The problem with sleeping on a bench, Lissa thought to herself, is that it is impossible to sleep the whole night through. She had spent the night tossing and turning, waking up every couple of hours only to stretch and fell asleep again in a different position. When the sun rose, she was glad to have a reason to get up and greet the day.
Lissa methodically started to comb through the area, collecting all the things she possibly could. A lot of the plants that had been too small yesterday were flourishing today, and quite a few of them were edible! Filling her pockets with mushrooms, strawberries and a few herbs, she strolled along the paths, whistling.
“Someone’s in a good mood”
She spinned around, to find-
“Morning, star girl” Morgan grinned. “What do you think of my outfit? Too cool for school?”
“You go to school?”
“Yep! I’m in my final year though, so it won’t be too long until I’m out on my own in the big bad world.”
“Is the world really that bad?” Lissa’s eyes widened at the thought.
“It’s an expression, Lissi. You’ll get used to them pretty quickly.” Morgan said. “Where do you live, by the way? This is the second time I’ve seen you in this spot in as many days.”
“On that lot, just there”
“It’s not as bad as it looks! After I’ve sold these fossils I’ll have enough for a shower. And I was shown where to get free food yesterday, so I’m sorted for that. If I’m lucky with my hunting today, I may be able to afford a bed, too.”
“Did something happen? Did you run away?”
“Nothing like that” Lissa said, shaking her head with a smile. “My family is very big, and it was a very tight fit for us all in one house. I’m the eldest, so I was looking for a place to stay and then I was offered this land. Admittedly, I had expected there to be a house on the lot, but I’m doing what I can.”
A small beeping noise came from Morgan’s pocket, and she reached for her phone with an apologetic look.
“That’s my alarm, I need to go or I’ll be late to class. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know, ok?”
Lissa smiled. “I will. Thank you.”
As Morgan jogged to the end of the road, Lissa noticed that her hands were covered in dirt. What a great impression she must have made. No wonder Morgan had been worried.
After washing her hands, she felt a lot better. She was hungry though, and there was no food left out. She picked a couple of mushrooms out of her pocket and ate them, wondering how many she would need to eat to be full.
As she bit into the fourth, already becoming fed up with the earthy taste, she noticed the sound of sizzling nearby, closely followed by a delicious scent.
She hovered, trying to be subtle despite her watering mouth. She didn’t want to seem desperate after all. Still, that grilled fruit did look delicious. The man seemed to know what he was doing, that was certain.
“You don’t have to wait anymore. It’s done.”
Lissa turned sheepishly to look at the man. He seemed slightly on edge, as if he was afraid that she would eat him instead if he didn’t offer her some. Still, it was a far cry from the hostility of last night, so she decided to ignore it and try to make conversation.
“Thank you. It looks amazing.”
“I wouldn’t be much of a chef if I messed up something as simple as this.”
“You’re a chef?”
“Well, a caterer, actually”
The man seemed to relax as the conversation went on. Lissa learnt a lot about his job (and quite a bit of gossip about his coworkers whilst she was at it) and by the time the meal was over, she had managed to make another positive acquaintance. Sometimes even rocky starts can be smoothed over.
The shower, whilst uncomfortable and slightly flimsy, felt like a luxury after sleeping rough last night. Lissa spent the rest of the day fishing, sometimes successfully…
… and sometimes not.
Spotting a plate of tofu dogs on the picnic table nearby, she decided to help herself. She looked out at the water as it reflected the sunset, and watched it ripple as fish swam about under the surface. It really is peaceful here.
She could hear the local children walking home from school, and when two of the stopped to stare at her, she smiled and walked over.
“Hello. How are you-”
“Ewwwwwwwwwww she’s blue. That’s so weird.” one of them said. The little girl glared angrily at her. “Why are you blue?”
“Oh My Creator, Elsa, you can’t just ask someone why they’re blue.” Elsa stomped off to get some food, not even bothering to acknowledge her friend.
“Thank you. I’m sorry if my appearance-”
“Hold on. I don’t like you either. You shouldn’t be here. You’re just going to abduct people, anyway.”
With those words, she turned and followed her friend.
Lissa just stood there, with her now empty plate of food, listening to the children chatting at the table. This was the second time this had happened. Are sims grumpier in the evening? She would try to avoid socialising in the evenings until she was settled. Maybe that would help.
Still, she thought as she climbed into her new bed, I’ve got five days until I can leave. I’m going to make the most of them.
Lissa settled into a rhythm. She would do her collection rounds, shower, and then go for breakfast. She tried her hand at cooking, and found that it was really quite enjoyable. The finished product didn’t turn out as well as Bob’s food did, but it was definitely edible.
