Monday, June 9, 2415 | Sunset Valley, Valverde
Her stomach rumbled. Kass crossed her arms and interlaced her fingers as she stood in line for food at the festival booths. She perused the menu while she waited, biting her lower lip. Do I want a hamburger? But I don’t want mayo. I could ask for a substitution. Eh… maybe I should have a hot dog. Am I hungry enough for two? Ice cream sounds good, but I should eat a meal first. Chili fries? I wonder if they are heavy on the beans or meat. Who decided the booth should have a giant hot dog on its top?
Kass reached into her pocket and pulled out a few Simoleons, paying the carnival attendant dressed in peppermint stripes and fun top hat with a red ribbon. She recalled an opportunity flier at the high school about summer jobs at the food carts in the park. Maybe I should’ve tried to find a summer job. She glanced off in the direction of the stately brick library. They had advertised the need for summer reading program guides for the elementary students in Sunset Valley and assistance with the new stock.
Named for an Al-Sim saint, Papyrus Memorial Library housed a decent-sized book collection. Kass loved to think about all the history between the thousands of covers, and all the stories of faraway places, and all the people who passed through the millions of pages. Maybe someday I’ll actually complete a story and publish a novel... she wrinkled her nose as she sat down at a picnic table. Yeah I have to finish my essay first. She sneezed.
“I was just thinking of you.”
Davis grabbed a seat across from Kass right as she started to eat.
“You sneezed. Someone is thinking of you,” he smiled, warmly.
He raised his hand.
She turned and noticed an older man with red-brown hair, dressed in khakis and a brown pullover sweater waving in their direction. The man’s smile froze, and he paled as his eyes landed on Kass. Instinctively, she dropped her chin into her shoulder and yanked her gaze back to Davis.
“Do you know him?” she asked.
“Oh, Mr. Bachelor?” Davis replied. “He likes to hang out at the Jolt and write.”
“That’s Mr. Bachelor?” Kass tried to glance furtively over her shoulder, curious about her doctor’s husband.
She had never met him, and Dr. Bachelor didn’t really mention him. Jocasta struck her as a woman utterly devoted to her career, despite the fact that she had four children, including one very famous, very missing actress. However, Kass knew very little about the rest of the family, and she once read that Simis was very private and protective of his other kids.
“He’s a writer?” she quirked a brow.
“Yes,” Davis smiled. “He has a blog.”
“Really?” Kass shrugged as she took a bite of her chili cheese fries.
Davis laughed. “Really? Kass?”
“You’re the only person I know who eats their fries with a fork.”
“Oh,” she said. “I just…”
“It’s less messy,” he remarked, an odd look crossing his face.
“What?” she said, the blush creeping into her cheeks. “Is it really that odd?”
“No,” he shook his head, and swallowed. “It’s cute. Um… Mr. Bachelor is just… well… he’s…” he lowered his voice. “…staring at us.”
“Why?” she dropped her fork, self-consciously.
“Beats me,” he shrugged. “The guy always comes into the Jolt and orders the same drink and sits at the same table and writes for three hours and fourteen minutes every Tuesday and Thursday and then leaves.”
“Three hours and fourteen minutes?” she said, turning to see the man out of the corner of her eye. “That’s a very specific amount of time.”
“No,” she shook her head. “I’m still finishing my fries. But thanks for the offer.”
He smirked. “No pi… the mathematical constant.”
“Oh,” she nodded. “Right. What’s his blog about?”
“I think mental illness,” Davis replied. “And ministry stuff. He was once a Peteran shepherd. I read an article or two once since I’m studying to be a general practitioner.”
“Is he a therapist?” she wondered, narrowing her eyes.
“Naw… at least I don’t think so. But I’m sure as a shepherd, he’s counseled many people.”
Kass took a few more bites of her fries, wiping her mouth delicately on a napkin.
“Bella didn’t talk much about her dad.”
“Bella?” Davis arched a brow.
“Oh… um…” she giggled nervously, leaning forward and twisting a strand of hair around her finger. “Well, I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with his…”
She looked over to see if Simis Bachelor was still standing behind them. He had moved over to the field closer to his wife and son, looking every once in awhile in their direction. She shifted in her seat, smoothing her skirt.
“…daughter…” she continued. “I’ve seen every Bella Goth movie ever and I’ve read all the stuff out there on her. She’s a hero of mine.”
“Really?” Davis leaned back and folded his arms over his chest. “Why?”
“Bella rose to fame on Specific Hospital because she practically stole every scene she was in,” Kass explained. “She’s so glamorous and talented… and interesting too. She was named the most beautiful woman in the world by CLOCKS magazine. And she advocated for women to be paid the same as their male counterparts on the series. She even produced about a third of the middle to late seasons before it was cancelled. ”
“I didn’t realize she was a producer,” Davis said, impressed.
“She also wrote romance novels under a pen name,” Kass bobbed her head. “You know Felicity Joyeuse?”
“What? No! The Enchantais writer recluse is Bella Goth?” Davis said, his eyes widening.
“No Enchantais recluse,” Kass smiled broadly and shook her head. “It’s a pen name. So you’ve read romance novels?” she arced a brow.
“Hospital waiting rooms,” he said, stiffly. “It was either that or gossipy magazines. I… uh…spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms as a kid… with my aunt and my…” he trailed off. “Maybe she gets it from her dad,” Davis said, looking off in the direction of Simis and Jocasta, who were holding hands as their youngest son and daughter kicked a ball around on the soccer field. “Though I think he only writes non-fiction.”
“Maybe,” Kass replied. “Did you know Bella only wrote about bi-racial couples? Not a single couple in her stories share the same ancestry.”
“That’s… uh… interesting,” Davis said, placing both hands on the table and grinning. “So do you secretly want to be an actress, Kassiopeia, or a romance novelist?”
“What? Um… no!” Kass exclaimed and winced. “I…I… want…”
What do I want? What do I want to be? Who do I want to be? She caught Simis staring in her direction. His dark eyes were wide and sad. Kass wondered what kind of pain the man experienced. He lost a daughter twice… and then she was declared dead in absentia. Jocasta was very vocal in the news. Kass remembered. But Simis stayed home, dedicated to a quiet existence for his three other children. Kass shivered, despite the fact that the air was hot and humid. Something in Simis’ penetrating gaze was unnerving.
Why does he look like he’s seen an apparition?
Author Notes: As I return to my old screenshots, I’m finding loads of characters from Sunset Valley showing up in my images. I decided to write more about Bella Goth, and why Kass admires her, and also needed to explain what Simis Bachelor was doing in a scene. I had fun writing this chapter, even though it’s not at all what I originally intended. I hope you all don’t mind all these little side trips in the story. I hope it’s not dragging because of it. Er…thanks for your patience and for reading. CLOCKS is a parody of TIME magazine.
Edit 1/16/2022 : Enchantais is a descriptor word, referring to the people who live in Enchanté (my Simworld version of French).