Extra: The Dance
So I’m sorta connecting all my generation’s stories together as I go. But it’s up to you whether to see this as part of the bigger story or just as an extra. ^^
I’d gotten too used to them these days. They came in smaller and bigger portions, depending on the time of day. There was the pain in my joints from old age, and the pain in my lower back when I ducked to pick up the newspaper in the early mornings. When I tried to eat something that was too hard for me to chew- small, unimportant pains like that. They were there every day, and I had stopped paying them any heed.
And then there were the bigger pains. The ones that I couldn’t get used to no matter how hard I tried. Visiting my grandchildren’s grave was one of them. Looking upon my only daughter in the institution, and being unable to do anything to help her. Realizing everything that could have been, if Maker had just allowed it to.
And then there was the biggest pain of them all.
Today was our anniversary.
We’d never been able to celebrate our marriage, not even once. Young fools that we were. Instead of waiting, we threw ourselves head-first into the working life and parenthood. I remembered her telling me she wanted to try ballroom dancing once, how nice it would be if we could do that for our anniversary.
It was an impossible wish to fulfill without a dancing partner, though.
Slowly finishing my morning routine, I eventually made my way outside. While everything else about Sunset Valley had slowly begun changing, this part of the neighborhood was still the same. I was silently thankful for that. It gave me peace and quiet, something I treasured very much at my old age.
At the far end of the backyard, underneath the tree, I’d placed my rocking chair. It had become one of my most prized possessions, apart from the pictures of Natalia and the rest of my family.
With a small smile, I walked over to the chair and seated myself. The soft fabric felt very good against my back. I relaxed, slowly exhaling and doing nothing but listening to the sounds around me. The trees rustling. The birds, singing their songs as loud as they could before it was time to migrate south for the winter. Life went on as usual, as it was supposed to… even without Natalia. Probably even without me.
The sweet scent of lavender drifted into my nose. I loved the smell of lavender. It was what Natalia had always smelled like, just after she’d gotten out of the shower. Her blonde hair would be several shades darker from the water, and still soaking wet. She always forgot to bring a towel in with her.
Slowly, I could feel my eyelids starting to sink. A heavy, sluggish feeling came over my entire body. It felt odd, but at the same time, strangely right. As if this was what was supposed to happen.
And at moment, I knew that if I fell asleep here, I would not wake up again.
I fought the sluggish feeling, but to no avail. Ever so slowly, my eyes fell further shut. With the last bit of sight that I had, I noticed a reddish brown thing coming towards me. It looked like a woman… a woman dressed in red, with long, wavy brown hair falling over her shoulders and upper back. It was almost like she was radiating in the sun’s light.
‘Who… are you?’
When the vision spoke, I felt my entire body warm up from the inside. Soft, hummed words drifted from her mouth towards me, cradling my mind with their melody.
‘You have grown old, Wyatt Adams. Don’t worry, I won’t harm you. Now sleep…’
I couldn’t resist anymore. My eyes fell shut and I could feel the back of my head hitting the rocking chair, and then there was nothing.
Soft, hummed music made its way into my eardrums. I groaned and tried to turn in the chair, to make myself more comfortable. But the chair was gone. Around me, I could see a big, dark room, with white pillars in every corner. It gave off the vibe of a gathering hall, or even a ballroom.
What was I doing here?
I looked down and it was only then that I noticed I was wearing a black suit. It was just like the one I’d worn for my wedding, with only some slight differences. Even the handkerchief in my pocket was there.
I gulped and looked around, trying to find out where the exit was. There was only one door in the room; a big, black door surrounded by white stone, that very much looked like it was sealed. Had someone locked me in here? I couldn’t remember.
What was going on?
A voice came from the direction which had been empty just seconds ago. And not just any voice. I would have recognized that from in between a million voices.
It couldn’t be.
I turned around and my eyes widened in disbelief. There, in a stunning evening gown, stood Natalia. Her long, silky hair fell around her shoulders and was split just above her eyes, exactly like how I remembered it.
She was facing away from me. I could feel myself being drawn to her, a force that was almost physically pulling me closer. Everything about Natalia seemed to be radiating light. She was such a strong contrast to the dark walls and floor that it was almost breathtaking.
‘Is it… is it really you?’ I finally whispered, stopping a few inches in front of her. She simply nodded, smiling seductively at me.
‘I’ve missed you, Wyatt. Happy anniversary.’
‘I- I’ve missed you too,’ I said, my voice cracking when I noticed the sweet smell of lavender in the air. It was her. It really was her- everything was just as I remembered it.
In a single movement, I closed the distance between us and wrapped my arms around her waist. She was so soft, burying her head in my shoulder. Her long, silk hair caressed the back of my hands as I hugged her tight.
‘You’ve really had a rough time, haven’t you?’ Natalia softly whispered, after gently breaking away from my embrace. Her face was still close, though, so close that I could count every spick of blue in her grey eyes. They were beautiful as always, but… something seemed to be missing.
‘Say… do you remember what we promised all that time ago?’ she said, smiling at me. ‘About what we’d do on our first anniversary?’
‘Yes… but it’s too late for that. Before we could dance, you were… you were already…’
I looked away from her, unable to say anything more.
