TIN Steps Day 1

The taxi driver stopped and I looked out the car window. She must have seen the puzzled look on my face because she smiled a slightly superior smile and pointed in the direction of the dirt path.

I stepped outside the car and saw the blue house. The one the real estate lady told me was the only available rental on such short notice.

Turning around, I paid the driver. “THAT much?! Ouch.” I thought to myself. I now have exactly 20 simoleons in my wallet and nothing in the bank.

All I could do was square my shoulders, gather the kids, our small bag of essentials and begin walking.

The walk took longer (much longer) than expected and with each step, the house loomed closer and my heart dropped further. I pressed my lips together so I wouldn’t say anything I’d regret.

I can’t say it was love at first sight because that would be a lie.
I also can’t say I totally hate it because that too would be a lie.
It’s like me. Looking like it’s barely survived a storm and yet there’s still a spark of life left.

Perhaps having found one another, we can both heal.

“Daaad!” May wailed. “I don’t like this place. I want to go home.”
“Me too, Sunshine, me too.” I thought as I could see the front door … or what’s left of it … over her shoulder.

“Sunshine, we’ve already talked about this. It’s not ideal but this is where we live now. Let’s go around to the backyard and see if this key will open the back door.”

My heart dropped even further when I saw the pitched tent. Where we meant to sleep out here? How bad off were we?

“We have a grill and a picnic table. Hot dogs and burgers always taste better when grilled over an open flame! I bet we’ll be able to see plenty of stars tonight!” The enthusiasm in my voice sounded false even to me.

Turning around, I immediately noticed two things.
One: The key I had in my pocket wouldn’t be an issue.
Two: We’d really be roughing it like the Pole ancestors who came before us because it appears we didn’t have indoor plumbing.

“Daaad!” May wailed. “Is that what I think it is? I really don’t like this place. I really want to go home now.”

“May, please keep an eye on your brother while I take a quick look inside. I’ll be right back.”

I needed to make sure it was safe to go inside.
I also needed to be sure we were the only ones living here.

As I stepped inside and took a good look, I discovered that the ceiling looked okay (no telltale patches; no wet or warped pieces of wood flooring; the only smell seemed to be dirt and neglect) and the furniture looked serviceable. Filthy but nothing appeared broken or rickety on first glance.

We could make this work. We had to.

I was happy to see our luggage stacked neatly behind the small couch and changed into something I wouldn’t mind getting dirty.

I checked on May and Ice then got to work.

I began by clearing away the ivy growing up the walls and removing the dried grass that grew between the floorboards. I found a shovel and pail outside and began the long process of removing sand that had piled up in the corners. For now, I dumped this near the grill in case I needed to put out a fire.

{squeak squeak}
The bed seems solid enough but {cough cough} I’m going to have to figure out a way to get the bedding and blankets washed. There’s no way we can sleep in here as is. Oh! That must be what the tent is for … in case we can’t use the bedding.

{knock knock} could be heard through the open front door.
“Yoohoo! Anybody home?” said a definitely masculine voice.

As if he couldn’t already hear me moving around in here, shifting stuff and making a whole lot of noise. And mess. Let’s not forget the mess I’ve made by dragging branches across the floor, shifting furniture to check for unwelcome “guests” and {cough cough} really stirring up the dust in the air.

I wiped my hands on my pants leg and quickly walked around front.

An older fellow with gray in his hair pointed at the pile of tires.
“Those are still in good condition. How much do you want for them? I’m Juan Darer, by the way and live just up the road. It’s good having someone living here to make ol’ Tin shine again!”

Ol’ Tin? I learned that this is what Juan called the place.
He knew the previous owners and wasn’t sorry to see them go. They weren’t very neighborly and knew next-to-nothing about living out here in the swamps.

I also learned how to haggle as we came to an agreement on pricing for the tires.

We loaded Juan’s truck bed and I fully expected to see him go, but he offered a helping hand, which I quickly accepted, and followed me around to the back. I introduced him to my children before we began removing the bushes and other things I couldn’t do on my own.

“This here is good firewood. Be sure to add it to your woodpile. This over here smells something awful if you burn it but makes good mulch … I’ll bring my mulcher over tomorrow … Some of these smaller branches, vines and leaves can be added to the compost bin along with your kitchen scraps to make some of the best stuff to garden with.” Juan’s finger pointed as fast as he talked.

