Light Surrounding You


Kyle Centowski is 56; Willow Centowski is 54; Cherry Centowski is 36; Talin Vijayakar is 28


September 2024



Kyle made a final skim-read of the email , then hit the send button.  It was the promise he'd made to Ashley, when Kyle had told him he was coming here, that he would email him every day.  It didn't have to be anything long, or elaborate.  It didn't even have to say much, really.  Just a quick email each day, to let Ashley know that he was ok.


Kyle could see the sense in that, under the circumstances, and anyway, he probably would have agreed to almost anything out of gratitude, after Ashley had accepted the unenviable task of telling James that he had gone.  The fact that he had only had two emails from James, and neither of them had included recriminations, doubts about Kyle's sanity, or orders to come back home, was a testimony to how well Ashley had handled the task.  Yes, Kyle definitely owed him one.  Again.

He supposed he didn't really have to write to Ashley every day, now that Willow was here, but he wanted to.  It was reassuring, keeping that contact with home, knowing that someone was looking out for him even from so far away.  And anyway, he wanted Ashley to know just what a difference it had made, having Willow here.  He smiled at her, across the table.  They didn't need to say anything, at least, not right now.

At first, all they'd done was talked.


Talked about all the things that they should have talked about before…


 ...and all the things they needed to talk about now.

They talked about how he'd let himself down, back in Richmond.  He could see it so clearly now.  He'd let himself slide back down into his isolation and his self-pity, without even giving it a thought.  He could have so easily done that here, too.  Here, alone, he could imagine he would have rarely left the little cottage, except perhaps for the long solitary walks that had become his habit.



But Willow had pushed him to get out more, take advantage of everything that the island had to offer.



He'd protested that he wouldn't enjoy playing tourist - at least, not the way that he would have at another time.

She'd reminded him that it didn't matter.


So you only get a little bit of pleasure, where once you would have got a lot. So what?  Isn't a little bit an improvement on the nothing that you get by sitting around and not even trying?


And maybe, when you keep trying, keep pushing yourself, maybe the little bit grows into something bigger.


He knew that.  He'd alway known that.  Somehow, he'd just let himself forget.


Willow wouldn't let him forget again.


Not when they were finally healing the rift. 


Closing it up.


Finding themselves again.
---

When Talin came home from work that evening, he went straight to Cherry's computer.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Where are those photos of your family?" 
She leaned over and opened the folder.  "Why?"


"I'm sure I saw... these two," he said, pointing to a picture.  "They were at the beach tonight."
"That's impossible!" she said.
"No, it was definitely them," he said, studying the picture.  He looked up to see a smile spreading over Cherry's face.  "What?" he asked.
"Both of them... together?"
Talin nodded.  "They were watching the show."
"Do you think we could find out... "
He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket before she could finish.  "... where they're staying?  I figured you'd want to know, so I asked around."
She gave him a grateful hug before walking away, clutching the address.  He turned back to the computer, pleased.  He was never sure of how she'd react, where her family was concerned.


He clicked through a few more pictures, and familiar images of Cherry's children filled the screen.  She looked at them a lot.  He was well aware of how much she'd given up, for him.  She might argue that she would have eventually left her husband anyway, but it would no doubt have been far less complicated, without another man involved.

As he closed down the computer and got ready for bed, he thought about her sneaking into her grandfather's funeral, then leaving before the end of the service, wanting to be there but afraid that there'd be a scene, if anyone saw her.


He thought about the way her father had treated her, the last time she was home.


Yeah, she'd sacrificed a lot... and as hard as it was, it was only fair that he do the same for her.  He'd had to remind himself of that a lot lately.  If she wanted to go back home and mend her fences, fine, they could do that.  If she wanted to forget the past completely, make a clean start here and never go home again, that was fine too, and he'd do what he could to help her though that.  But this hanging in limbo was starting to wear him down. 


"Hey, I think I'll go visit them after work tomorrow," she whispered as she curled up against his back.
"Are you sure?" he replied.  "I mean, its not going to be like your father... "
"Who knows?" she said matter-of-factly.  "The worse they can do is throw me out."

----

"How did you even know we were here?"  Kyle asked, surprised when Cherry tentatively knocked on the cottage door, the following afternoon.


"You were watching the fire dancers on the beach last night?  Talin was one of them."
"That was Talin?" Kyle asked.  "You mean, your - "
"My boyfriend," Cherry finished.  "Yeah, that was him."
"Are you hungry?" Willow asked.  "We were just about to eat."
"That'd be great, if you have enough," Cherry said.  "I was just on the way home from work."
"You dress like that in a law office?"
She nodded.  "It's an office with only two people in it, and anyway, they're a lot more laid back here."

----

"Do you see Autumn much?" Cherry asked Kyle.
"Not really... not any more," he said.
"Is she still living at home... I mean, with Kevin?"
"I think she moved out with her boyfriend," said Kyle, looking to Willow for confirmation.

