The next few days after Grandda’s death were a big blur. Lincoln and Mathilda made the funeral arrangements to spare me from further pain. I felt like a complete zombie most of the following week. I couldn’t bring myself to eat much, nor could I sleep peacefully. When I did sleep, my dreams were full of nightmarish scenes, which I would awaken from screaming. In some of the dreams, Grandda would be trapped somewhere. He’d call out to me for help but try as I might, I could never get there in time. At other times, I’d get close enough to reach out and touch him but then, whatever had him would yank him away from me. In other dreams, a grotesque, decayed version of Grandda would stand over me and berate me for letting him die. When I’d try to speak, to beg him to forgive me, my tongue wouldn’t work. I’d feel like I was choking and would awake bathed in sweat, heart pounding, and breathing raggedly.
Lincoln never left my side and was always there to comfort me. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I cried in his arms, wishing beyond measure that I could turn back the hands of time so my grandfather could still be here.
Mathilda thought it best that I take an anti-depressant potion, which I balked at. I didn’t like to take aspirin, let alone an anti-depressant. “Just for a little while, sweetheart,” Mathilda said.
“I just don’t want to feel any more out of it than I already do,” I said.
“You won’t. This will be different than those drugs doctors prescribe. It’ll get you over the hump until you can start feeling better on your own,” she insisted.
I just shrugged and sighed deeply, but I didn’t argue. Mathilda took this as a sign of acquiescence, so off she went to the Alchemy Station to make me a Vial of Bliss. When she gave me the potion, I hesitated before drinking it. “The baby…”
“It won’t harm him,’ Mathilda assured me. “Come on now. You’ll feel much better.”
As always, Mathilda was right. Day by day, I gradually started feeling more like myself. Another week passed by, and I was all right enough for Lincoln to return to the hospital for work.
As my heart began to heal, Landon seemed to double in size inside me. My middle looked like a beach ball from the front, and I waddled like a drunk duck when I could muster the energy to walk from Point A to Point B. Nearly a month after Grandda’s death, I went into labor. Once again, I thanked the divinities for both Mathilda and Lincoln. Mathilda helped me pack my bag and did her magic to help me feel a bit more comfortable. Lincoln fulfilled his role as the loving husband he always was, but he totally panicked when the contractions became quite intense. Who would have guessed the good doctor would lose his head? Thankfully, Mathilda got him calmed down, and between the two of them, I got to the hospital in plenty of time to deliver my baby boy.
I never thought anything could hurt so badly, and there was a bit of a rough patch when I passed out cold. I’m normally not squeamish except for when it comes to seeing my own blood. Let’s just say, giving birth is neither a glamorous nor a very clean process. When I came to, it was to a grinning Lincoln who kissed me softly. “Hey, you,” he whispered.
I blinked at him blearily. “What the hell happened?”
“You passed out,” he informed me. “I always thought it was the husband who was supposed to faint at times like this.”
I tried to smile but another pain hit me, and I had to push. Our son, Landon Liam Atherton, was born at 8:05 PM on April 14th. When he was handed to me, both Lincoln and I cried. In only a few short moments, Lincoln and I went from being just a couple to becoming the parents of this perfect little person who lay in my arms. As Lincoln held Landon and me close, he kissed both of us in turn. Then, we looked into the face of our new little boy. “You’re right, my love. He is an angel sent to us from Heaven,” he whispered, tears choking his voice.
We were sent home a couple days later, and Lincoln took a few days off to help me get Landon settled in. Mathilda also stayed with us for a few days to help, which both Lincoln and I were grateful for. Landon was a good-natured baby, so he wasn’t hard to care for.
I loved being a mom. Every time I held my little boy, my heart would swell and tremble with love. I would just stare down at him in wonderment, sometimes unable to believe he was truly mine. I know it sounds sappy, but sometimes I would cry as I thought about how I was holding the culmination of the love Lincoln and I shared. There are people who don’t believe in miracles, but for me, the greatest miracle was Landon and that Lincoln and I created him together.
