Friday, April 29, 2011

Paula's Story Epilogue

"We're going to go see Pat first, aren't we?"

Brandon is a step ahead of Stephan and me, walking brusquely through the grass with fists at his side. He looks back at me, his clear blue eyes catching the light. There is something different about him. Maybe it's just that I haven't seen him in a couple of months. "Yes. I need to ask her something."

He continues on ahead of us, and I catch Stephan's eye. He pats at his pocket with a wide grin. "I knew we would. I brought some coins to get us a bottle or two to take back."

"A bottle or two? Won't we already have our hands full with the other stuff we came here to get?"

Stephan waves his hand. "There's always room for Pat's booze. I'll leave behind some things if I have to. Anyone else would understand."

I shake my head, but I still laugh. Over the past couple of months working with Stephan here and at the other villages he helps, I've learned that he's rather typically irrelevant but in a good way. He tries to let loose frequently, but he lacks the focus to follow through. Like the night he said he was determined to get me drunk. That didn't work out at all. We both ended up falling asleep against each other on the floor.

Brandon doesn't even waste time going into the bar. He walks around back to the garden and I wonder if he's already caught some of her thoughts and knew she was there. Stephan and I stay back at the fence as Brandon slips through and walks to the other side of the garden where Pat kneels on the ground caring for the fruit plants she uses to make her famous booze.

Stephan and I glance at each other, trying not to watch, but unable to turn away really. I look at my hands, oil and grime from the machines we have to constantly fix and upgrade worked in so deep that no amount of water or soap removes it. And I see Pat stand up to face Brandon, her eyes only on him. I assume he's talking, but I can't hear him, not with the leaves of the nearby plants rustling in the wind.

Quietly, I ask Stephan, "What do you think he needs to ask her?"

He gives a slight shrug with his shoulders. "To come home I'd guess."

That surprises me. "Why hasn't he just asked her before?"

"What makes you think he hasn't?" Stephan grins at me again.

Brandon and Pat still stand apart, her with her arms crossed and her shovel held onto tightly as she looks away from him. If I've noticed the changes, I'm sure she's noticed them too, and probably even more than me. Brandon has changed. He's finally accepting his place as the next leader, and maybe this is just one more step he needs to do.

It makes me think of Alex inexplicably. Brandon said he had word that Alex and Odessa made it home. Supposedly for his bravery helping to dispatch Killer, feared and loathed across the Lost Territory, Alex has earned extra respect. Which he may be too guilty or humble to accept.

I shove strands of hair out of my face, just as I hear a whistle. At first it passes through my ears as I watch Brandon and Pat, but Stephan gives me a gentle shove and points towards the front of the bar, the direction we came from.

Two people walk through the tall grass. The bright sun shines in my eyes and I can only glimpse their silhouettes at first, one man and a woman. I recognize the man though. With his smooth movements, even the whistle somehow, though I don't know when he's ever whistled near me. It's Jimmy walking up with a woman who stands up to his shoulder and is hardly thicker than his arm. Her hair is short, spiky, and dark. She freezes next to him, and I see him raise a hand to her shoulder as she lifts two hands to her mouth.

My own eyes start to sting and I nearly bite the inside of my lip so hard that I swear I taste some blood.

Stephan still stands behind me. "Are you okay?"

But the words don't register. My eyes stay on the frail form standing next to sturdy Jimmy. The only thing I can think is that it can't possibly be. I want to run, but if it isn't her, if it's just some woman with Jimmy, who never ever walks around with a woman on his arm, but if this one time it is some woman with him for once on his arm, my heart will break all over again. I'll never recover. It would be too cruel. Could Jimmy be that cruel?

"Paula, what is it?" Stephan reaches a hand forward and grips my shoulder, his fingers surprisingly strong. His voice carries enough that I see Brandon turn. Pat looks in my direction.

I shake my head and blink. "I think-- it's my mom."

"What? You mean-- your mom?" His voice lowers, and for a moment there's only the breeze between the two of us and then his hand's on my shoulder shoving me forward. "Well, go on."

