G2 Chapter Ten – It Is Finished

In the weeks that followed Arthur’s death, Destiny just existed. She was listless and slept a good amount of her day away. And when she wasn’t sleeping, she rocked in his chair, staring out of the window. Bella secretly worried that her mother might not live long enough to see Bianca graduate from high school, which was mere months away. And as much as she tried, Bella could not get Destiny to leave the house for any reason. Bree was having nightmares, and had been for the past few years after an accident, and they were getting worse. After the last one, Bree left her position at the fire station and prepared to move to Appaloosa Plains. Bianca was planning on going with her sister to the small town, so Bree had to wait until Bianca had graduated.

Time passed, and it was finally Bianca’s turn to graduate. Her cap and gown, which had been decorated for months, finally got the chance to be worn. She was recognized during graduation for being the youngest artist to be showcased at the city museum, and her artistic talent won her many accolades during the ceremony. And like her sisters before her, she was one of the first to receive her diploma in her class. When the ceremony was over, and all the graduates threw their caps, Bianca’s was the only cap that stayed in place, on her head.  She spent much time and talent on it, and she wanted to keep it.

The ceremony was the first place Destiny had gone willingly since Arthur’s funeral. Her doctors made house calls, and the girls ran errands for her as she needed. But she insisted, even if she couldn’t walk very far or stand for long, that she go to Bianca’s graduation. Bella was just happy that Desi agreed to go out, it didn’t matter to her where she went.

Bella offered to take Bianca for lunch after the ceremony, but she was not interested in the fanfare of the fancy restaurant and the celebration. Instead, they went home where Bella cooked on the grill, and they all went swimming while Destiny watched.

A few days later, Bree and Bianca were due to leave town and drive to Appaloosa Plains. Bella helped Bree pick and choose the furniture and keepsakes that would go with them, and loaded them onto the moving van. Then Bella helped Bianca pack her clothes and art supplies that she would need on the trip, made sure Bee had some extra memory sticks for her camera, and some homemade snacks for the car. Bella helped Destiny out to the car, where they all stood and talked before Bree and Bee left. Destiny wasn’t able to stand long without assistance, so Bella stood with her as they leaned on the fender of Bree’s car.

Bella and Bree went through checklists of things Bree didn’t want to forget, and things that were important while they chatted. Bianca, who was excited to go, didn’t really say much but listened to the chatter among the others. Just as the sun was getting low in the sky, Bree looked at Bianca.

“Well, kiddo,” Bree said. “I think it’s time.”

Destiny’s eyes immediately filled with tears as she held her arms open for hugs. But this time, the tears were mostly happy, because her girls were going to fulfill childhood dreams, just the way she had when she was Bianca’s age. Destiny hugged Bree and told her, “Take good care of my baby.”

“I will, Mama. I promise.” Bree kissed her cheek, and Desi gave her one last hug and kissed her forehead, the way that Arthur used to when they were little.

“I’ll miss you Mom,” Bianca said as she hugged Destiny. Desi leaned forward and kissed her forehead.

“I will miss you, Bee. Be good for your sister, okay?”

“I will, Mom.”

“I love you to the moon and back,” Destiny spoke one last time, and wiped tears from her eyes.

In unison, the girls both said, “I love you too, Mama.”

“Bella, keep me updated on Mama. Please call me… you know.” Bree hugged her sister one last time.

“You have my word.” Bella hugged both her sisters one last time. “I’m going to miss you both.”

Bree and Bianca both got into the car and rolled the windows down. Bella was holding onto Destiny as the girls waved from the car as it drove away.

“I’m tired, Bella,” Desi said, nearly falling. “I need to go inside.”

“Hold on, Mama. We’ll get there.” Bella helped her mother inside and sat her down in the family room.


“Bella, would you bring me some tea?” Destiny called for her daughter.

“Sure thing, Mama,” Bella answered. She took the antique cup from the cabinet, placed a Darjeeling bag and covered it in hot water. “Honey or sugar?”

“Honey, please.”

Bella squeezed a bit of fresh honey from the bottle into the teacup and stirred it. Grabbing the saucer, she carried the tea to Destiny and set it on the side table. “Be careful, Mama, it’s very hot.”

“Thank you, love.” Destiny picked up the cup and sniffed in the warm vapor. “It smells good.”

“You’re welcome, Mama.” Bella was on her way out to the garage. “I’ll be right back.” She returned some 10 minutes later with Destiny’s easel and a stool that Bianca used.

“What are you going to do with that?” Destiny asked.

“Well, it’s going in your room, Mama. Wouldn’t it be nice to do something again, besides sit and watch it snow?”

“But I like watching it snow!” Destiny huffed, but thought, maybe it would be good to paint again. Many of her old pieces of art were ruined when the garage at her first house flooded, and there was no better time than the present to start a whole new collection.

Bella had the easel and chair set up in no time, then she helped Desi upstairs to try it out. “I’ll be right back!” Bella ran down to her car and retrieved the bags of paint, brushes, and canvases to replace the ones that Bianca took with her. When she appeared in the bedroom door, Destiny laughed out loud. “Well, it looks like you’ve been busy!”

“Yeah, well,” Bella replied, “You gave Bee all your paints and pastels. So, I’m just replacing what she took!” Destiny smiled with gratitude at Bella.

“Thank you, sweet pea.” Destiny sat down, chose her brush and squeezed out a blob of paint onto the palette.

“If you need me, I’ll be downstairs.”

A few hours later, Destiny called for Bella. “It’s finished! I’m so happy with this!”

“Happy with what, Mama?” Bella called as she ascended the flight of stairs.

“This!” Destiny turned the easel slightly so it faced the doorway. It was a portrait of Bella that Destiny had painted from memory, and it was gorgeous.

“Oh, Mama!” Bella exclaimed. “You did a fabulous job!” She got closer and took a better look at the portrait. “Now, see? Isn’t this better than watching snowfall?”

“Well, you got me a nice set up here. I can’t complain.” It was the first time Bella had seen her mother really smile in months.

A few weeks later, and Destiny was still painting up a storm. The portrait she had completed was now dry and ready to be framed, but she had at least two others that were still drying. Where the rocking chair and snowfall had been her entertainment since Arthur’s passing, she found renewed purpose in her rediscovered hobby. Bella had gotten a gig at Verde Park following the passing of Arthur’s friend, Phil. Too many of us old geezers are dying, she thought morosely. Bella had made a lunch for Destiny of cherry crepes, with cherries from the trees in the greenhouse, and got her settled in for an afternoon of painting.

“I wish I could go with you,” Destiny chimed in. “It has been too long since I’ve been at the park, and I haven’t seen you perform in a very long time.”

“I wish you could, too Mama,” Bella replied. “It’s just too cold out there yet.” She helped Destiny sit down, and set a brand new canvas on the easel and clamped it in nice and sturdy.

“It’s okay, I’ll just sit here and paint. I want to paint another portrait of you, with your hair done the way you always wear it.” Destiny steadied herself on the chair and opened a tube of oil paint.

“That would be good, Mama. I look too much like you in that last one. If I wasn’t paying attention, I’d think it was you!” Bella laughed. “Is there anything you need before I go?”

“No, I think I’m okay up here. Wait,” Destiny paused. “Is the phone here?”

“I was just getting it for you, Mama.” Bella set the handset on the table next to the easel.  “I’ll be home right after my show tonight, but if you need me, I’m just a call away.”

“I’ll be okay, love. Break a leg!” Destiny blew her a kiss.

“I love you, Mama,” Bella said as she kissed Desi’s forehead. “I’ll see you tonight.”

Destiny settled in and began painting the outlines of her newest masterpiece. For the first time since she took up painting again, she thought of Arthur. I’m starting to forget him, she thought. She wiped a tear from her cheek and refocused her energy on her work. She got an odd feeling, as though something brushed by her chair, but when she looked, no one was around.

“Who is there?” She called into the house, but no one answered. Shrugging her shoulders, she resumed painting.

Destiny, my love.” She heard it that time. Who was that? Could it be Arthur? She looked around and still saw nothing, but felt a cold chill down her spine. She reached for the paintbrush and started to fill it with oil when she heard his voice again. “Destiny, come to me.” She broke out in a cold sweat, and turned her head in time to see Arthur standing in the doorway, the light glowed around him as though he was in front of a bright light. She blinked her eyes, and he was gone. A third time, she heard him call to her, “Destiny, come be with me forever.” He appeared to her once again, this time he moved towards her, and in one instant, the vapor enveloped her. She dropped her paintbrush on the floor as she recognized the being that stood in Arthur’s place… The Reaper! But there was no one home to plead for her life. The Reaper once again took Arthur’s form and embraced her as she went willingly to him. In her place sat a beautiful golden urn, and the same tracks that Destiny found by Fran’s urn so many years ago, marked the carpet where he stood. It was said that the Reaper only left those tracks when he had a feeling of emotion for the departed, and he was so touched by Arthur’s love for Destiny, that he couldn’t help but leave them.

“Welcome home, my love,” Arthur said one last time to his bride.

“There is nowhere else I’d rather be,” Destiny answered, her spirit merging with his as they left the house together.

Up Next: Bree-Ann Atwood

G2 Chapter Nine – Saying Goodbye

Before Destiny and Arthur had realized, another two years had passed, and it was Bella’s turn to graduate high school. Bree was settled into her job as a firefighter, but was growing restless in the big city. As a little girl, Bree had always been enamored with her roots, and someday hoped to return to Appaloosa Plains to settle down. Bianca had always hoped that she would be able to move back to Destiny’s hometown as well, but for now, she was just a freshman in high school, and she was stuck. Besides, while Destiny and Arthur lived, Bree was going to be where her family was. Destiny felt guilty keeping the girl where she didn’t want to be. After all, she had that wanderlust at Bree’s age, but instead of dreaming about it, she packed up and left. But, she always had that deep regret in the back of her mind, that she didn’t stay put until Fran and Charlie had met the Reaper. She didn’t want Bree or Bianca to have that regret, no matter how much she wanted to encourage them to chase their dreams.

Bella fussed with the tassel on her cap and smoothed out the wrinkles in her graduation gown. “Mama, can I get a different color cap? Blue doesn’t go with my hair.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust. Red and blue were not a good match, she thought.

“No, sweet pea, I think you’re stuck with blue.” Destiny chuckled at the face Bella made. “What’s wrong with blue?”

Bella shrugged her shoulders. “Nothing, I guess.” Bianca appeared in the doorway of the room. “What do you want, squirt?”

“Daddy says it’s time to go.” Bee stated, very straight and to the point. “Bella don’t want to be late for graduation.”

“Bella doesn’t want to be late, Bianca.” Destiny corrected her youngest daughter.

“That’s what I said, Ma.” Bianca turned and ran back down the stairs.

Bella shook her head. “You know she didn’t get that, Mama. She’s cute and all, but she—”

Destiny cut her off. “She sounds like me when I was her age, Bella. She’ll be a perfect fit back home.” Destiny had lost all contact with her cousins, though she had heard one of Jenny’s boys had passed away recently. Chey and Jonah still lived, though she had no idea where.

