She awoke with a start, gasping for breath. Her nightmare, always the same one, was
Her sister’s deafening scream of terror. The Tricou disciples, her so-called friends
smiling and laughing at her as they thanked her for convincing Grey, Lily, and Nata to join
them that afternoon. Her body paralyzed with fear, except for the continuous chant of
her inner voice, repeating that it was all her fault.
Whenever she started making friends again, it came back. It didn’t matter who or what
or where. As soon as she let people get close to her, it reappeared more intense than
before. And that meant only one thing.
It was time to move on.
Desdemona got up from the sweat-soaked sheets, feeling as though every ounce of
strength had drained from her body, and began to pull her things from the hotel room
dresser. She felt like she’d been doing nothing but “moving on” since she left her
siblings. It felt like forever ago, but in reality it had probably only been a few years.
At first, they stuck together because they felt the safety in numbers. But as Lily’s
nightmares continued, Desdemona found herself withdrawing from her brother and
sisters. After all, if she hadn’t made them go to Hans Trap Door Co. with her, Lily
wouldn’t be in the state she was, they wouldn’t be banished from Sim City, and their
mother wouldn’t have had to become a vampire and be imprisoned in that creepy old
house with only a ghost for company.
It had been easier than she’d thought to leave them. They’d been near a college town,
and Desdemona had announced that she wanted to go. No one else had, so they had
continued on without her. Their willingness to let her stay behind further convinced
Desdemona that they did in fact blame her even when they said they didn’t. It was better
this way, she thought, as she watched the car vanish in the distance. This way, they
could start to heal without her presence constantly reminding them of what they’d lost.
After taking an exam to prove that she knew what she should, since she didn’t have a
high school diploma, Desdemona entered college with a political science major. She
attended classes, hung around the common areas of the dorm, and started to make
friends. It was nice to be someplace where no one knew her history.
Things went well through her first semester. She made the Dean’s list, which she
proudly shared with everyone in a mass email. Then everything went to hell.
She’d spent the semester break at the house of one of her dorm mates, and they started
hanging out when school started again. One night about two weeks into the new
semester, Desdemona awoke in a cold sweat, screaming. That was the first time she
had nightmares about what happened with her sister. Sadly, it would not be the last.
Her dorm mates had awoken to her screams, and they’d understood that she’d had a
nightmare, and had even gone to the cafeteria to make her hot chocolate to comfort her.
She’d smiled and thanked them, but refused to talk about the nightmare. She didn’t want
any of her new friends to know the pain she had caused to her family.
The nightmares didn’t stop, and soon Desdemona’s dorm mates began to whisper about
her, wondering what was causing her to interrupt all their sleep with her screams night
after night. Old Desdemona would have been sad by this development, but New
Desdemona understood completely. After all, she’d already shown that she was a poor
judge of character. And even though her sister’s calls and email did their best to
maintain a happy tone, Desdemona could tell that Lily was still suffering. No,
Desdemona didn’t deserve to have friends. She’d just end up hurting them too, in the
Desdemona pulled away from them, one by one, until all that was left for her was her
schoolwork. But since she wasn’t sleeping well, if at all, it too suffered. About halfway
through her second semester, she dropped out. She packed up all her worldly goods
into a suitcase and a cardboard box, and caught the next bus out of town.
Eventually, the bus arrived in the city of Kingston, a bustling metropolis on the banks of a
river. It was bigger even than Sim City had been, and Desdemona looked up at the huge
skyscrapers and gulped. She’d never felt smaller and more alone in her life.
Still, she figured the big city would be exactly what she needed. There were so many
opportunities, and a million different possibilities of what she could do. Gripping her
suitcase tighter in her hand, she made her way down the street towards a rather seedy
looking motel. She would much rather have stayed somewhere nicer, but until she
figured out what she was going to do for work, she needed to conserve her money.
Work wasn’t at all hard to find, with so many options available to her. Desdemona soon
began working as a waitress. The pay wasn’t fantastic, but her friendly nature made it
easy to build rapport with her customers , and that in turn improved her tips which made
a huge difference to her finances. She picked up extra shifts whenever she could, and
soon had enough money to rent a small studio apartment closer to the restaurant. It
wasn’t much, but it was hers, and she was immensely proud of it.
