“Oh no! The door’s locked. We’re trapped!” The brave knight cried in despair. “Oh fair princess, can you help us escape?”
The princess lifted the bright pink staff she held at her side, smiling. “Of course! Stand back, and I will save us!” She cried out dramatically as the wand began to sparkle and glow.
“Great!” Phoenix smiled happily at his little sister. “Now, roll me a D20 and we’ll see what happens.”
“A D-what?” The little girl asked in confusion.
Tam smiled gently, pointing down at the largest die in front of her.
“Oh! Duh!” Lila’s cheeks turned slightly pink. “Thanks, Tam.” The die clattered loudly against the table. “17!”
“Hmm…” Phoenix was thoughtful for a moment, consulting the chart in front of him. “Too bad, twerp… You wave the wand above your head, and a bunch of big slimy frogs start raining down from the ceiling!”
Phoenix laughed heartily at his sister’s shriek. Lila had been bugging him for so long to let her join one of his games, and he’d finally decided to cave and let her give it a try. And it was so much more fun than he thought it’d be… especially getting to be the one calling the shots for once.
“Okay, you should totally DM our next campaign, Phee.” Tam smiled at his friend. “You’re a natural!”
“Can I try again?” Lila begged. “I don’t want anymore frogs!”
Her brother smiled. “Sure, twerp. Go for it!”
The clattering of Lila’s dice filled the air once more… and so did the sound of footsteps over Phoenix’s shoulder.
“Felix?” Amna called sweetly as she approached. “Sorry… am I interrupting something?”
Oh shit. Phoenix looked down in horror at the dice and DM screen in front of him.
It was pointless to even try hiding them. What would she think? What would she say?
“Huh? ‘Felix’?” Lila’s little voice called him back to the present. “I don’t get it. Who’s — “
“Who’s that?” Tam interrupted loudly, finishing her question for her. Phoenix was certain they both knew that was not the way she’d planned on finishing that sentence. He hoped Amna did not notice the nervous edge to Tam’s voice. “That’s his new friend, remember?”
Amna gave the little girl a small wave of greeting. Thankfully, she didn’t seem to notice anything amiss. “Hello again, Lila.” She said sweetly.
“Oh, and uh, Amna, this is Tam.” Phoenix gestured toward his friend, who gave the dark-haired girl a nod of greeting.
This time, Amna hesitated a bit before waving. “Oh… hi!”
Lila rolled her eyes. “I know who she is! But why did she call you –”
“Alright, twerp.” It was Phoenix’s turn to interrupt his little sister. “Why don’t you go hangout in your room or something? We can play more later.”
“Aww, but we just started!” She pouted.
“Phee’s right, we can try again another time.” Tam smiled gently at her. “The knight was just about to head out anyway…” He flicked his eyes toward Phoenix. “Jasper invited me over for dinner tonight.” He explained.
Phoenix raised an eyebrow at him. He knew his brother and best friend got along well, but this was the first he’d heard of them hanging out when he wasn’t around. “Okay… Uh, well, tell him I say hi, I guess. Papa and Rubi too.”
“Will do!” Tam smiled, gesturing for Lila to follow him as he rose from his seat. “Let’s go, Princess.” He turned toward his friend. “Later, Felix.” Tam winked.
With one last smile toward Amna, Tam headed back through the kitchen, a very confused Lila at his side.
“Sorry about that.” Phoenix muttered when his friend and sister were out of earshot. He rose to his feet to join her. “Lila decided to drag me and Tam into one of her weird games.” He laughed softly, hoping she would believe him.
“That’s fine… I think it’s really sweet!” Amna grinned at him. “Most big brothers wouldn’t be so willing to put up with… that.” She gestured toward the pile of dice on the table.
Phoenix tried his best to ignore the slight sting he felt at Amna’s comment. “Yeah, probably not…”
“Anyway, I really didn’t mean to interrupt or anything.” She continued apologetically. “I can’t stay for very long anyway… I just had to come show you what I found today.” With a smile, Amna reached into her pocket and retrieved a folded piece of paper.
She handed it to Phoenix, whose stomach dropped the moment he read the flyer she had given him.
“A co-ed football team?” He muttered softly.
Amna nodded, her eyes alight with excitement. “We should totally sign up! Then we could play together!”
Phoenix felt like he was going to be sick. “I, uh… I dunno.” He managed to speak at last. “It sounds really fun, but like… I’m really busy with school and training and stuff. I’m not sure I can fit it in my schedule…”
“They only practice one day a week!” Amna pointed back down at the flyer for a moment. “It’s super casual… Just for fun.” She paused for a moment, batting her long eyelashes at him. “I’d really love it if we could play together, Felix. Will you at least give it a try?” She asked hopefully “For me?”
For a moment, Phoenix found himself lost in her deep brown eyes. His heart practically skipped a beat at the sight of them. How could he possibly say no?
“Okay.” He replied at last. “Let’s try it.”
“Yay!” Amna skipped forward to give Phoenix a soft kiss on his cheek. “I can’t wait!”
