Saturday, Simtember 10, 2416 | Silverton Estate | Bay City, Califorsimia
Water. It can bring life. It can cause death. The deadly beauty of an element we cannot live without. Perhaps that’s what attracted me to the water’s edge. The crystal clear cove promised escape… and much needed answers. My fingers perfectly sliced through the surface as I dove into my impending peril. Suddenly the clarity of the water was muddied by swirls of dirt and sand. I found myself gasping for breath as my arms hung limply at my sides and my legs refused to kick to safety. Once my hands did move, I clutched at my throat wildly. Water. It would be the death of me… just like the uncle I never knew.
My arms flailing, I sat up with a shriek, choking for a breath.
“Oh thank heaven,” I breathed a sigh of relief as I fell back on my elbows to support my weight.
I was in my new bedroom at my great-grandmother’s estate. I was safe. Inhaling musty air was never so refreshing. It was only a dream. I glanced down at the sea of blue surrounding me. Suddenly, my comforter wasn’t so comforting. I tossed it rapidly aside. The boards gave a gentle moan as my feet touched the floor. I grimaced. I could hear the sound of running water. That’s odd. Stepping forward, I walked into the adjoining bathroom.
The water was already running into the porcelain tub. I frowned as my knees buckled. Water. Weird. I wonder if this is why I was dreaming about drowning… because I could hear the water running in here. I wonder who started it. I figured Bea or my mother had probably begun a bath for me, but if so, where did they go?
I hesitantly twisted the handles, stopping the flow of lava-hot water. Despite my unnerving dream, I really couldn’t remember the last time I showered. Hygiene hadn’t been a top priority for me. I shed my night clothes and slipped into the bath.
The heat was soothing to my still aching muscles. I examined my surgical scars on my abdomen, wondering when I wouldn’t see the marks anymore. They weren’t terribly ugly, not like the bruises and stitches on my face. I gingerly fingered the rough surface wondering what really happened. I never did get answers about the tavern incident and why there was a car in there in the first place. The Wolf something, right? I asked myself internally as I splashed around in the bubbles. I’d have to go back there or follow up with the police if I wanted the truth.
There was another more pressing need for the truth though. First, I planned to ask my mother about the spectacle in the attic from last night. I gulped hard and slid down in the water, resting my head against the edge of the tub. I still couldn’t believe how stupid and how brave I’d been walking up there late at night all alone. Despite my scare, I still wanted answers. I was going to get some.
“Kass, good morning,” she said, a smile on her lips and excitement in her eyes. “Your oven still works.”
“Yeah,” was the only thing I could think of saying.
“Come come, my daughter, sit and eat,” Mamma offered, waving toward the table. “Wait!” she whirled around. “I’ll get plates.”
“I’m not hungry,” I grunted, plopping down at the dining room table.
“Nonsense,” Mamma banged around in a few cupboards. “It’s been a long time since dinner. You should eat, gattina.”
Somehow the “little cat” nickname grated on my nerves this morning. I wasn’t sure whether to be angry or just annoyed at my mother. Mostly, I was confused.
“Mamma, can we talk about last night?”
“Sure… uh… ah… ha! I found a plate! You ready to eat?”
“No, I don’t want anything. Thanks.”
“What about toast?”
“Or orange juice.”
“A cup of coffee.”
Coffee sounded lovely, but my mother’s idea of my favorite morning beverage was mud sludge, so I wasn’t keen on the idea.
“Uh, sure,” I shrugged.
Mamma quickly began scooping coffee grounds into the paper-lined basket and poured a pot of water inside the coffee maker. She fixed herself a plate of burnt waffles and sat it on the table across from me. The coffee maker gurgled in the background.
“Are you really going to eat those, Mamma?” I said incredulously.
“Of course. If I didn’t, it would be a waste,” Mamma said lightly.
“Okaaay… I guess they look pretty appetizing,” I tried hard to avoid the appearance of sarcasm.
Mamma either didn’t notice or chose to ignore my comment.
“So what are your plans for today?” Mamma asked, taking a bite of her food.
I winced so glad she hadn’t forced a plate on me. “Mamma, I want to talk about what happened last night. What happened upstairs in the attic. What was that place? What about the poster?”
“Oh don’t act dumb!”
“Seriously, Kass, that isn’t a way to talk to your mother. Have you seen Clark by any chance?”
“Seriously Mamma, you’re avoiding the subject.”
“I suppose,” Mamma sighed softly.
“What are you keeping from me?” I questioned. “I know there’s something you’re not telling me. You’ve been acting a little off since you got here and now last night there’s a poster with you in the attic with Bella Goth… the Bella Goth, in my great-grandmother’s attic and some sort of weird shrine to you two. Who lit the candles and left the flowers? I mean, that’s totally weird. And then there was a woman up there too. First she’s there and then she’s gone.”
“Kass, you’re overreacting,” Mamma said calmly.
“No, I’m not. Wait… the girl in the attic… she was older than me… I saw her… is she…” I trailed off. I almost couldn’t say the words. “…my sister?”
“What in Simterra are you talking about?” Mamma pushed back from the table and waved her hands around.
“Nonna told me. Before I left with dad last summer. About you. I mean, I knew you’d been here with great-grandma Celestia, but then she was lecturing me about Gage and I…” I trailed off, and then quickly added, “…which was harmless, by the way…”
“I know,” Mamma interrupted.
“And then she says something about you getting pregnant at seventeen.”
My words hung cold and limp in the air. Mamma’s eyes widened with surprise. Then her face fell, her expression saddening, and there was a moistness glistening around her eyes.