Occasionally, she’d join her coworkers for a drink or two when they got out of work.
Desdemona still didn’t think that she deserved to have any true friends, but it was nice to
have a few people that she could talk to about trivial things every now and then. As long
as she didn’t let anyone get too close to her, she didn’t think there would be any
Still, Desdemona wasn’t happy. At the end of the night, she came home to an empty
apartment. It certainly wasn’t what she planned on her life being life, but it was what it
was. Desdemona still didn’t believe that she deserved happiness, especially not after
what she’d put her family through. She could support herself. That would have to be
A few months into her stay in Kingston, Desdemona had decided to stop and pick up a
pizza on the way home from work rather than suffer another night of restaurant leftovers.
The pizza place was halfway between her restaurant and her apartment, and she’d done
it several times before so she didn’t think twice as she made her way down the street to
pick up her order.
A few blocks before arriving at the pizza place, Desdemona found herself frozen in her
tracks. Standing on the edge of the street was a vampire.
Her father had been a vampire since before Desdemona was born, so she was very
familiar with how they looked, from their bluish skin to their blood-red eyes. It was
actually pretty surprising that this was the first vampire she’d seen during her stay in
Kingston. She’d seen a few zombies, and had been certain that she’d served a witch or
two, but she hadn’t seen a vampire since she said goodbye to her mother back in Sim
This vampire was a man, and he paid no attention to her as he stalked past the place
where she stood rooted to the ground. When he vanished around a corner, she felt her
muscles unlock. With one quick glance over her shoulder to make sure he was really
and truly gone, Desdemona took off running, her pizza long forgotten.
She reached her apartment, slamming and bolting the door behind her. Her breath was
coming in gasps, both from her sprint home and the sight that had sent her running. She
honestly never thought she’d see another vampire again. She planned on avoiding them
all together, unless some strange circumstance allowed her to return to Sim City and see
her mother again. The Council keeping her father from her when she was younger
combined with their harsh sentence on her mother and herself made her very wary of the
creatures. They were trouble, plain and simple.
As the adrenaline wore off, Desdemona felt her knees wobble, and she sank to the floor.
“You knew that you’d probably run into one sooner or later,” she muttered to herself.
“Cities are a magnet for creatures like that, since they can blend in.”
Still doesn’t make it any easier, especially not after everything.
“Oh, shut up,” she muttered again. “I’m not having conversations with myself.”
The voice in her head had no reply. Instead, her stomach rumbled, reminding her that
her dinner had never been collected. Instead of venturing outside to go get it, she picked
herself up and opened the freezer, though she know that its contents were pretty sparse.
“TV dinner it is,” she sighed, as she tried not to think about the warm, gooey pizza that
sat abandoned somewhere.
Sleep eluded Desdemona that night. She tossed and turned for hours. It wasn’t until the
sun started to rise that she was able to get herself to relax enough to fall into slumber,
and it was far too soon that her alarm clock blared, signaling it was time to get up and
head to work.
“Thank goodness for coffee,” she muttered as she started a pot before heading off to
Three cups and a few pieces of toast later, Desdemona headed off to work. She took a
completely different route than what she normally did, not trusting herself to walk down
the same street she had seen the vampire on the night before.
Work was busy that night, something Desdemona was grateful for. The hurried pace
kept her mind occupied, and she managed to forget about her lack of sleep and the
vampire that had shaken her so badly.
When closing time came, she grabbed a bagful of leftovers and hurried out the door.
Instead of walking as she usually did, she took a cab. She’d done well with her tips that
night, and she figured she’d earned the peace of mind that the cab ride would afford her.
The cab let her off at the intersection right by her apartment. As she paid the driver, she
caught something moving out of the corner of her eye. A person…no. Another vampire.
This one was a woman, and she was looking straight at Desdemona. She felt her heart
Rather than wait for her change, she hollered “Keep it!” over her shoulder as she
sprinted into her building. Once again she locked the door, putting a chair up against it
for good measure.
“Not that that will keep them out if they want to come in.”
