Hi everyone, this chapter has been moved from its original place on my other blog in an effort to clean up both blogs and my Simblr. I left the original post up given the comments on it but the story has been moved here.
Author Note: This has been a long time coming – the backstory to the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) Bella Bachelor Goth. I’ve decided to give the story a better name as The Bella Goth Story was quite unimaginative. I released a chapter about her “appearance” in Oasis Landing in November of 2015, and if you’ve kept up with KFLL, you know she makes “journal” appearances in Kass’s story. I have been wanting to do an origin story for Bella, and also write about her connection to Kass’s family, particularly her great-grandmother’s Legacy Island Estate.
This chapter takes place when Bella is a tot, about 14 months. Simis and Jocasta Bachelor are living in Pleasantview, Misimigan. Simis is in seminary and Jocasta is in her sophomore year of university at Sim State University. Just so you understand, Bella was born immediately after Jocasta graduated high school (right before Jocasta’s 18th birthday).
Without further adieu, presenting the first in many La Vita Bella installments. 🙂
She pointed to the girl.
Jocasta Bachelor knew that wasn’t a good sign. Her daughter, Bella could be a handful, but when the adult babysitter was pointing fingers, something was wrong.
When she received the phone call, Jocasta was in the middle of a shift at the academic records office. Of course, she would come right away. Of course, Simis couldn’t be reached. Of course, she would lose pay… again… and possibly lose this work-study opportunity.
During the drive across town, Jocasta gripped the steering wheel, digging her manicured nails into the soft leather. She tried to avoid feeling the weight of the resentment, but her situation was crippling, like a stone around an elephant’s neck. Her husband was supposed to be available for emergencies, but his work and schooling always seemed to come before her own. Simis did his best to love Jocasta and their daughter. Still she wished he would help more often… that he would drop everything and risk docked pay and termination and failed grades to make sure his child was okay.
The radio in her car spit nothing but moody songs. Jocasta sunk into a deep angst, falling low, listening to the Downplays singing – see the world in black and white and thinking you’ll never get it right.
She knew college first, then work, then marriage, and then baby was the way to do things, but she had never been one to do things in the conventional way. It was impossible to fit the black-and-white mold. You did things one way or you did things the wrong way. There was no gray. She had to see things in black and white.
He had come to her, whispering sweet nothings and offering promises of escape. The second oldest in her family, Jocasta had never quite been enough, never quite perfect. Eighteen came and so did a baby and a life she hadn’t quite expected.
Simis wanted to do things right. Raised a good Peteran boy. He knew if the others found out they were expecting, he would lose his scholarship and a chance to be a shepherd. So he did right by her. He didn’t want her to sacrifice her dreams so she enrolled in school. Between nursing, burping, and bouncing, Jocasta studied for her classes.
When baby Bella was old enough to suck from the bottle, Jocasta took a job in the admissions office to help with the bills. But Bella was an insufferable brat, impossible to please, and a holy terror to anyone who wasn’t her daddy. And all their money went into babysitters and bills, daycare and dinners in a box.
From the look on Miranda Lee’s face, Jocasta knew they could very well lose their latest caretaker. Every bone in her body ached. Late nights of studying scholarly texts and early mornings of Bella’s endless screams were taking its toll. Motherly instinct said to reach out for her daughter, but Jocasta couldn’t quite bring herself to touch Bella… yet.
“They said not to bother bringing her back.”
Jocasta sighed the kind of sigh a person feels all the way to their soles . She wasn’t exactly surprised. Her daughter was well on her way to getting kicked out of day care last week when she tried to eat Mack’s hair and shoved Jill off the slide. She hated to ask.
“What did she do this time?”
“Biting… again… she caught some kid in the eye. The day care will be contacting you and your husband later this week,” — seemed almost embarrassed to admit. “And possibly the child’s parents.”
Jocasta resisted the urge to roll her eyes. That call would be just lovely, she laughed wryly. After paying Miranda her compensation, Jocasta carried her wiggling, squirming, unhappy daughter upstairs to her nursery and set her on the floor to play with her Wugglesworth.
Five phone calls and three angry ranting messages on Simis’ machine later, Jocasta collapsed in the nursery rocking chair and covered her face with her hands. She didn’t even care if she was smudging her makeup. She couldn’t understand it.
Bella had somehow managed to wiggle out of all her clothes and was proceeding to practice her “biting” skills on her stuffed vampire bear. She seemed to take some sort of perverse pleasure in biting anything and everything. She was well past the teething stage, and yet her mouth seemed fascinated with leaving its mark everywhere. The bedposts. The toys. The dishes. Hair. Nails. Flesh.
