G1 Chapter Nineteen – The Songbird Takes Flight


Five Years Later

After the Bradfords left Appaloosa Plains, a family named Stonewall purchased the property. Fred and Julie Stonewall moved their family from the neighboring town into the Plains to pursue Julie’s dream of owning a ranch. Their only child—their teenage daughter Polly—was a few months older than Destiny. From the moment they met that summer five years prior, Polly and Destiny were fast friends.

The girls had the same classes in high school, and though Polly didn’t sing, she supported Destiny by staying late after school with her. On one such day after choir practice, near the end of their sophomore year, Polly wanted to stop by the job board. Her sixteenth birthday would arrive soon, and with it the rite of passage for every teen: the first job. The girls giggled as they scanned the board together until Destiny saw one that interested her. She took the flyer from the bulletin board, her eyes wide with excitement. Polly noticed and gave her a sly smile.

“What’s that, Des?” 

“The festival management is looking for stagehands for the summer concert series this year.”

Polly’s eyes widened. “That job has ‘Destiny Farmer’ written all over it! Are you going to apply?” 

“You know it,” Destiny nodded. “If I can’t sing, I’ll work backstage. This will help my future, too. Win-win!”

“Are you gonna ask your Mom?” 

Destiny wrinkled her nose. “What do you think? She’ll say no, and then it’s my ‘Plan B’.” 

Polly laughed. “What’s your ‘Plan B’?”

A wry smile pulled her face. “My daddy. He doesn’t say no very often.” Destiny checked her watch. “I think we missed the bus. Are you up for a walk, Polly?” 

“Mmhmm,” she said. “I could use the exercise. Summer is coming, and so is bathing suit season.” Destiny cocked her head and rolled her eyes. Polly was a string bean.

“Yep, you could stand to lose about a pound.” Destiny ducked and ran a short distance from Polly as both girls laughed themselves silly.

*****

At a doctor’s office downtown, Charlie and Fran sat together for a routine physical. They saw the same doctor and often scheduled their appointments together for the sake of ease and convenience. This day was no different. The assistant took their vitals and asked the same standard questions. “The doctor will be in soon, Mr. and Mrs. Farmer.” 

Charlie looked down at his clasped hands. He hadn’t told Fran that he hadn’t felt well in months. But he chalked it up to turning sixty and everything that went with aging. She noticed his uncomfortable posture and placed her hand on his shoulder. 

“Are you doing OK, Charlie?” 

He bowed his head. “Yes, and no. I’d rather be anywhere but here right now.” 

“I’m familiar with your love-hate relationship with doctors, Charlie. This is nothing new. Something is on your mind.”

“Nope. Just getting older. That’s it, darling.” He reached for her hand; her long, slender fingers intertwined with his. “How is it you’re almost fifty-nine, Frannie, and you don’t have a single gray hair on your head? I’ve been gray for years now.” 

Fran giggled. “It’s called hair dye, Charlie. I never said I’d grow older gracefully. And I am NOT fifty-nine!” 

“OK, fifty-eight.” Their playful banter took his focus from their location, and he smiled.

“And don’t you forget it, mister!” She stuck her tongue out at him as a knock sounded at the door. “Yes?” 

The doctor peeked into the room. “Hi Charlie, hi Fran,” he greeted them. “How are you both doing?” 

Fran smiled as her head bobbed from side to side. “Getting old, Dr. Jordan.” 

“You don’t look fifty, Fran,” the doctor said with a wink.

“That’s because she’s fifty-eight,” Charlie said with a chuckle. The jesting made Fran laugh, and the doctor smiled at both of them. 

“Well, I’m glad you’re both here today, because I want to discuss your lab results, Charlie.” He sat on the rolling stool and scooted to the computer. “Fran, your bloodwork came back fine. Your cholesterol has gotten much better since we started the medication, so we’ll stick with it.” Fran nodded in obvious relief. 

He put his glasses on and opened up Charlie’s file on the desktop. “Charlie, yours is a different story. Some of your numbers are wildly abnormal. The white count is off the charts, and you’re anemic. The other tests aren’t as worrisome.

“What does that mean, exactly?” Fran asked, reaching for Charlie’s hand. 

“Well, without further testing, it’s difficult to know for certain.”

“What kind of testing, Doc? We have a busy farm season ahead of us. I cannot afford to be out of commission for long.” Charlie said. 

The doctor shook his head. “I’d like to admit you for some extensive tests. Scans, blood work, ultrasounds. You can return home after a few days.

“Can we discuss this?” Fran asked. “We only need about five minutes.” 

“Sure. I’ll check back in a few minutes.” The doctor stood and left the room. 

“Charlie,” Fran said. “We can’t tell Destiny anything yet. Not until we know anything for sure. What do you think?” 

He nodded. “There’s nothing to worry about yet, darling. But I agree. There’s no need to upset her until we have some answers.” He noticed her worried expression. “This is probably nothing, Frannie.”

“But it could be something. Why don’t we schedule your testing for the week of her retreat?”

“That’s a good idea, sweetheart.” He took her hand and held it. “You’ll need my help this summer. I can’t be out of commission, Frannie.” 

“Jen can stand in for you, Charlie. I’m not worried about that.” A soft tap sounded at the door; the doctor peeked into the room. 

“Are you ready?” he asked. 

“Yes, you can come back in.” The doctor took his place on the stool, folded his hands and sat forward. 

“What have you decided?” 

“We have Destiny to think about. We don’t want to tell her yet.” Fran bit her lip. “She has a music retreat coming up in a few weeks. Is it possible to schedule testing for that week?” 

The doctor nodded his head. “I don’t see why we can’t make that happen. Stop by the scheduling office. We’ll get the ball rolling on this.” He stood and turned to leave. “I believe it’s a wise decision to keep this from Destiny until you have some answers.” He extended his hand to Charlie to shake. “We’ll see you in a few weeks, then.”

*****

Later that evening, Charlie was in bed laying down with a book; Fran slept beside him. She awakened with a start, looked at Charlie with her eyes wide, and she wept. He set his book down on the nightstand and touched her face with the tips of his fingers. 

“What’s wrong, Frannie?” 

She took a deep breath and exhaled. “It was a dream. The details are hazy, but I know you were very sick.” She snuggled up to Charlie, needing the comfort she could only get from him. “I’m scared that I’m going to lose you. I couldn’t do it again…” 

“Oh sweetheart, I’m not going anywhere.” He leaned to kiss her and then snuggled her closer. “It will take a lot more than a blood test to rattle me.” 

