Two Weeks Later
Jenny waited at the airport for Destiny’s plane to arrive. The weather was clear, and no new snow was predicted. The board above the terminal showed her flight being on time.
Fifteen minutes later, Jenny walked to the gate to wait for Destiny. Her flight was on the ground; it wouldn’t be long now. People flowed from the airplane like water in a river, waving and smiling at the loved ones who awaited them. And then, in the crowd, Jenny spotted a flash of brilliant red hair. Finally!
Destiny knew Jenny would pick her up, so she searched the crowd until she saw her aunt jumping and waving for her. A smile crossed her face; she picked up the pace until Jenny ran toward her, arms wide open and ready for a hug.
“Desi!” she squealed like a little girl. “Over here!”
“Aunt Jenny! It’s so good to see you!” Destiny hugged her. “How’s everyone?”
It wasn’t her place to tell Destiny about her dad, so Jenny just glazed over the truth. “Fantastic! The boys will be home for the holiday!”
“That’s… good.” Destiny took the handle of her pull case. “Are the roads clear?”
“Mmhmm. We should have clear sailing all the way home.” Jenny studied her face. “Your dad can’t wait to see you, Desi.”
She smiled. “I can’t wait to see him, either. It’s been a long three months.”
They shared small talk in the car on the ride home, a thirty-minute drive in good weather. Jenny took it easy, just in case there was black ice that she couldn’t see. But incident-free, they pulled up in front of the farmhouse.
“Thank you for the ride, Aunt Jenny.”
“Do you need help, Destiny?”
Destiny shrugged. “No, it’s just this bag and my backpack. I’m okay, but thank you!” They hugged once more; Jenny got into her car and drove away. Destiny walked with trepidation toward the house, up the steps and to the door.
Fran was already waiting for her when Destiny opened the door. She hadn’t told her daughter about her father’s worsening condition, and she wanted to prepare her for the shock. With arms wide open, Fran stood at the door. When her daughter opened it, she wrapped Destiny in a warm, loving embrace.
“How’s Daddy?” Destiny asked.
Fran felt the now-familiar pang of anguish well up inside her. “Destiny, I need to talk with you.” It was time to come clean. She needed to tell her daughter that her father was dying, and it would be sooner than later.
Destiny poked her head between the curtains that closed off the sitting room to see Charlie resting in their bed, wearing an oxygen cannula, looking sickly and older than his physical age. The sight shocked her, and tears stung her eyes.
“He…” The word floated in the air with nothing behind it. Grief stole the words from Destiny’s mouth.
“The treatments aren’t working anymore, sweetheart. He stopped them a month ago. The cancer is spreading. He doesn’t have much time.”
The news was more than she could bear. “How much time are we talking, Mama?”
“Months, sweetheart.” Destiny felt her mother trembling in her arms. “I’m not ready…”
The child living within Destiny, the one she tried so hard to keep, grew up in an instant; she found herself in unfamiliar territory holding her beloved mother, trying to be the strength Fran needed. Despite her best efforts, tears came anyway. Mother and daughter stood in the living room, clinging to each other.
When she collected herself, Destiny pulled away and kissed Fran’s forehead. “I need to say hi.” Fran released her grasp and sat in Charlie’s recliner. Destiny wiped the tears from her face and walked through the curtain into the makeshift bedroom. She sat in the chair next to Charlie and reached for his hand. He almost doesn’t look alive, she thought; the coolness of his skin almost confirmed her thought, and she was about to stand when he opened his eyes.
“Hi sweet pea,” he said in a raspy, frail voice. “You’re home.”
Destiny laid her head on the bed next to his hand, weeping. “I’m not leaving you, Daddy. I’m staying here.”
Charlie stroked her hair as he talked to her. “How is school? Are you fitting in okay up there?”
“Yeah, Daddy. I’m doing okay,” she said. Tears pooled in her eyes; when she blinked, a rivulet streamed down her cheek and soaked into the blanket on his bed. “I made the Dean’s list this semester.”
“You did?” He lifted his hand and patted her shoulder. “I knew you were a smart cookie, Desi.”
“It’s so good to be home,” she said. She took a deep breath to collect herself; he couldn’t see her crying.
“Your mama and I couldn’t wait…” he closed his eyes and groaned. “Frannie… when can I have pain medicine, darling?”
His painful wail sparked her to action. She took a morphine pill and a cup of water and walked to him. “Now, my love. Sit up, so you can drink the water better.”
Destiny helped him to sit up, shocked at how thin and frail he’d become in just a few months. With shaky hands, he took the cup of water and washed down a tiny, white pill. When he was done, he nodded with a smile, her cue to lay him back down on the pillow.
“Thank you, Destiny,” he whispered. He felt tired and worn out; he smiled at her, then closed his eyes to rest them.
“You’re welcome, Daddy,” she said. She didn’t leave his side for the rest of the day.
Destiny’s eighteenth birthday should be a big deal, Fran thought as she put the finishing touches on a cake she made with her own hands. Only family would be there to celebrate; Paul and Jenny planned to be there, along with the three of them. She heard footsteps in the stairwell that headed into the sitting room, and muffled speech that came between her beloved and their only daughter. “She’s up,” Fran said to herself, walking toward the room off their living room.
“Good morning, Mama,” Destiny greeted her. She was already planted in her favorite spot, next to her father. Since she’d been home, they spent most mornings talking and sharing quality time.
“Good morning, Desi. Happy birthday, sweet pea!” Destiny stood and Fran embraced her, rocking Destiny in her arms.
“Thank you! I don’t feel eighteen yet.” She kissed Fran’s cheek before they released their hug. “I smell something yummy in the kitchen. Did you bake something?”
Fran grinned at her. “Guilty as charged! I couldn’t let your birthday go by without baking your nana’s cake recipe. I know it’s your favorite.”
“Mmhmm! I can’t wait.” Though she wasn’t sure why, her thoughts went to Polly. She should be here celebrating with us, she thought. Fran noticed Destiny’s pensive expression. Something was bothering her.
“What’s on your mind, Desi?”
She sighed. “Oh, I’m just thinking about Polly. I miss her.”
“Why don’t you call her? Maybe she’s forgotten about your spat and she wants to be friends again.”
Destiny shook her head. “I’d better not. She told me she didn’t want to hear from me again.”
Charlie took her hand and patted it. “Then it’s her loss, sweet pea. Don’t think of her anymore if it bothers you. Life is too short to be upset.”
“Yeah, Daddy, you’re right.” She resumed her place at Charlie’s side, crooning to him as he rested.
