Dear J, I am afloat in a sea of crazy! Okay, maybe that sounds a little dramatic but lately, that’s how my thought process has been. One minute, I was walking on clouds due to my engagement to Leela, the next, my jaw was on the floor because of a certain Chrissy Valentine who happened to be sitting in my living room chatting to Blue and Ruby as if that was a normal thing.
I didn’t trust that even though the girls had gone upstairs, they weren’t listening in. After all, if it had been me in that position and my parents had sent me upstairs, I would have dutifully gone up, but only opened and closed my bedroom door. I’d be standing at the top of the stairs, straining to hear whatever I could. It’d be stupid of me to think Blue hadn’t thought to do the same.
So, as soon as I heard the bedroom door close, I stiffly motioned for Chrissy to follow me to the other side of the house to the office. I purposefully positioned myself in the open doorway so I could see the stairs from where we were.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, trying, not very successfully, to keep my voice down.
She had the nerve to look surprised. “Well, I got out of rehab and came home to my family. I’m all better now. You agreed that once I got cleaned up, I could see Blue.”
Her family? I had agreed to that? The conversation I remembered didn’t go down like that at all. I ran a shaking hand through my hair as if that would calm my frayed nerves.
“I never told you to come here unannounced! Blue has never met you. Don’t you think it would have been better if I’d known – if she’d known – about this ahead of time? This is unthinkable!”
“Unthinkable?” she screeched.
I put a hand up, indicating she should lower her voice. This was a nightmare. “What did you say to her?”
She shrugged. “Just normal stuff. I asked how she was doing in school. But she didn’t really say much, so I did most of the talking. You know, chatty kind of stuff, nothing heavy. Who is that other girl?”
“I’m asking the questions here,” I said, my voice sounding like two measures of staccato. “Listen, the last we’d left it, before you went into treatment, you were the one to say you didn’t want to see Blue until you were clean. That was not an invitation from me to waltz into my house and act like you live here or something.”
She shook her head, her blue eyes clouded with confusion. “But you paid for my treatment. You said you wanted me to get better! You held me in your arms on the park bench!”
“I felt sorry for you! How could I leave the mother of my child homeless on a park bench?” I yelled, forgetting that I was trying to keep my voice low.
Now she had the audacity to look indignant. “You felt sorry for me? Wow, Leo. I thought you cared about me!” When I didn’t respond, she added, “Didn’t you get my letter? I love you! I want to be a family!”
“But we’re not a family, Chrissy! And I’m engaged to be married now to someone I love very much. That isn’t going to change.” That may have sounded harsh, but not only was I getting more pissed by the second, I needed her to hear me loud and clear.
“Don’t you care about me at all?”
Finally, I sighed, scratching my chin. “Look, I do care about you… as the mother of my child. But that’s it. Remember when we sat on that bench and you told me we didn’t even really know each other? You were right about that.”
“Leo, c’mon. You can’t hold me accountable for anything I said before rehab. Can’t we just start over?”
What would starting over mean? The only thing I could figure was that it would mean something completely different to me than it did to her.
“I’m afraid not. I have Blue to think about. She means everything to me and I won’t let you hurt her. You had no business coming here without talking to me first. You had no right to talk to her at all until you and I had discussed how we were going to approach this. Just by what you’ve done today alone, I know you don’t have the capability to even understand why that’s important.”
With that, Chrissy’s entire expression changed. She jutted her chin out defiantly as she spoke. “Well, if you’re just going to stand there judging me, I guess I’ll get going.”
“Where are you staying? I think we should talk some more about this when we’re both calmer.”
Averting her eyes, she said, “I don’t have money for a hotel. I was hoping I could stay here.”
Just. Great. “That’s not a good idea. For a lot of reasons.”
“Well, I guess I’ll just go back to the park then!” she said with angry tears in her eyes.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. “I’ll pay for your hotel room and give you some money for food.”
She wiped her nose on her sleeve and smiled a little with relief. “Do you think you could give me some money for some clothes? This isn’t exactly my style.”
For heaven’s sake.
Later when I went upstairs, I saw the light on under Blue’s bedroom door. Knocking lightly, I peeked in.