When I finally turned my gaze back, she had closed in on me again, her arms spread out in an inviting manner.
‘I’m here now, aren’t I? And, if you think about it… this ís our first anniversary together.’
‘Yes. Won’t you dance with me, Wyatt?’
She smiled again, and this time I returned her smile. Gently, I took hold of her hand and placed the other on her shoulder. Out of nowhere, a slow melody started playing. I knew I’d heard it somewhere before, and yet I couldn’t recognize it. The music was delightful and sweet and I closed my eyes for a bit, enjoying its sound.
Slowly, we started dancing around in circles across the ballroom. It was really, truly magical. The floor underneath us seemed to slowly melt away into nothingness while we danced, revealing a grand panorama of stars. The view was breathtaking, and Natalia seemed to shine together with the stars’ glow in the dark of the night.
And yet, even with a sight like this, there seemed to be something… lacking. Something important. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but there was something vital that was missing from this scene.
‘Let’s be together forever,’ Natalia smiled, moving away from me as she was about to spin around in my arms. She flashed another wide, seductive smile, and all of a sudden I knew what was wrong with all of this.
In a reflex, I let go of her hands. It was an abrupt gesture and clearly threw her off balance. She looked up at me with a big question mark on her face.
‘Wyatt? Why are we stopping?’
‘I can’t believe this,’ I muttered, not looking her into the eyes. Even now, when I knew I’d already left my body behind, even when all of life’s sorrows and troubles had faded into the background, there was still someone toying with me. As if I was a piece to torture for someone’s personal pleasure.
‘You’re not Natalia.’
‘What are you talking about?’ she said, coming closer to me again. She tried to wrap her arms around me- I violently pushed her away, after which she stayed her distance.
‘Natalia would never be this straight-forward. She hesitates. She thinks before any word she speaks. Let’s stay together forever is something that would never ever come out of her mouth, just like that. You’re not my wife- you’re not Natalia.’
Her confused expression faded faster than I could blink. The woman looked upon me with unclear, emotionless eyes- almost as if she wasn’t looking at me anymore, even if she was. It confirmed my suspicions. It was like another kick in my stomach.
‘I know you’re out there, Maker,’ I finally sneered, my voice cold as ice. ‘Stop trying to fool me and show yourself, already!’
It wasn’t long before she responded to my call. A bright, yellow light appeared behind me, out of which she came forward. It was the woman I’d seen before, back when I was sitting in the rocking chair.
She wasn’t smiling, as I’d expected: instead, her face had fallen and there was an almost regretful expression in her eyes.
‘I was hoping you wouldn’t notice,’ she said, softly. ‘I even made her from your own memories.’
‘Is this funny to you? Tricking me like that?’ I sneered, with a frown still on my face. ‘You’ve been toying with me during my entire story. I know you’re still toying with my daughter and granddaughter- will you never be satisfied?!’
‘That’s… not what I meant to do.’
I looked upon her face for a second time. The little bit of regret was still there, together with a slight confusion. Almost as if she was a little child that was being misunderstood by her parents.
‘I have to let the stories take place. I can’t change them. But…’
She suddenly looked me right in the eyes, pleading with me to understand her.
‘But that doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize with any of you! You’ve had so many troubles, I know- I was there every step of the way. So I thought… I thought that, maybe, if I could give you some happiness, just a little, before the end…’
I felt my anger slowly fading away. It wasn’t as I’d thought it was. She had actually tried to help me? I couldn’t imagine why. But she seemed to sincere… it had to be true.
‘You can’t just toy with our emotions like that, Maker,’ I said softly, trying to explain. ‘We’re just sims in your world, I know, but we live as best we can. Our stories are important to us. You can’t just mess with that whenever you please.’
‘I know. Please don’t be mad, Wyatt. I just… wanted you to have a last happy memory before passing on.’
‘Thank you,’ I said, finally rewarding her with a smile. ‘I appreciate the thought, I really do. But I want to go where the real Natalia is now. I’ve stalled this for way too long.’
‘Are you sure? You won’t be able to come back,’ she said, slowly.
‘Yes, I’m sure. I’m ready to pass on.’
She gave me a short nod before turning around and walking to the other side of the ballroom, the side with the door in the wall. It was still closed, but the previous aura of being completely sealed off was suddenly gone. I knew that, as I was now, I’d be able to pass through.
As I walked closer to the wood, I cast one last glance at the fake Natalia. It wasn’t her, but the thought that I’d see the real Natalia in a matter of moments, made my heart flutter wildly. I’d missed her so much.
‘Wait for me, Natalia. I’ll join you soon.’
Another step and suddenly I felt light as a feather. As if all of my previous weight had been discarded and thrown away, leaving just my soul. Maybe that’s what happened when you crossed the gate. A smile appeared on my lips. I touched the door, opening it and slowly floating through, into the blue whirlpool.
Finally. I’d see her again.
Slowly, her smile turned into a devilish grin. A soft chuckle came out of her mouth and soon got louder, echoing eerily across the ballroom walls. A single snap of her fingers and the fake Natalia vaporized into nothing. All signs of remorse and sympathy had left her eyes, revealing them for what they truly were.
‘No… I don’t think you will.’