Another Monday morning creeps in. The familiar buzz of an overanxious alarm clock calls Simone from another night of drug induced sleep. Despite her chat with Dr. Miller, she chose to take her sleeping pills all weekend and everyday for the following two weeks. He'd scolded her for her lack of trust in herself and reluctance to deal with what very well maybe her past. The fear of waking up alone in the dark at night held her in check. Besides, with the company of her new dream companion, sleeping isn't all that bad.
Simone swats at her alarm, until she finally makes contact and shuts it off with her eyes still closed. A cold chill crawls up her spine, it is still dark and she can tell without opening her eyes. She reaches for the lamp on her headboard and only opens her eyes when she hears it click on. With great effort she climbs from under her blankets and rests her feet on the rough carpeting of her bedroom and in her usual daily routine, heads directly to the shower.
Warm water streams down over Simon's head, neck and back as she rests her arms forward on the wall just beneath the shower head. She slowly inhales and exhales while rivers of running water course over her face, down the narrow bridge of her nose and off her ample lips. As usual, she traces the inticately patterened design of the tattoo on the back of her neck by rote. She doesn’t need to see it at all to follow the design exactly. It almost seems to tingle beneath her fingers now. The man from the bar had been there in her sleep again. He just held onto her as she rested, once and again asking her to come home. He perplexed her as much as he comforted her.
She imagines his strong hands, the way their large size has little effect on his gentle touch caressing her back. A soft moan escapes her lips as she visualizes his strong arms wrapping around her small waist in the shower and the heat of his body pressed to hers under the coursing water. The warmth of his lips pressed against her neck and then her shoulder warms every inch of her body. "Come home to me Simone, I need you" he whispers letting his lips brush against her ear.
Her eyes shoot open in dread and fear she's seldom experienced while completely awake. This is not a dream, I am completely awake. With that realization, the warmth of his touch and the feeling of his body dissipate. Only cool air lingers with the tingle of where their bodies had touched remains. "This is not happening. I am not loosing my mind." She mutters aloud, quickly getting out of the shower and wrapping up in a towel. She wipes the fog from the mirror and looks herself in the eye, "Snap out of it Simone! You are not going crazy. You can't go crazy after all these years, so just snap out of it."
She recalls Dr. Miller telling her that if she did not deal with these possible memories they would likely deal with her. Is this what he meant, that she'd lose her grasp on reality? For the second time she'd felt his touch, his kiss. This time she'd felt his touch alone in the shower, how could that be a memory? Is this man real or some kind of a dream? Simone doesn't take the time to debate it in her mind. She gets dressed with urgency before she starts seeing him again. She longs for the normalcy of the office.
"What's on my plate today Simone?" Mayor Rivera makes a random on time appearance in the office today, likely indicative of his ducking out very early later on. Only Simone knows that he only does that on days he has plans to sneak out with Kara or some other mistress. If Kara only knew she was one of his two lady friends outside of his wife, she'd have a heart attack and die. Simone doesn't have the heart to tell her; she'd be humiliated. "You have an eight o'clock in the conference room and a ten o' clock with the parks and rec director in your office. You have a lunch meeting downtown, there is a possibility of media coverage so be prepared." "A possibility?" "Okay, so there will be three news vans waiting on you, and my contacts at the three major contacts in the jurisdiction you're going to run in were contacted." Simone says proud of her accomplishment. She'd do whatever it takes to get this man into the senate if it gets her out of Los Angeles. Maybe a change of scenery would help things out a bit. A new life and a new scene might do her some good.
"Good girl, I can always count on you can't I" The mayor mentally pats himself on the back, proud to have discovered such raw talent and ability in Simone. "Of course sir" "Why don't you take the day off Simone" he says more than asks. "After my lunch appearance I'll be gone for the day anyway, and if I know you my agenda for the day is already neatly typed and sitting... right here" he says reaching over his desk to grab the file folder with everything he'd need to know for the day neatly stashed inside.
Neat file folders are Simone's signature. They look important enough to always give the semblance of order yet obscure enough to not be noticed. They are the best and most discreet way to keep the mayors life and schedule in check. "Thank you Mr. Rivera, but that's not necessary. I have a ton of work to do here and I really shouldn't leave it undone." Simone begins to protest, unlike the average employee. Most people would be dying to escape the office first thing Monday morning, however most people aren't struggling with delusion every time they enter their apartment.
