It was really weird to be in Sunset Valley again. My departure had been quick, the only person I had said goodbye to was Penny. I offered to bring her with me but she refused…
It had been really lonely the past year and a half, I had to admit. That’s how long I had stayed away. 18, maybe 19 months. It had taken a while to remember, the only way I was finally able to figure it out was seeing my father’s date of death.
I was spending most my free time at the graveyard. Always at night. I slept pretty much through the day. I had gone home at one point to read his scrapbook and find the award he often talked about. Then I had gone to City Hall, agreed to have my old house demolished, and purchased a new lot. My new house was currently being built while I was staying at a hotel.
I couldn’t stay in my old home, but I didn’t want anyone else living there either. So when the Mayor talked about tearing down houses and selling the walls and stuff for scrap money, I agreed. It would give me extra money. And I really needed all the simoleons I could get. I had wasted a lot on my tour of the countryside’s worst dive bars, and now all that I had was what my father had kept aside for me, and what I could get from selling the furniture, walls, and land.
I was going to sell everything except a few things. My old Prom King picture and crown, my dad’s diploma, his ‘Most Likely’ award (which was one thing helping me keep sight of what my plans were), and of course the most important thing to me left in Sunset Valley.
“I’m sorry.” Those were the first words out of my mouth as soon as I saw her. She hadn’t been anywhere in sight the first couple of times I had come into my old house, but I was so relieved when she stepped out from my old bedroom. I had been so scared that she was gone forever.
“You left me,” she said in her pouty voice.
I reached out to take her hands but she snatched them away. “I told you that you could come with me,” I said, hoping she’d forgive me.
“I didn’t want to leave,” she said, staring up at me with those blank eyes. “I didn’t want you to leave, either.”
“Penny,” I said, giving her a smile. “I’m selling this house. Well, I’m demolishing this house. I bought some new land. A house is being built there. I–I wanted to know if you’d come with me? It wouldn’t be the same without you.”
She continued staring at me then gave her stuffed head a very tiny nod. I fell into her and she wrapped her arms around me tightly. I started crying, my tears soaking into her cloth skin. She smelled like home. She was my home. My best friend. She and I had been together for as long as I could remember.
As a toddler, she had been a doll. My dad had named her Pendragon but I knew she was Penny. When I was a kid, she sometimes turned into this–a sort of imaginary friend. My father never saw her, nobody did. They all thought I was whacko. I knew my dad had given me several looks of concern but I never cared. So what if I was the only one who could see her? That didn’t change how I felt about her.
And now we were together once more. I was starting to feel a lot better.
I had to admit, it was weird seeing our land without a house on it. All that was left was a garbage bin, the mailbox, and the old stones that had led to our door. As I stared at the land a whisper of wind pushed back my bangs. I did wonder if I should have just stayed in this home, but I knew it was too tiny to have a family in. My dad had admitted that.
I hope you like my new house, Dad, I thought as I waited for the taxi to arrive. It was finished, and I was excited to see it. It was kinda small, since I didn’t have much money. About the same size as the house I had demolished. But unlike the old house there would be plenty of room to add more.
My life wouldn’t be any different from dad’s at first. A plot of land, a tiny house, struggling for money… but at least I’d have a proper house and not have to live under the stars for a while. Plus I’d have Penny. Who wouldn’t be staying in her strange form much longer, if I had anything to say about it.
As a kid, I had loved working at that chemical station I once got from THEM. One birthday I had received a card that told me there was a formula for turning my imaginary friend real. I had obsessed over it but never found it. Then during a bout of misery as a teen I had gotten drunk and destroyed the station out of anger.
But one night in the country I had gotten a strange phone call in the middle of the night. Whoever was on the other side talked about some sort of rainbow gem. Once I found it, I’d be given more instructions. Not the best thing to hear at 3 am, in a strange hotel, when you’re drunk.
My new house looked great. I had helped with the floor plan and chosen almost everything about it. Except the siding. That would change one day. When I had more money. The sliding doors were what I was most excited about. I didn’t care if they were impractical as a front door. This was my house, I’d have what I want.
It’s so blue, I thought cheerfully as I went inside. I loved the color blue. It was so… comforting. And yes, my easel had come in! I wanted to learn how to paint and so an easel was one of the few pieces of furniture I splurged on. I had, of course, installed a toilet and a bathtub, and put in a bed, and an easel.
