Warning: The chapter includes content that may be disturbing and upsetting to some readers, including mention of rape and attempted suicide. If these are triggers for you, please refrain from reading. If you are a victim of rape or are contemplating suicide, there are resources listed at the bottom of this post for you.
Tuesday, Simtember 13, 2416 | Silverton Estate | Bay City, Califorsimia
As much as I wanted to know more about Bella Goth and her connection to my great-grandmother and mother, I was falling asleep. I tucked the book beneath my pillow and flopped over on my side. I didn’t even bother changing or taking my shoes off before my eyes closed and I was no longer conscious.
When I awoke, I was surprised to find it after five o’clock. I had slept for almost the whole day. I must’ve been tired. I blinked, sat up, and turned on the light. I strained my ears. No shrieking or snoring.
After a moment to allow my brain to adjust, I pulled the diary from beneath my pillow and flipped to the page I had finished last.
Sulsulá, 7th of Simuly, 2396 C.E.
There were entries missing… either that or Bella didn’t write on those days, I surmised.
I have obtained employment. I am lucky too. The woman I am working for did not ask questions. I told her my name was Laura. I think she believed me.
Her name is Nadia Nobles. She told me I could start immediately. She has a food cart and she works at the cafe at the community center. Her arthritis has prevented her from washing dishes by hand. I offered and she said she couldn’t pay me much, but she could pay me in Simos. I am relieved she didn’t say direct deposit.
Nadia is a sweet, portly lady in her mid-to-late fifties. She has skin the color of milk chocolate. I am envious. I would love her beautiful brown skin color. Then people would stop looking at me like Bella. Then I could truly be Laura.
Sometimes as I wash dishes I pretend I am Nadia’s daughter. We live in a cozy apartment near the community center and I travel around town with her feeding people from our food truck. Nadia fixes me a cup of hot tea and toast with honey for my upset stomach. We sit in our pajamas at the kitchen table and she shares her life stories.
My hands slip in the soap and my nails hit the metal basin and I am reminded that I am not the daughter of Nadia Nobles, but the daughter of Jocasta Bachelor.
I nearly passed out today, feeling the heat of the day reaching through the windows like claws grasping my forehead and refusing to release me. Nadia helped me stand to my feet and then she fixed me a pineapple juice slushie with coconut and banana. She told me to drink the beverage while she fixes me a plate of food because I must keep my energy up for the baby. I was surprised. I didn’t think she knew. Nadia smiled at me. Of course, she knew.
I carried the pineapple over to the table. She even put a little umbrella inside. She does that for her customers. She didn’t have to do that for me. I smiled and twisted the umbrella stick with my fingers, thinking about lying beneath a colorful umbrella on the warm sands of the Simiribbean. I’d wear a floppy hat and lie on a beach towel in my red bathing suit and tan my legs. I would wear sunglasses to protect my eyes from the glare instead of wearing sunglasses to protect myself from the paparazzi. If I earned enough Simos, perhaps I could escape to an island in the Western Sea, though that will be a long, long time. Not soon enough, I fear.
After my shift, I used my few Simos and took a taxi across town. I didn’t want to spend the money, but I didn’t want to walk in the heat. Simuly is stickier than Nadia’s cinnamon buns. With the pregnancy, I didn’t want to pass out again, this time without assistance. The taxi cab smelled like fast food and cheap cologne, but my driver was pleasant. He thought I was a tourist. I let him believe that, making use of my Simspani accent I used once in a film I had acted in many summers ago. It was the only accent I was sure I could maintain. It began to rain.
He dropped me off at the bookstore. I excitedly climbed the stairs, two at a time, a little too fast for my own good, but I didn’t care. I love bookstores – the smell of fresh literature, the crisp unblemished pages beckoning to me from their places on the shelves of mahogany and pine and cedar. I can’t help but feel like a giddy schoolgirl on her first field trip to the big city. The books they call me. I spend hours thumbing through pages of classics and leafing through the paranormal fantasies and lapping up the crime and mystery section. Finally, I determined I should be practical and purchase a pregnancy book. When I walked back outside, I realized I had spent all my Simos in one afternoon and I don’t have enough for the taxi ride back. I was forced to sit on the bench outside the building and read my new purchase, but sleepiness overwhelmed me and I caved and released myself to a nap.
