March 2016: “Eyeliner”

August 5th, 2000

He knew he had to find it before even thinking of stepping out that day.

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Harwood had an elaborate morning routine. Some of it was normal, like brushing his teeth, but he was the only man he knew that wore makeup. It wasn’t foundation to cover up the gruesome, rash-like scar over the right side of his face. He tried that a long time ago, but gave up. And Harwood was more than fine with the marks of aging. But he wouldn’t show his face to the public without eyeliner. His left eyelid squinted up a bit too much, and that bothered Harwood ever since he was a child. But a thick layer of black goo fixed it right up.

What a waste of a beautiful summer morning. Stuck inside, when he planned to do…absolutely nothing.

What an idiot, Harwood. It was Sunday. He spent six days a week and some nights too slaving over his sculptures at an outside studio.  Sundays, however, were for lazing around the house and having an espresso or six.

He used to love his days off. Now he had to be forced into one. And even then, Harwood knew a way out of leisure.

“Emma, did you take my eyeliner again?”

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Harwood got dressed and walked out to the living room, where his young girlfriend was reclining on the couch and watching the news. Her sleepy face contorted into a little scowl as soon as he said “eyeliner”.

“Don’t tell me that you’re going out again. You were gone until two in the morn last night…”

“…And you cried yourself to sleep worried about me. I’ve heard it before,” he said, exhaling with frustration.

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Harwood plopped on the couch next to her, with a grimace of his own. Just a few sentences made him miss how Sundays used to be. Concerts or parties or just getting a six-pack with Emma. It wasn’t like Harwood could keep up with her, but it was fun trying. He couldn’t blame her for getting lazier while pregnant, but clingy and emotional? He was only spending all their shared waking hours away from her!

Yeah, that might have been it.

“Look, I just thought that maybe you’d actually be by my side with this,” said Emma, as she stretched her legs out on the couch. “This was your stupid idea.”

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It was his stupid idea. And the source of their first real fight, as much as Emma sobbing on their bed was considered fighting. After a positive result, she begged Harwood for them not to have a baby. She was only 26, and didn’t want kids at any age. He begged as hard back. He always wanted kids, never got them, and had much less time than her to make it a reality.

And, of course, he won that battle.

“Guilty as charged,” he said, following it with a sigh. “…uh, let me get some coffee first.”

It made no sense. He wasn’t interested in another fight that morning, so Harwood picked his brain in silence. Did he change his mind? They were past the legal abortion date in Terrebonne, so he was out of luck no matter how much he regretted it.

Unless…well, that would be even worse.

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It was a terrible idea that hit Harwood before he could even grind some beans. If he dared to flee town…it wouldn’t be the first time. He did something similar to his aging mother about a decade before, and that might have saved his life.

The whole thing gave him a headache. And it was just a dream or a dreadful impulse, unless he found his tube of eyeliner…

“Honey, I…I don’t like seeing you like this! It makes me scared,” said Emma, from the living room. “I probably have some eyeliner left upstairs. Maybe you just need to take a walk.”

If only Emma knew.

Pregnancy hadn’t destroyed all of her cognition after all. There was a full tube of liquid eyeliner, and a bit of smokey eyeshadow left too! Harwood never felt so euphoric putting on makeup, or getting a pair of jeans on. No matter where he went, it wasn’t going to be in an undershirt and track pants.

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Emma pulled Harwood aside before he got out the door, though. “Just…where are you going?” She asked him. “It’ll put my mind at rest, okay?”

He rolled his eyes. “Grocery store. Just realized we’re out of bell peppers again.”

She gave him a pout. “Sorry…you know how it is.”

“Take care,” said Harwood, with a slight nod.

At that point, he didn’t even know what he’d miss more. Emma, or that house. It had a view of the river delta like no other.

February 2nd, 2032

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Harwood wished that he knew what prompted that conversation.

Usually, his pillow talk with Shark was forgettable. But maybe it was the bottle of wine they shared that night. Harwood got drunk easier than his giant new lover, and had a terrible drunk suggestion.

Let’s just skip town together. Harwood used to dream of that all the time. There was a time where he hated his “landlady” and wished that he hadn’t fallen into her trap of being housemates for life. But that was over eight years ago! Since then, he grew to love Annette. Like a fun little niece who kept him in check, lest he act too old and boring.

He couldn’t ruin Annette, though. Not like he did to…Emma.

