Bella awakened to the sound of an alarm and the smell of smoke. Outside sirens were racing toward her home. The fireplace was left burning after Destiny’s unexpected passing the night before. A stray ember jumped from the hearth and ignited a throw rug nearby. Luckily, the alarm system in the home notified the fire department automatically. By the time Bella realized the fire had started, the engines were already on the way.
After the last hot spot was cooled and the fire was extinguished, the fireman spoke to Bella. “You really should be more careful, Miss.” She recognized his voice immediately.
“Hi Tom,” she said to the fireman. “I’m Bree’s sister Bella. We met at my father’s funeral.” She bit her lip and tried not to cry. She had another funeral to plan.
“Oh yes, I remember you. You eulogized your father so beautifully.” Tom picked his extinguisher up. “How’s your mother?”
Bella swallowed hard before she spoke. “She passed last night. I came home from work and found her.”
Tom’s countenance fell. “I’m so sorry to hear, Bella. Does Bree know yet?”
Bella nodded. “I called her immediately. I need to speak to her again. It was a very short phone call last night.”
“Well, when you speak with her, please tell her I said hello!” Tom turned to leave. “Again, you have my condolences, Miss Atwood.”
Bella stared at the mess the fire left. Burn marks on the floor. A table charred beyond recognition. The smell was worse than the stains on the carpet upstairs. She spent the rest of her morning cleaning up. By dinnertime, the only evidence of the fire was the odor of burnt wood and the charred floor. A contractor would give an estimate to repair the floor and replace the upstairs carpet.
The next day, she had it in her mind to call her agent, but Maria beat her to it. “Hi Bella, this is your agent, Maria.”
Bella chuckled lightly. “Hi Maria, I was just going to call you. I have some news.”
“I heard about your steady gig if that is your news.”
Bella paused. “Well, that’s half of it, and I know I should have called you yesterday about that—”
“Yes, you should have Bella,” Maria interrupted her. “That could be seen as a breach of contract.”
Bella sighed. “I’m sorry, Maria, I really am. But I’ve had two very difficult days. My mother died two days ago and yesterday I had a fire at the house. Calling you was not my top priority.”
“Your mother? Ms Destiny?” Maria’s voice got quiet.
“Yes, Maria. Look, I’m sorry if I got snippy with you. It’s just…” Bella sniffled and wiped tears from her eyes. “this is all so new, so please forgive me.”
“I’m very sorry, Bella. I had no idea.” Maria felt terrible that she was sharp with her. “How can I help?”
“I will let you know. You’re the first person outside of my family who knows, so I guess we can start with a public announcement,” Bella suggested.
“Of course, of course,” Maria replied. “Consider it done, Bella. Again, I’m so sorry to hear about Ms. Destiny. The town has suffered a tremendous loss this day.”
“Thank you, Maria.” Bella ended the call and slumped into the recliner. Now that the news was public knowledge, there would be a never-ending barrage of Paparazzi and reporters. She wasn’t sure she was ready for it.
The mayor had declared the day a city-wide day of mourning. Every person who had been impacted by Destiny’s life lined the streets. The funeral procession headed to the Binder Clips Center, the only place in town large enough to hold the attendees. Inside the lead car sat Bella, who had Maria Best by her side. People by the thousands filed into the stadium to pay their last respects and express their condolences. As the crowd settled down the mayor gave a short speech about the impact of Destiny’s career on Starlight Shores. He then introduced Bella, who had planned to speak.
“You all knew Destiny Hill as a superstar and she truly was.” Bella began. “But I’d like to tell you about my mother, Destiny Farmer. She was born and raised in a small town that is about a three-day drive from here called Appaloosa Plains. Her parents, Charlie and Fran Farmer, saved and sacrificed to provide her with the opportunity to pursue her dreams here in Starlight Shores. They knew when she was little that her talent and ambition couldn’t be contained in Appaloosa Plains. After she graduated from high school she chose to pursue a degree in Fine Arts which she completed in less than 3 years. While she was at university, her beloved parents passed away within an hour of each other. All her life, she lived with the guilt of not being there for them when they needed her the most.”
