This airport is hella small. Smaller than any airport I’ve ever seen. There’s one security gate for two airlines. I was on just on one of ‘em.  After walkin out of the secured area , I’m walkin down this large hall towards what looks like is a little bodega shop that sells anything and everythin. Sandwiches, sodas, whole ass meals, little trinkets, magazines, household items…you name it. Has a bright red striped awning an’ the name Makuna’s. An a little seatin’ area. That’s it. Don’t seem like too many flights come through here at all. Surprising for a tropical place like this, you’d think this island would be more of a tourist trap. Seems like sims only come here if they got a reason. To see family or return home after a long trip away, or some business ventures or some shit not particularly for fun. I’m here for none of those reasons. If anything I’m here to figure out who the fuck I am, get away from people and things that are holdin me back. This is a new start for me. One on my terms. Not some bullshit rules based around fear and…whatever else.

A high pitched squeak suddenly made me cringe hard. Musta been draggin’ my feet. Wow it’s dead as fuck in here. Like mad empty. Where is everybody? The only people around are the ones who work here. They all got on black polos wit’ a palm tree on the chest and tan pants. Boring. The sims who were on my flight were long gone. They got the fuck outta here soon as we hit the tarmac. They were all picked up by sims in black suits, wit’ black shades holding up white signs wit’ big black letters spellin’ out names like Mr. Harrison. Ms. Gentry. B. Dillard. Sims of importance I guess. Had to be since they all flew first class. Difference between them and me though? They all had the forethought to have drivers pick them up soon as they got off the plane. An’ here I am, lookin for a cab. Thank the Watcher I’m one of the only ones here, better chances of gettin’ a ride outta here.

I find an exit sign on a wall with some large windows. There’s gotta be a taxi depot or somethin’ out this way. I wonder if they got a sUber pick up here. My phone is in my palm again and I check the app for nearby rides. Nothin. Cool. Hope I’m lucky enough that there’s someone sittin out there.

Wide windows take up one side of the hallway as I make my way to the exit. Palm trees and huge ferns sit next to the glass ceiling that covers the pick up area. It seemed bare out there too. There’s one sim sittin waitin for what I guess is the bus. A few yards away from the taxi depot there’s a man smokin’ a long ass cig, looked like one of them backwoods, standin’ next to a no smoking sign.

Seems like time passes slowly here. It’s only been a few minutes since I got off the plane but I swear it feels like I been in here for hours. Maybe it’s cause Sulani is 4 hours behind what I’m used to, and cause’ it took so long to get here in the first damn place. I hope the jet lag won’t be too bad.

What time is it anyway? I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check the time right before opening my notes app to pull up the address that I was heading too. Huh, only half past two. Wonder what time it is back home in Foxgrove. 

Home……Ma would be makin lunch right about now, and Dad would be fixin some shit around the house, or at the gym. Not before tryin’ to get me to go wit’ him. Ahh…. Can’t think about home. Even thinkin’ about that word makes it feel like there’s a heavy ball in my chest, like it’s tryin to weigh me down and pin me to the floor. Fuckin uncomfortable. I shrug it off. Back to the address– 48-8 Kaav Pelam, Sulani 593280-02.

The real estate agent said it was near the central island of Lani St. Taz and included access to the market and gym. It was cheap as hell too. Two bedrooms, one bath an’ a balcony for eight hundred simoleans a month. Includin’ utilities. Whatever utilities are.

I’m guessing shit like water and heat and shit??? Right? At first they seemed a little less than thrilled to be rentin out to a 19 year old but when I told em I could pay rent 6 months in advance they happily gave me the spot. Seems like that money kinda hard to come around in that part of Sulani. Or maybe I just got so much now that 800 simoleans seems like nothin. 

There was this luxurious lookin’ spot on one of the private islands for one thousand five hundred a month. 3 bedroom, scenic views of the ocean, a personal gym and butler service if you wanted it. But shit looked lonely. What’s the point of a big ole place and it’s just me livin’ in it? This apartment at Kaav Pelam is in one of the last non-gentrified areas in the islands and if I’m bout’ to make this place my home, I need to be in the heart of it. I don’t need nothin’ fancy anyway, just somewhere that I can call my own. 

