It seems that their eldest daughters grew up and became independent in a blink. They aren’t begging to visit their Dad at the station, or play at the park with their Aunt Lily-Mae. Grace misses them as she packs up her two youngest and head to South Port.
The powers that be just hired a new fireman, Aidan Traver. His nephew comes by to visit, and Tillie hasn’t warmed up to little Thomas yet. Both of the girls enjoyed being the only children at the fire station, and Thomas is an only child that doesn’t play the way that they do. He’s not good at throwing the ball, and they do their best to exclude him after the adults are distracted.
Hatty really likes Aidan though and will sneak off to visit with him.
Despite the older girls not being interested in this family trip, Grace doesn’t ever tire of seeing her husband. She figures that is important seeing that in a few more years, they’ll be on their way to empty nesters, although Benjamin points out that its still a significant way off, Hatty is only seven years old afterall.
Benjamin likes the new guy, he’s good with his nephew and that carries weight with him.
However, he’s a youngster and makes Benjamin realize just how old he is getting. The kid can school him in video games, and the few times he won, he really rubbed it in, until he realized Aidan was throwing the game for him.
Benjamin upped his game even more after that realization, but Aidan still confidently whooped his butt in CoD.
The kid can’t cook though, and working overnight shifts at the station mean that someone should be, or else they’ll get fat with takeout. Aidan is generally goofing around, juggling water bottles, telling jokes, that he reminds Benjamin of an otter some days.
With their older girls, Grace is finding that everything seems more serious than when she was in sixth and seventh grade, and that is only the things she’s been let in on.
Ainsley has been sworn to secrecy, and despite the heavy burden, she has kept to her promise. Her best friend, Elodie confessed that her parents are divorcing, no one knows, and she isn’t supposed to know ether.
She often comes to school in low spirits, which quickly declines as the day moves onward.
Ainsley struggles to cheer Elodie up. She is closer with than her own sister, Isla, and it eats her up that she can’t fix this.
In many ways, Ainsley feels inadequate for her friend’s burden. Not even the teachers know the extent of Elodie’s homelife, and none will until Scarlett comes home for the summer. Ainsley is convinced that Mrs. Grimsley could help in this situation, or at least be less hard on Elodie when she loses her concentration, but Elodie has expressly forbidden it.
Many of the teachers have asked, but Elodie always plays it off as something insignificant, while Ainsley watches as her friend hurts and is helpless to mend anything.
She just doesn’t know how to handle these adult situations, and a mountain of stress and helplessness builds inside her as she watches Elodie suffer. She’s never been one to fret, but all of her friend’s concerns have been pinging at Ainsley’s consciousness until she began to listen.
Ainsley wears a good mask at home though, that her parents suspect nothing. Their playful disposition helps erase her worries for her friend and the struggle surrounding illness and divorce.
Her parents are much too playful and affectionate with one another for Ainsley to truly fear divorce, but it doesn’t stop the scenario from playing out in her mind.
Over the weekend, Grace volunteers to drop the older girls off at Mixed Tape in South Port. It’s only for teens, which makes the girls feel mature, and Grace is alright with the arrangement, seeing that most of the kids that frequent aren’t yet sixteen. Her girls don’t seem to realize that it mostly caters to middle school kids, which makes it the perfect place for a Saturday afternoon.
Isla and Logan immediately jump on the music equipment on the sublevel. Her parents are keeping an eye on this friendship, but thus far hormones haven’t changed their relationship in the least.
Ainsley drags Elodie along despite it being her least favorite place. Ainsley has managed to make other friends, and gets a bit punch-crazy when she’s at Mixed Tape, that she sheds some of her introversion, and dances with her new-found friends.
Elodie hasn’t discovered that confidence to be silly in public; she finds her entire body to be awkward and uncomfortable and trying to wiggle it for a dance is the uttermost mortifying thing she can think of to willingly do.
Ainsley invites Kai to eat at the on-site cafe, which is nearly debilitating for Elodie. She doesn’t understand how her best friend who is also shy, can pull herself out of her shell enough to make friends.
It doesn’t help that recently, Elodie has started having feelings for Kai, a boy that she can barely speak to at all. They’ve both seen him flirting with Shira Dwyer at school, but Ainsley insists it isn’t anything, because all the boys swoon over Shira.