Bella shrugged again and picked up her car keys. “I’m driving!” she yelled, as she darted down the steps.

As Bree had done, Bella graduated pretty close to the beginning of her class. She was named Valedictorian, and also named “Most Likely To Join A Sports Team” by her classmates. Well, if being a magician doesn’t work out, she thought, there’s always the Shores Llamas. Her Valedictory address was about continuing the Atwood/Farmer legacy in Starlight Shores, and making her own way. She was aware that not all of her classmates would stay in town. Her best friend, Cindy, was already planning on moving to Isla Paradiso. She wanted to be somewhere without snow, and that was the best place to go for year-round sunny beaches. Her ex-boyfriend, Estevan, was staying in town, however, much to her chagrin. If there was ever a person that she wished would leave town, it was Este.

Destiny and Arthur brought the family to the same fancy restaurant where they brought Bree after her graduation. One more, she thought. I hope I live to see her graduate.

The following Monday, Destiny brought Bella to Ernesto’s agency to sign her up as a new talent. However, Desi was distraught to discover that her old agent had passed away the week before and no one had told her. She owed so much to Ernie, and she never got the chance to say goodbye. Instead, his replacement Maria was there to help complete the paperwork for Bella.

Desi and Bella had the conversation before about choosing a stage name, but Bella wanted to use her real name. As a compromise, Bella chose Desi’s last name as a stage name, and registered as “Bella Hill.” She wasted absolutely no time going to the park in the afternoons to perform her magic tricks for tips, and she always came home with a decent amount of simoleons in her tip jar.

Destiny and Arthur tried to plan one last trip overseas before Bianca graduated from school, but with the two older girls always working, it was difficult to coordinate.  Desi never really asked Bella if she could get the time off because she was keenly aware that it would be difficult to recover from an extended period away as a performer.

Bree, it seemed, was too wrapped up in her job to spend any time at home these days, and Desi felt it was imminent that she would announce her move back to Appaloosa Plains.  Bree slept and ate her meals with her company at the firehouse during the week, only coming home on the weekends and her occasional weekday off. Destiny began to realize how difficult it must have been for Fran and Charlie when she left home for university. Except Bree still lived at home, they just never saw her.


It was Destiny’s birthday, and Arthur was planning on making it the best one yet. A few months prior, a trendy new restaurant had opened on the Los Sueños strip, and Arthur couldn’t wait to bring Desi. In typical Arthur fashion, he made sure every little detail was perfect. A huge bouquet of flowers sat on a table he reserved. A box containing a diamond necklace sat in his pocket. The hired limousine had a bottle of their favorite sparkling nectar and four long-stemmed strawberries. He even bought a new tuxedo and took Destiny shopping at her favorite boutique for a stunning new evening gown for the occasion.

Desi sat in the limo with an ear to ear smile on her face. Arthur popped the nectar open and poured each of them a glass, and they toasted to their love, and to her life and career. They fed each other one strawberry, and when they arrived at the restaurant, he insisted to hold the door open for her. Arm in arm, he escorted her inside to their table. They were seated by the fireplace at a semi-private table reserved for the biggest stars. The roses were especially aromatic, catching Desi’s attention as they sat down. A concert violinist, who happened to be one of Arthur’s dearest friends, played love songs that Arthur chose just for Destiny. As the fire snapped and flickered in the hearth nearby, Arthur took Desi’s hands and just stared at her.

“You just keep getting more and more beautiful, Mrs. Atwood.” He touched her cheek gently, and she blushed.

“I=I don’t know what to say, Arthur. This whole night is extraordinary.”

“It’s only getting started, my love,” he replied.

He ordered the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu and toasted once again to their lives together. The waiter brought their first course, a Caprese salad with freshly baked bread, followed by lemon sherbet. “So, love, what do you think of the restaurant?”

“It’s exquisite, Arthur.  You spoil me too much.” Destiny dabbed at her mouth and laid the napkin gently in her lap.

“Too much? I could never spoil you enough!” Arthur smiled sweetly and got up. Taking her hand, he led her to a small dance floor near the table. “Play our song, please,” he told the violinist, handing him a $100. Arthur and Destiny danced through the whole song, her head on his shoulder. As the song came to an end, he spun her into a dip kiss, tears in his eyes. “I love you so much, it hurts.”

Destiny nodded, unable to speak, her own emotions stuck like a boulder in her throat. They returned to their table, and he held her chair as she sat down. Instead of sitting across from her, he knelt down before her, removing the gift box from his jacket.

“Destiny, the past forty years together have been more than enough for me, and though a mere trinket could never express how much you mean to me, I hope that you’ll accept this anyway.” He opened the box to reveal the diamond necklace, which was a platinum chain with diamond chips encrusted on it, and a beautifully cut, flawless diamond in the center. The stone sparkled with the fire of a perfectly cut gemstone, just like her eyes did when she saw it.

“Arthur!” Desi exclaimed. “It’s… it’s too much.” She swallowed hard, trying to find her words. “It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

“No, my love. You are the most beautiful thing ever.” He removed the chain from its box and clasped it around her slender neck. “It is perfect!” Arthur said. “You are perfect.”

Destiny rose from her chair and hugged him. “Thank you, darlin’. I love you so very much.”

The meal they shared together came next, and they took turns feeding the other with small bites, as though they were newlyweds. Arthur and Destiny sat and talked for hours, reminiscing and sharing hopes for their daughters’ lives, praying together they would live to see grandchildren. When the restaurant closed for the night, he led her gently, arm in arm, out to the limo that sat waiting for them. “To the beach, please,” he asked the driver. Reaching behind him, Arthur closed the privacy window and pulled Destiny close for a kiss.


Two days before Bianca’s birthday, she stood in her room before the full-length mirror and modeled her graduation gown and cap. She had decorated the back of her gown with an artsy design and covered the board with glitter paint. “What do you think, Mama?”

“You did a great job, Bee.” Destiny’s frail hands held the cap, as her eyes tried to make out the design.

“It’s a bee, Mama. Because you always call me ‘Bee.’” Bianca stated, looking annoyed that her mother didn’t catch the reference. “Here, you’re holding it upside down.” Bianca took the cap and turned it the right way.

“Oh yes,” Desi answered. “I see it now.”

Bree was just in from work at the firehouse, smelling like soot and smoke. Her company had just spent the past four hours dousing a 3 alarm fire at one of the biggest homes in town, and she single-handedly saved three people from death. Her boss was recommending her for a valor award at City Hall, and was so proud of her. Destiny had heard about the fire on the news, and was relieved to see her oldest walk in the door.

“Mama, I’m home!” Bree called to Destiny.

“I was so worried,” Destiny called back. “I’ve been watching the news all afternoon!”

Meanwhile, Bella was at the Spring Festival working a children’s birthday party. She was beginning to make a name for herself in Starlight Shores, and was in great demand for parties and private events. As she navigated through the party and pulled a coin from the birthday boy’s ear for the umpteenth time, the kids sat completely enthralled with her performance. It reminded her of the show she saw at their age of the magician, and secretly she hoped she was inspiring a child to dream big.

Arthur was on the deck on the roof of the house, sitting by the bar listening to the radio. It amazed him that he could climb the steps at all anymore, never mind to the roof. But he was enjoying the cool, crisp spring evening, sipping his drink. Destiny was finishing up dusting when she heard him call for her. The urgency in his voice startled her, and she sprinted up the stairs as quickly as she could. She opened the door just in time to see Arthur laying on the floor, crumpled in a heap, the Reaper towering ominously over him. Destiny opened her mouth to scream, “No!” but not a sound escaped her lips. Bree and Bianca, who heard Arthur call for Destiny, also made their way to the roof. Just as Bree reached the top step, she saw the Reaper’s scythe swoop, and Destiny dropping to her knees to plead with him. Bree’s heart shattered into a million pieces as she watched the Reaper disappear with her father. Bianca, who had just missed the whole scene taking place, didn’t realize at first what had happened. But when she saw Destiny’s face, contorted in the most agony she had ever seen, she knew what was going on.

“Your sister,” Destiny managed to speak in between sobs. “Call Bella.”

Bella was just finishing up her grand finale of the show when her cell phone rang. Dang it, she thought. I forgot to turn my phone off. Holding up one finger, she motioned to the party while she checked her phone. Bree Atwood, the caller ID said. Excusing herself, she took the phone call.

“What is it, Bree?” Bella answered the phone, slightly annoyed.

“It’s Daddy. Come home. NOW!” Bree spat and hung up the phone.

Bella panicked, grabbed her purse and keys and sped home as quickly as she could. Crying, she could barely see where she was going. Bella didn’t even bother to put the car in the garage, pulling it up outside the house and running toward the front door. She could hear the commotion from the street, so she guessed everyone was either around the pool or upstairs. Seeing no one around or in the pool, she darted up the steps, taking two at a time until she reached the deck. Her mother and sister were huddled together, sobbing around a golden urn, the only thing that remained of Arthur Atwood. Bella sank to her knees and joined them, bitterly weeping with regret that she was not home. She never got to say goodbye to the first man she really loved.

Up Next: Chapter Ten, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Eight – Moving On and Up!

The next morning, Destiny woke early to make breakfast for the girls before school. It was something she had done very little of when she was actively performing, and being domestic, albeit a little late, felt good. Bree came downstairs first to the aroma of banana pancakes on the griddle.

“Good morning, sunshine!” Desi beamed at her oldest. Bree, who was not quite awake, just smiled and managed a wave. Taking a couple of cakes from the platter, she sat down with some honey and fresh butter and ate. Bella, who was in a much better mood, came bounding into the dining room, skipped to Desi and gave her a hug.

“G’morning mama!” Bella was such a happy child, and a delight to see so cheerful on Desi’s first day of retirement. Desi handed her a plate of pancakes with syrup and kissed her cheek.

“Well, good morning sweetheart!” Desi wiped the counter and cleaned the griddle as she talked. “Did you girls get your homework finished yesterday?”

Almost in unison, they answered, “Yes Mama.” Bella added, “Did you remember my permission slip for the field trip today, Mama?” Bella’s class was taking a trip to the theater that day, and she was very excited.

“Yes, I did. It’s in your backpack, honey.” Arthur replied to her, halfway down the steps. “Good morning, my loves,” he said to the girls, heading to the coffee pot. On his way by, he kissed Destiny and gave her a hug. “Happy retirement, baby.”

Desi only smiled at him and then called Bianca to come get breakfast before the school bus came. But when she yelled back, a sturdy cough accompanied her reply. She had picked up a cold from the kids at school, and there was no way she was going anywhere today. Desi made a cup of tea with honey and some toast and brought them to Bianca, who was still in her pajamas in her bedroom. The sick girl sipped a few sips of tea, nibbled on the toast, and climbed back into bed.