But it wasn’t like he was romantic with Annette. She had a kid, but it was with her actual husband. Leaving Emma kickstarted a downward spiral for her, or so the rumors said. Annette seemed to have a little more stability in her life, Harwood or no Harwood.

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Whatever. It was something to mull over. So Harwood got on a bathrobe and lazily walked downstairs, starting his day as usual. Brushing his teeth came first.

“Someone’s up early.”

He saw her in the mirror. Harwood jerked his head around, almost ready to yell in terror. Even if it was just a harmless Annette. Who was standing between him and…maybe buying a beach house in Delmarva. He used to rent one, right on the shore.

“Please get out,” he said, almost snarling.

“Like you’re the only one with a bad morning face,” said Annette. “Besides, I gotta get the laundry. I’m all outta fresh underwear until I do.”

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He turned towards Annette with a sickened face, his arms tense and crossed against his belly. “I had a bad night. I don’t need you in this.”

Harwood watched her pout and look towards the ground. “I’m sorry,” she said, almost whispering. “I thought that maybe I could keep someone happy here.”

He quirked up an eyebrow. “Is…is this more stuff about Bill?”

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She looked up at him, with forlorn eyes. “We had a fight and I slept on the couch this time. I failed with my own husband! And now I’m gonna fail you.”

“I didn’t know it was still bad with you two,” said Harwood.

“It sucks. It sucks a lot.”

Harwood fidgeted a bit, until he had a different impulsive idea.

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Before she could react at all, Harwood snatched Annette for a hug. He wrapped his arms around her shoulder and spoke softly into her ear. “I’ll spare you the details, but I’ve been a terrible person.”

“No, I’m cool with you doing my nephew. He’s just so happy with you,” Annette said. Her arms were still at her side. “Are…you okay?”

Harwood gave her a tight squeeze. “I am with you.”

Annette melted a bit, or at least got a little less tense in his arms. “Well, this is the first hug I’ve gotten since…I never thought you’d feel so nice.”

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He finally felt her delicate hands on his back. Annette leaned her head on his shoulder. “Don’t be such a sadsack about this. You’re everything I wanted in a roomie.”

“You know, I can’t see myself anywhere else either.”


 

Final word count:

march2016

So, important stuff too:

  • This is a spin-off of my main story, Eight Cicadas. I tried to make it make sense as a short story about trying to do the right thing without all the added context, but who knows how well it worked.
  • The events here are canon to Eight Cicadas. The only difference is that I got to use Harwood’s PoV without having to use his godawful journals to tell it. And that I was way less vulgar than I usually am.
    • The first segment takes place well before the main story. Yes, Sinbad is Emma’s unwanted little fetus, so you can guess what happened from there…
    • I don’t have a set time for the second segment, other than it being loosely during the events of “Same Eyes”. That chapter covered a lot of time.
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29 thoughts on “March 2016: “Eyeliner”

  1. I really love this! For me, I read it as part of your canon, so it felt sweet to fit this into the existing picture: it’s like adding layer effects in Photoshop–now the shadows are more distinct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I jump at any chance to write background exposition about Harwood, because I never know when I’ll get a chance again! Though while I had this story (at least the bit about him and Emma) planned out for a while, it only got made into a short story because my original idea turned out to be crap (it was not related to Eight Cicadas and had potential but not nearly enough).

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      1. This one made me feel better about Harwood’s life somehow. I guess I felt, “Well, he’s had a long life,” so I didn’t feel quite as sad about it having ended (though now that I’m remembering how it ended, I take that back–but I did have a moment’s relief!).

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      2. Yeah, even in the canon of the story, Harwood made it into his 80’s. A respectable goal, but just not long enough!

        But he spent his last years in the best way that was possible for him. I was actually having a lot of trouble recently trying to rationalize why Harwood would be content with Annette, even if she kind of kept him prisoner. I think she exuded a lot of love and fun and happiness that really no one else in his life did. Annette is miserable, but she’s much less of a wreck than she could be and it rubs off on most people.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Sinbad Rotter’s natural hair color is the light brown of his eyebrows. I don’t remember them (or the hair once you copy the brows’ hex code) being as red or as dark as Emma’s hair here, but still. And I remember Emma’s surname being an Asian-sounding one and that she and Sinbad were asian but I might be wrong.

