Aria: The kids are alright… but what about us?

Aria’s energy kept her family motivated, furthered her career and reminded Jose of romance, slowing down was for retirement. Her thick black hair was now grey, bobbed curls framing her face, fine lines appeared around her eyes and mouth, stealing nothing from her beauty. While Jose tired easily, Aria kept busy in the kitchen, improving her cooking skills through baking cakes, buns and pies, worrying Jose as he loosened another notch on his belt. The twins rushed their homework at the weekend, tantalising smells tempting them. As the guests arrived, the conversation and the disappearing chocolate cake was frustrating, the desperation to complete their work reached panic mode.

During the most recent birthday party Jose noticed how different Tara and Aria had become over the years, Tara’s grey locks were thin, her slender frame fragile as he hugged her. A distance held in her sunken eyes, Tara confessed that she thought she would find what she wanted in life, but everything remained uncertain. Unable to commit to anything, Tara struggled to see her sister so happy, their relationship, the two children, so much regret, it swelled in her throat as tears flowed. Oasis Springs seemed empty after Wesley died, Tara was alone, no longer the wild party girl, she spent most of her time looking back on her life. Aria comforted her, begging her to reconsider their offer, but still, she refused to move, sighting old age as a reason. Why should she uproot and move halfway across the country, she could manage without their pity. Taken aback, the couple reworded the invite, they intended to bring the family closer, but Tara was adamant everything would be fine.

Rylan settled, his group of friends having had a positive effect on both his mood and school grades. The regular voluntary work influenced Ziva, her previous timid personality changed, she learnt to relax, becoming a bright bubbly girl. It helped her make a few close friends in school, so she no longer hovered near Rylan hoping for attention. This meant Jose and Aria were at a loose end, the twins had their own things going on, no longer dependant. Aria seized the moment, private couple time had been sparse since their family grew from two to four.

Leaving a neighbour in charge to make sure the children didn’t burn the house down, they made a date, their first proper outing alone since having the twins. Sneaking from the house, giggling like teenagers meeting for a secret rendezvous. Aria planed numerous activities, cramming everything in case they didn’t get another chance like this. Jose was happy to relax, his ears recovering from the screaming children. Being able to take his time and for the most part, watching the over-enthusiasm of his beloved. She made light work of the bowling pins, making several strikes and despite a few gutter balls, Aria took the win. Her prize, a rare cooked steak, Jose cringed as she devoured it and half his potatoes along with her own, he preferred his without so much blood.

Blushing, Aria bit her bottom lip, Jose had a way with words, a cheeky smile and sparkling eyes, those first date flutters echoed as he took her hand for a walk through the park. Sitting on the park bench overlooking the pond, Jose pulled her closer, the cooler evenings making her shudder. Jose lifted her face, meeting with a kiss, he asked would she do it all again, marry him? Throwing her arms in the air, Aria squealed, embracing him they both tumbled from the bench, he guessed that was a, yes. Aria pulled back brushing a stray curl from her face, Jose rubbed his back, glad the grass gave them a soft landing, looking in those eyes, Jose saw the shy girl next door he fell for and the vibrant woman she had become.

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