“But what if—”

“Frannie, don’t let yourself go there. Once you go there, it’s hard to come back.” He turned the light off and settled down into bed with her. “I’m right here, and I’m not going anywhere.” 

“I love you, Charlie. And I need you.” 

“Frannie, I will love and need you until the day I die.” He pressed his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. “Make love with me,” he whispered. She returned his kiss, bit her lip, and nodded.


“Miss Destiny Farmer?” A man in his forties called her name from behind a cracked-open door. “This way, please.” He swung the door open and held it for her. She smiled and walked toward him, her confidence visible in her gait. “Please, have a seat.” He sat behind the desk; Destiny took the one across from him. 

He stared at her paperwork. Chad Dunworth didn’t hire fifteen-year-olds on the regular, but Destiny’s application impressed him. “So, Miss Farmer, you are interested in the stage hand position for the summer festival. Is that correct?” 

Destiny nodded her head. “That’s correct, Mr. Dunworth. And thank you for seeing me. I know I’m a little young for this. But…” she collected her thoughts. “You see, I’m going to be a singer someday. And working behind the scenes now will help me in the future.” She folded her hands and twiddled her thumbs. “I’m a hard worker, Mr. Dunworth. My parents own the farm across the street, and I’ve been working it with them since I was thirteen. I’m no stranger to hard work, sir.” 

Hmm, he thought. Young and ambitious. “Miss Farmer, your duties would be off-loading equipment from trucks, setting up, breaking down, and helping to load after the concert is finished. With local artists, you’d just be doing setup and breakdown. And, if you prove yourself during the summer, the position could become permanent. Since you’re planning to attend Sim State, some of that work could transfer as college credit.”

Destiny looked at Chad with a broad grin. “Really? You’d ask me to stay on for the other festivals, too?” 

“If you prove your worth, yes. Reliable help is scarce. I’m hoping you live up to all the things you claim on your application, Miss Farmer.” He winked at her. “I think you’ll do just fine.”

“Thank you!” Destiny blushed. “I won’t let you down, I promise.” 

“I’m sure you won’t, Miss Farmer.” 

“When do I start?” 

He looked through her application. “You state you have a retreat coming up?”

“That’s right.” 

“How about the Monday after you return home? It would be for orientation and paperwork. The first concert would be your next workday.”

Destiny smiled. “That sounds perfect.” Chad stood to shake her hand, and Destiny stood as well. 

“We’ll see you then, Miss Farmer.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Dunworth.” Destiny walked from his office, ecstatic.


Two weeks later, Charlie and Fran stood with Destiny, waiting for the bus that would take her to the music retreat with the chapel youth group. She rocked back and forth on her feet, waiting for Polly to meet her. Her eyes shifted toward the house next door, about one hundred yards away. 

“Do you have everything you need, sweet pea?” Fran asked. “How about an extra set of guitar strings?” 

“No,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about it. It’s Sara’s guitar, so she’ll have them. I’m hoping to get my own after this summer.” 

“I can’t believe they hired you as a stagehand, Desi,” Charlie said with a smile. “You aren’t old enough to work.” Inside, he was proud of her.

Fran nudged him. “I can’t believe I said yes.” They looked at one another and laughed. Destiny wrinkled her nose and rolled her eyes. 

“Des!” Polly called from about fifty yards away. “I’m coming!” She had a backpack slung over her shoulder and pulled a small case behind her, walking as fast as she could. In the distance, they saw the yellow bus. 

“Hurry!” Destiny called back. “Run!”

Polly beat the bus by ten seconds, laughing all the way. Destiny hugged her and they giggled together. “Hi Mr. and Mrs. Farmer,” Polly said. “Thanks for letting her go on this trip.” 

Charlie smiled at the friends. “Our pleasure, Polly.” They each gave Destiny a hug and kiss, thanked Sara for giving her the opportunity, and waved as the bus pulled away. 

“Do you think she suspects anything, Charlie?” 

He shrugged. “I don’t think so, love. We’ve been pretty tight about this. What time am I supposed to arrive tomorrow?”

“Six in the morning. We should get to bed soon.” 

“It’s only…” he checked his watch, “three o’clock.” 

“Who says we have to sleep?”

Charlie raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know where this Frannie came from, but she can stay as long as she likes!” 

She gave him a sexy smile. In her mind, she was preparing for bad news and getting everything she could before it came. “Well, let’s go then!”

*****

The next morning, the alarm sounded at four-thirty. Fran opened one eye to peek at it, groaned, and turned it off. “Charlie…?” she poked his rib. “Charlie.” 

“What?” came the tired grumble.

She couldn’t help but chuckle at him. “I told you we stayed up too late last night.” 

“You woke me up to tell me that, woman?” He laughed and hugged her close. “I’m going to be OK, Frannie. I know you’re scared.”

“Scared doesn’t begin to describe it.” 

“Let’s get up, get some coffee. OK?” 

“Hold me just a little longer, Charlie?” 

“How can I say no to that?” He kissed her forehead and snuggled her close to him. 

A few minutes later, he gave her one last kiss, breaking the silence. “OK, sweetheart. You need coffee, and I need to take a shower. We have a long day.

“I’m not ready.” 

“I know, Frannie. But I have to.” He kissed her forehead and squeezed her in a tight hug. “I’ll be home again before you know it. It won’t be like the last time, with surgery and a long recovery.” 

“Why are you so cool, Charlie? You’re not even nervous.” Her voice trembled with fear. “I feel like this is going to change our lives.” 

“If you’re afraid, baby, then pray. He will see you through this.” He sat up in bed and turned on the light. Her groan made him laugh. “Go get some coffee, sweetheart. I’ll be downstairs as soon as I’m finished packing my overnight bag.”

Fran huffed a frustrated sigh. “I’ll go feed Sweetie and turn her loose.”

“That’s my girl.” He blew her a kiss as he walked into the bathroom. 

Fran trudged down the steps and slipped into her boots. It didn’t matter that she was still in her pajamas. As she reached for the knob that would open the sunroom door, she stopped. She smiled as she went to the refrigerator. She rummaged through the crisper bin at the bottom until she produced a carrot. “There,” she said out loud. “Sweetie will have her favorite treat this morning.” 

She padded through the yard to the barn, and when she opened the door, Sweetie nickered at her. “Good morning, Sweetie,” she said. “I have a treat for you!” 

Sweetie pawed at the door, nodding and huffing in anticipation. Fran broke the carrot into thirds and held it out for her to take. When the carrot was gone, Sweetie nudged her shoulder, looking for more. But Fran wrapped her arms around Sweetie’s neck and kissed her nose. “You’re a good girl. Enjoy your morning outside.” She fastened the halter around her head and patted her shoulder. Fran secured the stall door, left the barn door ajar, and walked back inside. Sweetie sauntered out into the pasture to graze. 

