I left Moonlight Falls and went back to the university to finish my degree. This was probably the loneliest I had ever been in my life. I no longer had D’Arcy with me, and I wouldn’t have taken Alesondro back if he had begged.
I moved back into the dorms hoping that being surrounded by a lot of other people would help me out of my depression, but it really didn’t work. Sometimes I was overwhelmed with grief. It turned people off and I didn’t make very many friends.
I threw myself back into my studies. I hoped that work would distract me, but it had the opposite effect. I was no longer happy with experimenting and conducting research. I’d only taken science as a major because I was trying to find a way to bring D’Arcy to life. I was good at science, but I didn’t love it. Now that I had nothing to work for, I didn’t care.
I lived in a co-ed dorm, so of course I met several guys. I really tried to be interested in them, but after Alesondro, I was leery of getting involved with anyone new. I tried to socialize, but the guys always wanted more than I was willing to give.
It was just easier to be by myself. I admit that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for a bit. I ate too much and gained a little weight. Finally I realized that I had to get over myself. I couldn’t let myself go just because I had one bad relationship. So what if I had lost my best friend, too? Lots of people lose friends and manage to find new ones.
By the end of the term, I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I dropped the weight I’d gained and concentrated on getting decent grades so that I could graduate.
“We’re proud of you, little sister,” Chris said once I had received my diploma. He and Sarah were the only ones who came to the graduation ceremony. They both felt that having a bunch of little kids around would have ruined my day. I was grateful at their thoughtfulness. I loved my nieces and nephews, but there were so many of them!
“What are you going to do now?” asked Sarah. She was always the most practical of all of us.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged.
“Don’t you have offers from all over the Sim World to do research?”
“Yeah. I could go anywhere.”
“Mom and Dad always said you were a genius!” Chris slapped me on the back. “They’d be really proud if you came back to Twinbrook.”
I knew they would. But when I thought of returning to my hometown, I was not enthusiastic. I had good memories there, but I had a lot of bad ones, too.
I went home for a few weeks, but I eventually decided that I’d take an offer in another town. Chris and Sarah were both surprised when I picked Moonlight Falls.
“Why there?” Chris asked, concerned. “Isn’t that guy, Alesondro, there?”
“He is,” I said, “but I don’t have to see him. It’s a big place. And it’s beautiful. You’d have to see it to believe me.”
“But isn’t it full of the supernatural?” Sarah asked. She, like our mother, wasn’t too keen on those people who weren’t human.
“Yeah. I know there are a lot of strange folk there. They’re interesting. I like diversity.”
“Well I wouldn’t live there,” she shuddered. “Too many vampires. You know how dangerous they can be! Look at our ancestors.”
“I know. But think about all of the vampires who have moved here. They are just like everyone else.”
I used some of my inheritance to purchase a small house outside of the main town in Moonlight Falls. Just because I said I could handle being in the same place as Alesondro didn’t mean that I wanted to increase my odds of running into him.
It was an ugly little house, but it was all I could afford. What my sister and brother didn’t know was that I hadn’t taken the offer I was given to do research for the Moonlight Falls Memorial Hospital. I had just enough money to purchase the house furnished and to live for a few months while I figured out what to do.
It was a tough few months. I was alone and living in a place that was so different from anywhere I had ever lived before. Sometimes my situation overwhelmed me and then I broke down. I can’t tell you how often I considered packing up and moving back to Twinbrook!
I persevered, however. I made one extravagant purchase of an alchemy work station. Here I put into practice all that I learned from Delia and started brewing my own potions. I took them to an Elixir shop owned by a Fairy named Titania Summerdream. Selling my brews allowed me to barely scrape by.
I’m not sure what made me decide to become a stage magician. I remember sitting on my lumpy second-hand couch and trying to come up with other ways to make money. I didn’t want to pursue science anymore. I could do experiments and donate my time at the hospital, but it didn’t appeal to me. I had lost faith in science when I had lost D’Arcy.
I’d also lost faith in magic. Delia and the other witches I knew believed that magic could do whatever science could do and a lot more, but there was no magic that had allowed D’Arcy to come to life. Even potion making wasn’t really magic. In fact, it was a lot more akin to science than anything esoteric.
I think the irony of becoming a street performer in a town that believed so heavily in magic appealed to me. There was no such thing as magic. I knew that. But illusion was real. I realized that all magic was an illusion. The only books on magic I had ever found were about making people believe what you did was magical when in fact it was simply slight of hand.