My feet are heavy. I can't move forward, not until she starts towards me and then I'm sure it's her. Those skinny arms and legs, that short spiky hair, it doesn't look like her, but it is her. We meet in the grass at the side of the bar in front of the windows covered with the heavy curtains. She holds me close, her smile and tears in my hair. There isn't much to hold onto with her. My own tears fall onto her bony shoulders.

This isn't supposed to happen. This isn't the way a story like mine is supposed to end.

She pulls back and I can't think. We're still close, hands on each other as if the other might disappear. I want to know how, but I can't ask. Jimmy stands off to the side rubbing the back of his neck. Behind me, I hear foot steps on the grass. Brandon and Pat, with Stephan behind, have all stepped forward and are watching with large eyes. It's Brandon who asks, his eyes falling on Jimmy.


"Aaron." Jimmy looks at me again. "I asked him to. I figured I owed you."

I don't know what to say. Mom pulls me close again and I close my eyes and I remember. That night at Henri's when Aaron showed up. I was in my room while they talked, and Mom's name came up. Did Jimmy know that Henri had already asked Aaron to do the same for him? Did Mom even know?

Mom shoves at her tears as she smiles at Brandon. "You must be Brandon."

That's all she says before he smiles and steps over to her to give her a hug, folding her into my new life.


Okay, done for real for now.

More on Stephan. Also, inspired by Van's Profiles of Naroni Characters, I've done two more 10 facts. One for Pat and one for Brandon. Mostly in preparation for what I'm sure will be one of the next stories told.

But first, a break. I don't know what I'm going to do without having an update to prepare every week. D: I don't even play the game. What'll be my excuse for disappearing every Thursday and Friday now?

Well we're through with the story, but next week, I'll post up the notes, my intentions, and the things I didn't intend. As well as my finally official announcement.


  1. Oh wow, I wasn't expecting that she would be reunited with her mother, what a lovely end to Paula's story. Aww, and she hugged Jimmy too, something else I never would have expected.

    Enjoy your break mate, you definitely deserve it (although I am looking forward to what you post next week ;) this has been an epic journey, kudos to you.

  2. "we already have out hands... "

    On another note, do I detect some kind of potential relationship between Jimmy and Paula? XD <3. And I was wondering when you would get back to her mom. I totally can't see Paula working on machines at all, but you do what you have to do, right?

  3. I know you left a hint back at the end of Cheryl's story that it was either a rescue or the end, and while I hoped for a rescue I was leaning conservatively towards "the end" so that I wouldn't be disappointed when I found out the truth. So now I have warm fuzzies because it turns out to have been a rescue!

    Interesting dynamic now between the reunited mother and daughter. In the space of a few months Cheryl has become frail, sickly, barely able to stand on her own two feet (if I'm interpreting correctly) instead of the confident, independent one. Paula, 16 but still a child a few months ago, has grown into a woman of adventure who gets her hands dirty playing with engines and will most likely now have to play the mothering role.

    I can't wait to see how this translates into your MS!

  4. Oh hell, Blogger ate my comment. I hope I can find the same words...

    First off I had the feeling that Henri and Jimmy were on the same wavelength with regard to Cheryl but I was afraid to hope...

    I have been following along with the last several updates - and I will go back and leave my thoughts on each - but I had to comment here. I suspected the epilogue would be an emotional one but I was not quite prepared for just how much. I didn't realize I was holding my breath as I read...but I need to point out what really gripped by heart and squeezed - that last shot. Brandon standing there in the center and looking down - emotional and joyful and almost humble - future leader with some incredible sense of humanity. That did me in.

    I want to thank you for sharing this story, this world, these amazing people who have become so real to me. I am going to miss them so much but I know that we will meet them again! I'm looking forward to the next phase - you are an amazing writer, a wonderful and captivating storyteller who has made me stop and think with every piece you shared with us. Enjoy your break - you deserve it.

  5. Okay, WOW! I just was expecting the worst for Cheryl. I really was. I'm glad I was wrong though and that Paula got a happy ending. And I love the last picture so much! Perfect.

