Fifteenth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers
15. A gap inside
Though she lived in a comfortable Victorian home with her mom, her big sister, her big brother, her two little nieces, and her two young nephews, Gloriana Mignon felt lonely. She wasn’t one of the littlies like her nieces and nephews, doted on and spoiled, nor was she one of the grown-ups, like her siblings and mother, with all the freedom that entailed. Instead, she was smack in the middle of the mad-dash constant confusion of a busy household, ignored, or worse, forever called on to help out and join in. She felt that peculiar loneliness of one who is seldom alone.
Everybody was bustling and happy, except her. She ached inside where a black hole spun and spread and devoured all the happiness. No one seemed to notice. Her mom and sister praised for being strong. “Your setting such a good example for the girls,” her sister said. Her brother praised her for being smart. “You’re going to go far, sis,” he often said, “and then these little ones will learn what it means to be a Mignon.”
But the way she saw it, she was stuck nowhere fast.
During her junior year of high school, she devised a method of coping. It was sneaky, but it worked. After everyone was asleep, she climbed out the bedroom window, down the column supporting her balcony, and headed to town. She had matured early physically, so wherever she went, she passed as over twenty-one. Crowded club by smoky lounge, she was making her way through all the night spots.
This particular night she had saved for the Blue Velvet. It had a reputation of being the place where the movers and shakers hung out.
She recognized some of the big names from Windenburg: Jade Rosa, Dominic Fyres, the DJ Joaquin, and the Green Party candidate, Alec Dolan. Dolan’s opponent was there, too, J Huntington III.
“Looks like I’ve wandered into the Who’s Who of the Young and Famous,” she said.
Alec and Huntington laughed, and Jade said,”Oh, darling! Now that you’re here, we can really start the party! We’ve been thirsting for pretty new blood like yours!”
Jade asked her to take the empty stool next to her, and within a moment, she felt like she was the most important person there.
“Darling, where have you been? Am I right, Joaquin? How could we not have this beauty with us sooner?”
They were hungry. She bought a pita and hummus platter for the group. They were thirsty. She bought a round of drinks.
They all told stories: of last night’s parties, of hooking up at the club, of failing to hook up at the club, of missing work or calling in sick or coming home early, with a headache, just to sleep the afternoon away so as to be ready for the next party that night.
Gloriana turned around and found that she was alone at the bar with Huntington.
Where had the others gone?
“You don’t mind that we’re here all alone, do you, gorgeous?” he said.
“We’re not all alone,” she replied. “The bartender is here.”
Huntington laughed. “We could be all alone, if we wanted.”
She didn’t know what to say back, but it didn’t seem to matter. The Conservative Party candidate didn’t seem serious in what he said, and as long as his drink was full, he seemed pleased simply to sit at the bar beside her.
But eventually, every drink is empty. Gloriana turned around and found that she was alone at the bar, and the last streetcar had left, and her feet were too unsteady to take her home. Where had everyone gotten to? The party had left, but she was still there, wherever there was.
A bench in the courtyard provided a spot to crash.
When she woke up, her mouth felt like sandpaper and her eyes like wadded balls of Kleenex.
She dragged herself into the bar.
“Is it morning?” she asked the bartender, as she helped herself to a dried pita and crusted hummus.
She sipped a drink left over from the night before.
“If you hurry,” the bartender said, “you can be home in time for school.”
“But I’m over twenty–”
“Save it,” said the bartender. “Save it for someone who’ll believe. I’ve got kids of my own your age. I know the score.”
She pulled herself up straight. Ok. She could do this thing. And she walked out of the bar without a wobble. She’d be home soon, before the nieces and nephews were up for the new day, before her mom headed into the kitchen to scramble the eggs, before her brother and sister stood in line for the upstairs bathroom.
What had Jade Rosa called her? Gorgeous. “We can start the party now.” She’d been the last to stay; she’d seen the party through. Gloriana Mignon had this thing down.
The kids were already at school by the time she made it home. Her mom, brother, and sister were out. She was going to catch it when they returned: this was as sure as molasses is slow. But until then, in the silence and solitude of an empty house, she savored the feeling of having other people inside her: rich, famous, powerful people, every bit as desperate and hungry as her.