Lincoln was definitely a hands-on dad. As Landon grew, I would often emerge from my writing studio to hear the two of them giggling and playing.
Landon loved his daddy, but he also loved it when his mommy tickled and played with him, and his mommy loved it just as much.
Mathilda doted on Landon and never missed an opportunity to hold or care for him when we needed her. She never even minded spit-up on her pretty dresses. “That’s what a cleaning charm is for,” she’d always say when cleaning both Landon and herself up.
My success as a writer grew even more. I was given more space for the column I wrote for the paper, and my books were now on the Best Seller List. I was also often hired to be a guest conductor for our local orchestra and to arrange music for our theater. Aside from the conducting, I could do most of this right from my home studio where I could keep Landon nearby. As he grew, I’d sit him down with his toys while I worked.
Lincoln was also very successful at his career. He completed his residency and opened his own practice. At first, we struggled while he worked hard at building his clientele. However, his perseverance paid off, and patients flocked to him because of his skill and compassion. Lincoln and I were busy people, but we always found time to keep our relationship fresh and alive.
Our pride and joy, of course, was Landon, who grew into a polite, kindhearted boy with my wicked sense of humor. From an early age, Landon had an ear for music, which Lincoln and I both helped him nurture. His singing voice was pure and strong, and he loved it when I’d rock out with him on our karaoke system.
Landon enjoyed school and had a thirst for knowledge that was refreshing to Lincoln, Mathilda, and me. He would even listen to me go on and on about writing and how to learn the craft. As it turned out, he had a sharp, vivid imagination that, in some ways, reminded me of myself at his age. Where mine was geared toward princesses, romances, and fairies, Landon’s was honed in on spaceships, parallel worlds, and time travel.
One of my favorite times was at night when I would read my beautiful boy to sleep. Landon and I traveled many worlds together. We went from Harry Potter’s world at Hogwarts to that of far-off planets and futuristic time warps. One night, he startled me when he asked me to stop reading so he could ask me a question. “What is it, sweetheart?” I asked, closing the book and laying it on his nightstand.
“Ma, do you suppose there really are such places like Hogwarts or parallel worlds like that astronaut traveled to in that old Twilight Zone episode?” Funnily enough, he loved The Twilight Zone and we’d watched the episode entitled “The Parallel” the previous night. When I started to shrug, he took my hand and held it fervently. “Don’t just blow it off. Think about it. Really, really think about it.”
I was at a loss as to what to say. My little boy was still young and innocent enough to believe in such things like Santa Claus, and I hated to burst that bubble. Then, I thought of the magical powers both Mathilda and I possessed, powers that Landon, too, would possess, and that made me truly ponder what my answer would be. “Well, sweetheart, there’s no physical proof that such things exist now, but who’s to say what could or couldn’t eventually happen? There are things in this world that people don’t believe are real, but they are.”
“Like yours and Auntie Mathilda’s magic,” Landon said.
“Exactly,” I said, nodding and smiling. “Sweetheart, what made you want to ask me this?”
He frowned thoughtfully, and I could tell he was choosing his words carefully. “It was something Auntie Mathilda showed me the other day that got me thinking. She showed me her magic mirror, and I saw in it a time that we studied in history last semester.”
“Ah, Gunther,” I said, smiling again. “You should feel very special and privileged that Auntie Mathilda showed you Gunther. She’s very protective of him and has showed him only to a few very special people she loves.”
“And that includes you, right, Ma?”
“Indeed, it does,” I said, nodding. “Did she tell you how she got her mirror and why she calls him Gunther?”
Landon grinned and nodded. “Oh yes! She said she wanted an old-fashioned mirror carved from a very special kind of wood. She said it took her a long, long time to find what she wanted. Then, she did some magic and somehow put a piece of this friend she had inside it, and that’s what made him become Gunther. Auntie Mathilda said Gunther was a real person who lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago.”
