Peacar, winter, 2018
Anthony is 36, Susie is 32, Robin is 11, Starling is 9 and Palila is 8. Olivia Humphrey is 12, Vivienne Humphrey is 11 and Jasper Humphrey is 3.
They were walking a long road, with a heavy burden. They couldn't afford to put down the burden because there wasn't anyone else to help them. Instead, they worked together, each lending a hand, and sometimes one holding the burden alone briefly while the other sat for awhile on the side of the road shaking with tears and fears and exhaustion. They didn't know how much longer the road would be, but they knew that when one finds them self walking through hell...it is best to keep walking.
The burden started much lighter, simyears ago. But then when Faith disappeared, or how Susie likes to call it decided to run the fuck away like a bratty toddler when she didn't get her way. Then they rallied together to help Walt with the children.
Now that Walt was behind bars, Anthony and Susie had guardianship over their nieces and nephews. Which meant they went from an already uncomfortably large (according to Susie) family of five, to the unthinkable family of eight.
It meant that Susie worked longer hours to drum up more money with her dance classes and
Anthony took on any available overtime that was offered. Simoleans were short as the hood's economy struggled. Things were especially bleak over the holidays. Anthony and Susie had managed to get enough simoleans for a one present for each child and a game for the family. They hadn't anticipated the emotions and tension from the children over missing thier father during Christmas. They made a special trip to the crowded jail and squeezed in the tiny visitors room with other families trying to piece together a sense of normalcy with separated loved ones. They took photos with their father in his issued jumpsuit and ate popcorn and cold sodas from the machines. Walt sung Christmas songs with them and played with the worn board games while struggling not to think about future holidays away from his family.
There was a local prison ministry that gifted the children with a bag of items for Christmas, new clothing, toys and even a music player for Olivia. Susie was thankful for the gifts and the additional bag of food that came along with it. She wished that she new some fortune granting spells, or could procure a money tree. Anthony said that magic had to be practiced with responsibility since every magical action they created had an equal and opposite reaction and that the couldn't change the laws of the natural or magical realm. She supposed he had a point, because if all those sims that possess supernatural abilities had access to fortune granting spells then there would be a lot more rich sims. Still, she was aware that there were a few avenues that could grant such things, like the elusive genie lamp.
Stress was high in the family. There wasn't any fighting, as Susie and Anthony needed to have a united front when it came to raising six children, managing to keep communication open with Walt and handling the extraordinary logistics of having guardianship over three children whose parents did not prepare for such an event.
But then again, could any family prepare for such events. There was plenty of help and advice for families suffering illnesses or deaths, but the resources were scare, if any, for families left behind from incarceration. There was plenty of shame dished upon them, but not much in terms of resources. Even finding a counselor to help Olivia process her thoughts was near impossible to find...or afford. The overwhelming thought in society is that the families deserve what they get as due punishment of their crimes. However once that punishment was done, society didn't want to accept those individuals. It wasn't rehabilitation, it was segregation and a slow decline into the health and vitality of that family that would last far beyond the lifespan of the accused. Susie thought that there had to be a better way, after all you don't put a toddler in timeout for weeks for stealing a cookie from the cookie jar and cutting off all access from friends and family and then once their timeout is over deny them the ability to walk within ten feet of all cookies, or cookie ingredients or those with cookie ingredients. She just felt that there was something not so extreme, something that would help those leaving prison be better than when they entered, help their families not fall into the same cycle.
Often Susie and Anthony would collapse at the end of the day on the couch and stare into space. Their emotions and thoughts too heavy to give birth to words. Instead of talking the evenings away and laughing over the events of the day, they now sit silently. Sometimes staring at the television with a glass of wine, or most days a glass of something stronger...on the rocks. Other days, Anthony held Susie as she cried away the weight of the world. As she yelled and screamed about the unfairness of it all. Why did they have to take responsibility for the children? Why did Walt have to get locked up? Why did Faith have to be so immature and leave? Why were they having to hurt because of the choices of others? After she cried, she would mentally and othertimes physically, shake herself and wipe away the tears. Guard her heart and thoughts and prepare for another day of battle.
Susie wondered if all of this would have happened if her mom, her adopted mom, were still alive. She would know what to do, she would have the right words to say...or at least be able to listen and really know the weight that Susie carried as a woman, as a mother, as a wife. Anthony was a great help, a great teammate and husband, but she wanted and needed her mother during this time. He knew that, but he tried to help as much as possible. It was effecting him as well, but he kept quiet. Instead his hair became riddled with grey strands seemly overnight and he found more strands in the shower from the shedding. His blood pressure was high and his heart would beat even faster. Some days he thought about breaking his vow and casting a spell, a chant, using his powers to help ease the burden. But he knew that with great power and magic, the results were not easy to contain.
As if to prove that life was using them as personal toilet paper, Susie's dad, Lyndon, was sick. Not sick with the flu, but sick sick. The unspeakable word sick. The only reason that she was able to find out is that Gretchen forced him to tell Susie and Anthony. Lyndon said that he didn't want them to worry, but Susie couldn't help it. She knew he was older and the treatments were rough. She knew that the side effects would wear on him as much as the disease. Susie never thought that she would go through a period of time when a parent's unwelcome diagnosis was not the worst news as of late. Susie wondered if it would be helpful for the couple to move in with them, but Gretchen resisted. She said that they loved their home and that they were fine. However, if they changed their minds, they would let them know.
With so much going on, Anthony worried about Susie. He worried that she might slip into a depression. As if she would trip and one day realize that she was depressed and that the illness snuck up on her. She would joke and say that she didn't have time to be depressed. She had six little ones looking to her for nurturing and to keep their world spinning in the midst of chaos, she had a father to support, an almost brother-in-law to encourage, a job to maintain and bills to pay. No, depression and anxiety would have to wait. She didn't tell him that she was scared. Scared of when life slowed down and the looming monsters of depression and anxiety would creep closer since there wasn't a fence of busyness to keep them away. She was scared of how big they would grow while waiting and if she would be able to survive the eventual attack.
Instead of thinking about such realities, she would snuggle with her husband. They had lost count of the last time they had been physically intimate, it had been simweeks...maybe even simlonic months...they found themselves instead promising each other tomorrow...or next week...
They just needed to survive this storm first.