“It’s a girl!” Shanni was breathless on the phone when she reported the news to the family.
“Now she’ll go stir-crazy on maternity leave,” Zahra remarked under her breath. “Mark my words.”
Ada took it upon herself to get Shanni out of the house at least a little bit. She persuaded her aunt to meet her at the Art Museum for a short, low-stress turn through the traveling exhibit.
“Here’s little Jeannette!” Shanni showed off her and Agnes’s daughter with eyes that glowed with pride.
And if there were a few dark circles under those eyes, well that was just the price of admission.
“I brought you a gift,” Ada said. “It’s an apple from grandma’s garden.”
“You, um, wrapped up apple to give me?”
“Sure. It’s the thought that counts. I thought you needed an apple.”
(If you’re wondering where Jeanette is in this shot, she’s lying on the sidewalk. Why wouldn’t that be the best place for her?)
“You have that crazy look,” Ada remarked to Charles one morning over breakfast.
Charles raised his eyebrows. “*I* look crazy? All right. I was thinking about doing some more traveling.”
“OK. Where are we going?”
“Well, Granddad taught me everything I know about the art of Sim Fu. It changed my life. I was thinking about going back to China to study under the masters.”
“I’ll get my paints,” Ada said.
So Charles made the arrangements.
And soon they were checking into a lovely Chinese hotel.
Fortunately the dress code was flexible.
Granddad had told them all about the beautiful Zen Scholar’s Garden, so that’s where they headed first.
Ada almost exploded with painting enthusiasm. There was no place to rest her eyes that didn’t belong on a canvas.
Though her artistic interpretation was sometimes…. interesting.
Charles made a beeline to the koi pond.
With pretty good results.
After the first day, he finally had had it with his hair getting in the way. He cut it back to his old style.
The next morning, Ada woke him up with a surprise. “Get up bright and early, sleepyhead! Vacation is no time for rest!” Sometimes he couldn’t tell if she was joking or being serious.
Then they went their separate ways. Ada headed off in search of subjects to paint.
Charles found his way to the Martial Arts Academy.
As he approached the entrance, he ran into the Special Merchant, who proved that China was not any more comfortable with his kind than Sunset Valley.
But the Academy itself was a haven. It was filled with other martial artists just as passionate as he was.
“Hello!” a woman called in greeting. “I’m Amelia! From France!”
“Are you talking to me?”
To his surprise, Charles found himself pulled into the excited chatter of a fellow traveler. This almost never happened to him. Even now that he was visible and fairly solid, most people still reacted to him as if someone had, well, walked over their grave. It was a while before Charles could even focus on what she was saying.
Amelia was full of advice about the best places to stay and the best bargains at the market.
“What I’m really looking for is a Sim Fu master,” Charles confessed. “Someone who can teach me the secrets of the art.”
“I don’t know about that. I’m just a beginner. But I’ve heard folks talk about a Zhang Wu. He’s supposed to be pretty hot stuff.”
Charles thanked her and went off in search of Wu.
A few inquiries brought him to the home of a man not much older than himself.
Wu was an attractive, charismatic guy. He made Charles feel comfortable and at home immediately. He couldn’t think of anyone he’d ever met who was so easy to talk to. It was enough to make Charles wonder if he was serious about Sim Fu at all. Well, that is, until Charles persuaded him to spar.
They were touch matches, but it was clear who was the better martial artist. After trouncing Charles four consecutive times, Wu panted, “You’re amazing! Have you ever considered opening your own dojo?”
Charles was taken aback. “No. I’ve never considered that.”
“I’m going to be out your way sometime this year,” Wu confessed. When I’m on your side of the ocean, I’ll look you up. We should spar some more.”
Charles smiled comfortably. Other than Jabari, he didn’t have any friends outside his family. It was amazing to find such a connection with another person. “I’d love to get another chance,” he confessed. “You taught me a lot. But do you mind if I ask a personal question.”
Wu flashed a blinding smile. “Shoot. I reserve the right not to answer.”
“Well, do you notice anything…. different about me?”
Wu chuckled. “Of course I do. You’re some kind of spirit man. But people come from all over the world to study with me here. You’re not even the weirdest thing I see before breakfast.”
Charles thought about Wu as he explored the Tomb of The Dragon’s Maw.
Wu was an amazing master of Sim Fu. He was clearly much better than Charles, but he didn’t think that Wu was offering false praise. He had the feeling that Wu’s praise was actually pretty difficult to earn.
He probably should have paid a little more attention to what he was exploring.
As he ran screaming headlong into dive well filled with scummy water, Charles learned one important thing about his ghostly nature.
He had no idea if it could kill him, but fire HURT.
“What do you think of this dojo idea?” He asked Ada when he met her in the marketplace for lunch.
“I can’t talk now,” Ada said. “I have to finish this painting while my subjects will stand still.”
“Your subjects? You mean those canopic jars?”
“Yeah. I don’t know how long they’ll sit. They get restless.”
She did manage to finish the picture in time.
Back at the hotel, he ran into a familiar face.
“Charles Sample! Remember me? Amelia? From France?”
“Yeah. Thanks for the advice. I found Wu, and he was amazing.”
“I can’t let you leave without getting your phone number. We travelers need to look out for each other. You really must come to France sometime and meet me!”
Charles had initially been thrilled that a woman he was not related to was so comfortable around him, but that quickly melted away to a new kind of discomfort. Amelia was Mom’s age, and her friendliness was starting to sound like something else.
She called him four times before he left China, and after that he screened his calls.
He was still thinking of Wu’s advice as they readied for the return home.
What would it take to open a dojo? What would he need? Was it something that could be turned into a career? Would anyone want to learn Sim Fu from a half-ghost anyway?
One thing he was sure of was that he was never taking a bath like that again. It might feel luxurious, but it took him forever to shake the guilt over how much water it wasted.
“This was amazing!” Ada gushed as they boarded the plane for home. “China has inspired me to write an epic novel. I’m going to call it Kiwis of Peace.”
“Kiwis? What about China makes you think of Kiwis?”
Ada frowned. “I don’t understand the question.”
Charles gave his sister a hug. “Don’t worry. I know it will be a great book.”
Heh. I think I had too many things going on in this post.
One simple bit of CC that I can no longer imagine playing without is the Portable Easel. Since Sims 3 is open world, I was kind of dumbfounded when Lance took up painting and I discovered he could only do it on his home lot. Why have the option of painting a landscape when it can only be your own back yard. Dragging Ada around to paint the travel landscapes is a ton of fun.
Charles is back to the Battler hairstyle! And now his glasses are gold. His skin is silver. He hardly needs more silver.
Eco-friendly sims are hilarious. Charles took a serious mood hit for taking a bath!