Author Note: This chapter includes references to child sexual abuse and trauma, murder, and suicide. If these are triggers for you, please refrain from reading. There are no pictures in this chapter. It is text-based only.
She was drifting in and out of consciousness.
“Can you hear me, Aunt Rae?”
A sweet feminine voice called to her through the black.
“We’re here…Sinbad and me…”
Who’s me? Rachel wondered, and blinked, trying to focus on the two people standing over her. Correction. Four people. An orderly and a nurse in scrubs. A girl dressed in red. A man in black with orange streaks in his hair.
“You’re gonna be okay.”
Lolly? Was that her niece? Rachel wondered. And the man?
“Sinbad, say something!” Lolly pressed as they quickened their pace to keep up with the hospital employees.
“Uh… what do you want me to say?” the man said uncomfortably.
“Something… anything...” Lolly pleaded.
“We’re in a hallway rushing to emergency surgery again… what am I supposed to say?” Sinbad asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t know.” Lolly covered her face, bursting into tears.
“Okay, don’t cry… um… uh…” Sinbad fumbled awkwardly. “Mrs. Racket? If you can hear me, you’re…” he started and nearly stepped into a wall.
“Excuse me,” the surgeon walking through the nearby double doors nearly collided with the cart carrying the patient and the surrounding people.
“Sorry doc,” Sinbad mumbled, changing positions to walk on the other side. “Um… you’ll be fine… Lolls and I are here and um… Dennis is on his way,” he added.
“Dennis?” Rachel repeated, bewildered.
“My dad,” Lolly said, still sniffling.
“Bill?” Rachel asked, weakly.
“We…uh…” Sinbad ran his hand through his hair. “Called him. Left a message.”
“He’ll be here. I know it,” Lolly cried. “So will my dad. You’re gonna be okay. You’re gonna be…”
Her voice faded as Rachel drifted out of consciousness once more.
The next thing she knew, she could hear buzzing – a lawn mower edging across an expanse of grass, each blade cut to precision length. One-and-a-half inches. Just the way her father liked. He was particular. Rachel blinked. She was stretched out on an Adirondack chair, sunbathing. She snapped to attention, slipping off her sunglasses, glancing around frantically. The glare from the swimming pool temporarily blinded her eyes. Where am I?
Rachel whipped her gaze to a nervous looking maid dressed in a black dress with white trim, starched white apron, and a ruffled white hat. She glanced back down at herself. Am I wearing my underwear? Is this a dream?
“Miss Welles,” the redhaired maid repeated. “If you are done swimming, lunch is served in the main house. Your father…” she cleared her throat. “Er… Mr. Welles and Mr. Dandy wanted me to fetch you.”
“Thank you,” Rachel stood to her feet, feeling slightly dizzy.
She rubbed her forehead. I’m in Roaring Heights? I’m in Roaring Heights. Wearing a swimsuit, I think. I’m in Roaring Heights but… she felt along her stomach. No scar. No stab wound. No bleeding. I’m in Roaring Heights fourteen years ago?
“Miss Welles? Are you okay?” the freckle-faced maid asked worriedly.
“I’m fine,” Rachel replied, shaking her head.
She’s calling me Miss Welles. It is fourteen years ago. I’m fifteen again. Rachel graciously took the bathrobe from the maid. She didn’t particularly want to parade into the home of her father’s lover wearing a bikini, even if it was a more modest one, resembling a sports bra and booty shorts. How did this happen? I was… I was… somewhere… in a hospital, I think… am I dreaming?
Rachel cautiously trudged up the steps of the Dandy mansion, trying to recall her past, trying to remember her future. She struggled to piece things together. This is the home of Michael Dandy, antiques dealer, suspected in dozens of fraud cases, though never tried, nor convicted, eccentric billionaire, secret lover of Mark Welles. Though not so secret, Rachel internally scoffed.
She remembered this year. It was the summer when her parents, Mark Welles and Rita Davis-Welles traveled to Roaring Heights to serve the peculiar Mr. Dandy. Her father, Mark had been his business manager, and with the position, he had been able to move his family from the cold and damp Rain City to sunny Florsimida. The family lived in a beautiful cottage on the Dandy estate, and her father made enough money so Rita no longer needed to work. She could spend her days painting in the studio Michael Dandy provided. Rita and her daughter had a whole new wardrobe, extravagant expense account, and generous bump in social status. Mr. Dandy even had paid for Rachel’s private school education. All while defiling her father.