Willow nodded.  "Around the time she applied to join the police force."
"The police force?" Cherry said.  "I thought she was still working at Granddad's shop!"
"It's not Granddad's shop any more," Kyle said stiffly.  "It never was.  We were partners."
An awkward silence followed. 


"I'm sorry... I didn't mean... maybe I should leave." Cherry stammered.
"No, I'm sorry," Kyle said.  "We haven't seen you for more than a few minutes in three years.  You're not leaving this fast, just because I don't know when to keep what I'm thinking to myself..."
"Why don't we just forget about it?"  Willow said quickly, "and why don't we go sit outside when we're finished?  Its a nice evening, and its a lot cooler out there.  I'll make coffee and we can talk some more."
"The heat does take some getting used to," Cherry said, grabbing the chance to move the conversation back onto safer ground.

The evening passed pleasantly enough after that, and it was dark when Cherry finally got up to leave.  "Do you have a car here?" Kyle asked.
"No," Cherry said.  "It's only about ten minutes' walk along the beach."
"Then let me walk you," said Kyle.
"There's really no need..."
"But it's late, and kids party on the beach near here all the time.  They could be rough if they've been drinking."



They walked in silence for a while, after the small talk had dried up, then Cherry suddenly spoke.
"I asked about Autumn, because I had a missed call on my phone from Kevin's house," she said.  "I phoned him back because I was worried.  I mean, if something had happened...  Well, anyway, but he said he'd never called me."
"One of the kids?" Kyle suggested.
She shrugged.  "Kevin says it wasn't."
"Do you think he'd know for sure?"
"He'd know more than I do..."  She looked out across the water.  "Probably, someone just hit the wrong button on the auto-dial or something..."
Kyle nodded, even though she hadn't sounded very convinced.  
They walked in silence a bit further, then Cherry tentatively asked, "Are you and Willow ok?  I mean, was so pleased to see you here together... after what I heard... "


"I think we're ok," said Kyle, smiling a little.  "We're trying, you know.  We're not ready to give up on 30 years yet..."
"Do you think I gave up too easily?"
"You're the only one who knows that."
"But you must have an opinion..."

"I'm in no position to give my opinion on how anyone deals with their problems right now.  But why the question?  Are you ok?  You and Talin, I mean?"
"I guess we are," she said.  "I mean, we love each other, I know that... but he wants more.  He wants to get married, have kids, and... and how could I even do that?  How could I have another child, knowing I already have four I don't even know any more?"
"You could go back," Kyle suggested, after a moment.  "You could get to know them again."


Cherry shook her head.  "They're used to me being gone now.  I don't want to go back and screw up their lives any more just for my own stupid satisfaction."  She was quiet for a little while, then she said, "It's good,  being able to talk to someone from home."
"But you visit your family.  You talk to them, don't you?"
"Not about Talin... or how I feel about the kids, or anything like that. They don't want to know."
"So, when do we get to meet him, anyway?" Kyle asked.
"Talin? You really want to meet him?" She was smiling again.
"Of course," He said.  "You both should come around tomorrow evening or something.  It'd be fun."
"Ok," she said.  "Ok, we will."  
----

Willow would have preferred that Kyle hadn't walked Cherry home.  It was all very well to think of her safety, but he had to come back alone..  Given the choice, she would rather he wasn't out there alone, in the night... especially not when he had things on his mind like he did tonight.


She looked out across the deserted beach.  It had been going so well for them.  It was easy to forget about everything that had happened, about why they were here in the first place.  Then all it took was one little misplaced comment... and it might have appeared that he'd quickly gotten over whatever uneasiness Cherry had stirred up, but Willow knew him better.  There was that distant look, that way of retreating into his thoughts, whenever there was a lull in the conversation.  It was still bugging him.

At some point, she must have dozed off in the chair, and when she woke up, she could see the flickering of flames in the distance. She got up to investigate, and found Kyle, sitting by a little bonfire.


“You lit a fire?”
He gestured for her to sit down.  “Some kids lit it, but they left so I stoked it up,” He stared back into the flames.  “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “about going home.”
"Back to Richmond?'
"As nice as it is here, we've got to do it, eventually."
"You know, I've been thinking, too," she said, "and actually, we don't.  Not if it doesn't feel right for you."
"We can't stay here forever," he said.
"No, but we can go somewhere else... somewhere we've never been before.  We can start again, away from everything that happened before."
He stared at her, momentarily too stunned to speak.  "You'd do that for me?" he said finally.
She nodded.  "I don't care where we are anymore.  As long as we're both there, it doesn't matter."


"It wouldn't work," he said.  "Leaving everything behind didn't work for Cherry, why would it work any better for us? And anyway," he went on tentatively, looking into the fire to avoid Willow's eyes,  "I've been thinking about the shop.  I want to go back."
"Back... you mean... ?"
"... back to working there.  I want to try to run it again.”
She hadn't been expecting this.  Her first impulse was to ask him, are you sure that’s a good idea?  But she stopped herself.  Kyle didn't need her second guessing his decisions right now. “What made you decide that?” she asked instead.