I went from performing on the streets to performing at small parties. The more I performed, the more I realized that I was actually having fun doing magic tricks for people! Sure, it wasn’t real magic, but people were so happy when I fooled them into believing that I could make a pack of cards appear out of thin air.
Of course, in the beginning, doing street magic didn’t pay all of my bills. I still had to supplement my income with elixir making. Fortunately, I was improving in that capacity. and my elixirs sold well at the potion shop.
I couldn’t keep what I was doing away from my brother and sister forever, of course. I eventually had to tell them that I wasn’t working for the Memorial Hospital. And then, I had to explain exactly how I was making a living.
“So what is it, exactly, that you are doing?” asked my brother, who was always over-protective of me.
“I make elixirs and sell them at a local shop,” I told him.
“Elixirs! What kind of job is that? You can’t possibly be making a decent living selling herbal rubs and tonics?”
“No. It doesn’t pay that well,” I admitted.
“Do you have a second job?”
“I’m a street performer,” I reluctantly told him.
Of course his reaction wasn’t a good one. He swore he would drive right over to Moonlight Falls and bring me home.
“Chris. I’m not a child anymore. I’m doing fine here. I’m not rich, but being a magician pays ok. I’m gaining a name for myself and soon I will be famous enough to pull in big venue fees.”
Unfortunately, my assurances didn’t keep him away. He had to see it for himself. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when he showed up in Moonlight Falls.
The only consolation I had being forced to explain to my brother in person why I liked being a magician was that he brought my nieces to Moonlight Falls with him. They were much more accepting of my profession.
“Aunty Nat!” Kallah exclaimed. “This is so cool!” She asked me tons of questions about my tricks and how I performed them. She was thirteen, and I hadn’t seen her since she was a toddler, so it was fun reconnecting with her and explaining a little of what I did.
“I can’t tell you everything,” I said.
“Duh,” Sophie, the oldest at 17, snorted. “She’s not going to give away her secrets. Magic requires that you believe in the illusion.”
“Exactly,” I laughed. Then I went through some of my simpler tricks. Seeing what I did helped reassure my brother that I was in fact fine on my own. He didn’t like where I was living, but he had to admit that Moonlight Falls was beautiful and I wasn’t in danger of being eaten by stray werewolves or vampires.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t avoid Alesondro forever now that I was living in Moonlight Falls. It was just a matter of time before I ran into him. I was doing tricks in Titania’s lobby when he came into the shop. I did my best to ignore him, but there weren’t many customers and he actually stayed to watch me. When I had finished, he had the audacity to put money in my jar.
He was in his werewolf form. This made me a bit nervous. I knew how emotional he could get when he was like that. I didn’t want to fight with him.
“What are you doing here?” I asked.
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“I work here,” I said. “As you can see.”
“But you’re a magician.”
“You’re very observant.” I couldn’t hide my sarcasm.
“Didn’t you get your degree in science? I thought you’d be working at the hospital.”
I raised my eyebrow, not bothering to answer him.
“Why become a magician?” he asked.
Realizing that I wasn’t going to explain myself, Alesondro switched tactics.
“I’ve been trying to contact you. I wanted to apologize. I feel really badly about what happened last year.”
“Oh?” Again I raised my eyebrow. He hadn’t felt badly before. I remembered that he pretty much blamed everything on me.
“Yeah. I shouldn’t have let the pack get out of hand. And I should have explained how packs work a lot better. Then there wouldn’t have been such a misunderstanding.”
“Misunderstanding?” I scoffed. “You were a low-down cheating dog. I don’t think I misunderstood anything!” I could feel myself getting mad again, just like I had when I’d caught him kissing his pack-mate, Veronica.
Alesondro looked somewhat embarrassed. “Ah. Well, then. I am sorry.”
Not mollified, I said, “I’m not.” I dumped the money he’d given me out of the jar. “Here’s your damned money back!” I tossed him his change and headed out of the shop.
I didn’t see Alesondro again for quite awhile. I continued to perform, but I was getting good enough to get gigs at the venues around town. In fact, I had a pretty steady gig at Performance Park.
It was here that I started seeing him in my audiences. He was a doctor. He probably came to my shows right after work. Performance Park was located near to the hospital. With the lights shining at my face, I could barely make him out, but his lab-coat was unmistakable.
I saw him closer up when I was volunteering at the hospital. I’d been asked by the head of the children’s ward to do some tricks for the kids. Of course I agreed. Part of what made doing magic fun for me was seeing the reactions of others. I was more than happy to perform for the kids.
