Aside: There Have Been Some Issues

3 Dec

We left the morning of November 5 to set out for Olympia, Washington. We arrived safely, three cats and all, the evening of November 10.


First thing Friday morning, November 11, we went over and signed the lease and picked up keys and did a walkthrough of the new place. All that rigmarole completed, we went out for a late breakfast and congratulated ourselves on a successful move.

Continue reading


0.8: A Very Pregnant Weekend

30 Oct

Despite perilously low funds, Isobel’s first pregnancy has gone much more smoothly than poor Magnolia Bloom’s did. I did dip into those meager funds first thing Saturday morning (in-game day) to send her for a massage, which seemed to help.


Then she had a little TV time, during which Brendan tried and failed to engage her in conversation. I understand fishing not being a real favorite subject of Isobel’s, but even talk of art didn’t get her attention. Probably still too blissed out post massage.



After television, I sent Isobel to the library to read a pregnancy book. She naturally chose Totally Preggers: An Expectant Mother’s Tale which, really, sounds like it could have been written not only for her, but by her.


I do love the Dragon Valley library. It has tons of skill-friendly bookshelves and the decor is, well, very Dragon Valley. There’s some town–Hidden Springs? Riverview?–that has a bum library with no skill bookshelves in it, and I never remember until too late that I have to edit the library. I mean, really: what kind of library has zero copies of Cooking Volume II: Why You Need Baking Soda in it?

Once Brendan had finished in the garden, I sent him to City Hall to register as a self-employed angler.


Looking across the plaza, he saw the library and decided to pick up Isobel for a dinner date at the diner.

sat-across-the-plaza sat-diner

“Patty melt! Yes!”

So ended Saturday.

Sunday: With the family coffer at 348 Simoleans, and proceeds from consignment not due to arrive until 5:00 p.m., I became a panicked and cruel games mistress who sent Isobel out gathering. Again. While super pregnant.


Shockingly, traversing the peaks and valleys of the countryside took her awhile in this condition. I wanted her to get everything consigned before 5:00 p.m., so I sent Brendan out to help. He was more hilarious than truly helpful–


–but practice makes perfect, they say.


They consigned everything just under the wire, and about 900 Simoleans rolled in from current and previous consignments. Everything was all set for the arrival of One of Five.

Monday morning, I sent Isobel downstairs for a nice bath.


Not happening.


Well, I’ll certainly be glad to see the last of that nightgown.

Brendan was good and didn’t panic. Granted, that may be because he was dead asleep at the onset of labor, but I’ll take it. He changed clothes and marched grimly downstairs, looking like a man who knows he ought to be excited, but is too full of dread to get there.


“God, I hope she comes through this.”

Relax, Brendan. Everything’s going to be fine.

Meanwhile, like a dipshit, I parked the camera behind the hospital. Only after the birth announcement popped up did it occur to me that there were no visible doors in my shot and maybe that’s why I couldn’t see the proud parents emerging? Do. You. Think.

So I flipped around to the front. Oh! There they are!



If you look really closely, you can see a still-apprehensive Brendan peeking out the door behind Isobel. Dude, go catch up with your wife and daughter!


Everyone please ignore the judgmental looks from the cabbie. I swear, though–for pure townie attitude, you can’t beat Dragon Valley. It’s like every Sim in it has committed to delivering the Seattle Freeze all day, every day.

Let’s see how things are going at home.


Huh. Well. “Luckiest man alive,” right, Brendan?

Aside: Updates Will Slow While We Move

28 Oct

Am hoping to get at least two more posted before we go next week, but realistically, I’ve spent too much time dorking around and not enough time packing. Also, we’re moving over 2000 miles away so when I say updates will slow, I really mean, “plan on at least a month before you see anything new.”

We’ll see how it goes! But it would be nice to get the first heir introduced. Just four more babies to go, Isobel!


“Um . . . we’re going to need a new toilet before we can even think about that.”

Understood and agreed, Isobel.

0.7: Waffles and Watermelon

28 Oct

“Seriously, you want me to eat this? A whole watermelon? But I love waffles.”


Sorry, Isobel. This is one of those sacrifices you make. Brendan’s making sacrifices too, you know.


“Listen, I count myself ahead that I’m dressed this time.”

Point. He’s been starting every other day with this activity, usually while still his boxers.

