Anastacia seemed to spend a lot of time day dreaming these days. The object of her affections was obvious, but pretty inexplicable nonetheless. Hailey in particular took genuine exception to Locke's hair, dress sense, and general lack of respect. But she also knew what it was like to be a teenage girl, and she decided that it would be best to keep quiet. If she forbade Anastacia from seeing her crush, it would only encourage her to become secretive about meeting up with him. Still, she didn't like it.
"She's in there a lot, isn't she?" Miles pointed out one day. Anastacia had locked herself into the bathroom for the fifth time that day, applying make-up and checking her hair. Miles didn't really understand it. Unlike Hailey, he didn't know the first thing about teenage girls. Anastacia, on the surface, was pretty feisty. She loved running, loved spending time outdoors, and had cut her hair boyishly short. Yet she spent endless time primping and prepping herself, as if she was convinced she wasn't pretty enough. It was bizarre behaviour, but in a house filled with four other females, Miles had learnt the fine art of keeping his mouth shut.
One thing he was able to bond with Anastacia over, still, was her running.
She worked out on the treadmill most days after school, and Miles was always eager to give her pointers (and cheer enthusiastically when she hit personal best times) once he had come home from work.
She no longer needed or wanted his help with her homework, and Miles looked forward to these times as he still caught glimpses of the sweet little girl he had unimpressively coached through Algebra problems some years before.
Anastacia, for her part, knew that her parents and her little sister didn't approve of Locke. That was part of the appeal. He was a self-styled bad boy, and Anastacia figured that she was supposed to go for bad boys over nice ones. That's what other girls her age did. Cool girls, girls who hung out at bars with band members and wore cool clothes.
One evening, Locke phoned her up. "Hey, gorgeous, want to be incredibly lame and go and sing some karaoke?"
Anastacia bit her lip. It was quite late, and she was sure that her parents would say no if they found out. She lowered her voice so anyone listening outside the bedroom wouldn't hear. She was sure Jenny would tell on her if she got the chance. "I'd love to! Meet you in 30?"
As she was tip-toeing out of her room, her mum yelled from the kitchen: "Ana, check that Chloe is okay. Does she need a bottle?"
Anastacia rolled her eyes and headed into the small nursery next door. Baby Chloe was wide awake but peaceful, staring up with wide eyes from her crib.
"You're alright, aren't you?" she asked, not really one for baby talk. Chloe sniffled a little bit, and Anastacia leant over to plant a kiss on her soft cheek.
"Yeah, you're fine. One day, Chloe, you'll get a super cool boyfriend too, and everything will be awesome for you as well." Chloe continued to stare up at her big sister, confused. and Anastacia sighed. "Never mind. See you later, little one."
It was dark by the time she got to the karaoke bar. Locke was leaning against the counter, smirking slightly. "Normally I'm the one that leaves girls waiting."
Anastacia blushed. "Sorry. Mum was being lame."
"Your mum is hot, so I forgive her."
Anastacia punched his arm slightly. Sometimes Locke made jokes that really weren't very funny. Well, most of the time he made jokes that weren't very funny. She wasn't really sure why he had the effect on her that he did. The other girls at school swooned over him, and she did feel honoured when he paid attention to her, but sometimes she looked at him and she didn't think he was even that good-looking? But that was clearly insane, because he was so cool, and was going to be in a rock band and play Bridgeport and all the other big cities, and she would be his glamorous muse who he wrote songs about and dedicated his album sleeve notes to. She was sure this was how it would happen.
Well, maybe he wouldn't be the lead singer in the rock band, but he did play the guitar, so her plan was still a possibility. Anastacia had to look around the room a few times, hoping that nobody from school could see them. The faces he was making were a bit weird. It was lucky that his hair was so cool, and covered some of his face.
She did like it, however, when he stared deep into her eyes. Maybe this is what love feels like, she thought dreamily.
Once they finished singing, Locke insisted they did this thing called 'ironic dancing' which involved dancing as stupidly as they could to the weird couple who had taken their place on the karaoke machine.
"Locke, don't look now," Anastacia whispered, "But I think that guy wants to eat that lady!"
The man looked across, eyes glittering unnaturally in the shadows. "Act normally, keep dancing," she continued to whisper. "I think he might want to eat you now..."
"Why's he wearing a beekeeper's hat?!" Locke asked. They tried not to giggle.
"Keep dancing," Anastacia advised him. "He'll look away soon."
That's what she really liked about Locke. When he loosened up a bit, he was fun, and did make her laugh. When he was like this, she felt she could be more himself around him. She tipped her head back, letting the music pulse through her, and when she looked up Locke was staring at her.
"You do realise you're the prettiest girl in our year?"
Anastacia shuffled her feet, unsure what to say to that. She didn't think it was true, but she was flattered that Locke thought so.