“Aunt Jenny and Uncle Paul will be here in a few hours. We’ll have cake and gifts when they get here.” Fran walked back into the kitchen.
“Gifts? Mama, I hope you didn’t fuss. We agreed not to exchange for Snowflake Day.”
“Snowflake Day, yes. Your birthday? Not a chance I’m letting your eighteenth birthday slip by without something special.”
“You win.” Destiny smiled and turned her attention back to Charlie.
“Knock, knock!” Jenny opened the door and stuck her head inside. “Everyone decent?”
Fran laughed and waved them in. “We’re in the sitting room, Jen.”
Even though the room served as their bedroom, it was also furnished with a loveseat and Charlie’s recliner. Jenny and Paul joined the family in the sitting room, a small, wrapped gift under her arm.
“Happy birthday, kiddo!” Jenny said, and hugged Destiny. “This is for you. You can open it any time.”
Fran nodded at Jen. “Go ahead, sweet pea. You don’t have to wait if you don’t want to.”
The package Jenny had given Destiny was a long, slender box, wrapped in festive holiday paper instead of birthday decorations. She tore the paper and uncovered the box. Sliding her fingers inside, it slipped open.
“What’s this?” Destiny asked, holding slips of paper in her hands.
“Desi, it’s a revolving plane ticket, meaning it’s usable when you need it. Uncle Paul and I wanted you to come home when you needed to.”
Nothing more needed to be said. The thoughtfulness of the gift wasn’t lost on her; she felt the familiar sting of tears. “This is incredible! Thank you so much.” Destiny stood and hugged both of them. Jenny understood the gravity of the situation with Charlie. When the time came, Destiny could return home. Their gift would ensure it.
“You’re welcome, sweetheart.”
Fran retrieved the cake from the kitchen and set it on a table in their bedroom. Adorned with eighteen candles, which Fran and Jenny lit together, the cake was a masterpiece, one of Fran’s best. They sang to the birthday girl and watched as she blew out the candles. Charlie’s winning smile was still there, beaming at Destiny.
“What did you wish for, sweetheart?” he asked her.
“If I tell you, it won’t come true!” she giggled. Fran cut the cake into slices and they all enjoyed a piece, making small talk and laughing. Charlie sat and enjoyed the day and time spent with his loved ones. He knew such remaining occasions would be few. He wanted every memory he could with his beloved family.
Later that evening, Destiny sat by the fireplace, staring into the darkness. The fire’s warm glow illuminated the room. In a few days, it would be Snowflake Day, her last with her father. Fran walked from the bedroom and joined her.
“Can’t sleep?” Destiny asked her.
“No,” Fran sighed. She rubbed the back of her neck as though it pained her. “I’m just tired, sweet pea. But it’s not the kind of tired that sleep can help.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Since you’ve been home, I only have the nurses come once a week to help me bathe your daddy. You’ve been such a big help, taking care of him. But I’m weary, I guess. Everything hurts.”
“I’m sorry, Mama. Why don’t you get the nurses back to help you?”
Fran smiled. “I don’t want to interfere with you and your daddy. Get every memory you can now, sweet pea. They’ll come back when you go back to school.”
“But if you need help, why not let them help you? Mama, you’re so thin and frail. I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fine, Desi, I’m just tired.”
“No buts. I’m okay.” Fran looked right into her daughter’s eyes. “I promise.”
Destiny yawned. “Are you staying up, Mama? I think I’m going to bed. We’ve had a long day.”
“Yes, for a few more minutes. Your daddy is restless. I’m expecting him to want pain medicine soon. I might wake him if he doesn’t.”
“Tell him I love him?” She hugged Fran and kissed her cheek.
“Of course,” Fran said. “Goodnight, sweet pea.”
Destiny smiled. “Ni Ni, Mama.” She walked up the steps and closed the door behind her.
Fran watched as the fire dwindled down to embers and tamped it out when she was ready to sleep. She walked to the kitchen and drew a glass of cold water from the faucet and took a morphine pill for Charlie. She nudged his shoulder and woke him, though she hated to disturb his sleep.
“Charlie, it’s time for your pain medicine.”
A long, agonized groan hissed from his mouth. “I hope it works. They haven’t been that effective, darling.”
“Should I call the nurses back, or can you manage with just us two?”
“There’s nothing they can do, sweetheart, without Dr. Jordan’s orders for stronger medicine. They told me I’d be in pain, but I didn’t believe them.”
“Take this, and I’ll call the doctor in the morning.” She placed the tiny white pill into his hand and held the water cup so he could sip from it. A mouthful of icy cold water washed down the relief he hoped the medicine would bring. She walked to her side of the bed and climbed in next to him.
“I’m not feeling well, and I need you near me,” he said. Even though her touch would hurt, he opened his arms for her. “I just have to make it until Snowflake Day.”
“How aren’t you feeling well?”
“I am running out of steam, darling. The pain is unbearable. I am tired all the time. But I have to fight one last time…” he closed his eyes to blink back tears. “For her.”
“I’ll fight with you,” she said and kissed his cheek. “Together.”
He took her hand in his and kissed her fingers. Lifting her hand to his face took every ounce of strength he had. “I love you, Frannie.”
“I love you, Charlie. Please fight with all you have. I’m not ready…”
“Shh,” he said and held her to him. “I’m not going anywhere tonight. I’m right here.”
In the evening’s silence, they held each other and wept.
Destiny was the first one awake in the Farmer home; she tiptoed down the steps into the living room, arranged some wood in the fireplace and touched a lit match to the paper she had wadded beneath the kindling. Soon, the fire would take the chill off the morning air. She closed the grate and watched as the flames grew, catching on fire the kindling and wood pieces she placed there.
In the next room, there was silence. She peeked her head into the sitting room between the curtains to see her mother and father snuggled together, both of them asleep. A smile crept across her face. Some things would never change. For this, she was thankful.
Destiny bought and decorated a Fraser fir tree with the heirloom decorations that had been in the family for generations. Though there were no gifts under it, she believed it wouldn’t be Snowflake Day without putting the tree up. She walked to the outlet and plugged the lights into it. The tree came to life with illumination; hundreds of twinkling lights sparkled in the early morning.
Fran walked into the living room twenty minutes later and found Destiny in front of the fire, sipping her first cup of coffee. It was almost a sense of déjà vu for Fran; a year ago this day, the scene was almost identical. Almost, she thought. This year, Charlie’s condition was more dire. But, he made it to the holiday.
“Good morning, sweet pea,” Fran greeted her daughter. “Happy Snowflake Day.”