After her sleepless night, she collapsed into bed and fell asleep almost immediately. But
her old nightmare returned with vengeance that night. Desdemona awoke screaming,
Lily’s voice echoing in her head.
“No, no, no, no, no,” she cried. “Stop, please, stop! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
Desdemona got out of bed, her shoulders slumped.
“I can’t stay here.”
Two vampires in two nights was just too much for her. The other supernatural creatures,
thought they freaked her out, did not unnerve her in the same way those two vampires
had. Sighing, she reached under the bed and pulled out her suitcase. Since she
couldn’t sleep, she might as well pack. As soon as the sun rose, she could be on her
At eight that morning, Desdemona knocked on the landlord’s door. Luckily, her lease
was month-to-month. With her returned security deposit in hand, she headed down the
street to the used car lot. She bought the only vehicle she could afford, though it
certainly looked like it had seen better days. She drove it back to her apartment, filling it
up with her suitcase and a few boxes of things that she couldn’t bear to leave behind.
She gave the street one last look before getting behind the wheel, determined to put as
much distance between herself and Kingston as she could before nightfall.
Three days later, Desdemona was standing by the side of the road, kicking the tires of
her car with all that she had. The damn thing wouldn’t start, and she had no idea why.
Without a phone and with no houses in sight, she had no idea what to do.
The sound of an engine caught her ear.
“Please, come this way,” she mumbled. “Please please please please please.”
A battered old pickup truck slowed to a stop as it approached her car. Inside was an
older man, and he called to her through the rolled-down window.
“You alright there, miss?”
“My car won’t start, and I don’t have a phone to call for help. Do you have a phone that I
can borrow, please?”
“I can do one better than that,” he said, getting out of the truck and reaching into the bed
and producing a set of chains. “If you don’t mind, I’ll pull your car to my house, and see
if I can do anything to get it running right.”
Desdemona hesitated, and the man chuckled. “You’re not from around here, are you?”
“What makes you say that?”
“Well, if you were, you wouldn’t have hesitated. Everyone from this area knows that I’m
the best mechanic around these parts. Why, I’d be insulted, if I didn’t figure that you
were just passing through.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” she replied. “I’ve…learned not to trust people.”
“City livin’ll do that to you. Now, can I offer you a tow?”
Desdemona quickly considered her options, and nodded. She helped him hook the
chains up to her car, and then hopped into the cab.
“Where you headin’ if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Anywhere far away from Kingston.”
“Well, Riverbrook is that,” he chuckled. “Name’s Keith. Keith Jiles.”
“Got a last name to go with that?”
Keith chuckled. “More of that not trusting people thing?”
Keith’s house turned out to be a warm and inviting old farmhouse with a large barn in the
back. That was where they towed and then pushed her car, and Keith carried her
suitcase into the house where a matronly woman was bustling about the large kitchen.
“You bringin’ home strays again, honey?” she asked as she kissed him on the cheek.
“You know me. Tammy, this is Desdemona. Desdemona, Tammy, my wife. She’ll be
staying here until I can figure out why her old car won’t start.”
“Oh, I can’t impose,” Desdemona began, but Tammy quickly hushed her.
“There’s not a hotel or a motel for miles, deary. Why don’t you go freshen up before
dinner? I hope you like fried chicken.”
“Homemade?” Desdemona asked as her mouth began to water.
“Deary, ‘homemade’ is the only kind of food we do around here.”
Dinner that night had been divine. Desdemona couldn’t remember the last time she’d
had a home-cooked meal, and Tammy’s fried chicken had not disappointed. She’s been
fairly certain that after three helpings of it her stomach would explode, but when Tammy
produced a still-warm-from-the-oven apple pie, Desdemona was able to eat two slices.
Not long after dinner, the combination of a very full belly and several days of basically
living in her car caught up with her, and Tammy chuckled before leading her up the stairs
to a small, homey bedroom. Her suitcase, which Keith had brought upstairs earlier, sat
on the desk.
“Bathroom’s right next door. We make an early start around here, but don’t feel like you
need to join us. You look tired, deary. Sleep as late as you want.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Jiles.”