Bella continued, “When Destiny arrived in Starlight Shores, overwhelmed by the glitz of the big city she began building her career year by year until her big break. And then, as she was making a name for herself, she met my father Arthur. She told me she never expected to find her soulmate here but she and my dad settled down and started a family.” Bella paused a moment to collect herself. “She mentioned several times that she had considered giving up her career to raise her family, a decision she would have regretted. Destiny Hill worked very hard to be where she was at the peak of her career. It was because of that passion, her hard work, and love of her craft that we are all here today mourning this tremendous loss.” Bella paused again to wipe away tears. “Many of you knew Destiny Hill, the singer, the songwriter, the superstar. Our family knew her as Destiny Farmer, a small-town girl who struggled her whole life with a country accent she hated. We girls knew her as Mama. My father knew her as the love of his life. My sisters Bree-Ann and Bianca could not be here today to celebrate Mama’s life. They moved back to the home they never knew except in stories that Mama told by the fire or at bedtime.”
Bella paused to reflect, and then concluded, “I can speak for my sisters when I say that my mother’s death will be felt for years to come. When I look into the eyes of my future children I will see her and my dad. When I’m on stage I will always remember her smiling face in the audience cheering me on. Bree, Bianca, and I will always have a gaping hole where Mama and Daddy used to be. But they will live on in each of us. As long as there is a Farmer somewhere in Simville, so too will they be. Destiny Atwood, a devoted wife, and loving mother is survived by her three daughters. Destiny and Arthur are now together endlessly, bonded in death as they were in life, forever in love. I will miss you, Mama.” Bella’s final words brought thunderous applause from the crowd and she graciously waved and stepped down from the stage.
As Bella left the arena, she was taken aback by the growing display of flowers, candles, stuffed animals, and other trinkets left at the Binder Clips Center by fans and admirers. It easily stretched the entire block and was at least two feet high, and that was a modest estimate. Cheering crowds lined the streets as the procession made its way back toward City Hall. Destiny would receive a posthumous lifetime achievement award with a reception following. Bella had easily underestimated the impact that Destiny’s career and life made on everyone she met and it overwhelmed her. Rolling down the window of the limo, Bella waved to fans on the sides of the street that cheered Destiny’s name and tossed flowers at the procession. She couldn’t contain the tears any longer and she was a wreck by the time they reached City Hall.
The award ceremony was short and though she didn’t have to, Bella gave a quick acceptance speech on her mother’s behalf. The lunch reception was elegant and was packed with people who either knew Destiny professionally or were impacted by her in some way. Among the crowd was a group of people Destiny had befriended when she visited their elementary school. Though they were grown with children of their own, none of them ever forgot the kindness she showed them. One woman with her own little girl dressed in a Destiny Hill shirt cried as she hugged Bella. She told of Destiny’s visit to the school when she was little and what it meant to her. When the event was over and the limousine picked Bella up, she was exhausted. She couldn’t even drag herself up the flight of stairs to her bedroom so she flopped on the sofa in the family room and fell asleep.
As time passed, Bella realized that the huge three-story house was too big for one person. She had no desire to sell the house, either. So she contacted a realtor in the downtown area to find a smaller, more suitable home for her to live in at least for now. Bella found a cute little Spanish style home that was one bedroom and one bathroom, a garage for Arthur’s old car and room for all of her pictures and keepsakes. She signed the papers and paid cash for the little bungalow that was off the strip but still close to Verde Park where her steady gig was booked. A friend helped her move the few items she wanted to bring over and the old house would eventually be rented to a family until she needed it again.
Not bad, Bella, she thought to herself as she walked around the freshly painted and decorated living room. Cozy and comfortable, it was a far cry from the house she grew up in but she loved it anyway. She lit a fire in the hearth, settled down with a book and a bottle of nectar and fell asleep on the sofa in her new home, dreaming of her future.
Up Next: Chapter Three, Generation Three