then his face fell. I realized that I must not have looked so hot myself. “What happened?” he asked, taking a step forward, but then hesitated, as if he wasn’t quite sure what to do.

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“My grandmother’s dead,” I whispered, my arms falling limply at my sides as I said it. Saying it out loud made it all the more real—I could already feel my eyes burning again.

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“What?” he asked, looking as surprised as I’d felt. After all, he had met her too, and there was no denying how strong and alive she had been, despite her age. “Oh, Jo…I’m sorry,” he said, holding out a hand to me.

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I pressed my lips together, looked at his hand, and then hastily closed the distance between us, breaking down into sobs in Oliver’s arms. He wrapped his arms around me tightly, but I still felt lost. My grandmother was dead and now my dad was struggling—and I couldn’t even be there. College had been such a mistake.

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Let the sky fall (let the sky fall)
When it crumbles (when it crumbles)
We will stand tall (we will stand tall)
Face it all together
At skyfall

The next few weeks went by in a blur. I took my midterms, and I didn’t do as well on them as I had hoped, but I didn’t do badly either, so I didn’t bother worrying about it. I tried to hang out with Oliver whenever possible, but with midterms I saw him even less than I had before, which was awful, honestly, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

As for Hannah, she understood. As brash and bossy as she could be sometimes, there was a reason she was my best friend, and she proved that every day. Although she was busy too, she often brought me food or just sat with me, making sure that I was taking care of myself and that I was well. She liked to keep me in the loop with the other girls in our dorm as well, wanting to see me out and social.

It wasn’t really necessary. I was taking care of myself just fine, but still—I appreciated her kindness.

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I tried to call and text my family frequently, but they often didn’t answer. Their lives were busy and broken too, the messages short and full of grief. Or maybe it was because there was never anything new to report. I always asked the same question, after all.

Augustus Texts   Gemma Texts

Candice Texts  Dad Text 1

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“Stop staring at it! It doesn’t make the responses come any faster,” Hannah said, standing at the foot of my bed and looking concerned. She sighed, gently taking my phone out of my hands and then placing it on my bedside table. She sat next to me afterward, looking pensive.

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“You know, I’ve been thinking.”

“About what?” I asked, tearing my gaze away from my phone and glancing at Hannah.

“About us. We should start a band.”

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall

“A band?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. This was kind of the last thing I wanted to be thinking about right now.

“Yes! You can do lead vocals, I can do back-up, and we both play instruments. It would be fun! I’m so tired of all the classes and stress. We need a little enjoyment in our lives.”

I smiled a little, in spite of myself. We really hadn’t had much fun since our first week here. “Maybe,” I said quietly. “What would we call it?”

“Hot sauce!”

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“Um, no. How about something….classier,” I said, thinking hard myself and vaguely being reminded once again why this girl was my best friend. Who else could get me thinking of band names at a time like this?

“The Crowned Jewels!” she suggested, holding out her hand as if there were a massive ring on it.

“Diamonds,” I said absently, looking at her hand too and imagining them there.

“The Darling Diamonds!”

I giggled, shaking my head. “The Darling Diamonds? Really?”

“Oh come on, it’s kind of cute—admit it.”

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“Hmmm, I’ll consider that one,” I said with a soft smile, and then jumped as my phone’s tri-tone sounded, signaling the arrival of a message. I felt like a small animal caught in an oncoming car’s headlights. Hannah gave me a quick smile, nodding in approval toward the phone.

I practically leapt over my friend to grab it; my palms sweating as I greedily read the screen.

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Dad Text 2

I flushed with embarrassment after reading the first part of the text, but forgot about it quickly as I continued to read.

I held my breath, hardly daring to believe it as I hastily typed back a response.

Dad Text 3

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About a minute passed, during which time both Hannah and I stared at the phone, my friend quiet again because she knew how important this was to me.

Dad Text 4

Anyone else reading the message would have been confused, as Hannah clearly was, judging by the expression on her face, but I lost it, breaking down into sobs of relief and falling into my best friend’s arms.