Jocasta covered her ears, horrified by the sounds exiting her daughter’s lips. She picked up Bella, and despite the toddler’s protests, managed to redress her. Carrying her daughter downstairs, she went to meet her husband on the front lawn.
Simis threw up his hands defensively.
“Where were you?” Jocasta yelled.
“Jo, let’s go inside,” Simis suggested.
Bella cooed strangely as her parents argued, nicking Jocasta’s blazer with her teeth.
“I’m sorry, Jo, I didn’t answer. I was in tests,” he explained.
“Tests!?!? It’s always a test or a meeting or a…whatever…” Jocasta waved her free hand around. “I was working, and the babysitter couldn’t reach you.”
“I know, I know, sweetheart,” Simis said. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t get out of class or I would’ve failed the test.”
“Simis! We aren’t going to make the mortgage this month with all the money I’ve lost coming home every day this week,” Jocasta replied despairingly.
“Okay, come here.”
He wrapped his arms tightly around wife and daughter and squeezed gently. He leaned his head and laid on Jocasta’s shoulder. The gesture was oddly soothing. Jocasta hadn’t realized how badly she had been shaking.
Bella decided to pipe in with her own emotional outburst. Jocasta carried her daughter inside and plopped her in the high chair. Bella was less than pleased about the bowl of Llama O’s she received for the third night in a row. They didn’t even have milk because neither parent had been able to go to the store during the week. Bella fussed, throwing bits of cereal all over the room as her parents tried to discuss their difficult situation.
“Argh!” Jocasta threw her hands over her ears in aggravation. “I can’t do this! I can’t be a mom and a wife and a student. I can’t even fix a normal dinner for my kid.”
“That’s it,” Simis decided, punching numbers into his phone.
“What are you doing?” Jocasta bit her lower lip nervously.
“Hi I’d like to order a large pepperoni pizza,” Simis was saying.
“Simis, we can’t afford pizza,” Jocasta tugged on his arm.
“For delivery,” he added, and covered the phone. “You’re stressed. Bella is driving us both nuts. We can’t go out, but we can order in. Now go…” he smiled, pleasantly. “…yes, the address is seven-zero Sim Lane.” He covered the mouthpiece again. “Go,” he mouthed. “Take a bath. Relax. I’ll take care of Bella.”
“Are you sure?” Jocasta asked, surprised by her husband’s kind gesture. “And the money?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he shook his head. “Fifty Simos? Alright, thank you.” He hung up the phone. “Shepherd Benjamin gave me some Simos today when I helped him clean out his office this morning. We can use it for the dinner tonight.”
“Oh bless Shepherd Benjamin,” Jocasta closed her eyes briefly and put her hands together happily. She kissed her husband on the cheek. “And bless you.”
“Go on…” Simis said playfully. “Scat…” he tapped his wife’s behind as she turned to leave the room.
Simis. Bless his heart. Pizza wasn’t going to solve their problems. Nonetheless, Jocasta was grateful as she sunk into the edges of her porcelain bathtub and allowed the hot water to caress her sore muscles.
He tried. That’s what mattered. Jocasta’s father hadn’t really tried. Then again, he went away to war before she was born and when he came back, he wasn’t the same. War could do that to a person.
I feel like I’m fighting my own personal war with Bella on the homefront. Jocasta couldn’t understand. Was she being punished for her pregnancy out of wedlock with a difficult child? Bella screamed until she got her way. She cried and fussed until she received attention. She pulled hair and kicked shins and bite strangers who thought she was cute.
Jocasta sighed heavily, sinking back into the water until only her nose, eyes, and forehead were exposed. Their mistake. An honest mistake. Bella was a beautiful girl, but a troubled one.
They tried a medical diagnosis. They tried special eating plans. They tried keeping her on a regular schedule. They tried counseling. They tried parenting classes at the community center. They tried prayer. They tried a pastoral blessing on their home. Jocasta had even tried some kind of simdoo magic without Simis’ knowlege because he wouldn’t have approved. Nothing seemed to work. Bella kept on fighting and biting.
“Simis, I’m at my wits end,” she confessed as she stretched out on the bed with her husband. “I don’t know what to do about our baby girl. I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”
Tears of defeat pricked her eyelids.
“I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve been praying… but lately I feel like the holy Padre isn’t listening…” he replied, trailing off, as if ashamed to admit the truth.