“What did I tell you earlier, deary? Mrs. Jiles is my mother-in-law. It’s Tammy.”
The next morning, Desdemona work up after one of the best nights of sleep she’d had
since the incident. She flipped back the homemade quilt on her bed, and got up to look
out the window.
She was greeted with the sight of idyllic rolling hills and farmland. There was a pasture
with sheep in it, and a field where what appeared to be corn was growing. She felt a
wave of peace wash over her.
“This place is beautiful,” she whispered, before gathering up a change of clothes and
heading to the bathroom to get ready for the day.
Down in the kitchen, Tammy was busy mixing something up in a large bowl.
“Sleep well, deary?” she asked.
“Very well, thank you.”
“You must be hungry. What would you like?”
“Oh, I can make myself some toast or something.”
Tammy put the hand that held the mixing spoon on her hip. “Desdemona, no one in my
house eats ‘just toast’ for breakfast. Give me a second and I’ll whip you up an omelet.”
After breakfast, Desdemona put on a sweater and headed outside to the barn where
Keith was busy poking at her car.
“Have you figured out what’s wrong with it yet?”
He chuckled. “I think it would be easier to figure out what’s right with it.”
“Damn,” she swore. “I knew it was a piece of junk when I bought it, but I couldn’t afford
Keith nodded. “Lots of those car salesmen in the city make lots of money off of folks like
that. Drives me crazy.”
“Well, I did what I could,” Desdemona said, slightly defensively.
“Now little lady, I didn’t mean to ruffle your feathers. I’m sure you would have gotten a
better car if you could have. Frankly, I’m amazed that it lasted as long as it did.”
Desdemona sighed. “So there’s no fixing it?”
“I didn’t say that. It needs a new starter and alternator, which I can get. There are a few
other things I suggest that you get fixed before going anywhere, like the brakes and the
suspension. With a little elbow grease and some new paint, this could be a very nice
Desdemona sighed again. “That sounds expensive.”
“It can be as expensive as you want it to be. I can break it all down for you, highlighting
the repairs that will make the car safer and more reliable. The cosmetic stuff isn’t
necessary, but it would help the resale value down the road.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You think there’s another sap out there dumb enough to buy
this piece of junk?”
Keith threw back his head and laughed. “You know what they say about a sucker being
born every minute.”
Desdemona cracked a small smile. “So, now what?”
He scratched the back of his neck. “Well, I can fix it up so it’ll run so you can leave, but
it’ll take about a week to get the parts in. You headed anywhere in a hurry?”
“Nope, I don’t have a schedule I need to keep. How much?”
Keith went over to his work bench and worked some figures on a dirty notepad. “’Bout
Desdemona thought for a moment. Between buying the car and not having a job, the
cost of repairing her car would leave her with virtually nothing once she got wherever she
decided she was going. If she couldn’t find a job right away, she’d really be up a creek
without a paddle.
“That’s…not something I can really afford right now.”
Keith nodded. “City livin’s expensive. Must have been hard to save anything.”
Desdemona simply nodded, not really trusting her voice.
“Tell you what. If you ain’t got nowhere to be, why not stay here for a while. Tammy and
me, we’ve rented rooms to folks passin’ through before. There’s a café where you could
wait tables, or the newspaper, which always need folks to review what’s going on in the
“I don’t know…”
“Just think about it. Take the day, walk into town and explore a bit. See what you think.”
She did just that. It was maybe a half mile into the small center of town. Having always
lived in cities, Desdemona found herself entranced with the main street, and how
everyone really did seem to know each other.
She stopped into the small café, but they weren’t hiring at the moment. The newspaper
office, however, had been more lucrative. The editor had been eager to meet her, and
she walked away with a job as a local events correspondent. It wasn’t the best pay, but
she figured something was better than nothing. It would allow her to pay for her room
and eventually the repairs to her car. Maybe she’d even earn enough to be able to fix
her car up like Keith had suggested.
That night, over a dinner of turkey with all the fixings, Desdemona asked if there was a
room available for her to rent. Tammy smiled a mile wide.
“Of course we do! You do know that it includes three meals a day.”