Charlie was descending the steps, a small bag over his shoulder packed with necessities he needed. His gaze met Fran’s as she walked toward the staircase. “How’s Sweetie?” 

“She’s good. I gave her a carrot this morning.” 

His smile dazzled her, as though it was a normal morning. “Oh, I bet she enjoyed that.” He set his bag down by the front door, something he’d done many times before. This trip, however, would be quick. “Are you showering this morning, love?” 

“Mmhmm,” she muttered. “I’ll be down soon.” 

“I’ll go outside and say good morning to Sweetie.” He stood and walked to the dining table, opened the sugar bowl, and took a few cubes from it. “If I’m not inside when you come down, that’s where I’ll be, Frannie.” She nodded in acknowledgment and plodded up the steps. 

With a spring in his step, he walked through the sunroom door and into the pasture where Sweetie grazed. He sounded a sharp whistle and caught her attention—she whinnied and trotted to where he stood. “There’s my girl,” he said with a broad grin. “How’s my Sweetie this morning?” 

She nuzzled into his shoulder and nickered. Instinctively, she knew he had a treat for her. His merry laughter encouraged her to nudge him even harder. “OK, OK,” he said and dug into his pocket. One cube at a time, he let her eat the sweet treat from his palm until the sugar was gone. He held his empty hands to her, and she huffed, realizing he had nothing more. “Sorry, girl. This is it.” She nuzzled him again, and he hugged her head. “I won’t see you for a few days. Be good.” He gave her one last rub on her neck and a kiss, then he walked back to the house. 

Fran was drying her hair when she heard the back door slam, and she cringed. She hated when he let the door slam shut, but instead of getting angry, she shrugged it off. “I’ll be down in a few minutes,” she called to him; she heard a faint, muffled reply. She dabbed a little blush onto her cheeks and painted a lick of gloss onto her lips. Fran gave herself the once-over in the mirror, nodded her approval, and flipped the light switch. 

Charlie turned his head when he heard her footsteps in the stairwell. Her beauty never ceased to fluster him; this day was no different. “I am the luckiest man in the Plains, you know that, darling?” 

“Why’s that?”

“Well, look at you. Frannie, you become more and more beautiful with time. I’m happy we get to grow old together.” 

Fran blushed. “You’re not so bad yourself.” 

“Ha! Are you kidding? Look at my gray hair, darling. I look like an old man dating a sweet young thing.” 

His charming compliments made her giggle. “OK, Mr. Smooth. Are you ready?” 

He walked up behind her, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her cheek. “I am. And ironically, this is the best I’ve felt in months. Are you certain we have to go?” 

She turned around in his embrace. “Yes, Charlie.” One last kiss, and she grabbed her keys from the bowl by the front door. “Let’s go, love, or we’ll be late.” He picked up the overnight bag and slung it over his shoulder.

Two hours later, Charlie was checked in and prepped for his first test. The doctor stepped into the waiting area to find Charlie ready to go, holding Fran’s hand. “Good morning, Charlie,” he greeted them. “So, this is what usually happens. We do a bunch of tests, scans, and bloodwork over the next few days. When we get the results back from the individual tests, we compile the information and study the reports to form a reasonable conclusion with either a diagnosis, or a clean bill of health. I expect this will happen on the day you’re released to go home.” He folded his hands and studied their faces. “Do you folks have questions for me?”  

They looked at each other—Charlie shrugged. “No, nothing comes to mind,” he said.

“As soon as we’re finished with the test, Fran, I’ll let you know how he’s doing, and you’ll be able to come back here. We have your room upstairs ready for you.”  

“Thank you, Dr. Jordan.” Fran closed her eyes; the doctor left the room. Her hand grasped Charlie’s as she whispered a prayer under her breath. 

Charlie noticed her and felt her stronger-than-usual grip. When she opened her eyes, he smiled at her. “Thank you, my sweet Frannie.” 

“I’m trying to find some peace with this. I can’t help but fear the worst.” 

He kissed her hand and nuzzled his face into it. “Prepare for the worst, but pray for the best. Sweetheart, don’t be afraid.”

“Easy for you to say, Charlie. The worst I’ve ever had was a bruised tailbone. You’ve endured so much more…” Fran wiped a lone tear from her cheek. “The worst part is waiting.” 

His loving smile set her anxious heart at ease, if only for just a moment. “It always is.”

They sat together in silence, waiting for his turn in the exam room. Her hand in his, he rubbed her fingers the way he always did. How they both wished Destiny was there to sing for them. She had become a source of comfort for them, more than they could have imagined. 

Thirty minutes later, Charlie was on his way to the exam. Fran walked to the waiting room; when she got there, a surprise waited for her. Jenny sat, a smile on her face. 

“Jen? How did you know I’d be here?” 

“Charlie called me and asked me to sit with you.” She embraced Fran in a tight hug. “He will be OK. I believe it, and you have to, too.” 

Fran nodded and wiped a few stray tears away. “I’m trying so hard to be strong for him, but he doesn’t seem to need my strength. He’s unflappable.” 

“That’s my big brother,” Jen said with obvious pride. “He’s always been strong. Ma had a scare when we were teenagers. He was the strongest of us all; his faith was unshakable. Of course, Ma was fine.” She pulled away and looked at Fran. “Your husband is a man of incredible faith. The only man I’ve ever met stronger in faith, Frannie, was Caleb Bradford. I never heard anything discouraging from his mouth, and nothing from Charlie in a long time.” 

“That’s true, Jen,” Fran nodded in agreement. “Charlie is incredibly faithful, and even more after his return home.” She took a deep breath and exhaled with peace in her heart. “Thank you for being here.” 

A broad smile crossed Jen’s face. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else, Frannie.”


Three days later, Charlie and Fran sat in his hospital room enjoying lunch together. They waited for the report from the week of tests and scans. In the meantime, they talked about the farm, summer harvest and the market season, which started in a month. 

The nurse came into his room ten minutes later. “Hi Charlie,” she said. “I have your discharge papers, but the doctor will be in to see you within the next twenty minutes. He’s on this floor seeing another patient, and he’s asked me to let you know.” She worked the IV line from his hand and wrapped a pressure bandage around it. “I’ll see you one last time before you go.” 

“Thank you, Lydia,” Charlie said. “Can I get dressed?” 

“Yes. He’ll be in soon.” The nurse closed the curtain and left Charlie and Fran alone. 