“Y-yeah… Me neither…”
“I’ve gotta head back home for dinner… But we’re still on for the gym tomorrow, right?”
Phoenix nodded, trying to smile. He was already getting so sick of that place. “Of course. Wouldn’t miss it.” He hoped his voice sounded casual.
“Great! We can start training for tryouts!”
Tryouts? Oh God… “Yeah. Awesome.” He muttered. “Can’t wait.”
The sight of Amna’s bright smile was almost enough to quell the awful twisting sensation in his stomach. “See you tomorrow, Felix.”
He pulled her into his arm for a moment, pressing his lips against hers. “See you tomorrow.”
As Amna headed back toward the front door to take her leave, a second, taller figure crossed over the threshold into the kitchen, smiling slightly.
Amna nodded kindly at Phoenix’s mother. “See you later, Mrs. Parris.” She said softly. “Bye, Felix!”
Phoenix watched as Harper approached, still smiling. Over her shoulder, he could see Amna disappearing into the entryway and heading for the front door.
“So… ‘Felix’, huh?” Harper asked softly.
He sighed. “Mama…”
“The first few times I heard her say it, I kept telling myself it was just my shitty hearing… But it’s not, is it?”
Phoenix tried his best to smile as they took a seat together at the table. “It’s just… It’s um, a weird nickname.” He shrugged. “Don’t worry about it.”
“Uh-huh…” Harper paused for a moment before continuing, her brow furrowing slightly in concern. “Honey… Is everything okay?”
“Of course it is.” Phoenix answered much too quickly. “Why wouldn’t it be?”
Harper did not immediately reply. “I’m just worried about you. And I know your Papa is too.”
Ugh. “You talked to him?” He asked softly. “What did he say?”
His mother shrugged. “Not a lot. Just that he thought you were maybe getting in a little over your head?” Harper’s eyes flicked down toward the flyer on the table. “And I can’t help but think he might have a point…”
Phoenix bit his lip. In truth, he had to agree with his parents. He was already getting so tired of pretending all the time. But he wasn’t about to admit that.
“It’s fine, Mama.” He said at last, trying his best to sound confident. “Seriously.”
She raised an eyebrow skeptically at him for a moment. “I get how hard it is, honey. Trust me. Back when I was your age… Well, I felt really lost. Out of place, y’know? So believe me, I get it.” Harper smiled softly at him. “But when I decided to try and find my place…” Her smile slowly began to fade. “Well, let’s just say I got in over my head too. It was awful. I made a lot of stupid mistakes, and hurt a lot of people…”
Phoenix’s brow furrowed slightly. He had no idea what she was talking about, but whatever it was, it sounded awful. What kind of trouble had his mother gotten into in her youth, he wondered? He shook his head. “This isn’t like that, Mama. I’m just trying something new. I’m not ‘hurting’ anybody, or whatever.”
“I know.” She assured him. “I know it’s different. And I know you’re way too smart to make the same mistakes I did… I just worry a little, that’s all. You never realize how quickly things can spiral out of control before it’s too late…” She paused for a moment before speaking again. “I guess my point is, be careful, Phoenix. And it’s great to try new things, but you shouldn’t stop being you. You should never try and change who you are. Not for your friends, or for a girl… Not for anybody, okay?”
Easy for you to say, Phoenix wanted to reply. You don’t know what it’s like. If he ever wanted to belong anywhere, he had to change, didn’t he? Otherwise he’d be stuck forever. Lost and alone… Drifting in a big, boring, empty sea.
How could she ever understand what that felt like?
“Thanks, Mama.” He forced a small smile as he rose to his feet. “I get what you’re saying… And I promise I’ll be careful, okay? You and Papa don’t have to worry about me.”
Harper just laughed. “But I’m your Mama. It’s my job to worry.”
Phoenix rolled his eyes as his mother stood beside him and pulled him into a tight embrace. She was being ridiculous, of course. He had things under control. There really wasn’t anything to worry about…
Well, except how the hell he was gonna fake his way into a football team.
Note: In addition to a Book Club Reminder (You are welcome to start posting general thoughts about the first half of Gen 6 over in the thread, and/or submit discussion questions to SimsLover163 on the forums! The official discussion begins on Monday :D), because I’m feeling super nostalgic, I just wanted to share a pointless little story lol
The beginning of this chapter was actually 100% inspired by me and my brother 🙂 He’s 12 years older than me, and was always very much into Dungeons and Dragons. As a little kid, I was always bugging him to let me join him and his friends’ games. Well, when I was around Lila’s age, my brother finally let me “play” my first ever game with him… And it was exactly what Phoenix had Lila do.
I played a princess and he had me find the Wand of Wonders, which is a wand where you roll a D100 (I changed it to a D20 because the cc dice set I have doesn’t have a D100! LOL) and the wand does a random effect based on what you roll. It was the simplest, silliest thing, but I had so much fun with it. I’ll never forget how much I loved that first experience with D&D, so I decided to pay tribute to it in today’s chapter 😀 Okay, done sharing random nostalgic memories from my childhood 😛 Thanks for reading, guys! ❤