Usually, when a legacy spouse dies I do a little tribute to them at the end of the chapter but this time I forgot to do that for Cyrus. Oopsies!
Still not too late. 🙂
This is a really long chapter. I thought about breaking it up but then decided to leave it as is. Enjoy!
It’s been a while since Dad died and Lyra moved to San Myshuno. It took a long time for Mom and me to adjust to our new way of life. We were both so used to having a house full of people so a two-person household took some time to get used to. The quietness was a strange thing for me. All those times I complained about everybody being too loud while I was trying to watch my cooking shows suddenly became fond memories.
I missed Dad and I also missed my brother and sister a lot too but I suppose the good thing to come from this change was that Mom and I got a lot closer now that it’s just the two of us.
We hang out with each other a lot more than we used to and Mom shared quite a number of stories about her life telling me things that I never knew about her. Like how she became the youngest Lead Scientist in Future Sim Labs history and how she invented numerous devices like the SimRay and a satellite strong enough to communicate with beings outside of our galaxy. I was really impressed. She rarely talked about work with us so I had no idea my mother was so accomplished. She also told me the reason why she never talked about work was because she and Dad nearly broke up because she got too wrapped up in her career and left little time for him and the family. That was when I learned that I was conceived as a result of them patching things up after a brief separation. I couldn’t imagine them ever fighting because nothing close to that ever happened when I was little. It’s refreshing to know that their relationship wasn’t as perfect as I thought. I see them as models for the kind of romance I would want to have in the future so it’s nice to know that relationships can have ups and downs but still work out.
Mom has also been keeping herself busy these days. She goes to the lab once a week to assist in mentoring some of the up and coming scientists. She says she doesn’t want to work full time anymore but she also doesn’t want to fully retire either since she has such a passion for science. When she’s not at the lab she’s not sitting around at home playing video games like before. Instead, she goes out to a restaurant for brunch with Aunt Jo and Aunt Izzy or they go to a day spa for pedicures and massages. I’m so relieved Mom is no longer depressed about Dad. I used to worry about her a lot thinking I couldn’t leave her alone for too long but I don’t feel that way anymore. Now I can invite my friends over to hang out because she’ll most likely have her own plans to keep her occupied.
Tatianna is my most regular visitor. She only comes by on the weekends since she lives all the way in Willow Creek but when she does she spends the entire day with me and we either chill by the pool or sit around talking about her love life. Apparently, Darren kept in touch with her after the competition and he’s been flirty-texting her a lot and doing an awkward job at it from what she says. She tries to play it cool but I can tell she really likes him a lot. I always tell her to give the guy a chance but she uses the fact that they live in separate towns as an excuse which is a lame one seeing as how she has no problem coming all the way out here to visit me when Newcrest is just fifteen minutes away from where she lives.
I was pretty close to finishing high school and becoming a young adult, another big change in the making but I wasn’t nervous about this one. I was excited to be done with high school so I could start culinary school. No more biology and geography homework! No more spending hours sitting on an uncomfortable wooden chair trying my best to pay attention to the Lit teacher as she went on and on about Shakespeare! Just one more test and I would be done with all of that and move on to a school where I could cook and bake and mix drinks all day! It would be a dream.
But until then I had to wait for the final results before I started celebrating.
Lyra, on the other hand, felt like I should have started celebrating already. As promised, she invited me out to visit her in San Myshuno and offered to let me stay at her apartment. I really wanted to go but I was reluctant because I thought Mom wouldn’t agree. Surprisingly she agreed almost too enthusiastically like she was more fed up of me being stuck at home than I was!
I got on a plane right after school ended on a Friday. When I landed in San Myshuno it was night time so I took a cab straight to Kaleb and Lyra’s apartment building in the Fashion District since I knew the address. Before I could even knock on the door Lyra came out to greet me as if she sensed I was right outside.
I almost didn’t recognise her.
“Mai! I’m so glad you’re here!” She squealed as she hugged me tightly.
“What are you wearing?” I asked, noticing her new look was nothing like I remembered.
“Oh this? I decided to change up my look a little. I figured, when in Rome….It’s cute isn’t it?”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that her outfit was a bit over the top. It looked like she was trying a bit too hard to blend in with the San Myshuno crowd but I just nodded as she continued to hug me. It seemed like she missed me as much as I missed her.
She pulled me inside and gave a quick tour around her apartment. Even though it was a studio, it was spacious and had an incredible view. Lyra really lucked out with this place. No wonder she was in such a rush to move out from home.
I did notice she had a lot of stuff. Very expensive stuff! Paintings, lamps, and rugs that all looked really expensive for someone who’s a struggling musician to afford even with a trust fund. I would think she would manage her money a little better since she didn’t have any regular gigs as yet.
“I have news,” she began as we sat down on her bed. “I have a boyfriend!”
I snorted thinking she was joking around but she wasn’t. She was serious! “Really? Wow. Um…who is he? What’s he like?” I was very curious about this guy that managed to sweep my sister off her feet and get her to commit to him.