"Thank you," she eventually managed. "You're the coolest boy in our year."
"Exactly. You want to go to the prom with me?"
Anastacia felt her heart beating quickly. She'd assumed she'd be one of the many single teenagers going alone to the prom, that Locke would ask one of the other girls he hung around with that were always fawning over him. She nodded quickly. "I'd love to."
"Cool. It should be a good night. Wear something pretty, alright?"
He leant forward, pecked her quickly on the lips, and disappeared out of the door. Anastacia felt breathless and giddy. This was the best moment of her life!
Hailey reluctantly took Anastacia into town the week after to buy her a new dress for the prom, as well as getting her hair fixed up. Anastacia was insistent that she had to look "perfect", and whilst Hailey wasn't thrilled that it was Locke she was going to the effort to impress, she knew how important prom night was.
Miles went to the slightly unnecessary expense of splashing out on a stretched limo for Anastacia, who felt embarrassed to be sitting in it all on her own, as Locke had told her he would meet her at the prom venue.
But she also felt excited, butterflies fluttering in her stomach. She hoped that Locke liked the dress. Her mum had muttered mutinously about the price, but it was by far the prettiest one in the shop, and Anastacia wanted to feel like a princess tonight, so that Locke wouldn't regret asking her.
She navigated the stone steps of City Hall in her heels. They higher than she was used to - usually she just clomped around in high-top traners. It was a beautiful evening, and maybe her and Locke would be able to go down to the beach once prom was finished, and watch the stars together. She smiled in anticipation, goosebumps prickling her arm.
When she reached the big, grand doors, she pushed them open and entered. What she saw inside, however, made her stomach drop immediately.
Later that night, Anastacia returned home with a tacky plastic crown and smudged mascara on her cheeks. It hadn't been the best night of her life, by any means. Instead, it had almost certainly been the worst. She hoped her family wouldn't ask her about it. She didn't want to start crying again.
Instead of going inside, she hung around in the garden for a while, hoping the light upstairs would go off, signifying that her parents had gone to bed. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a shimmering light, and she turned around, gasping sharply at what she saw. It was the second surprise of the night, but this time, it wasn't at all unwelcome.
She'd heard her father talk before about a mysterious night light that sometimes awoke him from his sleep, but they'd all laughed at him and told him he was getting senile as he grew older. Now, with clarity, Anastacia realised what he'd meant by it. The unicorn reared up in front of her, but she wasn't scared. She knew this creature wouldn't hurt her.
"H-hello..." she stammered. She gently reached out and touched the unicorn's nose. It allowed her to run her hand up and down, feeling the heat and energy beneath her fingertips. And as she stroked the soft fur, she realised that the hurt and pain and humiliation she had felt tonight was fading out of her, ebbing away until she wondered why she had been so upset by a stupid, insignificant, arrogant boy.
The unicorn looked down at her passively, and if it had been able to talk, Anastacia was certain she knew what it would have told her. Don't worry. Everything will be fine.
She smiled up at it. "Thank you." With a quick nod of its head and a snort, the unicorn backed away until its ethereal glow faded into the darkness.
The next day, Anastacia didn't give a second glance to the crown as she headed to the bathroom. She'd won Prom Queen because people had thought that she had come with Locke. She didn't care anymore, and one day she'd get round to giving that loser a piece of her mind.
In the kitchen, Hailey and Jennifer were eating cookies that Jennifer had baked on her little toy oven. "How many calories in one of these?" Hailey asked. Jennifer looked at her and shrugged. "I don't know, but they taste good, right, mummy?"
"Yes. That's the problem."
"Want me to put on the washing?" Anastacia called over.
"Thank you, darling, that would be very helpful. How did the prom go?"
"Not so great. But I won Prom Queen, if you want to try on the crown, Jenny?"
"Crowns are for insecure people," Jennifer pointed out wisely. Anatascia laughed.
"You're right. You want to hang out today, squirt?"
Hailey smiled to herself. She didn't think the family would be seeing much of Locke anymore, and she couldn't say that she particularly minded.
Notes: I guess this signifies the point where I started taking a lot more pictures, hence the more cohesive story in this chapter. I hope that continues! I've actually stopped playing now until I'm caught up with blog updates, as I think it's harder for me to work out stories when I'm playing so far ahead of what I'm doing on here. So hopefully I'll be able to get the next few updates out quite quickly, although I've been so busy in real life that I'm not sure how possible that will be! I enjoyed writing this chapter. Anastacia is a bit of an oxymoron in my game; she's very tomboy-ish, really into athletics and outdoorsy activities, but she was all over Locke as a teenager despite the fact that he treated her pretty badly. She also had the worst prom ever and got about 3 bad moodlets, even though she won Prom Queen. But I loved that she came home to the unicorn in the garden. It was a really special in-game moment.