Odds relationship with Olivia was nowhere near as fraught as the one between her and Oscar, yet Olivia still kept Odd at arms length, never fully allowing for theirs to be a close bond.
"Dad says we can use the pool!" Olivia exclaimed excitedly, clearly thrilled by the new apartment complex their Dad and Celine were now sharing. Since his novel had become a best seller Declan hadn't looked back and with Celine as his editor the two of them were close to cementing their relationship by getting married.
Olivia began undressing hurriedly and Odd, who hadn't been intentionally watching her sister yet whilst they were sharing a room she had to make sure Olivia didn't discover her book, couldn't help but to notice Olivia's shockingly thin figure.
She had always been a delicate little creature, so light and giddy her walk was almost like a dance, in stark contrast to Odds tall clumsy frame. But now her stomach was concave, with jutting hip bones and angular arms she looked painfully thin and Odd drew in her breath sharply.
It wasn't in her nature to speak her thoughts aloud, Odd much preferred to internalise everything as previous attempts at socialising had usually resulted in horrifying foot in mouth moments. But her mind was cast back to their birthday party and Oscar's remark to Olivia that she had, had enough cake. Could he be behind Liv's frightening appearance? Odd couldn't think of one single reason why he would want this for Olivia but then so little that she observed of Oscar made sense to her.
Cautiously she stood up and said, "Is everything OK with you Liv?"
Odd held her breath as Olivia replied snappily, "Fine."
Although her reply should have set Odds mind at peace it did not as she could see from the girls stance that she was lying. Olivia's eyes were cast down to the ground and she held her arms in front of her body as though to hide it away from judging eyes.
Odd stood perfectly still and kept her gaze on Olivia who tensed further under the inspection before yelling, "I said I'm fine! Stop ogling me you freak!"
Odd instantly regretted having said anything as it seemed once again she had done or said the wrong thing. Grabbing the book from under her bed she pressed it close against her body, hiding it beneath her coat then, with her chin tucked to her chest she hurried from the room.
As soon as Odd left Olivia rushed over to the mirror to appraise herself searching desperately for what Odd had noticed. She had thought that she looked better than ever and that her hard work turning down her favourite snacks had paid dividends, but she must be mistaken for the way Odd had looked at her was as though she had scales covering her entire body or some kind of monstrous boil. Sighing Olivia pinched her side causing the tiniest of folds to appear which she stared at with disgust.
"Must try harder!" She admonished herself aloud. It was just like Oscar had told her, if you want to be the best you have to have self control. But he made it seem so easy. But no she mustn't think like a loser, she had what it took to succeed, just like she had succeeded in getting the starring role in the play last year. How she had adored to be up on the stage as the spotlight shone down on her, and the sounds of the applause she had received! There was nothing she wouldn't do to keep that feeling with her always and she knew that to stay one step ahead of Stacey she needed to look the part as well as she could play it.
Glancing at her swim costume which she had so eagerly retrieved from her drawer moments before she sighed.
"No pool for you today fatty." She said to herself out loud, patting her stomach and sticking out her tongue at her reflection before tugging her dress back over her head.
Odd had rushed from the room with her head kept firmly down and had walked straight into Celine.
"Umph!" She cried as the pair of them collided. Odd kept a tight grip on the book, still concealed under her jacket and muttered "Sorry."
"Oh are you not coming to the pool?" Celine asked, eyeing Odds heavy parka and frowning.
"Um, not right now." Odd replied.
Trying to make up excuses on the spot was not one of her strong points but she could see from the look on Celine's face that she needed to think of something better to deter the woman.
"I, er have a book report due on Monday, so I, erm...............need to go to the library." Odd stuttered unconvincingly, but it seemed to have been enough as Celine stepped aside and said "Oh, okay. If you need any help I'd be happy to look at it with you?"
This was the problem with Celine, she was always trying to be helpful when all Odd really wanted was to be left to her own devices. But Odd couldn't dislike her for trying, she just wished she would divert her helpfulness towards Olivia or Oscar. "Thanks but i think I've got it figured out now." Odd replied uneasily stepping past Celine and making for the door.