    BTW I like the idea of Sinbad being Harwood’s son, as well as Marc Brandt, and\or Bennie Hennessy (teen blonde from the roommates in Pets ep) being some of his other illegittimate children. Whether it was through a sperm bank or regular conception.

    My actual intention is only to read this new version of your Immortal Dinasty only when you’ve posted all the chapters. You don’t even need to introduce all of the eight Immortals.

    It’s stories like these that almost make me want to write fiction and draw art in the “Twinbrook Fandom”, even if I would get obsessed each time I played the game.

    You two (Trip and Nessa) also almost make me want to force Sinbad\Shark or Harwood\Shark next time I play those sims. Maybe even a threesome. As in Shark Racket in love with both Harwood and Sinbad Clay who are father and son. And not only they have Marc and Bennie from Harwood’s previous relationships. But the three of them are raising a child or two\three together, wherever those children come from.

    Many outsiders would think of it as a weird relationship, but one which is perfectly normal in Twinbrook.

    Not that I ever want to play The Sims again, that is.

    Like

    1. I just went with his hair being naturally kind of sangria-red. Julian looked too nice with it! But his eyebrows are very light, and lighter than Emma’s hair.

      It’s mentioned at various times in Eight Cicadas that their shared surname is Takasugi. Emma, in my mind, is largely of Japanese ancestry, but with some other bits thrown in.

      People can headcanon what they want, but I don’t see any family resemblance between Harwood and Marc, and even less with Bennie. Sinbad is ethnically-ambiguous enough to be Harwood’s child, and legit shares some features with him (a deep bow in the upper lip, rough cheekbones, slim build, tan-ish skin, arched eyebrows, etc). And those green eyes go a long, long way…

      Nessa goes with Marc being Harwood’s kid. I just respectfully disagree with the love of my life sometimes. 😉

      You might be waiting for a while. It took me a year to finish one measly generation. What you wanna do in the fandom is your call.

      But please don’t play with Claycest.

      Like

      1. Yeah, maybe. Maybe it’s his eyebrows that are bleached instead or something. It would’nt even be the weirdest hair color in the game!

        Maybe Emma’s grandfather was japanese but her other grandparents were white, and thus she looks such.

        Many premade sims are stylized enough and\or have inhuman looking features, so they could be any ethnicity or even very mixed. Harwood can read as white, middle eastern, hispanic, native american, south asian or mixed depending on lightning, default replacements, and other CC. Expecially since some people change sims’ features with custom sliders. (And often a sim would only end up looking like one of their parents anyway.)

        It’s usually like that in fandoms. Technically they aren’t connected in the family tree, but the children might have been born in a different town and moved to Twinbrook, or he moved there to find the children, or he was just a sperm donor instead of being actually in a romance with the mothers so the children are not legally his. (And I won’t exclude Milly Pidgin using Harwood’s sperm bank to get pregnant and have Dilly.) Even then you can “ship” them in a sort-of found family sense, where Harwood, Marc, and Sinbad aren’t biologically related but end up becoming a family through the events of the story.

        Yeah. Anyone who plays The Sims more often than once every two weeks or so, is either obsessed or insane, or becomes it. So it’s easy to see that Legacies don’t reach the second or third generations in years.

        I won’t play with “Claycest” like Harwood flirting with any illegal offsprings of his, whether premade sims or CAS ones. But I would have Shark being romantically interested in both Harwood and Sinbad at different points of the story. Of course, Shark was’nt into Harwood in the original Dinasty, but a thing from the new story.

        Will this story end at the same time you’ve ended the original version on CarlSims3Guide, or it will end with all 8 Immortals eating Ambrosia and Young Again potions like regular Dinasties?

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      2. Mismatched eyebrows can just naturally happen too. My brother has dirty blond hair paired with thick, black eyebrows and eyelashes. It’s all natural too! As for the reverse, a lot of real-life redheads I know have lighter and sandier-colored brows.

        If you want the canon I’ll probably never explain (I doubt that Sinbad really loves his extended family enough to talk about them): both of Emma’s parents are half Japanese and half white American. Drawn together through the power of shared experiences. 😉

        Yeah, I get that the game’s genetics can do silly things, but I tend to strive for realism with what I write. So I’m strict with who gets to be considered Harwood-spawn. If I can’t say “yeah, they totally could be Middle-Eastern and Black”, then they have to figure out paternity and daddy issues themselves!