I sent Isobel upstairs for some guitar practice while she waited for the bathroom to become available.


Are . . . you going . . . to Dragon Vall-ee . . . please don’t buy . . . the chaaaaam-ber pot. If Bren . . . dan asks . . . I diiiiiid not break it . . . .

Right. Keep practicing.


Brendan spends most of his time in the garden. He registered as a self-employed angler, but that’s not working out so well. I’ll have to switch him to a self-employed gardener if this family’s ever to earn any money.

Speaking of money, we’re low on it. But someone promised to go out gathering today, yes?

“I’m going, I’m going!”






The take, unfortunately, was not great: some iron and a couple of silver pieces, and a couple of special seeds to bring home to Brendan. The best loot, two rubies, was actually right outside Aleister’s. Well, at least she got her exercise. Now let’s ruin some rubies by emerald-cutting them.


“This is pretty cool, actually. Hrnnngggh–





Behind you on the right.


Freshly delivered of watermelon chunks, Isobel went to say “hi” to a fellow shopper. “Hi” is about as far as she got, though.


“Oh my God! You’re rich and you can fly!”

“You . . . you are the most beautiful human I have ever seen!”

Ah, he says that to all the humans. Come on, Isobel, let’s put your loot up for consignment and get out of here.

Note from the future: off this one interaction, the guy’s already written Isobel two love letters in the space of a week. Is it the dragon jacket/cargo pants combo, or does he just not get out much? This is more the usual reaction Dragon Valley residents have to Isobel:


“My God. It speaks.”

Isobel takes it in stride.


“Whatever, I’m an artist. My next piece will be mixed media using watermelon seeds and your floor.”

Nausea continued to plague Isobel, robbing her of a well-rested moodlet bright and early the next morning.


“Out of my way!”

“Isobel, where you going?”

“To break the toilet!”


“Luckiest man alive . . . luckiest . . . man . . . alive . . . .”

Hey now. Surely you’ve got to give her points for honesty this time?

“I’d rather give her an outhouse.”

Oh, she’d find some way to break that too. Don’t you worry.

The hideous nightgown of official pregnancy thankfully heralded an end to the puking.


“Wow. This is louder than Brendan’s pajamas.”

Oh, look: it has watermelon on it. As a reminder.

“But Bren’s making waffles!”

. . . Brendan, that’s just cruel.


“A man works up an appetite making repairs.”


That particular repair, though?

“Not pregnant. Therefore, not eating watermelon for breakfast.”

Suit yourself. But hurry up–Isobel’s broken the television.

“Can’t she call the repairman?”


“No. I’m texting. I text every person I know, every day, and then I pick one to call and talk to. It’s like my system.”

Well, take it outside. I don’t need Brendan distracted and getting electrocuted.

fri-friendmaking fri-talk-about-fishing

Brendan eventually joined her, apologizing for grumbling about the repairs and vowing to be more supportive.

fri-about-the-baby fri-so-proud-of-you

In response, Isobel encouraged him to “check out One of Five. That’s what I’m calling him or her for right now.” Of course it is.

fri-feeling-it fri-listen-to-baby-ii fri-listening-to-baby

What’s the matter, Brendan?

“My child just told me some police officer fairy’s been checking out my wife!”

Nonsense. Your child is presently under three inches long and weighs less than an ounce. You’re hearing things.

Oh, look! There’s the garden, all needing tending and stuff. If only there were someone–

“All right, now. No need to be sarcastic.”


0.6: This Is Serious

26 Oct

“–so now you know. And the kicker is, we can’t move. None of the family can until at least the third generation. We’re chained to this land, Isobel. There was a 48-hour change-of-heart clause, but I didn’t read about that ’til around hour 60. I tried my best with that Prendergast woman, but her picture’s in the dictionary under ‘heartless’ if anyone’s is.”

“No one really uses dictionaries anymore,” mused Isobel.

“Isobel, are you listening to me? This is serious.”

“Is it?”

“Yes! I’m trying to tell you, you married a dumbass–a total dumbass. And the only way out that I can see is for you to divorce me. It’ll break my heart, but it’s the right thing to do. I can’t tie you up with any of this mess when I brought it all on myself.”

“I signed it too, Bren.”


“And unlike you, I read it through before I did.”


“You what?”

