1.3. The Collective


"Oh. MY. GAAAWD"

Quentin winces. He knows exactly what's going on. Despite all of her complaints about her family, despite her constant worrying about them intruding on their life in Aurora Skies, despite all of that, Luna is on Simstagram, stalking her siblings.

"Quen, look!" Luna shoves her phone in his face, "Can you believe it?"

He squints at the screen,"Umm, Nova has a boyfriend? That's nice, hon."

"Ugh, no! It’s not nice--it's Mercury! MERCURY!"

Quentin stares at her until she lets out an exasperated sigh, "You don't get it."

"No, I really don't."

Luna rolls her eyes as she taps Elysia's number on the screen of her phone. It rings once, then Elysia picks up.

"Did you see it?" Elysia's voice is so loud that Quentin can hear it across the room. He retreats to the bedroom in search of peace and quiet.


"YES! Mercury??"

"Gross, right? I just knew this was going to happen.”

"How long has this been going on?" Luna feels fiercely protective of her younger sister, and Mercury has always skeeved her out.

"I mean, he's been creeping on her on and off for years. But they apparently only got together a couple of days ago. He’s been living with her since you left for Aurora Skies, though.”

“Ew,” that’s the only response Luna can muster, “Wait, I thought he was like mom’s age? He looks good…” She trails off. Good thing Quentin left the room, lest he see her blushing.

“That’s the thing. He is numerically the same age as mom and dad. I think.”

 “You think?” Luna’s not used to hearing that from her sister. Elysia knows everything about everyone.

“Well, I know Crux met him  before we were born and he was about their age. But when he showed up again a couple of years ago, he wasn’t much older.”

“What does that mean?”

“How the hell am I supposed to know? He was probably cryogenically frozen or something.”

“Well can’t you read his mind?” Luna can’t let go of this nagging feeling that something bad is going to happen to Nova if Mercury is part of her life.

“Not as well as I can read yours. He’s a hot mess.”

“I wonder what his story is…” Luna trails off. She thinks about these kind of things a lot--she’s been trying to piece together for a long time everything that happened with her mother, her father, and Crux. She knows the basics of her mother’s life. Her mother is an alien, and was sent to Lucky Palms on a research mission. Her mother’s planet was kind of sort of evil in a generic way. Her mother defected. She told Luna some of this, but was mum about the rest.

“Elly, you’re a writer. Do you ever think about writing about mom’s adventures? Sci-fi novels are kind of popular right now.”

“I don’t have time for that. Next week I’m going to China, and the week after that I’m going to Egypt. This travel writing gig has me tapped out.”

“Oh,” Luna tries to hide her disappointment, “I thought it was a good idea…”


Elysia is quiet for a moment. “Why don’t you write about it? It’s not a bad idea, and I can put you in contact with my agent. He helped me publish my most recent book.”

“I don’t think I’m a good enough writer.”

Elysia sighs, “I don’t have time for this right now, Lulu. Either write the book or don’t, but I need to get off the phone.”

Luna sniffles a couple of times and then starts bawling, “ I don’t know why you have to always be so mean to me!”

Oh crap, Elysia sighs again and rolls her eyes, now I’m going to be on the phone all night. “I’m sorry, Luna….”


It takes Elysia almost half an hour to make peace with Luna. The whole time, she lavishes her sister with compliments and praise: “You’re so creative, Luna! You understand emotion so well, Luna! You read a lot, Luna! I’m sure you can write a novel. Of course, Luna! It’ll be a bestseller, Luna!”


Sufficiently complimented, Luna plops down in front of her computer. Quentin had bought it at a garage sale. It smelled weird and it needed to have a fan pointed at it on particularly hot days, but it works. She pauses for a few moments, staring at the screen. Finally, she starts typing. And typing. And typing.

