Prologue- Withered

Warning: depressing.
On the bright side, this is as dark as it’ll get. Nowhere to go from here but up ⬆🐔

“I’m sorry, Kip. We can’t afford a raise this year. These are hard times – we all have to sacrifice something to get by. Do you understand?”

“Don’t worry, Kip will take care of it. He won’t mind. It’s the least that you can do for us after messing up, right?”

“Oh, and I need you to come in on Sundays for a while. Next month, too. You don’t mind, right?”

“Ugh, of course not. Who’d want to date him? That’s disgusting.”

“Get a grip. It’s just a pet – it’s not like your child died. You need to get this done by tomorrow. Don’t be a burden, Kip.”

“I said all approvals go through me! How hard is that to understand?! You useless, blithering idiot!”

“Worthless. It’s types like you that won’t last long here.”

He’d gazed at that sixty-foot drop just a little too long.

Kip couldn’t do anything right.

It didn’t matter what he did. It made no difference how long he stayed after hours, or how well he helped others with their tasks. It didn’t matter how hard he tried. Kip still disappointed those around him. He still wasn’t good enough. He was still making mistakes, messing up and ruining even the simplest tasks. He was still a waste of space. Barely good enough to file away data.

And, as it turned out… he couldn’t even do that properly.

Egbert was right.

He couldn’t do anything.


Why was he still around?

“My, you look positively withered. Whatever is the matter, dear?”

Kip hadn’t even noticed the sound of approaching footsteps until he looked up. Lifting his head took an inhuman amount of effort, but when he did, he was surprised to see a kind face looking back at him. He had expected to see a store clerk, or maybe an officer coming to shoo him away.

But instead, Kip could see yellow. It was a vibrant colour, the colour of sunflowers, cutting through the dull grey around him like a single ray of sunshine.

An elderly woman stood before him, her dark eyes filled with concern. She was wearing a bright yellow skirt and green coat, which made her stand out even more against the drab surroundings of Bridgeport. Kip could see her slowly taking in the scene before her.
“Are you all right, love? You look pale.”

Kip wasn’t used to people asking about his well-being. He wasn’t used to people calling out to him at all. So when the woman in the bright yellow skirt, green vest, and sunflower earrings approached him with concern, he automatically tried to brush it off, feeling like a burden.
“It… it’s nothing. Sorry to worry you,” he mumbled, his eyes automatically trailing back downwards. He didn’t want to burden anyone with his problems, especially a stranger.

“Hm. I see. Do you mind if I join you, dear?”

Kip didn’t answer – but he didn’t have to. The woman did not wait for permission, plopping herself down right next to him as he glanced away uncomfortably. From the corner of his eye, he could see her looking at him intently.
Then, her expression fell.

“Sweetheart. Talk to me. What’s the matter?”

He’d had a kind old grandma, once.
She’d looked nothing like this woman. But when he’d been a child, whenever Kip ended up crying, or with a scraped knee, whenever his emotions ended up getting the better of him… his grandmother looked at him in exactly the same way.

He couldn’t really believe it. Here he was, a complete stranger to this woman, and yet she showed him more concern and care than anyone had in a long time. Her words echoed in his mind, and he realized that he had never really talked to anyone about how he was feeling. He had always kept his struggles to himself, thinking that no one would care. But this woman’s genuine worry and compassion proved him wrong.

Someone did care.

It was as if a dam had been opened, and all of his pent-up emotions came rushing out at once. Kip couldn’t stop himself.
“I… I can’t do anything right,” he mumbled. “I’m a burden on everyone at the company and I keep making mistakes. Really big ones. No matter what I do. It just… it never works. No matter how hard I try.”

“I’m… so tired.”

“I… see.”

“What’s your name, love?”
“Kip. Kip Booth,” he replied, his voice quiet and hesitant. She nodded at him in response.
“I think I understand your situation. That must be very hard on you, Kip.”
Kip didn’t respond, unsure of how to answer. But he didn’t need to. The woman next to him kept talking, her voice soft and gentle.
“Would you like some advice from an old woman?”

Kip gave a hesitant nod, not entirely sure what to expect. He had heard advice before from colleagues, all of which never seemed to work for him. He braced himself for yet another unhelpful suggestion about time management or exercise or waking up earlier. However, to his surprise, the woman’s advice was different.

“I wasn’t joking when I said you look withered, dear. I think you’re long overdue for a change.”

“I’ve… I’ve tried. It’s not working-“
“Not that kind of change, love,” the woman said, gently interrupting him. “I mean a change in soil. Sometimes, the problem isn’t with us, but with the surroundings that we find ourselves in. Ol’ Agatha knows – Poppy flowers like you don’t grow well in concrete,” she continued. “You need lots of earth and sunlight.”
“Of course. All living things need sunlight. How often have you been outside lately?”