“Mmm hmm,” I said, stroking back his dark hair. “You know that Auntie Mathilda knows some very powerful magic that keeps her forever young and that she’s actually thousands of years old. Gunther was someone she loved very, very much but who was dying. You see, he was a wizard just as she is a witch. Anyway, he was afraid to die at first but knew he had to leave her. It hurt both of them, especially Auntie Mathilda because she knew she couldn’t save him. Gunther always wanted to have a part of him be with her forever, so they enchanted a handkerchief Gunther once owned but gave to Auntie Mathilda when they became betrothed.”
“That means engaged,” Landon said.
“That’s right. Anyway, after they did the spell, Gunther died shortly afterward. Auntie Mathilda then did some more magic to get the handkerchief between the glass and the back of the mirror. So now, part of Gunther’s essence is always with Auntie Mathilda, and she can talk to him any time she wants. I don’t know all of what her mirror can do, but what I do know is that Gunther shows Auntie Mathilda things she needs to see and know.”
“It sounds like a sappy love story like what you write, but it’s pretty neat,” Landon said, grinning.
I laughed and tucked the covers in around him. “Well, don’t tell Auntie Mathilda I told you this, but she has a bit of a sappy streak sometimes.”
Landon giggled and put out his pinky. “Pinky swear.”
Grinning, I linked my pinky with his. “Now then, you’d better get to sleep. School tomorrow.”
“Just one more thing, Ma,” Landon said, trying to stifle a yawn.
“What?” I asked.
“How can Gunther show all those different times? I mean, when he showed me the stuff he did, it was horses and carriages and stuff. Auntie Mathilda was in some of them, but she wasn’t very happy.”
I thought for a moment before speaking. “Well, sweetheart, a magic mirror is a very powerful thing. It can show you things that you, alone, can’t see, things that other people are blind to. Your Auntie Mathilda didn’t have a happy life back then. She was very poor, and back then, poor people were treated worse than they are now. Times were hard, and people didn’t live very long.”
“Auntie Mathilda lost several babies, didn’t she?” Landon asked.
I nodded sadly and stroked his cheek with my thumb. “Yes, sweetheart, she did. She was very unhappy for a long time, but you know what? Auntie Mathilda is an extremely intelligent woman and figured out how to do magic. She became a witch and learned many secrets. She became very powerful and has lived many, many lifetimes.”
“Is this why she says so many people are foolish? She gets so disgusted sometimes,” Landon said.
I chuckled. “Your Auntie Mathilda has seen it all and done the rest, so she says. Sometimes she can be a very impatient person, sometimes intolerant, even. She’s worked very hard to be what she is and can’t stand it when people try to cheat their way through a hard situation or life, in general. It takes her a long time to love someone, but when she does, she loves very dearly. She loves you very, very much.”
“I know she does. She tells me all the time, and she says she loves you very much too. She told me about how she cursed this one woman who cheated in some talent contest and turned her husband into a vamp,” Landon said, eyes wide now. The sleepiness he’d exhibited a while ago was gone now, and he was totally enthralled with the subject of Mathilda.
“Yes, she did,” I confirmed. “Kiara LaChance was very wrong in dong what she tried to do. Your Auntie Mathilda doesn’t like hurting people, but she said Kiara needed to learn a lesson.”
“Is that why she turned her husband, Scott, into a vamp?” Landon asked.
“Partly so, I think. But you know, your Auntie Mathilda doesn’t do things without a reason. Yes, she was very angry at what Scott and Kiara did, but she’s always fair when she does what she does. She likes to help people, but sometimes the answers aren’t easy to come by, and often times, there is a lesson to be learned.”
“She’d make a good teacher,” Landon said.
I grinned. “She is a good teacher. She was my teacher and still is. Now, it’s time for sleep.”
“Just one more thing, Ma, I promise.”
“Just one more thing, young man, and then sleep,” I said firmly but smilingly.
“Would you ever have a magic mirror?” he asked.
“Hmmm,” I said, resting my chin against the palm of my right hand. “I guess I never thought of it before. Auntie Mathilda lets me speak to Gunther when and if I need to.”
“Oh,” he said. “I just thought…well…”
“What?” I asked.
“Well, if you got a magic mirror, you could put a piece of Great Grandda in it and then you wouldn’t have to cry for him anymore.”
