Guitar Strings

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

She sat the way a knowing person would sit. At least, the way Amelia assumed a knowing person would sit--mainly because Naomi always sat like that, and she was always knowing.

A poor assumption, but logical deduction was not one of Amelia's strong suits.


Naomi was not a rocket scientist, but she understood people--understood them enough not to like them. Amelia always found it a little uneasy (that her best friend generally hated the whole schema of sim-kind) but she had always seemed to make an exception for Mia. Maybe it was because they'd know each other from grade school, or maybe it was because they both had similar troubles in their past--it made sense, but it was still weird.

And it was even weirder that Naomi seemed to know what Amelia was thinking just by giving her that look: calm, content, with a small smile that was just big enough to decieve you before she stamped out your dignity.

If Amelia hadn'tve liked Naomi so much, she'd be afraid of her.
But then again, maybe she kind of was.


"Before you say anything, just hear me out, okay?" Amelia began, noticing that Naomi's face was slowly going from amused to annoyed. "I tried really, really hard to find us somewhere else to play. Eugi's is booked solid, the Bonzai didn't think we'd suit their atmosphere--and, well, the others..."

"The others don't like poor publicity stunts," Naomi finished, her eyebrows starting to furrow.

"Er, yeah." Amelia felt the sting from that; hearing the term 'stunt' applied to her for a second time that day wasn't enjoyable. "Anyways, Mr. Striker agreed to give us a gig as long as we--"

"You mean, you."

"Um, yeah--as long as 'I' behave myself." Dang, that mind-reading thing was always freaky. "I know you don't want us to play there anymore, but we don't really have any other choice. We either do that, or--"


"Or get kicked out?" Naomi smirked when she saw Amelia's face fall, horrified. "Yes, Amelia, I know. I got a phone call from the landlord this morning right after you went out. The next time we're facing eviction, it'd be really nice if you at least warned me early enough so I could pack my things."

"Er... Sorry," Amelia responded sheepishly.

Shrugging, Naomi continued. "Anyways, that's fine. We're better than Waylon's Haunt, but if we've gotta start from the bottom again, that's where we'll start from. I take it there are conditions on this agreement, though?"


"Besides not making a fool of myself?" Amelia asked, scrunching up her nose. "Ummm... Oh, yeah, he asked if I could bring the electric guitar."

"And...?"

"And, there's no way I am. You know how I feel about that, Naomi. It's staying here. No one'll notice the difference, and Rafael will forget he ever asked once I start playing."


Naomi groaned, rolling her eyes. "Why can't you just do it, Amelia? He's not asking for much!" As annoyed as Naomi was, there was a small plead in her voice--a plead for reason. "It's just a guitar!"


"NO, Naomi, it's not just a guitar! You always say you understand but you don't! You can't force me to play it like nothing ever happened!"

For the first time in what had felt like a day of bottled agony, Amelia finally released the Emotion Valve. This was a rage that even the mailbox had never seen, but one that Naomi had seen far too often in her life not to recognize.

Amelia's yelling continued: "I'm not going to forget years-worth of memories just for some scummy bartender!"


"He's not just some scummy bartender, Amelia! He's the one person in this town who's willing to give us a job, and you should be grateful to shine his shoes for that, much less just switch instruments..."

There was a slight pause for a moment, where both remained silent--but after a deep breath, Naomi added one last painful note: "I mean, if it hadn't been for your outburst in the first place, you wouldn't need to listen to anyone's demands. But at this point... You kind of have to make some sacrifices, Mia."


"I--I--I... I know." And that's when the tears started to come. Maybe the way Naomi had said it was harsh, but a harsh reality was still a reality--and putting it in sugar-coated bubble wrap wasn't going to make it any less difficult to hear.

"I know, it's all my fault. If it weren't for me, you'd be playing at the Prosper Room every night, and s-s-signing deals with producers, and Marina and Kate wouldn't have to face each other every day, and..."

"And what, Mia?"

"And, maybe I should just go. No one wants me here, and I just mess up everything..."


"No, no no no, honey." Naomi grabbed Amelia firmly by the sides of her arms, and looked up into her eyes. "That isn't true. Everyone makes mistakes. I mean, of all people, you know I'm certainly no fairy princess of perfection. But you're trying, and that makes all the difference. It's just gonna take a little more work, is all."

"B-but I'm not sure I can..."

"Sure you can, Mia. You don't have to do it alone, either. I've been here every step of the way, haven't I?" Naomi tried to smile as wide as she could. "Best friends forever, remember?"


