“Hang on, Dad, just a little bit longer. We’re almost there.”
I was speeding down the back roads of an unfamiliar country. The cab floor was littered with fast food wrappers, warm soda stains created strange patterns on the seat, and a few french fries still poked upright from the cup holders. Sticky notes flapped on the dashboard, filled with ideas for paying bills I had scribbled when stopping momentarily to get gas. The truck creaked and the engine roared, but otherwise, we drove silently through the night, the stars and an occasional coyote our only companions on the journey.
We crossed the border into Mexsimco nearly two hours ago. I glanced over at my father who was moaning and groaning against the door of the cab. He was so weak. He looked sickly. I grimaced and pressed the gas a little harder. I wasn’t sure what the speed limits were and I didn’t care. It was probably foolish to travel at such high speeds with a trailer attached but I couldn’t risk leaving our home. If we stopped, I would risk putting my father in more danger. Dad groaned again, shifting and hugging his stomach.
“Dad, do you feel nauseous?” I asked worriedly and patted the water bottle in the cup holder. “Dad, you really should try and drink some water… your medication makes you dehydrated, remember? Should I pull over?”
He didn’t reply as he leaned his head against the window. We went over a bump in the road, and my hitch nearly came undone. I resisted the urge to shriek. I was frustrated, upset, angry, confused, and hurting all rolled into one, but losing my calm wouldn’t help my father, Howard Fullbright receive the care he needed. I kept thinking it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that I had to do this alone. It wasn’t fair that Kate had walked out on this man. It wasn’t fair that my father was dying, and only a few months after I had reconnected in Jade’s Java Jolt. What if we had never? No, I shook my head, staring straight ahead on the road. I couldn’t even think that.
When I had found my father lying on the floor of our trailer home, I panicked. I called for an ambulance. We arrived at the hospital, only to discover our insurance was rejected and we owed nearly one-hundred-and-sixty-eight thousand Simoleons for all the ambulance trips, overnights, urgent care, X-rays, treatments, and tests.
Hopelessly, I argued with the doctors begging them to continue care for my father, and then fruitlessly spent another two hours explaining to the intake specialists that I couldn’t pay that kind of money. Lina Lancaster found me weeping on the second floor of Sun Health Hospital. She handed me a tissue and said there wasn’t much she could do. My father was rejecting the therapies and homeopathic treatments she had been trying.
Desperate, I called Dr. Bachelor back in Sunset Valley. After four tries, she finally answered and recommended something she called “a little unorthodox.” She told me to head south of the border. “They are more open to EXCES treatment in Mexsimco, less discriminatory, and less expensive,” she explained. “Go to Casa de la Esperanza. I can’t tell you anymore.”
We left Lucky Palms almost a day ago, but the hours passed by so slowly as if time was moving inside a bubble and everything else was flying by at warp speed. I spent nearly every dollar I had remaining to pay for the gas, food, and travel expenses. It was nearly dawn on Simvember second when we arrived in Desierto Rojo (the Red Desert). The world seemed peaceful in comparison to my frantic and panicked thoughts. In the last twenty-four hours, my boyfriend had taken advantage of me and cheated on me, my father had collapsed and the hospital refused treatment, and I had ditched payment and driven across the border in Mexsimco.
I drove around the small city looking for hope, quite literally, Casa de la Esperanza. It was my last hope. If Dad didn’t receive treatment soon, he would be… well, I bit my lip and looked over at him nervously. I didn’t know what he’d be.
My headlights caught something, words carved into wood – Casa de la Esperanza. Excitedly, I pulled the car and trailer to the side of the road and parked. I didn’t even care that I was crooked. I slid out of the cab and ran around to the other side, pulling my weak father out and wrapping my arm around him. The autumn rains poured softly on our heads as I half-walked, half-dragged my father up to the front of the colorful, multi-building establishment.
“Hello?” I called out. “Anyone? Hello?”