Spring break was quickly upon the Atwood family. Planning Bree’s graduation and a family vacation to France took much of Destiny’s time. Though it would be a quick trip, the family was excited about taking time together to relax and have some fun. For Bree, it was time to spend with her mother, to get reacquainted and get some quality time with her. She was already accepted at the firehouse after graduation, so her career would begin immediately. She would be the youngest firefighter and the only woman at the company, and she was truly energized with excitement, fulfilling a childhood dream. For Arthur and Destiny, it was the honeymoon they never got to have, and a chance to spend time with their growing family. And for Bella and Bianca, it was time away from school, and a chance to see some of the world their mother had always talked about after her tours.

On their trip, Arthur and Destiny took the girls camping for a night, roughing it with tents in a campground just outside of the city limits. For the first time since she left Appaloosa Plains, Destiny saw fireflies, and she showed the girls how to catch them in a jar. The peace and quiet of the outdoors made Destiny miss the country life, but at the same time, she was beginning to miss the busy city. Arthur taught the girls how to fish, and they caught their dinner that night. Then before bedtime, Arthur played the guitar and Desi sang songs that she learned back in Appaloosa Plains as they roasted marshmallows. Bree scared Bianca with a ghost story, and she slept in Desi and Art’s tent that night, a development the “honeymooners” weren’t so happy about. But in the morning, all three girls were happy to get back to civilization, and continuing their adventure.

Bree and Bella went on a treasure excursion in an abandoned tomb, to find an artifact that was “lost” by an older man in town. Though the rewards were very real, the beginner excursion was very safe and actually promoted in town as a tourist attraction. While the girls were doing their treasure hunt, Destiny and Arthur brought Bianca to the nectary, which was out beyond the campground. Desi got a chance to make her own bottle of nectar, which wasn’t as good as the bottles that were available for purchase. She also bought seeds to plant her own rare grapes, and the manuals to learn the fine art of nectar making. Arthur and Destiny couldn’t have had a better time, and the girls wanted to go back as soon as they could.


A few months later, Bree was standing in her bedroom, staring at her reflection.  Destiny helped her with the finishing touches on her makeup and graduation cap. “Here, let me look at you,” she told Bree, who backed up and spun around slowly.

“Does it look okay, Mama?” Bree was fidgety and spinning the gold band that Arthur had given her for Snowflake Day the previous year.

“You look beautiful, Bree.” Destiny couldn’t help but get emotional. Her firstborn daughter was all grown up, standing before her as a young woman. She remembered her own graduation day, and her own parents were around the same age as she and Arthur. “Come here,” Desi said to Bree as she hugged her. “Are you ready?”

“As ready as I’m going to be, I think.” Bree smoothed out her gown one last time. “I can’t believe school is over. All these years I couldn’t wait to be grown up. Now that it’s here…” She took a deep breath and smiled. “I just can’t believe it.”

Me neither, thought Desi. The two walked downstairs, where everyone else was waiting. Bella motioned for Arthur to throw the keys, which he did. “I’m driving!” She announced. Without missing a beat, or an opportunity to poke at her older sister, Bianca chimed in, “Uh oh!” And everyone laughed.

Bree was among the first in her class to graduate since her name was close to the beginning alphabetically. She was chosen as the top athlete in her class and was awarded the “Most Likely To Join A Sports Team” award by her classmates. That made her chuckle, since she was starting her new job at the fire station the next Monday. After the ceremony, the group of newly graduated disappeared into a flurry of airborne hats. Destiny and Arthur took the family to a fancy new restaurant in town, called The Tower, to celebrate after the ceremony. It was a much more dignified after party than the ice cream truck that followed Desi’s award, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. After all, her oldest daughter would never graduate from high school again. Luckily, Desi still had two more graduations to anticipate. The kids weren’t entirely grown just yet. And she was going to cherish every moment she had with them.

Up Next: Chapter Nine, Generation Two

 

G2 Chapter Seven – The End of an Era

Time marched on as the children grew older. Destiny’s career recovered from another maternity leave and she continued to sell out big venues like the Binder Clips Center. Though she couldn’t bring herself to tour on the road like she did when she was younger, she did manage to bring in crowds from neighboring towns big enough to fill huge arenas and private clubs. Her work as a singing telegram was winding down to its natural conclusion as her star continued to burn brighter and brighter, but on occasion, she would still drive to a special client and perform a. song as a favor to her boss. The proprietor from Verde Park, the one who gave Destiny her big chance all those years ago, finally met the Reaper on a Wednesday afternoon. Desi was honored to speak at her funeral and got a chance to tell her family that it was their loved one who made Destiny Hill the superstar she eventually came to be.

Bree was nearing graduation from high school, Bella was a freshman, and little Bianca was still a toddler when Destiny’s agent called her.

“Hello?” Destiny said into her cell phone on her way to a job.

“Destiny, baby! This is your agent, and boy do I have some news for you!” Her agent, Ernesto Gonzalez, seemed almost too excited to speak.

“Oh? What is it, Ernie?” Destiny’s curiosity was piqued.

“I just got word from the Mayor himself that you are being honored at Town Hall, Des. They are naming you a Vocal Legend!” Ernie barely got the words out of his mouth when he heard a crash. “Des? Are you okay?”

On the other end, Destiny had dropped her phone. Scrambling to retrieve it from the floor, she shouted into the limo, “Are you kidding me?!” Fumbling with the small device, she felt as if she was all thumbs. “Really, Ern? They want to give ME this honor??” Desi said as she finally had control over her phone.

“Yes, ma’am!” Ernie replied. “I knew when I signed you up that you would go places in this city. You didn’t disappoint me, not once.”

“Except when I was pregnant with Bella, you mean,” Destiny corrected. “I almost walked away from all of this. I owe everything I am to Arthur. He is going to be thrilled!”

They hung up the phone and Destiny made a beeline home. She called her boss at the telegram company and had him reschedule her appointments for the day, even though there weren’t many. Her car barely came to a stop before she hopped out and nearly ran to the house. “Art! Art!” She yelled for him as she opened the door.

“Desi? What’s wrong?” Art called back to her, Bianca laughing from the bathtub.

“Absolutely nothing!” Desi called back. “Hold on, I’m coming up!”

Desi ran up the steps a little faster than she was truly able and winded herself in the process. Pausing for a breath, she heard the bathtub drain its last bit of water and the happy sound of giggles as a naked little girl ran past her. She peeked her head around the corner and saw Arthur sit back on his heels, soaking wet and tired. She cocked her head and clicked her tongue at him. “Aww, is Daddy all wet?”

Arthur stood and reached for her, hugging her close and getting his wet body close to her nice, dry clothing. “Yes, and now Mama is, too!” They both started laughing and she kissed him.

“I do have some amazing news, Art. Ernesto called about 15 minutes ago. The mayor wants to award me the title of Vocal Legend in a ceremony at Town Hall.” Destiny was smiling ear to ear, her red and grey peppered hair shining in the sunlight peeping through the window.

“Aw, babe! This is amazing!” Arthur pulled her close and hugged her tightly. “I am so proud of you! You did it, my love, you did it!” He kissed her passionately, bursting with happiness.

“We did it, Art. I… I couldn’t have done any of this without you at my side.” Desi whispered. “I love you so much. You are the superstar in me.”

Bianca peeked her head into the room and made a face. “Eww!” she teased as she darted away, wearing her princess costume. They both laughed at her and took a moment to revel in Desi’s big news.


Destiny’s award ceremony was well attended by everyone in the entertainment business in Starlight Shores. Those who had helped her along the way, including her own husband, were allowed to speak about her long and successful career. Then it was Destiny’s turn to speak.

“It is really humbling to be even considered for this award, Mr. Mayor,” she began. “I never could have guessed when I left Appaloosa Plains that this would be my future. But in truth, I never could have gotten to this place, right in the moment, without the love of my life. A man who saw potential in me, who cheered me on and took on the enormous responsibility of raising our three young girls while I chased my dreams.” She paused and smiled at Arthur, who sat with Bree and Bella at his side. She continued, “My oldest two daughters are here with us tonight, celebrating with us this incredible honor. Bree will be joining the fire department when she leaves school next year, and Bella wants to follow in her mama’s footsteps, not as a singer, but as a magician! So, the town of Starlight Shores isn’t done with this legacy just yet.” Bree hid her head, but Bella stood and waved to the crowd. “And my sweet Arthur. You sacrificed your own career, your own livelihood and stepped up to be a stay at home dad, in a way that I could never thank you enough for. While I was having all the fun, you were elbow deep in diapers, macaroni and cheese and homework, living the dream you never knew you wanted. But you, my love, you are the reason I am standing here tonight.” She gestured to him, and Arthur stood, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. He waved to the crowd and sat down. Destiny continued. “You invested in my dreams, you went all in to make sure that what I wanted was fulfilled. I look at my reflection in the mirror before a show, and I see you staring back at me. I see your face beaming the night you told me you wanted to stay home with our babies. I see your eyes looking at me like I’m the most beautiful creature in the world. I see your smile, and it fills my heart to overflowing.”

Destiny stopped for a moment while the crowd roared into thunderous applause, Overwhelmed, she motioned for Arthur to join her on stage. She had a hard time controlling her tears, and as she held up the plaque that the mayor had given her, she mouthed the words, “I love you!” as she waved to the crowd. Arthur reached the stage and waved, turned and hugged his beautiful wife, and planted a kiss squarely on her lips. “Mmm, salty!” he whispered in her ear as the crowd continued its applause.

After a few minutes, the commotion died down, and Desi was able to speak once more, “Arthur has been my rock. Sweetheart, you really are the superstar inside of me.” She kissed him and he pulled her close and hugged her again. Turning to the crowd, she spoke one last time. “Thank you to everyone in Starlight Shores who helped make the dreams of a small-town girl come true. And I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the two people who made it possible for me to be here at all. I only wish they could have seen my dreams realized. A special ‘thank you’ to the ones who gave me life, my late parents, Charlie and Frannie Farmer. Without their encouragement and sacrifice, I could have never made it here…” A sob shook her as Art held onto her. “Thank you again, Starlight Shores, for making me the happiest woman in the world! Goodnight!” Desi’s mic went dead, and the lights came up as the ceremony ended.

In the limo, Desi sat with Arthur and the girls. “It means so much to me that you girls came tonight.” She hugged Bree, and then Bella. “I know I haven’t always been there for you, but this is the answer to many prayers, starting back before I was your age now.” Desi sniffled, and Bree handed her a tissue. “I’m so sorry that I missed so much of your growing up…” Desi stated, but then smiled. “That is why your being here tonight means the world to me.”

“We wouldn’t have missed it, Mama,” quipped Bella.

“You have nothing to be sorry for, Mom,” Bree said. “I’m proud of all you have accomplished. We all are.”

On the way home from the ceremony, the four of them stopped for ice cream, even though it looked a bit funny to see four people in evening clothes waiting in line at the truck downtown. They talked and laughed into the early hours of the morning. When the limo dropped them at home, they were all very tired but happy.


Destiny’s stay at the top of her game was short-lived. She was not getting younger, and her youth appeared behind her as though in the rearview mirror of a car. Her concerts were shorter, the appearances fewer, the grey hair soon overtook her flaming red locks. Almost as if overnight, she barely recognized the old lady she saw in her reflection.

“I think I’m done, Art.” Destiny was lying in bed one Saturday morning, listening to Bianca recite her schoolwork.

