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