Destiny jumped to her feet to hug her mother and plant a kiss on her cheek. “Good morning, Mama! Happy Snowflake Day! How’s Daddy?”
Fran sat down in her rocking chair, one of the few pieces of furniture that remained in the living room. “He’s the same, Desi. We’re taking each day as it comes these days. But at least he slept through the night, and he wasn’t restless.”
“That’s good!” Destiny was relieved. As long as Charlie was holding his own, she was happy. In the almost three weeks she’d been home from school, his decline was noticeable, and it broke her heart to see him deteriorate. “Would you like some coffee? I’ll get it for you.”
“If you’re offering, I’ll have a cup, yes.”
“I’m on it!” Destiny walked to the kitchen, her own coffee cup in her hand. She refilled hers, then pulled a clean mug from the cupboard for Fran, filled it and prepared it. She padded back into the living room to find Fran singing to the songs on the radio. Destiny set her cup on Charlie’s desk, turned the volume knob on the radio, and walked to where Fran sat, her coffee in her hand. “Here, Mama. Just the way you like it.”
Fran took the cup from Destiny and breathed in the vapors. Somehow, coffee always smelled and tasted better when she didn’t have to make it. “Thank you, Desi.”
The two women sat together, listening to the holiday music on the radio. Destiny sang along with every song the DJ played. It always amazed Fran that she knew the words to every song.
Ten minutes later, Charlie’s weak voice called for Fran. Destiny hopped to her feet and motioned for Fran to stay sitting. “I’m coming, Daddy.” She peeked her head into the sitting room and saw her father smiling at her. “Good morning! Happy Snowflake Day, Daddy.”
“Good morning, princess,” Charlie said. “Happy Snowflake Day.” In his mind, he thought, “I made it.”
“What do you need?” she asked.
“My pill, sweetheart. Can you get it for me?” Destiny nodded and opened the bottle.
“Do you have water?” Charlie nodded, so she walked to him and gave him one little pill. “Do these really work?”
He swallowed it with a mouthful of water. “Good enough for government work, Desi. Today isn’t so bad.” He sat up and rubbed his face with his hands. “I don’t want to spend today in this forsaken bed. Can you help me get into my chair?”
“Of course! Mama and I are sitting by the fireplace. The warmth will feel good for you. It’s cold in here with that curtain closed.”
“That sounds amazing, sweet pea. Just help me transfer to my chair?” He swung his body around and dangled skinny legs off the bed. She grabbed him around the waist and helped him stand long enough to swivel into his chair. He sat down and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Doing okay?” she asked him.
Charlie nodded his head. “Let’s go greet the morning.”
Destiny kissed the top of his head. “I love your attitude this morning, Daddy. Let’s go get ‘em!” Together, they wheeled into the living room. Fran was shocked to see him up and about. With a big smile, she walked to his wheelchair and kissed him.
“Good morning, my love.”
Charlie’s grin was ear to ear. “Hi, my darling. Happy Snowflake Day.”
They sat by the fireplace together. Destiny kept the fire blazing, and though she left her guitar at school for the break, she sang holiday tunes with them. They talked about everything, except for the obvious elephant in the room.
Around lunchtime, Fran noticed Charlie struggling to breathe in his upright position. Destiny stood to bring him back to his bed. He tried to stand, but lacked the strength. He sat backward in his chair, frustrated with himself.
“Get your mama to help you, sweet pea,” he said. “You can’t do this alone.”
She sized him up and nodded her head. “I’ve got this, Daddy. Just scoot forward a bit and let me lift you.”
“Desi, no—” he said, but in one swift motion, she had him in her arms. “Wow, you really are a strong little girl, sweet pea.”
She placed him in bed and helped him get settled. He’s definitely lighter than the equipment I carried around all summer, she thought to herself. When he was comfortable, she stood back and flexed her arms, a broad grin on her face. “Check out these guns, Daddy.” The gesture made both of them laugh. Destiny sat on the chair next to his bedside and held his hand.
“Thank you for today, Destiny. It’s the best day I’ve had in a long time.”
She reached for his oxygen and placed the tubing around his face. “Here, so you can breathe better.” He reached to touch her face, tears in his eyes. “I love you, Daddy,” she whispered.
“Destiny, you are a treasure and our biggest blessing. Your mama and I…” his words faded away to stifled tears.
“Shh, it’s okay, Daddy.” She laid her head down on the bed next to his hand. Destiny and Charlie rested like that for an hour. Fran joined them in the sitting room and sat on the loveseat, resting her eyes.
Fran cooked a meal for her and Destiny that night. Charlie, who hadn’t been eating consistently, slept through supper. She baked a small chicken with vegetables, dressing, and homemade rolls. Destiny spoke a blessing over their meal.
As they cleaned the dishes, Destiny pondered having to leave in a bit over a week. She shook her head in silent agony. How can I leave now? She thought. It weighed heavily on her; she nearly dropped the pan she’d been drying.
“Is something on your mind, Desi?”
“Mama, I want to stay home. I don’t want to go back to school. I can’t leave you, not now.”
Fran stopped washing and took Destiny’s hands, looking straight into the girl’s amethyst-colored eyes. “Destiny, sweetheart, you have to go back. Don’t let us stop your future.”
“How can I go?” she wept. “He isn’t well.”
“If you go in and ask him, Destiny, he will tell you what I’m telling you. He never wanted to be the reason you didn’t chase your dreams.” Fran saw the tears welling in Destiny’s eyes; she embraced her daughter, fighting her own tears. Though she knew sending her back was the right move, Fran didn’t want her to leave, either. “Do it for him, sweetheart. It’s what he wants.”
“I can’t leave here knowing it’s the last time I’m ever going to see him, Mama. It’s too painful.” Destiny shook her head in protest.
Fran took her hands and together, they sat at the dining room table. “Sweetheart, none of us live forever. There will come a time when we’re not here. But death is not the end, baby girl. You’ll see us again in the next life. That’s what our faith is all about.” She wiped Destiny’s tears away. “Daddy and I want you to go live your life. You’re young, and you have so much potential—”
“But you need help! You can’t keep doing this alone, Mama. Do you think I don’t see how sickly you’ve become? You’re not taking care of yourself…” Tears stole the rest of Destiny’s words away.
“Desi, we are okay here together. We have nurses here all week. Aunt Jenny comes to help me take care of your daddy. Uncle Paul sits with him once a week while we go shopping. I have help, honey.” Fran studied her face, looking for the evidence that what she was telling her daughter was sinking in. “Please, baby girl. Don’t sacrifice your future for us.”