A woman’s voice called back to me in Mexsimi. Dad grunted, and I momentarily paused as his right foot tripped into my left foot. My mind was drawing a blank as we wandered around a large fountain in the center of the stone courtyard. I tried remembering any Mexsimi phrases I knew.
“Hola!” I called out.
A Mexsimi woman dressed in a red blouse and flowered skirt came running toward us. Another thin man followed behind.
“Aiuto!” I cried out, and then realized I was speaking Simtalian, not Mexsimi.
I gritted my teeth in frustration. Hot tears pricked my eyelids. Why hadn’t I taken Mexsimi in school instead of Deutchsim? I kicked a stray stone. The SimUnion language was completely useless to me at the moment. Why hadn’t my parents made me learn Mexsimi? I had learned Simtalian because of Nonno and Nonna, but no, Mamma never made me learn Mexsimi, even though it would have been incredibly useful, even if Mexsimco was part of the SimNation. My wishes were completely fruitless, fluttering on the wind like a butterfly without wings.
“Aiuto… aiuto…aiuto...” I repeated, exhausted and despairing.
Both the woman and man stopped a few feet from us, and the man stepped in front and uttered a phrase in Mexsimi. I shook my head and pointed to my father who was nearly collapsing in pain beneath my arm.
“Help… please…” I managed hoarsely. “Aiuto…”
The woman frowned and spoke, “Ayuda?”
I bobbed my head, enthusiastically. “Um… yes… uh… yes! That’s the word. Ayuda! Ayuda! Ayuda! Por favor, ayúdame.”
Dad cried out, his arm whacking the side of my neck as he tightened his grip and stumbled beneath his own weight.
“Dad?” I said, startled. “It’s going to be okay. They will help.” I turned toward the couple. “Por favor?”
“Of course,” the man in the red, black, and green Mexsimican soccer tee spoke in perfect Simlish. “We will help.”
He stepped forward and my eyes widened in relief.
“Oh thank you, thank you, gracias… bien… I mean… gracias… thank you…” I fumbled over my Simlish and Mexsimi words.
“Come on, buddy,” the man said, loosening my father’s grip on my own shoulders and bracing to carry the man on his back.
Dad nearly whacked the man across the nose.
“Please… sorry…” I said embarrassed. “He’s very sick. He has EXCES… and I hope not late stage… oh I don’t know what’s wrong… he’s just very very sick and we’ve been driving… all this time…” I gasped for breath. “Do you understand me? I’m sorry. Um… lo siento?”
The woman touched her hand to her forehead and murmured, “Sí, señorita. Eh… you are Kess?”
I blinked rapidly, the raindrops landing on my lashes. “Yes, Sí! Oh yes! How did you know?”
“Señora Bach-e-lor telephoned. She said you were on your way,” the woman’s red lips gave a wide smile. “Please… um… Kess?”
I shook my head. “Kass.”
“Oh perdóname, please, Kass… and el padre…you are welcome here at Casa de la Esperanza,” she said with a thick Mexsimi accent. “Me llamo Rosalie. This is my home. Bienvenida, mi amiga.”
I began sobbing in relief. “Oh! Oh!” I cried. “Me llamo Kass,” I said while weeping. “And my father…” I looked around frantically for my dad and saw he was being escorted into the house by the other man. “Mi padre es Howard.”
The woman gave me a sympathetic look and pulled me into a warm embrace. “Shh… estas bien.”
I wept, ashamed I was soaking this Mexsimi woman’s red buttoned blouse with my tears. She held me at her breast in a maternal way, patting my head. I let the sorrows of the past forty-eight hours wash away, my stresses evaporating into the Mexsimican rains. After a few minutes, she ushered me inside, wordlessly and brought me to see my father. She sat on the edge of his bed and asked for several items in Mexsimi of the man with her. Exhausted, I didn’t even try to understand the language, allowing my head to drop and rest on my hands. The man returned with water, hot towels, and a tray with herbs and honey.
