Juliana didn’t run far as she didn’t really know where she was going. She saw a park bench by the river just a few yards away and parked herself there…for the night. She had done this night after night, but it never got any easier. All night, she sat there trapped in her thoughts and paralyzed by fear. She knew why she had to come here, but she didn’t know why. Her mother did the best she could with what she had, and this was her only option to save Juliana.
She came from Monte Vista: a land of rolling hills, sweeping views, and charm. That’s the part the tourists go to. The Sepulveda family came from the underbelly of Monte Vista: a land full of violence, chaos, and poverty. Juliana was her mother’s oldest living child: number five of twelve. All seven of her older siblings had died from starvation, illness, or senseless violence. Just over eight months ago, her father was murdered in plain sight because he was caught stealing bread from the market. Times were hard, and people were desperate. Mrs. Sepulveda was too. She had reached her breaking point and could take no more of it. Her family was no different from anyone else’s. Why should they have to continue to suffer through those perilous times? As Juliana was approaching her 18th birthday, Mrs. Sepulveda made a plan. She gathered all the money she could for six months, and at the end of the six months, she bought Juliana a ticket to as far as the money would travel. Spending every cent on this one thing would surely put the rest of the family in a very precarious situation, but it was a sacrifice she was willing to make. This ensured that at least one of her children would make it out safely and alive with the potential to make something of herself. Juliana would have certainly rejected this plan if she were to bring it to her, so she didn’t tell her about it until they were on their way to the shipyard. Juliana was furious, distraught, and petrified. She had never been on her own before. Come to think of it, she had never even been home alone before. And now she was going to a place she never heard of alone. Juliana begged her mother not to send her, but her mother just kept telling her over and over again that she loved her. “I love you! God be with you,” she repeated. Juliana was a blubbering mess. Her mother had to get some of dock workers to help her onto the ship.
The journey was long and harsh. It took seven days, and she cried for two of them. She just sat on the floor of her little room and cried and cried and cried. All the other days she was sea sick. Because her mother spent all of the money on the ticket, there wasn’t any money to buy food and she was hungry most of the time. After dark, she would go out on deck and rummage through the trash cans for scraps.
Juliana wanted to hate her mother, but she couldn’t help but to love her. She knew she did this for her own protection and security for her future, but she wished she had some say in it. And she wished she could have gotten a little notice. For one thing, she hated the outfits her mom picked out. When she was “abducted,” she was wearing her school uniform which was the best outfit she had (formal). Her mom packed one of her dresses she wore all the time (everyday), one pair of pajamas, a shirt and lounging pants (workout), a bathing suit, and a random top and skirt to have another change of clothes (party). She had never worn that skirt and top together before, but it did make a pretty decent outfit.
When she arrived in Willow Creek, she walked around for days just trying to figure out what to do. She spoke very little Simlish, so she couldn’t ask for information or even read street signs and billboards. She was very fearful of everything—especially at night. Where she came from, night was the worst time to be outside, but she learned quickly that Willow Creek was much different from Monte Vista. One day, as she was meandering, she came upon the town’s center and found the park, library, gym, club, and museum. Juliana was grateful for the park because there was always free food laying about. It was comforting to see that other people slept there too, and she made Magnolia Blossom Park her main homestead. She also enjoyed it for its people watching. It became one of her favorite past times. The library was a beautiful place to Juliana. As a bookworm, she loved to read and just be around books. It didn’t matter to her that she couldn’t read any of them. She just loved to be in the presence of books. The library was a place of wonderment because she had never seen a place like it before. They didn’t have libraries in her neck of the woods. At the gym she found she could shower in the locker room, and at the museum she discovered that she could paint. She was a very creative girl and loved to paint. It was the only thing that made her remotely happy these days. It was her wish to become a great painter one day.
Juliana sat on that bench all night, paralyzed by fear and insecurities. She longed for home. She would have given her right hand for one chance to be held in her mother’s arms again and catch just a glimpse of her little brothers and sisters faces. Just one chance.
She sat on that bench all night and cried because she was so tired and hungry and frustrated.
As the moon began to dip into the clouds and the sun began to rise, she started to get desperate. She needed to take control of this situation some how. But, what could she do? She could hardly speak to anyone. But, she was determined to figure it out. Her mother didn’t send her here to be a scared, homeless, timid beggar to shrivel up and die in the street. Her mother sent her here to live. She was sent here for a chance to thrive. Juliana dried her tears, took a deep breath, and decided to live, and went to the only place she knew she could get help.