“Thank you. I figured since I don’t know where I’m going, I might as well stay here for a
while. Maybe I can even save up enough to make that hunk of junk in the barn look like
a respectable car.”
“I’ll order the parts first thing in the morning. If you’re not opposed to getting your hands
dirty, it would help with the labor costs.”
Over the next few weeks, Desdemona spent her days helping Keith work on repairing
her car or in the kitchen with Tammy baking and cooking various dishes. Most
afternoons and evenings were devoted to work for the newspaper, attending various
events around town and in the area and recapping them. Eventually, she was able to
save enough to purchase herself a laptop computer so she could work on her articles in
the quiet of her room rather than the busy newspaper office.
Despite the lack of variety, Desdemona found that she liked life in Riverbrook. For all its
faults, the people genially cared about each other and everyone looked out for everyone
else. She soon learned the names of the townsfolk, and the incidental things going on in
their lives that polite conversation demanded she ask about when they met.
The only thing that bothered her about Riverbrook was how nosy the people were.
Whenever she met up with someone, courtesy demanded that she say hello, but the
residents of the small town always seemed to want to go further than that. They asked
about how she liked her job, and how the repairs on her car were progressing. That she
didn’t mind so much. She was happy to make small talk about inconsequential things.
It was when they started to probe deeper that Desdemona got leery. Once she’d been
there awhile, the townsfolk seemed to think her past was their business. They asked
about her family, and if they were going to come visit her. They asked why a “nice young
girl” like her didn’t have a boyfriend. And they asked about whether or not she was going
to be staying in Riverbrook.
She commented on it to Tammy one day while they were working on dinner.
“Don’t you worry your pretty little head ‘bout that none, deary. Folks in small towns like
to gossip, and we haven’t had a new person come ‘round in a long time. Just you wait.
In a few weeks, they’ll find something newer and more interesting to talk about, and
you’ll be old news.”
One day, out of the blue, she got a call from someone named John, who said that he
was marrying her sister Lily. He’d tracked her, Nata, and Grey down, and was hoping
that Desdemona would be able to attend the wedding. Needing to buy herself a little
time, she said that she really wanted to, but would need to check to see if she could get
the time off.
As soon as she hung up with John, she called Grey.
“You should go,” he said simply.
Desdemona hesitated. She was afraid that seeing her sister again would trigger the
nightmares, which she hadn’t had since leaving Kingston. “I don’t know.”
“Desdemona, this isn’t about you. This is about Lily. It would mean a lot to her to have
all of us there, so you should go.”
She did go, and in the end she was glad she did.
Seeing her sister happy with her husband and new family, Desdemona somehow felt
lighter. Despite all that Lily had suffered, she had been able to overcome it and get what
she had wanted. Maybe, someday, Desdemona would be able to do the same.
As she’d said goodbye to Lily, her younger sister had looked at her as if she could see
Desdemona’s very soul.
“Are you happy, Desi?”
Desdemona stuttered a bit as she answered. “I’m trying, Lil. I really am trying.”
Lily had hugged her close. “Keep trying. Don’t give up until you are.”
Upon her return to Riverbrook, she thought about what her sister had said. For
Desdemona, happiness had always meant surrounding herself with friends. But friends
had brought on the nightmares, and they had been unbearable, so she wasn’t sure if that
was a realistic option for her. Being happy in the future would need to take on a different
form, if she wanted to keep the nightmares at bay.
As she tried to decide what happiness would look like for her, Desdemona began to
seriously consider staying in Riverbrook long term. She liked the serenity the small town
afforded, she liked her job, and she liked living with Keith and Tammy. It wasn’t exactly
where she pictured ending up when she left Kingston, but staying someplace where she
had a steady job and a roof over her head seemed liked a good idea.
Everyone knew that she’d gone to see her sister get married, so of course they asked
about it. Still reluctant to share anything about her family, Desdemona had tried to
satisfy their curiosity with broad statements about how lovely the wedding was, and how
happy she was for her sister.
Unlike the other times when she’d gently brushed them off, this time the townsfolk
seemed genuinely rebuked by her lack of responses. One of the ladies who loved to tell
Desdemona all about how well her chickens were laying said as much.
“What kind of girl doesn’t like to talk about weddings?”