Fran sat and watched Charlie get dressed, her mind on the impending visit from Dr. Jordan. She twirled a long, red strand of hair around her finger, a growing lump took up residence in her throat. She wasn’t ready for the report, for the news the doctor would bring. Charlie noticed her nervous tic and sat beside her, his arm around her shoulder. 

“I know you’re scared, honey. It’s going to be OK.” 

“I’m trying so hard to be alright.” 

“I know, Frannie.” 

They were sitting together when Dr. Jordan entered the room a few minutes later. He greeted them both and sat down in a chair, his legs crossed and Charlie’s patient folder in his lap. “Hi folks.” 

“Hi, Dr. Jordan. We have to stop meeting like this,” Charlie joked. The doctor cracked a crooked smile. 

“Are you still feeling good?” 

Charlie nodded. “I haven’t felt this good in a while.” 

The doctor nodded in acknowledgment. “Well, a team of specialists and I have compiled the results of your tests, Charlie. From all the information we’ve gathered, it appears you have lymphoma…” the doctor’s words faded to nothing as he watched Fran’s face contort in agony. 

“How?!” The fear she’d been fighting returned with a vengeance—she shook in Charlie’s arms while he held her. 

“Well, we aren’t quite sure. There were considerable abnormalities. The results seem to show it’s been developing for quite some time. I won’t say it’s advanced, but it isn’t new, either.” 

Charlie sat dumbfounded. “Could chemical exposure cause this type of thing? Back almost forty years ago, I was exposed to the plague in Dragon Valley, and to be honest, doc, they pumped me full of chemicals. It was the reason we didn’t have Destiny until we were in our forties.” 

Dr. Jordan nodded his head. “Oh, it absolutely can, Charlie. This information answers many of our questions. A colleague of mine sees another veteran with a similar diagnosis. He was stationed in Dragon Valley around the same time.” 

“I probably know him, doc. Four of us spent a lot of time in the hot zone. We all got the same chemical cocktail.” 

“How…” Fran sniffled. “How do we proceed from here?” 

The doctor sat up. “Well, chemotherapy is the first treatment option available, but it doesn’t necessarily mean infusion, either. Your type of cancer, Charlie, has responded well to oral chemo treatments. If you’d like, you can choose that option. There are fewer side effects associated with oral treatments as well. I’ve already made a referral to an oncologist in our practice, so you’ll be following up with her.” 

“Well, I guess we’ll fight this thing until we can’t anymore,” Charlie said. “I have the best support system with Frannie by my side.” He kissed her hand. “With her, I can move mountains.” 

“You have a positive attitude going into this, Charlie. That will help more than you realize. Do you have questions for me?”

Fran shook her head. Inside, she was dying, but she knew Charlie needed her to be strong. “No, I can’t think of anything. My head is spinning…” Her voice caught in her throat. “I’ll have questions for the oncologist, though.” 

“Good enough.” The doctor stood and shook Charlie’s hand. “I wish I had better news for you, Charlie. You’ll get a call from my colleague in a few days.” He extended a hand for Fran to shake, but she sat, frozen in fear. “I’m so sorry, Fran. I really am.” 

After the doctor left the room, Fran cried in Charlie’s arms. “We’re going to fight this, Charlie. Aren’t we?” 

He hugged her closer to him and kissed her. “With everything I have, darling.” 

“What do we tell Destiny?” 

Charlie thought for a moment. “What if we hold off on telling her for a few months? I don’t want to be the one who holds her back, Frannie. And I’m afraid if she knows, she will put her life on hold for us. I wouldn’t want that for her.”

“We can’t not tell her, Charlie. She will figure it out, probably sooner than later.” 

“Just for a little while, Frannie? Please?” 

“A week—”

“A month,” he countered. “Let me start treatment. If I don’t get sick, we don’t have to tell her.”

Fran shook her head. “I’m not comfortable with that.” 

“We can discuss it.” 

“She has a right to know, Charlie.” 

He felt frustration build up within him. “It’s MY diagnosis, Fran.” 

“Yes, and it affects ALL THREE of us!” she snapped, and then cried. “Your cancer happened to all of us.” 

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, you’re right,” he said. “Let’s just take one day at a time, OK?” 

She nodded her head in agreement. “OK.”


Three Months Later

Charlie sat alone in the doctor’s office while Fran tended her market stall with Jenny. It was his follow-up appointment, and though he felt decent, he wished Fran was there with him for moral support. He tapped his ring on the arm of the chair, more than a little nervous. He was about to pick up a magazine to read when the door opened. 

“Hi, Charlie,” the doctor greeted him. “How are you feeling?” 

He shook his head. “Hi, Dr. Bennett. I’m alright.”

“Just alright?” 

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m tired a lot. My sister lives in town to help Frannie with the farm, and I’m glad. I’ve been less than helpful this year.”

She picked his chart up and scanned his last blood work results. “I’m not seeing any evidence that the oral medication is doing its job, Charlie. The numbers still look bad, meaning there is no improvement.” 

He huffed in frustration. “So, what does that mean?”

“We’re going to switch you to traditional chemotherapy treatments. We need to get your numbers a lot better before I consider you in remission.” She set his folder on the desk where she sat and clasped her hands together. “I know this isn’t what you wanted to hear.” 

“No, you’re right, doc. We still haven’t told our daughter. We were waiting until I was in remission, so she wouldn’t be frightened.” 

“Well,” she said, looking into his eyes. “I can’t tell you how to manage your family, Charlie. But if I were in your shoes, I’d tell her. The longer you wait, the less time you’ll have to repair a possible rift in your relationship.” 

“She’s a daddy’s girl,” he said. 

“All the more reason she should know.” The doctor stood. “Well, think about it. Gloria will get you set up for your first treatment. Stop by her office on the way out.” 

Charlie never felt more defeated. “Thanks, doc.”

*****

Fran flopped into bed, exhausted from a busy day at the market. Charlie walked from the bathroom in his robe and laid next to her. A frustrated sigh hissed from his mouth as he let his body melt into the mattress. 

“Is everything OK, Charlie?” 

He squeezed his eyes shut. “No.” 

The ache in her lungs reminded her to breathe. “Is this about your appointment today?”

“Yes.” 

She searched his face for a clue. “Are you going to make me drag it out of you?” 

He propped himself up on his elbows and looked into her eyes. “It wasn’t good news.” 

“How so?” 

“My blood work isn’t good. She’s switching me to traditional chemo. I have my first treatment on Friday.” 

Fran had no idea how to respond. His news frightened her. She’d seen the decline since his diagnosis, subtle as it was. And now this. “We have to tell Destiny.” 

“Not you, too. The doctor suggested we tell her; the sooner, the better.” 