Destiny wiped tears from her eyes. Though she didn’t want to, she whispered, “Okay.” Fran hugged her, and both of them wept.
“I can’t believe your break is over already, sweet pea,” Fran said to Destiny as she finished packing the small suitcase she’d brought home. “It feels like you just got here.”
“I know, Mama. Believe me, I know.” She zipped the case closed and set it by the bedroom door. “Aunt Jenny is still bringing me to the airport?”
Fran nodded. “Yes, she is. We’re expecting snow tonight, so hopefully she takes that into consideration for the trip.”
Destiny could see her mother was worried. “Aunt Jenny is a skillful driver, Mama. We’ll be fine.” She watched as Fran wrung her hands and groaned. “This isn’t about the snow, is it?”
“No, baby girl, it’s not.” Fran shook her head, but smiled. “You’re just like your mama, you know that?”
A wide grin pulled Destiny’s face. “I consider that a compliment of the highest order.” She hugged Fran close to her. “I love you so much, Mama.”
“Desi, your daddy and I love you to the moon and back.” She looked up and saw the clock on Destiny’s nightstand. “Are you ready to greet the new year?”
“Am I ever!” Destiny said, trying so hard to sound upbeat. Inside, she was in emotional agony.
Fran took her hand and squeezed it. “Let’s go, sweet pea. Daddy’s waiting downstairs.”
Charlie was by the fireplace in his wheelchair, where he had sat most of the evening. His face lit up when he saw Fran and Destiny descending the steps. “There are my favorite girls,” he said, and then coughed. Fran studied his face.
“Are you alright sitting here, Charlie?”
He nodded. “I’m not going back to bed until midnight. This is my last night with my daughter, and I won’t spend it flat on my back.”
“At least let me hook you up, love.” Fran started to walk into the sitting room, but Destiny stopped her.
“Mama, that tank is heavy. Let me get it?”
“If you want to, sweet pea. Thank you.”
Destiny carried the tank of oxygen to Charlie’s wheelchair. With the tubing set up around his ears and tucked under his chin, she opened the tank, allowing oxygen to flow through it. “You’ll feel better in a bit, Daddy.”
Charlie knew better. Nothing was going to make him feel normal, or even close. But he smiled at his baby girl, anyway. “Thank you, Desi. You bet I will.”
The three of them sat in the living room, savoring the last moments of being together as a family. Fran realized that Destiny’s next trip home would be to say goodbye to Charlie and it would be devastating. But she was thankful for his sheer determination, and yes, maybe a little stubbornness. Charlie had vowed to see one last holiday with his daughter. Mission accomplished, sweetheart, she thought as she watched him listening to Destiny’s songs.
At midnight, Fran poured sparkling wine for all three of them, even though Destiny was underage. Much to her surprise, Charlie finished his glass. He had consumed nothing remotely alcoholic in years; his giddy smile and merry laughter warmed both Fran and Destiny’s hearts. Times such as these were fleeting, which made this one even more precious.
Destiny helped Charlie into bed one last time, then pulled the covers up to his chest. “Are you going to be warm enough, Daddy? It’s brisk in here.”
His cheeks flushed red from the wine, he laughed. “Oh, I’m quite toasty right now. That tasted so good…” Charlie settled down into bed. “I had a great time tonight, baby girl. Thank you.”
A lump the size of a boulder grew in her throat. Attempting to swallow it back was a moot point. By this time, it was a permanent fixture in her gullet. “I did too, Daddy,” she choked out. She tucked him in like he’d done with her so many countless times. “Snug as a bug!”
More than a little tipsy, Charlie grinned. “Snug as a bug,” he repeated. “I love you, Destiny. Never forget that. Promise me.”
“I love you, too, Daddy. And I promise, I’ll never forget.”
The next morning, Destiny’s alarm woke her. She groaned and turned the clock off, even though no one was upstairs to hear it. “It’s too early,” she grumbled under her breath. Nevertheless, she pulled herself out of bed and into the bathroom.
Thirty minutes later, showered and her hair dried, she walked downstairs to start a pot of coffee. The morning sun was just peeking its face over the eastern horizon. She took a quick glance at the grandfather clock in the dining room, and then outside at the weather. Destiny looked around, not believing her eyes. Despite a forecast of heavy snow overnight, the sky was clear and littered with stars. The road outside was free of new snow.
“I’ll take it,” she muttered to herself.
“What will you take?” Fran said, startling Destiny and making her jump a foot. She giggled at Destiny’s reaction. “I’m sorry, sweet pea. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s okay, Mama. Good morning.”
“I smell coffee,” said Fran. “Mind if I take a cup?”
“Well, I didn’t make an entire pot for me, you know!” Destiny grabbed two mugs from the cupboard and filled them, fixed both cups, and handed Fran’s to her. “Can I make breakfast for you and Daddy before I leave this morning?”
Fran looked into the black abyss of her coffee mug. “Not for me, Desi. I don’t think your daddy will eat, either. He felt nauseated earlier, probably from the wine.”
“What if I make a full batch and put the leftovers in the fridge?”
“That sounds good. I won’t have to fuss that way if I get hungry.”
Destiny looked at Fran. “You need to take care of yourself, Mama. Please don’t make me worry more than I already do.”
“Don’t worry, sweet pea. I’m just fine. The nurses are coming today to care for your daddy, which will take some pressure off of me.”
With hesitation, Destiny sighed. “Okay.”
“Do you need help with breakfast?” Fran asked her.
“No, Mama, I’m fine.”
Destiny mixed a batch of batter to make banana pancakes, cooked them until the batter was gone, then sat down with a small plate of them for herself. She picked at her breakfast until half of it was gone, then she stood.
“I guess I’m not as hungry as I thought. Would you like me to wrap this for you, or toss it?”
Fran wrinkled her nose. “You can toss it, sweet pea. As good as they smell, I can’t think about eating. I guess I shouldn’t have had the wine last night, either.”
“I’m sorry you don’t feel well, Mama. Maybe you need something in your stomach. It might help…?”
“I’ll be okay, Desi. I usually just have my coffee in the morning these days.”
Destiny nodded. “I’ll go out and feed Sweetie this morning. Is Uncle Paul coming to muck her stall for you?”
“He should be here today or tomorrow, yes.” Fran gave her a half-smile. “I know Sweetie isn’t your passion, so it’s even more special to me you’re caring for her, too.”
“It’s my pleasure, Mama. I’ll be back soon.”