At least she had only told half a lie, while there was no book report to speak of and she had no intention of setting foot in the library Odd has indeed figured out what she needed to do, just not how to achieve it. The book had been helpful in so many ways, but the part on conversing with the dead was most illuminating. It strongly suggested that while most spirits passed directly from this life to the next, a few remained behind seeking some form of closure on the life they had departed.
Many of these spirits merely wished to pass on a message to a loved one and would seek out people like Odd who could both see and hear them to act as their go between, yet some remained due to an inability to accept their fate.
It was with this in mind that Odd ventured to the mausoleum, for in order to help George she had realised that first she must discover what his fate had been. How had his young life ended so abruptly? So swiftly indeed that he hadn't even noticed that his real life had faded away.
The records available at City hall recorded births and deaths back as far as the founding families, yet there were so many records for the name George, Odd realised she would spend days looking through the list only to be no farther forward at the end of it. If only she could find where George was buried she was certain that she would be drawn to his remains, that the imprint of his spirit would call to her somehow.
The mausoleum clerk was most thrilled to have a visitor who was not part of a forced class trip but actually there of her own accord. He had shown Odd all the records he had detailing who was buried in which plot, yet Odd noticed that some simply read "remains unknown". The clerk explained that procedures had not always been a strict as they were now and that some Sims had "slipped through the net"
Odd noted down the plots which were listed as containing someone named George and set out around the cemetery examining headstones to see how old the interred Sims had been when they had passed on. But her search proved fruitless. Most Sims lived until a ripe old age, even back in the founding days child deaths were uncommon and none of the graves she visited called to her in a familiar way.
She wandered to the back of the graveyard where the grass was just that little bit more unruly and the graves were bare of wreaths and bouquets. This was the section containing the unidentified remains. Odd felt sadness and a sudden sense of unfulfillment passed around her. It was as though the souls of the unknown departed were speaking to her, telling her of their woes at being forgotten to a point where no one even recalled their names. Tears pricked her eyes and she allowed them to fall silently, in mourning for the unremembered.
Leaving the graveyard Odd made herself a promise to return and visit the unmarked graves again. perhaps if she were to pay them her respects the Sims buried there may find some peace at last.
The sense of despair remained with her however as she remembered that she was no closer to solving the mystery of George's death. It was an impossible task to find out who he had been in life, it was as though he had never even existed.
Sighing she contemplated her options, yet the only one which presented itself was to ask George himself. Although the fact remained that George had always been reluctant to reveal details of his personal life to the point where Odd doubted that he was aware of his predicament. She could hardly go blurting out "By the way you're dead, don't suppose you know why?"
No, definitely not! She shook her head wiping the thought from her mind. She had already pushed their friendship to it's limits by growing into a teenager, this event alone had been enough to make George vanish. She had not seen him or even so much as sensed his presence since that night, but she knew he would be back. Deep inside she realised that the connection they shared had only severed temporarily, like a lost mobile phone signal.
Odd kept on walking, back through the remote streets on the outskirts of the City. The neighbourhood which housed the cemetery was officially classed as "Old Bridgeport" the area where the first settlers had lived and worked. It was close to the docks which had at one point been the focus of the City, a hive of shipping and trading in its day, now a run down and largely abandoned area designated for demolition under a new development phase aiming to turn the dockside into a luxury waterfront apartment complex.
As she continued down the street Odd spied an old looking house ahead on the opposite side of the road. The paint work was faded and rotting and the trees and plants all wilted and dead from many years of neglect, yet for some reason it made her stop in her tracks.
It was faint but it was there a tingly sensation stirring in the centre of her chest and she found herself being drawn towards the house. Crossing the street she felt the sensation grow and expand leading to her fingers and before she knew it she was at the boundary of the property, her hand resting on it's decaying gate.
This was one of those occasions where Odd felt that what she was doing was somewhere outside of the realms of reasonable behaviour, she was certain that being on someone elses property would be frowned upon but it didn't take a psychic to know that this house had not been occupied for a very long time. At least not by the living.
Spurred forward now by her own reasoning Odd took the steps carefully to reach the front door which was as peeled and worn as the rest of the house. Surely this is where the real world prevents me from continuing? She thought as although she had many talents lock picking was not amongst them. But as she held out her hand towards the door knob it seemed to come alive, and without the aid of her touch it opened widely seemingly inviting her in.