“What do you mean, love?” Arthur was puzzled.

“I mean, I think it may be time to retire. We’ve built a beautiful life here. Our love has made three wonderful children. Why don’t we take them and travel? Before they grow up and move away from us….”

Arthur didn’t say anything at first, but then spoke. “If you think it’s time, then it must be time. But to be honest, I didn’t think I’d see the day when Destiny Hill gave up her passion.”

“Me neither. But I feel like all I’ve ever done is work. I’m tired, Art. I want to enjoy our children, and if we are blessed to live long enough, our grandchildren.” Desi was keenly aware she had more time behind her than before her.

“Then let’s retire and travel with the girls while they are still at home. What good is all this money if we can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor?” Arthur kissed her. They snuggled in bed until Bianca needed breakfast.

That Monday morning, Destiny made the phone call to Ernesto that she dreaded she would someday need to make. But she knew in her heart it was the right decision. She agreed to do a final, farewell concert at the Binder Clips Center on Wednesday night. And then her career would come to a close. The show sold out within minutes after the tickets were on sale. The streets leading to the Clips Center were lined with fans from all over, holding signs bearing her name. The whole family traveled with her in the limo to the event; even Bianca, who had never been to her mother’s concert before was in attendance and planted in the first row with the rest of Destiny’s family. The concert was a huge success and was reviewed as the performance of her life. The critic was pleased to see her retire at the top of her game, and with a truly legendary performance.

The kids, all worn out from the excitement of the concert, were tucked into bed, sleeping. Arthur and Destiny sat in their formal living room after the concert, watching the flames in the fireplace flicker, sipping on a glass of the finest nectar they could find, straight from France. They talked for hours about their lives, their children, her career, and the love of family that made everything possible. And as the flames of fire died out, so too did the last flicker of Destiny’s career.

Up Next: Chapter Eight, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Six – The Family Grows

Bree Ann Atwood arrived in early spring, perfect, pink, and soft. She was the light of her mother and father’s life, and with her arrival, everything in their world was forever changed. Her career was temporarily on hold while she doted on their first baby daughter. And Arthur continued to work, though his earning potential was dwarfed by his wife’s big salary. But he loved his work, and it gave him some purpose to provide for his family. Desi was there when Bree took her first steps and was dismayed when her first word was “Dada.” She made sure she read Bree to sleep every night, choosing a book that would help to shape the young child in her older years.

Soon after Bree’s third birthday, Desi and Arthur found out they were expecting a second child. Neither one of them was where they wanted to be in their career, but raising her family was Destiny’s top priority, even more than being the biggest star in Starlight Shores. They knew they had some decisions to make, and soon.

Destiny’s agent was not happy to hear news of their second child. “We can’t keep you in limbo indefinitely, Destiny. Stardom doesn’t work like that. You need to choose what you want to do.”

“I know,” Destiny responded on the phone call. “Arthur and I are discussing it, and we’ll have an answer for you soon.” She hung up the phone and wiped a tear from her eyes. She knew the decision had to be made, but she feared it might be more difficult to walk away from her career than she thought.

When Arthur returned home that evening from work, he was beaming, It wasn’t because he had gotten a promotion or a raise. But he had talked everything over with his boss and coworkers, and everyone advised him to let Destiny continue her career. He would be perfectly happy being at home with the children, being Mr. Mom. He couldn’t wait to tell her his solution.

Destiny was feeding Bree when Arthur came through the door. “Well, Babe, I have everything all figured out.”

“Oh, you do?” Desi was waiting to tell him that she was quitting her job. “Well, I do, too.”

“Well, I want to go first, sweetheart. I am going to stay home with our children. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a career that you love, and besides, the town needs a gem like you.” Arthur was smiling ear to ear. He reached out to touch her cheek, and she took his hand.

“Are you sure? Two toddlers are going to be rough for a while.” Desi stated very matter-of-factly. “We could hire some help?”

“Nonsense!” Arthur replied. “I don’t need help to take care of our babies.” He took the spoon Desi was using to feed Bree and took over the job. “Besides, I really want to do this. You deserve it, my love. Now, what were you going to say?”

Desi smiled sheepishly at him. “I was going to tell you that my agent called today, and he wanted an answer about my decision. I was going to tell him to cancel my contract, but I guess I don’t have to now.” She wiped baby food off Bree’s chin with a napkin. “He wasn’t very happy to hear about the new baby. I guess not everyone is a family man, like you.”

Arthur leaned forward to kiss her. “Nope! Aw, Babe, I’m so happy you are going to stick with singing. But you know, this house is only two bedrooms. Even with a significant remodel, it still won’t be big enough for four of us.”

“I thought of that, too, but when I was thinking of quitting my job, it wasn’t going to be affordable. I’ll call my real estate agent tomorrow, and see what she can find for us.” Desi picked up Bree, took her bib off and kissed her dirty cheek. Bree returned the favor by placing a hand, covered in baby food, right on Desi’s forehead. “You see this, Art? This is what you’re getting yourself into.” She blew bubbles on Bree’s tummy, making the child giggle and squirm.

“I can’t wait!” Arthur kissed both of them on the forehead and took Bree from Desi. “I’ll give her a bath tonight. You rest.”

Destiny’s real estate agent found a beautiful modern house in the hills for the growing family, and surprisingly enough, it was well affordable even with Desi’s extended maternity leaves. Arthur quit his job shortly after Bella was born. But the housework, baby care, and an active toddler proved too much for him to handle alone. Reluctantly, Destiny and Arthur hired an executive butler to take care of the cleaning and repairs in the house, so Art could focus his attention on Bree and Bella. Desi concentrated on reviving her career by booking the big show venues in town. Her comeback show at the Hoi Polloi was sold out, and the following night at the Binder Clips Center was, too.  The next day was Leisure Day, a city-wide vacation dedicated to, well, leisure time. But Destiny had a show booked that day at the Brotherhood Hall. All three venues wanted her to come back as a steady performer, which meant very good money and citywide recognition.

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The day after her last comeback show, she took an unpaid day off to take the family to the summer festival. It was there that she had her family picture taken every season, and she wasn’t about to stop the tradition now. That picture went into the digital frame above her fireplace, along with the long gone, but still familiar faces of her past. She pointed out Nana and Papa to Bree and Bella and told them how very much they loved the girls because she knew in her heart that Charlie and Fran would have adored their granddaughters.


Destiny’s return to the stage was very well received, booking shows and tours all over Simville. But there was a hiccup in the plans as Destiny got the unbelievable news that she was expecting their third child. Bree was now a teenager and Bella in grade school. It certainly wasn’t anything that Arthur and Destiny were planning, and Desi worried how her agent would react. Heck, she worried about how Art would react. So the evening she planned to reveal her pregnancy, she cooked his favorite meal and gave the butler the night off. The girls were at sleepovers at their friends’ homes, and it was just the two of them. In a vase on the table sat five long-stemmed roses, each one with a note attached to it. Each rose bore the name of a family member. One for Desi and one for Art. Two flawless red roses represented their flawless daughters, Bree and Bella. And one rose just had question marks and hearts on its slip of paper.

Desi lit the candles and turned on the stereo with the remote control. Art was puzzled by the display before him, but an uneasy feeling washed over him. Each time before, a surprise dinner brought questionable news, and he was unsure.

“Okay, what’s your big announcement, love?” he queried. He only glanced at the roses, not paying particular attention to the details.

“Wow, am I that transparent?” Destiny laughed nervously.

“I wouldn’t say transparent, but this isn’t my first rodeo, either. The way I figure it, you have some…” Art paused to gather his thoughts, then continued, “…unsavory news.”

Destiny frowned at the thought of their child being called unsavory. “Well, you’re half right.” She sat down next to him, her head in her hands. “We’re pregnant, Art. I’m… pregnant.”

At first, Art looked confused, but when the reality settled in, his unease turned to profound relief. “That’s it? That is your news?” Destiny nodded, a tear choking her words. “Babe, why are you crying? This. Is. AWESOME!” He couldn’t even hold his joy inside. “You have to know how excited I am!”

Destiny felt relief come over her, and her emotions welled up within her. She cried for an hour, and he just held her, stroking her hair and kissing away her tears. “Are you sure this is okay? I mean, I thought we were done with babies until we have grandchildren. Are you ready for diapers and high chairs and potty training and…”

Arthur cut her off. “Babe, it will be fine. I promise.” It was then that he noticed the roses, and the one with the question marks and hearts. “So, that’s what the roses are for!” He smiled ear to ear, blew out the candles, picked up Destiny and carried her upstairs. She clung to his neck, now smiling in anticipation of their evening together.

The next morning, when the girls returned home from their friends’ homes, Destiny sat them down and told them their good news. At first, Bree was livid. “Mom! You’re already not home enough as it is. How could you do this?”

“I’m sorry, Bree, but sometimes things happen that you don’t plan.” Destiny was annoyed but was trying to understand Bree’s point of view. Being an only child, she didn’t have to worry about younger or older siblings. Sometimes, it was a little difficult to relate to the girls when it came to sibling problems.

“What are my friends going to say, Mom? They’re going to… know…” Her young teenage mind was just assaulted, mortified to think that her mother and father were doing… “that.” And worse, her friends would know, too. It was a living nightmare for a girl of 14 years.

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Bree Ann!” Destiny was getting flustered. She looked to Art for help.

Art, who always had just the right thing to say, took his daughter for a drink and a treat at the coffeehouse. He mouthed to Desi on his way out the door, “I’ve got this!” and jingled his keys. “Come on, Bree.  Let’s go talk.”

Destiny then approached her younger daughter, Bella. “What do you think, sweet girl? Are you happy about the new baby?”

“Sure, Mama,” Bella said very matter-of-factly. “But can I have a little sister? Boys are icky.” Desi laughed at her innocence and sheer honesty.

“I’ll try, darling. I’ll try.” Desi kissed Bella’s forehead and handed her a textbook. “Homework, Bella. Play afterward, okay?”

“Okay, Mama.” Bella took her schoolwork from Desi and settled at the kitchen table, working patiently until she was finished.

At the coffeehouse, Art sat down with Bree. “What’s bothering you, honey?”

“Daddy, Mom is never home. And when she is actually home, she lets you do everything. She never spends any time with me anymore.”

“Now Bree, that was a decision that your mama and I made years ago. That’s not her fault, and it’s not fair to blame her. It is because of your mama that we can have our home and all the things you love. I won’t tolerate you disrespecting her like this.”

“But Daddy!” Bree protested. “I didn’t ask for another brother or sister.”

“You know what, Bree? We didn’t plan on it, either. But we love you and Bella, and we’re going to love this new little life, too.” Arthur was firm but loving with her. “Bree, can we count on you?”

“But Daddy!” Bree pouted, crossing her arms in front of her.

“No more, Bree. I don’t want to hear you bring this up with your mother again. You be supportive and you be nice to her!” Arthur scowled at his oldest. “Unless you have something nice to say, Bree Ann Atwood, you don’t say a word.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but Arthur stopped her. “Not a word, Bree. Do we have an understanding?”