“I agree with her. Charlie, what if the shoe was on the other foot? Wouldn’t you want to know?” 

“Well, of course I would. But she’s…” Charlie swallowed a growing lump in his throat. “She’s my baby. I can’t protect her from it, darling.” 

“At some point, Charlie, she’s going to find out. Wouldn’t you rather she learn it from you than from a stranger at a hospital?” 

“Just a bit longer, Frannie. I’m not ready. I don’t want to be the reason she doesn’t go to college, or doesn’t pursue her dreams.” He buried his eyes in the crook of his arm and sighed. “I want her to see the world and follow her dreams. I can’t be the reason the world is deprived of her talent.” His breath hitched; a stifled sob sat in his chest. “Dammit, I won’t.” Tears rolled down his face. “I won’t…”

Since the ordeal began, Fran hadn’t seen him get emotional. And though she thought she would be weak, she drew strength from within her. “Then we don’t have to yet, my love.” 

“Frannie, I want to watch her become a success. I… I won’t be here for that.”

“Shh, babe, you don’t know that for certain.” 

“But,” he cried, “the chances are good that I won’t. I can’t…” All the strength he pretended to have faded in an instant—every fear, every poor outcome his mind entertained manifested at once, and he sobbed in her arms. “I’m never going to be a granddad, Frannie.”

Fran didn’t know how to comfort him. So she snuggled up with him, wrapped around his body, and allowed him to cry until sleep overtook both of them.


The Next Summer

Charlie had been in treatment for another six months before the oncologist pronounced him in remission. But the chemo and radiation therapies had taken their toll. His body was thin, his face was gaunt. The hair on his head had been gone for months. And yet, somehow, they kept his secret from their daughter. 

The summer festival was looming ahead of Destiny’s final year of high school. She had been working as a stagehand for a year, accumulating credits for her college career at Sim State. A month before the festival’s opening day, Destiny’s phone rang with a Starlight Shores exchange on Caller ID. She didn’t normally answer calls from unknown numbers, but she took this one. 

“Hello?” 

“I’d like to speak with Destiny Farmer?” 

Destiny’s eyes widened. I know this voice! She thought. “Who is calling?” 

“My name is Katie Price—”

Destiny dropped the phone and squealed—the voice on the phone laughed. “This is Destiny,” she said, her shaky hands held to the cell phone. 

“Hi Destiny,” Katie said. “I got this number from your boss, Chad. Look, I have a proposal for you. My opening act is backing out on me for the first couple of shows, and I know you live in Appaloosa Plains. I heard you singing last year when you were backstage, and I was impressed. I understand you’re an aspiring singer, and that you have quite a repertoire of songs you’ve written. Would you like to stand in for my opening act during the festival in the Plains?” 

Destiny felt the excitement well up inside her, but she also knew she needed to ask her parents’ permission before she said yes. “I’d love to!” she answered, “But I need to ask my folks first. Can I call you back with an answer?” 

Katie chuckled on the other end of the phone. “Of course. There’s no hurry. I’m coming into town next weekend to meet with Chad to organize the stage and make sure my props will fit. We can meet then.” Destiny took down her phone number and thanked her. When they hung up the phone, Destiny screamed with joy. 

The sudden outburst startled Fran, who had been cooking supper. She rushed to the family room, where she found a very excited, giggly sixteen-year-old girl. “Destiny, what on earth is going on that would make you scream like that?” 

“Mama, I just got the most incredible phone call! Remember that singer we saw at the first summer concert, Katie Price?” 

“Yes,” Fran said. “I remember. Why, sweet pea?” 

“Mama, she just called me!” Destiny tried not to be too excited. Her mother had a habit of telling her no. “She wants me to open for her at her show this year!” She let another squeal out of her mouth, and Fran cringed; Charlie was resting upstairs. 

“Destiny, for the love of all good things, please settle down! Your daddy is resting.” Destiny gave her a sheepish grin and then a more subdued look. “Are you sure the phone call was from that Katie person, Desi?” 

“Mmhmm, Mama! She knew Chad’s name, and the festival information. Katie remembers me from last year! I guess she heard me singing and wants me to fill in for her opening act.” Destiny looked at the ground and back at Fran. “Please let me, Mama? I’m gonna be seventeen on my next birthday.” 

Fran thought for a moment. Charlie is going to want to see her sing before he dies. “OK, Desi. You have my permission.” 

Destiny stopped short. She expected a song-and-dance about why she couldn’t, or why she shouldn’t. But that wasn’t her answer. “Really, Mama??” Fran nodded. “Can I wake Daddy to tell him?” Again, Fran nodded. 

“I think he will love to hear this news, Desi. You know he’s going to be so proud of you.” She kissed her daughter’s forehead and hugged her. “I’m very proud of you, too.” 

“Thanks, Mama!” Destiny ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time, and then a sharp left to the master bedroom. The door was partially ajar when she tapped on it. “Daddy?” 

The gentle rap on the door awakened Charlie; her bright red hair reflected the sun that peeked in through the window. “Come in, sweet pea.” He patted the bed next to him for her to sit. “What’s on your mind?” 

“Daddy, you’ll never guess what happened today! My favorite singer, Katie Price, wants me to open her summer concert here in the Plains this year!”

“By yourself, Desi?” She nodded, a huge grin on her face. “Sweetheart, that’s fantastic!”

“Daddy? Would you come backstage with me? I’ll need some encouragement, and since you’ve always been there for me, I’d love it if it was you.” 

Charlie didn’t need to think it over. He didn’t need to consider his treatments, or the physical price he would pay. “I would be so honored, Destiny. Come here.” He opened his arms to hug her; when she returned it, she noticed for the first time how thin he’d gotten. 

“Daddy? Are you okay? You’re skinny.” 

He nodded and brushed a lock of hair from her face. “Of course I am, sweetheart. The doctor wanted me to lose a little weight. He thinks your daddy is too fat!” He lied through his teeth. Destiny couldn’t know anything yet, especially now, with her debut concert coming up. 

She cocked her head and laughed. “I think your doctor is crazy, Daddy.” He laughed and laid back down. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes, sweetheart, I promise I’m alright.” He gave her one last hug and smiled. “I’ll be down for supper.” 

“OK, cool!” Destiny said. “I need to call Polly! She won’t believe it!” She scurried from the master suite into her bedroom, Polly’s number already ringing on the other end. 

“Way to go, sweet pea,” Charlie whispered to himself. “You’re on your way, and I get to see you sing. This is a good day.” He closed his eyes and drifted to sleep, listening to his only daughter having the best day of her young life.