Rachel stepped into the dining room that belonged in a magazine. Stunning hand-painted gold leaf ceiling, white walls with gold Meditersimmian trim, a crystal chandelier from the Booming Twenties, creamy Simarojan rug over top the hardwood floors, mother-of-pearl dining table with ivory cushioned chairs, and an intricate mirror trimmed with real gold hanging above the teak bar. Mr. Dandy sat at the head of the table on the far end of the room, with Mark, her father, in his usual seat to his right, and the seat to the left conspicuously empty, as usual. Rachel exerted a typical teenage sigh and plopped into a chair next to what would’ve been Rita’s place.
“Is Mother not joining us?” she asked, already knowing the answer, reaching for the crystal glass with sparkling water.
Her father glanced up from his newspaper, a disapproving frown on his face, probably because of her choice of attire. Rachel decided if he asked, she would blame the maid’s lack of promptness in informing her about lunch as she didn’t have time to change.
“Mrs. Davis-Welles has a headache and retired to the cottage,” the portly Mr. Dandy in his pompous grey-and-blue sweater-vest wiped his mouth on a napkin and replied.
“Riiight,” Rachel rolled her eyes, reaching for roll from the napkin-lined basket before her.
Mark caught her hand, squeezing tightly, and Rachel winced.
“Evangeline,” he said, sternly. “We wait until Mr. Dandy says we can eat.”
“Oh, you can eat,” Mr. Dandy said, almost too chipperly.
Rachel yanked her hand back from her father’s grasp, taking the roll, and then nursing the soreness with her free hand. That’s right. I was still going by Evangeline, my given name, she noted. She always hated her birth name, which was why she chose her middle name upon turning eighteen. Taking a bite of the roll, she made a face.
“This is weird,” she remarked, setting the half-bitten bread on her gold-trimmed china plate.
“It’s grain free,” Mr. Dandy replied with a smile as he spread an exorbitant amount of butter on a roll for himself. “Do you like it, Miss Welles?”
Rachel smirked. You’d need that much butter to mask the flavor.
“Sure,” she said sarcastically, managing to stomach another bite.
“Mr. Dandy eats a paleo diet,” her father said, returning his gaze to his newspaper as if he could not care less about his daughter’s discomfort. “You will eat it and like it.”
“Yes father,” she replied meekly as she cut into her chicken apple sausage atop sauteed wild mushrooms and a bed of greens.
She supposed it was better than starving, but she thought her father’s employer’s meal choices were less than appetizing. Yesterday’s lunch had been liver and onions. Two days ago it had been cauliflower and leeks with rice. Rachel much preferred the southern home cooking of her mother’s friend and confidante, Virginia Supine. She would give anything for a honey cornbread muffin over the disgusting wheat-free dinner rolls on the lunch table.
She was tempted to go find her mother and skip lunch, but she didn’t want to embarrass her father. He was already upset by her bathrobe decision and she could tell by his disappointed eyes. Sullenly, she picked at her lunch while the two men read their newspapers between sips of whatever ancient bottle of nectar Mr. Dandy had brought from his personal collection.
It was all so pompous and pretentious, pretending to be a perfect family. In public, her parents were Mr. and Mrs. Welles, the happily married couple. In private, they were both engaged in affairs with the same sex. The household staff knew it too, but they were paid too well to ever go to the presses. With his supposed ties to the criminal underworld, Rachel was certain Michael Dandy would have no qualms “silencing” a wayward servant permanently.
Rachel much preferred her mother’s lover, Virginia over her father’s. Virginia was a writer. She dreamed of life in the Booming Twenties and wrote period novels filled with romantic heroines and dashing heroes in a time when everyone danced exceptionally and wore fabulous fashions and drank liberally. Virginia lived in a charming beach cottage, trimmed in blue and white with a front porch swing and a hammock in the sand beneath a coconut palm.
During the weeks when Mark would travel on business with Mr. Dandy, Rachel and her mother, Rita would spend their days and sometimes nights along the shoreline with Virginia. The two women would drink ludicrous amounts of wine and laugh. Some nights Virginia would play her Paradisí ukulele and sing Simole songs. Some nights Virginia would read poetry, sometimes her own, sometimes others. Rita would sit at Virginia’s feet as if she worshiped the woman. Sometimes her mother would let Rachel drink a glass of wine with them.