"Baaahahahahaaaaaaaaaaa," Amelia wailed, suddenly collapsing into Naomi's arms with a flood of tears so swift and numerous that Naomi could've sworn her friend had set loose the Euphrates River on her collarbone.

Just. Fan. Tastic.


Naomi gave Amelia a few minutes; sure, the tidal wave of tears was insanely uncomfortable, but Naomi was pretty sure that even if she tried to let go, Amelia wouldn't; you'd have more luck catching a robot fish than un-catching a sobbing Amelia.

But, after sobs turned to spastic sniffles, and spastic sniffles turned to whimpers, and after whimpers turned to lip-quivering, Naomi finally decided that the Amelia Death Grip was escapable; gently, she pushed her friend away.


Amelia, though, still wouldn't look up. Containing her emotions was always a recipe for disaster, but every time she let loose in front of Naomi she couldn't help but feel ashamed. Cool, collected Naomi never cried over anything as silly as instrument selection--and the fact that Mia did, no matter any good reasons she had for it, was kind of humiliating.

"Look, Mia. I admit, I don't quite understand what you're feeling. I thought you'd be over it by now at least enough to handle the guitar, but I guess I was wrong. I won't pressure you to bring it. Besides, you're probably right... I doubt Rafael's going to even remember he asked you to bring it."


Taking a deep breath, Amelia wiped a tear from her eye before raising her gaze to finally look back into Naomi's. It took all the strength left in her cheeks, but she somehow managed to smile. "Thanks," she said weakly.

Naomi grinned. "Don't mention it."





Amelia waited until she heard the door shut behind Naomi. Naomi was going to go try to talk a few more days worth of sense into their landlord--she was the perfect girl for the job--which meant that for at least the next half-hour, Amelia had the apartment to herself.

Naomi could handle herself alone for days at a time, but Mia always had a hard time just being alone for a few minutes. What Amelia thought it all came down to was the fact that she simply thought too much; left to her own devices, all her memories just came flooding back... along with a flood of tears.

But today, with the flood already over, she thought maybe it was time to risk it.


Amelia pulled it out of the closet and set it on the floor near the corner.

The mahogany overlay was still unblemished. For years she'd polished it every day, carefully tuned every gold-plated peg, and neurotically obsessed over losing the solid emerald plumbob fixed into the head. In fact, besides one of the strings she had had to replace, it was exactly the same as the day she got it.

Perfect.


She hesitated, but not as much as she thought she would; it felt a little weird in her arms after so long, but just strumming a single note suddenly brought everything back.

The familiarity of the sound. The tension of the string.
The memories...


A few moments of quick, loud stomps down the stairs after her father had called her, Amelia froze in a suddenly. A wave of emotion hit her so fast, it took everything within her to keep from crying. She'd had no idea what to expect--but in her wildest dreams, she hadn't expected even this. "D.... Daddy! You didn't!"

"No... I'm pretty sure I did," he responded cockily, still standing firm in the corner of the room, arms crossed, face telling of a job well done. "She's all yours, Mia."


"Oh... Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygoshohm-- I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!"

There it was -- the guitar she'd been drooling over oh, since, you know... The day she was old enough to see pictures. Everything about it looked just the way she'd imagined: no, not how she'd imagined. Better than she'd imagined.



"Oh daddyohdaddyohdaddy thankyouthankyouthankyou..." Amelia's voice had gone so high-pitched, that as she flailed and jumped at her unsuspecting father, the words that continued to pour out of her lips were no longer distinguishable. At this point, it sound more like a squirrel chirping, "Enkoo enkoo enkoo!"

"I get it, I get it! You like it!" Although her father was surprised, he still was careful to catch her in his arms, trying not to laugh at her sudden, ridiculous outburst. "I'm glad to hear it, sweetheart. You deserve it."


"Oh, daddy..." Amelia said-- though, muffled through the shoulder of his jacket. "I don't think there's aaaanyone on the planet who loves ya more than I do..."

A knot of anger stuck in Amelia's throat. 'No one loved him more than I did.'


Amelia almost dropped the guitar to the floor. Her arms had suddenly gone weak, and her fingers had begun to shake. One note was enough. No. One note had been too much.

She carefully clenched the neck of the guitar in her fist, but, staring at where she'd admired it in the corner, she gently began to shake her head.