        Found family is good, though. It’s what Nessa went with for Sinbad, Harwood, and Marc. An old man and his little bastards, reunited. 😀

        Oh, that’s a lot better. And…well, you’ll see that it crossed my mind somehow too. 😛 Though fun fact: Shark did have a passing interest in Harwood when I was playing the original dynasty. I just never had him act on it because they were both busy with their own stuff.

        The story will end with eight immortals. Heck, I planned for the original to until I got tired of it. However “traditional” of an ending it ends up being, though? I dunno. That’s a long way off.

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      3. Yeah, a lot of dark\dirty blonds and brunets have black or grey eyebrows. And natural redheads also often have mismatched eyebrows, too. Usually they’re blond, grey, or black. So Sinbad could just be like that.

        Maybe. There are many sims that look somewhat hapa\eurasian\mestizo facially. And there are “asian” sims like Tori Kimura that won’t look asian anymore if they had a different color scheme. (My early “asian” sims were like that, too. TS2 Face 1 or TS3 Gage Briody-face but with black or blue-black hair and eyes, pale or light olive skin, and eyes made slightly tilted and bigger.)

        But some white people look like they could be part middle-eastern or black, and some middle-eastern or\and black people look partly white. And some white people also look like Harwood. Maybe the mom was some britishy pale person and the kids got that skintone. Casey Walker is mixed and she basically looks like a white person with asian-y eyes and fuller-than normal lips, but some part Asian people don’t even have the “asian eyes” and same with part middle-eastern people they won’t all look like you see them and know they’re middle eastern instead of being a British-American who happens to have black hair and dark brown eyes.

        http://www.xojane.com/issues/racial-misidentification

        I meant like, some people could not actually be related, but find themselves as adults and feel family-type actraction for each other. That’s what is meant by “chosen family” or “found family”.

        Ah, like that actraction type thing that shows up as “I’d really like to know you more”. But putting them together was’nt in your plans back then. Now that you’re loosely writing about gameplay, you can put romantic subplots that weren’t there before.

        I think this story is already slightly untraditional. You’re writing a story based on a failed dinasty gameplay. Most people who write legacy stories, don’t base the plot on a previous legacy gameplay or save. They just write a story to then shot it with sims, whether them be premade or not.

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      4. Thanks for that article! And we do have a lot of preconceptions about race that vary through time and culture (which is probably helping to fuel this long-ass comment chain :P).

        I do have a white friend who happened to get dark olive skin, tight and curly hair, and somewhat ambiguous features. I thought he was Middle Eastern or Black until I met his true biological parents. And there are plenty of randomly tan white people in my family. So Harwood could be white, but if you want the real explanation for the man in Eight Cicadas: Lebanese mother, (mixed) Black father. Both of them being pretty brown. It was a choice to give him some solidarity with Annette, however much I touch upon that (not much).

        Found family is good. I like playing with the concept in Eight Cicadas, because everyone’s a Waverly before too long. It’s an easy way to question everyone else’s ideas of families. But I like revealing everyone’s real biological ties too. It helps me picture how genetics will work.

        It was more than the attraction system firing. It does that for everyone. Shark literally generated wishes to flirt with Harwood/go on dates with him, and wishes are what I pay attention to. And you’re right. I have the chance to explore what could have been for…everything.

        I didn’t fail with the Waverlys, in terms of actual dynasty rules. I played all the way to generation eight, got a Hall of Fame entry (this was a little before I got my job as a challenge team member), but lagged behind on the story. I got bored of the story, but playing the dynasty itself went better and it’s been completed for nearly two years.

        But you’re right about me being different.😉

        Like

  3. Yeah. Like with Ethnicelebs they think that anyone with dark brown eyes, or black\dark brown hair, or less than “lily white” skin, or any exotic facial feature, can’t be completely white, but they have to be ethnically part jewish\middle eastern\native american. Of course Ethnicelebs is administered\moderated\commented by mostly people of Norwegian descent. Their idea of white would be different than my (Italian) idea of white.

    My mother has a “randomly tan” sister too, although the mom of my maternal grandfather was apparently quite swarthy. That does’nt make us part “of color” nor does it the family friends’ naturally black hair, although we as a species originally did came from Northeast Africa and then spreads and the appearance adapted to the various climates. “Darker” features were the original ones.