“I read it. My dad was an attorney? Hello! I am definitely getting a kick out of watching you insult yourself, but when you start insulting me along with it–and I guess you thought, what? That you’d divorce me and whip this all on some hapless elf maiden instead? Yeah, no.”

“‘No’ is right, Isobel. What kind of man do you take me for? I’d forfeit, and let ’em come after me.”

“To haul you to the dungeon? For real? Bren, baby, you are not thinking this through at all.” She smiled as she sat on the bed.

“I don’t know,” she added absently, plumping a pillow, “I thought it sounded kind of fun.”


“Five kids, Isobel.”

“So? You’ll mostly raise them, I think. I’m going to be out gigging most nights, but I can stay home during the day with them if you want an office job. I’m NOT working in the garden or doing any farmer’s-wife type shit. Let’s be clear on that right now.”

“Absolutely. No farming.”

“But you always said you wouldn’t mind a large family, tiger,” said Isobel, “so what do you say we start one?”

“I say, Isobel, that I swear to tell you every day that I am the luckiest man alive.”

“And to behave like it.”

“So help me God.”



0.5: The Fine Print

25 Oct


Rising well before Isobel one morning, Brendan sat down with the newspaper. An article therein reminded him that another house payment was coming due, and that reminded him that he’d meant to sit down and go over the deed top to bottom once he had the chance. He and Isobel had rushed into this place, and although under the circumstances they hadn’t had much choice, this was not the way Brendan liked doing business, generally.

He got the agreement out and read it through carefully. Then he shook his head, walked to the sink, turned on the cold water, and splashed his face with it.

“Let’s try this again.”

He read the document carefully again, from beginning to end. This time, when he was through, he could only exhale gustily.

“That’s what comes of rushing into things. Damn.”

Then, he thought, “Isobel is not going to like this one bit.”


That, he thought, was as good a reason as any to put off mentioning it to her.


“Sweet! Guitar classes on sale!”


“How much?” he asked.

“Get this: they’re 80 simoleans less than they usually are!”

“I see what you did there, Isobel.”

“Fine, 320. I know we have it–”

“–we do, we do,” Brendan said hastily. “And of course you ought to go.”

“Good, ’cause I’m going,” said Isobel, already passing through the door.

“Hey Bren!” she called from her broom. “Where’s the theater?”

He leaned out the front door and shouted back, “Just across the bridge on your right. Big round building. You can’t miss it.”


“Thanks! Love you!”


“Now,” Brendan muttered to himself, “let’s go maybe see if there’s any way out of this mess.”


“Of course I remember you, Mr. Bough! How are you and . . . Jezebel, was it?”

“Isobel, yes ma’am. We’re doing all right, getting settled in and all.”

“Lovely! Now what was it you wanted to see me about?”


“Well ma’am, I suppose it’s somewhat my fault for not reading more closely, but I noticed today that there are a few more requirements to owning our property than what I first thought, and–”

“–and you thought you’d just see if I might be in a position to release you from them, hmm? Now, don’t look shocked. You must understand that I get questions of this nature quite frequently. Indeed I do, and I’m afraid the answer is the same every time: I am not in any position to release you from your obligations under the terms.”

“So . . . more like ‘can’t’ than ‘won’t,’ then, is that right?”

“Mmm . . . I suppose that is technically correct. I must say, Mr. Bough, that I find it simply astonishing how few people take the time and care necessary to really understand that to which they so blithely sign their names. I was not brought up to be so careless. In fact I should have said before today that you did not strike me as the careless sort, either. Well, one lives and learns.

“All the same, I do sympathize, Mr. Bough. This must be rather distressing for your poor wife Inga.”


“Of course. How is she taking it?”

“Look, Ms. Prendergast, it’s like this: We’re only just married a few short days, and we got married in a hurry and needed a place for ourselves right away–no, no, not ’cause of that. No ma’am, though we’re hoping to try real soon. But you can see, can’t you, how I might not have read through things as carefully as I usually do?”

“Certainly, Mr. Bough. Under the circumstances, it’s perfectly understandable. Unfortunately, the terms of Sir Caranthir’s will were very explicit and utterly, hopelessly binding. I do recall stressing this point several times during our last meeting, and you assured me at the time that, as a farmer’s son, you would have no difficulty starting and maintaining the garden.”