No, she wasn't going to put it there. She was going to put it back in the closet where she'd found it.
Back where it belonged.





The wait until Saturday was tense, but at least it went by quickly. Mr. Striker gave them enough of an advance that they were able to order in some pizza and buy a box of cereal, but come noon on the first day of the weekend their stomachs were beginning to rumble.

Amelia's lack of foresight to at least save enough Simoleans for food kind of annoyed Naomi, but... at least she was willing to admit it was her fault. It was hard to stay angry at her for long.

They arrived in front of Waylon's Haunt a bit early, their lips drooling from the smell of nachoes and wings being cooked up on the other side of the locked doors. Their two other band-mates still hadn't arrived, but that was for the best--the longer they could keep the two of them apart, the better.


Amelia's nerves, however, were not doing so hot. "What if I screw this up again?" she asked quietly, her expression morose. "What if I lose my cool, or really do have to faint, or-or-or--"

"Then we take it as it comes, Mia," Naomi said reassuringly.

"Yeah. I guess you're right."


"Besides, do you really think anything bad is going to happen? You're on your toes enough right now that you probably couldn't do anything stupid even if you wanted to." Naomi chuckled, pulling her hands away from their comforting spot on Amelia's shoulders. "We're talking, you'd have to do something pretty awful to ruin our chances, at this point. Not much lower we can go from here."


Amelia shrugged and shook her head. "I honestly don't know, Naomi. I didn't think I was stupid enough to do something like my last outburst, but it just kinda happened. I mean, I really don't even get why. I don't even know what happened... It was just like something came over me, you know?"


"Well... Not really," Naomi said with a laugh. "It was actually kind of strange..."


"Everything had been really normal up to that point," Naomi said slowly. "I guess the bar was a little more packed than usual, but the cash was flowing in like you wouldn't believe. I think we made more than the gig itself in tips, that night. Everything was going, like, fantastic."


Amelia contemplated that, for a moment. "I guess I was killing it pretty hard. But I was honestly so absorbed in the music, I really didn't even notice..."

"Then what happened?"


"I don't know, Naomi. There was just... this guy, standing in the front. There was just something weird about him. I felt... Uncomfortable, you know? Like he was stalking me or something."

"Well, the guy had been to almost all our shows. From what Rafael was telling me, he was one of your biggest fans... But I don't think it was anything more than that." Naomi sounded equally confused. "He honestly didn't seem all that much more strange than most of the people that come into Waylon's Haunt."


"Oh, he was definitely strange," Amelia said, her voice a little shaky. "When he yelled at me for telling him off, it was almost like... Almost like he hissed at me."

"Oh come on, Amelia. I was there, there was definitely no hissing."

"What, you think I'm kidding?!" She sounded irritated. "I think... I think he was, you know... One of them."


"Whatever," Naomi said, crossing her arms and rolling her eyes. "It doesn't really matter that you started yelling at him. It more matters that you started a fight."

"Hey, he pushed me first! I almost ripped my pair of brand new jeans!"


"Yeah, something tells me you didn't care about the looks of your jeans, considering what you did next."


"What, getting my butt kicked? Yeah, I totally chose that option," Amelia groaned sarcastically. "I just wanted to give him a bit of a smack! Show him who was the boss of the stage! Instead--"

"--he defended himself, admirably." Naomi snorted with laughter.


"Oh don't you dare laugh at me," Amelia responded, almost giggling herself. "It's not like I'm the only one that jumped into that fight, trying to rescue the damsel in distress..."

Naomi scowled. "I was just trying to protect you... I figured the two of us against him meant a greater chance of making it out of there alive."


Something about 'making it out alive' made Amelia's back shiver, but she cast the thought away before continuing. "Well, it didn't make a lick of difference. I mean, did you see the look on the bartender's face? I thought she was about to throw a punch in my face, herself."

"Do you really blame her, Mia? The people in there came to relax, not to... you know... get caught up in a fight. And they ended up losing a lot of customers after that--especially the ones that came just to see you play."


Amelia winced. "Whatever. It was still humiliating. Getting kicked out when you're the lead of the band..."

"I know, Mia. It was rough. But, it's time to get over it. That was over a month ago. I doubt anyone even remembers it, anymore."


"I do, Naomi."

"And," Naomi said with a wag of her finger. "You learned an important lesson that you won't mess up again, right? That's all that matters, Mia. We're getting a second chance. Don't you want to prove yourself again?"


