“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