Time, Aria had so much of it, retirement stretched ahead, a vast emptiness. Her daughter loved mornings, the energised attitude driving her projects, enabling her to cram so much into her day. Ziva’s career gave her confidence, she smiled, breezed through the house, a cheerful positive voice answering the phone, volunteering or meeting friends. Aria wished she knew what a beautiful person she was as she watched Ziva disappear through the door. Rylan kept his own time, juggling freelance writing and partying, Aria saw him when he was hungry, passing through the kitchen helping himself to the latest batch of fudge bars, or leftover bacon. Gone were the days they sat together, the kitchen table home to Ziva’s Rocketship parts, cleaned and oiled ready for use, except progress on this had slowed, leaving Aria to wonder if her daughter was really happy, both feet grounded
Aria’s favourite time was her chess games with Ziva, a few evening a week they poured some wine, and chatted; Ziva remained quiet regarding her private life, blushing at suggestions of a love interest. She steered the conversation toward the changing neighbourhood, and her desire to leave Newcrest, to a San Myshuno apartment or settling down on the beach in Brindleton Bay. It seemed Rylan had no intention of ever leaving the family home, Ziva regretted asking, looking over properties for sale in Brindleton Bay, suggesting he may find the water soothing and inspiring. Rylan scowled, inaudible grunts, this was his home, life was in Newcrest.
Aria baked every day, taking the excess to her neighbours and bake sales, it was a time to let her imagination run wild. While she could picture Ziva bringing home a young man, the beautiful wedding dress, her sitting there crying as they took their vows. She believed Rylan would amble through life, committing himself to himself. Family life echoed in her mind, wanting a second chance, to make up for all the things she missed when her own were young. Life moved forward, her memories were stories told to her of their adventures without her, why had she worked so hard instead of being with them? She sat quiet, solemn in her thoughts, a coffee chilling her hands. Hope stirred, images of grandchildren giggling at the table, feeding them gummy bear pancakes and brownies, watching them play in the garden, their pictures filling the bare walls. Sending them home, sugar highs and happy brought a smile to Aria’s face, walking to the sink, her heart fell flat, piles of unwashed dishes faced her, leaving her pondering if either child would notice if she disappeared.
Aria relished her Saturdays, the “Major Chords” club stayed strong, conversation, music and dancing filled the house. She came alive, blasting music, offering up baked goods, forgetting all her worries as she danced. Whilst many gatherings were at her house, the younger members were pulling the group towards evenings in the bars of Windenburg or San Myshuno, with Karaoke and open mic nights taking precedent. The long trips were tiring, she and the few remaining older group members like the quieter evenings, but these were becoming rare. Alone, Jose and Braydon filled her mind, their presence at these gatherings missed, the longing and aching in her heart as the evening wore on became apparent. Picking up the violin, Aria needed to feel close to the men she had loved. Her pain flowed through the bow, her violin echoing her tears, composing music no-one would hear.
Aria couldn’t sleep, tossed and turned, her head ached, a sick feeling in her stomach, creeping to the kitchen, Aria made herself some herbal tea and sat with her phone flicking through photos. She paused, Jose was painting, Rylan stacking his blocks while Ziva rearranged her dolls house, she had made lemonade and sugar cookies, Rylan stopped first, eager to ensure he had the biggest cookie. They competed for the easel, both loving the rich vibrancy of blending colours, it had sat in the closet gathering dust since his death. Rising Aria took the easel outside, a fresh canvas and morning air revitalised her, the brush flowed over the canvas, memories of Jose flooded her senses; feeling his presence, a smile danced on her lips.