It was a reference to a movie I’d been obsessed with when I was little called My Neighbor Totoro. I was so young that I don’t even remember why I loved it so much, but I was so obsessed with it that my Dad even painted a picture of Totoro above my crib. It was a painting that I still had in my room to this day, actually. I suddenly wished I had it here with me. “See,” my Dad had said when he hung it up, “now Totoro will always protect you too.”

Hannah tucked my hair behind my ears, wiping my eyes as I sniffled and sat up again. She looked almost amused at my reaction. I took a deep breath.

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Dad Text 5

I needn’t have worried after all. I’d been right from the start—my dad really had come a long way. He would be just fine.

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall

I felt infinitely lighter in the weeks after that text, and though I was still sad about the loss of my amazing grandmother, I finally felt like I could move on too. I wanted to share in my joy with Oliver, but he’d been as busy as ever even though midterms were now officially over.

So instead, I hung out with Hannah, making a selection of covers for The Darling Diamonds to perform and beginning to practice them. It was actually a lot of fun, and I couldn’t wait for Oliver to have a bit of time off so he could see what we’d come up with so far. We even planned to put on a performance at The Grotto’s Talent Night just as soon as we mastered our current set list. Sometimes proprietors came to them looking for talent, so we wanted to make sure we were perfect.

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Still, hanging out with Hannah and going to classes could distract me only so much from the fact that Oliver was always occupied. It hadn’t bothered me thus far, because I knew we were both legitimately busy, but as time went on with only brief, stolen moments together, I began to wonder if all the time away from me was purposeful.

Was this Oliver’s way of gradually pushing me out of his life? Was he sick of me? Or worse, was he tired of waiting for me? I took in a sharp intake of breath as the thought popped into my mind. What if Hannah had been right? After all, we had dated for quite some time…maybe it was weird that I hadn’t taken that next step with him yet. Maybe he’d finally gotten frustrated, but didn’t want to admit it. Maybe I was losing him now.

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Where you go I go
What you see I see

The thoughts ate at me for a full week before I finally found myself where I was now—sneaking up to the boy’s floor late at night. I needed to fix this. I needed to not lose him.

The corridor was locked, of course, and for a moment I thought my plan to keep him had already been foiled, but it wasn’t long before a guy came up. I followed him shamelessly, as if I actually belonged there, but the guy barely paid any attention to me anyway. He was probably used to letting girls up here I realized with a blush.

Once my entrance ticket disappeared into his room, I knocked softly on Oliver’s door, practically bouncing on my toes as I waited out in the hallway. I felt horribly exposed, just standing there in my PJs, which suddenly felt much more revealing than they ever did on the girl’s floor. The seconds slid by agonizingly slow, and I began to worry that maybe Oliver was already fast asleep. Just when I raised my hand to knock again, but louder, the door opened.

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Oliver’s face appeared before me, looking exhausted as always, but also surprised to see me.

“Jo,” he said softly, and I swore my heart just burst into thousands of feathers that floated about us: a soft, invisible rain.

“Oliver,” I breathed. “May I come in?”

He rubbed his eyes and nodded. It was clear to me that he had been sleeping, as he wasn’t even wearing his glasses, and I felt kind of bad, but I couldn’t help it. I needed to be with him tonight…I needed to save this.

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I brushed past Oliver to step inside and then threw myself onto him the second he shut the door. I hadn’t meant to jump into it so fast, but seeing him standing there, whole and exposed before me, ignited a hunger in me that I’d never even known I could feel.

He stumbled slightly, but let out a soft sigh as my tongue grazed his bottom lip, pleading for admittance. He graciously granted it, and then my tongue found his, delighting in the taste of minty-fresh toothpaste, and another taste that was entirely, uniquely, Oliver. That’s when I took a few steps forward and guided him onto the bed that he had vacated only moments ago.

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I know I’d never be me
Without the security
Of your loving arms
Keeping me from harm
Put your hand in my hand
And we’ll stand

Maybe it was because he was sleepy, or maybe it was because he felt as eager for this contact as I did, but he never once questioned or denied me, falling onto the bed wordlessly and pulling me with him. My top was quickly lost, and I felt like my senses were slowly becoming lost as well as our kisses gradually grew more desperate.