“It’s not so much the garden as the–”

“–eight generations? But you mustn’t let that worry you, Mr. Bough. After all, you are only human. It stands to reason you’ll be long dead by the–”

“Ma’am, my wife, Isobel–she wants to have one or two children. One or two at the most. Now, I come from a large family myself and I wouldn’t mind having three or four, maybe five if we had twins, I guess, but I’m not the one who–”

“Well, really, Mr. Bough, I can hardly be expected to advise you on the best course to take in your marital affairs. Now if you will excuse me, I must be away. I have another, quite urgent appointment across town. Do please give my regards to dear Rosabelle. Cheers!”

“Isobel–” began Brendan, but Cassidy Prendergast was already too far away to hear him.

He sighed.

“I guess what I need now are some seeds.”


Isabel called just as he was leaving the store. “Where are you?”

“Hey angel. I’m just heading over to the bookstore. Thought I might try to find a good book on bait for the fish around here. How was guitar?”

“Fantastic! The teacher said I was a natural. And, Bren, she said she knows a guy who might be willing to sell me one for only 600 simoleans. That’s what you’d call going for a song, Bren–no pun intended. Bren? You there?”


“I’m here. That seems like a pretty good price to me, Isobel, only–”

“Oh! I meant to tell you: I’m going gathering tomorrow. If I can thrift a few things that’ll help offset the cost, right?”

“Sure. That–that sounds like a great idea.”

“So hurry up and come home so I can play for you!”

“Isobel, did you–you buy that guitar already?”

“Nooooo, but I’m like due to go check it out now, right now, five minutes ago actually? So I gotta let you go.”

“All right. I’ll be home soon.”

“Me too, probably. With a guitar!”

“Love you.”

“Love you ‘bye,” said Isobel.

Brendan paid for the cheapest bait book (“Minnows! Well, it’ll have to do”), stepped outside Tome Traders, and thought. Isobel would speed over to–where? What guy?–to wherever it was she planned to buy her guitar (and of course she would buy it; hell, she had to buy it. No point taking guitar lessons without a guitar).

And then? “She’s a talker,” thought Brendan, “so she’ll stay awhile. If I go straight home, I might could get these seeds in the ground before she gets back. I’ll say it’s my way of helping pay for the guitar.” His conscience cocked a dubious and judgmental eyebrow at him. Brendan doubled down. “It’s kind of true. That’s part of the reason. Oh, I’ll get to explaining it all eventually!”

After starting the garden, he repaired to the pond for a little fishing. It steadied his nerves and cleared his head.


Dusk had fallen by the time Isobel returned. He pretended not to see her sneak past him with the guitar, but couldn’t help smiling. She was clearly up to something and just as clearly pleased with herself about it.


From behind the house came music far more beautiful than Brendan had expected to hear: the sound, he thought, of stars twinkling, or maybe of dusk falling–he gave up trying to make comparisons and just listened. He was ashamed to realize that even though he’d met Isobel playing in a band at his favorite bar one night, it had nonetheless never occurred to him that she might have real talent.


“That was beautiful,” he said when she had finished.

“Wasn’t it? I’m kind of amazed.”

“I had no idea you could play like that.”

“Oh, it’s not me. Or I mean, of course it was me playing, but it’s the music that’s special. It’s an old elven tune. That’s why I was gone so long–the fellow who sold me this baby taught it to me, and I wouldn’t leave until I had it down fairly well. I wanted you to hear me play it before anybody else.”

“Thank you,” was all he could say as he held the door for her. Once inside, no words were necessary.


In the morning, he thought. I swear I’ll tell her everything in the morning.

0.4: Divergent Interpersonal Relationship Styles

24 Oct

Isobel Bough’s guide to getting to know your neighbors:

While chatting with an acquaintance to rave about your amazing guitar lesson, abruptly interrupt the conversation to note a “MAJOR elf sighting,” so unusual in Dragon Valley, and initiate pursuit of the sighted elf. A broom is helpful here if your acquaintance is reluctant to conclude the call, for if your prey is swift, you may need one to catch up with her.


Introduce yourself to your new friend. Once names have been exchanged, immediately ask how she feels about handfasting versus traditional Judeo-Christian marriage rites, because you’ve “heard elves are more into following the Old Ways.” Demand to know whether this is true, and promise to edit your Wikipedia article (that keeps getting deleted “by trolls, ugh”) if it is not.


Boundaries are for chumps, not free spirits, so go ahead and segue into a detailed monologue on your love life. Be as graphic as necessary.