Destiny did the last bit of setting up on the stage for the concert. She and Katie had talked at length about where stage props would go, and which ones Katie would allow Destiny to use for her own show. The concert was the following evening. Charlie and Fran sat in front row benches for the show rehearsal; every once in a while, Destiny looked out from behind the stage to wave at them, beaming from ear to ear. 

Chad, who sat near the Farmers, walked to Charlie after the rehearsal. “You must be Charlie,” he said, his hand held out to shake. “I want to commend you and your lovely wife for raising such a well-mannered, hard-working young lady. And to congratulate you on her debut behind the microphone. She’s got quite a career ahead of her if she keeps applying herself.” 

Charlie gave the young man’s hand a shake. “Thank you, but her success is hers alone. We’re the cheerleaders, and the folks known as ‘Mama and Daddy’.” He nodded in contemplation. “She has been a big deal since we brought her home from the hospital.” 

Chad laughed. “I see! Well, she’ll be phenomenal on stage tomorrow night. You’re the one helping her backstage?” He motioned to Charlie. “She mentioned you were her biggest fan.” 

He blushed. “I am, yes.”

“Come with me, and I’ll familiarize you with the setup, where you’ll stand. Everything you need to know in a quick two-minute tour.” 

Destiny bounded down the stage steps toward them, greeted Charlie with a kiss on the cheek and a hug for Fran. “I see you’ve met my boss, Chad.” She shook his hand and then turned back to Fran. “Mama, Katie wants to take me for a burger so we can talk business. Can I go?” 

Fran smiled and nodded. “Of course. Be back before midnight, Desi.” 

Destiny squealed, turned to face the stage, and flashed two thumbs up at Katie. Then she kissed Charlie’s cheek again and ran toward the stage, a small brown leather satchel in her hands. The three of them shared a laugh when Chad spoke up. “I don’t know how you folks keep up with her. I’ve never met a young lady, or a young man for that matter, with as much energy and spunk as she has. She’ll be a force to reckon with in the city.” 

Fran nodded, and Charlie simply smiled. “It’s tough!” she chuckled. “That girl’s energy knows no limits.”

“Well, we’ll see you tomorrow night for the big show, Miss Fran. Come with me, Charlie, and I’ll get you all set up back here.” He stood and followed Chad backstage.

*****

“So, Destiny,” Katie began over a milkshake and a cheeseburger. “Tell me what it is you love about singing! Who inspires you?” 

Destiny took a bite of fried potato. “Well, a girl that used to babysit me, Maya, sang to me. Then, I joined the children’s choir at the chapel when I was seven. My elementary school music teacher is the choir director, and my mentor. I’ve been singing ever since!” 

Katie nodded her head. “So, do you have some of your songbooks with you? I’d love to see your music.” 

“I do!” She reached into her satchel and brought out a book of her best songs. “This first one here I wrote about six years ago for a friend. My daddy wants me to sing it first.” 

Katie took the book from her and read the lyrics. “This is good! How does the tune go?” 

Destiny hummed the melody for the first verse and stopped before the chorus. A smile pulled Katie’s face. “What do you think?” she asked.

“Destiny, don’t let anyone else hear this song until you have it copyrighted. Everyone will want to record it.” 

Her eyes got wide as saucers. “Really?” 

“Yes, really. A song like that can make a career. Don’t let it out of your sight, and if I were you, I’d pick a different song to begin the show.”

Destiny shook her head. “I can’t do that. My daddy wants to hear me sing this song. I was supposed to sing it in a talent show the year you opened the festival here. But they wouldn’t let me, because I was only ten years old. I don’t want to disappoint him.” 

Katie understood. She was a ‘daddy’s girl,’ herself. “Yeah, I get it. Just be careful with it.” 

“Oh, I will! And before I forget, Katie, thank you for letting me open for you tomorrow night. It’s a dream come true, and I’ll never forget your kindness.” 

“Maybe someday we can tour together,” Katie suggested. “That would be fun.” 

They looked at each other and giggled. 

*****

Fran waited for Destiny to return home that night, which she did well before her midnight curfew. She was sitting in Charlie’s recliner when the key turned in the front door, and Destiny felt guilty. “Am I late, Mama?” 

“Oh, no sweet pea. I can’t sleep while you’re out of the house. So I thought I’d wait for you. You’re early, actually.” 

“Oh good,” Destiny sighed with relief. “I had a lot of fun tonight. Katie suggested we tour together someday.” 

Fran grinned. “Really? Oh, Desi, you’re going to make so many friends once you leave the Plains…” When the realization hit Fran that it was less than a year away, the grin vanished into thin air. 

“What’s wrong, Mama?” 

“I just realized you only have a year left here. And then you’re off to college, and starting your career.” Fran choked back tears. “How did you grow up so fast?” 

“I’m only sixteen, Mama. I still have some time.” 

“You’re entering high school in September as a senior, a full grade above other kids your age.” Fran sniffled, her sinuses closed up as tears filled her eyes. “You were always smart as a whip.” 

“Oh, stop, Mama,” Destiny blushed. “I’m no smarter than Polly.” 

That made Fran chuckle. She knew better than to engage Destiny in that discussion. “OK, sweet pea. You win.” She stood and stretched her stiff muscles. “Let’s go to bed.” 

Destiny walked behind Fran, just in case she slipped on the steps. She hadn’t yet, but Destiny noticed them both slowing down. When they reached the top of the steps, they said goodnight and walked to their respective bedrooms. Charlie was awake when Fran opened the door. 

“Did she have fun, my darling?”

“Mmhmm.” 

“Good,” Charlie said. “Come snuggle with me, sweetheart. I don’t feel well tonight.” 

“How aren’t you feeling well?” 

He sighed. “I’m weak, lightheaded. My nose has been bleeding on and off for the past few days.” 

“Didn’t Dr. Bennett say that was a bad sign? The nosebleeds, I mean.” 

He shrugged. “I’ll be okay, love.” 

“Are you going to call her in the morning?” 

“No, I don’t want to miss her concert tomorrow night, Frannie. She is counting on me, and I might never…” he paused to collect himself. “I might never get to hear her otherwise.” 

Fran started to believe he might be right. The thought of it frightened her to her core.


If you don’t want them, give them to Destiny when she gets older. Tell her they’re from me. But I don’t want them back. Jason’s words rumbled through Fran’s memory as she dug through her jewelry box, seeking the diamond earring studs he had given her years ago. “Come on,” she said out loud. “Where are you little suckers?” 

