Now that he was an adult, Amil was promoted at work. He was something of a celebrity around town, everyone trying to get into his restaurant. He quickly got over the hurt he had felt when Beverly didn’t show up to his party, after all, the world was full of women who wanted his attention. And he gave it to them. His mother should never have worried about him settling down with the first girl to come along. Amil spent his days and nights dating. He liked them blonde, he liked them dark, he liked them red-headed. He didn’t care. First there was Caryl.
And Roxie. Amil was in a constant state of euphoria. He never slept and hardly ever ate. He got everything he needed from the dates he enjoyed.
Caryl started showing up at Amil’s house constantly. He had to stop bringing girls home because she would drop by at the most inopportune moments. He had taken to woohooing his dates in his truck since Caryl was usually in the house, and he had no desire to start a fight. Caryl always wanted to talk about having kids, and marriage. Amil certainly wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. He much preferred to spend his time with Roxie or Shelby. Those girls knew how to just kick back and enjoy the moment and not get all sappy about everything. A kiss wasn’t a contract with them.
He was certainly taking his mother at her word, and sampled many of the fish in the sea.
Amil was on his way out to another date when his mother stopped him. “ There’s something I need from you Amil.” “ Yes mother dear, anything for you.” Amil smiled. “ I’m trying to be serious. Now sit down and listen.”
Amil sat down on the couch, throwing his leg over the arm. “ I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” Emily paused gathering her thoughts. “I want to pass something on when I die. No, don’t interrupt me. Let me finish. Between the two of us we’ve built a nice home here in Copper Hills, I’ve become that Space Pirate I always dreamed of, you’ve done very well for yourself. I can’t help but thinking there should be something more though.”
She pushed herself off the couch, walked over to the window and looked out. “You know that I was part of the Lost Children program, I was never given much of a childhood. And you, well, as hard as I tried, your childhood was hardly ideal. I want to create a family, Amil. My days are almost over, but you, your still young and have a chance to create something larger than both of us. I want to leave behind a…”
“ A legacy.” Amil finished for her. Emily’s face lit up, “Yes, a legacy. Do you understand what I’m trying to say, honey? I want to create a haven here for our family, a place of harmony and safety for your children, and their children. I imagine I can see them stretching on for generations. Please, will you do this for me?” she walked back over and sat on the edge of the sofa next to him.
“ I could never say no to you, mom. I wouldn’t dare start now.” “ You are a scoundrel, my darling boy. You are the best thing about your father and I all wrapped into one. Promise me you’ll be happy.” “ Of course momma,” he pulled Emily into a hug.
Amil spent a lot of time thinking over his conversation with his mother. It went against his very nature to settle down with a wife and kids, but he knew it would make his mother so happy. Besides, this was along the same lines as his birthday wish. He wanted to give something back to his mother, and he figured a house full of grandchildren would do it. He sighed, having made up his mind. At least the making of babies is fun, he thought wryly. Caryl would probably make the best wife and mother. She was around the house so much anyway, it wouldn’t be any different if they were married, really. Being a romantic at heart, he knew that the proposal would have to sweep Caryl off her feet. And since this was the end of his roaming days, he’d throw everything he had into it.
“ I’d like to book a trip to the islands please…yes, 2 nights sounds perfect…oh, and can you have them pick a room that’s extra special? Yes…thank you, bye.” Amil hung up the phone from making the vacation plans, now to just wait for the shuttle to arrive. Caryl would be so surprised, he was sure. He was still having a few misgivings about marriage, but shoved them firmly aside.
Soon the shuttle arrived, and he was loading their luggage. He looked back at Caryl. She really was the prettiest girl he’d dated, this might not be so bad. He hoped she’d want to have kids quickly, his mom was getting old, and he wanted her to see her grandchildren before she died.
The trip was quite enjoyable. Amil wanted to try everything, where as Caryl wanted to just relax. After a day of sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing, they sat around a campfire in companionable silence. Amil looked at Caryl, steeling himself for the question. “ Caryl, these last months you have managed to work your way into my life in a way I didn’t think any woman ever would. I’ve been wandering, and I feel like you are my beacon to a safe harbor. I can’t get you out of my mind, when we kiss, it sends me over the moon, Caryl…” Caryl leaned forward expectantly.
Amil knew he was laying it on thick, but there was no stopping now. “ Caryl, will you marry me and make me the happiest man around?” Caryl’s squeal could be heard along the whole beach. “Oh yes, yes, yes! Oh, Amil! I didn’t think you were the marrying type! Of course I’ll marry you!” Amil pulled out the ring. It was a huge diamond, big enough to guarantee any girl would say yes. Caryl threw her arms around him, Amil crossed his fingers, hoping he wasn’t making the biggest mistake of his life.