When your acquaintance stops looking merely uncomfortable and starts actively seeking escape, abruptly change the subject by asking whether “Dragon Valley has a Ren Faire? Come on, this would be the ideal place for one. I love Renaissance Faires. Have you ever had one of those deep-fried turkey legs they sell? Sooooo good.”


Bonus note: if your acquaintance happens to be with child–


–do not stick around should labor commence. Instead, explain politely but quickly that you are “an artist, not a midwife,” and flee the area.

Brendan Bough’s guide to getting to know your neighbors:

“I don’t really have a guide. I dunno–just introduce yourself, get to know ’em, make small talk–the usual.”




“Met a fella the other night had the same favorite color as me. Or there’s always the weather. Sports. You know, regular conversation.

“Other than that, like I said, I don’t know. I never thought about it much. And Isobel doesn’t think about it at all; she just follows her heart, and she’s probably got more friends than I’ll ever have in my life. Which is fine with me, but it goes to show you, there’s no one right way.

“So I guess, if you’re one of those shy people and this kind of thing is hard for you, all I have is the usual advice about being yourself, doing your best, and so on. If it’s meant to be, somehow it’ll work out. And if it doesn’t, at least you won’t have to worry about anyone drinking all your beer. –No, not Isobel. She doesn’t drink beer, but I once roomed with some freeloaders who did. I’d rather live on my own than put up with that horseshit.

“Wait, were you meaning this for advice to kids? Then can you take out ‘horseshit’ and put in ‘ruckus’ or something? I apologize. I’ve been trying to clean up my language for when we have children of our own, but it’s a hard habit to break.”

0.3: Cockleburs

23 Oct


By the time cold waffles had been eaten and baths had been taken, it was late afternoon and Brendan had given up on romance, for the time being, in favor of fishing. Isobel, however, had other ideas.



“So, uh, sorry about the–”

“Honey, it don’t matter. C’mere.”

By the pond.png


“Sort of . . . Bren?”


“Want to do it right here?”


Want to? Sure. Think it’s a good idea? No.”

“You’re no fun.”

“What’s no fun, Isobel, is picking cockleburs out your drawers.”

“They don’t have cockleburs in Dragon Valley!”

“I am too much the gentleman to let you find out the hard way how wrong you are. Now suppose you march that pretty little ass upstairs.”

“How ’bout you make me.”

“OR I can get back to fishing.”

“Oh you win . . . you win! This time.”

Maddening but mine.png

“Tell you what: I’ll let you win next time.”

“LET me win?!”


“Well, it’s the only way you ever will, so–”


“Oh, game ON.”


“. . . who won?”

“All of us.”

“That’s what I thought.”

“Who’d you have your money on?”


“Yeah. Good call.”

“I’m starving. It seems like forever since breakfast. Brunch, I guess.”

“Well, we did work up some appetites.”

“I’m going to make mac and cheese. Doesn’t that sound good?”

“Wouldn’t say no. Homemade?”

“Brendan, I only have two cooking points. Come on. I told you I’d make a lousy farmer’s wife.”

“I sometimes like the box stuff better anyway. I’m not fancy.”



“Isobel, what the hell’d you do to the stove? We moved into a clean house.”

“And if you want it to stay that way, you can do your part maintaining it! I keep telling you: domesticity is not my forte. I’m an artist, not a maid.”


“I thought maybe you could just twitch your nose at it or something.”

“That’s only on TV.”

“Well, tell you what: I’ll clean the stove if you’ll do the sink.”

“I made you two meals today, Brendan. TWO. You can clean up.”

“Isobel, will you look at that damn stove? You’re getting a good deal here.”

“. . . I’ll do the sink.”


“We didn’t get much done today.”

“We got the important things done today. And there’s still an hour or two–”


“Sweet dreams, angel.”

“G’night, Bren.”



0.2: They Got Hearts on ‘Em

22 Oct

Isabel awoke feeling as though maybe she’d forgotten something.

“There’s something I didn’t get last night . . . .”


“. . . right: laid!”

One look at her peacefully sleeping husband, however, and–no, she just couldn’t do that to him. He had let her sleep without pestering or complaining.

“I’ll just nip downstairs and make us a nice breakfast.” She giggled quietly and added, “Spoken like a true farmer’s wife. A true farmer’s wife that I reeeeeally don’t want to turn into.”