When I left the children’s ward, I was asked by the Director of Medicine to perform in the waiting room. “There are a lot of people here,” she explained. “It’s flu season. If you perform, perhaps people won’t be as cranky about the long wait.”
“Of course,” I agreed.
It was when I was performing in the lobby that I saw him. He came up behind the Director and watched the end of my routine. It took all I had to concentrate on my finale. I couldn’t help noticing that he had really red hair and somewhat pointed ears. I wondered if he was part Fairy, but I didn’t see any wings.
When I was finished, the others went off to do whatever it was they did and Dr. Red-head stayed.
“You were great!” he enthused, clapping. I smiled. His eyes were lavender. And his hair was pulled back into a ponytail. What kind of doctor had hair like that?
“Thank you, Dr…?” I raised an eyebrow in question.
“Dr. Fitzwilliam,” he said. He had a nice voice. Mellow. And his ear-points weren’t as pronounced as a Fairy’s would be. “And you are Nat Flair,” he smiled, calling me by my stage name.
I did an elaborate bow. “At your service.” I smiled at him. “Well, actually not anymore. I’m out of tricks now. Time to call it a night.”
“I’ve got night shift,” he said. “Perhaps I’ll see you again sometime. Catch the entire act.”
“Sure.” I wondered if he’d show up for my regular gig like he had before. “See you around.”
I had no idea that I would be running into the good Dr. Fitzwilliam right outside my own house. It was Saturday and I was outside brewing some elixirs to sell. I still did a pretty good business with them. I looked out at the field behind my place and saw a man with bright red hair picking up seeds.
I couldn’t help myself. I stopped what I was doing to go and see if it really was him.
“Hey, what are you doing?” I called out. He turned around and saw me and waved. Then he sort of jogged over to me.
“Hey,” he said. “Is this your field?”
I laughed. “No. That’s my place over there, but this field is just that, a field.”
“Ah. Then I’m not stealing these specimens.”
I looked at the seeds he held out. “Specimens?”
“Sure. There are some rare plants here. I take them and study them, trying to discover their genetic codes.”
“You’re a scientist?”
“Oh. I thought you were a doctor.”
I must have sounded disappointed because he laughed at me. “Not as good of a catch, eh?”
“Oh, sorry. That sounded bad. I mean, I thought you were a medical doctor. It’s cool that you’re a science doctor. I studied science, too. I have a degree and everything.”
“You’re kidding? How does a scientist become a magician?”
I invited him back to my place and explained it to him. I left out the bits about D’Arcy, but I told him about Alesondro and our break up and how I went back to the university but that I no longer had a passion for science.
I had another performance that day. He offered to make me lunch while I got ready for it. I was surprised by his generous offer.
“Don’t thank me until you’ve tasted it,” he said. “I may not make something you like.”
“Oh, whatever you make will be fine. Use what you can find in the fridge.”
He cooked and I got dressed. “I hope you like veggie burgers,” he called out to me.
“I love them!” I said. “They’re my favorite.”
“Are you a vegetarian,” he asked when I came out and grabbed a burger.
“No. I just like the burgers. I’ll eat meat, too. In fact, you probably saw the fresh fish in there. I caught them last night.”
“You like to fish?”
“Not really,” I said. “I just do it to get fertilizer for my garden. I’m sure you saw it out back.”
The garden was the one thing I loved about my ugly little house. I was able to grow a variety of things. Fresh ingredients made the best elixirs.
When I had to leave for my gig, the doctor thanked me for giving him lunch.
“No trouble,” I said. “You made it.”
“Thank you anyway,” he said, licking his lips after his last bite. I was so busy watching him do this that I almost missed his next question. “Maybe we can go out sometime?”
I blushed. “Sure,” I said.
“I’ll call you,” he said, getting up off the couch. He took my plate and his and began to wash them in the sink.
I just stared at him. He was cute, a doctor, and he did dishes? I was half-way in love already. As he was leaving I said, “Um…by the way?”
“What’s your real name? I can’t keep calling you Doctor all the time.”
He laughed and blushed, too. “Sorry. You can call me Dare.”
Dare was a fun guy to date. He enjoyed playing video games, pool and going to the festival. Going out with him was so different than going out with Alesondro. We talked a lot and had a lot of fun. He made me laugh. I hadn’t realized how much I liked a man who had a sense of humor until I met Dare.