Destiny stopped at the sugar bowl on the table and took a few cubes of sugar for Sweetie. It was a morning ritual she’d done for the last month while she was home. Since Charlie had been sick and nearly bedridden, Sweetie needed a little extra TLC.
She trudged to the barn through snow that was only ankle deep. When she opened the door, Sweetie’s friendly nicker echoed in the stable. “Good morning, sweet girl,” Destiny said while rubbing her nose. Sweetie nudged her, looking for the treat she was certain Destiny had in her pocket. One by one, she held the cubes for Sweetie to eat until they were gone. Taking her time, she gave the mare extra attention.
A half-hour later, Destiny walked back inside, brushed the snow off her boots, and padded in sock feet through the kitchen. Fran had wrapped and put the pancakes away, but she left the mess for Destiny to clean. She didn’t mind it, so Destiny started on the dishes. When Fran heard her back inside, she walked through the bathroom and into the kitchen.
“Your daddy is awake, sweet pea. He’s asking for you.”
“Is he okay, Mama?”
“He is. He wants to spend some time with you before you need to go. Leave the dishes, baby girl, and I’ll get them later.”
“Are you sure, Mama?” Destiny said, but Fran nodded.
“Yes, Desi. Spend all the time you can with him.”
“You’re welcome.” Soak it in, sweet pea, Fran thought. Time is short.
Destiny walked into the sitting room to Charlie’s bright smile awaiting her. “There’s my sweet pea,” he said. Destiny walked to his bedside and sat with him.
“Hi Daddy. You look good today.”
“Do I? I feel pretty okay for a change. I’m glad I do, Desi. I’m going to miss our morning talks.”
“Me too, Daddy.”
“Do me a favor, sweet pea?” he asked.
“Sure, anything you’d like.”
“Sing my favorite song to me? You know your voice could always make me feel better.”
Destiny smiled to put up a front, hiding tears she tried to swallow. “Sure, Daddy.” She settled into her chair and hummed the opening tune, one that was so loved and so familiar to Charlie. He closed his eyes and let her voice carry him away to a time when they were together as a family, before Destiny grew her wings and flew away. Though he wouldn’t say it, he wished she would stay home and not return to school.
She continued to sing his favorite songs, low and soft, until the house phone’s sharp ring startled her. Charlie looked at her; he knew his sister was on her way to pick up Destiny to catch her flight. A million emotions overwhelmed him. He figured it would be the last time he’d ever see her.
Fran peeked her head into the room. “That was Jenny. She’s on her way.”
Destiny nodded, but she couldn’t speak. Charlie took her hands and held them with all the strength he could muster. He looked into her amethyst-colored eyes with tears in his.
“Desi, remember what we’ve talked about. Remember how much I love you. Go give ‘em hell, baby girl.” He motioned her closer and planted a kiss on her forehead. “You’re going to be a star someday, sweetheart. And I’ll be watching you.”
“You’re my hero, Daddy,” she whispered. “I’ll always love you.” She embraced him, crying on his shoulder. “I’ll call tonight when I get back to school. I promise.”
Charlie sat back in his bed and touched her face. “Good girl,” he whispered. Moments later, Jenny was at the door. He heard Fran and Jen talking in the living room in muffled tones through the curtain. “Remember Destiny…” Charlie swallowed the growing lump in his throat. He knew it was goodbye. “Oh, baby girl, I love you so much.”
“I love you too, Daddy. I have to go.” She stood and kissed his forehead; she knew if she didn’t walk away then, she wouldn’t leave. At the door, she blew another kiss, and then she was gone.
Charlie heard the women chattering, but he couldn’t understand it, so he turned over and buried his face in the crook of his arm, and cried.
Fran hugged Destiny, wrestling with her own obvious emotion. “I will call you…” She bit her lip. She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.
Destiny nodded with understanding. “I’ll call when I get in tonight, Mama. I promised Daddy I would, too.”
“Good enough,” she said, embracing her daughter one last time. She looked at Jen and smiled. “Take good care of my baby.”
Jenny smiled. “I always do.” She gave Destiny a quick hug. “Ready, kiddo?”
Destiny nodded. “No, but I have to go. I love you, Mama. I’ll call tonight.” She picked up her bag and turned to wave.
“I can’t wait to hear from you, sweet pea. Safe travels.” She watched in agony as Jenny and Destiny walked to the car and drove away. In the other room, she heard sniffles and heartbroken sobs. She slid the curtain open to see Charlie, more emotional than she’d ever seen him. Fran walked to the bed and laid down beside him, and curled her body around him.
“I’m never going to see her again, Frannie. Do you know how much that hurts?”
“I do, love. But I’m here. You don’t have to fight anymore if you don’t want to.” She kissed his cheek and snuggled up close. “I know you’re tired.”
He rolled over to face her and wrapped his arms around her. “I love you, sweetheart.”
“I love you, Charlie. Just rest…” She wiped tears from his eyes and held him until they both fell asleep.
Two Weeks Later
Dr. Jordan walked from the sitting room to where Fran sat just outside the curtain. She stood when he approached her.
“What’s the outlook, Doctor?”
Dr. Jordan shook his head. “He has little time left, Fran. His body is shutting down, and it’s a natural part of this process. If you need to call Destiny, now’s the time to do it.” The clock on the wall read 2:06 AM.
“Is he in any pain? I hate to see him suffer.”
“The nurses are ordered to keep him comfortable, Fran. He will probably pass in his sleep.”
“I’ll call Desi when you leave, then. She’ll need some time to get here.”
The doctor embraced Fran. “He’s been an incredible warrior. He just has no more fight left in him. I’m so sorry.”
Fran wiped tears away and stepped backward. “Thank you, for everything.”
“I wish things were different for you two. I’ll be here when you need me, Fran.” He picked up his medical bag, took one last peek at Charlie, and left the farmhouse.
The on-duty nurse sat with Charlie, monitoring his vital signs. Fran knew she had a terrible phone call to make, one that would change her daughter’s life forever. Her hands shook as she dialed the phone. On the fifth ring, Destiny’s panicked voice answered.
“Desi, find a way to make it home, sweetheart. He’s fading…”
“I’ll be on the next plane out.” She hung up the phone without even saying goodbye.
Her next phone call was to Jenny and Paul. With the same shaky hands, she dialed Jenny’s phone.
“Fran?” A sleepy, half-awake Jenny answered the phone. “Is Charlie okay?”
“The doctor just left about twenty minutes ago. Charlie doesn’t have much time. I’ve called Desi…” Fran took a deep breath, trying to hold herself together. “Come when you can.”