“Nonna told you I was pregnant?” she whispered shamefully, looking at her hands.
“Yes… I mean… before me… right?” I pried. “Mamma, what happened?”
My brain ran wild with speculation. Part of me felt guilty, but the other part was curious.Did Mamma have an affair? No, wait… Nonna had said she was seventeen. That was too young. She wouldn’t have been married to my father. Then who? Who got Mamma pregnant? Is that why she came to stay with my great-grandmother here? What happened to the baby? What happened to the father?
“Well, you’re old enough to know now,” Mamma spoke after a long silence. Her words were punctuated and deliberate. “I was very young. I was living in Oakland with my parents… and his name was Milo. He was so sweet to me. He would bring me jelly-filled doughnuts to school because they were my favorite. Your Nonna’s housekeeper at the time would only feed us bran flakes and bananas for breakfast.” Mamma shook her head and a small smile touched the edge of her lips. “The doughnuts were the only real sugary thing I’d get to eat. Your grandmother was very strict about our diets.”
I nodded, noting she said “us” and “our.” I wondered if she was talking about my uncle.
“He was good to Tino too, helping him with his homework, walking him home from school so he wouldn’t be bullied, and taking him to baseball games on the weekends.”
I sighed, and leaned back, wondering if I should’ve avoided prying.
“He talked about a new life for us after high school. We could go live in a cabin in the mountains away from city life. He wanted to build us a home in Simtennial’s Boulderado Mountains. I couldn’t imagine living way out in the middle of the woods, but he loved it. He said I’d love it too… the fresh mountain air, the scent of pine needles, the newly fallen snow in winter…I think I would’ve loved it because I loved him.”
“Your grandparents went to Simnadia for the weekend. The housekeeper was supposed to be home, but she wasn’t. She had left a note saying she was at the store and to take my brother to the community pool and she’d meet us there. Milo stopped by. He had picked up the movie Poltergeist Parade. I wasn’t big on horror films, but it was one of Robert Kim’s earlier movies and Bella Goth played the teenage victim. I adored Robert Kim and his sexy abs…”
I blushed. It was hard to think about my mother liking an actor or someone other than my father or Clark.
“It gave me an excuse to snuggle with Milo on the sofa. We started watching. It was horrifying, of course, but the scarier it got, the closer Milo held me. He was safe. I liked that about him. The movie ended and we… well…” Mamma trailed off.
She threw her hands up in the air and smiled sadly. “We were two teenagers in love with hormones left alone on a Friday afternoon. What did anyone think was going to happen?” She shook her head vigorously. “I never would’ve done it if I had known what would happen to Tino.”
I stared at her blankly. So that’s what happened? I wanted to hug her but my body wouldn’t move.
“By the time we remembered him, it was too late. We were running up to the pool with the fire and police and the ambulance outside the gates. My brother… gone from this life… and all because I couldn’t remember to pick him up…” she dropped her head in shame and cried.
I reached across the table and laid my hands on top of hers. “I’m so sorry, Mamma…” I whispered.
“I was terrified of what my parents would think. It was all my fault. No lifeguard on duty. Oh Tino! Mi dispiace tanto, fratello. Mi dispiace tanto, fratello.”
Oh Mamma! I felt a tear slide down my cheek. He knows you’re sorry. Tino, your brother, knows you’re sorry and it’s not your fault. I couldn’t bring myself to speak. I just let Mamma lay her wet cheeks on my hands and cry. She continued to speak in Simtalian phrases, her broken heart evident in her words. This was much different than the version I had been told as a child. That Mamma had been on the phone when her brother drowned. I understood why she hadn’t told me the truth. After a few minutes, she lifted her head, wiped her tears, sniffled, and picked up her fork. I leaned back across the table.
“Mamma, I’m sorry. You don’t have to tell me, if you don’t want to,” I offered kindly.
“No, no,” she took a bite of her burnt waffles. “It’s okay. It was a long time ago. I came to live with my nonna and seven months later, I miscarried.”
I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. Not only did Mamma lose her baby brother, but she lost the baby, a product of hers and Milo’s love. She must have been devastated.
“I never told Milo and I never saw him again. After I… I…”
“It’s okay, Mamma, take your time.”
Her fork hovered in the air and she smiled at me, but her eyes were far away, far beyond anyplace I could reach her. I waited patiently.
“He tried calling me once when I was back east at college, but I never returned his call. I took a job working with horses after I finished my bachelors degree. My roommate told me it was therapeutic. I didn’t stay there long. I worked at an animal shelter after grad school and then I tried my hand at photography. I came to Sunset Valley to teach at the school here and went to Lucky Palms one spring break and met Howard, of course…”
“Yes,” I nodded.
“Oh Kass,” Mamma dropped her head again, the shame burning in her cheeks. “I should’ve told you years ago.”
“About Tino? No, Mamma, it’s okay,” I reassured her, laying my hands to rest on my lap. “I understand why you didn’t tell me.”
“No, I should’ve told you,” Mamma wailed.
“Oh Mamma, seriously, it’s okay…” I lowered my voice and tried to get her to make eye contact.
“No I should’ve told you…” Mamma said quietly for the third time, her voice oddly calm, staring at her plate. “…about your real father.”
2.15 Part 2 Coming Soon!
- What did Amy mean about Kass’s real father? Is Howard not Kass’s dad?
- What other secrets is Amy keeping? What secrets is the Silverton Estate holding?
- How does Bella Goth play a role in all this?