“I thought you’d be in bed.”
“Come on in, Daddy,” I heard her call.
“Where’s Ruby?” I asked, looking around.
“I wanted to talk to you about earlier.”
“I wanted to talk to you about that, too,” she said.
I couldn’t read her expression but I could hear in her voice that she was upset.
“That was my mom, right?”
“How did you know?”
Blue rolled her eyes. “I look just like her if you ignore my eye color.”
“Thankfully, that’s the only thing you got from me looks-wise,” I tried to joke. Anything to lighten up the mood.
“Why is she here now?” Blue asked, throwing her hands in the air.
Shaking my head, I said, “I don’t know. She has a bad habit of doing this kind of thing.”
Blue’s eyes suddenly grew large as if she realized something for the first time. “So it’s true!”
“What? What’s true?”
“She was here before! When I was younger, I heard yelling from downstairs, so I climbed out of bed and peeked down but all I could see were her feet from where I was standing.”
Rubbing my eyes, all I could think was that just when everything was seemingly falling into place, it was now falling apart. “Yes. I thought you were sleeping. I even checked on you.”
“I know,” she said. “I remember. Why didn’t you let her see me?”
“She was going through a really rough time back then and she came to me for help. That’s when she decided to go into treatment at a drug and alcohol rehab facility. She went inpatient for a long time, then spent an even longer time in a half-way house type situation. She is the one who decided she shouldn’t meet you until she was straightened out.”
Immediately, her eyes narrowed. “Really.”
It wasn’t a question. “Is there something going on I don’t know about?”
I didn’t like the way my daughter was looking at me when she said, “No.”
“Blue, I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me.”
“I just have to think, Daddy.”
With an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, I warily went to my room to shower and go to bed.
From the diary of Blue Capra:
Dear Diary, today after school, Ruby and I decided to check out the Simfest. We were pretty excited since we’d never been before. The entire day, I could barely concentrate on my schoolwork. When I thought about the Simfest, I don’t know why, but I imagined something similar to one of my dad’s rock shows. I learned something, though, about expectations because when we got there, the crowd was pretty small. So was the stage. And the act was some kind of weird contortionist-acrobat with goofy music. I can’t even remember his name but, to be honest, I’m not really worried about it.
Ruby spent the whole time with her eyes shut. “It’s so cringey,” she said.
If there’s one thing about Ruby, she seems to always say the things I’m thinking in my head. Well, almost always. There are things even Ruby doesn’t know. I just can’t bring myself to tell her because I think she would be disappointed with me. If I ever knew she felt that way toward me, I would just die.
When we couldn’t stand it anymore, we sneaked behind the stage. There were some kids hiding back there, smoking, but they headed for some nearby trees when we plopped down on the grass.
I leaned back against the stage, my dirty, powder blue Converses propped on a rock, the acrobat’s music pounding in my temples. Ruby sat next to me, her legs crossed. Funny thing about Ruby, she calls sitting like that “crisscross applesauce.” It’s kind of lame, I guess, but it’s one of the things that makes Ruby… well, Ruby.
“I wish we could get out of here and go to the movies,” Ruby complained. “But the flick I wanna see isn’t out yet.”
“Not me. I wish we could go to a real concert. I saw online that tickets for Pest are on sale starting tomorrow.”
Ruby frowned slightly. “I don’t think our parents would let us see Pest.” Giving me a sideways glance, she asked, “What was it like having your dad be a rock star and doing all those shows? You went to them, right?”
Inwardly, I sighed. I knew what Ruby wanted to hear; what all the kids wanted to hear. They wanted me to tell them how awesome it was hanging out with musicians and artsy people. They wanted stories about wild parties and meeting celebrities. Thing is, that wasn’t the kind of life I’d had. Sure, I went to some shows and even went on stage once during one of Dad’s favorite songs. But mostly, it was lonely. There weren’t any other kids. The only parties I saw were my own birthdays and even then, only grown ups attended.
You know what else it was like even after Dad left the business? It was going to a new school for the first time and ending up with only one friend in the whole world because all the kids I met were only nice to me because they had some lame idea that my dad would come perform at their birthday parties or some other stupid idea.