Sometimes she ate with others, and sometimes she ate alone, but she always made sure there was food left over. After all, it was the ‘unwritten rule’, and she felt a rush of happiness when she saw people eating her food. It made her feel like she belonged here.
She started a garden, filling it with every type of edible plant she could find. Morgan worked for the local garden centre as a manual labourer, and had cut out some articles on ‘grafting’ for her. It was above her level of knowledge now, but it was enough to convince her to set up a small side garden of plants that could, when grafted, become edible.
Lissa soon ventured out from her small neighbourhood into other parts of Newcrest. They were just as empty as her own, but she was beginning to see the potential in them. They contained new plants, and even more rocks and frogs. The fish in the ponds were different to the ones in her river.
Her river. When had that happened?
There were only two days left until her ride home, now. It seemed like she had only arrived yesterday. An ache developed in her chest, and she found it hard to smile. Was she really going to leave?
Lissa jumped as her phone went off. It was Morgan.
“Hey, Liss. I haven’t seen you in a while, but school is over and I’ve done all the homework so do you want to hang out for a bit?”
“I’d love to.” Lissa said, her smile returning as she made arrangements.
They met by the pond as the sun was setting. As they walked over to the grills, Morgan suddenly stopped and turned to her. She pulled her down to the floor and they lay there, looking at the clouds.
“C’mon, star girl. Something’s wrong. I’m not letting you leave until you spill the beans.”
“I don’t have any beans”
Morgan raised an eyebrow in her direction, and Lissa sighed.
“You know when I showed you my home planet?”
“The one… there?”
“A little to the right, but yes. You see, I might be going back there soon.”
Morgan looked at her, and motioned for her to go on. She looked sadder than she had moments ago, though. At least, Lissa thought she did.
“I was tricked into coming here. I arrived as planned, but I had no money, no job, no home. The shuttle to Sixam only runs once a week, so I had no choice but to stay. Still, I kind of like it here. I have no roof over my head, and no reliable income. No one wants to hire an alien like me. I think I’d miss this place, though. I’ve made friends, and this town is so beautiful. It just needs some work. What would happen to it if I left? Would you still want to be friends with me if I’m on another planet?”
Morgan sat up. “Look, Lissi, I would keep in contact if you left. It would be strange not seeing you around any more. You’ve not been here long, and you’re always running around with your arms covered in dirt and your pockets full of frogs. I think I’d miss you. You bring life to the place, you know?”
Lissa looked up at her friend and smiled. “Thanks for that lovely description of my appearance. I am now a muddy frog lady.”
“Nah. You’re still star girl.”
“I still haven’t decided if I’m going to leave. I’ve still got a couple of days left until the shuttle.”
“Well then, lets make the most of them” Morgan said, standing and brushing off the gravel as Lissa followed. “There’s still some food over there, and it’ll be cold soon, so lets go and grab some before it’s gone.”
When they saw what had been cooked, Morgan let out a snort of laughter.
“What’s funny?” Lissa asked as they sat down to eat.
“Of course the food would be beans. Typical”
“Don’t spill any, then”
“Nuh-uh, it’s my turn. You spilt them earlier so I am allowed to spill as many as I want” she said, and chucked a bean at Lissa’s head.
By the end of the meal, they were laughing and joking again. The seriousness of the earlier conversation had been left behind.
“I should probably head to bed,” Morgan sighed, “It’s nearly midnight.”
“Probably.” Lissa said, standing up.
They said goodbye, but Lissa didn’t feel like sleeping. Her mind was racing. Did she really want to go back? She decided to go for a jog to clear her head.
It might have worked a little too well, she thought, as she felt herself falling asleep on the bench she had stopped on for a rest.
She rose with the sun, and walked back to her lot. It wasn’t far, and as she saw her little collection of furniture illuminated by the early morning light, she realised something. This felt like home. She was home. It wasn’t much but it was hers. She had even managed to build a tiny bathroom. She had done all of this.
I’m not going to be coming back this weekend. I’ve got so much to do here. I love you all, and I would love to see you again, but I think I can make this place my own. I’m getting used to the people, and I’d like to think that at least some of them are getting used to me. Maybe the scientists have the right idea after all.
I’ve even made a few friends! There’s Morgan (the one who helped me with fishing that first day), and Bob who taught me how to make grilled fruit without burning myself, and Siobhan – though I’ve only met her once. I’d like to think she will be my friend one day, though.
I’m sending you a parcel on the shuttle. It’s got a few of my first home-grown strawberries and mushrooms. Nothing else has grown fully yet, but when it does I promise to send you some!
I don’t know exactly what I’m going to build first, but I am going to build a life here. I hope.
Talk to you soon