I found myself in a spot of trouble this morning as hunger stabbed at my insides and gnawed hollowly at my stomach lining. I had struggled these last few weeks, barely getting by. Although I have always been slim of build, my ribs showed, and the small sores in my mouth attested to malnutrition.
Momma had mahogany brown hair and blue eyes, but I inherited my dirty blonde hair and green eyes from my father. I didn’t much resemble her in looks or personality either, but my hair was currently so dirty that it was impossible to determine the color.
When I was younger, I used to shower twice a day, and I hated being filthy or sweaty but living on the street reduced me to accept not being clean, and I didn’t smell too good either, but all I could think of was food.
Something came over me, and I shouldn’t have done it. As I strolled past a produce vendor, someone knocked an apple off the display and into the street. It was usually my goal to be as invisible as possible since people were not always kind to the homeless, and I still could not bring myself to beg. Usually, I tried to find some little job, some honest way of making a few bucks, but it didn’t work out for me this week. Not that I could blame the good city folk for denying me. I was in rough shape and knew it.
Grabbing the apple, I ran. Typical of my luck, a policewoman and a good Samaritan chased my weak ass as if I had just stolen a handbag.
I excelled at track and field at school, but I was in no condition to run. Black spots danced a jig before my eyes, and my nausea grew with every step. I turned a corner and stretched into my stride as I glanced over my shoulder to see if my pursuers were gaining on me, and I barreled headlong into someone. We both sprawled on the pavement before I could react.
I hit my head, grazed my face, and stars swirled through the dark splotches. The apple rolled into the road, and I almost cried as a car drove over it. I was seventeen years old and lamenting an apple as if I had lost my best friend.
Someone firmly pushed me down and kept me motionless. These two guys were clearly security for the beautiful blonde woman I barreled into and who cradled a clearly broken arm. Her glasses were askew, her hair had come undone, and I had ruined her “just off the cover of Vogue” look with an iced latte she now wore all over her expensive suede jacket, silk blouse, and designer skirt.
Despite being only half conscious, I froze as I recognized her. Call it morbid curiosity, but even knowing what my father allowed his wife to do to my mother, I was still curious about him and his life. Of all the people I could have totaled, fate picked his second eldest daughter, Christen. His eldest was Maureen, and his youngest, Meghan, who recently turned twenty-four.
If I could have run away, I would have, but something seemed wrong. The pain in my lower ribcage intensified with every breath I took, and I struggled to breathe. When I coughed, I stared in horror at the ground as blood splatters hit the dirty asphalt.
“Let go of her, Glen. Something’s wrong,” Christen ordered, blessed with poise and control, despite the timbre of pain. It was the last thing I heard as darkness descended. Moments of consciousness brought the sound of sirens, blurry images, excruciating pain, something over my face, and the panic of being unable to move.
I have no idea how long I was unconscious, but I woke in a white hospital room in the dark. It had to be very late or early. The building had that sense of quiet such places gained when most people were asleep.
I tried to move, but a stabbing pain in my chest made me freeze and flinch. Every muscle hurt, my head ached as if it would explode, my vision blurred, and I had trouble swallowing. Monitors bleeped all around the bed, three bags dripped their contents into my veins, and there was definitely a catheter in my bladder. From the looks of this place, I couldn’t even afford the napkins in the cafeteria.
Those familiar spots danced before my eyes, and I closed them. I was so tired, but my mind locked onto the face of Christen Blackwell. Of all the people in all the world, why did it have to be her?
My story started with my mother. Samantha Beck was nine years old when she performed before a live audience for the first time, and by age sixteen, she was world-famous and wealthy. She was a brand, had a life, and had plans.
At the tender age of twenty-two Samantha grew tired of pumping out pop lyrics meant for teenage girls and the world’s image of her as a child.
She hated the pressure of her life and being forced to remain the same. Samantha started using drugs, acted out, and caused a few scandals, which the world noted, but forgave as quickly. She was their sweetheart, and they loved her.
By her own admission, she became spoilt, selfish and thoughtless in her actions toward others. It wasn’t until she had an affair with a married man named Carl Blackwell that she finally did the unforgivable.
His wife found out. Both husband and wife were billionaires with a stake in many media companies and record labels that when Carla learned of the affair, she destroyed my mother’s career in a matter of weeks. Carl and Carla were just as adored and respected as my mother.
Carla canceled my mother’s massive new tour, the label sued Samantha for breach of contract, and her manager vanished with almost all of her money. What little she had left disappeared fast, and she could not even get a job as a waitress if she wanted to.
She had to flee and change her name. After five weeks, she also realized that not only was her life over, but she was also pregnant.
She tried singing in a few bars, but someone always recognized her voice, if not her disguise. One night some guy pelted her with a full can of beer and hit her against the temple, almost killing her. Samantha became Scarlet the waitress and never sang in public again.