When I awoke hours later, I was overwhelmed with the urge to pee. I tried to return to the bookstore, but it was closed for the evening. I walked across the street to what I thought was a hotel, but I was turned away by the doorman who seemed to think I was homeless. I suppose wearing the same clothes for two weeks would make someone suspect as such. I walked up and down the street trying to find a place of business open at this late hour so I could do my business. My bladder kept feeling smaller and smaller. I finally discovered a comic book shop open on one of the side streets.
When I entered, I immediately asked the proprietor where the restroom was and raced to the stall just in the nick of time. When I came out of the bathroom, I was stopped by the proprietor who demanded I purchase something as the store didn’t pander to the homeless. I grinned guiltily and hoped I had just enough coins to purchase a grape-flavored candy bar from the snack machine. This seemed to satisfy the store owner.
I ate it. Every. Disgusting. Bite.
When I arrived back at the community center, I found Nadia and apologized for my earlier behavior. She waved her hands and said, “Nonsense child,” and then recommended I use the center’s showers upstairs. A hot shower sounded appealing so I took her up on the offer. I wasn’t sure who else would be at the center this late but I didn’t want to take any chances. I locked the door.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had changed clothes and let down my hair. The steam from the shower flooded my pores and rubbed at my aching muscles. I welcomed the heat with open arms, letting the water stream down my face. I rubbed my eyes tiredly and pushed stray hairs off my forehead. I was in heaven. Who would’ve thought me – Bella Goth – the woman with everything in the world – would crave something as simple as a shower?
Nadia loaned me a sleeping bag and told me to “Rest child.” I didn’t know if I wanted to accept the charity, but I didn’t really have a choice. My belly was aching, and my body needed rest. The baby needed me to rest. I flicked off the overhead fluorescent lights, stretched the gift from Nadia across the cold stone tile floor of the community center bathroom, and fell asleep peacefully for the first time in many weeks.
“Wow,” I exclaimed aloud.
Bella had such an interesting story, and I wanted to know more about her time in the City, but I was also confused. What happened to her visit to my great-grandmother’s? I wondered. Did she meet Celestia? I flipped back and few pages. I didn’t recall her mentioning the visit. Maybe she didn’t go. Maybe the visit was on one of the missing pages. After a minute, I was satisfied I wasn’t going to find the answer in the previous entries so I kept reading.
Simneslá, 17th of Simuly, 2396 C.E.
Today I met my angel. It’s a funny thing to say because one doesn’t typically think of a woman trying to commit suicide as capable of saving anything or anyone, save perhaps the wonderful life story… what was the guy’s name? George Bailey. He tried to kill himself and jumped into the frozen waters to rescue an angel, but the angel was really trying to keep him from ending his life. I digress.
My angel came to me in the form of a one-hundred-and-twenty-pound woman with long flowing hair who found herself in the same predicament as me. I’m getting ahead of myself. Someday I will read this again with old eyes and wonder what in the world I was babbling on about and I will need some clarity in my writings. I better do it right from the beginning.
I had wandered beneath one of the bridges of Bay City on my nightly walk. I had found an abandoned building with a rusted metal roof and thin wood walls, boards nailed across the entrance and several panes of glass cracked, broken, and missing from the window. I found myself wondering what the building used to be as I yawned and stretched. I wondered if I should walk up the rickety steps to peer in the broken windows. Perhaps I could find something useful. I had been living out of the community center for a few weeks now. I decided against it because of the baby. That’s when I heard whimpering.
Crying actually. The sounds of a woman sobbing. I lifted my head and saw her, standing on the edge of the bridge, looking out over the land. I could tell what she was thinking, and her next step forward confirmed my fears. She lifted her arms and squeezed her eyes shut.
I gasped, pulling my hands to my chest, and called out to her. She seemed startled and looked around trying to place the voice. I said something lame like “Do you need any help?” She sniffled and took a step back. Good girl, I remember thinking, hoping and praying she would continue to step back. I told her to hold on and I would climb up there and sit with her. She threatened to jump, and I hesitated. What do you say to that? I took a deep breath and swallowed hard and decided to say what I would want someone to tell me.
“Everything’s going to be okay. Life isn’t over simply because someone hurt you so badly and you ache in places you didn’t even know you had.”
That seemed to get her attention.
“Believe me,” I admitted to her. “I’ve thought about doing the very thing that you’re thinking of doing right now.”