Caryl was tired when they woke the next morning, so Amil went to explore the island by himself before they left for home that afternoon. While digging for treasure he found an old, tattered map. It seemed to show the way to some mysterious area on the edge of the mountain. Amil was curious and decided to visit. “ Hello? Anyone here?” Amil climbed the many stairs leading to the hut. Not getting an answer, he poked his head into the door. Inside was a shambles, in the air was the scent of burnt electronics and motors, and puddles covered the floor. Amils first response was to turn around and go back the way he’d come, but something about the man working on the microwave oven piqued his interest. Not only was the man being electrocuted, but he was dressed in what must be a ceremonial outfit. “ Uh, hello? Do you need some help?”
The man didn’t seem startled by Amil’s presence, he just turned and smiled. “Help, yes, help. You help.” He handed Amil the screwdriver and left the hut, muttering about getting a nap. “ What? Whoa, hey, I—” but the man had already disappeared down the path. There was nothing to do but fix all the appliances. So Amil got to work. He had never been good at fixing stuff, but before long the microwave and dishwasher were in working order. He turned to see smoke rising from the television, and so he fixed that. He went into the bathroom to wash up only to find the bathtub leaking water all over the floor. After fixing it, he went to find the man.
Amil found the man napping in a hammock. The man must have heard Amil’s footsteps because he stood as Amil approached. “ It is good you have sought me out, Amil.” “ What? How do you know my name? And what’s with leaving me up there to fix everything myself?” A chuckle came from behind the mask. “A gift I give you. And a word of warning. Know this, the life you lead is not a life of your own. For 10 generations must you be controlled by something other than your own will. A great she-god writes your story in the stars, please her and your family will go on, anger her and I fear you will languish in nothingness for eternity.”
Amil accepted the present. He sat and listened to the witch doctor, for that must be what he was, go on about something called a Sim World, which he claimed they lived in. He spoke of many curious things, such as wants and needs and aspirations, of children and woohoo, of learning the ability to speak to the she-god, and of such a thing as a legacy challenge. Inside the box rested the means to speak with the she-god, if he should choose to try. But it came with a warning, “Careful when you dabble in things beyond your understanding, the path of the stars is treacherous, and should not be undertaken glibly. Some gods are generous, while others choose to punish their subjects. Be wary until you know which kind chooses your fate.” With the last words, the witch doctor turned, laid back onto his cot and was fast asleep. Amil took the present and returned to his hotel, not wanting to speak anymore of what he had heard.
They returned home from their vacation, Amil somewhat quiet and thoughtful. He noticed that the wedding arch had already been placed when he pulled up to the house. How? He wondered, and then decided he really didn’t want to know. The words of the witch doctor were confusing. He decided that life could continue on as it had, and he wouldn’t worry about what had been said. He’d marry Caryl, settle down and have a few children. Who knows, maybe he’d even roll a secondary aspiration for family. Amil stopped in his tracks at that thought. Where had it come from? A secondary aspiration? That was too closely along the lines of what the witch doctor had spoken of. None of that was real, surely. He’d just make up his mind to be a bit more open to family life, that was all. It had nothing to do with aspirations. It was late, his mind was troubled and he wanted to sleep.
The next morning came to soon for Amils taste. He showered, changed into his white suit, and called up the wedding party. As he was looking over his friends list he quickly realized he couldn’t invite anyone. The only one that wouldn’t rip his eyes out when he married Caryl was Orlando. So for the sake of life, the wedding was small and intimate.
As they said their vows and exchanged rings, Amil felt that this was somehow right. He knew he was making his mother happy, and he would do anything for her. Caryl was a good girl, and he meant to do right by her. He secretly vowed to be a good and faithful husband. Sure he’d said the words in the ceremony, but only he knew that now he really meant them.
They cut the cake, accepted congratulations from Emily, and then they were off in the limo for their overnight honeymoon.
When Caryl told him that she was expecting their first child, Amil was surprisingly pleased. Perhaps that secondary aspiration was useful after all Amil cringed at the thought. There was no such thing as aspirations. Stop talking like a lunatic, he thought to himself. “ Caryl, you are absolutely beautiful pregnant.” “ I don’t feel it, I feel like an elephant. This is only the first bump and I already feel huge!” “ Don’t let it get to you, honey. You are carrying the future heir. He or she will be very important” he said before thinking. “ Heir?” Caryl laughed. “You certainly have delusions of grandeur don’t you?”