Yes, that Juan sure was a talker. But as he talked, I grew hopeful.
Hopeful because not everything here had to be trashed, removed or discarded.
Hopeful because this meant I too might have a chance at recovering as well.

“Yes, sir. You need a washer because them little uns sure get messy. Let me tell you about this one time that my nephews, Luke and Harry, brought home …”

Juan finished his story and went to get the used washer he recalled seeing sitting over at Shamus and Eva’s place since they got a new one. “A real beauty that one is too! Shamus is right proud of it and likes to point out all the bells and whistles it has.” And off Juan went, still talking a mile a minute. I don’t think it mattered if he had anybody listening or not.

He returned shortly with a pretty dinged up model but beggars can’t be choosers so we set it up and made sure the plumbing worked before starting a load of bedding. He had a door similar to the one barely hanging on and showed me how to replace it. This is definitely a two-person job.

I left Juan to figure out a clothesline with the boards and spool of wire he had also brought back with him while I took the children inside. May needed to finish her handwriting practice sheets and Ice started to get the look. You know the one where things will get really messy unless you get them to the potty chair quick enough. Yeah, that one.

Fortunately, we made it in time.
“Good job, Ice!”

I was quick to compliment May on her letters so she wouldn’t feel left out or overlooked. Bean was so much better at this stuff than me and I missed my wife even more than ever at this very moment.

{knock knock}
Now who? I stepped outside and couldn’t help but smile. It was the mascot for Sim U with a small bucket of swag. “Hope to see you at Saturday’s game when the Llamas take on the Gnomes! You don’t want to miss it!”

As soon as May finished her work, she asked permission before heading down to the water. I could hear her skipping stones and wished I could join her. Some other time I promised myself.

It wasn’t long before I heard her coming back with something she found tangled in the bushes and asking Juan for his help. He explained about taking precautions and not getting overheated as he untangled the fishing line and tested the pole to make sure it still worked properly, then he handed it off to her after giving her a handful of instructions.

Bean, you would have been so proud to see the smile on her face when she brought home that dinky little anchovy she caught.

And yes, Juan identified it. I’ve never been fishing so how would I know what it was. We might need to get some books on identifying fish at some point.

Another trip to the potty chair followed by coaxing Ice to take a few steps before washing my hands in order to fix a meal for us and Juan.

Oops! So glad no one was around to see me as I picked up the hot dog, wiped it off and put it back on the grill. Can’t afford to waste any.

I don’t know when Juan found time to slip a few groceries in the fridge but I truly am thankful to him for all of his help. I know I couldn’t have done this much on my own and I don’t know if I can ever fully repay him for his generosity and willingness to take our family under his wing.

Yes, he’s a talker but Uncle Juan is well on his way to becoming a friend.

Somehow I found myself talking about our circumstances: Bean, our home on Sweetwater Loop, my being laid off because I wouldn’t cut corners to make more profit for the big bosses, the whole enchilada. The higher ups at Llama Corp Shipping Co. strike me as greedy and shady but I didn’t say anything in case Juan knew any of them. Nor did I mention where I had worked. It just seemed safer that way.

Apparently, I can be a talker too.

“Dad, why did you pile the sand here? What is it for?” May asked. I explained about fire safety and dumping sand on any sparks that jump from the grill to the ground. “Oh. I was hoping you’d say you and Uncle Juan would be building a sand box for me and Ice. And maybe a treehouse.” May looked over at us with shining, pleading eyes.

A sand box AND a treehouse. I had no idea how I would find the time, talent or money to make these things much less be able to afford buying them.

“We’ll see what we can do, honey. I have to figure out a way to make money while taking care of us and this house. Those things sound great and I would love for you to have them but it might take a while to get them or we might not even be able to. I’m not saying no. I’m just saying no for right now.”

My heart continued to drop while I had to tell my sweet girl, this little ray of sunshine, no. Bean and I were careful with our money so our children could get what they needed or wanted, within reason, but now … I could barely take care of us without even thinking about the fun stuff.

Juan must have seen the despair in my eyes because he turned the conversation to what kinds of jobs could be done out of the home. “You just need to think outside the box. People love homemade things … things grown in the ground: fresh produce, some of which makes mighty fine nectar … hand-made furniture, fancy doodads like sculptures and paintings …” His words trailed off when he saw the obvious interest in my eyes. “You paint?”