“His name is Akira. He lives in the building next door and he’s super-hot! You’ll get to meet him later but right now I wanna take you down to the Spice Market for the festival.”
“I don’t know…I’m a little jet-lagged…”
“Well go wash your face and pep up because you can’t miss this. You of all people can’t turn down a food festival plus Kaleb is already down there. He’s reporting on the festival for his article.”
I was a little tired but I decided to go anyway since I wanted to see Kaleb and because of the food. She was right about me not wanting to pass up going to a food festival. I was only going to be in San Myshuno for a weekend so I thought I might as well enjoy every waking moment.
Once we got there we met up with Kaleb who was watching one of his friends perform for tips.
After the performance, Lyra went off to get a drink from the bar so I went straight towards the food samples to try out some of the dishes. I never had such exotic cuisine before so it was such a treat for me. A little hot, but nothing I couldn’t handle.
I tried practically every dish on that table until I was stuffed.
I knew I had to try some of these recipes on my own when I got home so I made sure to stock up on some spices like chili powder, curry, and saffron from the swag stall which surprisingly sold them for a lot cheaper than the stores back home.
After paying for my items I went looking for Lyra but she wasn’t by the bar anymore. I found Kaleb but even he didn’t know where she went so I kept looking around and then I finally found her over by what looked like some kind of hookah.
I heard about those things. A bubble hookah is equivalent to drugs because of its hallucinogenic effects. Apparently, it’s legal to use them in San Myshuno but back home they were outlawed after some dumb high school kids decided to blow bubbles and drive and ended up in an accident. I remembered that incident because those kids went to my school and the principal gathered all the students for an emergency assembly to warn us to abstain from getting juiced and blowing bubbles.
Lyra was there for that assembly. She was friends with those kids. So why would she even want to use that thing knowing what the potential consequences were?
I was tempted to stop her but I didn’t want to ruin my first night here by getting upset. Lecturing Lyra about the dumb things that she does ends up with me being in a bad mood and her just doing whatever she wants to do anyway.
Thankfully we called it a night after that.
The following morning Lyra was hungover from the two cocktails and the hit of the bubble hookah she had at the Spice Festival so she remained passed out in the bed for the entire morning. Since watching her sleep didn’t sound like much fun to me I went to Kaleb’s apartment across the hall where I met his girlfriend Penny for the first time.
She used to live in Lyra’s apartment which was how they met. They started dating not too long after he moved to the city. When they decided to take the next step in their relationship by moving in together, that was when Penny’s apartment went on the market and Lyra was able to snag it. Kaleb’s place was a lot bigger than hers so it made sense for her to move in with him.
Penny was really nice, very cheerful and friendly which is the complete opposite of my brother. He’s such a loner and rarely goes anywhere except for when its work related while Penny just seems like she’s the life of every party. I guess opposites really do attract!
Lyra finally woke up around 1 in the afternoon which was just in time for us to get ready to go down to the Arts Quarter to view an exhibit at the Casbah Gallery. Her boyfriend Akira was going to meet us there but then she got a text from him canceling their date. Lyra was really upset about it but I thought we could still go to the Arts Quarter anyway because I really wanted to check out some of the artwork however she had something else in mind.
She decided to go performing out by the square in the Fashion District for tips. She said she needed to make some tips for rent which surprised me since she was supposed to have a good chunk of her trust fund remaining after furnishing her apartment so I didn’t understand how she could not have enough money to pay her rent.
Anyway, she made a lot of tips that day. A lot of tourists were very generous. Some of them looked like they just liked the way she looked and could care less about her songs. This one guy tossed almost 30 simoleons into her case. I guess playing music for tips in this city is a lot more lucrative than I thought.
While she was playing I went over to a food stall and bought an ensaymada to snack on. It was delicious! One of the perks of this town is the variety of food options. Back home, we’re pretty much limited to burgers, hotdogs, and the occasional grilled chicken when we go to the park but here there’s a food stall around every corner and they all sell something new and different to fill any kind of craving.
That evening we decided to go to the Humour and Hijinks festival and Lyra insisted we get all dressed up for the event. These festivals were usually casual events but I’d been doing practically everything Lyra wanted to do since I got here so I thought I might as well wear whatever she wanted me to wear while I was at it.
It was my last night there since I was leaving the next day and I was really hoping we could check out the Stargazer Lounge and the Planet Honey Pop Karaoke Bar I’d heard so much about. I thought for sure she’d want to go to the last one since she loves to sing so much. We still never made it to the Casbah Gallery either.
At least I got to spend some quality time with my sister.
Or so I thought.
As soon as we got to the festival she made a beeline to the drinks fountain and filled up a glass before going over to the bar to get another. She knows I’m underage and not legally allowed to drink with her so while she was doing that I had to find something else to do to keep myself busy.
So I found myself stuffing my face with Goi Cuon which was really tasty but I was pretty bummed out because this weekend was not going the way I thought it would go.