 “I’ve been thinking about it since we went there that night.  You know, really, I went to say goodbye... to try to close off that part of my life before I left.  But it didn't work that way.  It just made me want to go back.."  He thought for a moment, before going on.  "Cherry was right, you know, it was Dad’s shop.  It doesn’t matter what the deeds said… it was his shop and I just followed along because that was what he wanted.  I think that’s why I couldn’t make it work.  Even after he retired, it was still me working in his shop.  I want to try again, but this time I want to make it mine.” 
“You’re really sure of this, aren’t you?”



"I’ll take it slowly,” he said, recognizing her doubts even as she tried to hide them.  “Maybe only start with a couple of days a week or something.  Cory will still be manager for a while anyway, until I get back into it.  We should be able to work something out… “
He sounded so enthusiastic, so hopeful, that Willow couldn't help but smile.  "So, when are we leaving?" she asked.

"Not right away.  There's no hurry.  It'd be good to spend a bit more time with Cherry while we're here.  And see a bit more of the island.  Her boyfriend grew up here, he could probably show us places you'd never see in the tour guides... "
"What, now you want to play tourist?" she laughed.



"Why not?  We're not going to be here forever... we might as well make the most of it."  He pulled her into a hug, that turned into a kiss, and ended with a yawn.
"Ok, I get the message," she said, laughing as she turned towards the cottage.

"I just have to do one more thing," he said, following her up the beach.  Back in the cottage, he pulled out his laptop, opened a new email to Ashley, and typed a single sentence:  "Since you did such a good job of convincing James that it wasn't a bad thing for me to come here, maybe you could warm him up to the idea of Cherry and her boyfriend coming home."
The single line response was there the next morning: "You are kidding, right?"
Kyle typed an equally succinct reply: "Knew we could count on you..."

-----

Title from Light Surrounding You, by Evermore, which I think suits Kyle and Cherry (and Willow and Talin), in different ways... 

Picspam warning...! :)

Cherry and Talin really did visit the next day, and everyone wanted to hula! :)  I didn't end up using the pictures in the main story, but I want to share them anyway...

Willow: I'm not dancing!
Kyle: Come on... if I'm dancing, you're dancing!







So they danced... 


I like to think that Talin was teaching them... he's the only one who looked remotely confident, in the beginning :)


"Just follow me... "


Kyle really got into it!


So did Willow, eventually...


It wasn't just hula'ing...


I decided it made sense for these guys to get together, since they're all there on the island.  Cherry and Kyle are best friends now... I'm still not sure if she'll go home any time soon, but if she does, I figure Kyle might be in a good position to try to smooth things out between her and her father.




8 comments:

  1. I'm glad that Cherry was able to talk to someone in her family about her feelings, hopefully she'll be able to see the kids a bit at least.

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  2. I laughed when I saw those pictures of all of them hula'ing! It's so much fun.

    I hope Cherry finds out who called her, because that little boy really is carrying a lot of weight on his little shoulders!
    It's good she finally talked to some one in the family, and not one who started a fight with her about her desicions.

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  3. Sims and their hula dancing are so silly. It's fun to watch!

    Well, this was all very positive! I'm glad Cherry went to see Willow and Kyle. Maybe she can think about seeing her kids again now? Kyle seems like he's in a really good place now too, so I hope he can stay on that path.

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  4. Apple, I'm still thinking about how things will work out for Cherry and her family, but we're heading in the direction of her seeing her kids again, I think.

    Tanja, Kyle was the ideal person to talk to her because, like he said, he's in no position to judge... and he owes someone else an apology along those lines, too, when he gets back home.

    Carla, yes, I think Kyle is back on the right track now... I forgot to say, but when I started writing this, I hadn't decided if he would keep the shop or not... but I re-rolled his LTW and he came up with 'Own two top level businesses' - so he really made up his own mind about it :)

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  5. I hope things can be healed with Cherry and her children. Her expression in the close up photo showed such sadness and confusion. I felt sad for her. I'm glad things are turning around for Kyle and Willow, and that he's going to run the shop.

    I really like the way Kyle has gray hair, I downloaded some like that, but haven't ever remembered to use them, but they really add to the pictures.

    This is a pretty song, I've never heard this particular one before.

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  6. Maisie, the story with Cherry and the children will be going on for a while, I think... its not an easy situation to resolve.

    I downloaded the greying hairs because I always found it weird that my sims went from black or brown hair to grey or white, literally over night... I can't imagine everyone just suddenly decides to stop dying their hair on their 60th birthday! :)

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  7. Kyle and Willow are making me smile! I'm so happy they are going back and staying together!

    Cherry, on the other hand... mothers leaving home hits hard, and I understand her not wanting to cause trouble, but she really needs to go back. That's how I feel.

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  8. Billy, they make me smile too! And I'm nudging Cherry in that direction, although I'm waiting for the right circumstances in game to give her the big push (while trying not to be too spoiler-y :) )

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Thanks for reading and commenting!