"I insist Simone, as a matter of fact take one of my credit cards and get yourself fixed up, my treat." "Mr. Rivera, I really shouldn't, that could be viewed the wrong way and with the coming elections..." The mayor's gaze solidifies on Simone in an authoritative way that she rarely sees. "Simone, listen to me will you? You're therapist called and suggested that you might need some time off. I know all about your past or lack of it, and believe me, that makes you more of an asset because you have no past to jump out and bite me."
Simone had known he'd had an extensive background check done on her, as any politician would, but never thought mayor Rivera gutsy enough to bring it up. "I need you at your best. We're going into a senate race senorita; I'm going to need my assistant on her best game to keep me on my best game. Never in the years you've worked for me have I ever heard from your therapist, but now that I have I'm going to take his word seriously. I don't want stress from my election messing things up for you" He means he doesn't want her past messing things up for his election and Simone can tell that immediately. This is his ‘get your shit together' speech. "I understand Martin, I do, but I really am fine. I swear that I'm fine" "Great" Martin Rivera sighs heavily before continuing, "Than you won't mind running an errand for me today" "Not at all sir"
Simone is momentarily relieved. The last thing she wants is to be set loose with her own mind and imagination with the morning she'd had. "Take my credit card and see to it that my assistant Super Woman goes somewhere very nice and gets her hair and nails taken care of, and a facial as well because tomorrow when I officially announce my candidacy for senate she's going to want to look good for the cameras."
"What?"Simone freezes up. As many press conferences as she's set up for the man, never, not even once has she been expected to be seen on camera. "Tomorrow at 3pm, right in time for the evening news I am announcing my candidacy. I want you to go and get very pretty for the cameras, stay home and in bed in the morning to make sure you are well rested and well dressed when you arrive two hours before my announcement, and then you can turn back into super assistant and make sure everything is in order and done correctly. Do you understand Simone?" She only nods slowly, not sure she does.
"I am taking you with me Simone, to Washington when I win, if you want to go that is." "Yes! Yes of course I do!" Simone blurts like an excited child. "Great, than get the hell out of here and go get pretty for the cameras. I even have a whitening appointment this afternoon and have to see the barber in the morning. We're taking this act to the big time" Rivera flashes her a big smile and struts out his office as if he'd only asked her to make a new pot of coffee.
A smile plasters itself across Simone's face. Washington would be her escape from her life. She can start all over again: be more social, make friends, and maybe date more. She realizes she'd still have to keep a low profile during the election and just after. The last thing Martin would want is her drawing the attention of the press away from the campaign to her life's sob story.
She can just imagine the headline ‘lost girl finds her way to Washington' and ‘Mayor with big heart takes in strays'. She'd heard it all before in local gossip but on national television would be miserable. Then she'd never escape the stereotypes. People always have a tendency of treating her like some wounded puppy when they find out that she's the girl with no memory, no family and no past.
Simone takes no time in getting the hell out of the office with Martin Rivera's credit card information and heading straight to Beverly Hills. She goes in to have her manicure and pedicure done in a day spa, not far from her hair stylist. "Ma'am, its time for your massage" a young tall, thin man says smiling brightly at Simone. He looks to be in his early twenties, but his messy cut red hair and freckles could be giving off the illusion of youth, she decides.
She'd already stripped down to nothing but her soft, mint hued bath robe that the staff had provided. She wouldn't usually do anything so extravagant but if the mayor is willing to pay than she is willing to indulge. "Right this way" the young man leads her. His voice is so pleasant, almost therapeutic in itself. She wonders if it's a job requirement for the staff here to try and sound peaceful to blend in with the running water and bird chirping sounds playing throughout the facility.
"If you'll take off your robe and lie down on the table we can get started. I'll step out for a moment so you can cover yourself with the towel provided. There should be bottled water and fresh sliced fruit just within your reach when you lay down" The man says as he backs out of the small all white room he'd led her into. No sooner than Simone strips out of the robe and wraps her hind parts in a towel is her masseuse back in the room. "Just close your eyes and relax Ms. Bradshaw, try and focus on your breathing" Simone is happy to oblige his request, she is insufferably tired. Even though she'd slept, it rarely felt as she'd gotten any rest.