That’s when I pushed us forward, just as I had in every instance before. I reached down into the waistband of my pajama shorts, pulled out the condom that I had tucked in there, and broke our heated kiss for a moment, showing the small, shining square to him. Oliver looked from it, to me, his gaze locked on mine for what felt like an eternity.

“You’re…sure?” he finally asked hesitantly. I could feel his heart pounding beneath the hand that I still had on his chest. Mine beat even harder, but I didn’t dare break his stare. “And this has nothing to do with—”

“Nothing at all,” I interrupted in a fervent whisper. “I’m sure.”

For a moment, I thought Oliver wasn’t going to agree, and I could feel hopelessness begin to creep into my veins, but then slowly, almost unnoticeably, he nodded and let his hands travel to the waistband of my shorts, sliding them from my hips and down past my thighs.

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

I gave myself entirely to this unceasingly kind boy, our naked bodies tangled and covered in a light layer of sweat. It was rather clumsy and it hurt—much more than I’d actually thought it would, despite what I’d heard. It also didn’t last very long, but when I heard Oliver gasping into my shoulder, his arms around me tightly as he shuddered, I felt a flood of affection toward him unlike any I’d ever felt before. There was no else I would have wanted to give this up to.

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Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall

For a long moment afterward we just held onto each other, breathing heavily. I felt like my head was spinning, and I tried to calm myself by running my fingers through the damp, golden locks of Oliver’s hair.

“I love you,” I finally murmured after a time, “and I’m sorry that I ever gave you cause to doubt it.” Oliver placed a kiss on my neck, right below my ear, and then got up, throwing away the condom and then coming back to the bed. I watched him with reddened cheeks, catching the sight of his body in the moonlight.

As soon as he returned he wrapped his arms around me and kissed me softly. He looked like he wanted to ask me something—like he wanted to question why this had just happened, but he seemed to decide against it. “I love you too, Jo,” he whispered instead. He kissed my shoulder and then ran his hand along my thigh, causing me to blush deeply.

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“What are you—” I began to ask, but then gasped and jumped at his next action, my face positively burning now.

“Returning the favor,” he whispered in a husky voice quite unlike his own. I wasn’t sure if I knew quite what he meant until my knuckles were white from grasping the sheets so tightly, my face buried in the crook of his neck to stifle my cries of shock and ecstasy. Then, I knew what he meant, and then, I unraveled, marveling at what it truly meant to give oneself to another fully.

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We fell asleep in each other’s arms that night, and I felt like maybe, I had succeeded in keeping him.

Let the sky fall
We will stand tall
At skyfall
Oh

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

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29 thoughts on “Chapter 5.3: Skyfall”

  1. For a moment, reading this, I worried that James was going to be gone. Jo must have felt that so much more.

    Not sure how I feel about her and Oliver at this time. It seemed a bit rushed. Did she really want that? Was it a desperate action. I guess I’ll have to wait and see 🙂

    1. Haha, you know, I mulled over the possibility in my head that James would be gone, but I figured he’d come soooo far in his generation that it wouldn’t make sense for him to completely lose it, or at least not for this. After all, while the death of his mother is a really difficult loss to deal with, she was quite old and it was a natural death. Now if something happened to Candice or one of his kids….hmmm, the story could be different. To be honest though, he’s currently still my favorite sim in the game, so no matter how much I mull over such possibilities, I doubt that I’d ever be able to bring myself to do it. He’s just fought too hard for that.

      As for Jo and Oliver….hmmmm, that is a very good question, and you will see soon 😉

  2. I wish Jo wouldn’t have given into Oliver just for fear of losing him and she should have done it because she really wanted to. I have a feeling Oliver would have waited forever. Poor James, it must have been so hard. Tamara was awesome! I really loved her character. It’s sad that she’s gone but the time comes for all sims. Jo is such an awesome big sister.
    I love the movie ‘My Neighbour Totoro” its such a sweet movie. I really love all of Miyazaki’s movies actually andalmost own them all. I think Totoro is the only one I have left that I need to finish the collection XD.