Amelia took a minute to think it over. Did she really want to prove herself? This band thing had been a whole heck of a lot of trouble right from the get-go; if she wanted, she could just retire and find a real job. One that was less stressful, one that actually paid the bills.

But no: that's not what she wanted.

"You're right. I do want a second chance. I guess I'm just freaked out I'll waste it."


Naomi smiled that knowing smile of hers, amused at Amelia's teetertottering emotions. "Well then," she said cutely. "It's time to put on that smile, take off your thinking cap, and get ready to play your heart out. We've got a gig to rock."


When the doors opened, Amelia and Naomi quickly jumped on stage. They had to wait for the other two to arrive--and then make sure that Kate and Marina stayed out of trouble until the gig began--but once the clock chimed 12-o-clock, they made their way to their instruments, and got ready to play.

Their stomachs would have to wait until after--now, it was the time for music.


On the bass was Katelyn Missoni; less than perfect on the strings, but had a smile that could smooth over any clumsy notes...


On the drums was Marina Prattle, who despised their country tunes--but loved the stage...


On the piano was Naomi Leman, who could even make sitting look like an art...


And on that guitar, slamming those strings as if each note were a memory that had made her, Amelia Kane.


Together, they made the Yelling Birds; perhaps they were nothing special, but at least they were unique: country blondes with a passion for music (well, at least some of them) and a passion for the stage.


But, if the audience still had a passion for them... Only time could tell.

"So?" Naomi said softly into the phone a few hours later when it began to ring. "What's the news?"

23 comments:

Kaleeko January 5, 2011 at 11:02 PM  

Nevermind, persistence let me post a bit early! XD

PiB January 6, 2011 at 2:37 AM  

Oh dear, oh dear. Mia really does rollercoaster emotions. One moment raging at Naomi and the second crying a torrent on her shoulder.

The electric guitar and Jeb - so far we've seen the good memories. But there's obviously bad yet to come. Or Mia wouldn't have exploded so. "No one loved him more than I did." Interesting.

And thus the vampire enters the story. :) I've seen that one from time to time.

Well, I hope the gig went well. Or the girls are going to have to get real jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

Jennifer January 6, 2011 at 2:43 AM  

Fancy ending it there...;)

Omg she got into a fight with a vampire. Amelia are you crazy!

Country blondes, that's so cute! Amelia really seems to be going for it with that guitar.

And I am soooo interested to know why she isn't playing her electric guitar, the one Jeb gave her, the one she was soooo excited about that she jumped into her father's arms....hmmm.

This is a great start to season five! Can't wait to see what else you have in store Kaleeko! :)

mmmcheezy225 January 6, 2011 at 10:09 AM  

Hmmm, I wonder what happened between Mia and Jeb to make her hate that guitar so much?

I forgot to mention that the makeovers you gave the Yelling Birds all look great.

Oooh, a vampire. Violent vampire + overemotional country princess = ??? Does he have any other part in the story? I guess we'll have to wait and see. :D

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 12:34 PM  

Amelia's definitely a... piece of work. She took a page out of Meredith's book and magnified it a few couple hundred times, I guess!

She's probably not *totally* crazy, but maybe she is just a little bit--she's certainly fiesty, though. She almost lacks tact as much as Naomi does. But, when you get as moody and stressed out as Mia does, sometimes you don't make the wisest actions.

And yes, Cheezy--I will admit that it's possible William Fangmann may appear again later on, in some form or another. I wouldn't say he's violent, though... Amelia's the one who attacked him, he just responded in kind. ;)

My lips are sealed about Jeb and the guitar, though--all I can say is that it won't remain a mystery forever. :D

Chrysame January 6, 2011 at 12:40 PM  

I'm curious about the guitar thing as well. There seems to be a huge rift between Mia and Jeb.

I love Mia's shirt. It's so cute on her. Even when she's crying. Nice band! Heh, for some reason it reminded me of Josie and the Pussycats.

You're already drawing me in. Sheesh, I think I'm hooked!

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 12:45 PM  

Rift may be a slight understatement, Chrysame. ;) It's going to be really interesting working up through explaining what happened.

Josie and the Pussycats, huh? :D That's actually not a bad comparison. I was thinking of the Dixie Chicks when I first started getting things together, especially when I was trying to come up with the band's name (which is actually a reference to a webcomic I read).

When do I not hook you in, Chrysame? *tease* Hope you had an awesome holiday!!

Chrysame January 6, 2011 at 12:53 PM  

I'm not a country music fan so I jumped to Josie (cartoon!) instead of Dixie.