Yet when it came time to sleep, Rachel would sit on the floor and let her mother braid her hair. Virginia would retire to the porch for a cigarette or two. Rita would braid her daughter’s hair and laugh and cry. She would talk about how happy Virginia made her. She would talk about how they dreamed of running away together.
“To Championne!” Virginia would declare while standing on a chair, lifting a finger in the air.
“To the Champs de Marsian tower!” Rita would reply delightedly and clap her hands like a child.
At the time it was the only place in the world that allowed same-sex marriages. Yet it was all words for her mother. She wouldn’t divorce Mark. She couldn’t, even if she would say she wished things were different. She had money. She could leave. Rita had inherited it from the Colt manufacturing company, her mother’s family’s fortune.
“If you want things to be different, Mama, why don’t you leave him?” Rachel would ask.
With tears streaming down her face, her mother would say, “It is a wife’s duty to support her husband.”
Rachel used to think that was bullshit. Now she wasn’t so certain. She married Bill and stayed with him, after all, even though she was sure he had affairs. She stayed with him because she needed him, and he needed her, but she didn’t love him.
Did her father ever love her mother? Rachel doubted it. He openly conducted an affair with his boss. Rita knew it. Once she confronted her husband. She screeched and called him names, words so foul a child should never hear. Rita laughed and made fun of her husband’s voice, saying he was effeminate. She teased him saying she was surprised he managed to land two women in his lifetime for her husband had been previously married and even had a stepson from his first relationship. Mark slapped her. Hard. From her perch at the top of the dark stairs, Rachel heard her father threaten her mother that if she ever left him, he’d file for full custody of their daughter, and he would get it too because Rita was a lush.
Rachel was frightened. If her mother left her father, she would want to live with Rita. She couldn’t stand to live in the mansion with one man who barely acknowledged her existence, and another man who paid too close attention. Michael Dandy had always wanted children, and he doted on Rachel like a daughter. But when her father would have crazy loud arguments with his lover, Michael would come and sit in Rachel’s room and cry. He did something no parent or parental figure should ever do to a child. He would excuse her father’s verbal abuse and pet Rachel’s hair and tell her it would be okay. Sometimes he would pet her elsewhere too, like she was a lost kitten. He would tell her he needed her… for comfort. Mark would go to Rita for comfort, to hug her, and hold her, and touch her. Why shouldn’t he have the same kind of comfort? Rachel had been too stunned to stop him. It wasn’t the first time a man had touched her.
Mark’s first wife, Lucy Wu had been a piano player in a nightclub in Big Apple City. She had a son, George with her ex-boyfriend. George had dark skin like Rachel, except darker, like espresso beans. He was nine years older than her, and a junior at Fillmore University in Rain City. He had an apartment of his own and a girlfriend who was a stripper. Still, he would say she was just “his cover.” He preferred younger women… much younger women.
The first time he touched her, Rachel was eleven. She hadn’t even started her menstrual cycle yet. He came in the bathroom while she was taking a bath. She had been so embarrassed, and tried to hide her newly growing breasts. He took her arms gently and set them aside. He would call her beautiful specifically because she was black like him, not like his mother or stepfather. He showed her how to shave her legs because that’s what “grownup women” did. He stroked her thighs in the water, and he kissed her hair.
When she was thirteen, she lost her virginity to her stepbrother. George had offered to watch her and take her to school while Mark and Rita traveled. He was gentle and kind, but she cried because of the pain. He told her it was normal and carried her piggy-back style to couch where he brought her an ice pop and watched cartoons with her. Later that evening, he had taken her again in the same manly fashion as before, except this time on the couch. He promised her that he would get her all the ice pops in the world, and that her friends would be jealous because she had a boyfriend who was a man.
Rachel shuddered when she remembered his girlfriend had discovered them in bed one day. They had carried on their “affair” for fifteen months, three weeks, and two days. The girlfriend had been all sorts of furious, horrified, and disgusted. She threatened to call the police, and that was the first time Rachel realized something was seriously wrong with what they were doing.
George carried her to the car and shoved his girlfriend in the trunk. When they reached the river, he had pulled out a twenty-two gauge pistol and shot her twice, once through the stomach and the second time through the heart. He drove to another part of the city and pushed the car in the water.