    1. Oh, I know 😦 It’s really frustrating and Oliver has no clue what’s going on in her head right now. You’d think she’d be a better communicator given how she’s seen the effects firsthand of not doing so, but alas she’s been hiding any negative feelings she may have since she was a kid….

      Tamara really was awesome! I was shocked when she died. I honestly expected her to live a lot longer, especially because she had pretty much completed all of the bonus Athletic Skill challenges and all. It seriously came out of nowhere and the family was so freaking devastated. I couldn’t even watch James or Jiang–they just killed me. It was actually a relief to go to college. So heartbreaking!!

      I love the movie too, obviously, haha. The Miyazaki movies are all so sweet and beautiful ❤

  3. is it bad that in a way Hannah reminds me of my best friend Hannah? :O Haha which is weird to read about and then think about the similarities. Definitely can relate Jo. Definitely.

    1. Hmmm, that’s not too surprising actually because Hannah is loosely based off of a friend that I really did have in high school. Thus, I know people like her exist! That being said, I DID like this friend, lol, but then again, I didn’t really take what she said personally and I’m not sure the same can be said for dear Joanne…..

  4. If you have to hide your nightmares from your friends because they’ll laugh at your for the rest of your life, that’s not a good sign.
    And neither is letting them pressure you into having sex when you aren’t ready. Especially when they have nothing to do with the relationship. Poor Jo. 😦
    I’ll miss Tamara. She was epic, what with her completely casual face paint.
    And YES. TOTORO. I would like it to be known that I have a 60 cm plush Totoro, so big that I can barely connect my hands if I hug him. And I noted the Totoro painting from way back when and I was like, whaaaaaaaat. *high five* Hayao Miyazaki in general is fabulous. Have you seen Howl’s Moving Castle?

    1. Hey, you’re the first one to mention that 😉 I put lots of little hints within these chapters getting at the fact that although Hannah isn’t necessarily a horrible person, she really isn’t the greatest friend for Joanne. However, Jo’s still clinging to the fact that they’ve been best friends all their lives, which again blinds her to the fact that they’ve grown not only into rather different people, but that their relationship has also taken a sort of dark turn, becoming more, well, belittling and hurtful more than anything else.

      BAHA! YES! Her totally casual face paint! I had her grow out of that, but I have to say I loved that quirk! That and all the super bright colors she always wore: aqua, hot pink, neon purple, and yellow! Heck yeah! 😉 I miss her too!

      OMG. That Totoro sounds AMAZING- I would probably snuggle up against it with a good book and a cup of coffee and be the happiest person ever. I adore Miyazaki’s movies and have seen quite a few of them, including Howl’s Moving Castle! I think my favorites though are Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, and Ponyo ^_^ ❤

      1. I’ve never seen Ponyo, though I absolutely adore Spirited Away. Seems like seeing it at aged 6 didn’t scar me for life! However, no matter how old I am, Princess Mononoke will. *shudder forever and ever and ever and ever* My favourites are Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and Porco Rosso.
        And hopefully, Jo will be able to see past what used to be and look into the future.

  5. My heart was in my throat this entire chapter! I love James, and I’ve rooted for him the entire time.He’s come such a long way that I knew he could pull through this. At first, I thought he was the one that had passed and I was ready to throw my monitor at the wall. I’m sad that Tamara has gone so soon as she was vibrant and full of life, but she has lived a full life and has produced a marvellous legacy.

    I agree with the consensus that Jo has rushed into this. I still maintain that she and Oliver have outgrown one another and sooner or later, someone will come into her life and rock her world. I like Oliver though and I don’t want him to get hurt. It seems to me like Jo is waiting for her life to begin. I get the sense that college isn’t the place for her. She’s bright enough, but it isn’t for everyone, and she’s not giving it her all. This girl needs to be on the stage!

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this to you before, but I have to say again that I just love reading your comments! I always get the feeling that you truly “get” my characters; to the point where sometimes you have insights about them that I didn’t even realize before, but are totally spot-on! For instance, your take that Oliver and Joanne have “outgrown” one another. Although that’s completely true, I never thought to think of it like that. In my mind it was simply clear that their paths are beginning to diverge, but there’s definitely that aspect of “outgrowing” each other as well. Like I said, spot-on!