“ Yeah, I was just kidding around, forget I said anything,” he chuckled, trying to blow it off. “ I really hope you are as excited for this baby as you seem Amil, I know you had a reputation around town and I never thought I’d be here with you like this.” “ I’ve changed from who I was before, I want to make this work between us. My child deserves a father, something I never had.” “ Maybe it will be twins.” “ I think I’d rather try them one at at time, more practice that way.” Amil pulled Caryl into a hug, kissing her neck.
“ Now I like the sound of that, should we go, uh, practice?” Caryl laughed, and raced up the stairs to their bedroom with Amil close behind her.
“ Oh, Amil. I can’t tell you how happy I am over the changes you’ve made in your life. You turned out so well, despite all your father and I did to screw you up. Caryl is perfect for you, and a baby on the way! Well, I can hardly contain myself.” “ Please do mother, I’d rather we didn’t have to replace the carpets.” “ You still are a scoundrel though. I love you son, you’ve made me proud.” “ Thanks mom, I love you too, and I know you did the best you could for me. Just so you know, it was enough, mom. I’m happy.” Emily felt as though her life were complete. Her son married, a grandchild on the way. She wanted nothing more.
Caryl was home alone when the first pain ripped through her stomach. She felt a flash of fear, and then before she could think much further, a son was in her arms. Her and Amil had never talked about what to name the baby, so she chose the first name that came to mind, Isaiah. He was the spitting image of his father, and she loved him.
She was fast asleep by the time Amil got off work. He found her napping on the sofa, and quickly noticed the absence of a large belly. Wanting to let her sleep, he ran back to the nursery, anxious to see what lay in the crib.
He was overjoyed to find a small baby boy. “ Hey little man, I’m your daddy,” he tried to stop the tears from welling up in his eyes. His son, he was perfect, so perfect. “ Who ya looking at, huh? You searching the stars?” Amil crooned. “ Those stars were hung in the sky just for you, you know that?” For a moment, everything seemed right in the world. For a moment, he felt life could stop and he would be happy.
With the birth of little Isaiah Caryl wanted a new house, and Amil was happy to build one for her. The old home had been wonderful, but he knew it was time for a new generation, time for a new start. Amil hired the best contractor and architect he could find and before long a beautiful new home was ready for them to move in to. It was roomier than their old home, and didn’t feel as though it was a mishmash of rooms.
The best part was the fenced backyard. There was a sand pit for Isaiah to play in, and more room for Dakota to run.
Caryl was happier than ever. At first she hadn’t been sure Amil would make a great husband, but now that she had him tied down, he was shaping up nicely. When they got married, other people in town warned her not to marry him. “ He’ll never be happy with one woman, Caryl. Best find someone else.” “ Amil goes through women like most of us go through underwear.” Or her personal favorite, “It’d be easier to rope and ride a cyclone than keep that man tied down.” She had proven them all wrong. As long as she was the best at everything, he would have no reason to go looking anywhere else.
So she made sure she was the best at everything. She cooked, cleaned, and birthed babies. She took the dog for walks, made sure his mother was entertained and happy. Taught Isaiah to walk, talk, and use the potty. When he started school she helped him with his homework. She was always available when Amil needed to “talk”. She read up on the latest research in child rearing and marriage counseling. She was an expert cook, could fix a leaky faucet, paint, and carry on an intelligent conversation. In a nutshell, she was the perfect wife.
The years passed, their family grew. Isaiah went to school, and a second child was born. “ She’s such a beautiful baby, don’t you think Emily?” “ Of course she’s beautiful, she looks just like my Amil did at her age.” “ She looks just like Isaiah, too. I guess Amil’s genes were just too strong, none of mine came through.” Caryl sighed. “ Oh, I think some of you came through in our little Ariana. Time will tell.”
Emily noticed someone in the living room with Amil. “Oh, I think Amil has a guest, why don’t you go see who it is while I put the baby down?”
“ I didn’t hear the doorbell ring, who is your guest Amil?” Caryl walked forward with a smile on her face, happy to meet someone new. “ This is an old friend, Shelby. She and I dated for awhile back in the day.” “ Oh? Well, uh, welcome to our home.” Caryl held out her hand in greeting, but Shelby leaned in to kiss her on the cheek.
“ Can I offer you something to drink?” “ Oh, that would be lovely, darling. Something cold, please.” Shelby drawled.
Caryl poured some drinks, all the while wondering who this Shelby was. A girl Amil had dated? What was she doing here?