On that cloudy day, he stood on the bank, shaking and crying and asked Rachel if she loved him. She had been so terrified by everything she had seen. She couldn’t speak. His final words were, “I thought you loved me,” before he shot himself in the head.
Rachel had run away. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She ran until her feet could run no more. She never told anyone what she saw or heard or what had been done to her. When her parents came home, she told them George never showed up to watch her for the weekend. She told him he said something about buying airplane tickets to the Simiribbean and that he had run away with his girlfriend. And they believed her. Like the oblivious, horrid parents they were, they believed her. She had learned to lie that day. She had been lying ever since.
So when Michael Dandy touched her, she thought it was normal. Grown men needed comfort sometimes. She was pretty and young and available. It wasn’t until college that she realized everything that had been done to her was abuse. A lifetime of abuse she had endured. The Rackets weren’t so different compared to her past.
She remembered that day in the dining room with her mother in bed due to a “headache” and her father reading the newspaper and the bathrobe and the disgusting rolls and Michael Dandy’s inane smile as if everything he did for the first time the night before was okay. She had wanted to scream. She wanted to chuck a roll at her dad. She wanted to kick Mr. Dandy’s precious shins. But she wouldn’t. And she didn’t.
And so this went on for almost two years. Mark would kiss his wife passionately at parties and smack the rears of his secretaries in public to keep up appearances and during the day, behind the closed doors of his office, Rachel would hear her father and Mr. Dandy doing “foul things” on his desk. Rita would smile and tell everyone what a doting husband Mark was at her tea parties while Rachel would sit sullenly in the corner and think the whole thing was a joke. And on the nights when Mr. Dandy would scream and throw things at his lover, it would end with her father stomping out of the house and returning to his wife and Michael sneaking in her window to cry.
At seventeen and a half, Rachel remembered the first time a “normal” boy paid attention to her. He was the gardener’s son. His name was Jerry. He took Rachel on her first real date to get an ice cream cone. He would open her car door. He would hold her hand. He would ask permission before kissing her. He was sweet and intelligent and funny. He had the best smile, beautiful dark skin, and deep blue eyes.
When he went off to university, Rachel went too and never looked back. She changed her name from Evangeline Rachel Welles to Rachel Colt, Colt after her grandmother’s maiden name. She couldn’t bear to keep her father’s name, the father who verbally abused her, the father who neglected to protect her from people like George and Michael, the father she hated.
Even so, when Rachel had been concerned for her life and the safety of her child, she thought Hope would be safer with her parents than with the Rackets. That’s how mixed up and messed up she was. That’s how horrible her life was.
And the worst part was, Rita had refused to speak with her after she ran away. She was devastated that her only daughter hadn’t stayed. She didn’t come to Rachel’s college graduation. She didn’t come to Rachel’s wedding. She didn’t even come when Rachel was pregnant with Hope.
And now, Rachel lay in a hospital, recovering from two surgeries thanks to a “mugging,” and her mother wasn’t here. She didn’t come. Rachel wasn’t even sure her mother cared anymore. A tear slid down her cheek. Perhaps her mother had finally run away with “Auntie” Virginia. Maybe that’s why she hadn’t answered her phone when Rachel had called late yesterday afternoon needing help.
Someone else had taken her to the hospital. An ambulance had come. Was it Bill? Rachel’s head felt foggy. No, it was my niece, and that young man, Sinbad something. Her husband was hundreds of miles away, and probably didn’t care either. The nurse came in and gently helped change her hospital gown and administered more medication.
Once she left, Rachel cried herself to sleep.
Author Note: Rita Davis-Welles and Mark Davis-Welles are Sims in Roaring Heights. In the CFT, Mark is just Welles, and his wife, Rita is Davis-Welles. Rita’s father was Orson Davis and her mother was Olivia Colt. Mark and Rita both are having affairs with Michael and Virginia respectively, and I just built on that. George Wu is also a Sim from the Sims 3 Nintendo DS. I had wanted to write a chapter illustrating Rachel’s backstory and her heritage of abuse so as to better explain why she stays with and tolerates the Rackets. FYI, Rain City is my Simworld version of Seattle, Washington, Paradisí is my Simworld version of Hawaii, Simole is my Simworld version of Creole, and the Champs de Marsian Tower is my Simworld version of the Eiffel Tower, named for the Champs de Mars, a large public greenspace in Paris where the Eiffel Tower sits.