“What stopped you?” she cried out.
“I’d be taking two lives… not just one… and I can’t do that.”
She seemed to ponder this for a moment and then called out asking what was taking me so long to get up there. I climbed up the embankment as quickly as I could, reached the road, and ran over to the woman. I hoped during my entire ascent that she would still be there.
She was. A fragile and thin woman sniffling and rubbing her eyes. She was a good foot from the edge now and that made me feel better. She leaned forward, as if bowing in shame… or regret… I couldn’t tell. I edged closer slowly.
I told her my name was Laura and then I felt guilty and told her it wasn’t, but that was the name I was going by these days. I asked the woman what her name was. She told me her name was Amalia, but most of the time she went by Amy.
I snapped the book shut, startled. Mamma? This was Mamma? Mamma tried to kill herself? I couldn’t believe it. Bella Goth met my Mamma, and talked her out of jumping? I flipped the diary open again and fumbled for the page I was on previously.
“Amy,” I repeated. “That’s a nice name. Have you picked out a name for the baby?”
She gasped, as if completely surprised I knew. I don’t know how I knew, but I did. We were both pregnant. Blame it on the hormones, I guess.
“So you can tell?” she laughed sadly. “I guess you’re right about the whole second life thing. I won’t jump. I promise.”
“Good,” I couldn’t think of what else to say.
“I was thinking about Cassiopeia… like the constellation, you know,” Amy sniffled. “I’ve been watching the stars a lot lately.”
“It’s a beautiful name,” I replied.
“Yeah,” she rubbed her nose and sighed heavily. “I just don’t want her associated with the vain queen who was tied to a chair because she angered a sea god.”
“Well, then you should do something different with the name… like use a K,” I suggested.
I stopped reading. She’s talking about me?!?
That’s when we both saw it – a slice of long white light like a needle threading through the eye of darkness – a star streaking for what appeared to be a mile wide. We both caught our breath. The star streaked right past the constellation Cassiopeia. Amy took this as a sign of affirmation, she told me, and she would name her daughter, Cassiopeia but with a K like the pretty stranger who rescued her – me, that is.
I caught my breath. This was my naming. Bella Goth suggested the K? That wasn’t Mamma’s original idea. A shooting star. Why hadn’t I ever heard this story?
We talked for hours. I learned Amy was staying with Celestia. I had planned to meet Celestia because she was my only connection in the City. I had acted in a small part in one of her movies once, and I thought, perhaps she would remember me and be able to help me. I didn’t want charity, but I thought having a connection wouldn’t hurt, someone who wouldn’t tell my family where I was. When I had approached the manor the other day, I lost my nerve. The woman had fame and glory and money. She didn’t need a washed-up, broken actress crashing on her front porch asking for help.
But when Amy learned I didn’t have a place to go, she kindly invited me to come stay with them. I embraced Amy with open arms and we commiserated about the men who had used us and the lives that had been conceived because of this. We were broken women, but we weren’t alone anymore in our pieces. I felt like the Maker up in the heavens sent me an angel tonight… and maybe… just maybe… I was someone’s angel too.
I felt the tears falling down my cheeks as I realized this was my past. My mother had been so forcefully taken and I had been the result. She had thought about ending her life because of the shame. She thought about ending mine. I sat straight up, startled by the realization. I cried for the beauty of the moment. I cried because of the pain. I cried because of the shame. I may not have even been born if it weren’t for their chance encounter – if it weren’t for Bella Goth. Bella was someone’s angel. She was mine.
2.23 Part 3 Coming Soon!
- Will Kass confront her mother with what she’s learned?
- Will she learn more about her mother and Bella’s secret connection?
This chapter is filled with some pretty heavy topics – rape and attempted suicide. I wanted to stress the importance of seeking professional help if you are a victim of rape or are contemplating suicide or both. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 in the U.S. 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website and chat with a professional support specialist online http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault, know that you’re not alone. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline and you’ll be connected with a local service provider. That number is you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your local area. The number is 800.656.HOPE (4673). You can also visit their website and chat with a trained support specialist immediately online – https://hotline.rainn.org/online/terms-of-service.jsp. Please know your life, your body, your mind, your heart, and your spirit have immense value and you are very precious. You are not alone.
- Simarojan was changed to Simspani.