I explained that I dabbled a little bit but never had formal training. At that point, he got up and pulled the newspaper off the top of the pile that would become compost at some point and quickly flipped through it until he found what he wanted to show me.

“Look here. The school has a discount on their Introductory Painting Class, you should go.”

I tried to explain that I couldn’t leave the children and … watched as he pulled out his phone and called Kay Pebble, a high school student who also babysits.

Does this guy know almost everyone in town?

Kay came over and quickly got into a conversation with May about favorite things while keeping an eye on Ice who was playing on the floor nearby.

“Okay, okay, I know when I’m not needed I joked. I’m going to school and will be back soon. Juan, can you stay for a bit and keep an eye on things for me?” This might seem crazy since I just met the guy today but I felt I could trust him and knew my kids would be safe with him around.

While I was gone …

Juan gave a sly wink to Kay and May, telling them he had something to do. When he returned with an obviously well-used easel, May did a happy dance.

“Dad is going to be so surprised! He can paint and then teach me how to and then we can teach Ice too. Thanks, Uncle Juan!” she said as she hugged him.

May came inside to wash dishes before Tad got home and carefully watched while Kay gave Ice his bottle. She asked a couple of questions and felt pretty confident that she could do it too.

May (and Tad!) would have been less pleased if they heard Kay telling Juan that these children shouldn’t be living in these conditions and somebody should call Social Services. They would have felt better when Juan took her to task and told her to mind her own business. “Some folks just need a helping hand to get back up off the ground and that’s what I’m doing! What about you? Will you do your part to help or will you cause further damage with your higher-than-thou attitude? Why I can remember when you were just a little girl and your …”

A little later …
Tad came home and paid Kay for her time, cringing inside at the $75 fee she asked for. He had it, thanks to people stopping by and buying a few of the things he and Juan uncovered when they removed plants and other things. Juan must have spread the word when he went to get the washer earlier that day.

“Thanks for everything, Juan!” he said as they slapped palms in an intricate series of gestures most men seem to innately know. “I don’t know what we … what I … would have done without you. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

“Be good to those little uns and be good to yourself too. You know more than you give yourself credit for. We all need help from time to time and if we can’t turn to our neighbors, then who can we turn to? Call me if you need anything or just want to chat. A meal every now and then might be nice too.” Juan said with a smile and a wave as he headed out the door and on his way.

There’s nothing better than tucking your kids into bed than tucking them in with clean sheets and blankets that smell of laundry soap and the sun.

Tad went to sleep thinking up ideas for paintings while May dreamed of finding ways to help her dad get more money. The backyard is lonely without a treehouse, after all!

Good night from the Pole family.

Introduction << TIN Steps >> Day 2
Introduction explains where the Sims & lot came from as well as why!

9 thoughts on “TIN Steps Day 1

  1. What a wonderful start to the story. Things seem grim, but perhaps meeting Juan was the start of better luck for the Pole Family. I’m glad the family was able to sleep in a warm bed with food in their bellies. They have a long road ahead of them.

  2. I am pretty speechless!!! That’s such a lovely start to the story … I needed a few tissues but there is so much positive shining through that I was able to continue to read without getting too bleary eyed. Can’t wait for the next installment! x
    Thank you so much for using the Pole family and their tin shack as inspiration and sharing your beautiful story!!!

    • Thank YOU very much! How kind of you to say so. ♥ I’ve tried writing a novel a few times over the years and have never gotten very far but with Sims the words seem to flow … these stories are my novels.

  3. What a beautiful beginning! Sorry it took so long to finally read Tin Steps.. I am glad you decided to continue where you left of.. Juan truly lives up to what it means to be a good neighbor or Heaven is missing an angle, either way it is good that he is very generous with his work and time.. Promising beginning!!

    • Thank YOU for reading & commenting! Never a need to apologize … when the time is right, you read and if a story resonates with you GREAT and if it doesn’t, that is OKAY too. I’ve come across this with various fiction authors. Some books of theirs I enjoy and others not so much.

      Am glad you enjoyed the start of the story 🙂 As soon as I saw the build, I knew Twinbrook and this particular lot was where I wished their story to unfold/develop.

      Juan Darer is an interesting character! His personality and house add flavor to this town. I can’t recall if May met him first or if Tad did while I played, but I knew I wanted him to be a returning character. He’s definitely one of the good guys!

Thank YOU for reading & leaving a comment. Both are awe-sim!!!

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