Laying face down on the table she can see her long hair hanging off the side of the table. She'd always wondered what her true ancestry was. She, for all intensive purposes, is a black woman and damned proud to be. Her rich caramel complexion never left any question regarding that, but the length and texture of her hair and color of her eyes always prompted the question "What are you mixed with?" from people she'd just met an didn't know better than to ask. She never had an answer, she honestly had no idea.
She can feel her breathing slow as well as her heart rate. The masseuse has already started working his magic and every muscle in her body begins to relax as he kneads her flesh like malleable clay. "You've got a lot of tension right here" he says as he manipulates her lower back with skill "and up between your shoulders and neck" Simone can only muster a small moan of understanding, having fallen prey to his skilled hands. I should do this everyday she thinks.
"Come home Simone". Her eyes do not open. Simone squeezes them tighter, willing away the voice she'd heard audibly as if a third person was in the room. "I miss you, please come home to me" his voice resonates through out the room. "Please go away, leave me alone" she whispers still afraid to open her eyes and see the mystery man standing there.
"Is everything okay Ms. Bradshaw?" The young man had heard her and stopped his work. She sits up, using her hands to cover her breasts as best she can. "Yes, I'm fine. I'm so sorry, I think I was dreaming" she says with a smile and a lie. Everything is not okay, she is having hallucinations. "Please continue" she bids the man. "It happens all the time" he says as she places her face back down into the rest.
"People always fall asleep on the table. Some lay quietly, some snore, some talk in their sleep, and some wake up startled. It's no big deal and you have complete privacy in here." He is so warm and comforting, but she doubts many of his customers who came in had hallucinations while wide awake on his bench unless they were high. She lies down to continue her massage, but every time she closes her eyes the voice returns, warm and gentle, asking her to return home. Simone simply stops closing her eyes, determined to enjoy this massage.
The same occurs at her manicurist when she gets her manicure and pedicure. The moment she begins to relax his voice shows up again in her mind. To her pleasure, her hairstylist keeps her mind occupied with whatever new gossip he'd heard and keeps the mystery voice at bay. By the time he finishes working his magic her hair looks like long tendrils of black silk pooling between her shoulders. She rewards her stylist Dante with a large tip by the Mayor for his genius with a blow dryer, hot comb, flat iron and whatever else he'd used to get her hair so perfect.
Simone grabs take-out for dinner before heading home, worn to death from trying to keep sane. The second she is inside her apartment she kicks her pumps off of her feet, tugs her pants suit off, and leaves them both in the midle of her bedroom floor. She throws a big sweatshirt from college over her bra and panties before plopping on her couch and delving into her Chinese, with chopsticks at the ready. Even my day off was a long day she muses, flipping through the channels on her 42 inch television mindlessly. She can't focus on anything on the screen, but only on Dr. Miller's warning to deal with her thoughts and her memories. Trying to ignore them for damn sure isn't working.
Simone knows can't go to Washington like this. She can't even keep it up in LA like this. At this rate she'd be locked up in some mental health facility for the rest of her life. The very real thought of being institutionalized gives her pause. She'd been there before, shortly after she was found on the beach. She'd seen every kind of doctor, therapist, new age healer, and psychologist that existed from neurology to herb therapy. There is absolutely no way that she'd go back to being a guinea pig.
Simone shuts off her television and marches with resolve down the hall towards her bedroom, purposefully skipping her bathroom and the prescription sleep aids that it holds. She rifles through her small closet until she finds a box coated with dust. She opens it to reveal the battered ruby dress she'd been found in. She holds the soft material to her face and inhales. The scent of the ocean had long since escaped the cloth. She cradles it like a fond memory. With her eyes still closed she announces to her bedroom, "I refuse to stay a prisoner to my own mind. I am finished, this is it. Let me go". She shuts out her lights, for the first time without fear, and climbs into the bed, battered dress in tow. She crawls beneath the heavy blanket that she crawls beneath every night. Strangely it feels lighter. Without pills or assistance, Simone falls into peaceful slumber.