He was also really sweet. He liked to slow dance with me and just sit looking at the stars. We talked of science and magic, both. He told me of his experiments and I explained a few of my illusions.
“Don’t you believe in real magic?” he asked me once.
“No. Not really,” I said honestly.
“But what about your elixirs. Don’t you think that’s real magic?”
“No. Those are just ingredients put together. It’s like chemistry, really.”
“I don’t think you can make some of those potions with a chemistry set,” he laughed.
“I disagree!” I challenged. “I think you could make each of those potions with chemistry. There are lots of ways of mixing ingredients.”
“Ah, and don’t you think that’s magic?”
I must of looked confused because he explained further, “I work with DNA,” he said. “You take one part of a DNA strand and change it just slightly and suddenly you have something entirely new. There has to be some magic in that, don’t you think?”
“But that’s science!”
“Sure, but someone once said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.’ So, in essence, magic is just science that hasn’t been explained yet.”
I was surprised that a man of science and medicine would even consider something like magic being real. I acknowledged that I hadn’t always felt they way I did about magic. I didn’t explain where my disillusionment came from. I agreed that something undiscovered could be perceived as magical, but I also added that once it was discovered, it became scientific.
“Take vampires and werewolves,” I said. Dare and I were fishing at the time.
“What about them?” he asked.
“Well, aren’t you working on a cure for those two conditions at the hospital?” I’d remembered that Warren, one of Alesondro’s pack had said something to that effect.
“Sure. But just because we can reverse those conditions with science doesn’t mean they didn’t originate with magic.”
“Nonsense. I can brew an elixir that can cause vampirism or even confer the werewolf curse!”
“My point is proven!”
“No, mine is. It’s just chemistry.”
We both laughed at this. This debate between us would probably always continue. Dare believed in the magic of science and I refused to see the science of magic.
Luckily the day was hot and the fish decided to stop biting. Dare suggested we go swimming. I agreed. It was one of the perks of living in such an out of the way location as my house. I had practically private beach access.
After playing in the water together, we went back onto the beach to have a picnic lunch.
“This has been the best day ever,” I sighed.
“I know. I am so glad I got the courage to finally talk to you. I used to go watch your show after my shifts.”
I laughed. “I know. I noticed you.”
“Well, I’m glad. If you hadn’t come into the hospital, I probably wouldn’t have spoken to you.”
“Don’t tell me you are shy! I can’t believe it.”
“No, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk to you.”
“I would have talked to you,” I said, though I wasn’t sure if it was true. He might not be shy, but he was a lot more social than I was.
We kissed on the beach, played some more and took a few romantic pictures with Dare’s phone.
“Don’t take a picture of me in a bathing suit!” I protested.
“Why not? I want to remember this day. And I think you’re sexy!”
“Of course I do!” Dare and I hadn’t yet slept together. He said he wanted to wait. “We’ll know when the time is right,” he said. “Until then, let’s just enjoy each other’s company.”
There on the beach, kissing him and having his nearly naked body pressed against mine, I knew that I didn’t want to wait anymore. As the sun started to go down, I whispered in his ear, “It’s getting cold. Let’s go inside.”
“Ok.” Dare packed up the fishing gear, and I grabbed the blanket we’d used and the picnic basket.
We walked a bit up the path. We held hands for a bit and then as the path got steep he went ahead of me.
“Hey Dare?” I asked in a hushed voice. I wasn’t sure what he’d say to my next statement, but I really wanted to say it.
“Yeah?” he said, turning toward me with a smile.
“I think you should stay the night tonight.”
His smile dropped and he gulped audibly. I smiled now at his sudden show of nerves. “Yeah,” I whispered. “It’s cold out and my bed is nice and warm.”
Dare gulped again and I walked past him up the hill. He didn’t more for a minute and my smile grew. Then he caught up with me and grabbed my hand.
“You’re sure?” he asked.
By the time we got back to the house, we were practically running. We were both laughing. Dare threw down the fishing tackle and I dumped off the picnic basket. Then we were kissing. We peeled each other out of our damp suits and fell onto the bed. Our mouths never broke contact.
Dare was a bit hesitant as a lover. He admitted that he hadn’t much experience. I told him I hadn’t either. One lover did not make me an experience woman! It didn’t matter. We explored each other. We made love. Just before we fell asleep, I whispered, “I love you.”
Dare kissed me on top of the head. “I’ve always loved you,” he said. I smiled and snuggled closer to him. I fell asleep in his warm embrace.