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Stephan and I didn’t get to go on a real honeymoon since neither one of us wanted to take time off from work as we were both so close to receiving promotions in our respective careers. Because our crowded house made it difficult to have some alone time, on a Monday when we both had a day off, we decided to travel to Willow Creek to spend the day together.

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I was so smitten by my husband and how comfortable he was with public displays of affection. He was never dissuaded by other people’s presence when it came to showing me how he felt about me and I liked that. After spending most of the day at the park we decided to visit Phoebe to check up on her. I remained worried about her because I had not heard from her since the day of our wedding. Thankfully she was in a much better mood and I was grateful she had recovered from her grief.

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“Have you gone back to work as yet?” I asked her.

“Uh-huh, my leave ended the day after the wedding. I’ve been so busy, that’s why I couldn’t respond to your text messages. But don’t worry, you’ll see me in a couple of days. I’ll have a day off then so Bentley and I plan coming over to spend the day.”

“I know Mum will like that. She keeps complaining about you and Bentley being too busy to come and hang with us.”

She looked over at Stephan by the gate and lowered her voice. “You know Dani, Stephan really is cute. Are you sure he doesn’t have a brother?”

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“Nope. There’s only one copy of that delicious man and I got him!”

“Hey, I can hear you ladies objectifying me from over here.” Stephan added playfully.

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“Oh relax honey, it’s just girl talk.” I said with a giggle.

After having lunch at Phoebe’s we decided to head on home but before we left Willow Creek, Stephan wanted to make a stop. We ended up in the neighbourhood of Foundry Cove right in front of a vacant lot.

“Why are we here, Stephan?”

“I wanted to show you this lot that’s for sale. It’s a nice piece, huh? It’s near the river, there’s a community garden nearby and I hear it’s a pretty quiet neighbourhood. What do you think?”

595“It’s nice but we can’t live here. I told you about my family’s legacy. I’m the one in charge of the estate and it’s my responsibility…”

“No, no. You’re misunderstanding. I don’t want us to move here. I was thinking we can build a house here for your parents.”

“My parents?”

“Yes, or maybe your brothers can move here instead. It’s enough land to build a duplex, so they can each have their own space but still be able to live together. Actually I think it will be better if your brothers move instead. It’ll be easier for them to make a fresh start.”

“Why does anyone have to move, Stephan?”

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“Because darling, we’ll want to start a family of our own soon and once we have a baby we’ll pretty much run out of space in your house. Someone’s going to have to move.”

Having a baby was all Stephan talked about since before we got married but it never occurred to me before that we didn’t have any more space in our house. Our house only had four bedrooms for six people and a baby would make seven. Someone would have to move out or we would have to extend the house to accommodate everyone. “I’ll have to think about it. I mean there’s no rush to make any decisions now since I’m not even pregnant yet.”

“Alright then, I understand. I was just being proactive. You know I love your family like they were my own. I only want what you want my darling.”

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I thought about Stephan’s idea the entire trip home wondering if he had a point. Maybe one of my brothers needed to move out. The zoning code only allowed a maximum of eight Sims per household and having eight people living under one roof seemed like a lot. As big as our house was, it wasn’t big enough to handle several different personalities. Once we got home I sat down with Dad and discussed it with him since I knew I could count on him giving me a rational response unlike Mum.

“Stephan does have a point. You are the one who inherited the legacy and you have all the right over the estate, but Ethan and Felix also have a right to live here for as long as they want to.”

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“But Dad, Felix isn’t even contributing. He doesn’t have a job. All he does all day is collect fossils, frogs and gems. Hmm… I guess it’ll have to be Ethan then. He is the older one and he has a job so he can support himself, unlike Felix.”

“I need you to think about how you’re going to ask him to move out Dani. I know how the two of you can talk to each other. Just be nice and don’t demand that he leaves. And you can’t pressure him if he refuses.”

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Dad was right. According to the decree, children of the previous heiress could live on the estate for as long as they chose to. I couldn’t ask Felix to leave because he didn’t have a job whereas Ethan was thriving in his career as a Tech Guru. However I knew I would have to wait a while before asking him since he was still mad at me for embarrassing him for calling him out over his poor table manners at my wedding reception.