“Yes sir,” Bree slumped in her seat, sipping on her iced tea. Her eyes filled with tears, and she wiped them away.

“Why the tears? Am I being unreasonable, Bree?” Art’s countenance softened and he reached across the table for her hand.

“No Daddy, you’re not. But my friends… they’re going to know that you and Mama—”

Arthur cut her off, “Love each other? Bree, I know this might be hard to understand, but your mama and I made you. You are a living, breathing miracle, and so is your sister. So is this baby. That is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed by.”

Bree sighed, accepting defeat. “You’re right, Daddy. So many of my friends’ parents are divorced.” She stopped in her thought, as she realized how lucky she was to have them together, in the same home.

“You never have to worry about that with your mama and me, Bree. That, I promise you. Remember, when you get older, how much I love your mama. Never settle for a man who treats you differently than I treat your mother. I would die for all of you.” Arthur smiled.

Bree got up and moved to the bench seat next to Arthur. “I love you, Daddy.”

Art hugged her close and kissed her forehead. “I love you too, angel. Now, let’s go home.”

Bianca Atwood arrived in the middle of the night in the spring the following year, pink and perfectly healthy. The third daughter of Destiny and Arthur Atwood, she was welcomed into the family with little pomp and circumstance, but it wasn’t long before Bianca’s two older sisters were taking turns holding and bouncing her. Even Destiny’s agent sent a toy for Bianca, and a bouquet of flowers for Desi, with a note saying how he was looking forward to her next tour. But Desi wasn’t so sure that she would go back on the road, and she was beginning to believe that she might never reach the top of her career.

Up Next: Chapter Seven, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Five – And Two Become One

The wedding took over a year to plan, between the venues, her dress and every little detail that they both wanted. The little church was the busiest during the summer months, so they planned a winter wedding, much like what Charlie and Fran had done so many years ago. The final arrangements were finished in the month before the wedding.  Her dress was exquisite, a white satin beaded with off-pink crystals in the form of tiny flowers. Her veil was simple, just a little piece of tulle that went into her elegant updo. Since the wedding would be in early winter, her boots were functional in the snow, but still appropriate for dancing into the night at the reception. All of the invitations were mailed out, and most of the RSVPs were returned quickly. It was promised to be the event of the year, and everyone who was anyone in Starlight Shores would be there.

On the morning of the wedding, Destiny called Arthur as she did every morning before he went to work. But in his voice was something she hadn’t heard before. She hung up the phone with an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach. But she brushed it off and went about doing everything she needed to do. The wedding was at noon, but she left her home at 9am for the church, to make sure that the venue was ready for the coming onslaught.

 

At 11:30, Arthur still wasn’t at the church, and Desi was genuinely concerned. Just as she pulled her cell phone out of her bag to call him, Arthur walked through the front door. He was greeted heartily by the socialites that were in attendance, and the press gaggle in the back of the vestibule held out hands to shake. When he saw Destiny waiting at the front of the church for him, he felt the urge to run, but he forced himself to meet her at the altar. For a few awkward moments, they stood together while Arthur tried to compose himself.

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Then, without warning or explanation, he ran down the aisle toward the door. Paparazzi tried to stop him, but he pushed through and ran for his car, and sped off into the flurries. Inside was a scene of total devastation. Destiny, who had spent the last 14 months planning to marry the man she couldn’t live without, had been left at the altar in the most humiliating way. And instead of compassion, her guests turned and laughed her out of the building, the ceremony and reception in ruins.

When she got to her limo, she started to sob. Hot, bitter tears fell onto her dress, No! She thought. I am not going to let him get away this easily! She asked her driver to bring her to his workplace, but he was not there. She went to his home, but he was not there, either. Desperate, she called his cell phone, and to her surprise, he answered it. Her first thought was to scream at him, but she held her tongue.

“Babe,” Arthur choked on tears of his own, “I am so sorry I left you like that. I never meant to hurt you.”

“Well, you did,” Desi spat, furious with him. “You humiliated me in front of the whole town!”

“I know, and I’m so very sorry.” His voice quivered on the other end of the line. “I don’t deserve a treasure like you.”

“What is this all about, Art? Is it something I did? Do you even love me?” She was close to shouting at him, and she wasn’t sorry. Desi wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the answers, but she asked the questions anyway.

“No, NO!” He cried on the other end of the line, “It’s nothing like that at all. But I meant it when I said I don’t deserve a treasure like you. I mean, look at you. You are a genuine star, and you could have anybody in this town. And I mean anyone. Why? Why did you pick me?”

“Is that what this is?” Desi asked. “How could you even wonder such a thing?” She sat in her limo, trembling, and still angry. “Arthur, I love YOU, not everyone else in this forsaken city. And if it keeps us together, I’ll walk away from it all. Every bit of fame, all of the stuff, even the career that I love. Because I love you more than all of this.” She waved her arms around for effect and felt foolish when she saw people staring at her through the open window. She waved sheepishly to the onlookers and closed the window.

Arthur breathed a sigh of relief, but at the same time began to sob. They cried together on the phone for what seemed like hours. “Well,” Desi finally spoke. “There is no use in wasting today. Meet me at the courthouse, and we’ll elope. Tonight. No press, no guests, no publicity, no Paparazzi. Just you and me.”

“That sounds magical, Babe. I’ll meet you at the courthouse in half an hour. I need to get cleaned up a bit.” Arthur couldn’t imagine letting Desi see him without at least washing his face. They agreed on the time and hung up the phone.

Desi had the limo driver take her home so she could retouch her makeup. Her hair was messy, and her face was puffy, but somehow, she didn’t care anymore. What mattered to her was being with Arthur, and nothing else.

Thirty minutes later, Desi and Arthur were standing on the steps of the courthouse, hand in hand. He looked at her, so remorseful of the pain he had caused. She looked beautiful to him, even with her messy hair, puffy eyes and tear-stained gown. They walked hand in hand to the courthouse, signed their paperwork, said their vows and exchanged rings. All they ever needed was the two of them, and that is precisely what they had.  They walked out of the courthouse a legally married couple. That was what mattered to both of them.

Her limo took both of them to her house, where Arthur would be moving. He had already packed up his small apartment and was ready to finish bringing his few belongings over during the following week. When they reached the door, he stopped her from opening it. “Here,” he said, fumbling with the key. “I’ve got this!” He got the key into the lock and swung the door open wide. Then with one swoop, he picked her up off her feet and carried her into their home, and into her bedroom. He gently set her on the bed and lit a fire in the fireplace. The champagne she had in the refrigerator was waiting for them. He held up one finger, and ran downstairs and back up as quickly as he could, nearly tripping on the top step like he did every time he climbed them.

“Tada!” He exclaimed as he appeared in the doorway, clutching two champagne flutes and a bottle of bubbly. The plug popped with great force, bouncing off two walls before coming to rest on the hearth of the fireplace. I couldn’t do that again if I tried, he thought. Desi laughed, and then scooted to the edge of the bed, arose and sat in the small loveseat in her loft bedroom, right in front of the fire. He poured their champagne and they toasted to love, their marriage and a new life together. Exhausted, they fell asleep as the champagne’s bubbles faded and the fire slowly burned out.


Arthur and Destiny never got to go on a honeymoon that year. Desi had steady gigs at many venues in town, and could not just forfeit the shows. And Arthur, who had recently changed jobs again, couldn’t get the time off either. But they settled into their lives happily. Desi was still a rising star, not quite at the top but getting there. Over the years, she won the top prize at the SimFest four times and kept all four trophies on a shelf near the front door. Arthur was thriving in his new career and was seriously considering beginning a band with a few co-workers. Then one afternoon, Desi received a call from her agent, saying they were booking a world tour, and she was headlining! Naturally, she was ecstatic about the opportunity, and Arthur encouraged her to go. He was even arranging for some time off to go with her.

Two weeks before the tour was to kick off, Desi wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t understand why, though, because she had a physical exam on top of labs and shots for her passport. But the doctor revealed the very good reason why she could not keep any food down. Destiny was expecting their first child! But, the timing was awful for her and Arthur. Before she even told her husband, Destiny was on the phone with her agent. He agreed that she should be home with her family during such an exciting time, so plans were set in motion to postpone the tour until after the baby was born.

On her way home from the doctor, she stopped at the restaurant that made Arthur’s favorite dish and ordered it to go. At the grocery store, she bought some bubble bath and some fresh watermelon to settle a craving. She kept his dinner warm in the oven, drew a bubble bath for him so it was ready when he got home. She lured him upstairs with her best “come hither” look, and surprised him with a long, luxurious soak. When he descended the stairs, relaxed and feeling good, she had his favorite dinner waiting for him. Just about then he started getting suspicious that something big was about to hit the fan. But he saw her smiling and snickering like she had a huge surprise.

“Alright, little missy,” Arthur scolded playfully, “What’s up your sleeve with all this special treatment, hmm?

“What, can’t a girl do something special for her man once in a while?” Desi kept laughing until a sudden wave of nausea swept over her. Holding up a finger, she made a dash for the half bath and vomited, barely making it. After a minute or two to compose herself, she didn’t miss a beat, continuing right where she left off. “Well, I do have some news about the tour…” Her face went poker straight. Even she was surprised she pulled it off so completely.

“Uh oh,” Arthur replied. “Are we still going? Did it get canceled?”

“Well, no, and kinda.” Desi teased. “I mean no, we’re not going on tour, and the whole thing got postponed.”

Arthur sighed. “Well, now I get why you had to build me up for that letdown.” He took a drink of his coffee. “So, what happened to postpone it?”

Desi smiled her biggest, brightest smile, sat next to him and took his hands in hers. “We have some company coming during the tour. My agent thought I might like to get acquainted with them, especially during the first few months.”

Arthur looked at Desi, totally confused. “Months? What kind of company are we having that they’re going to be here for months?”

“Honey,” she replied softly and sweetly, “the kind of company that will call you ‘Daddy’”

He sat there in stunned silence, wondering if he had heard her correctly. But she sat in her chair, patting her tummy and smiling. “You mean, we’re… “

“Yes, we’re going to have a baby!” Desi beamed. She only knew about the baby for mere hours, but she was already in love with the little being growing inside her.

Up Next: Chapter Six, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Four – Destiny’s Big Break

On the morning of Desi’s show, she woke with renewed purpose. She had some time before her performance, so she went for a run on her daddy’s old treadmill, a cherished hand-me-down. Then she went to the spa to have a muscle rub and a mineral soak, a fresh mani-pedi, and her hair cut and styled. Her show was scheduled for 7pm at Verde Park, and she was at the park two hours early, chatting with concert-goers who had no idea that she was the headliner. In her car, she had CDs that she had made with the songs she had written. If she ever had a chance to sell them, it would most likely be after the show.

Before she knew it, the stage lights dimmed, and the proprietor of the park introduced her. Her stage name, Destiny Hill, had great significance. Charlie watched Desi play in the yard atop a dirt mound in the backyard. He called it “Destiny’s hill.” So when it was time to choose her stage name, Destiny Hill seemed like the natural and obvious pick. She stood in the dark on stage, the music starting and as soon as her voice came over the speakers for the first time, she was standing in the spotlight. She swallowed hard and remembered that this moment was what all of her sacrifices were about.

