(Characters page: People of Sunset Valley)
Dina stood on the balcony of her beautiful home with a drink in hand. One could say she was enjoying the beautiful view it provided, view of the whole town, her town. But today Dina’s thoughts were elsewhere. She wasn’t seeing the streets, the park, the large glass dome next to the science facility. No. What she saw a beach lighted by a full moon. What she hard were the soft sounds the ocean made as the waves hit the soft sand. What she felt was the sand beneath her bare feet…
And right there, in the middle of it all was the sweetest girl in the world. She was young and pretty, her hair was bright and orange, still wet from their swim, her face was pale and freckled and her smile was sweet enough to bring the whole world to its knees. And that night that smile was meant only for Dina to see, and she would get to see it every day until the end of their lives because it was that night that she accepted Dina’s proposal, she said yes to marrying her.
At the time it was just one thing off Dina’s checklist but standing here today, on the balcony of her grand and beautiful house looking back trough the lenses of time she knew it was one of the best moments of her life… And she would have given all she could if only she could go back there, back to the moonlit beach, back to that summer night… If only she could kiss that beautiful, young woman again, feel the warmth of her lips, the soft touch of her skin, feel the explosion of love and desire at the moment their lips would meet…
Today she would have given all she had, every penny she had ever made, just to talk to that woman again one more time, just to see those lovely light brown eyes, to hear her play her guitar the way only she could… She would have turned the world around. But there was nothing she could do. There was nothing anyone could do… There was no way for one to cheat death or turn back the clock.
“We should go away.” She said, brought back to reality by the soft sound of steps behind her. The stars disappeared, the beach disappeared, it was just her, and old woman standing on the balcony reliving very old memories. “You, me, Justine, Jared… We could all go somewhere.” She continued without turning towards the person coming from inside the house.
“Now? I just finished my physical therapy, I’m due to go back to work full time…” Her oldest daughter said making Dina sigh before taking a sip from her glass.”Why now?” Sara asked again. “Is this about mum? I know the anniversary is coming up… There would be a concert again this year…”
“It has nothing to do with that.” Dina said sharply as she turned around to face her daughter. “I intend to be there, as I am every year. I just figured it would do as all good. That is all.” She said as she brought the class to her lips and took a sip of her drink. There was always that… Another way to escape the memories, ghosts who just won’t let you be…
Sara said nothing just looked at her with something close to concern visible on her face. Dina knew she wanted to press her more on this subject but yet she changed her mind and with it the subject of the conversation.
“Mum, how did you know it was me?” She asked. Dina smiled at her before she turned back to the streets in front.
“I thought you are aiming to be a detective Sara. You figure it out.” She said still smiling. Sara sighed behind her before she turned and went back inside. Dina heard her walk away, still favoring one leg over the other. It was just one small courtesy of a bullet wound her daughter had suffered on her job.
If that wound had been just a few centimeters away from where it was Sara wouldn’t be here today. But she was. She had recovered and grown only stronger and more resolved from that ordeal. Dina admired her greatly for that. Sara might not have been of her blood but she was her daughter alright… And feeling the warm summer breeze on her skin Dina thought that maybe it was time that she follows Sara’s example and go on with her life, she was in this suspended state for way too long. Before she emptied her glass she raised it one more time to the sky. “This one’s for you love. Rest in peace Nala, and may the Grim Reaper take you somewhere nice, where there are songs and guitars, and countless starry nights…”
Dina’s second wedding was a much more grand affair than her first had been. Although her memory had still served her well she remembered little of the actual day of her first wedding. She remembered planning it with her sister, Nala was always the more spontaneous one, she only cared that it happens, the details didn’t concern her. She remembered buying the dress, it was long, cream colored with a dark purple sash and matching elbow-length purple gloves, Nala’s dress was short and orange, her favorite color. The ceremony itself… It was a blur… But Dina knew it was simple, back then they were all nobodys in a small town.
She and Justine planned for a simple thing this time around as well. The whole thing would happen right here, at their house, the hand-carved wedding arch was placed in the garden, right in front of the stage with chairs for the guests on the other side. However as simple as it seemed it took months to plan and many people were involved in both the planning and the execution, this time around they had an actual wedding planner, and staff… This time everything had to be executed to perfection. Even the smallest details had to be thought off. Because even if Dina and Justine envisioned it small it would be in no way a private affair, every newspaper in this part of the Sim World would pay a fortune for pictures of the event, every detail would be filmed and aired, it was Dina Caliente’s wedding after all.
