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