Dad left me to join Mum, Bentley and Phoebe in the pool. Mum was so happy to see them as she didn’t get the opportunity to spend time with her only niece and nephew in a long while. She kept calling me from outside and asking me to come join them so after a while I went outside and was about to join them for a swim when tragedy struck.

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We thought she was drowning at first but then realised her old age had finally caught up to her. Everyone started crying once they realised what was happening, especially when the Grim Reaper himself showed up.

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I couldn’t believe it. Mum could not die! She couldn’t! I went up to the Reaper and in spite of the immediate chill I got from being so close to him I remained bold and confident. “Listen you son of llama! You cannot take my mother. She needs more time with us. Do you understand? You can’t take her from us!” I demanded, deepening my tone to intimidate him. My fellow colleagues called it ‘the voice’. They would say ‘the voice’ could stop any criminal in his tracks. I was confident that if it could work on the slime balls I dealt with on a daily basis then it would surely work on the Reaper.

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He had no face but I could tell he was staring at me and for a moment I thought he was going to listen to me and bring her back to life. But he didn’t. When he pulled out his tablet and swiped her name off the living list that’s when I knew she was really gone. “No please! Please let her live!” I begged but it was of no use. I broke down crying just like everyone else.

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The Grim Reaper lifted his arms in the air and a bright light encompassed my mother’s body blinding all of us as he lifted her out of the pool.

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Then my mother as I knew her was no more. An urn containing her remains stood in her place now and I felt so lost and so dejected. I tried to save her. I argued, I begged, and he still took her to the afterlife.

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Bentley and Phoebe went home soon after that. Dad retreated to his room and cried himself to sleep. Ethan stayed with him that night. Felix held up better than the rest of us, at least as far as I could tell. He stayed with me for a while until he said he was tired and went to bed. I couldn’t sleep, not until Stephan returned home. I needed him. I called several times leaving messages asking him to call me but he didn’t respond to any of them. I hated those late night business meetings of his and I didn’t understand why they all ran until midnight. I waited outside for him to return home and once he did I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.

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“What’s wrong my darling? What happened?”

“It’s Mum. She’s gone. She died.”

“Oh man, I’m so sorry.” He caressed my arms which helped to comfort me a little.

“Why didn’t you answer my calls or check any of my messages? I needed you…” I said despondently.

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“The video conference ran late… I…. It’s no excuse. I should have been here for you.”

“No, I understand. You have clients in different time zones so you have to accommodate them. I just wish you wouldn’t fall off the grid when you leave the house.”

“You’re right, my darling. I won’t let it happen again. I’ll always be here for you. I promise.”

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I wasn’t really upset with him. Usually I would get mad whenever he didn’t respond to my texts or calls in a timely manner but that night I felt so numb that he could’ve run me over with a car and I’d smile weakly and say ‘it’s fine’. It was a strange feeling knowing my mother was not going to be around anymore. I was always a daddy’s girl. Mum and I were close but not as close as we could’ve been. I blamed myself for that. I always went to Dad whenever I needed to talk about my feelings or to get advice. I could have gone to her some of the time. My mother was a bright, fearless woman and being her daughter it should have been my duty to learn more from her while I still had her. It’s amazing how these things never occur to you until someone dies. You never realise their importance in your life until they’re gone and all you have is the memories and you’re consumed with regret for not fully appreciating that person. Life is funny in a way. That same day I was wondering how to ask Ethan to move out to make space for the family I wanted to have, and in a twist of fate my mother dies. I guess problem solved, huh?

I will miss her. I will miss her nagging me over my ‘skimpy’ outfits. I will miss her chastising Ethan and Felix at the dining table for scarfing down their food. I will miss her and Dad grossing us kids out by making out when they thought we weren’t looking even when they became old and grey. I will miss her storytelling, her hearty laugh, her bright eyes, but most of all I will miss her wealth of knowledge in the part of life I learned I would soon experience – motherhood. A couple days after her death I learned I was expecting.

“So what did the test say?” Stephan asked excitedly.

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“It’s positive. I’m pregnant!”

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Always Remember Bree

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