A few days later, she has a book. It’s not very long, and she’s not sure of the quality--in fact, she's downright suspicious considering how quickly she wrote it. But she takes Elysia up on her offer, and contacts Elysia’s agent. He asks her to come up with a brief summary, so he can shop it around. She ponders for awhile, before coming up with what she feels is a mediocre description:

The Collective, by Luna Bee
Cynosura Tyr is not like other members of The Collective, the totalitarian government of the planet Halcyon. She is rash, curious, and kind-hearted. And when she is sent on a mission to study human life in the sleepy town of Riverview, she finds herself torn between the cold embrace of The Collective and the possibility of true love.

Well, it’s better than nothing.

***


My book is going to be published. I am going to be published, Luna’s mind is reeling. She barely got the news this afternoon, but The Collective was picked up by a small publisher. She’s so excited, she can’t concentrate.

Physically, she’s on a date with Quentin at The Red Lantern, a dive down the street from their cottage. But her mind is in the future, in a time where she’s a bestselling author and she doesn’t have to worry about money. She sips on her drink, a cheap, sour-tasting cocktail.

“Enjoying your drink?” Quentin’s voice snaps her out of it.

“Huh? Oh, yeah. It’s okay,” alcohol isn’t really Luna’s cup of tea. Actually, she much prefers tea. She wonders if this place has any.

“Once you get a job, maybe we can come here more often?” There it is. Quentin’s passive aggressive jab about getting a job. He’s been doing this for weeks. Any time they do something fun, or see something they want at the store, or talk about their future in any way at all, he says, “Hey, once you get a job we’ll be able to do ______!”

“Yeah, once I get a job,” Luna mumbles. What if her book is a success? She can’t work and write at the same time. But she hasn’t even told him about the book. He thinks she’s been applying to jobs all day, every day. There aren’t many places hiring full-time in Aurora Skies. The people who get jobs hold on to them.

Quentin senses the downshift in mood. “Do you want to dance?” He’s determined to make this a good date. After all, he’s already spent six bucks on drinks. Sunk cost fallacy and all that.


They’re the only patrons there, so the bartender switches the stereo to a slow song. She’s been a bartender long enough to know that something is going on between the couple. Quentin wraps his right arm around Luna’s and gently grabs her hand.

“You look beautiful tonight.” The way her hair frames her face drives him absolutely wild. He just wishes she didn’t always have a sad look in her eyes.

“Thanks.” Luna isn’t afraid of silence, so she lets the word hang in the air.

“So how has your job search been going?” The couple keeps swaying, even though their bodies are tense and stiff.

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” Luna wants to stop dancing, but Quentin’s grip on her is firm. “I haven’t found a job.”

“You’ve been looking for weeks, Luna. What about that part-time job at the grocery store?”

“I don’t want to work at the grocery store--”

“It’s not about wants, Luna. We need money.”


“That’s easy for you to say, Quen. You found the perfect job on day one,” Luna snaps as she pushes away from him. Quentin has been playing in the house band for the local theatre since the day after the moved to Aurora Skies. It was serendipity. “I’ve been trying to tell you for awhile, but I wrote a book.”

“A book?” This conversation is confusing to Quentin. He thought they were talking about jobs.

“Yeah, a novel. It was just accepted by the publisher, and they’ve paid me up front,” Luna looks down at the floor. She doesn’t know why she’s so scared to talk about this book. She hopes none of her family reads it.

“How much?” That was not the response she expected.

“Umm. About 500 up front, and royalties each week depending on how well it sells.”

“That’s not a lot,” Quentin frowns. The words cut Luna deep.

“I enjoyed writing it…”


“You know, you could probably write and work,” Quentin suggests, “and the grocery store won’t take up that much time. I can pick up an application for you tomorrow.”

Luna doesn’t say anything. She’s afraid if she speaks, she’ll cry. “Fine,” she finally croaks, “you know, I don’t feel well. Let’s go home.”

They walk home in silence.

***

The next morning, Quentin is gone before Luna even wakes up. He leaves dishes in the sink, and food on the counter. She angrily begins to clean it up. What does he think I am--a maid? She scrubs the dishes so hard she chips one.


“Goddamnit…” she mutters to herself. As she turns of the sink, the handle comes loose. “No--no, no, no, no, no!” If they can’t afford for Luna to follow her dreams, they certainly can’t afford to hire a plumber.