    I can't wait to read your thoughts and notes on Paula's story. Enjoy your break though - you deserve it.

  6. Beautiful ending :)

    I'm glad Cheryl's safe. I hope she recovers and I can't wait to find out more about what happened to her.

    Also, Paula looks so much like her mother in this post. And I think she and Jimmy are in the process of making peace.

    Looking forward to all future arcs. Enjoy your break and congratulations on an awesome story :)

  7. Awww! *SQUEEEEEE!!!* You can't even see me, but I am just grinning from ear to ear! OMG, I loved this! Awww, and hugs and smiles all around!

    (And I have to say, I also wondered more than once whether you had plans for Jimmy and Paula somewhere down the line?)

    Oh, look at how gorgeous Paula looks with long hair! So pretty! I know you hate keeping time and all, but I'm wondering how much time passed since the last chapter? Long enough for her hair to grow, but she looks older too, maybe a year or two?

    Like Gayl said, I also think Brandon will make an amazing leader for them all! And I'm very much looking forward to hearing more about him and Pat.

    What a perfect, PERFECT ending for this story! Brilliantly done! And I'm very much looking forward to your notes next week, and whatever stories you plan to share in the future!

    Enjoy your break too! :)

  8. What a fantastic surprise to find an Epilogue waiting.

    Ooooh I am so happy for Paula. I am glad she was "rewarded" for her efforts. And I was surprised at Jimmy's action, well, not really I guess because Jimmy has proven that he is still human under all that or he can be if he chooses to be.

    Oh Jimmy, I really love him more and more. Such a complex character with a rough exterior and glimpses of gentleness.

    I like the detail you put with Paula's longer hairstyle as an indication of how much time has passed since her last meeting with Alex.

    It really wrapped up the mother arc nicely too as that was the whole reason Paula ended up with Henry in the first place.

    Well done my friend! Well done. Truly inspiring work. I wish I had your dedication with stories.

  9. Marsterfully told from beginning to end. Bravo, Lunar. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, it has a gritty, intense style. Enjoy your break, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for the sequel.

  10. Poida, ha, surprise. The hug actually wasn't written in. But it was called for once the sims were standing there in front of each other.

    Thank you!

    Migy, maaaaybe. ;) I don't say Paula's working on machines well, lol. And she's not doing it on her own clearly, Stephan is helping. I actually have other possible plans for her, but it didn't feel right to work it in yet. But yes, you really do what you have to.

    Judi, I think you were one of the people to question it too. I believe you were the one who noticed the three pairs of feet, though I remember you being dubious.

    Cheryl can stand on her feet, but they are weak feet right now. She has her own healing to do. I can only imagine how surprised Cheryl will be at seeing what Paula's become.

    (Oh, well, this is an online special. It won't be in the MS.;) )

    Gayl, darnit blogger. It keeps doing that. :(

    Jimmy knows Henri better than he knows himself sometimes I think.

    Aw, Gayl. Thank you. That last shot was a complete accident. Well the whole last thing was an accident really. A spur of the moment type thing, where I let the characters do pretty much what they wanted and it worked out perfectly.

    Oh Gayl, thank you so much for all your support, and for your continuing support. It's meant a lot to me that you stop by at all.

  11. Carla, ha, another surprised. I'll have to remember to go over this in my notes. It very much almost ended the other way.

    Thank you. It's going to be long, I'm afraid. I'm trying to keep it short.

    Van, thank you. Paula does look a lot like her mother here. I actually had a different hair planned for her, but then I couldn't find it. As for her and Jimmy, I'd love to see more of those two and see where they do end up. I am certain I have an idea.

    Laura, yay! I try to be serious, but this was really the only ending that felt right. It must have changed at least three times over the course of the story, lol.

    (Well, I have something planned, but I don't really have a plan. ;) )

    I'm horrible at keeping time, but I'd guess months. It's been about a year since she first left the Neutral Territory, so she's either 17 here or pretty close.

    Thank you Laura.

    Carnaxa, ha, thank you.