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Her three-hour time slot went faster than she could imagine, and when it ended she and the audience were left wanting more. She thanked everyone for coming to see her show, and afterward, she stood in the crowd under the stage for what seemed hours signing autographs and selling her CDs. The proprietor approached her after the crowd thinned out, and congratulated her on a fabulous show.

”Miss Hill,” she said, “I haven’t heard a voice like yours in a long time. You have a real command of your audience. You have a bright future here in Starlight Shores!”

Destiny blushed. “Thank you. I have spent a lot of time getting here, and it feels incredible!”

”The reviews should be in the newspaper in the morning, but I expect to see great things from your show, and from you.” Destiny thanked the woman again for the opportunity and picked up the few remaining CDs she had left, and headed home, beaming but exhausted.

Over the next few days, word got around Starlight Shores about Desi’s show. The manager of the coffee shop called her to request her audition, and she scored a steady gig after her highly successful show at the Flying V. But her big dream was realized when she was invited to participate in the SimFest later that month, and she won the top prize! She brought the trophy home and placed it on the shelf next to Charlie’s dance trophy. Sometimes, she had to remind her that it was all real, and she was well on her way to realizing the dream she had envisioned in Appaloosa Plains.

In the middle of Destiny’s rise to fame in Starlight Shores, the proprietor of a private club on the main strip, Arthur Atwood, took a particular liking to Desi. He had heard all of the buzz around town, so when she came to his club asking for an audition, he was eager to sign her on. After her show at his establishment, he took her for dinner. Over the next few months, their friendship grew to something more. And Desi found herself at the club when she wasn’t running around town doing Sing-A-Grams or at a show.

One night, about a year later, he surprised her with a beautiful necklace that looked to be worth more than a year’s pay, a dozen bright red roses and a promise to love her for the rest of his life. She admitted her love for him as well, and though they didn’t get engaged that night, they became inseparable. Arthur accompanied her to shows and was always in the audience when she sang, whether it was Friday night at the coffeehouse or Monday afternoon at the park.

Seven years to the day that Desi moved to Starlight Shores, she was the most promising act in the city. Everything was looking great for Destiny and Arthur, who was by her side every step of the way. She even inspired him to follow his own dreams of being in music himself. So, Arthur quit his job at the club after 15 years of employment after the right audition landed him a job at the studio on the soundboard. To celebrate, Arthur invited Desi to the best restaurant in town and spared no expense.

She dressed in her finest gown, a black, fitted dress encrusted with rhinestones that shimmered when the light caught it. Her usually curly hair was pulled up into a loose, but elegant bun. And Arthur bought a new tuxedo just for the occasion. He picked her up in a black stretch limousine, a smile on his face and a 2-carat diamond ring in his pocket.

He was the first to exit the limo when they arrived at the restaurant, and he held his hand for her to take. Her violet eyes sparkled like they did when she was on stage, and he was taken aback at how incredibly beautiful she looked.

“Wow, Babe,” he said, trying to catch his breath.  “You look stunning.”

Destiny blushed. “And you are the most handsome man in this city,” she replied. And she truly meant it. His dark complexion, his crystal blue eyes, his dirty blond, unkempt hair. She finally understood the love that her parents shared because there was nowhere else she wanted to be that night.

When they were seated, the table had 18 long stem roses waiting for her. In the background, a violinist played classical music, wandering table to table. The candlelight gleamed on her red hair, making it seem to glow. Outside, a few flurries of snow began to fall, for it was the last day of autumn. Destiny’s birthday. Which of course made the event all the more special for Arthur.

“Oh, Arthur, you shouldn’t have gone through all this trouble.” Destiny was very overwhelmed by the extravagance of the evening. Even with all of her recent success, she never forgot where she came from. “I mean, the roses, the candlelight dinner, the fancy restaurant—”

Arthur stopped her mid-sentence. “Well, it is your birthday after all, my love.” His eyes danced in the light, his heart ready to burst from anticipation and excitement. “And, we are celebrating my new career in Starlight Shores style!”

She glanced around the room and saw the biggest star in town. She was giddy with excitement, but tried not to show it. Even though Destiny had been living in the city for most of her adult life, sometimes it was still a bit much. The waiter appeared, and Arthur ordered a bottle of champagne. The bubbles tickled her nose as she sipped it when Arthur stood up.

“My love,” he began, “These last few years with you have been the best of my life. And I knew from the moment we met, someday we would be here. At least, I hoped we would be. I know it’s your birthday, and 32 years ago who would have known that life would bring you here to me?” Arthur reached into his pocket and pulled out the small box, opening it. “Will you make me the happiest man in Simville, Destiny Penelope Farmer?” The diamond was bigger than anything Desi had ever seen, and her jaw fell open in shock. She began to tremble, and her eyes welled with tears.

“Yes,” Desi cried, still clearly overwhelmed with everything that was going on. “Yes, I will marry you!” With her answer, the entire restaurant, who had been watching the event unfold, stood on their feet and applauded for them.

“That’s right, guys,” Arthur gloated, “She’s off the market now!” He pumped his fist uncharacteristically, then waved to the crowd and held Desi’s chair for her to be seated.

The rest of their evening was just as magical as the first part. They danced in the ballroom until the restaurant closed, and then they went to the park and just stared at the stars together. It wasn’t until Desi was shivering cold that they decided to head back home.  She tried to invite him in, but instead, he went back to his apartment, worn out himself. Their kiss goodnight was tender, but there was a hunger in both of them that they spent the next 15 minutes trying to deny. Finally, he gave her one last kiss and turned to go home. Desi sat on the sofa in her formal living room, happier than she had ever been, but profoundly sad that she had no one to share her big news with. She dozed off, watching familiar faces on a picture frame slide show, faces of her much-missed family.

 

Up Next: Chapter Five, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Three – Moving On To Starlight Shores

Destiny arrived home in Appaloosa Plains to an empty shell of a house. The furniture had been sitting, covered with sheets like it had been when her aunt Jenny helped her to close it just 18 months earlier. Without even unpacking her suitcase, she began the process of packing up precious family keepsakes: Charlie’s dance trophy, Fran’s endless boxes of photos, every certificate earned from the county fair for Fran’s perfect produce, Desi’s homecoming crown. She wanted it all, even if she had to store it in the attic or basement of a new house. Jenny and Paul helped Desi with the task of cleaning and selling the old family home, which was sold to the county. The government of Appaloosa Plains was odd. Any homes that could not be sold privately could be sold to the town for the asking price. Desi was thankful for that arrangement, so she didn’t have to stick around longer than necessary.

After the van was packed and Destiny was ready to say her final goodbyes to her past and what remained of her family, Paul and Jenny drove her to the municipal airport to catch the plane that would take her to Starlight Shores. Grateful for their help, she hugged both of them and gave them a check for ten thousand simoleons as a thank you for all of their priceless help.  It was the least she could do, and she knew they could use it. She didn’t imagine her aunt and uncle would be around much longer, and she wanted Paul and Jenny to take that vacation that her own parents never got to take. Desi blew kisses to her only remaining family as they waved from the car.

Starlight Shores was brightly lit as though it was early morning, when in fact it was closer to 10 at night. The flashy glitz of the starry city was enthralling for a young girl from a small town, and admittedly Desi was a little overwhelmed. Her taxi dropped her at the small hotel that she had booked to stay for a few days while she found a new home. She didn’t sleep very well that first night. Desi was used to dark nights dotted with fireflies and filled with the sound of crickets and frogs that lived in the creek behind the old house. Instead, the bright lights of a city that never seemed to sleep, and the clatter of traffic outside the main street hotel disrupted her sleep. One thing was for certain: She needed to find a home off the beaten path, but still close enough to be accessible for work.

Within a day or two of arriving in Starlight Shores, Destiny had found a modest home that needed only minimal work, and a job singing for a Sing-A-Gram service in town. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. Instead of earning an hourly rate, she was paid a stipend by the company and tips from the customers if they were happy with her work. She not only had to keep her own hours and book her own clients, she had to be good at what she was going to do. This was the first big test of her skills. Either she had it, or she didn’t.

The moving van arrived with all of her family treasures right on time, and the movers took no time at all to empty the truck and fill her new house. She had a one-car garage, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a roomy kitchen, a formal living room and a family room on the second floor. Every wall was decorated with at least one item from Appaloosa Plains, sometimes the entire wall had several photos arranged into collages. Outside in the yard, Destiny placed memorial markers for her grandmother Penny, and her parents, Charlie and Fran. In a small garden spot nearby the markers, and under a maple tree, Destiny planted some of the seeds she had kept from Fran’s garden; each one would eventually grow into a prized plant producing perfect produce. If nothing else worked out, she had her degree and a garden that would help fill her time.

Desi settled into her new job, sometimes doing 15 singing telegrams a day. Once the word began to spread of her talent, she became one of her company’s most requested singers. The work was tedious at times, but she made sure she gave each client her business card at the end of every job. Someday, she might make that crucial connection to an agent or talent scout that would change her life.

Meanwhile, she attended the SimFests when they happened, dreaming with each act that someday, she would be on the stage, too. She got her chance at one such SimFest performance, but it wasn’t what she had envisioned. A magician requested a volunteer from the audience for a trick. When no one wanted to participate, the magician chose Desi to help her up on stage. She was put into a box and was able to see that the magician had several long, very sharp looking knives to stick into the box. Knowing the knives weren’t what they seemed, she decided to have some fun with the magician and yelped in pain with every “jab” of the sword. Mortified, the magician stopped the act early and Desi couldn’t help but chuckle as she was escorted off the stage by the proprietor. Afterward, she apologized to the performer and the proprietor because she felt bad about ruining the trick.

Life in the big city wasn’t as glamorous as Destiny imagined. Day in, day out she sang for the city’s residents, but other than her job, no one in town knew her name. On her first anniversary on the job, her boss gave her a promotion and a nice raise to her stipend. But she was growing restless, even though she was making enough to survive, this wasn’t why she moved to the city.

Desi was at what seemed like the tenth SimFest that year when she decided to speak with the proprietor at the park where the contest was taking place. Dressed to impress, she gave her all and sang her heart out, hoping for the chance to headline her own three-hour show. However, her hope turned to despair when he told her he remembered she had ruined the magician’s show, and that she would never sing at his park so long as he ran it. She drove home in tears, wondering for the first time if she had made a mistake in moving to the city. She missed work for the next two days.

On the third morning, she was in the garden watering her plants and out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of Fran’s memorial stone. She walked over to it, fell to her knees and wept. “Mama,” she said out loud, wishing Fran could hear her. “I am failing here in the city. I don’t know what to do, or where to go next. I wish you were here to give me some advice….” Her voice trailed off, choking back sobs. “I need you, Mama.” Just then, her cell rang, and it was her boss. There was a big job to do and the client wanted their best singer. Desi went inside to clean up and get ready for work, but her heart wasn’t in it.