Jenny hopped out of bed. “We’re on our way as soon as we get dressed. Hang tight, Frannie. We’re coming.”
Fran walked to the front door to unlock it, then back into the sitting room. She looked at the nurse and back at Charlie. “Can he hear me?”
The nurse, named Jessica, nodded. “Yes, he can. Talk to him. Tell him your daughter is coming.”
“Okay, thank you,” Fran said, and turned her attention to Charlie. She took his hand and squeezed it. “Babe, I’m here,” she whispered to him and stroked his cheek. “Destiny is on her way. Hang on just a little longer, okay?” She laid her head on the bed near him and rested her eyes.
Ten minutes later, a soft knock and a shouted greeting came through the front door. Jenny and Paul took off their coats in the living room, then peeked into the sitting room. Jenny gasped when she saw him. Fran stood and hugged her, both of them weeping. Paul sat in silence, waiting to support his wife and sister-in-law when they needed him.
“How is he?” Jenny asked.
“He could pass at any time. Doctor Jordan said there isn’t much fight left in him, so I called Destiny. I hope she makes it, Jen. She’ll be devastated if she doesn’t.”
Jenny hugged her tightly. “She’ll make it, Frannie. Charlie will wait for her.”
“I hope you’re right, Jen.”
Fran settled back down next to Charlie while Jenny went to the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee. It would be a long day; caffeine was a necessity.
Over the next few hours, Charlie continued to worsen while they all waited for Destiny’s arrival. Fran continued to affirm that she was coming and to wait just a little longer. He slipped in and out of consciousness; each time he awakened, Fran was there holding his hand, trying to prepare herself for the inevitable. And each time he awakened, she reminded him that Destiny was on her way home.
Paul and Jenny each sat down with him, trying to comfort him in his remaining hours. Jenny held his hand, weeping softly. “Charlie, I’m so happy we got to spend these last few years together as a family again. I will never regret coming back home to the Plains.”
Charlie opened his eyes for a moment and smiled. “Jen Jen,” he muttered. “Take good care of my Frannie for me…”
Jenny nodded, tears trickled down her cheeks. “I promise I will, Charlie. Destiny is coming. Hang on, okay?” She barely detected the slight nod of his head before the void of unconsciousness enveloped him. She kissed his forehead; a tear splattered on his skin as she whispered, “I’ll see you on the other side, my big brother.”
Paul, who never knew what to say in difficult situations, just sat down with him for a moment. He patted Charlie’s hand, but it felt odd to do so, as though he was already gone. So he just gave Charlie a pat on the shoulder and whispered three words into his ear: “Godspeed, my brother.”
Fran resumed her place at his side, continuing her loving care. She kissed his fingers; the sensation roused him from slumber. “Frannie,” he said in a weak, raspy voice. “Your love has blessed my life. Thank you for a life well loved, my darling.”
“Don’t leave me, not yet, Charlie,” she begged him. “I’ve loved you since I was thirteen years old, and I’ll love you forever.” She kissed his cheek and blinked back tears. “Just a little longer, honey. She’s coming.”
The phone rang twenty minutes later. Fran answered the call. “Mama!” Destiny cried out. “Please tell me I’m not too late!”
“He’s still hanging on, Desi. We believe he’s waiting for you.”
“I’ll be there soon. Tell him I’m coming, Mama.”
Just after 10:00 AM, Fran heard Destiny’s footsteps on the front steps. Jessica was sitting with him, monitoring him while Fran and Jenny waited for Destiny’s arrival. She opened the door to Fran standing there waiting for her. She embraced her daughter and took her arm.
“This is our daughter,” she said to Jessica, and then turned her attention back to Charlie. “Charlie, love, Desi is here.”
Charlie was barely awake, clinging to life by a thread. He pulled his oxygen tubes from his face with Jessica’s help and smiled at Destiny. “There’s my… baby… girl,” he whispered.
Destiny sat on the bed with him, holding his hand. “Hi, Daddy,” she said. She moved closer to him, staring into his eyes. “I love you so much.”
He gave her a weak smile and squeezed her fingers. “And I love you… sweet pea.”
She knew he was struggling to hold on, to be the father she still needed, strong and faithful. But she leaned to him, kissed his cheek, and whispered into his ear. “If you need to go, it’s okay, Daddy. I’m going to be alright.”
When she pulled away from him, he smiled at her. She lifted his hand to her lips to kiss them, and then sang his favorite song, one last time, soft enough for just him to hear. He closed his eyes and laid his head back, took a ragged breath, and exhaled. Destiny waited for his next breath, but it never came.
“Daddy?” Her voice was broken, holding back the inevitable sobs. “Daddy?” She said again, his hand still in hers. “I’ll always love you, Daddy, and I’ll always remember you…”
The nurse approached him opposite Destiny, placed her stethoscope on his chest, and listened for any signs of life. When she stepped back, she lowered her head, her hands clasped together.
“I’m sorry,” Jessica said. “He’s gone.” She turned around and hugged Fran, who looked broken. “I’m so sorry, Miss Fran.”
Fran felt her strength leave her body as she stood on wobbly legs. Jenny caught her before she fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably. Destiny sat with Charlie, her head on his chest, weeping. Jessica left the room to give them privacy, closing the curtain behind her when she left.
Fran cried all day since Charlie’s passing, heartbroken and inconsolable. Worried, Destiny called Dr. Jordan, who visited her that afternoon. He examined her as best he could, then prescribed a sedative for her. Paul made the trip to the pharmacy to fill it for them. When he returned, Jenny made sure Fran took the medication. He carried her into the sitting room and placed her on the bed.
“How are you holding up, kiddo?” Jenny asked.
“Not much better than Mama. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
“I know, sweet pea.” She wrapped her arms around Destiny again. “We’ll be here tomorrow to help you with anything you need. Your mama needs to make arrangements for him downtown. You should go with her.”
Destiny nodded. “I will. Thank you both for everything today. I love you.”
“We love you both, Desi.” Jenny hugged her niece and kissed her forehead. “We’ll see you tomorrow. Call if you need us, okay?”
“Mmhmm,” Destiny mumbled. “Goodnight.” Together, Paul and Jenny left the farmhouse.
Destiny was exhausted after no sleep, a long flight, and the worst day of her adult life. She locked the door behind her aunt and uncle, then let out a loud sigh. Paul had gone to care for Sweetie earlier in the day, so it was one less worry for Destiny that night.
She didn’t want to leave Fran alone, so she curled up in the chair on Charlie’s side of the bed and drifted off to sleep.