“God, I love waffles though!”

She heard a noise upstairs.

“–but waffles can wait and I cannot.”

Hey you.png

“C’mere, you. I have needs that only a man in green plaid pajamas can satisfy.”

“Morning to you too, Isobel.”


“We forgot something last night, mister.”

“Mmm? What’s that?”


“‘Cause, see, what I remember is, I remember some fierce little raven-haired lady wearing herself out shrieking at all the elves–”

“I did not shriek, Brendan!”

“–until she couldn’t hardly keep her eyes open and went straight to bed, leaving her poor old husband all alone–”


“If you’re looking for a pity fuck, Brendan . . . .”


“. . . you’re about to get so much better than that.”


“Now see, I’m beginning to like the sound of this.”

“Thought you might. Let me just run downstairs and freshen up a little–”

“Aw, now who’s teasing?”


“I’ll be back in half a sec, tiger. Be ready.”


“Can’t hear you over that plaid,” she giggled, running downstairs.

“She may have a point,” Brendan muttered. “Well, let’s look at our options.”


“Yessir! Lookin’ good.”


“They got hearts on ’em. Ladies love anything with hearts on it. Not that I plan to be wearing ’em for long.”

Now, it is an unfortunate fact of life that sex with a full bladder is unpleasant. It is an unfortunate fact of Isobel’s impulsive personality that she did not think to take care of business well beforehand. It is an unfortunate fact–


–that the toilets that come with the Dragon Valley world are highly breakable.

“Shit. Brendan!”

“What’s the matter?”

“Can you come here?”

“Well now. You got something planned for me, Isobel? ‘Cause have I ever got something planned for–”

“Can. You. Just. Come. HEEEEERE!”

“All right, all right! No need to holler! I’m–aw, hell.”

“I didn’t break it, Bren. I swear.”

“Then who did?”

“Honestly? I think you broke it last night and I’m just the lucky winner who got to find it this way.”


“All I did was pee!”

“Isobel, I did not break that toilet.”

“Agree to disagree. So, can you . . . ?”

“. . . yeah. I guess.”


The mood destroyed, it occurred to Isobel suddenly that her waffles were getting cold.

The Greenes Did Not Do Better

21 Oct

She bored me, and he kept pulling faces that made him look like a gnome. Gnomes fit with the overall Dragon Valley aesthetic, perhaps, but still–no.

We press on with the Boughs. Third time’s the charm?

Meet Brendan Bough.png

This is Brendan, and he did not lose his fingers in a tragic hay-baling accident, though I can see how it would appear so. Tell us about yourself, Brendan.

“I’m, uh, from Riverview originally. Little farm on the outskirts. Liked the life all right, but the work’s damned hard, no question. So when I met Isobel and she wasn’t into it so much, well, seemed like it was time for me to move on. From Riverview, I mean, not from Isobel. We’re just married.”

Congratulations! Where did you honeymoon?

“We kinda skipped it. We, uh . . . we eloped. I’ll let Isobel tell that part. She’s more of a talker than I am.”

Can you tell me your traits, at least?

“Oh! Sorry. Yeah, I’m handy, a real family man, love fishing, love a good laugh, and some folks have called me brave but I don’t know about that. Though, I don’t take things lying down, either, so . . . uh, you mind if I see what’s biting in this pond here?”

It’s what I built it for, sir. Knock yourself out.

“Thank you.”

Meet the House.png

I was able to do a bit better on the starter home this time because the Boughs aren’t on the largest lot in Dragon Valley. They’re at 88 Deirdre Drive, is I think the address? Whatever, it’s the 40 x 40 lot across from the stone circle.

This is Isobel.

Meet Isabel Bough.png

“Hi! Half a sec, I’ve almost got this. Just–damnit, fizzled again. Maybe I should have gone to witch school like mom wanted. So, what do you think?”

About your magic skills?

“No, about Brendan! Isn’t he great? Wholesome, but like, not a boy scout. Oh my God, sooooo not a boy scout. Did he tell you? About how we eloped?”

Just that you did.

“Well, that is not even the half of it. Not even the tenth of it! Of course I was never going to live on a farm. Nothing against it, you know, and like for a year or two I thought about maybe living on an organic one, like, in a collective? But Bren says even those are a ton of work. And it’s not that I have anything against work, only, I need it to be more–I need space in which to create.”