On her way to her client’s home, she passed a huge crowd gathered around in the park, police cars and fire trucks strewn around the large park green. She stopped long enough to ascertain that the proprietor of the park had died during the scheduled SimFest. While she was sad to hear of his death, she knew that a new proprietor could possibly give her the break she had been waiting for.

A few days later, Destiny read in the newspaper that the new proprietor had been hired at the park, a young woman who was new to Starlight Shores but came with an impressive resume and an eye for fresh talent. I’ve been stagnant long enough, Desi thought to herself. Today is the day I take that leap of faith! She showered and dressed in a brand new dress that she saved to buy, one that she had bought specifically for auditions, with some new shoes she had never worn. She put her hair up in a loose up-do, and touched up her makeup, grabbed her car keys and left her house with a fresh attitude and hope for a better future.

At the park, she introduced herself to the new manager and gave her the best audition she could give. Destiny sang her heart out and poured every bit of emotion into the song she sang. The proprietor was moved and gave her the break that Desi had been seeking… her own three-hour show! She didn’t have much time to prepare her set, because her show was scheduled for the following evening.

Excitedly, she raced home to tell someone, but she realized that there was no one there. She couldn’t even call her Aunt Jenny, as she had passed away earlier that year. Instead, she fixed her favorite meal, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and plugged in her old karaoke machine in the garage. She practiced until the wee hours of the morning, until she was so tired she had to sleep.

 

Up Next: Chapter Four, Generation Two

G2 Chapter Two – Sim State

The trip to Sim State was uneventful, as she watched the familiar scenery turn to new and fascinating. The trees and even the wildlife seemed so very different on campus. No wild horses ran freely, no deer and no raccoons scampered about.  She also noticed immediately the lack of lightning bugs. She shrugged and closed her eyes for the remainder of the trip.

At her dormitory, she was assigned the largest room, which had a double bed and a fireplace. Cozy, she thought.  This will be nice during the winter. She lugged her heavy suitcase up two flights of stairs and was visibly winded after the trek. A roommate, named Jacob, chuckled at her heavy breathing. She glared at him, and thought to herself, I could have used help, but thanks anyway.

She felt so very out of place in her western jeans and sweater and big old cowboy boots. Taking a deep breath, she unlocked her dorm door and unpacked her suitcase. On the mantle of the fireplace, she placed a recent photo of her family, and beside the lamp on her dresser, she placed the only photo that remained of Penny, her maternal grandmother.

She needed to report to the Student Union when she arrived on campus for a meet and greet, so she grabbed a half sandwich from the refrigerator and pedaled down the street on a bicycle that had her name on it. Where it came from, she did not know, but it sure did beat walking.  The campus was much bigger than she could have imagined, and the bike was welcome.

The Student Union was set up to welcome incoming freshmen, and a boy dressed as a llama, the school’s mascot, was on hand to answer any questions. Despite the odd costume, Destiny sensed some chemistry between the two of them, and before they knew it, they had been talking for the duration of the meet and greet. The boy’s name was Dave Bean, and he was local to the Sim State campus area.

Later that evening, a party for all incoming freshmen was held at the local fraternity. Though she wasn’t the partying type, Desi decided to go and check out campus life and get to know some of her classmates. The party was formal, so she put on her brand new, non-western styled dress and took a taxi from the Student Union.

Ever the introvert, the party didn’t go exactly as she had hoped.  To her dismay, cliques had already started to form, and she didn’t feel as though she fit into any of them. So to break the ice, she did what she knew best: play her guitar. It wasn’t long before other classmates who played instruments began to join her.  Before the party ended, she had made a couple of friends with similar interests.  Mission accomplished!

The next morning began her class schedule, and it was grueling. Three classes, each two hours long with two hours in between, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Her day started at 8am and ended at 6pm. But, it wasn’t anything she hadn’t done before, and she was up to the challenge. It didn’t take Destiny long to adjust to campus life, though the first party was her last for the first term. She was much too busy maintaining her Dean’s List status to waste her time playing beer pong or doing keg parties like her peers.

About six months into her first year of college, Desi was in her first class of the day when her phone rang. Embarrassed, she quickly silenced it and slipped it back into her bag. The professor gave her a stern glance, and pointed at the “No Cell Phone” sign at the front of the lecture hall. Normally she obeyed the rules, but that morning she was running late and forgot to silence her phone. The icing on the humiliation cake was the professor’s snide comment about the interruption. Destiny slumped down in her chair, trying to hide from any more ridicule. She definitely wasn’t in Appaloosa Plains anymore.

After class, she was digging in her bag for her water bottle when she remembered the phone call. Curious, she checked the phone and the call was not a solicitor at all, but her mother, Fran. A sense of dread washed over her. She knew something was wrong. Quickly, she redialed her mother’s phone, but there was no answer. Now she was really worried. She quickly dialed her Aunt Grace, and she got the voice mail, and then Aunt Jenny. Her uncle, Paul, answered the call.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Uncle Paul,” Desi said, clear panic in her voice. “I got a call from my mother about an hour ago, and I can’t reach her. It sounded urgent.” She swallowed back a growing lump in her throat. “I’m away at Sim State, and I can’t get there to check on them. Would you go?”

“Sure,” Paul answered. “Your aunt has the car, but I’ll call her and see if she’ll swing by your folks’ place.”

“Thank you so much, Uncle Paul.” It wasn’t going to happen fast enough, but she would feel better once Aunt Jenny stopped by. She left her phone turned on despite the rules.  It was important and she needed to know.

An hour passed, and she still hadn’t heard from Jenny. She knew her aunt was no spring chicken, but she was the only one still in Appaloosa Plains. Her time was not the same as the world’s time, and she got to stuff when she got to it. Overcome with worry, she headed back to her dorm. Classes will have to wait, she thought, until I can concentrate.  When she got to the dorm, however, two police cars were outside. Destiny felt sick but walked into the building. The resident assistant was frantically looking for her. “Destiny!” The RA exclaimed. “Where have you been?”

Desi began shaking her head as the officers turned in her direction. “No… No… No…”

“Are you Destiny Farmer, Miss?” the one officer asked.

With a shaky voice and quivering lip, she answered, “Yes…” She was on the verge of a sob. She already knew what they were going to say, so she thought.

“Miss Farmer, we regret to inform you that your parents were found dead in their home about 30 minutes ago.” The second officer removed his hat and held it over his heart.

Not fully understanding what was said, she asked, “Which one? Which one is gone?”

“Miss, they are both gone. We believed they passed away within an hour of each other.” The first officer also removed his hat and looked at his feet. “Please accept our condolences on behalf of the Sim State Police and Appaloosa Plains Police departments.”

She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. She wobbled as though she was drunk, and tried to get to a chair, but she fell down prostrate on the floor. Destiny could not believe what she was hearing. At the very moment she fell, her phone rang. The officer retrieved it from her backpack. “It’s your Aunt Jenny.”

He handed her the phone, and she answered it, or tried to. On the other end of the phone was an equally distraught Jenny. She had arrived at the Farmer home to a swarm of police and rescue trucks. She learned that the time between Charlie’s and Fran’s death was about 15 minutes, and the authorities did not suspect foul play.

“Destiny, honey, if you need anything, your Uncle Paul and I are here. Just call us.” Jenny told her.

“I will.” Desi had no more words to say, but she knew she had to return home, and soon, before the end of the semester. She managed a meek goodbye to Jenny and hung up the phone. By this time, there was a crowd around Desi, and the police officers kindly shooed everyone away. And there she sat in stunned disbelief, feeling like she had made the biggest mistake of her life by leaving them. She booked a flight back to Appaloosa Plains that afternoon and was home the next day.


Destiny’s homecoming to Appaloosa Plains was nothing like she had expected when she left home six months prior. She could still see Fran sobbing into Charlie’s shirt as the taxi drove away. She turned her key into the empty house and was immediately drawn to the huge picture frame over the fireplace in the living room, filled with family photos. On the floor next to Charlie’s rocking chair sat two untouched urns, right where the Reaper had left them. Black trails of what looked like soot stained the carpet where the Reaper had traveled. She had heard of this phenomenon before, and it only happened when the Reaper had any emotional reaction. She reached down and touched the marks, which smelled how she imagined death would smell. Next to Fran’s urn was her cell phone, which remained untouched. Destiny glanced at the screen to find her phone number was the last one called. Overcome with emotion, she collapsed into her dad’s easy chair and sobbed.

Word spread quickly around town that the Farmers had both passed away, and people that Desi didn’t even know came by to show their respects to the family. Fran was well known for her produce, everyone knew Charlie was a veteran, and the townspeople knew of Penny’s racehorses, and their owners brought Marne’s last racing trophy for Desi to keep. Desi was overwhelmed with support, for which she was extremely thankful. But she had an empty house filled with memories that she either needed to sell or come back and live a life she was not interested in living. Right now, she was not interested in doing either. Aunt Jenny helped her throw plastic over the furniture, and they closed up the house while Destiny returned to school.

Once Desi had returned to Sim State, she buried herself in her school work to keep her mind off what she had waiting for her at home. The sadness almost crushed her, and the more-than-friendship she had begun with Dave no longer held her interest. But a young man in her art classes noticed her and pursued her. After classes, he would walk her home. During class, he sat with her. And on the weekends, they would go bowling together or study. Admittedly, she did have much more in common with him than with Dave. Jeffery was tall, dark and very handsome, and soon they became inseparable.

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Running short on funds during her second year of school, Desi decided to stop in at the financial aid office to apply for a scholarship for her last years of her degree. Much to her surprise, she was not only eligible, but all of her pre-paid tuition was refunded completely. The icing on her cake was the shocking news that she would have enough credits to graduate at the end of her second year, thanks to the skill and experience credit she received at the start of her freshman year. Two fewer years of her life would need to be spent on campus. Now there was no reason to stay in Appaloosa Plains beyond getting the house sold. Things were starting to line up for Desi’s future, and she was getting legitimately excited, despite her tremendous sense of loss.

Before she knew it, final exams were upon her, and everything she had done for her two years on campus came down to six hours and three exams. She was ready as she was going to be for each one, and took her time, checking her work twice and three times before handing in the tests. She took a breath of relief as she turned in her last exam, feeling confident. Dodging the raindrops of a chilly spring night, she rode the bicycle to her dorm, arriving soaking wet and chilled. No matter, she thought. This is MY night to unwind and celebrate. After changing into dry clothing, she called Jeff, who was throwing an end of year bonfire party that night. He drove over to pick her up. They danced into the evening, sharing memories of class, bowling and all of their non-date “dates.” It was well past 3 am when he drove her home. They shared a sweet kiss, their first, at the front door to her dorm. Jeffery wasn’t graduating with her in the morning. He was a year behind her in studies and would be remaining on campus for at least another year. In any case, she invited him to her graduation.