Meanwhile, Quentin leaves the grocery store and hops on his bike. It’s a beautiful early autumn day. The leaves are starting to turn, and the air is crisp and cool. He’s heard the winters in Aurora Skies can be brutal, so he tries to enjoy the weather before it becomes miserable.

He parks his bike on the front lawn and hops up the stairs. He can’t wait to talk to Luna. But as he opens the front door, he’s bombarded by swears.


“God fucking dammit mother fucking bastard shit sink…” Luna doesn’t like to swear. It reminds her too much of her mom. But right now, it feels appropriate.

“Luna, what’s happening?”

“I broke the sink cleaning up YOUR,” she pauses and points at him for effect, “your damn dishes!”

“Could you leave it for a second? I brought something for you.”

“The job application? Just leave it on the table. I’ll get to it.”


“No, something else.” Luna whips around, ready to snap when she sees Quentin holding a bouquet of flowers. “Luna, I was such an asshole last night. I’ve been so focused on building a life here that all I’ve thought about is the pragmatic stuff.”

She raises an eyebrow, “What, am I not pragmatic?” She still feels a bit like fighting.

“That’s not what I mean. I’ve been focused on money and savings so that maybe someday we can have kids, but I haven’t been focusing on the most important part about our new life: us. I wasn’t supportive. I’m sorry.” He takes a breath before continuing, “You wrote a book and all I could think about was money. I’m so proud of you, Luna! You’re a published author, and if you want to pursue that further I’ll support you the whole way.”


Luna leans in, “So you admit you’re wrong?”

“Completely wrong.”


“Good. I’m glad you know it,” Luna smiles and kisses him.

“Look at me--making out with a famous author,” Quentin jokes, “soon everyone is going to know your name.”

“Oh maker, I hope not!” Luna gets a sinking feeling. Maybe she should have chosen a pseudonym.

Luna proudly displays the bouquet on the kitchen table. Quentin doesn’t tell her that he bought the flowers with a coupon. He doesn’t want to cheapen the moment.

***

Author’s note--For the uninitiated, Nova is Luna’s younger half-sister. Elysia is Luna’s sister who can read minds. Mercury is a mysterious human who can phase through walls, and he’s been a young adult since before Luna was even born. Weird.

Comments

  1. Haha, Luna swearing as she fixed the sink reminds me of when we ask my granddad to build something: swearing, and lots of it!

    It's sweet that Luna wants to follow her dreams ^-^ Would Polly be okay with having her story told in a book though? I can't imagine whether she'd take it well or not.

    Ah, Elysia's great ^-^ It's nice to see that Luna's still in touch with her sister, even though Ely was mean to her.

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    1. I'm pretty much the same way, except any challenging task makes me swear. :p

      You know, I hadn't considered Polly's reaction to the book. Thanks for bringing that up! It could be an interesting reaction, and I don't think it'll be entirely positive.

      Awww, Elysia wasn't THAT mean to her. And I had so much fun writing about Elysia; I wanna bring her back. :p

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  2. Oh wow, it was so great to see Luna's sisters again, and to know Mercury is still with Nova!

    Red Lantern is very cool looking.

    I felt pretty bad for Luna until the mood picked up at the end there. Money problems always have a way of wrecking dreams. xD

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    1. I want to routinely write little updates about her sisters, just because I planned so. Damn. Much for Nova and Mercury.

      Thanks! I made over the Blue Lagoon in Aurora Skies.

      Money problems are the worst, and I actually act like Quentin when it comes to money (in some ways, at least). At least I realize I'm being a dick, tho.

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    2. Yay! Wait! I'm conflicted. I do want to know what would have happened with Nova and Mercury. So bad! On the other hand, this means their story will never continue in the old blog? ... Oh well, I'd take a synopsis in this blog. *nod*

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    3. I don't think their story will continue until/if I have a lot more free time because pretty much every chapter I had planned required poses, etc. I was getting way to ambitious with that story. :p

      But I really want these two (or at least one of them) to show up at some point.