Maybe I was just overreacting. It’s not like I made a big deal to her about wanting to go to these places and she flaked on me. Maybe she thought I was having fun. I wasn’t exactly complaining either I was just going along for the ride like I usually do.
I decided I would enjoy myself at the festival even if she wasn’t there at my side to enjoy it with me. I watched some of the scheduled comedians perform. Some of them were actually funny and others just bombed but it was entertaining to watch nonetheless. A few people pulled pranks on their friends, which was funny to watch but I silently prayed none of them came around me with their hijinks.
Then the fireworks show started signaling the end of the festival.
It was amazing. Oasis Springs never has anything like this! When the fireworks were over, I decided it was time to find Lyra so we could head back to her apartment. I went over to the bar where I last left her but she wasn’t there.
I started to look around to see if I could find her.
All the food stalls were closing up and people were starting to leave. The place was getting less crowded and yet there was no sign of her anywhere.
I started getting worried. Where could she be? She wouldn’t leave just like that without me. Something was wrong! I called her phone but it went straight to voicemail like it was switched off. Something was very wrong!
I started to panic a little.
I mean, she was drinking a lot so what if someone spiked her drink when she wasn’t looking and took her with them? If that was the case then it’s my fault because she came with me and I wasn’t watching her to make sure she was safe.
I called Kaleb but he didn’t answer. Perhaps he was busy with Penny or something but I really wished he answered because I had no idea what to do. Should I call the police? Is it too soon to file a missing person’s report?
My best bet was to go back to the apartment building and find Kaleb and Penny and let them help me figure out what to do.
My heart was racing the entire cab ride back. I was nervous and confused as to where Lyra could be and what was happening to her. My thoughts were flooded with only bad images. I had long pushed the panic button. Maybe it’s because I was in a new city and didn’t know where to begin to search for her myself. I felt so helpless like there was nothing I could do.
And then I heard a noise coming from her apartment. It was the sound of voices and there was no doubt in my mind that one of the voices was hers.
She went home?!
From the muffled sounds I thought she was in trouble so I rushed in to help her.
She wasn’t in any trouble.
Angry couldn’t begin to describe how I felt. “Lyra! What the hell…?!”
She and the guy hopped out of bed with plum-eating grins on their faces like they had no cares in the world while I stood there fuming.
“Mai, um….this is Akira, my boyfriend….”
I finally got to meet Akira but in that moment I had no desire to exchange pleasantries or anything. I think he was smart enough to realise that because instead of saying anything to me he just smiled awkwardly before quickly throwing his clothes on.
“I’ll see you later babe,” He said as he kissed her on the cheek.
“I’ll call you.” She said as he walked out then she turned to me smiling and I knew she was about to start giving me unsolicited details about the guy but I didn’t want to hear it. As soon as I heard that door shut I laid into her. “I can’t believe you would do this to me Lyra!”
“Don’t tell me to relax! You left me at the festival so you can come back here and screw your boyfriend!”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. It’s just Akira called me and said he had an hour before his work shift started and I…”
“So you decided to leave me there without saying anything? Do you realise how worried I was thinking something bad happened to you after you disappeared on me?”
“You’re right, I shouldn’t have…”
“I can’t believe this! This is just like old times huh? You haven’t changed at all! I thought coming out here would mean we would finally get to spend some time together but as usual, we do everything you want and go everywhere you want to go. And finally, you decide to abandon me just so you can hook up with Akira. It’s like you can’t keep your legs close long enough to let your brain do the thinking! Like seriously…when are you going to grow up Lyra?”
“When am I going to grow up? Oh please Maia! When are you? Yes, I was wrong to not let you know I was leaving but there’s no need for you to rant and rave at me just because you’re a prude who’s apparently allergic to the male species?”
“You heard me! Just because I’m confident enough to express myself the way I want to, you’re jealous of that. You think all those comments you make just fly over my head? I hear it and I know exactly what you mean. That deep sea diving dig you made that time, I heard it. You said it quietly but I heard it. You think I’m slutty just because I like woohoo, well I’m not. I’m just not a frigid prude like you with idealistic ideas of love so don’t judge me! Are you a child who needs me to hold your hand wherever you go? No, you’re not! You’re the one that needs to grow up Maia!”
“Oh really? I am way more grown up than you are since I’m the one taking care of everything all the time! I took care of Mom after Dad died while you ran away! I always cover for you and you talk about holding my hand! And you decide to leave me behind and choose being with some guy, over me? Well, here’s what, I’m staying with Kaleb and Penny tonight so you don’t have to worry about me hanging around being judgemental anymore!” My heart was racing because I was so mad! I just had to get away from her before I really went over the line.
Her eyes narrowed at me. “Good, go then!”
We never had a fight that big before and even as I was walking out of her apartment pissed off I still felt pretty bad about some of the things I said to her but I wasn’t going to back down. Lyra hurt me so I wasn’t going to budge until she realised she was the wrong one and apologised. I wasn’t going to put up with her crap anymore. I would show her that she wasn’t the only one that had changed.