The next morning, she showered, ate breakfast and dressed in her cap and gown. The day was bittersweet to her. On the one hand, she was more than ready to start her life and career in Starlight Shores. On the other hand, she knew she had to return home to Appaloosa Plains to settle her parents’ estate, sell the house and pack all of the keepsakes she wanted to bring with her. She desperately wished Charlie and Fran were alive to see her graduate with her Fine Arts degree. Desi graduated at the top of her class and was on the Dean’s List for her entire college career. And besides her parents, the one person missing from attending the ceremony was Jeffery. Her phone calls and texts went unanswered, and when she stopped by the frat house, he was not at home. Despite her best efforts to connect with Jeff before her flight back home, she was not able to contact him. Her heart was heavy when she watched Sim State disappear in the rear window of her taxi, and she missed Jeffery already. She knew their paths would likely never cross again.

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Up Next: Chapter Three, Generation Two

G2 Chapter One – New Beginnings

“Turn that music down!” Fran yelled from the bottom of the stairs. “You’ll be deaf by the time you’re 18!” Destiny Farmer crinkled her nose and reluctantly turned her karaoke machine down to a more reasonable level.

“I sound better with it loud, Mama!” She yelled back. Desi picked up the microphone and was just about to start another song when she heard Fran yell back to her.

”You sound good either way, sweet pea. But your Dad is trying to sleep down here.  He isn’t feeling well today.” Fran glanced at Charlie, who was napping in his easy chair. Since the spring had come, Charlie had been sick with hay fever, sneezing and feeling miserable. He needed the rest, and Fran was going to make sure he had what he needed.

Desi, upon hearing her father wasn’t feeling well, decided to do a quieter activity instead of sing. It was almost time for her carpool to get her for work, so she picked up her sketch pad and started doodling until she heard the honking of the horn. She grabbed her sweater, for it was still cool outside, and skipped down the stairs. “Bye, Mama!” She whispered as she waved.  Fran blew her a kiss.


Destiny wiped down her last table for the shift and collected her tips from the jar. Hmm, she thought. Only 30 simoleans today. No matter, though. Destiny was in good shape saving for college. Plus, she had a sizable advantage with credits, so she wouldn’t need so many classes overall. That would be a good savings, and she really needed every penny she could squirrel away. “I’m leaving, Ken,” she yelled to her boss. “Do you need anything before I go?”

Ken Gerhart, the new owner of the old Koffi Café, thought for a moment and hollered back, “Nope, you’re okay to leave.  Have a good night!”

”Thanks, I will!” Destiny fished her car keys from her purse and headed for her car, parked in the back of the diner. The car had been a gift from Charlie to Fran when she was pregnant with Desi, so it had seen many better days. The key in the ignition revealed the old car was still operational, but barely. It sputtered and backfired a few times before Desi put it in gear. “Come on, old car,” she coaxed. “Don’t leave me stranded out here at night!” She knew there was no money in the budget for a newer car, so she just eased that one home as best she could. Luckily for Desi, that was not the car’s final run.  She turned the ignition off and set the parking brake, put the keys in her pants pocket and went inside.

Fran greeted her at the door. “Dad’s sleeping.” Desi scowled, not because she had to be quiet, but because she was worried about her father. She knew Fran and Charlie were older than most of her friends’ parents, but it didn’t occur to her to mind until Charlie had become ill.

“How is he feeling tonight, Mama?” Genuine concern replaced her normally jovial mood.

“Well, sweet pea, he’s just okay. The doctor said the allergies will let up soon, so we have to wait this out.” Fran hated to see him feeling so awful, but she was taking very good care of him.

Just then, the sound of the women conversing had roused Charlie, who looked bleary-eyed at his daughter. “Hey Princess,” he beamed. “How was work?”

“Oh, real good, Daddy,” Desi answered.

“You know that’s where your Mama and I rekindled our relationship, right Destiny?”

”Yes, pa. You tell me every time I come home from work.” She smiled and ran her hand through her curly, flaming red hair. She walked to him and kissed him on the forehead.  “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well.”

“I’m okay, Princess,” Charlie retorted. “Just the hay fever has me whipped.” He stood, swaying back and forth before grabbing the chair for support. “I think I’m going to bed.”

”That’s a good idea, love. I’ll be up shortly.” Fran was finishing the dinner dishes in the kitchen. “Would you help him, Desi?”

Desi smiled. She would do anything for her Daddy. “Of course, Mama,” She gently took his arm and walked him, step by step, to the master bedroom. She got him settled and went back down for dinner, which Fran had left in the oven for her like she had done every night since she started her after school job. She fixed a plate and sat at the dining room table, a fork in one hand and her pencil in the other, working on homework before bed.

“Goodnight, sweet pea,” Fran told Desi from the end of the table. “Don’t stay up too late, now.”

”I won’t, Mama. In fact, as soon as this homework is done, so am I.” Graduation was just a few months away, and every homework assignment counted. She was on the honor roll, and maintaining her 4.0 average took a lot of work. She came home after school, music club and the diner completely exhausted every day. But she was thankful for the music club. Otherwise, she would never get any practicing done, and she needed to maintain her instrument skills for college and her scholarship. She finished dinner and homework just about the same time. After cleaning up after herself, she dragged her tired rear end up the stairs and off to bed.


One last answer, Desi thought to herself, and my finals are over. I’m officially graduating! She penciled in the work on the arithmetic problem and put her pencil down. Leafing through the 4 pages of the exam, she checked every answer to make sure it was correct before walking to the teacher’s desk. Her teacher motioned to her and pointed toward the door.

Once outside, the teacher complimented her on a great senior year. “Destiny, I’ve not seen an ambitious student like you in a long time. I want you to know what a pleasure it has been to be your teacher.”

Desi’s eyes welled with tears. This was one teacher she would really miss. “Thank you, Miss Bridgeton. I really loved your class. The way you taught math made sense to me.” She wiped a tear from her cheek and sniffled. “I will really miss you.”

Her teacher smiled and hugged her. She was also the head of the music club and was well aware that Desi had enormous potential. They had talked at length of Desi’s desire to move to Starlight Shores, the city where everyone who matters resides. “I’ll miss you too, kiddo.” Desi began to walk away as Miss Bridgeton started back for the classroom, then turned to wave. But Miss Bridgeton was already gone. So Desi drove herself home after school, the realization that her childhood was now officially over both excited her and gave her pause. This is where she discovered what she was made of. The thought terrified her.

The next morning, Destiny awoke earlier than usual for a day off. Graduation was at 10am. She hopped into the shower and dressed in her cap and gown. Fran and Charlie were already downstairs waiting for her when she started down the stairs. Fran began to cry. She remembered her own walk down those very stairs on her graduation day. It seemed like just yesterday. “You look beautiful, sweet pea.”

“Aww, thank you, Mama.” Destiny glanced at her watch. “Are we ready?  It is time to go!”

Charlie, who had recovered nicely from the hay fever attack from hell, beamed with pride. “You bet, Princess.” He took her arm and walked her to the taxi.

The graduation ceremony was beautiful, and her graduating class was mid-sized. By unanimous decision, Destiny was named Valedictorian, which took her completely by surprise. Having no speech prepared, she spoke from the heart about her family, her support, and her ambitions that would take her away from the only home she knew. As the final name was called to receive their diploma, and the principal had congratulated the graduating class, the room filled with the flurry of caps and tassels. Flashbulbs flickered, eager and proud parents captured the moment for their graduates, saving the moment for posterity.

Exiting city hall, Desi’s carpool was already en route to her home for work, but since the diner was so close, she decided to walk. She called her co-worker to let them know. Charlie and Fran, who hadn’t eaten anything all day, walked to the nearby bistro for lunch. This would be Desi’s last full day of work at the diner before she left Appaloosa Plains for college. She was beginning in the summer term to get some of her required courses out of the way before all of the students arrived for the fall term.

Her last shift was steady but easy to manage, and she brought home a decent 50 simoleans in tips. It was a good last day. She thanked Ken for the opportunity he provided her, and he wished her all the best at college. She drove home, not with her new life on her mind, but her parents. They were all she ever knew, and she felt in some ways that she was deserting them, and at that moment she felt incredibly selfish.

As she had contemplated so many times before, she considered canceling her trip to Sim State, or at least postponing it until she knew her folks would be okay. But in her heart, she knew if she didn’t get out now, she might never get the chance to chase her dreams. As afraid as she was of losing her parents, the thought of living the rest of her life in Appaloosa Plains scared her more.


Desi sat on the overstuffed suitcase while Fran zipped it up. “Well, sweet pea, it feels like you have your whole bedroom crammed in this bag!” She helped Desi up off the bed and pulled her close to hug her.

“I think I do, Mama.” Desi laughed as she gazed at the suitcase, its seams ready to bust open from stress. She picked it up and set it on the floor near the door to her room. “It’s almost time.”

Fran bit her lip. This was the moment she had been dreading since she gave birth to the spunky redhead. But she knew that Desi had to spread her wings. Fran was determined she was not going to be the reason that Desi stayed where she no longer wished to be. “I know, honey. I-I’m just not ready to let you go yet.” She hugged her daughter again, not wanting to release her. She had always heard that letting go was the toughest part of parenthood. Never had it become more obvious than in that moment.

“Mama, you’re suffocating me!” Destiny grinned as her mother’s hold loosened. She was about to speak when she heard Charlie’s voice booming up the stairs.

“Ladies, they’re here.”

Both of the women fell eerily silent. They knew what it meant. Desi picked up her bag and started toward the door when Fran caught her shoulder. Looking her straight in the eye, she told Desi, “Always remember how much you are loved. Remember everything we taught you. And never forget where you are from.”

“Oh Mama,” Desi couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. “This isn’t goodbye. I’m only going to college.”

“I know, sweet pea. But promise me you’ll never forget your raising.” Fran seemed desperate for Destiny to assure her.

“I won’t forget, Mama.  I promise.” Desi put her bag down and hugged her mother before heading downstairs. Fran just smiled at her, wiping the tears from her own eyes.

Charlie was impatiently waiting at the door for his family to descend the steps. He’d been holding the taxi for nearly 10 minutes. He shot Fran a glare as she walked behind Desi. She should know how much he detested making people wait. That just made her tear up more. She reached into her pocket for her handkerchief and dabbed her eyes. “Sorry, love,” she apologized to Charlie. “We were having a moment.”

His gaze upon them softened. “They’re waiting, let’s go.” Charlie took the bag from his daughter and placed it back on the ground. “Oof! Do you have a ton of lead in that case?”

Desi laughed and took the bag back from him, “Yes, Daddy, I do.”

They walked together to the car waiting to take Desi to Sim State. Fran almost couldn’t bear it as she watched Charlie hug their daughter. “You’re doing the right thing, Destiny,” he told her. “Get out of here, and don’t look back.” He kissed her cheek and brushed her hair from her face. “The world is yours for the taking.  Grab it by the horns, and give ‘em hell.”

“I will, Daddy.  I love you.” Desi gave him one last hug and went to her mother.

Fran hugged her and kissed her forehead. “Remember what we talked about. I’m always a phone call away.”

“I miss you already, Mama.” Desi wept. “I love you.”

With that, she got into the car and closed the door. From the window, she could see her mother sobbing and her father holding her as they disappeared into the distance.

 

Up Next: Chapter Two, Generation Two