The Summer I Fell in Love


“So, got any big plans for summer break this year?” my best bro Dallas asked me just as I made a rather impressive move in Great Larceny Motor V.

“Don’t you know it! I’m going to finally unlock all the achievements I’ve been missing on the games I’ve had lying around since last Snowflake Day!”

Dallas let out a curse as his car took an unexpected spin-out, which he quickly corrected. “No week of SimsneyWorld this year?”

I let out a snort. “Since the divorce? Yaaaa… pretty sure that ain’t happening.”

“Sucks dude.”

“It’s okay. Staying up all night, sleeping all day, and video games the rest of the time isn’t such a bad way to spend two and a half months.”

“True that— aww shit!”

Right as Dallas was busy cursing at the screen, the door to my dark mancave of a room sounded behind us. Neither of us were willing to take our eyes away from the game to look in my mom’s direction, but given the exasperated sound that came her way, I had a pretty good idea of the disapproving look she was wearing on her face anyway.

“Boys… did you even sleep last night? You realize it’s already nearly noon and you haven’t budged from the last time I checked on you yesterday evening, right?”

There was silence for a long time, before I finally said, “But it’s summer break, Mom.”

She sighed again. I imagined she was pinching the bridge of her nose, the way she does when she’s starting to get annoyed.

“Dallas, I think it’s time for you go home. Nathan, I need to have a chat with you about something.”

I exchanged a quick glance in Dallas’s direction as the console was shut down. He gave me a knowing look back. Whenever a mother said they “needed to chat,” it usually wasn’t good.

“Good luck,” he muttered to me under his breath as he turned to leave. “Thanks for letting me stay over, Mrs. Z,” he told Mom in a far more amicable tone as he let himself out.

The room suddenly seemed incredibly quiet, without the drone of the video game playing in the background.

“Come on, I’ll make some lunch,” Mom said, her expression softening a little.

I stood with my arms crossed at the counter, waiting for the bomb to drop as she went about making Mac ‘n Cheese, looking far too cheerful for my liking.

“So,” she began. This was it. I braced myself for the impact. “Work is sending me to Starlight Shores for a week on business.”

I released the breath I’d been holding. Starlight Shores was a huge city with tons of stuff to do, including the Omnipresent Studios theme park! “And do I get to come along…?”

“It’s for my job, Nathan. The company is paying to send me, but you know I can’t afford a second ticket right now. Besides, you’d be stuck in a hotel most of the time while I’m working anyway. It wouldn’t be worth it.”

“So I get to watch the house for you while you are away?” Honestly, that was almost just as good. Having the house to myself for a week would be pretty sweet!

“Actually… you are going to be staying with your Grandma Finley for that week.”

And there it was. The explosion was worse than I had been expecting, and I couldn’t hide the scowl from my face. “Mom, no! She lives out in the sticks! There is nothing to do out there! When we visited for Snowflake Day that one year she didn’t even have a TV! Please, can’t–”

“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Nathaniel! I think the fresh air and being off those video games for a week will do you some good!”

About as good as a bullet to the head! “Can’t I stay with Dallas if–?”

“No, Nathan. She’s your Grandma! You should value some quality time together while you have the chance!”

There would be no talking any sense into my mom.

By the time the trip to Grandma’s rolled around, I already felt sick to my stomach from the impending lack of my cyber-happy lifestyle.

The scenery on the drive certainly didn’t placate my fears any, either.

“Ugh, why does she have to live out in Hicksville?!”

“Nathan!”

When we stepped out of the car, Mom was sniffing the air pleasantly. “See, the air out here is so nice and fresh!” I took one look at the little cottage and immediately felt my heart sink further. What did I care about the air? All I cared was if they still had cell and wi-fi reception out there!

“Uh, sure Mom…” I said as I frantically attempted to send a text to Dallas about how much this week was going to suck. “Come on, come on, there has to be a signal out here somewhere!”

“Nathan, put down the damn phone and come here to greet your grandma properly!” Mom hissed over her shoulder as she rang the doorbell.

“Mom! It’s so good to see you!”

“You too, Sweetie, you too!”

“I wish I could stay longer, but–”

“I know, you have to go knock a client dead, I wouldn’t expect anything less of you, dear.”

“I hope Nathan isn’t too much trouble, he’s–”

“Oh, you have got to be kidding! First no reception or wi-fi and now this? How am I supposed to play my mobile games with the screen all fucked up?” I cursed as my smartphone slid from my grasp and fell to the ground, the screen shattering.

“Yes, I see. Don’t you worry, dear. We’ll have a great time, I’m sure of it.”