So hours before the actual ceremony was scheduled to begin Dina was walking nervously around her house and garden. Checking if everything was in place.This time they had cakes. She couldn’t remember if she and Nala had a cake… If she had to guess probably not, those things weren’t cheap and back then every cent counted…
They also had balloons today, white and brown, their theme colors. Dina’s chosen dress was also white with brown patterns all around, it was not as long as her previous wedding dress had been, but she had gloves this time too, also white. She would also wear some fancy glasses, a new trend, at least according to her stylist. After the inspection she was ushered upstairs to her bedroom where she then spent hours surrounded by people whose only task was to get her dressed up for this occasion.
Overall not a single thing about this day so far seemed romantic, it felt like any of the countless times she prepared for any long forgotten event she had to do when she was still in politics. And as she stepped downstairs where first guests would soon arrive she thought that probably that was how it was supposed to be, just another event she was the central figure off… The star… Maybe it was the same the first time, only it feels different now, made sweeter by the passage of time.
And then she laid eyes on her bride. Justine was at the bar, mixing drinks, like it was any other party. Her blond hair was in braids, like it usually was, but instead of pushing them away with a hairband she had let them loose to fall on her bare shoulders. She was already in her wedding clothes as well. She wore a sleeveless white shirt and a matching skirt with a brown sash on top. When Justine saw her she smiled a wide, happy smile.
“Well good afternoon beautiful!” She said cheerfully. “Care for something to shake off the wedding-jitters?” Dina frowned.
“I think we actually pay someone to do that.” She said but Justine kept smiling and dismissed her with a wave of a hand.
“Oh come on, you know I love this. And it is my wedding day too you know, people would soon start coming in trough that door and I want to give them the best party of their lives! Now tell me, what would it take to get you to relax a bit?” She asked softly as Dina approached the bar.
“A Neon Breeze would do.” Dina said finally breaking into a smile.
“That’s what I am talking about! Woo!” Justine yelled and they both laughed. “Today is going to be perfect.” Justine said smiling. “You know why? Because I love you. And because nobody had ever made me happier and after today I am going to spend every single day making you as happy as I possibly can.” She added touching Dina’s hand gently. Dina smiled in return.
“There is nothing you can do to make me happier then I am, then I have been since the day you said you will be my wife.” She said willing herself to chase an image of a certain freckly face from her mind. Today was about her and Justine, today was about moving on.
That conversation was the last private moment the two of them had before the start of the actual ceremony. Justine hadn’t even finished mixing the Breeze before the first guests started coming in and before Dina knew it the sun had gone down and she and Justine were standing in front of friends and family beneath a wedding arch.
Speeches were never a problem to Dina, she spoke in front of audiences that could fill stadiums. She spoke on broadcasts she knew the whole world was watching, she always spoke with ease and determination but she needed a moment to recollect herself before she started with her wedding vows.
She looked her bride straight into her eyes and listened to the night around her. In the distance one could hear the crickets, singing the last song they would sing this year since colder days were on the way. She listened to the rustle of leaves and the clicking of the camera… All the audience had gone still, every soul in this garden tonight waited to hear what she would say… The whole world would want to know what she said… Dina knew. It had been that way for years. So she smiled brightly as she spoke:
“Life is cruel. It is unforgiving. It doesn’t really spare anyone, and it rarely gives out second chances.” She stopped. “I know that as I know I would be a fool not to feel blessed today, and every day for as long as I live because life gave me a second chance. A second chance for love, a second chance for marriage… Life gave me you Justine Hooks. It gave me your smile, it brought sunshine where before only a candle had shone… And I would be a fool if I were not to promise to you that I would love you from today until my last day. And I won’t be a fool… I love you Justine, and I promise you love, friendship trough all the good and bad from today to the day I die.”
“That was beautiful.” Justine whispered and Dina smiled at her. She knew it was. She knew from the tears in Justine’s eyes, she knew since even the photographer had stopped his damn clicking for a moment. She was good with speeches, always had been. Justine cleared her throat. “Well I don’t know how I can possibly match that…” She said and the audience laughed. “So.. I’ll just keep it simple. I love you Dina Caliente, you are the most magical woman I had ever known. You keep bringing me nothing but happiness and I promise to do the same for you. Until death do us part.” She said and took Dina’s hand to put a ring on it.
The audience started to clap. Some people cheered. Dina smiled brightly. She knew the would would look at the footage and the images of this ceremony and everyone would swoon and sigh… She had charmed them once and again, she had truly moved on in style…
But as she smiled for the cameras and the audience, in her garden and the world her thoughts were stubborn in their own ways…
Until death do us part… And then the Reaper would come and take me to you my dear Nala, and I would beg as I had never begged, I would beg as fiercely I could beg for you to forgive me, as I should have done when you were still alive… That’s the one second chance I had really wanted…