When she came back into the room, Amil and Shelby were in a romantic embrace. Caryl couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Dropping the tray of drinks, she pushed her way in between the two. “ What the hell? Amil, what are you doing?” “ Just visiting with an old friend.” “ Visiting? You call this visiting? Kissing, and hugging? That’s a bit friendly isn’t it?” Caryl was trying hard to hold her tears back. She had tried to be so perfect, to keep him happy. What hadn’t she done? “ You’re over reacting, Shelby and I haven’t been together in years.”
Caryl glared at Shelby, wanting to rip her hair out by the roots. Ugly Shelby. How could he like this homely woman? “ Shelby, you have a count of 3 to get your ugly self outta here.” “ Really, darling—” “ One.” Caryl stepped away from the door. She watched in anger as Shelby turned to Amil and said “Call me when things around here have cooled down a bit.” “ That’s two.” Caryl watched as Shelby quickly walked out the door.
“ Did the vows we took mean nothing to you? Our children, our house, this life we’ve had together—does it all mean nothing?” Caryl’s voice shook with her hurt and anger. “ It means everything.” Amil turned away from her, rubbing his hands across his face. “I honestly didn’t mean for anything to happen. She was walking by and I invited her in. I didn’t plan it.” “ You were hugging her Amil, and kissing her.”
“ I have half a mind to kick you out.” She watched as panic crossed his face. “ No, please. I promise Caryl, it will never happen again. I’ll never even talk to another woman, I swear. I can’t lose you, or the kids. Please, Caryl.” he trailed off. He looked like he was awaiting the executioner. “ I need time to think about this. Don’t talk to me, not until I’m ready.” “ Okay, I’ll do whatever you want.”
When Isaiah came home from school, he ran out to play with his grandma. He didn’t notice that his parents were acting strangely. He wanted to tell his grandma all about school. “ An’ then, Miz Turbull tol’ us to get out our pencils, but Mack didn’t wanna do it, so she sent him to the princ’pals office. An’ then she axed me to help pass out the papers, and so I did, an’ then Trevor put his foot in the isle, so’s I’d trip, an’ I did, an’ the papers went everywhere an’ all the other kids laughed.” “ Oh my, sounds like a pretty rough crowd.” Emily was concerned with the story’s that Isaiah told. The school seemed rough, and Isaiah didn’t seem to fit in. “ I hate school. I wish I could just stay home with you, grandma. Can I? Puh-leeze?”
“ No baby, you can’t stay home with me. But let me talk with your parents, I think we can come up with a good solution.” “ You’re the best grandma ever!” “ And you’re the best grandson ever!”
“ Amil, can I talk with you and Caryl?” “ Now really isn’t a good time mom, uh, can it wait?” “ No, it’s about Isaiah. He’s having a rough time at school, and—” “ Everyone has rough times at school, mom. Heaven knows I did. He’ll get over it.” Amil tried to walk away.
“ Is that how the world works for you, Amil? Everyone will just get over it? It’s not that easy for some people you know.” Caryl spat angrily. “ I don’t want to start a fight between you two, if you’ll listen, I think I have a solution.” Emily tried to calm them both down. “There was an advertisement on television, it was for a private school.” “ We can’t afford that mom, come on.”
“ But we can, if you’ll listen. There are scholarships, Isaiah is smart. He can get in at a discount, and Ariana too. I think it would be good for him.” “ Really, mom, we aren’t the private school kind of family.”
“ You guys figure it out, I’m tired and going to bed.” Caryl said over her shoulder, walking out of the room. “ Is she feeling well, Amil? She looks a bit worn out.” Emily watched after Caryl, concern on her face. “ Don’t worry about it mom, I’m taking care of it.” “ I’ll stay out of your marriage, but you need to do something about Isaiah. I’m gonna call the school, it won’t hurt for the headmaster to come visit, will it?” “ Fine mom, I’ll figure out some way to afford it.” Emily was pleased that Amil had come around to her way of thinking, she knew this would be best for Isaiah.
Emily fell asleep that night, sure that her grandson would be taken care of. She hoped that whatever was going on between Amil and Caryl would straiten itself out. “ Emily Phoenix…Emily Phoenix.” She awoke to the sound of a strange voice in her room. Sitting up in her bed, she found a strange spectre standing near her, calling her name. “ Emily Phoenix, it is time for you to come home.” “ But I am home, you idiot. Now let me get some sleep.”
“ No longer shall you call this realm your home, it is time to come with me.” “ Oh…OH!” The realization of what was happening finally dawned on Emily. She squinted at the two pretty women who accompanied the spectre. “Do you have any of them in the male variety?” “ We have all you could ever desire Emily Phoenix. Your time here is done.” “ But my son, my grandchildren…” “ They are no longer your concern. Come, we have a party waiting for you.” And with that, Emily Phoenix passed to the next life.