      Oh James! You know, I’ve thrown around the idea of something happening to him a lot over the course of the generation, but so far (as of chapter 5.15) I have not been able to bring myself to do it, haha. This is partly because I love James, partly because it hasn’t quite fit, and partly to avoid being melodramatic, but either way he’s been safe, and so too has your monitor XD Rofl. On that note, Tamara really was gone so fast! My elders usually last ages and because she maxed out athletic and completed all those little challenges within the skill I thought she’d be around for a very long time, but it was totally the opposite! Very sad, but she did indeed live a full life and produced a wonderful legacy 🙂

      Lastly, you’re totally right about college not being a good fit for her. It isn’t that she can’t do it, it’s that her heart isn’t into it. As the first to attend college in her family, she feels pressured to finish, but it’s clear that what she really wants to get on that stage….

      Thank you as always for reading and commenting! ❤

      1. Aww shucks! It’s a testament to your writing that I feel such a connection to your characters. Especially Jo. I’ve explained before that I have a lot of similarities to her, apart from the musicality! I feel that I understand where she’s coming from! 🙂

        I will finish reading this legacy sooner rather than later, I promise!!! I don’t have as much time as I’d like, unfortunately.

        1. Thank you so much ❤ I feel that Jo may have some surprises ahead for you though, heh heh 😉

          Also, no worries!! I completely understand. I haven't even had the opportunity to update much and don't foresee another new post until May o_O Take your time ^_^

  6. Aww Tamara… I am happy she got to move in with James and have all her stuff there before she left. Poor James, I know how panic attacks go. -__- They’re not fun, but I’m glad James is surrounded by loving people, so he’s okay. It makes complete sense that Joanne would freak out and think something had happened to him though, since she’s so protective of him. I got a feeling that Joanne had to be a parent to James sometimes when she was younger, and maybe she still carries that feeling with her now that she’s an adult.

    I too, was taken aback when Joanne mentioned that Hannah would have made fun of her if she had seen her crying. I also felt like Joanne was justifying to herself why Hannah was still her best friend throughout the whole chapter. I relate to Joanne where she feels college isn’t right for her, it never was right for me either. I think you’ve done a nice job showing how Joanne has grown apart from her friends because as people grow up, they definitely change, even if some of them remain friends, the friendship evolves over time.

    Joanne and Oliver seem like high school sweethearts that don’t really know what they want. I think Oliver might know more of what he wants than Joanne does, and I think he was just giving her space because she always didn’t know what to say to him. I wonder if Joanne is afraid of change, maybe, when it comes to love? Like she knows Oliver is nice and he won’t hurt her, so she’s just trying to cling to the relationship because it’s familiar, maybe afraid to take a risk because she doesn’t want to get hurt? I think their relationship is evolving because of time as well.

    1. Joanne definitely still carries that “protective/parental” vibe toward her father. In fact, even now when he’s clearly doing so much better, that feeling is so deeply ingrained in her that she has a lot of trouble letting it go.

      Definitely some justification happening here too when it comes to Hannah still being her best friend. It’s just not easy for Joanne to make a decision either way because again, Hannah is really good for her in some ways, but also horribly toxic in others. As children she was mostly good for her, then into high school it sort of grew into a balance between the good and bad, and now that they’re in college it seems as though perhaps the scales are tipping toward the bad. It’s hard to let go of someone who’s been such an important part of your life for so long though, even when you begin to realize that maybe it would be better if you did. So like you said, as these two have grown up, they’ve changed, and it’s reached the point now where they either need to work some serious things out, or do away with it entirely. Glad you thought that was portrayed well here–thank you!

      Oliver knows exactly what he wants and even has a plan in place to achieve just that. Joanne, as you said, maybe not so much? Or rather, her plan is one single thing (stardom) without any concrete plan as to how to get there or any regard as to how everything else in her life will look. I guess you could say Joanne’s got a bit of tunnel vision and this isn’t currently super conducive to their relationship. Once again, it seems that either some serious things need to be worked out, or this is doomed to end as well.