When she opened her eyes, Fran looked around and recognized her surroundings as the room she occupied as a youngster. Lying on her old bed, she looked at the solar system her father had put on her ceiling. Once she got up, she smiled at the Strawberry Shortcake bedspread she’d been lying on. She looked around the room, drinking in all the memories of her childhood. Among them, she saw her beloved barn cat, SnuggleBugg, who, unbeknownst to her parents, would slip into Fran’s room at night to sleep on her bed whenever it got too cold outside. She had passed away when Frannie was 16, but here she was, happy and healthy, lying in a sunbeam on Fran’s carpet, grooming herself. Fran smiled and reached down to pat her under the chin until…
… in the blink of an eye, she was down in the kitchen, listening to her father singing “Green-Eyed Lady” while her mother laughed. They were both young and vibrant, still in the full bloom of life. Fran smiled as she watched the two of them dancing, reliving their own memories of falling in love. Her parents embraced, kissing one another before looking straight at her and saying, “We love you, Frannie.” Fran felt a tear run down her cheek and said, “I love you both, too.” Her parents beamed, moving towards Fran to embrace her…
… another shift and Fran found herself at the Appaloosa Plains Summer Festival in the early morning hours tending to the animals. She watched as a pre-teen, red-haired girl visited each animal, giving them fresh feed and water and a healthy dose of loving affection. The animals returned her affection by nuzzling the girl’s hand and talking to her in whatever was animal-speak for their species. Fran followed the girl, waiting to catch a glimpse of her face. The young lady bent low to scratch a baby goat behind the ears and turned to look at Fran…
… then she found herself at the Festival again, watching a boy, maybe 16 years old, working at cleaning the animal stalls. She watched as his foot hit a cow pie and down he went on his butt, his metal shovel clattering to the floor.
“Son of a—” he yelled. “Damn, effing cow!! I just washed these effing jeans!!” Fran smiled at his youthful indignation, and his shirtless torso didn’t hurt, either. “Aw, c’mon, Beatrice, give me a break!” she heard him say as the cow in front of him unceremoniously dropped a fresh pile of manure at his feet. “Don’t you ever get tired of taking a crap?”
“Well, at least you know her name!” Fran heard a young female voice call, recognizing it, and this moment immediately.
“F-Frannie? Is that you!?”
“Charlie?!” the younger Fran replied…
… she was whisked to a warm summer’s day standing in a clearing near a small lake. A blanket was pitched and many sweet words—words Fran still remembered—were said before the couple jumped into the lake for an afternoon of fun that would blossom into so much more.
“Charlie, what would you say if I told you I love you?” Fran heard herself say, mouthing the words.
“Frances Hutchins, I love you to the moon and back, and I know now I always have,” she heard young Charlie say, again mouthing the words she had memorized after so many years. A few minutes later, Charlie presented Fran’s younger counterpart with an antique engagement ring. The young couple kissed passionately, then, as if knowing she was there, they turned and smiled at Fran as tears once again rolled down her cheeks. She smiled back and…
… was in the back of a church in her wedding gown talking to her mother about love and married life and how her daddy would have cried today seeing how beautiful his “snert” was. They heard “Here Comes The Bride” queue up and started walking towards the main church aisle. Fran saw the stunned look across Charlie’s face the second he saw her in her wedding ensemble, and grinned. Fran felt how tightly her mother was holding her hand as they walked down the aisle and returned the firm grip. As they reached the aisle’s end, her mother lifted Fran’s veil, kissed her on the forehead and whispered, “Don’t worry, Frannie, THIS is your Destiny…”
“Who gives this woman to this man?” Pastor Steven asked.
“I do,” replied Penny. “We’ll see you soon, love…” her mother added, smiling. Fran felt another tear roll down her cheek. As Charlie stepped in to claim Fran, the world around her started fading until there was nothing around her but a warm light and a faint mist. Though she was suddenly alone and surrounded by nothingness, she felt little fear; instead, Fran felt—what? Excitement? Expectation? She wasn’t at all sure.
Around her, the mists coalesced and Fran stood in the pasture of her family farm at dawn. From all around, Fran felt love radiating from every blade of grass, every flower, every tree, every thing. She caught a glimpse of Cora, Missy, and Moo, lumbering past the barn and into the pasture, then Marne galloping across the farm a few yards distant, whinnying and nickering before she disappeared into the mists still at the edges of the landscape.
More mists formed in front of her, swirling and glowing, the love radiating from the whirlpool almost a tangible thing Fran thought she could feel moving through her. As it grew brighter and more solid, Fran caught glimpses, fragments of her life as energies and mists went past her, seemingly through her. She saw a passionate night with Charlie, the day she delivered Destiny, a last moment with her father, Destiny’s first time singing—all of her memories were there.
There were tears flowing from her eyes as the glow brightened, the outline of a person forming within it. As the light reached its crescendo, blinding in its brilliance, Fran heard a voice, low and vague at first, just calling her name. The longer she listened, the more she figured out it wasn’t just one voice, but a chorus of voices, all calling out her name. Fran’s heart was filled with both joy and sadness as she heard her parents, teachers, friends from her childhood. Even SnuggleBugg, Marne, Cora, Missy, and Moo had voices. Hearing all of them call her name made Fran lightheaded.
Even though Fran felt as if she might faint, she instead watched with curious eyes as the light faded, the mists cleared and the shape took on a human appearance. Backlit as the figure was, she couldn’t make out any features, but she knew it was male. As he neared her, he extended his hand to her, beckoning her to place her hand in his. As their fingers touched, the figure was revealed to her as if under a great, soft spotlight from above.
“Hello Frannie, my darling…”
“Ch—Charlie?” Fran stammered. She stepped back and looked at Charlie, but not JUST Charlie. This was Charlie as Fran remembered him best; whole, healthy, his vitality at its peak. He seemed to be almost aglow with energy, his entire body shimmering like a highway in the summer heat. “Charlie? Is… is it really you?”
“It’s really me, my love,” Charlie beamed, taking both of Fran’s hands.
“You look—wonderful, Charlie! So young and strong!” Fran looked down at herself, Charlie’s virtual perfect appearance making her acutely aware of how old and worn she must look to him. “I’m sorry I’m so—dowdy…”
“You look as beautiful as the day I met you, Frannie, the same day I fell in love with you,” Charlie responded, brushing a lock of Fran’s auburn hair from her forehead, his fingers leaving her skin tingling where their skin met.
