Betty felt like she had won a million simoleons on the lottery when her parents told her that they'd happily fund her trips abroad. They didn't explain their decision and Betty didn't ask - in case they changed their minds. Instead, she wasted no time at all and booked a flight to China, to a place called Shang Simla....packed her bags, hailed a passing taxi and set off. Poor Vadim and Fatima were left choking on her dust.
No sooner had she arrived, than Betty checked the local advertisement board for *help wanted* ads. This is how the fun had begun back in Champs Les Sims, and though she answered several ads for help and was rewarded for her efforts - China wasn't as exciting as she'd first hoped. Still, now that she was here, it seemed a waste not to take a look around and see what delights the country held.
Betty found this country to be incredibly beautiful, and amazingly it brought a little peace to heart and her restless feet. The more she investigated, the more she discovered that China was a land of mystery and secrets...
... breath taking vistas...
...with a hint of danger thrown in for good measure.
Betty often found herself wishing she'd taken a bigger bag out and about with her. One that would carry a towel and a change of clothes.
She even took the time to travel into the outer reaches of the region where she discovered a wealth of culture and traditions... and had the ever loving crap scared out of her when she ventured into a crypt!
It took two days and copious amounts of Prawn Fried Rice and Chicken Chow Mein to still her beating heart. Then all too soon it was time to go home again.
Vadim and Fatima were pleased to see their daughter come home, and noticed the difference in her state of mind almost immediately. It was as though Betty had found a gentleness and inner peace that hadn't existed before. When she wasn't at school she spent a great deal of time on her own, happy to be in her own company.
When Betty had been home for a while, she decided that seeing as she hadn't seen Dallas Shallow at school, she'd invite him over for dinner and cook him a meal. She asked her parents to make sure they had "an elsewhere to be" so that she could have a little privacy. Vadim grumbled about not being allowed to spend an evening in his own home - but Fatima thought it was incredibly sweet and booked them a night at the movies... *Attack of the Killer Cabbage* was showing and it had received rave reviews in the newspaper that week.
The moment that Dallas showed up at the door, Betty knew why she hadn't seen him in school. He'd grown up when she wasn't looking and suddenly she felt like a gawky teenager instead of the courageous and confident young woman she was when she was away from home. To give Dallas his due, he behaved as though nothing was different between them, but he didn't interact with her on a personal level and that left Betty feeling as though the bubble of calm that she had existed in these past few weeks - had burst.
As Dallas shoveled his food down, Betty lost all appetite and couldn't wait for the evening to be over. She made as much small talk as she was able, than almost shoved him out the front door in her haste to be alone.
Suddenly restless again, there was only one cure...
... and this time it was Egypt. Al Simhara to be precise.... and it was love at first sight - the heat wrapped itself around her body like a giant hug and Betty thought right then, that she never wanted to go home.
It was possibly the strangest, most exciting place she had ever been.... the pyramids had absolutely MASSIVE front doors... and try as she might, Betty couldn't find a wooden knocker or a doorbell anywhere. Even "Open Sesame" didn't work, so she had to employ a little intelligence to find her way in...
... and it was always worth it.
Al Simhara held a wealth of riches and intrigue, located in the most curious of places.
The longer Betty spent in Al Simhara, the more money she made. This country was full to brimming with hidden treasures and relics that would fetch a fortune back home in Riverview.
Betty's adventures took her into the depths of tombs in search of scripts and treasured fruits, and most of the time she was highly successful...
... but some of the time... not so much.
The stark beauty of the country cured all evils and Betty spent many a night gazing up at the stars, waiting for tomorrow to come.
She found beauty and wonder in every corner of the land... but knew that for her, it was transient - and she would have to go home.
Betty had been home for about a week when the morning of her birthday arrived...
... "Quick - look busy!" Fatima whispered loudly to Vadim as her daughter came into the kitchen to get herself some breakfast.
Vadim stared - confused - at his wife and gestured to the spoon in his hand that was heaped with cereals - " I am busy!"
Fatima pretended to read the book in her hand as Betty expectantly approached the kitchen table with her breakfast in hand, and waited a moment for her parents to wish her a Happy Birthday. Vadim began to turn towards her "Hap-Owch!" he rubbed at his ankle where Fatima had kicked him. Even in her bare feet the woman could do serious damage.
Betty harrumphed at the lack of good wishes, and assuming that her parents had forgotten her birthday - she stormed from the room into her bedroom to cry into her cornflakes.
"What was that for? And why can't I wish her a Happy Birthday?" Vadim demanded as soon he heard Betty's bedroom door slam.
"We're having a surprise party for her, Vad!" Fatima spoke as if talking to the mentally deficient "You can't wish her a Happy Birthday if it's going to be a surprise!"
"Why ever not? She already knows it's her birthday." Vad stated the obvious.
"Because that's not how it works, Vad." Assuming the subject was closed, she continued to read her book.
Vadim knew that it was pointless asking any more questions. Fatima had made a decree and that was that.
"What now?" Fatima was losing patience with her husband.
"Your book's upside down."
To Be Continued...