Rosalie, with my assistance, helped my father out of his wet clothes and massaged his back with her hot towel and wonder herbs. The man, who introduced himself as Rosalie’s boyfriend, Noel, helped my father drink some water and gave him something to swallow. Rosalie explained the cream she was using was called Capsaicin, and I gathered it had something to do with hot chile peppers. After about forty-five minutes, my father was breathing normally and sleeping. I was amazed. Rosalie’s treatment worked after such a short amount of time and the hospital had worked for hours to say they could do nothing.
“He will rest okay, now,” Rosalie remarked with a thick accent as she walked down the spiral stairs. “Noel will sit in with him… if he needs something.”
“Are you sure?” I called softly.
“Sí,” Rosalie replied as she reached the bottom glass step.
I glanced over at my father. Worry and weariness gnawed at my bones, but my head was telling me I was too tired to think clearly and be of any use to my ailing father. I left him in the capable hands of Noel.
“Mi casa es tu casa,” Rosalie told me as we stepped into the pale-pink-and-mint-green tiled kitchen.
My eyes widened in surprise.
“My house is your house. This is your house,” Rosalie repeated as she walked over and opened a side door of the adobe home. She waved her hand in the right direction. “That is my house over there.”
I poked my head out, grateful for the overhang to keep my head from becoming any more wet. The rains continued to pour as I noted the bright canary yellow building in close proximity to the tan colored home we occupied at the moment.
“I will serve breakfast in the morning but I think you should like to sleep, no?” Rosalie asked.
Rosalie ushered me into the nearby mint and tan bathroom. “Please, help yourself to eh… warm bath…” her soft caramel eyes sparkled. “There are… baño de burbujas… bath of bubbles,señorita.”
I couldn’t help myself and giggled.
“I will prepare your room,” Rosalie said. “Aquí… your bags… Noel brought them to you.”
My hostess motioned to the floor and I noticed my lime green backpack, my father’s blue duffel bag, and my forest green suitcases, all three of them were sitting on the turquoise bath mat. I reached up and hugged Rosalie quickly, much to her surprise, but she smiled and patted my hair once more in a maternal way. She left so I could take my bath.
Gratefully, I kicked my travel-weary feet out of my sneakers and slipped out of my wet jean shorts, black leggings, green hoodie, and blue tee. I pulled my hair out of its ponytail and allowed it to fall below my shoulders. The hot water began spilling into the teal and tan tub, and I allotted myself a generous amount of bubbles.
I slipped into the tub, immediately sighing with pleasure and relief. The heat seeped into my skin, soothing my worn and aching body. I allowed myself another cry, this one less gut-wrenching than the last, but nonetheless, needed. My father would be okay. I would be okay. Tomorrow we would figure out treatment and payment. Tonight, I could simply relax and allow the bubbles to speak to my heart and soul. Tonight I could simply be.
Author Note: Here’s the first post in the next set of Interludes & Solitude series. I am very happy to introduce Desierto Rojo a.k.a. Red Desert, a beautiful world created by Magic Dancer on the Exchange. If you’re interested, it’s a world with lots of building potential. Also I adore the lot I used for Casa de la Esperanza (House of Hope). It’s called Mexican Flair, created by Shady, and is available on ModtheSims. Spanish is not my native language. I took two semesters in undergrad so forgive me if the language is off. Kass was stumbling around with the words (Italian and Spanish) so I guess that’s my excuse in story. Fyi Capsaicin is found in chile peppers and is used in herbal medicine as it has healing properties. Here’s an article if you’re interested about all the uses, side effects, and warnings (not that I think you’re really interested, but in case any of my readers decide to go out there and try it, this is a warning to read the article first since I’m not a doctor or medical practitioner or herbalist). I happen to love hot peppers, and I find they help clear my sinuses when I have a cold, and since I just had a head cold, I was eating loads of spicy foods. 🙂