The weekend manages to distract both of the girls of Elodie’s burdens, and all too quickly, it’s back to school and work for the adults.
After school there is often an influx of kids in the house that Grace doesn’t even know who they all belong to, let alone where they live. Her youngest is turning into a little social butterfly, though Hatty has no patience for other kids that cry.
Isla is still tomboy as ever, but with most of her friends living in South Port, she is forced to talk on the phone after school. Most of the time Logan is off with his friends, some of which are mutual friends with Isla, but not all. She’s rough on the edges, and not all boys like their girls that way, even just for friends.
It’s a rare weekday that Ben is at home, and he prepares the dinner. He’s not sure how he can perfectly cook at the station, but burns it for his family. Grace teases that his delicious food at work must all be boxed macaroni.
Even when Grace has the night off from Salon Sisters, there is always some hiccup that needs her immediate help. She swears that its always when the girls get home, and Hatty has to be forced to do her homework. Trying to work with her daughter, and help her incompetent manager at the salon is taxing.
Everyone is happy when school friends have to get home, and they can sit down as a family for dinner. They don’t have this luxury most nights, so they always try to make it happen when Ben is home.
The girls love to bask in his attention that Grace doesn’t even have to talk as much as nod along, which she does wholeheartedly when Hatty pokes at her burnt dinner and complains that its disgusting.
Ainsley listens to Tillie’s schoolyard troubles, and wishes that she was back in Mrs. London’s class, while Isla just thinks her littlest sisters are mildly ridiculous.
Ainsley excuses herself early from dinner, which warrants a visit from Grace immediately after the rest have finished eating. She’s noticed that her daughter hasn’t been her usual self, but grows much more concerned when she enters her bedroom.
She settles down next to Ainsley, and it barely takes any questions at all before Ainsley spills everything. It’s been two weeks since the Siew’s decided to divorce, but they were the longest weeks of Ainsley’s life.
She immediately feels better with her Mom privy to the downfall of Elodie’s family. Grace doesn’t even need to offer advice so much as a hug, and comforting words that it is terrible, it sucks, and life isn’t fair.
Grace would speak with Benjamin about it all that evening, and try to decide what they should do with this knowledge. If Quint and Rebecca weren’t sharing, they might be embarrassed that people knew, but with Elodie already hurting, it seemed like the obvious choice was to speak with Rebecca.
That weekend, they took their daughters and dogs out to Makah Beach.
It immediately started to rain as soon as they all climbed out of the car.
Thankfully the rain didn’t last, and they were able to make it an enjoyable afternoon.
Ainsley and Isla dug for seashells without any luck.
While their little dreamer, Tillie spent quality time with Darby.
Hatty performed somersaults until the world spun dizzily around her.
They sat and watched their children, tossed a few balls with them and the dogs, and enjoyed the day.
Neither said anything with the kids nearby, but they both thought over Quint and Rebecca’s pending divorce. Grace had gone to community college with them, was there when they dated and fell in love, watched as they had a family and moved up in the world from a small house to a nice one.
While Benjamin had come in near Grace’s graduation and right before the wedding, he still had known them a significant period of time, and they both struggled with their friends’ ending marriage.
Grace and Benjamin vowed to reconnect as friends with Rebecca and Quint, because the demands of children had allowed their friendship to be neglected. Despite the lack of rain, and heavy thoughts, they all had a great day with their family and headed back home with brightened spirits.
Notes: This update is a bit late, just beyond busy now that it is cookie selling time. I have a handful of updates already played out, I just haven’t had the time to write them.
I always enjoy playing the Andersen family, but it was a bit heavier than usual with Elodie finding out about her parents pending divorce. None of the kids know Quint’s diagnosis yet, they are waiting until Scarlett is home for the summer. Elodie is carrying too much of a burden, and I’m sure she can’t wait until her sister comes home and the divorce is brought out.
Ainsley isn’t as shy as Elodie, and does have a handful of other friends. Elodie is incredibly awkward, (as you can see with her dance moves!), and gets along amicably with most of the other bookworm kids like Kai, but she’s only close with Ainsley.
I renovated their house by a few tiles, and was able to add an extra bedroom and more space. You can view it on tumblr here if you haven’t.
Thanks for reading!
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