Author Note: This begins Part 3 of La Vita Bella, The Newlywed Years.
“Daddy, is a lie a sin?”
Bella walked around the streets of Pleasantview beneath a violet-blue sky with her father. It was hours before her intended wedding, but she couldn’t sleep. Growing up, when she couldn’t sleep, her father would take her for walks. As a tot, he would carry her in his arms. As a child, he would carry her on his shoulders. As a teen, he would walk with her side-by-side. Sometimes he would point out constellations like Orion’s belt, a mighty hunter, or the seated queen, the constellation, Cassiopeia. Bella had grown fond of these night walks, but they hadn’t done so in a long time. Now it seemed appropriate on the eve of her wedding.
She knew her father did everything he could to provide for his family, including agreeing to an arranged marriage for his eldest. Bella was an untold burden on the Bachelors and she knew that. Her supernatural genes wreaked havoc on their lives, and she had a feeling Simis felt guilty. She didn’t fault her father, but she hated the space between them in the last four years. He prioritized the needs of his flock of the desires of his family. Bella wished with all her heart that she could explain to her father why she didn’t want to go through with her marriage to Mortimer, but she knew that would only bring further hardship to the family if they were cut off from the financial support of the Goths, and further shame as she carried the child of a man who was not her fiance.
They ceased their walk outside the wrought iron gates of the Goth estate. Tomorrow, this would be her new home. Tomorrow, this would become her prison. Bella wished she could turn back time and change her choices. She wished she could suppress her vampiric desires for blood all on her own, that she didn’t need Mr. Goth’s money and medicine. She wished she could return to simpler days where she walked the streets of Pleasantview late at night without the cares and concerns of the big wide world. Nothing could stop tomorrow from happening. Not even Simis, her father and her protector. She would be the wife of Mortimer Goth, and he would raise her daughter and take care of her medical and financial needs, but would she be happy? She doubted it. Everything lately was a lie.
“The Good Book says we should not lie,” Simis replied simply. “It does not please Padre.”
“But why?” Bella twisted her lower lip. “Why doesn’t it please…” she trailed off looking at the toes of her boots. “…the father?” she whispered.
“Well, it is against his nature, I suppose. He does not tolerate untruths because he is a truthful God. And when we tell a falsehood, we do not represent the truth and this hurts our neighbor,” Simis replied.
Like the Goths? Bella wondered. They would be the neighbors of the Bachelors since Mortimer planned to stay in Pleasantview for awhile. In a way Bella was glad she would be close to her family. Marrying Mortimer was enough change. She didn’t know if her heart could handle a sudden move.
“A deception dishonors the other person,” her father added. “It keeps a person from seeing your whole true self, even if that part of yourself is not in the best state. It robs the other person the opportunity to accept the wholeness of you.”
Bella resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Simis was using his “preaching” voice, the one she disliked, especially when it was directed at her. Perhaps her father had a point, but if anything, his point confirmed to her that she shouldn’t go through with the marriage, and that thought scared her.
“Are you worried, my daughter, about your vows tomorrow?” Simis asked, wrapping an arm around Bella’s shoulder and squeezing gently. “You have time to rework the words to be more reflective of yourself.”
“No, no,” she shook her head, swallowing the hard lump in her throat. “It’s not that. I just…” she trailed off, and sighed, uncertain of how to tell the truth. “…I’ll miss these walks with you, Daddy.”
“Are you nervous?” Jocasta was asking.
Bella’s head was swirling with thoughts. It was four-thirty in the morning, and the sun had not yet risen. She stood in her home, already dressed in her snow white wedding gown trimmed with beautiful red lace. Her mother was assisting her in preparing for the sunrise ceremony.
“Here,” Jocasta pulled a pin from her hair, and slipped the metal into Bella’s own black waves. “This will keep your hair from falling in your face.”
“Thank you, Mother,” Bella said, genuinely.
Even though Jocasta stood right behind her, Bella could feel the enormous gap of space between them. When did it get this bad? she wondered woefully. When she was a child, her mother used to spend hours braiding Bella’s hair and making all sorts of fun arrangements. Today she had chosen a simple style, and no veil. It didn’t seem right to wear a veil when she was already aware in the world. It felt like a lie. Now as mother fixed daughter’s hair, things felt familiar, and yet distant. Jocasta still cared for her, Bella could sense it, but there was such space between the little girl and the woman Bella was today, and somewhere in the middle, she lost touch with the woman who raised her. Would the gap close?
Bella stood in the church where her parents were married. In a few minutes, she would be married also, but for now, she could hide in the safety of the stone-walled women’s restroom. Jocasta and her bridesmaids had given her a few moments to prepare herself mentally for her big day. She would face the trip down the aisle alone as her father would be the one performing the ceremony. She stared at herself in the white heart-shaped mirror and wondered why she hated her reflection so. Was it because she despised the person she had become?
This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life, and yet the baby within her belonged to Malcolm and her heart belonged to Emit, but the man whose hands she would hold momentarily would be Mortimer. How can I do this? she wailed internally. How can I go through with this lie? With all the strength she could muster, Bella plastered a smile across her face and stepped from the bathroom, the space between the woman she wanted to be and the woman she was growing ever wider, a chasm between reality and fantasy.
Previous Chapter: Episode 22, Goodbye
Next Chapter: Coming Soon!