  7. 😦 I was terrified that James would lose all his progress, however he has a loving caring family that are going to support him and help him grieve…
    I’m almost more worried about Jo, she’s so stressed by her protectiveness of her father, it cannot be easy seeing your daddy pass out drunk… And now she’s rushing into things with Oliver, who seems to like her and be much more devoted to the relationship or much more serious about the relationship then Jo is…

    1. James has come SUCH a long way and has learned many coping strategies when it comes to his anxiety, so in the face of this disaster, although it was very difficult, he was indeed able to pull through with the help of his loving family 🙂 Support really does go such a long way.

      More worried about Jo….Hmmmmm…..Yes….that….is probably very warranted 😉 I see you’re picking up on the right things here!

  8. OMG, I love My Neighbor Totoro as well! Lol

    I’m glad James is getting better. I find it funny how he was like: You finally asked me instead of questioning the entire family. xD

    1. Woot, look at you! Already on Generation 5! I’m impressed with how fast you’ve been catching up 🙂

      My Neighbor Totoro is the best! I couldn’t resist. Joanne STILL has that painting, lol. I could never get rid of it.

      Haha yeah. She asked everyone before she finally just asked him for herself! He went through a rough patch, but he’s come a long way from his past and was able to pull through ^_^

  9. Ah Tamara! Nooo! ;-;
    And James you had me scared for a moment there, but you made it out of it. Good boy. The texts were amusing XD
    Gaaahhh I want to be happy for Oliver and Joanne, but there’s a tinge of worrying foreshadowing in your writing…(yes, I’ve decided I probably imagined that spoiler. I am content with Oliver and Jo)

    1. Tamara T_T She seriously died WAYYYY sooner than I expected. Like, what? Especially because she had max athletic and martial arts AND completed all the athletic challenges, so it honestly made no sense to me. It made so little sense, that at first I was more mad at her death than sad! Of course, then I just got sad, because she got removed from Jo’s story way too quickly =(

      James hit quite a barrier there, but he’s come a very long way and made it through. Glad you enjoyed the texts =) I got to bring a bit of James’ sarcasm back.

      Pfft, what spoiler? That Tumblr photo was clearly not canon anyway–just a special photo shoot photo. I mean hell, wasn’t that just Oliver with a dye-job? 😉

      There does, however, seem to be some things that Joanne is leaving unsaid…..

      1. Sims doesn’t account for that it seems! Tamara was so in shape, she could’ve easily outlived her husband.
        That’s right! Oliver just dyed his hair and got eye contacts…yup!

        1. Well, under the Athletic Skill there is a challenge called “Marathon Runner” and if you achieve it the reward is a “longer lifespan.” With Tamara I don’t feel like the reward “worked,” or maybe it did but because she had kids pretty late I didn’t notice it as much? Either that or all the traveling bugged her her age, lol. Either way I wasn’t ready for her to go =( I’d have liked her to be a bigger part of Joanne’s story.

      2. Oh I completely forgot to say!
        But, the link to the song for chapter 3 and 4 didn’t work, or the videos were deleted. You gave us the name of the song so it was pretty simple to find, but just a heads up.

  10. I was so, so worried about James then. You’re so good at building tension! Teach me, senpai X_X
    I’m worried about Jo’s reasoning behind sleeping with Oliver. I hope that Oliver earmarks more time to spend with her because I don’t want this relationship to fail D: I ship it so hard. Joliver. That sounds pretty good, like jolly 😛

    1. LOL STOP, NO. I have SO much to learn!!!! But thank you–I really appreciate you saying that!

      Bahh yeah…not the best reasoning at all. I mean she does love him and their relationship is a pretty good one and Oliver is sweet, but at the same time it’s like ughhhh, sleeping with someone because you fear you’re losing them is one of the worst reasons in the world and THAT part makes me cringe. She really needs to speak up about what she wants as Oliver isn’t a mind-reader and if they want this to work out they need to communicate!!

      And omg! Joliver! That’s adorable. I love it ❤

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