Yes, yes, you always hook me! Heh. It had to be pretty bad between Jeb and Mia for her not to play that guitar yet she won't get rid of it meaning she's still invested in what happened. She's still in that stage where you hate what happened but can't stop poking at it now and again.

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 1:06 PM  

Can't say I'm a huge country music fan either, but both my sisters are--and part of my inspiration for her comes from them. That and I can see her being proud of where she's "from", even if her family isn't really native to southern Simtopia. ;D

Actually, Amelia would've gotten rid of the guitar if Naomi hadn't made her keep it. I alluded to it very slightly in the first post when she contemplated selling one of the guitars for money. However, I think part of Mia still wouldn't want to part with it, anyways, despite what happened. Maybe a small shred of hope that it will change.

PiB January 6, 2011 at 1:48 PM  

So does the cause of the rift have anything to do with Jeb's pose in the banner? I've been puzzling over that look a bit.

My gut reaction is that Jeb did something that left Amelia feeling betrayed. She did love him more than... Speculation is so much fun.

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 3:55 PM  

It has something to do with it, yes. :)

Feel free to speculate, while I feel free to giggle in the corner. >:D

Chrysame January 6, 2011 at 4:06 PM  

Don't make me come over there, young lady!

PiB January 6, 2011 at 4:15 PM  

You better be careful Kaleeko. Chrysame is back in style. :)

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 4:24 PM  

>.> <.< *tiptoes sideways away...*

I'm really glad that you're already into the story enough to be speculating, though. I always find the first few posts are the hardest to write because there's generally not much to them, but pre-organizing everything seems to have really helped.

Chrysame January 6, 2011 at 4:41 PM  

How far ahead of your blogging are you in game?

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 6:05 PM  

Okay call me silly, but I may end up buying the Outdoor Stuff pack just so that I can get the gal's hairstyle in this picture:

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5009/5331795426_dc16f64869_z.jpg

Is it just me or are they finally stepping up their game on making nicer objects/clothes/hairstyles? Bout darn time.

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 6:08 PM  

Oh, and Chrysame--I am about... nnngghh... 3 posts ahead at this point? Not very far at all, compared to what I'm used to. It feels a little scary.

Still, things should pick up fairly quickly once I get the cojones to tackle a really big scene a couple posts away. (No PiB, I still haven't done it. XD )

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 6:10 PM  

Wow I am sucking at commenting tonight. I wanted to add:

The reason I'm 'pre-organized' is I wrote down the entire story beforehand. This is the first time I've done that, and it's actually kind of nice because now I'm not scrambling to do 100's of things and then hoping I can connect the dots in the end.

Chrysame January 6, 2011 at 6:10 PM  

I like the lemonade pitcher. The set looks nice. I can probably get this as we still have credit built up at GameStop so it won't bite into my budget. Woot!

PiB knows about a big scene coming up?! Oh boy, who am I going to pump for info...

Kaleeko January 6, 2011 at 6:14 PM  

oooh, I didn't even see the lemonade pitcher! I'm blind. XD That is really cute though.

PiB just knows that I was grumbling the other night about having to tackle it; she doesn't know what it is, but after next post I can 100% guarantee y'all will know what it is. If you haven't already guessed. Cuz it's kinda obvious. XD

PiB January 6, 2011 at 6:35 PM  

I also know about the inspiration behind this season when Kaleeko started writing the plot out. No specifics though, she's been better about no spoilers, even in chat.

I'll have to check out the stuff pack. The last stuff pack just didn't interest me.

I wonder if Twallan's mods can keep Sims from having 'relationships' with their vehicles. I really hate finding that someone has a best friend that is a car. :(

Dee January 7, 2011 at 4:49 AM  

I love this update Kaleeko. Sorry I'm so far behind. Someday I'll catch up with everything and everyone.
I don't trust Naomi. Not at all. And what happened to the relationship between her and Jeb. Did he die?
I wish I could stick around.

Kaleeko January 7, 2011 at 5:55 PM  

Deeeee! You're not far behind, don't worry. :) I'm purposefully not updating often because I know it's easier for people to keep up with that way.

Naomi's a hard gal to trust, I agree. She keeps secrets and she's really difficult to befriend.. And she's always got her own agenda. But, she's not really her mother's daughter--her intentions are not really very sinister. ;)

Is Jeb dead? Hmmm.... *eyebrowwaggles*

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