Frustrated, she slammed the lid of the box down and huffed. “I know they’re in there.” She reopened the lid and pawed through it again; a stud post caught her finger and embedded itself under her fingernail. A cry of pain echoed through the bedroom and down the stairs. It was loud enough to awaken Charlie from a nap. “Dammit!” she yelped, yanked her hand from the jewelry box, and stuffed the injured finger into her mouth. 

Charlie had never heard her cuss before now, and it surprised him. “What’s wrong, darling?” 

“I think Jason just got his revenge for trying to give those earrings back. The post just jammed under my fingernail.” 

He cringed in sympathy. “Ouch, Frannie.” He sat up in bed and put his feet on the floor. “What are you doing with the earrings?”

She sat next to him, the studs in her hands. They were still together, how she connected them when she tried to return them. “I’m going to give them to Destiny, so she can wear them tonight for her show. They mean nothing to me, but she might remember him, and she might want them.” She shrugged her shoulders. “If she doesn’t, maybe I’ll just sell them. Desi could use the money for school.” 

“That’s not the worst idea, sweetheart,” Charlie said. “Do you think she’ll remember him?” 

“I don’t know. He was a pretty big part of our lives back then, but it was eleven years ago. She might not.” 

He held his hand open. “Can I check them out?” She nodded and handed the earrings to Charlie. “What’s the carat weight on them?” 

“Hmm… I can’t remember for sure. One carat total weight? I know they’re bigger than the stone in my engagement ring.” 

“That would make each a half-carat. That’s definitely bigger than the stone in your ring.” He handed them back with a defeated sigh. “Are you sure you made the right choice between Jason and me, darling?” 

“Charlie, you shouldn’t even have to ask that question. Of course, I made the right choice. He had money, but you have my heart.” 

Her sweet, innocent answer made him smile, and his heart swell with love for her. “My gosh, Frannie, I love you so.” 

“I love you, too, Charlie.” Their lips met in a sweet, tender kiss.

*****

Destiny was in her room, practicing the songs she would perform in her set later that evening, when Fran knocked on her door. 

“Come in?” she said.

Fran peeked her head into the door and smiled. “Are you busy, sweet pea? I would like to talk to you.” 

“I’m never too busy for you or Daddy. What’s up?” 

She walked to Destiny’s bed and sat down, her hands clasped around the diamond studs. “Sweetheart, do you remember Jason?” 

Destiny smiled. She hadn’t heard his name in a long time. “Of course I do, Mama. Why do you ask?” 

“Do you remember when he took me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday that year?” 

“Mmhmm,” Destiny muttered. 

“Jason gave me a pair of earrings; when he left, I tried to give them back to him, but he didn’t want them. He told me to save them for you someday when you were older.” She opened her hand and showed them to Destiny. “I’d like you to have them, Destiny, for your concert, and just because.”

Destiny had never seen a diamond as large, and she was astonished. “Mama! Are they real?” 

“Oh, yes, they are real.”

“Are you sure you want to give these to me? They look very expensive.” 

“Well, if I had to buy them, I couldn’t afford them. But since I have them…” Fran shrugged. All she could see was Jason’s broken expression as he left the farmhouse for the last time. “To me, Jason is a fond memory, and nothing more. I thought he might still mean something to you, though.” She placed the earrings in Destiny’s hand and closed it around them. “They’re yours now. Would you like some help to put them in? The backs screw on, so you won’t lose them.” 

Destiny nodded her head and wiped a tear away. “I can’t believe you’re giving these to me. Thank you, Mama!” She took out the small hoop earrings she wore since her ears were pierced and held them while Fran set the diamonds in their place. When she finished, she stepped back to admire them, sparkling and lovely.

“They look beautiful on you, sweet pea.”

“I’ll take good care of them, Mama, I promise.”

Fran kissed her forehead and hugged her. “I know you will, Desi. When should you be at work?”

“In an hour. I’m not showering until Chad lets me come back before the show. Katie is letting me borrow a dress to wear. We’re almost the same size!”

“You should probably get to work, honey. Maybe he’ll let you come home early, and you’ll have extra time to get ready.” 

“That’s a great idea, Mama.” She kissed Fran’s cheek and hugged her. “Thank you again for my pretty earrings.” 

“You’re welcome. We’ll see you before the show.” 

She nodded before she hurried down the steps, and through the front door, waving as she ran.

*****

Destiny stood backstage, doing a final soundcheck for the concert in just a few hours. Chad stood in the back of the stands; her last check came across the speakers loud and clear—a thumbs up and a shouted affirmation ended the testing. She pulled the headset from her head and set them on the soundboard. “Harry, I need to get home. I still have to shower!” 

“I’ll cover you, Des,” her co-worker said. “Run! Don’t be late for your debut!” She gathered her purse, her satchel, and her sweater, and dashed through the festival gates, headed across the street to their home. 

“Hi…” Fran’s greeting was cut short by the flash of red hair as she ran up the steps and into the bathroom. “… Desi.” She rolled her eyes and laughed. “That girl is going to burn herself out someday.” 

Charlie was in his recliner, saving his strength for the concert. “She’s young. She has energy to spare. I wish I had just a fraction of it right now.”

“How are you tonight, love?” 

His chest heaved a labored breath. “I will not miss that little girl’s concert. Please don’t ask me to.”

“I’ll ask you no such thing. But promise me, Charlie, that we’ll tell her tomorrow morning, after her show is over. We can’t keep it from her any longer.” 

“You win, darling. We’ll tell her tomorrow.” He nodded in defeat. 

“Do you need your oxygen?” 

He shook his head. “No, she can’t see that until we tell her.”

“That’s fair. One more night shouldn’t hurt you.” 

“I’m hoping not, Frannie.” 

“Mama!” Destiny called from her bedroom. “Help!”

“I’m being summoned. Do you need anything?” He shook his head and laid it back to rest. 

Fran climbed the steps. I’m getting too old for this, she thought. “I’m here. What’s wrong, sweet pea?” 

“I need help to zip this up. Please?” Destiny wore a teal flowered dress that Katie let her borrow from the costume wardrobe. It fit her like a glove. Despite being just sixteen, her body had already developed. The dress clung to her curves and accentuated everything, though the dress itself was modest in style. She turned around, her arms posed on her hips. “What do you think?” 

“Oh Destiny, you are stunning.” Fran walked her to the full-length mirror in her bedroom. “See?” 

The young girl shook her head in disbelief. She looked like a bona fide star. “Wow.” Destiny had never been speechless before. “Is this really me?” 

“It’s really you, sweetheart.” Fran tucked a length of hair behind her ear. “You should wear your hair up, Desi.” 

Destiny wrinkled her nose. “No, I like it like this. It looks OK, doesn’t it?” 