“This kind,” Desdemona had replied before quickly walking away.
By the time the annual county fair rolled around, Desdemona was starting to feel
uncomfortable in Riverbrook. She’d been sent to cover the event, and as she wandered
around the produce displays and checked out the entertainment, she noticed that people
were talking in hushed tones as she passed by. Their words were too soft for her to
hear, but she didn’t need to hear them to know that she was probably the topic of their
She tried to ignore them, but it was much easier said than done. Desdemona had
always felt a bit like an outsider, but that feeling was never stronger than it was that day.
She sat down at a picnic table where Keith and Tammy were sharing a basket of fries.
“Want some, deary?” Tammy asked, but Desdemona shook her head. Her stomach felt
funny after watching seemingly everyone gossip about her, without bothering to hide it.
“Now, you love fries. What’s bothering you?”
Desdemona bit her lip. “Oh, I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s just…I kept noticing that
everywhere I went today, people seemed to be whispering behind my back.”
Tammy frowned. “Deary, what did I tell you? That’s just what folks in small towns do.
When Keith and I first moved here, folks talked about us all the time. Eventually,
something else will come along that will capture their interest, and they’ll move on.”
“I hope so,” Desdemona muttered.
“Now, how about some fries?”
That night, Desdemona’s sleep was fitful, but she didn’t have the full-blown nightmares
that she did back in college or in Kingston. When she got up, she felt extremely groggy,
and it took three cups of coffee before she was able to think clearly enough to write her
review of the county fair. Once that was done and sent off, she headed out to the barn
where Keith was busy prepping her car for a fresh coat of paint.
“Need a hand?” she asked. Keith nodded, and pointed to the grinder that was sitting on
the work bench.
“Go to it. It needs to be down to bare metal before we can repaint it. Have you picked
the color yet? I need to order the paint soon.”
“I’m thinking blue, but I’m not sure.”
“Blue’s a good color.”
They worked in silence for a while, Desdemona’s focus entirely on removing the horrid
paint and any trace of rust from the car. She finished the section she was working on,
and called Keith over for his approval.
“Nice work. You could make one hell of a mechanic if you wanted to, Desdemona.”
She shrugged. “It’s a fun hobby, but I don’t know if I’d like it so much if I did it for a living.
It’s kind of a solitary living, and I like being around people.”
Desdemona tried to stifle a yawn.
“Up late working on your review last night?”
“No, couldn’t sleep. Too much on my mind.”
Keith nodded, and they went back to working on the car.
As they were cleaning up for the day, Keith spoke.
“There’s something that happened to you that you want to get away from.”
Desdemona spun around so fast that the ponytail her hair was in whipped around and
smacked her in the face. Keith held his hands up in defense.
“I don’t know what it is, but I do know this: you can’t keep running from your past. It
always catches up to you.”
She shrugged noncommittally. “What business of yours is it?”
“None. But I can tell you’re a good girl, Desdemona, and you deserve to be happy.”
“What do you know about what I deserve?” she mumbled as she tossed the rag she’d
used to wipe her hands back on the work bench and stormed into the house.
Desdemona was unusually quiet during dinner, but Tammy chatted on enough to make
up for the silence. Keith didn’t comment much, but at times he looked at Desdemona
with a pointed expression. As quickly as she could once dinner was over, she hurried up
to her room.
Once there, she put on the comfiest pair of pajamas she owned and curled up on her
bed. Her conversation with Keith had shaken her more than she cared to admit. The
whole reason that she’d never told anyone about her past was that she didn’t want
anyone to know. If people knew about what had happened in Sim City, they’d treat her
differently. Not to mention the fact that her father was a vampire and her mother was
now one. She’d never actually seen a supernatural creature of any kind in Riverbrook,
but she could only imagine how well the townsfolk would take to someone like that.
She rolled over. Not that being treated differently wasn’t exactly what she deserved.
Poor Lily was still suffering the aftereffects of what had happened; she’d gotten an email
from Grey telling her that just a few days ago, along with the information that they’d gone
their separate ways.
“Poor Lily,” she whispered. “If only I hadn’t made you go.”