No sooner had the door flung itself open then the pull which had stirred briefly in her chest leaped like a bull frog and grew abundantly. Odd felt as though someone had attached a rope around her middle and was now tugging her inside the house, such was the strength of the sensation she felt. But as she stepped over the threshold it stopped suddenly and the door, accepting her as an offering, closed behind her leaving her alone in the inky blackness of the hallway.
Odd glanced at her surroundings unperturbed by the events that had unfolded. Her gift for seeing the dead was bolstered by her uncanny ability to accept any situation with open arms, save for the exception of large crowds there was nothing she had yet come across which caused her to feel fear. She stepped into the nearest room finding a sitting area where the sofa and chairs were covered by large white sheets. A thick layer of dust had settled across the tops of any bare surfaces confirming her suspicions that the house was empty.
The downstairs of the house held no interest for Odd, no calling or vibe grabbed her in one particular way or another and so she ventured to the spiral staircase.
Setting her foot on the step she heard it creak loudly in warning of its fragile state, yet she had come this far that it seemed almost rude for her not to investigate further, after all it seemed to be what the house wanted. As she turned the spiral corner she felt it once again, growing stronger now, calling to her and guiding her forward to the first floor hallway, where she stopped before turning in a circle to assess which room desired her company.
But no this wasn't it, she wasn't quite where she was supposed to be. Pushing open a door she moved through a hallway and then she spotted it from the corner of her eye, an almost hidden access to the attic rooms.
Almost rushing now Odd took the stairs expectantly and when she reached the trap door at the top she flung it open hastily. A cloud of dust burst up in a plume as the trap door smacked back against the attic floor and a million dust particles floated and sailed through the air eventually settling on a new resting place.
Odd poked her head up into the attic space and realised that whoever had resided in this house had not used it merely for storage purposes as the first sight that caught her eye was a bed.
Of course it was not uncommon for an attic to be used in this way, but something seemed different to the other bedrooms she had passed by on the first floor, which had been laden with sheet covered furniture. By comparison the attic was sparse, especially for its size which clearly spanned the entire length of the house. Odd surveyed the space which contained only a bed, a shelf and a rickety looking table nestled next to two chairs.
Moving farther into the space she noted that the attic had been used for storage also as piles upon piles of crates were stacked up, almost blocking the only windows up here. Whoever had slept in the attic must have been the black sheep of the family for they certainly wouldn't have housed a favoured child or relative so grimly when the rest of the house was so evidently plush.
Turning around Odd felt a prickling sensation on the back of her neck as though a cold breeze had brushed passed her and then she spied it. Almost concealed in the wall was a door made of the exact same wood as the panelling.
To the untrained eye it may appear to not be there at all but Odd could feel the cold breeze flowing from under its frame, creeping over to where she stood and alerting her to its whereabouts.
Reaching her opened hand out Odd wondered if this door would be as accommodating as the front one, but before her hand could even touch the silver knob a wave of hot air gusted in her face and a voice rang out "KEEP OUT!"
Her hand continued to make it's journey towards the door knob as though her brain had not instructed it to stop quickly enough and as her palm touched it she felt not the expected sensation of cool steel but a searing pain as though she had stuck her hand in a fire.
Odd recoiled in shock and examined her palm, expecting to see second degree burns, but her flesh was unmarked and the sensation had now passed. Rubbing her hand still in shock she stumbled backwards towards the bed. Now that she was away from the door she felt the tingly sensation which had drawn her into the house envelop her, washing away her shock and returning her to her usual state of calm and she slumped down onto the bed sending further dust particles spinning into the atmosphere.
Odd sensed that there were two forces at work in this house, the one which had called her in from the street who seemingly wanted her to remain and the other who resided in the inaccessible room who clearly wanted her gone. Odd thought back to the book and what she had learned about some ghosts wanting closure and determined that the first spirit must want her to do something, to somehow help it achieve what it could not in life.
She couldn't be sure if it was the spirit which planted the seed in her mind or if she was simply recalling her own secret hiding place but something told her to check underneath the bed.
She couldn't be sure if it was the spirit which planted the seed in her mind or if she was simply recalling her own secret hiding place but something told her to check underneath the bed.