Kip didn’t answer. He didn’t have to. It seemed like she already knew the answer.
“How would you feel about taking a holiday?” Agatha asked, smiling. “You probably haven’t had time off in months.”
“I haven’t, but-”
“Wonderful,” she said, not allowing him to finish his sentence. “That’s a good place to start. I know a lovely little place that would be just perfect for you. It’s called Henford-on-Bagley. It’s a lovely little town with lots of greenery and a cosy pub. And no nasty concrete anywhere. You’d love it. How would you feel about visiting there?”
“I don’t think-”
But once again, she didn’t let him finish, playfully interrupting Kip mid-word.
“Now, now. Hush, love. You trust ol’ Agatha on this.”

Part of him wanted to. It was a small, severely neglected part that was on the verge of snapping – but a much larger part immediately silenced those thoughts, smothering them with guilt.
“I… I don’t know,” he muttered. “We’re right in the middle of the busiest season. I can’t just… It’s not allowed to… they need me,” he concluded, awkwardly looking away. He could see Agatha nod at him from the corner of his eye.
“I’m sure they do. But right now is not about what they need, sweetheart. It is about what you need.”

“And I think we both know that it’s not concrete.”

At that moment, Kip could suddenly feel his pocket start to buzz. It was the alarm he had set for the end of his break, signalling that it was time for him to return to work. He felt a twinge of anxiety, knowing that he should leave immediately.

“I’m sorry, Agatha. I have to go back to work,” Kip said, giving the elderly woman an apologising smile. “It’s been really nice talking to you.”
Even as he spoke, he felt the urge to respond to work emails and check his schedule, the thought of taking a holiday promptly slipping away into the background of his mind. Agatha’s frown returned.
“Of course, dearie. Off you pop. But think about what ol’ Agatha said today, all right?”
“…all right. I will.”

“That’ll be six simoleons.”

“Anything else?”
“No… no, thank you,” Kip said, trying to smile politely. He got a cold, uncaring stare in return.
“Aight. Enjoy your coffee. Come back soon or whatever.”

Kip sheepishly grabbed the drink and energy bar, having just finished paying at the register. He knew he shouldn’t snack this much. He could probably stand to lose a few pounds, too. But he couldn’t help it. Sugar was the best thing to keep him going during the week.

It wasn’t until he’d already turned around, ready to exit the building and start his walk back to the office, that Kip noticed something he hadn’t before.

His eyes fell on a small bouquet of sunflowers in a vase. The colour contrast was staggering. They were so vibrant and cheery, standing out among the drab supermarket surroundings. Kip could feel himself being drawn to them. At first, he didn’t really realise why—

“Would you like some advice from an old woman? I think you’re long overdue for a change.”

He hadn’t noticed.

Kip hadn’t realised that, with her kind words and gentle expression, Agatha had planted something inside of him. Something that hadn’t been there before. A tiny seed of change, slumbering and waiting to be watered and grow.

He was so tired.


He couldn’t.

Kip couldn’t just leave them behind for so long. They were counting on him. He had deadlines to keep- if he didn’t, Kip would drag down everyone around him. He’d get yelled at. He’d get humiliated in front of the whole office again. He couldn’t be a burden – he just had to work harder.

He just…

“Right now, it is about what you need.”

Deep down, Kip knew that Agatha was right. He really was withering. Slowly but surely, day by day. If he kept going like this, then eventually… there would be nothing of him left.

He’d never had a stranger care about him that much.
Kip hadn’t received that much kindness in a very, very long time.

As Kip stared at the sunflower in front of him, eyes fixated on the yellow of the leaves as he was lost in thought… that little seed, that Agatha had so carefully planted…

Slowly began to sprout.

“Actually… do you sell train tickets here?”

“Sure do. Where you goin’?”
“Henford. Henford-on-Bagley.”

“I, uh…”

“I think I’m going on a trip.”

16 thoughts on “Prologue- Withered

  1. ‘This is the story of a man named Stanley…’ Oops, I mean Kip : P Hey, working Sundays and zero pay rises aren’t so bad, Kip! Ha! Haha! HAHAHAHA *cries* Kip should beat up his entire workplace. On second thought, both the overworked office worker and the overworked till woman should both join forces and funds and both fuck off to the country. They look like they could both do with a break. XD

