A Simlit Short Story.
This story was written with the topic “Anew” in mind as part of a forum competition I wanted to take part in.
You can find the link to the forum here
It was unintentional.
I know that now.
I’ve spent the past 3 months paying for that lack of intention in Oasis Springs Juvenile Correction Facility working a community sentence and now I find myself feeling uncertain and blinking slowly in the bright blaring sunshine with only the clothes on my back and the measly $5 I have in my pocket; should be enough for a taxi though, I guess. I think against it, I need all the money I can get right now.
I scuff my sneakers on the sidewalk, causing clouds of dust spiralling into the dry air.
I know exactly where I’m going, I planned it whilst I was detained, hell knows I’ve had enough time to go over the actions which put me there.
I round the corner and there it is – huge and gleaming white – an eyesore on the skyline – SimsMart. I’m pretty certain my ban will have been lifted by now. I swallow and step forward, preparing to rectify my activities of 3 months previously.
I’m surprised when the automatic doors glide effortlessly open with a faint electronic whir, not entirely sure what I was expecting but I think perhaps some sort of resistance.
I shake my head as I enter the building, I did my time, and now it’s time to pay my dues.
I know she still works here – detained I might have been but only because of my circumstances, not because I’m dangerous.. or am I? I scowl, the look in her eyes that day certainly fooled everyone into thinking I was dangerous, imbalanced. What a fool I was.
Renata Peppard has her back to me, she’s stacking the shelves for the bakery. Of course she is.
Slowly I approach her, my heart is hammering so hard in my chest I feel like it might burst out through my breastbone and kill me. I’m certain she should be able to hear it.
“Excuse me,” I say uncertainly, she doesn’t turn and I feel my voice is too quiet. I can barely muster the energy to repeat myself, Instead I slowly reach forward and touch her shoulder.
Ren turns to face me a friendly smile on her face – obviously expecting a customer.
“Sorr-” she begins to apologise, but stops abruptly, eyes wide with disbelief.
“hi,” I manage.
Ren shakes her head, her dark curls bouncing as she does so, “Eric,” she whispers my name, “What… what are you doing here?” her voice drips with guilt.
“I came to see you,” I say, it’s weird to see her again, I thought I’d feel something. Hatred? Disgust? Love? Instead I feel numb.
Ren reaches forward and pulls me into a hug, it lasts for too long and I just stand there rigid and uncertain. “I’m so sorry,” she whispers into my ear, her breath tickling my lobe and sending shivers down my spine.
A few moments later and we’re outside in the summer sunshine, sitting on the same bench which used to be my home all those months ago. We’ve been silent for what feels like an eternity.
“Why?” I finally say, my voice cutting through the soundless afternoon.
Ren is kicking the floor with her black pumps.
“You know I need this job,” she says, “I have to support Alfie…”
I blink, of course, how could I expect anything different? I knew she didn’t do it out of malice. “I thought you’d say that,” I say.
“What do you expect?” Ren turns to me, I see tears in her eyes, “I could never choose between the two of you. Alfie is my son, and you’re… you’re…”
“Just the hobo who “stole” from the bakery?” I say sadly, finishing for her.
“I had no choice, I’d lose my job.”
“I fell in love with you,” I blurt, “You’re the only person who ever looked at me like I was a human being and not just some degenerative layabout with no life.”
Ren says nothing but she’s making this easy.
“I came to say goodbye,” that gains her attention, she looks right at me with her kind brown eyes.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m not sure,” I shrug, “But I need to get away from Oasis Springs, away from everything…” Away from you.
“But… I…” Renata swallows, “I’ve missed you…”
I shake my head, “We were never meant to be together Ren. Everything you did for me, I appreciate it – you sneaking me bread, buns, those insanely gorgeous chocolate pastries. You kept me going. For ages I had no hope and then I met you and all that changed. I was happy to live on this bench. I stopped caring when that stupid security guard kept moving me along. I didn’t even bother when the drunks came and pelted me with stones – it was fine, because I knew that I could see you the next morning and everything would be OK. And then the next thing I know I’m being escorted away by the police because of theft? Only I wasn’t the thief. You were. But it’s fine, because I thank you for that too.”
“Don’t thank me,” Ren says, tears rolling down her cheeks, “I regret what I did…”
I shake my head, “Never regret it.”
“I don’t understand.”
I smile and cup her soft cheek in my palm, “You saved me,” I say “If it wasn’t for you I would never had believed in the good of people, even when you locked me away. You’re right, you had no choice and because of you I’m ready to stop wasting my days here outside SimsMart and start making something of myself.”
“But… I’ll…” Renata swallows, “I’ll miss you.”
I lean forward and kiss her softly on the lips.
“I’ll miss you too,” I smile, I can feel tears forming in my eyes, “But I need to do this, I need to leave. It’s time to make something of my life, it’s time to start anew.”