Grandma’s house was as dismal as I remembered. Not a television or a computer to be found. I found my resolve already withering, and I’d only been there for five minutes.

“Do you have anything fun to do around here?” I asked in exasperation.

Grandma Finley’s eyes lit up. “Oh, my boy, but my book collection is my greatest friend! Each novel on that shelf is an adventure that is just waiting for a new explorer to jump into its pages! I’ve gone on several of those adventures many times over the years, and never get tired of them!”

I shrugged my shoulders and rolled my eyes. “I’m not really the reading type, Grandma. I like my action a little more… err… interactive.”

She had an odd gleam in her eye. “If you gave it a try, I think you’d realize it’s more interactive than you think.”

I could only nap for so long before even sleeping was boring, and finally, I felt compelled to look through the books on Grandma’s shelf or I thought I’d surely die of inactivity. One of the books had a dragon on the cover, which I admit caught my eye. It made me think of a JRPG. It was worth a shot.

I pulled the book off the shelf and settled down on the couch, opening to the first page. There were detailed maps in the front, which again made me think of the map screens in the video games I played. “Pern,” the map was labeled.

I was still reading about Dragonriders fighting the deadly Thread falling from the sky when Grandma told me she had made dinner and I was forced to put the book down. But that night, I curled back up with the book in my bed, and read long into the night, until I finally couldn’t hold my eyes open anymore, and drifted off into sleep.

“Your eyes look like you didn’t sleep well,” Grandma Finley noted at breakfast the next morning.

“Ah, it wasn’t the bed, Grandma, I couldn’t put down that book, the one about the Dragonriders! I got to this part about them traveling through time and I just couldn’t stop reading!”

She had a sly grin on her face. “Ah, well that’s understandable. I’ve lost many a night of sleep myself when I had to read ‘just one more chapter,’ which ended up being five, and then ten, and then twenty. I have more of those Dragonrider books, you know.”

“Really? There’s more?”

“Still a whole world for you yet to explore,” she said.

I never found myself feeling bored for the remainder of that vacation. Every day, I’d lay out by the river, lulled by birdsong and the sound of the water, and let myself go on an adventure with one of the books from Grandma Finley’s shelf.

That summer, I became a Dragonrider…

…And fell in love.

And it is a love I still have to this day… the love of reading!


This was written for the August Monthly Short Story Challenge from the Sims forums, which tasked folks to write a story in 500-1500 words using 1-12 screencaps using the theme “Summer Love.” It is a completely stand-alone story, not using any characters from any of my other works. (I came close in words this month at 1,455!)

I had a really hard time coming up with an idea for this month’s theme. I kept thinking, “How is an Ace like me supposed to write a love story?” and my friends that I toss ideas around with kept saying I should do the love of something instead, but I just couldn’t think of what that should be. I had a different idea in my head that I just wasn’t feeling and was just going to do because I was running about of time, when finally this hit me… and you’d think, when I’ve been seeing Summer Reading stuff at the library where I work for the last two months, it would’ve been a no-brainer. Guess it was a case of not seeing the forest for the trees?

I know most people say it is J.K. Rowling that instilled their love of reading, but she was a bit after my childhood (I am old, folks!) For me, when I was a kid, I devoured anything with dragons in it, and noticing this, one day my mom came home with a gift from the bookstore: The Harper-Hall Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey, part of her Dragonriders of Pern series that was targeted to young adults. I quickly finished them and “needed more” but everything else in the series was for adults. I hardly cared about that and started spending all my allowance money to buy a new paperback every week (and I still have them)! I somehow felt like a good friend had died when Anne McCaffrey passed away back in 2011; I continue to read her science fiction novels fondly. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Dragon-Lady.

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About Mastress Alita

I'm a fulltime librarian, a chronic migraineur, a tea addict, and an avid Simmer that writes SimLit and maintains the Stories and Legacies Index, a link directory of SimLit on Wordpress. Though I obviously love cats, I actually don't own one! (Blame my apartment lease for that!) I do have a charming old cockatiel, Kali, that has been my companion for the last seventeen years!
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20 Responses to The Summer I Fell in Love

  1. cathytea says:

    Aw, it’s beautiful! For me, it was The Chronicles of Narnia.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love for books is also a love story it’s the beginning of a passion and when something is passionate, make sure one felt in love, and it’s a change compared to the love between two people, reading about the same theme is annoying.

    When Nathan will told the dragon tails he reads to Dallas, make sure Dallas will be jealous and perhaps Nathan will transmettre the hobby of reading too.