Jocasta reached for her husband’s hand. “I love you, and I love our daughter, but I can’t go on like this.”
“I know, honey,” Simis agreed. “It’s not healthy.”
“What are we going to do, Simis?” Jocasta leaned her head on his shoulder, her slumped posture mirroring the state of her heart.
“I was…” Simis bit his lip as he began. “…reading… about this healer…”
“A healer?” Jocasta repeated with a yawn.
“Yes, in Simultan…” he gulped.
“What is it, Simis?”
“I just… don’t know… I mean… we don’t have any other options… and we’re running out money trying to fix… er… help Bella… I called her.”
“You called her?”
“Yes. She said she specializes in this kind of ‘biting’ problem, usually not in ones so young… but she can help… but we need to go there.”
“To Al Simhara… if she thinks she can help…”
Jocasta lifted her hand to Simis’ lips. “Say no more. We’ll go.”
“We’ll go?” Simis said more as a question than a statement.
“Yes,” Jocasta agreed. “We have to try.”
Forty-two-and-a-half hours later, the Bachelor family had arrived in Al Simhara, settled into their hostel on the edge of an archaeological dig camp, and wandered below ground in the catacombs, trying to find this mystic healer Simis had read about and called. Bella was surprisingly content to stay balanced on Jocasta’s hips, sucking on the beads around her mother’s neck and occasionally biting the glass. She was the only one at ease. Jocasta was uncomfortable in the sticky heat, even below ground. The ancient stone walls appeared to continue to grow closer the further into the tombs they went. The uneven stone slabs provided little comfort for her feet. The dim lighting was playing tricks with her eyes as she thought she saw ghostly figures floating through solid matter at times.
“Are you sure we’re going the right way?” she whispered nervously, rubbing the sweat from the back of her neck.
“I think so,” Simis stopped in his tracks, frowning as he stared at the parchment paper he had been given by a town merchant. “Though this map could be less than accurate.”
“Don’t say that. I want to get back up and out of here. Who meets clients in this…” she grimaced as she walked into a cobweb. “…horrid place?” she waved her arms to clear a path.
“This lady can help us, and we flew all the way here,” Simis said, patting his wife’s shoulder reassuring, and kissing the toddler on the head. “We should at least try to find her.”
Bella purred happily. Jocasta pouted.
“My feet hurt. My joints ache. I’m tired. I’m hungry. It’s hot. And I’m sweating in the most unladylike way.”
“Lady,” Bella giggled.
“No Bella, not now,” she sighed, wiping a sweat-soaked strand of hair from her forehead.
“No…” Bella said forcefully, clapping her hands. “Laadddyyy.”
Across the hallway and in a torch-lit room, there was a lady in green. She sat stoically on a cold stone chair, hands in her lap, feet together. The feather in her hat appeared to flutter as if there was a breeze, but Jocasta felt no wind in the room, nor could she decipher the source of air flow. She swallowed hard. Maybe this hadn’t been a good idea.
Simis eagerly stepped into the archway and called out in hello. The woman didn’t move as if frozen like the other inanimate objects in the room. Her yellowed eyes glowed as she fixated on the flame. Jocasta hesitantly followed her husband, towing her daughter.
“Hello,” Simis said again. “I’m Simis… Simis Bachelor… we spoke on the telephone. You said you could help my daughter.”
The woman said nothing, but stood to her feet, staring first at Jocasta, and then glancing at the toddler. Simis frowned and continued trying to address the woman, but she ignored him. Bella stopped babbling and fidgeting, and stared back at the strange lady. Their gazes remained locked and Jocasta looked at her daughter to Simis and the lady and back to Bella again.
“What’s going on?” she asked.
Simis shrugged, completely at a loss for words.
“Your daughter has the soul of a huntress,” the woman said without breaking eye contact.
“Huntress?” Simis repeated. “Look, Ms. Specter, we came here…”
“I know why you are here, Mr. Bachelor,” the woman interrupted coldly.
“Well, can you help?” Jocasta asked impatiently.
The mystic healer stared into Bella’s eyes more. After a few moments of silence, she answered.
The woman crossed to the center of the room, lifting the lid on a large stone box. The couple followed, dumbfounded by the woman’s techniques, but nonetheless curious.
“You bring all that you have,” she said.
“You mean, payment? Compensation?” Simis questioned, reaching into his satchel. “Yes, I have the Simos you wanted.”
“Good, place them on the floor,” the woman nodded. “Half in sand and half on stone.”
Simis frowned, but did as told.