    And yeah, I can also see him being a Middle Eastern person, too. Those facial features and skintone are also found around there. That does’nt mean he could’nt also be part black or white, whether his black relatives look like they’re from Morocco or Congo, or his white relatives look from Germany or India. He just happens to have those features. Other siblings of his may look completely different. Actually it seems many sims’ grandparents are of four different ethnicities\races.

    So you’ve changed the appearances of some sims to make them look like relatives of sims they weren’t related to before? I’ve seen you did that with the Carlton daughter who is now Marc’s. Because outside a Dinasty or Legacy setting it makes little sense that he would go impregnate Sofia to populate Twinbrook.

    But well, they were there to do Dinasty stuff and that they did. You pushed off relationships by yourself so the Waverly’s could be descended from all Twinbrook families.

    So you make challenges\dinasties yourself now? Is that still on the CarlSims3Guide? I don’t go there anymore as I was injustly banned. (It could have seemed like I was trolling but I was’nt actually mentally sane at the time.)

    And yeah, you had that big Roaring Heights subplot that was set after the story’s events.

    Well, most people who play Dinasties, don’t have such subplots in them, do they?

    Like

    1. Never heard of EthnicCelebs but…interesting. I’m not gonna claim to be an expert on whiteness worldwide, but it seems easier to claim and reap the benefits of it in America. Because I’m white in America, but it sounds like EthnicCelebs would say differently. :p

      As a correction, Hannah was retconned to be Justin Kayes’ daughter. I doubt she knows Marc much at all. Marc still has kids in Cicadas that will come into the picture sooner or later (as minor characters at most). Meanwhile, the retcon was done simply to save myself from having to explain away some awful inbreeding. For the original dynasty, Hannah being Harwood’s daughter meant that Generation Five married and had a kid with his second cousin. Not as gross as something closer, but still. :-\

      I don’t make any challenges. But I’m the only one left for answering questions about TS3 dynasties and doing HoF entries. Everyone else has jumped ship to TS4!

      I haven’t agreed with all of the site’s decisions in the past and present, and that’s all I’ll say. (But bad as it sounds: the site’s management got about a billion percent better when Pam resigned and MrsFlynn took over her role)

      I swear that I’ve read other dynasties with subplots. So I dunno.

      Like

      1. It’s EthniCelebs, one C. They don’t even consider Katie Holmes white. Well they say she and other white celebrities are descended from European countries but the commenters say she and other British people are not white.

        Well, whether she was retconned to be Marc or Justin’s daughter is indifferent to me. And I think with a town as small as Twinbrook, is likely that their households and families would know about each other, just that they don’t talk to each other much.

        That’d be Philip and Willow, right? I don’t remember them being in the original story. Willow was made by cloning a descendant of Blaise and Harwood’s (and other townie’s). So in the actual legacy the final heir was descended from Harwood twice. But still. The cloning machine is useful for dinasty spouses. And in the family trees they’re not even seen as related to the original.

        Yeah. Not many people do TS3 nowadays. About half do TS4 and another half do TS2. Both in legacies\stories, and CC-wise.

        So does that mean now it’s named “Carl and Mrs Flynn’s TS4 guide”?

        The other dinasties’ subplots are usually either backstories, or stuff that actually happened while gameplaying the dinasty.

        Like

      1. It’s easy to do. Your own sims don’t even have to have generations themselves. It could be a group of young people who turn themselves immortal and befriend the children and grandchildren of their old friends. Like some sort of cult. Maybe it’s about a toddler growing up and becoming immortal at YA and has to outlive all the other people he grew up with. Or maybe someone was cursed with immortality and has to marry ten people and have them die of old age before they themselves can age again. There are MANY possibilities! Taking a family and get them through ten generations is only one of them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh I wasn’t meaning an immortal story (although I do have one in the the planning stage) but more a story that spanned generations that you would go back to time and again to flesh out characters and give them more story. And that all the characters have more story than we saw. Like this story shows us a Harwood we didn’t see in Eight Cicadas, but one that makes sense in that greater work.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah. Like a story about a premade sim family, or even about a CAS family with a lot of premade sim side characters. And then you make side flashbacks and spinoffs. Maybe you take some interesting sim that happened through story progression and make a spinoff of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This reminds me I got to get back to reading Eight Cicadas. I liked this story, even though I don’t know all the details. I wonder what happened to Emma and their baby (or perhaps it’s answered elsewhere). You are a talented writer. The story had a natural realistic flow to it. The poses were great too.

    Liked by 1 person

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