“Charlie, where are we? What is al—”
“Shh…” he pressed his finger to her lips. He enfolded her in his arms and drew her close. She felt the same butterflies she had before they kissed for the first time, only a thousand times stronger. Her lips met Charlie’s in a kiss that felt, to Fran, like sitting in the sun on a warm summer’s day and being wrapped up in a cozy blanket in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night. Charlie wrapped his arms tightly around Fran, his kiss more passionate and she felt a new energy flowing through her, revitalizing her, making her whole and healthy like Charlie. “Welcome home, Frannie,” Charlie whispered in her ear. “I love you so much and we will be together now forever…”
It was at that moment that Fran realized what had transpired. When she and Charlie parted from the kiss, Fran knew she was as young and vibrant as she was when she and Charlie were in the prime of their lives.
“And I love you, Charlie Farmer, now and forever…” Fran took Charlie’s hand in hers and they walked, mists gathering around them. “Charlie, what about Destiny? Who’ll be there to—”
“Trust me, darling, she’s going to be fine. Even better than fine, she’s going to be—a star. After all, that’s her destiny.”
Fran laughed and grabbed Charlie’s arm, clinging to it as the two walked, together forever, into the Great Beyond.
The winter sky had dropped almost a foot of fresh snow on Appaloosa Plains the weekend before the funeral. On that morning, the sun shone brightly, its radiant gleam reflecting off the brilliant, pearlescent landscape.
Destiny stood in front of the chapel with sunglasses on. They served a dual-purpose; they protected her eyes from the glare of sunshine, and they hid her eyes—puffy and red from days of tears—from plain view. Beside her stood Jenny and Paul, Destiny’s only remaining family. Both of them were dressed in black clothing and heavy winter overgarments.
News of Fran and Charlie’s passing within a twenty-four-hour period traveled fast in a small town. They were names most families in Appaloosa Plains knew. Each guest, upon arrival, greeted Destiny and offered their condolences with a hug or kind word. That was when Destiny spotted them, walking toward the chapel, hand in hand.
“Aunt Sunny! Uncle Caleb!” She squealed, showing her first real happy emotion since she had arrived back from school. Destiny hugged them both. Sunny looked at her with profound sadness.
“Hi Destiny,” she said. “I’m so sorry about your mama and daddy, sweetheart. We knew we had to pay our respects to both of them, and to you.”
“I’m surprised to see you here, but I shouldn’t be, I guess. Mama always told me you were the sister she never had.”
Sunny smiled. “It’s true. She was my sister, too.” Caleb nudged Sunny with a sad smile. “I’ll move over,” she said and inched over to make room for Caleb.
Destiny’s emotion wore on her sleeve, but she welcomed his warm embrace. It was the first time she could remember seeing Caleb in tears. “Hi, sweetheart,” he whispered into Destiny’s ear.
“Hi, Uncle Caleb.”
“I’m so sorry.” Caleb, being a man of few words, stepped aside and let Sunny finish talking.
“Do you know anything about your mama, Desi? Why did she pass so suddenly?”
Destiny kicked the accumulated snow that sat in a pile on the sidewalk. “The doctor said it was cancer, just like Daddy. But we never knew about it. She didn’t complain, not one time. I don’t know if she even realized it.”
Sunny wiped tears from her eyes. “Bless her. She gave everything she had.”
“She truly did, Aunt Sunny. I don’t know how I’m going to manage without them.”
“Lean on Jenny and Paul, sweetheart. Let them guide you through all the legal stuff, and then, when you’re ready, you move on and start your life. Don’t let this stop you from chasing your dreams.”
Destiny shook her head. “I’d be disappointing them if I did, Aunt Sunny. They sacrificed everything so I could have this chance. I won’t let them down.”
“We’re so proud of you, Destiny. You’ve grown up to be a responsible, mature young lady. Your mama and daddy were proud of you, too.”
“I know, and thank you.” Destiny wiped tears from her face. “I guess we should go inside where it’s warmer.”
“That’s a good idea,” Sunny agreed. Together, the three of them walked into the chapel.
Flower arrangements filled the sanctuary; attendance was standing room only. The service was a beautiful tribute to two lives that touched every person in the town. Fran was recognized because of her work at the summer festival every year and the farmer’s market each season. Charlie received full military honors for his faithful service in the Army. Everyone in the town knew of his heroic return home after being declared killed in action years before.
Jenny and Paul hosted an open house at their ranch immediately following the funeral. Afterward, Destiny drove home in Charlie’s pickup truck and parked it in the garage. Once she stopped the engine, she gawked at everything inside the garage that belonged to Fran and Charlie. His tools, her canning supplies, their bicycles, Destiny’s stroller and playpen. She was surrounded by their memory; at once the reality of the day hit her. She sat in the pickup, slumped over the steering wheel, sobbing in intense grief over her tremendous loss.
A Week Later
Jenny and Destiny finished covering furniture and cleaning out the refrigerator. The pancakes that she had made the morning she left for school hadn’t been touched. Destiny could have never guessed that Fran wouldn’t eat them, that her life was winding down, too. She did all she could, but Jenny had a key to the house and would continue to clean out the pantry of all preserves and perishables. Sweetie moved to the Stearns farm with Jenny and Paul, with a promise that she would live out her days being spoiled rotten.
Destiny had her suitcase packed with trinkets she couldn’t leave behind and a few more clothes she wanted back at school. Jenny was with her as they stood together on the front porch of the farmhouse, waiting for the taxi that would bring her to the airport.
“You have everything you need, sweet pea?” Jenny said. “I’m sorry I can’t take you to the airport today. Paul has the truck in the shop.”
Destiny looked around. She couldn’t describe the empty feeling inside her gut, the one that told her life had changed. “Yeah, I think so.”
“Do you have someone to pick you up on the other end?”
Destiny smiled. “Yeah. A friend is coming to get me.”
“Good enough.” Jenny hugged Destiny again. “Call me when you get in. You’re coming home for summer break, right?”
“Mmhmm. I have much to do this summer. I hope I have enough time.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help, Desi. You know Uncle Paul and I are always here for you.”
“I know.” Destiny gave her a peck on the cheek as her cab drove up to the farmhouse. “I’ll see you in May.”
“Be safe, kiddo,” she yelled as she watched Destiny walk to the taxi. “I love you, Destiny!”
“I love you, too!” Destiny shouted back. With a wave and one more blown kiss, Destiny was on her way back to school, returning to a life she needed to resume.
To be continued…
Pose Credits – Cover Photo
Poses By Bee
Don’t Die Updated
Custom Content – Cover Photo
The Farmer Legacy
Destiny’s Prom Photo
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!