    Here we go! We’re fucking off to the country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bwahaha, Office Stanley was and will forever be the placeholder name while I was setting things up. 🤣 I don’t know if beating up the entire office is a good idea (those concrete walls hurt 💥), but the girl behind the register can definitely use a break, herself.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your wordless pictures at the beginning of the chapter. They are so talkative. From the barren buildings, the endless motorway interchanges to the dreary office landscape.
    Off you go Kip. Everything can only get better from now on ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have personal experience with that exact office, those motorways and the barren buildings. It was depressing to look at and I couldn’t wait to take him away from there once I was done screenshotting. Here’s to much more colourful chapters in the future. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is beautiful!! It’s incredible to see your storytelling prowess in a different setting 😍

    The drab, desaturated, and unfeeling opening shots, plus the uniform repetitive motifs like the buildings, the traffic lanes, the windows, and the chairs beautifully mirror Kip’s misery and drudgery. (Kip looking at his dog’s picture hit me especially hard 😭) (Also, I lol’ed at the guy playing Blicblock 😆)

    But then Agatha hops in with a burst of welcoming color, evoking lovely gardening metaphors (changing soil! looking withered! planting seeds!) And then seeing that final re-saturated shot fills me with such hope! 😊

    (Haha I feel like I can learn so much from reading and analyzing your stories 😄)

    Looking forward to more!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you. I have to admit it was odd to not have to manually edit out all of the modern things for a change 😆 wait, I don’t have to remove all the cell phones? The street lights can stay? I DON’T have to blur out all the windmills?! 😱🤣

      I am going to miss all the medieval cursing, though. Maybe I can sneak in a few here and there…

      There is always that one guy not doing anything and just playing Blicblock all day. In every office. Guaranteed. 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this! Your use of desaturated shots and the black and white flashbacks really made me feel the depressive mood, and I loved how the saturation gets turned up in the last few pictures as he decides to leave, it feels so hopeful ❤️ I’m looking forward to following this (while I try to find the time and energy to catch up on Tales of Camelot from the beginning… oops! But at least I can get in on the beginning on this one.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi hi, glad to have you along for the ride! 😁 The human brain is odd; everything is so bleak when it’s wrapped in depression and everything is so vibrant when seen through a lens of happiness. I’m glad that showing that through saturation worked as well as it did 😊

      Haha, ToC is a beast to catch up on. The number of chapters there has gone into triple (!!! 😳) digits already and still has a few to go before the end. Both stories have been fun to make so far though 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My idea of an absolute nightmare is leaving the city for the countryside, but I feel for Kip. Hopefully, the move and getting away from a toxic work environment will do him wonders. Poor guy – to be so abused by those at his work and still think that he can’t leave because it’s the busiest season?! Who cares if it’s busy? His coworkers are supposed to support him, not trash him and not say ridiculous things like “you don’t mind, right?” Of course, people mind the things they’re saying and doing.

    Like everyone else, I like your use of colors in these screenshots. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that’s fair. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea 🤭 poor Kip has been trained by his environment in such a way that he can no longer see how toxic it is. Fingers crossed that he realises that in the future 🤞

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Kip, and I’m sorry to say that things have not been going well. Kip is a great pet and we all love him dearly, but we can’t afford a raise this year. We need to make the most of the time we have left and find ways to make ends meet. On Sundays, Kip can come in for a while and we can all have fun together.


  7. So… I saw your link in the Art of Sims Storytelling thread when you were explaining how to make image links, and I just had to click on it even though my list of simlit I want to read is already long enough to start making comparisons to the distance to the moon and back, and I still haven’t caught up on reading Camelot, and I have so much work I need to do on Seventeen & Maldusk right now, but I figured I’d just go check it out real quick… and…

    … and…

    … and…

    OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME! I am already completely hooked on this story. Kip has already endeared himself to me. In so many ways. My heart broke for him with the overheard comments. Yes, Kip, leave that dreary city! Leave that terrible job and those nasty coworkers. Get out of there!

    Your mood setting with silent screenshots and well chosen use of color is stunning. I can really see how all that time working on Tales of Camelot has paid off. I want to put this chapter in a frame and hang it on the wall for inspiration.

    I am very excited to see where this goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment ended up in spam! Bad wordpress! Bad!

      Haha, I know that feeling. There’s loads of great simlit out there and I want to read it all, but the longer I wait, the bigger the mountain becomes and the more I feel like “gah, I need more time for that one”, and the longer it gets postponed 😅

      Kip seems to have won a number of hearts with his prologue. Let’s hope Henford is kinder to him than Bridgeport was ❤

      Thank you! ToC has definitely helped with improving my screenshot abilities a bit 😄 I hope you enjoy the ride! It's meant to not be quite as much of a rollercoaster as Camelot, but hopefully it'll be entertaining anyway 😊


  8. I didn’t realize I needed to read this today, but I did. As always, the screenshots are gorgeous, but I love the use of color and your staging; it really helped me fall into the story.

    God, don’t we all need an Agatha telling us to take care?

    I’m in love with this story so far ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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