    Yes, I hope Jimmy has proved himself in some way. He still does very dubious things, but at least it's not as simple as him just being a completely bad guy. He does what he thinks is right. Jimmy is actually one of my favorite characters. No matter how much I write about him, there always seems to be more.

    Thank you. I had a different hair style planned for her, but I lost it in my downloads somehow. This one worked out better.

    Also, it's funny that now on Henri's side is Paula's mother too. The whole family is reunited now. Ha, I wonder if there's a story there? But first I have a lot of other things to write first. (SO many things.)

    Aw, thank you Carnaxa. This whole dedication thing with stories is new. I never finished a story before this to be honest.

    Ocelotekatl, thank you very much! Yes, gritty is a good word for it. Intense, oh thank you. When I imagine myself as a writer, I see myself crawling around in the mud with a pen, lol. (Seriously.)

    There will be more stories. I hope you will join me for more. :)

  12. What a wonderful way to end this! The whole family reunited. So that scene with Cheryl, she was being rescued, not killed. This is such a great story! I've loved every word and every minute!

  13. Hehe, SB. Yeah, it was a rescue. Man I had to hold that one back. I had a lot of fun with the pictures for it though. :D

    Thanks, SB. :)

  14. Add me to the list of the surprised. But how lovely. What a warm fuzzy ending - and the luscious green of it all!

  15. Thanks, Rad. Haha, yeah it is very green. That's exactly what I needed. (Actually, it could probably use a little more! The land's a little too flat.)

  16. Okay, I'm crossing my fingers that this comment takes. I've left one just to have blogger eat it up *kicks blogger*.

    What I basically said before was - WOW! And great ending. And I had an inkling Paula's mom was in for a rescue. And this is the perfect ending to her story. And it kinda feels like Ruin *is* Paula's story. That perception may be a result of my having read chapter 1 to the beginning of Paula's story all in one sitting (yes your writing is just that good). So *clasp hands* when's the next chapter? Hunh? *bats eyes* ROFL

    Thanks for a great read Lunar,it has been a pleasure and I totally understand you taking time to focus on yourself for a bit. I shall continue to visit - you know it!

  17. Hey, Velvet! In a way, Ruin is Paula's story. At least, back in the day when I first wrote it, Paula's story was the focus. So I think that's picked up here. Plus, you know, after over a year of updates, Ruin is pretty much Paula's story, lol.

    There will be more other stories. I need to get cracking on them. I have so many ideas. :D

    Aw, thank you Velvet. Your support means a lot, it really does. So I hope you do continue to visit.

  18. I always loved epilogues, used quite a bit in historical romances! *snort* But this was a nice 'lampshade' to your story. The reunion again, emotional, and I love that stuff.

    Glad Cheryl was a rescue as well. Also glad to hear Alex and his daugher made it home.
    Cannot wait to see where you go next with this!

  19. I say there's nothing inherently wrong with epilogues. Especially in this case since it might be a while since we see Paula again, if ever. I'm not planning on it currently, but who knows?

    Thanks, Drew! I have more planned for posting hopefully starting next month.

  20. How on earth did I miss this?! It's been up since April 29th?

    How wonderful--I'm glad we get to see Stephan again, and that Paula looks so vibrant and full of purpose. Whether she's good at working with machines or not, I know she likes it a lot better than making food for Henri. :) Stephan's goal of getting her drunk is too cute and so...normal.

    Yay for Cheryl's survival! I had resigned myself to her death as well, wondering when Aaron would deliver the news. It's a little surreal that Jimmy is the one who brought her to Paula--it's such a decent, nice thing to do. The hug at the end is perfect. :)

    Well, I loved this! I'm glad I found it, and I look forward to reading the supplemental materials!

  21. Yes, vibrant and full of purpose-- that's perfect. Anything is a lot better than just hanging around Henri's apartment waiting to be needed.

    I'm really surprised I surprised anyone with that. I guess it goes to show me how dark and depressing I do let this story get when something so happy surprises everyone, lol. But I'm glad everyone was pretty surprised at that.

    Jimmy is that way. He and his brother both are surprising men. Decent and nice is something Jimmy probably aims for when people aren't looking, I imagine.