Sandy Moss wanted a large glass of wine, not a child.
It was only supposed to be a simple fling, a few nights in with a struggling lawyer while she was in the city shooting her latest film. He of course would be delighted to find out she was expecting. It was probably the only thing he’d ever accomplish in his life, she thought, besides bedding such a fox in the first place, that is.
She thought about him; Travis Davies. He was OK, she supposed. Not too unattractive or needy and he backed down in every argument – she could do worse. Her father, had he still been alive, would’ve approved that this one at least had a ‘real’ job; even if that real job involved him working at his father’s law firm and struggling to find clients.
She looked up as Travis took a seat beside her and she got in to her zone, her line well rehearsed.
“I’m pregnant, the baby is yours, I require you to marry me and I’m not changing my name.”
His grin could’ve split his face in two. He accepted her proposal and its conditions, not that she’d given him a choice. As he wittered on excitedly about wedding venues and baby names she studied his features. Would her son have his eyes? Maybe his jaw? She hoped he was just as submissive, although she was certain she could work that in to him.
She imagined the front covers of the glossy magazines: “Sandy Moss Expecting First Child”. She wondered how much she could sell that story for.
It appears that Sandy was far too busy to track mundane things like cycles, because only five months later she delivered a baby girl. Travis was delighted but Sandy had not wanted a girl. The last thing Sandy needed was a younger version of herself stealing all the limelight. She named her daughter April as that’s when she was born. Sandy didn’t want to waste time coming up with a name when there was one right there on the birth certificate.
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that Sandy was not a natural parent.
As April grew in to a toddler, it was Travis who took on most of the parental duties. And when father wasn’t available little April learned pretty quickly to stay out of mother’s way.
When April was a small child the family moved from Travis’s apartment in San Myshuno to a glorious mansion on a private estate in Del Sol Valley.
This had all been funded by Sandy’s acting career with no thanks to Travis, who had to have been the worst lawyer in the world. As Sandy theorised, to be a good lawyer you probably had to have a backbone, something Travis severely lacked.
The extra space in the house allowed them to have a butler, who took over most of the childcare responsibilities as Travis tried to make a name for himself in this new town. Sandy heartily approved of said butler, even though Travis thought his cooking was somewhat terrible and he suspected he wasn’t spending much time looking after April.
Travis may or may not have had an inkling of Sandy’s true reasons for hiring the bearded butler. He never said anything, of course.
April went to the finest schools and befriended the finest children of the finest people. But she never really felt like she fit into their perfect world. April considered herself to only have two real friends; Faith and Melinda, two girls who lived in the modest suburbs of Willow Creek.
Sandy disapproved of April’s taste in friends and their lack of social status, so they weren’t allowed in the mansion. To ensure as little contact as possible between her daughter and the common folk, April was not allowed out without written permission.
April, much to the disappointment of her mother, was not completely hideous.
Sandy had been quite pleased to see that her daughter had initially inherited her father’s boring, mousy hair but alas, it soon lightened to a white blonde eclipsing even Sandy’s platinum locks. April’s face was perfectly symmetrical and – how irritating – she probably wouldn’t even need the small tweaks to her nose that Sandy may or may not have had as a teenager.
Sandy did not tell her daughter any of this. Instead she would highlight the tiniest pocket of puppy fat, the smallest blemish on her face, the way her ribbon didn’t quite match her socks. It led April to believe that she was, in fact, quite disgusting.
It was these little criticisms that kept April largely out of the spotlight. The only time her image was ever really seen in public would be when it was carefully staged by Sandy to further her own career. They were the perfect family for Sandy’s public appearances. Sandy would allow Travis some brief access for lovemaking beforehand so he didn’t look too miserable and she would ensure April was dressed in a way that made her look loved. She would push her family in front of the hungry cameras and thank them sincerely in her speeches.
It was these sorts of scenarios that ensured Sandy had quite the reputation among both the media and her colleagues in the movie industry for being a perfect role model – an excellent actor, mother and wife – something rare in the shallow world of Del Sol Valley. Her timing mistake those few years prior had clearly been an excellent career move. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know Travis’s eye colour or how old her daughter was, people thought she did. She had learned a long time ago that she could get people to believe anything.
It was only when April became a teen that Sandy’s hold started to break. Sandy was disgusted to see that, despite her best efforts, she had raised a daughter who was, there was no denying it, very beautiful.
Especially as by now, Sandy’s own face was starting to resemble a balloon someone had let the air out of and it was becoming quite an expensive routine getting it pinned back up every few months. But fortunately for Sandy she was relieved to find that her daughter, like Travis, also seemed to be missing most of her spine. She never argued, never answered back, just listened to her mother’s criticisms and vowed to do better.
Sandy wasn’t concerned that her only child was not worthy of her legacy. After all, Sandy was certain her fame would ensure that her name was in the conversation long after her body was. Every film she made cemented her in deeper in the history books, her plaque was on the Boulevard for future generations to visit. Sandy was, as she put it to April during a particularly scathing reprimand, an early death away from being ‘almost eternal’.
April was torn. She couldn’t live in her mother’s shadow forever. In two weeks time, she would be eighteen with no discernible acting talents discovered and probably no law ones to inherit. She didn’t want to get famous off the back of her mother, the way her peers were doing, with product placement and scripted reality. But she didn’t want to fade into nothing, either.
Like most teenagers of this era, she often turned to the internet to try and answer her burning question of the day. Recent searches of how can I be more beautiful? …thinner? …less shit at piano? popped up in the list as she started to type.
Today she had a new question. Her mother had a great talent for hitting nerves and it seemed she had discovered a new one in April. Her boasts rang loud in April’s memory.
April brought her fingers to the keys and the new question was typed out on the screen.
How can I live forever?