    Your story hides an other reality , we can live disconnected for a certain time,focusing on living with Nature and searching for inspiration elsewhere than video games or in cellphones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Reading was my first love of escapism into another world, but when I was a child, my home didn’t even have a video game system until I was much older! Even now, though I do enjoy games, it’s the stories in them I enjoy, not really playing them, which is why I tend to watch a lot of LP series (make someone else do the work while I can just enjoy the parts I like… the storyline!) Perhaps once a reader, always a reader? ^_~ There really is a passion to it!

      Liked by 2 people

      • About the home I know that too much,I grew up without internet, no computers ,game consoles, no nokias cellphones and even not Minitel and I even didn’t listen to 90’s music at channel 6.When we grow up in the 80’s or in the 90’s , it was not rare people like us.The only times I touched a playstation is was at my childhood friends, and at my family , they had technology I hadn’t.I had my own playstation and my computer when I was a preteen, very later.
        I am not a reader, you rarely see me holding a book except for studies or the books I read are in weird subjects or theatre.However I got a lot of imagination, perhaps too much for bearing a book I don’t know.

        The only thing I can tell you if the fact when something we enjoy, you are always one.Even though , with life issues you have to stop for a while, passion never really dies.

        Reading books is far better for a child development than modern Technology.Reading doesn’t never indoctrinate or hurt your heatlh.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. tales not tails sorry :'(

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Senna says:

    I can only wonder how Nate’s mother will react when she goes to pick him up, and he doesn’t want to leave Grandma’s because he’s having too much fun reading. :p

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lisabeesims says:

    OH I was laughing so hard at his reaction to the news he would be staying at Grandma’s … she looks so sweet! Absolutely delightful read!! My heart was glad when I found out he fell in love with reading!!!! Enchanting story!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lovesstorms says:

    It’s funny how in this day and age, the kids react like Nate. My kids even do it at times and I remind them I can take that toy away at any moment. At times I do and force them to find something else to do. They are at the age where reading is getting fun for them, but because my daughter has some reading issues, it’s a struggle at times. I keep hoping she’ll begin to show a passion for it soon, but the struggle is still evident, though it’s better.

    For me it was Nancy Drew, which sounds cheesy, but it is what it is. I read the original Secret of the Old Clock and fell in love. I also loved The Baby-sitters Club books, too.

    Ok, the story was well-written and enjoyable. I particular love the photo of the suv with the farm and field in the background and the one with the dragons. Excellent job making it completely believable that he fell in love with this series of books because he had literally nothing else to do. It makes me want to take a week’s vacation somewhere to read. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read a lot of Boxcar Children mysteries when I was young… I also remember loving a few standalone novels like The Westing Game and the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. So many good mystery novels for young readers!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it… the dragon screenshots weren’t easy to do but satisfying in the end!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lovesstorms says:

        Yes! Mixed-up files was good too. In fact, I think my kids are probably old enough to read that. I’ll have to get to the library to find it. I’ve not heard of The Westing Game, though.

        I can’t even imagine trying to get the dragon shots. I remember trying to get the right picture for the background of a story I had started but never finished. I ended up using it for the background in my wishacy story instead. Anyway, it took lots of tries and restarts of a specific save file to get the right picture of the kraken attacking my couple. The lengths we’ll go for our stories is incredible. :D

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I SO need to read this series! It’s been on my “To Read” list for quite some time but I’ve just not tackled it. I’m not as familiar with Anne McCaffrey’s stuff as I’d like to be.

    This was such a delight to read. So many kids react like Nathan and feel it’s the end of the world if they don’t have their gadgets to play with. I, myself, would be climbing the walls if I lost internet connection. Haha. Still, though, there’s nothing like a good book. :) For me, it was kind of a toss-up between Nancy Drew mysteries (yeah, hokey but true LOL) and “Chronicles of Narnia.” To this day, I love both mysteries and fantasy as well as other genres. Anyway, it was a real treat for me to see him find a love of reading and to share that with his grandma. Both the husband and I are avid readers and wish the daughter felt the same. It’s, unfortunately, hard for her though due to some learning issues. Maybe one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Heh, I get twitchy without an Internet connection too! But when I was a kid I didn’t have Internet (well, not until I was… 14ish?) so reading and coloring were my main forms of entertainment when I was very young. I think once you *really* fall in love with a book series, it’s a love that sticks with you.

      Like

  8. lisabeesims says:

    Reread .. still loved it <3 such a charming story!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the Dragonrider books! :D This was a really lovely story. I’ve loved reading as long as I can remember, so I don’t know what the first series I got into was – it might have been something by Tamora Pierce.

    Liked by 1 person

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