Crap, I thought, glancing at the room that was my kitchen/dining room. I had forgotten completely about a fridge, sink, and stove. All I had left were forty-three simoleons. Guess that would just have to last me. Looks like I’ll be searching for a job right away, I thought, rubbing the back of my head and looking around. I didn’t have much with me, just some clothes. Plus diplomas and awards. I didn’t care about mine but they’d all go up. I’d have to find a very prominent place to put dad’s award.
“Ahh! I’m sorry!” I exclaimed, realizing I had still hadn’t unpacked Penny. She didn’t want to come in her imaginary form so she had turned into a doll for me to bring.
Her toy body felt so familiar to my hands. She was pretty grungy, and as I set her down I realize she was as old as I was. That was something strange to realize. She reminded me of being a child. But she was an adult now. She had aged up the same day I had, both when I was a teenager and an adult.
I set her down and after a shower of sparkles, she was my size. I smiled and threw my arms around her, hugging her tightly. She hugged back but I could tell she was nervous. She had never been anywhere but my old house.
“What do you think?” I asked, looping my arm through hers and indicating the front room. “It’s small now but I’ll be adding on. I plan on adding a sort of den/TV room, and a laundry room, and then of course when you become real I’ll be adding on your bedroom…”
“My bedroom?” she asked, confused and worried.
“Yes,” I replied, grinning at her. “When you turn real. Unless you don’t want to turn real?”
She slowly turned to face me and then she just stared at me in silence. These were the moments I hated the most with her. Silence. I had no idea what she was thinking, whether she was happy or sad. I could tell her emotions through her voice because she never had any facial expression, so these quiet times made me a bit edgy.
Finally she spoke. I could still hear worry in her voice, but she also had some excitement. “Of course I do. It’s what I’ve wanted since we became kids. Then I can stay with you.” This last part was a little quieter but I just threw an arm over her shoulder and grinned.
“Yep!” I said happily. “I can’t wait. I have a new lead…”
I told her about that strange night, and the odd phone call. She listened intently, not speaking at all until I was done. “Oh Calcifer,” she said and I imagined a smile on her face. “I can’t wait. It’s going to be so wonderful, being human.”
“I can’t wait either,” I said and punched her arm lightly. “I take it you won’t want to go out and eat with me.”
“Oh!” Her hands flew to whatever it was that made her mouth. “No. I’ll stay here. Will you be long?”
“I dunno, I’m gonna go get some food then look for a job. I’m thinking about trying out at the theater for a job.” I gave her another hug then smiled. “See ya later!”
I got a job. As a fan, no less. That sounded strange to me–being paid for being a fan–but hey! Whatever worked, right? Besides, I didn’t mind. It would give me a chance to work on my musical skills and maybe soon I’d get a promotion. I needed to get an instrument first. I was thinking about a guitar… though I would have to wait for my first paycheck.
I decided to walk home, since I didn’t have any money left for a cab. I strolled along the sidewalks, looking around at all the sights. The Valley hadn’t changed much since I had left. Everything seemed the same. I knew that I had probably changed a lot more than this town… I really hoped for the better.
I glanced down an old, familiar street. Go down that way and take a left and there would be one of the bars I used to go to when I was younger with my fake ID. I remembered the taste of second-grade beer, the pulsing lights, the stale stench in the air. I dug in my pocket for my money and saw I still had about ten simoleons left. Just enough for a drink, if they hadn’t changed their prices.
I glanced down the street again then turned the other way, heading towards my home. Heading towards Penny.
I hung up the only decorations I had left. The two diplomas went in a corner of the main room, my own award was in my bedroom, and my dad’s award was between the easel and my bedroom door. I wanted it in a place I wouldn’t overlook, someplace where I could see it daily and remember my promises.
Since Penny didn’t feel like doing anything, I decided that this would be a good chance to start working on painting.
She stood behind me, watching in silence. I knew some people would feel creeped out by this but it didn’t bother me. I felt really soothed knowing she was by my side. The only thing that bothered me was the fact she wouldn’t do anything for herself. Even if I bought her books or a TV, she would probably be standing there watching me. Maybe once she’s human, she’ll be more independent, I thought, the hair on the end of the brush gliding across the blank canvas as I tried to remember everything I had learned in art class so many years ago.
When I finally went to bed late that night, I thought back on everything. How peculiar everything was. In the hotels I still felt like a kid despite being out on my own (and all that drinking) but now I finally felt like a real adult. It also really brought home the fact my father was gone, truly gone.
Penny came in and turned into her doll form, by my side for while I slept. “Goodnight, Penny,” I said and closed my eyes. Goodnight, Dad, I added silently, slipping my arm out from under the blanket and let it dangle, my fingertips just barely touching the top of her head. Feeling her there made me all warm and cozy, and I finally drifted off.