In Hillary’s mind, she was a party girl with an active social life. She fancied the company of her niece, Sloane, when she wanted to dance and charm a few men who didn’t know any better. But, in reality, she spent many nights holed up in her room. She was confused about who she was and what she wanted in life. Sometimes, she had a clear picture of what she wanted the future to be while other times she settled on doing very little with her life. At least that’s what she felt like her father thought she would amount to, and she wanted to please him. But, if the truth be told, Hillary was quite comfortable and happy in her own skin. She thought she was beautiful and loved her body, but she quickly learned she wasn’t supposed to. The verbal abuse she suffered at the mouth of her father often blurred the lines between truth and lies. Most times she couldn’t tell one from the other. But, sometimes, she knew the truth and it set her free. That confidence she knew she had exuded from every pore, and she flaunted the beauty she felt on the inside. Those were the nights she got out and partied like she wanted. One of those nights, she opted for the company of her best friend, Jase Templeton. Their favorite hangout was The Warehouse in Oasis Springs. They had been going there ever since they were old enough to want to sneak out to do adult things.
“What are you grinning at?”
He often gazed upon her with such admiration…desire even. She couldn’t give him what he wanted.
“You are the most beautiful creature God ever created.”
He always had fine words for her, and he meant them. Sometimes she wanted to give into them and see what he had to offer, but she couldn’t. Not even for a second.
“Oh, please. Yeah, I’m a creature all right…in the morning when I wake up!”
“You’re beautiful then too.”
Not even for a second.
“Not with my hair all over my head and no makeup!”
“You don’t need makeup to be beautiful, Hill. You’re beautiful just the way He made you.”
He never let up. That’s when she switched on attack mode. “Pfft! That’s what all the guys say to the fat girls when they’re not interested.”
“Hill! I’ve been telling you this since we were kids. Stop chasing after guys who can’t appreciate you just as you are! You are beautiful inside and out. It doesn’t matter what size you are.”
“Oh yeah? Then why am I perpetually single? Answer that!”
“Oh, I have plenty of answers to that question, but you’re not ready to hear the answers.”
“Oh? Try me, Dr. Templeton.”
“Ok! First of all, you’re too consumed with image. You’re always talking about how you look and how you think other people think you look when the truth is none of that really matters! And then, the guys that interest you are also image conscious.”
“Just because they are drop dead gorgeous doesn’t mean they’re image conscious.”
“You’re right. They’re not image conscious. They’re image obsessed!”
“Whatever. You’re just jealous of them.”
“Right. I’m jealous of them,” he said sarcastically.
“You are! You wish you had washboard abs, bulging biceps, and perfect hair.”
There was a lull in the conversation as Hillary’s mind began to wander, but not that far. “You said you had more than one answer. Give me another.” She was trying not to sound too interested.
“You’re too blind to see what’s right in front of your face.”
Not even for a second.
“Jase, please. Don’t start that up again.”
“What? What’s wrong with me?”
“You eat cereal!”
He laughed. “What’s wrong with cereal?”
“You eat it like…like nine times a day! I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat anything else! No wonder you look like a pot-bellied pig.”
“There’s that image consciousness again…”
Jase continued laughing and seemed to enjoy shredding her supposed logic to pieces. But she wasn’t done yet. “And you play video games in your pajamas all day and night!”
“I’m an eSports Gamer! It’s what I do for a living!”
“Hmph! Leave it to a geek to figure out how to turn a useless pastime into a job. I bet that’s not even a real job!”
She went too far.
“Hillary…I am highly intelligent. I am at level seven of my career. I make more than §4000 per week. I own my own home. I may be a little clumsy, and yes, I enjoy sci-fi and video games, but to be 22 years old and have accomplished this much? I am confident you won’t find a better match than me. Now…let’s change the subject before one of us gets our feelings hurt.”
She jumped at the chance. “Oh! We’ve got this girl staying with us!”
“Her name is Juliana, and mama is teaching her to speak Simlish. She’s a cute little brown thing! We don’t know where she came from or how she even got here, but mama thinks she’s been homeless so she brought her home.”
“Wait…so, there is a homeless girl…a foreigner…you can’t communicate with her, and she’s living at your house?”
“Yup! Ain’t that crazy? Mama is the most generous person I know!”
“She is. Harold didn’t say anything about it?”
“He can’t. Mama is fed up with him. What she says pretty much goes these days.”
“Wow. I’d love to meet this Juliana. Well…maybe when her Simlish is better.”