As the item slid from its hiding place she realised it was a journal, leather bound and frayed at the edges from it's age. Odd flicked open to the first page and read aloud "This is the journal of Alice Tavarick" which was scrawled in neat, curly italics. Picking up the book she housed it carefully next to Isador Hodgekiss's Book of Ghosts inside her coat, instantly noting the air of calm which had settled in the room. Evidently whoever had drawn her up here was satisfied for now.
"Please Howie." Morgan pleaded, "won't you reconsider?"
Howie shifted uncomfortably on the sofa next to her. He had known this would be hard, but he had visited Morgan to tell her of his decision and he wasn't about to fall at the first hurdle. "I have to Morgan, i should of done it so long ago." he replied, shaking his head.
"But where will you go? All of your family is here and we........I need you." She answered, her lip trembling.
Jenna began crying from her spot on the floor and Morgan rushed from the seat to tend to her niece. Since her birth there had been no denying whose child she was, her shock of raven hair was all Noah's and Shay had been forced to admit to Travis that she had cheated on him with his cousin, effectively ending their relationship.
Howie rose from his seat and approached Morgan, "I need this Morgan please try to understand." He begged her earnestly, "You have to let me go."
Morgan snuggled the little girl close taking in her delightful babyish fragrance. It soothed her for a moment taking her back to the days when the triplets were toddlers, they had been a handful but how she wished that she could rewind the years and go back. Life seemed so much simpler then.
"What if I can't Howie?" She asked quietly, "What if i can't make it on my own?" She knew she sounded selfish, pitiful even begging him to stay when it was her actions and words that had driven Howie to chose to leave Bridgeport, but she couldn't bear for him to be so far away.
"You have to let me go now Morgan." He repeated softly, "It's time i made my own life instead of shadowing yours." Seeing the lost look on her face Howie stepped forward and placed a last kiss on Morgan's forehead. He had made the right choice to move on and he knew the only way he could make the break clean was to leave town and head back to Twinbrook.
As Howie turned and walked from her life Morgan held little Jenna as close as she could. Her own children were all so independent, they barely needed her anymore. Her ex husband was poised to marry Celine and where was she? Feeling more alone than ever before Morgan let her tears fall.
Though it had killed her the night before Odd had been forced to delay the reading of Alice's journal. Having already been gone an entire day working on her imaginary book report, by the time she flopped into bed tiredness enveloped her and she had fallen almost instantly to sleep. The next morning however she promised not to go too far and retreated to the waters edge, just in front of her father's apartment to find the peace and quiet she needed.
Eagerly turning the journals cover open she traced a finger over Alice's perfect lettering imagining the woman whose hand had held the pen then turning to the first entry she began her discovery of Alice Tavarick.
Life in Bridgeport certainly is not how I'd dreamed it would be. Back at home on the farm I imagined a City with streets paved in gold, but the money to be made here is owned by the few and coveted by the majority. But life has recently taken a pleasing turn and i am now in the employ of the Goldmar's the wealthiest family in Bridgeport by a clear mile. I had hoped to find work as a clerk or something more intellectual but the skills Mama taught me at home have been my saving grace. None of the wealthy women here even know how to bake their own bread!
Turning the page eager for more Odd began to read the next entry.
Charles has become a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy life. Just his presence would be enough to satisfy me for an eternity yet he lavishes me with such undeserved affection. Just a touch of my hand and i am unable to contain my love for him. I am certain that it must be written on my face, yet Mrs Goldmar treats me with the same level of contempt as ever. Nothing i do for her is right it seems.
Yet to know that Charles returns my feelings is enough to see me through any of her complaints or chastisements.
He touched my face today so tenderly and fixed me with those angel eyes. I could have stayed in that moment for the rest of the day quite contentedly, but heaven forbid that the silverware goes unpolished for a single day!
Odd had become so engrossed in Alice's words that she hadn't heard her father approach.
"Odette?" he asked softly causing her to jump in fright. "Sweetheart you've been out here all day." He told her, frowning slightly in concern for his youngest child.
"Oh........I, um." Odd mumbled, stuffing the journal surreptitiously into her coat pocket hoping he wouldn't ask her what she had been so caught up with.
"Come on, Celine has made salmon for tea." He smiled placing his arm around her shoulder and leading her into the apartment. Alice and Charles' love affair would have to wait for now as the real world beckoned and Odd had no choice but to oblige it.