“I know! I sound obnoxious! But look at my traits: good sense of humor, artistic, charismatic, virtuoso–yeah, I love the outdoors but to perform in, not milk cows in. (Bren, I know that’s done by machines. It’s just an example.) Anyway–a farm wife? Me? That’s not happening. And the other thing that wasn’t happening was Bren’s dad ever, ever, ever shutting up about the U.S. election.”

Oh. Yeah, that’s got a lot of people very–

“I could not stand it anymore. And it was making things awful for Brendan. He totally stood up for me, obviously, but I know he felt caught in the middle. So we were like, fuck it! There has to be someplace better than this. And we eloped because honestly, how can you plan a wedding in a toxic environment? You can’t, right? So we came to Dragon Valley, and I can already tell I am going to love it.”

Great! Are you from Dragon Valley originally?

“Oh God no. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’d be wicked cool to be an elf but nah, turns out I’m just an ordinary witch from Sunlit Tides.”

They have witches in Sunlit Tides?

“Oh yeah, tons. I don’t mean like Moonlight Falls tons, but we’re definitely a presence, if you know what I mean. All the best clubs in Sunlit Tides are run by witches. And if you can conjure an apple you can get past the velvet ropes like instantly.”

Good to know.

“Yeah, well, I’m still working on it myself. I was always kind of laid-back about the craft, you know? But I think here in Dragon Valley it might come in handy now and then. Not for clubbing, maybe, but for like, hanging out with elves and stuff. –What, hon?”

“We going to the library to skill up?”

“What time is it?”

“Almost noon, sweetheart.”

“Damn. I’ve got to go. We want cooking points. Brendan’s not wild about autumn salad. Let me just see if there are any discount classes–oh my God, look! Our paper girl! She’s an elf! Hi, sweetie! (Bren, come meet the paper girl!) Darling, I just love your hair. Did you do it with Kool-Aid? Do you have Kool-Aid here? Or is it your natural? Well either way, I am so excited to meet you! I’m Isobel. What’s your name?”

Meet the Elven Paper Girl.png

Someday I will travel the world and never so much as glance at a newspaper again.

“Babe, the cab’s here.”

“Half a sec! I’m just seeing whether–”

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“–no, only Athletics. Ugh, pass. Okay, Bren, I’m coming!”

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“Tell you what: after we’ve put in some good study time, what do you say we try the diner here tonight?”

“I say hell yes. You think they have patty melts here? I could just murder a good patty melt. But I never heard of elves eating them.”

“Can’t be ambrosia and lembas all the time, Isobel.”


“Hey. You caught the reference, so who’s really the dork here?”

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“Hiiiii! I’m Isobel Bough. We literally just moved here and I was over at the library studying when I spotted you out the window and nearly died because oh my God, look at you! You’re like something out of a fairy tale. Cooking, shmooking, right? I had to come meet you. What’s your name?”

“Goodbye Forever.”

“Ugh, that’s so romantic! Do people call you ‘bye?”

You may do so.”

“Okay, ‘bye!”


Huh. Dragon Valley’s a tougher town than it looks.

Skilling exhausted the pair of them, but they did get a good meal at the diner afterwards.

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“Thanks, Bren. That was delicious.”

“You’re welcome. Say, Isobel . . . .”


“I’m not meaning to criticize, but I was thinking today . . . you might want to dial it down a little with the folks here, and play it more low key when you’re out trying to make friends. Just maybe not dazzle them all at once with the full-blown Sunlit Tides thing, you know? I don’t think they’re used to it.”

“Look, Bren, I know that lady was totally fucking with me about her name, okay? I’m not stupid; I just don’t care. She was seriously awesome and now I can say I have been snubbed by an elf. That is amazing.”

“I love the way you look at life, Isobel. I mean it. I’m sorry; I was out of line. You keep doing you. That’s who I love, that’s who I married. I worry too much about making a good impression, I guess. We’ll need jobs here soon, and–”

“I know, babe, but tonight, I’m like, exhausted . . . so maybe just shut up and kiss me.”


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I’m afraid that was it for romance for the night.


Isobel went straight to bed and promptly dreamed an Inception style dream about being in bed. It’s not much of a honeymoon so far for these two, but there’s always tomorrow.

And it probably wouldn’t hurt if I did something about Brendan’s pajamas in the meantime. Those are blinding.