I was surrounded by people all the time who knew who I was, but I was still horribly lonely. They knew who I was, but they didn’t bother to really know me. They wanted to meet my dad and get autographs.
And they all thought I was a snob because, in return, I didn’t give them the time of day.
Part of me was really super pissed because Dad promised me that this new life in Hidden Springs would be normal. Well… ha! What an absolute lie that turned out to be. I loved him so much but sometimes I thought I might scream from all the anger I had building up inside of me over this.
Maybe because I was always kind of shy, he thought it wouldn’t matter if I had friends or normalcy. Well, let me tell you, it mattered. And now I was almost grown up, my childhood closing out, and it all made me so scared.
Looking up at the sky, I imagined floating among the fluffy white clouds. If I were a bird, I would fly far away from here and everyone who knew who I was. I would live with other birds and we’d all stretch our wings wide and soar the sky together without a care. I wouldn’t stand out or be something to stare at. I’d be one of them.
Maybe that sounds dumb but to me, it was a nice dream even though it could never come true.
“What are you thinking, Blue?”
I’d forgotten Ruby was there. She was so kind, so caring toward me. I felt like she was my sister and knew me better than anybody. But it also seemed to me that she was a better friend to me than I deserved.
“I was thinking…. about birds.” Pushing my hand into my pocket, I felt the note that had been shoved inside my locker. The curiosity was overwhelming but this wasn’t the time to read it. I wanted to be alone for that.
She smiled pleasantly. Ruby never made fun of me. She was never critical or mean. But she was full of questions that sometimes seemed a little nosy. “So, you never really told me anything about the other night when your mom showed up. What did your dad say about that? I bet he was mad!”
I wasn’t surprised that she was bringing this up now. It was so obvious that she had wanted to talk about it since it had happened. Whenever she’d tried to start this conversation, I would change the subject. Today, I wouldn’t, though.
“He was mad all right,” I confirmed. “And just this morning, as an after thought, I guess, he told me never to let anyone in the house again that I didn’t know. But, I mean, it was so clear who she was. I look just like her.”
“You sure do,” Ruby said.
Over the next several minutes, I went through everything Dad had said to me about the incident. What I didn’t tell her is that he lied to me. Or my mom lied to me. One of them was freaking lying (or maybe they both were!) and what I’d been wondering was, if Chrissy sticks around, is this how it’s always going to be? I’m always going to be thinking someone’s not telling me the truth.
My pale cheeks flushed crimson and grew hot as my anger began to build again. I had to get out of here.
Without another word, I sprinted off. I could hear Ruby calling out to me, her voice growing fainter as I picked up speed.
Running was always something I was pretty good at. I was fast and had endurance. For being so thin, I really surprised people by how athletic I was. Looking around now, I realized I’d gone pretty far as I didn’t even recognize where I was.
Panting, I leaned against a giant pile of stacked hay bales, taking in the faint sweet smell it gave off. I smiled slightly as I breathed in another gulp of fresh air. This aroma reminded me of my riding lessons which I really loved. To me, horses didn’t smell badly. I loved the barn smells…. well, except for the urine. Cleaning out a putrid smelling horse stall was not tops on my list of pleasant things to do. But I would clean out a stall all day long if it meant my horse was happy.
Remembering the note in my pocket, I pulled it out to see what it said. It was just a musty smelling paper scrap with some kind of partly smeared handwriting on it. If I had to guess, I would say whoever wrote it, was a guy.
I squinted at it for a few minutes, trying to figure out the words.
Winchester Farming Community”
This was so strange. Was I supposed to know what this meant? Had it been shoved into my locker by accident? But no. Turning the scrap over, I saw “B.V.C” scribbled across the back. Blue Valentine Capra, my initials.
My mind was puzzled as I stared at the note again. I didn’t know what St. Cyr or the name of the community meant. I’d never heard of either. Was this someplace I could go?
Crinkling up the note, I shoved it back into my jeans pocket. The sun was setting but the thought of going home and being around my family was unbearable.
Screw these lies and this loneliness! I decided right then and there that I’d search the internet for this place. If it was in my power, when the time was right, I would even go there.