She wiggled around until she’d pulled the sheets and quilt up over her. After a night of
little sleep, she was exhausted.
“I hope I can get some sleep some tonight.”
“Deary, wake up. You were having a bad dream,” Tammy said, gently shaking
She sat up with a jolt, gasping in small breaths.
“I…I’m sorry,” she managed to get out.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. Everyone gets spooked by the boogey man every now and
Keith was standing in the doorway, arms folded. “You okay now?”
“I think so. Go back to bed, you two. I’m going to get myself a drink and do the same.”
A week past, and Desdemona’s nightmares continued. Not wanting to wake Tammy and
Keith up again, she’d taken to napping. Lots. It left her constantly feeling groggy, and
the coffee maker became her new best friend. She thought she’d done a decent job of
hiding what was going on, but as she crept down in the wee hours of the morning she
overheard her hosts talking.
“I’m telling you, Tammy, that poor girl’s been traumatized by something. She needs to
talk about it.”
“Don’t you go pushing her, Keith. What she needs is someone to take care of her, and
we’re doing that. She’ll open up when she’s ready.”
“I wouldn’t count on it. I’d put money on her running away from something when I found
her on the side of the road. I told her running away from her problems wasn’t a solution.”
“Keith Jiles, you didn’t! You’re libel to scare the poor thing off.”
Realizing that there was coffee to be had at the café and free wireless where she could
work on her latest review Desdemona slipped out of the house and into town. The
conversation she’d overheard had left her stomach feeling as though a large rock was
sitting in it. It wasn’t a good feeling. Desdemona had been so happy in Riverbrook, and
now that happiness seemed to be in jeopardy.
The café was empty, as it was still very early, so she got to chatting with the barista while
she made Desdemona a double espresso.
“You know, Desdemona, I had some trouble with nightmares myself a while back. Got
the doc to give me some pills to help me sleep, and it made all the difference.”
Desdemona nearly dropped her coffee. “Excuse me?”
“Oh, Keith was in here the other day, looking all tired and he mentioned that you were
keeping everyone up with nightmares.”
”He did, did he?”
The barista nodded as she wiped the counter. “Oh, yeah. I told him to have you call my
doc, to see if he could do something for you too. Guess he didn’t have a chance to yet.”
“No, he didn’t. Thanks, but no. I’m not interested in sleeping pills.”
The barista shrugged. “Suit yourself. If that’s not your cup of tea, I know a shrink the
next town over who’s really good too.”
It took everything Desdemona had not to scream or throw something. “No, thank you. I
can take care of myself. Excuse me, I need to meet with my editor.”
She opened the door to the café with more force than was necessary, and stormed down
the street to the newspaper office. It too was basically deserted, excepting for the light
that was on in the editor’s office.
“Desdemona!” she called as she looked up. “I wasn’t expecting to see you today.”
“Hi Sara. I wasn’t planning on coming in, but I found that I need to.”
Desdemona went into the office and sat down. “I need to quit. I’m sorry.”
“I need to leave Riverbrook,” Desdemona answered. When Sara raised an eyebrow, she
elaborated. “Family emergency.”
“Oh, you poor thing. I’m sorry to hear that. You were one of my best correspondents,
and I’ll be sorry to lose you.”
“Thanks. That means a lot.”
Sara leaned back in her chair. “I wonder…what would you think about freelancing for
“What do you mean?”
“Like I said, I hate to lose you as a correspondent. Maybe you can’t cover local events
any more, but maybe you could write about something else? Travel, book review, movie
Desdemona paused for a second. “I’d never thought about that, but I like the idea of still
having a paycheck of sorts.”
“Good. It’s settled then. You’ll write different articles and email them to me, and I’ll direct
deposit your checks so you can access them wherever you’re going. Where are you
going, by the way?”
“To my sister’s,” she lied. “She’s going through a rough patch, and she needs me. I
might try travelling with her a bit, you know. I think she needs to get away from where
“I see. Well, best of luck to you both. I assume you’re leaving soon?”
“Very early tomorrow. I have a few loose ends I need to tie up first.”
“Of course. Save travels, Desdemona, and I’ll be watching for those articles.”