I blinked as I felt tears prick the back of my eyes. I never knew Landon heard me cry for Grandda during times I especially missed him. Birthdays and holidays were the worst, but I always tried to keep the melancholia from reaching Landon so he wouldn’t be worried. I turned my head away to try to compose myself.
“It’s OK, Ma. I know you put soundproof spells on your bedroom door when you cry, but I’m sometimes able to break through with my own magic,” he said. “I know you don’t want me to hear you cry, but I’d rather hear you cry than have you treat me like a little kid and hide how you feel from me.”
Oh, Ariadne! That was my undoing. I bowed my head into my hands and gave a hitching sob. Landon’s arms came around me, and he rubbed my back. It became apparent to me then that not only had he inherited a lot from Lincoln and me, he’d gotten the best qualities of my beloved grandda. The words he said next brought it home.
“It’s all right, Ma. You don’t have to hide how you feel from me. I can feel it coming from you anyway. He isn’t really gone, you know. He comes to visit sometimes.”
I got myself under control and wiped my eyes. It felt rather odd to have my little boy comforting me when it had always been me comforting him during such things as illnesses and nightmares. “Grandda always said that when you remember someone who is gone, they always remain alive.”
“Oh, but that’s not what I mean. You see, he actually visits in spirit form. He comes and talks to me sometimes,” Landon insisted.
I reached for his hand again and played with his fingers. “I don’t doubt it sweetheart.”
“You really believe me? Really?” he asked, looking intently into my eyes.
“I do,” I said. “I feel him sometimes too.”
“Yeah? Wow!” Landon said. Then, his expression turned serious again. “But then, why do you still cry?”
I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Well, because I miss his physical presence. I miss his hugs and how he used to hold me and sing to me when I was little. I miss cooking dinner for him and telling him about my day. I know he’ll never truly be gone, but I miss what was once there.”
“See, that’s why you should have your own magic mirror made. I know he wouldn’t be able to hug you or eat with you, but you could still talk to him and tell him about your day. He could even sing to you if you wanted. You’d just need something of his that was enchanted, right? Oh, and you’d need just the right mirror.”
“Yes. Yes, I suppose so,” I said, smiling a little.
“Could you do it?” he asked excitedly.
“Well…I think it’s possible. I’d have to find a mirror.”
“But you have something of his that’s enchanted, right?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yes, I do.”
“Epic! Then, you should do it.”
I arranged the covers around him a second time. “I’ll talk to Auntie Mathilda about it. She can help me make a magic mirror. Now then, it’s time for sleep.”
Landon yawned. “OK, Ma.”
“I love you, Landon, so much. Now, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.” I gave him a big smooch and tucked him snugly in.
“I won’t,” he said sleepily. “Love you, Ma. G’night.”
I stroked his hair and sang softly to him until he fell asleep. I stayed a few minutes longer to just listen to his deep, even breathing and then headed to the living room. Lincoln and I decided to watch some TV and then would head for bed in a bit. I had much to think about and much to discuss with Mathilda.
Little did I know at the time that it wouldn’t be through a magic mirror that Granda would reenter my life.
Author’s Note: Kiara and Scott LaChance are Sims I created when i made up my own challenge called The Redemption Challenge. The backstory was that Scott was trying to help his wife, Kiara, win a talent contest through nefarious means. They were caught by Witch Mathildda, who made Scott a vampire and punished Kiara by taking away her magic. Scott and Kiara had a series of tasks to perform every day. If they survived (some of the tasks were potentially deadly) and got to the top of their careers honorably, Mathilda would reverse what she did.
At that time I never thought Mathilda would actually come to life. I hadn’t created her as a Sim or even thought of her as an important character for an active story. Then as I did my LP for this challenge and then Mathilda became part of other backstories for other LP’s I had, I was requested to actually create Mathilda and show her in game. So I did and fell in love with her and the endless creative possibilities she was capable of bringing.
I love how she just morphed into what she is. There is more to her than meets the eye and we will be learning a lot more about her in this story and in “Another World,” another story of mine that occasionally crosses over into this one and vice versa.