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  3. Luna is over-emotional, isn't she?

    I hope her family has little bit parts here and there. Obviously we won't know much about their family beyond a point, but I like seeing them now.

    I'm glad Quentin realised he was being a little unreasonable (only a little. Sometimes having money for now is more important than "But I might make money eventually from this")...

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    1. She is indeed over-emotional. I want her family to make appearances sometimes, and I figure it'll be easy to explain when Quentin and Luna begin to hit relationship milestones.

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  4. I'm with Elysia: Mercury is gross, and you've already told he'll be a terrible spouse. But Quentin is a dick, and to do that for weeks in addition. I mean, the guy plays in a band and whines because Luna wants to write? Then he wants her to have two jobs, and him only one? Ugh, sim- men are terrible. Poor little Luna wasn't even allowed to be proud of something that she accomplished.

    Lunas lack of using a pseudonym is going to raise hell isn't it?

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    1. Mercury is such a creeper, but I loved writing him. Quentin is a dick, but I have been Quentin (struggling to make ends meet), so I kind of understand him. Quentin will become sweet again, hopefully.

      Whaaaaaaat, why would that raise hell? ;)

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  5. oooOOO... I'm thinking the standard fiction disclaimer might not be enough without a pseudonym. She might consider the planet to be generically evil, but there are a handful of folk out there who might recognize. Ah well. Maybe next time. Or *Maybe* this go 'round is supposed to be boring and so no will else generically evil will read a book written by an unknown and published by a small publisher. Sorry. Couldn't help myself. ;)

    Is that The Blue Lagoon? I turned that into an arcade despite it's perfect set up to be a dive. lol.

    If only Luna could appreciate the pragmatic argument as typical and boring and totally common. After that, Quentin showed his ass nicely there. Support your wife, yo! And not just in her dreams but when she's freaking out about family matters. However, I do the same with hubs. Only I don't consider Nova to be an attention whore and then there's the whole kidnapping thing... yeah.

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    1. There are probably at least a handful that would recognize the story. Whooo knoooows?

      Yes, it is! I thought it was so cute and tavern-y so that it would make a perfect dive bar. I turned Bjorn Cafe into half-cafe, half-arcade.

      So I wrote this chapter after listening to a podcast about how no relationship is perfect (I think it was an episode of This American Life), so I think that seeped into this chapter. I'm actually a lot like Quentin re: money, and my husband is like Quentin re: not understanding why I'm so fascinated by family drama.

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  6. The Red Lantern and the interior of their house look beautiful. Did you decorate both yourself? You always had these wonderful color combinations in your old legacy too. They make for lovely pictures!

    Glad Quentin came around and realized his mistake!
    I've totally been in Elysia's shoes there - accidentally being rude of the phone to an over-emotional Sim... err person... because you're in a rush and then having to spend even more time making amends. :/
    The dialogue feels so real overall!

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    1. Yes, I remade one of the hangouts in AS into the Red Lantern, and I built and decorated the Bee-Parker household. Thanks! I actually spend way too much time picking out colors and such for my lots.

      The conversation between Elysia and Luna is basically how every phone call with my sister ends ip (I'm Elysia in this scenario). Though I'm terrible on the phone overall.
      Thanks! :D

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  7. I don't think Quentin was *wrong* exactly. He should have been more supportive when he found out she did have a writing job, of course. But he did have a point that she needed to make money somehow.

    So are they planning on kids then? Since Quentin mentioned it but Luna didn't respond to that part. I love Sim kids, lol.

    Also, I love the effort that you've put into the little details. Like renaming things (Simstagram), and the Simlish.

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    1. I actually am kind of team Quentin on this. His job has crappy pay, and Luna isn't making them a lot of money.

      Quentin is definitely already thinking about kids! Luna is on the fence, I think. But they'll definitely have kids eventually--it just might be a few sim weeks. ;_;

      Thank you! I had so much fun making the Simstagram picture, and I want to make more in the future.

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