Back at the house, Desdemona packed up her belongings once more and brought her
things out to her car. As she closed the hatchback, she marveled at how different her car
looked from what it had been a few months ago. It looked like a new car, and it ran even
“At least something good came out of this whole mess,” she muttered before going back
into the house.
At dinner that night, Desdemona told Keith and Tammy that she would be leaving early in
“Running away again?” Keith asked.
Desdemona shot daggers at him with her glare. “So what if I am?”
Keith shook his head. “I told you running doesn’t help any.”
“Neither does telling the whole town about my nightmares.”
Tammy gaped at her husband. “You didn’t!”
He shrugged. “Everyone wanted to know why I looked so tired. I wasn’t going to lie.”
“Having baristas offer to help me get sleeping pills or to set me up with a shrink is not
helpful. I came here to get away from something, and now everyone knows my
business. I can’t stay here anymore.”
Tammy nodded sadly. “I understand, deary. I’m guessing you’ll be off before the sun’s
The next morning, Desdemona was up ridiculously early. As she quietly went down the
stairs of the house for the last time, she noticed an old picnic basket sitting by the door
with a note with her name sitting on top. She picked up the note and started to read.
Deary, I’m really sorry about what Keith did. I’m sure he thought he was helping, but he
just doesn’t know when to mind his own business sometimes.
I packed some food for you. Don’t worry about the basket; it’s old and I was supposed to
have thrown it out a long time ago.
I’m sure you’d rather forget your time in Riverbrook, but if you have a moment or two
drop me a line to let me know you’re okay. I hope you can work through whatever it is
that’s eating at you.
Desdemona wiped a tear away as she refolded the note. She quickly crept into the
kitchen and pulled a piece of paper out of a drawer. She scratched a quick thank you
note before heading outside to put the basket and her computer into the car.
Once in the driver’s seat, she took one last look around.
“Goodbye, Riverbrook,” she said as she pulled out of the driveway, heading for places
For a while, Desdemona drove aimlessly, never staying in more than one spot for more
than a few days. She reviewed hotels she stayed at, restaurants she ate in, books she
read, and movies she saw. The pay wasn’t as good as it had been when she’d been
covering local events, but she didn’t mind living a little frugally.
There were a few places where she stopped for more than a few days, but for some
reason if she stayed somewhere more than one night the nightmares came back with a
“Damned vampires,” she swore. “Damned Tricou-following freaks. Why couldn’t they
just have left us alone?”
She pulled out the map again, and studied it. She’d been to so many places, but none of
them felt like someplace she’d like to stay for any period of time. She heaved a sigh.
For a moment, she contemplated trying to locate a device like the one that Lily had used.
It would be so nice to have all those horrid things that happened in Sim City not matter
so much to her anymore.
She sank down onto the bed. Trying to locate such a device would be next to
impossible. Eglantine had been the one to give Lily the device, and Desdemona had no
way of getting in touch with Eglantine.
“I suppose it’s what I deserve,” Desdemona said to the empty room.
She took one last look around the small room. She closed up the suitcase that she’d
been living out of since she left Riverbrook.
“Time to go,” she said to no one. “But where to?”
She took a last look at the map. Cities were out; they attracted creatures like vampires,
and she never wanted to see a strange vampire again. Small towns were safer, but they
were full of gossips that stuck their noses into your private business. Surely there had to
be a happy medium?
She folded up the map, picked up the suitcase, and headed out the door. She decided
that the next town she found that fit the criteria of being somewhere between a big city
and a small town would be where she stopped, and where she stayed for a while. There,
she would do her best to leave her past behind her and finally make a fresh start.
Greetings! My name is SilverBelle, also known as Heidi. I normally write The Bradford
Legacy, but after RoseFyre finished her turn with generation 9 of the Boolprop Round
Robin Legacy, I had a crazy idea to do a spare story for Desdemona. It all started out
with me wondering how Desi would handle her role in what happened to Lily.
There are two more parts planned for this spare story. Part 2 will be out before the end
of March (as it’s part of my SimStoCreMo goal), and I hope to have Part 3 out by then as
well. Please leave comments on my LiveJournal. I hope you like what I have planned