Well, that and I need to stay lowkey about my dough. Auntie Vi made it clear that unless I want all kinda sims after me, I gotta be real hush about my wealth. Especially in a new place like this, especially a sim like me. Pretty sure there ain’t too many other 19 year old black boys wit 10 billion in the bank that ain’t a rapper or a athlete. Folks like to wonder and gossip. I don’t need all that.

“You’re young and don’t know the world yet Aman. There are a lot of sims like me who would love to take advantage of young bright-eyed sims like you. Don’t give them the opportunity,” her voice echoed in my head as I neared the exit doors. 

I wanted to call her. Tell her about the excitement and fear I was having, but I couldn’t. No one could know where I was. I needed a clean break. Even from her, my twisted savior. At least till I feel settled– An after I get a new phone. I’ don’t trust her to pull the same shit dad did wit that GPS shit.

The doors to the airport exit opened and– Shit I can’t see. Everythin in my line of sight is blasted out like a flash bang from my R.E.F.U.G.E game. Damn its bright as fuck outside. I ain’t never seen the sun shine so hard. Salty air floods my nose as a cool breeze rustles through some nearby palms. It’s hot and muggy, like I stepped full on into a pool. My jacket stuck to my skin uncomfortably, I unzip it with quickness. That only helps a little. 

I mean I’m used to heat but this is nothing like I’ve experienced before–well maybe the closest thing is the beaches in Del Sol. But this place…it feels so… so–my shoulder punches forward as someone bumps into me.

“Yo watch where you goin fam,” my words came out in a annoyed growl.

The sim who hit me turned around with a frown said some shit I can’t understand and gestured behind me. Oh. I’m standin’ in the doorway like a dumbass. I bury my hands in my pockets, and take a step forward, outta the doorway. Lookin’ for a taxi. What the hell that sim say to me? It sounded like simlish but– yeah that wasn’t it. Maxine, the travel agent I talked to told me that most folks in Sulani speak Simlish, but the natives of the island speak in a different dialect that could take some time to get used to. And there were a few different dialects across the island. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t understand dude. I hope it don’t take me too long to get used to it. Well. It might. I’ve always been better with numbers than words. 

A little down the way I spot a bright ass yellow taxi. Two of em. So yellow I swear they tryin’ to compete wit the sun. One was empty. The other had the windows rolled down wit some afrobeat blastin, the driver standin’ outside the taxi leanin on the passenger door like he was waitin for me. 

“Ey you givin rides?” I ask the cabbie. He’ bout as dark as me, maybe a shade or two darker. Wit’ an orange bucket hat and a scraggly goatee. Real thin dude, looked lanky like them lacrosse boys in high school. I bet you he can run fast as fuck though. Them real skinny ones are hella aerodynamic. He nods once, takin’ a long hit of the cig then stompin it out under his shoe. He nods again to the backseat before makin his way round the car to the driver side. I climb in expectin’ it to smell cigs but instead I smell coconuts. Then I peep the air fresher hanging from the rearview mirror. That thing really puttin in work to cover the cigarette smell.

“You roun ere cuz?” the cabbie asked leaning his head back as he adjusted his mirrors.

“Uh. Naw, I’m goin to uh 48-8 Kaav Pelam.”

“You look like you roun’ ere’, who you com from?”

I really can’t understand this dude,  “Yo man, I’m not from ‘round here. I ain’t tryin to be rude but…I don’t understand how ya’ll speak just yet. Real sorry bro.”

The cabbie bust out laughin like he was about to split his side. Then he started wheezin’…Like bro it’s really not that funny. After he finally calmed down he turned towards me before putting the car in gear,

“No worries brudda. You jus ‘ook like you from di islands! Real familia. Jus like dem Rialis up in the mountains’. Nice folk.”

“Nah, def not from here man. I dunno nobody named Rialis,”

The cabbie sucked his teeth, lookin back at me like he didn’t believe me before turning his eyes back to the road.

“Well den. Welcome to Sulani mi friend. May it bring you peace.”

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