“Now what?” Jocasta mouthed to her husband as she shifted the toddler on her hip.
“From the sand we come,” the woman chanted into the box. “From the sand we come and to stone we go. We ask the Great Spirits to accept our offering today and take this malady.”
She waved her arms in the air, and then turned to face the couple and child. “Do you understand what you are doing? I can suppress her tendencies, her latent genes, and her manifestations of this evil, but we take away one and replace with other. There must be a balance. Do you understand?”
“I… don’t,” Jocasta squeaked.
“Balance… there must be a balance in this world. I can help with the healing process but I cannot change who she is. If I take what is not mine, I must give something back. This is what the Great Spirits require.”
Jocasta glanced worriedly at Simis, who was frowning.
“I will take this affliction from her, but in return, she will be cursed with glorious beauty for one hundred years.”
Simis scoffed, and Jocasta resisted the urge to laugh. Glorious beauty? It didn’t sound so bad, compared to the biting and the endless bad behavior and tantrums.
“And it will fix… help her to be good?” Jocasta asked.
“She will no longer be afflicted with evil. She will be filled with good,” the woman assured. “And cursed with glorious beauty for one hundred years.”
“One hundred years?” Simis repeated.
“Oh yes,” the woman nodded. “This is the price. One hundred years.”
Simis looked at his wife. Jocasta looked at her husband. This was their last resort.
“Okay,” they said simultaneously.
Bella sucked on her thumb, but her eyes were still fixed on the lady in green with the strange feathered hat. The healer pulled what appeared to be a heavy crescent moon shaped stone from the box, lifted it above her head, and closed her eyes, murmuring a few words in an ancient language no one truly understood. Blue light began to glow around the wall where the woman placed the stone into a perfectly matching crevice.
Suddenly Bella was swarmed with happy dancing golden yellow lights like fireflies. Jocasta cried out in surprise.
“It won’t hurt your daughter,” the woman assured.
Jocasta took a step back, less certain. Simis walked over and squeezed her hand. Bella giggled, delighted with the warm unnatural light that swarmed around her. Jocasta swallowed hard and fought every urge to run away. She couldn’t feel anything except warm, but something didn’t feel quite right. She couldn’t explain it.
After a moment, the dancing lights disappeared. Jocasta sighed in relief. Bella laid her head down on her mother’s shoulder and closed her eyes as if tired from the ordeal.
“That’s it?” Simis asked.
“The ritual is complete,” the woman nodded. “Bella will need to wear an amulet to ward off evil spirits and to fight her nature, but it should not surface or manifest like it has been. Here…” she placed a small tiny gemstone in Jocasta’s hand. “This ruby… it will do the job.”
“Okay,” Jocasta said, squeezing her hand around the tiny ruby.
“Now go,” the woman opened up a door to a different stairwell than the one they had come down. “These stairs are a shortcut. They will take you outside.”
“Thank you, thank you,” Jocasta said hoarsely. “I’m sorry… what did you say your name was?”
“Olive Specter,” the woman replied.
Bella began to whimper, and Simis took the babe from Jocasta’s arms. As they climbed the stairs, he removed her outer clothes and shoes as she was sweating, and placed them in his knapsack.
The Bachelor family exited the catacombs, greeted by the fading sunlight, shadowed by palm leaves. Bella cooed happily, less layers helping her mood.
Simis looked at his wife and smiled, his fingers brushing her hand.
“We did the right thing,” he whispered.
Jocasta only hoped so. They had no idea what the future had in store for little Bella Bachelor. One hundred years seemed like a lot to forfeit when one didn’t understand what was happening.
Author Notes: The Downplays are, of course, a play on the band, Coldplay. I was listening to the song in the link during this chapter. A shepherd is my Simworld version of a pastor or reverend in the Peteran faith. Benjamin (Long) is actually a Sim in TS2 Pleasantview, and in this story, he’s a “shepherd.” I have this mod which allows for a “faith” career. The war Jocasta mentions, the one her father fought in, was the First Xeno War with the Xenosi. And yes, the Ms. Specter is the very same Olive Specter of Strangetown. She makes an appearance in my other story, The Secret Identity of Jessica Rossum, also (here so far). At this point in her life, she is a “mystic healer,” but she’s Olive Specter. Of course, there’s more than meets the eye. That’s all I’m going to say. And I realize the bows magically change color. Chalk it up to my laziness and The Sims weird choices in attire at strange times. I also had to use a cheat to get Bella, the toddler, to go to Al Simhara with the family so maybe that affected things. Hope you enjoyed! 🙂