Fran’s eyes welled up with tears. “You look beautiful. I can’t believe how grown up you are.” Destiny saw her mother’s tears and hugged her. The two stayed in a tight embrace for a few moments. 

“I need to get across the street, Mama. Are you and Daddy coming now, or later?” 

“We’ll be right behind you, Desi. Maybe about ten minutes. And he’ll be with you as soon as we get there.” 

She gave Fran a peck on the cheek. “I love you, Mama. Thank you so much for letting me sing tonight.” 

“I love you too, sweet pea. Break a leg!” 

“Thank you!” 

An hour after she left the fairgrounds, Destiny walked back across the street in Katie’s dress. Oddly enough, she caught no attention from anyone. I guess it’s just as well, she thought. Katie caught up with her moments after she arrived backstage. 

“Want my makeup artist to fix you up a little, Des?” Katie cocked her head. “It just takes a few minutes. You’re a natural beauty, so you need little makeup, but the lighting will make you look pale if we don’t fix it.” 

Destiny nodded. “Sure.” 

Thirty minutes until showtime, Charlie and Fran were still not there. Destiny peeked out from behind backstage. Where are they? She tuned her guitar one last time and was on her knees in prayer when Charlie finally arrived backstage. She hugged him and kissed his cheek, leaving a warm-toned lipstick print. “Hi, Daddy. You made it!” 

“Hi princess,” he said back. Charlie looked around for a chair. It was an accommodation he had expected, but didn’t think to request. The one that was backstage had vanished. He was determined not to let his cancer win, not tonight of all nights, so he decided to tough it out and stand. “Are you ready, Destiny?” 

She took a deep breath and exhaled. If she was nervous, Charlie couldn’t see it in her mannerisms. “I’m so ready, Daddy. Thank you for being here. This means the world to me.” 

“There isn’t a force on earth that would make me miss your debut, sweet pea.” He kissed her cheek. “Knock ‘em dead out there, Destiny. I’m so proud of you.” 

The emcee walked on stage and the lights came up, the spotlight on him. Standing center stage, he spoke. “Welcome to the opening night of the summer concert series on the festival grounds. Tonight, we have returning guest singer Katie Price.” The crowd erupted in applause. When the din quieted down, he resumed his introduction. “And, we have a special treat for you. Opening the show is a local young lady who aspires to sing on the big stage someday. She’s spunky, energetic, and very talented. Please give a warm Appaloosa Plains welcome to Destiny Farmer!” 

Destiny looked at Charlie just before she stepped onstage. It was his proudest moment. He blew her a kiss and mouthed the words, “I love you, Desi,” before she walked out to a crowd of cheering attendees. She strummed her guitar, the opening notes of Charlie’s favorite song. He closed his eyes and relished the moment, another life-changing experience for his baby girl. 

At the end of her first song, the crowd went wild, chanting her name and cheering for more. Her set was only five songs, but she played and sang each one with every ounce of passion she could muster. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Charlie enjoying her performance. 

She talked to the audience a bit, thanked Sara Thompson for the inspiration, Maya Bradford for the start, and her parents for all their love and support. On her last song, Destiny began the chords, ready to sing, when she noticed Charlie out of the corner of her eye. He was fading fast, hanging onto anything he could grip, but he collapsed onto the platform where he stood. She heard Chad yell for a medic—the audience gasped when they realized what had occurred. Destiny screamed and ran toward him, the guitar still in her hands. 

“Daddy!” Chad sat on the floor with him, trying to revive him. Fran, who saw the panic on Destiny’s face, ran from her seat and up the steps on stage to Charlie. “Mama! What happened?!” 

“Oh sweet pea, you weren’t supposed to see this,” Fran cried, kneeling down next to Charlie. “Charlie, wake up, love. The ambulance is coming.” She patted his cheek and took Chad’s spot next to him. 

“See what, Mama?” Destiny shook like a leaf, scared witless as she observed her father splayed out on the floor. Fran didn’t answer her; her only thought was Charlie. Please don’t die tonight, she thought. 

Minutes later, EMTs arrived and assessed him. Charlie awakened at the sensation of being lifted onto a stretcher. “Fran…” he muttered. 

“I’m here, love.” 

“What… happened?” 

“You passed out, Charlie. We’re taking you to the hospital.” 

He shook his head. “She can’t find out like this, Frannie…” 

“It’s too late for that. She will know tonight, when we find out what caused this.” 

Charlie closed his eyes as the EMTs lifted the stretcher into the ambulance. “Meet me there…?” 

“We’re right behind you, love.” 

Chad apologized for Destiny’s abrupt ending and assured the audience everything was under control. Katie found Destiny and hugged her. “Are you okay, Des?” 

Destiny, who was sobbing uncontrollably, shook her head. “No. I’ll get your dress back to you tomorrow.” 

“Don’t worry about that, Destiny. Go be with your family.” 

Fran drove to the hospital with Destiny riding shotgun. Neither of them spoke; all Fran heard was frightened sobs. Every decision they made to protect her was an epic failure. She found out the hard way, just what Fran didn’t want. She hated herself for putting their daughter through such a traumatic experience. Would Destiny ever forgive her? She couldn’t answer that question. 

Together, they ran into the Emergency Room; Fran spat out one word: “Farmer?” 

“Back here. Follow me,” the security guard said. Fran took Destiny’s hand and followed the guard’s quick footsteps back to a room equipped to handle trauma. 

“Ma’am, are you his wife?” the doctor asked. 

“Yes. He has lymphoma, but he’s been in remission…” Her gaze shifted to Destiny as she spoke the words she dreaded.

Destiny’s eyes widened, and in silence mouthed the word, “cancer.” She fell into the chair in the room, her arms wrapped around her knees, weeping. Fran walked to her and knelt beside the chair. 

“Desi, I’m sorry we didn’t tell you… I’m sorry you had to find out like this.” 

“Daddy has… cancer?!” The broken expression on Destiny’s face devastated her. 

Fran couldn’t say another word. All she could do was embrace her daughter as they cried in each other’s arms.

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Up Next: Chapter Twenty, Generation One.


Pose Credit – Cover  Photo

Poses By Bee
Family Fighting – Updated
Family Photo 1-14 and 19-21

*****

Custom Content – Cover Photo

Around The Sims 3
Destiny’s Cowboy Boots

SimCredible Designs
Arcadia Children’s Bedroom (Curtains)

The Sims Resource
Destiny’s Hair by WingsSims


I apologize for the lack of screenshots for this chapter. Due to time constraints, they were not possible to do well. When I have time, I will update nineteen and twenty with pictures! 

Thank you for your understanding!

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