Part One - It Might Have Been
Daina was fourteen, a small, pretty girl, studying a copy of Life Magazine, drinking in a picture of the movie star that was her idol. She sighed after a moment and looked up to see Aunt Bellona looking over her shoulder.
“What holds your interest so, my child?”
Daina sighed again and pointed to the actor’s picture. “He’s just . . .”
“Ah!” Bellona smiled. “So you have discovered that which makes the world go round? You fancy this . . . entertainer?”
“Yes. I fancy him very much.”
Daina looked back at her aunt with a hope that came from the circumstances of her upbringing. All her life, she had seen the proof; it was an incontrovertible fact of her existence. If Aunt Bellona or Aunt Penny said, “This will be,” then it would be. It was as common and as undeniable to Daina as if they said, “The sun will set today.”
Wild hope surged through her. If Aunt Bellona pronounced, “You will have what you fancy,” then Daina knew that she would meet her actor, she would touch him, he would kiss her . . .
Bellona read the hope in her niece’s eyes, and chuckled. “It is a pleasing distraction to fancy a man, Daina. Sometimes it is more pleasing than the actual possession. Sometimes it is all we will ever encompass.”
Daina’s hope fled. She sighed again. She had never believed that it could ever happen, not really. Her idol was older than her, a movie star. He would never be interested in a fourteen-year-old girl. They would never meet . . . she accepted all that. But if Aunt Bellona had said that it would be, then she would have accepted that just as certainly.
“Since the spring,” Bellona continued, “we have scryed the avenues of companionship that will someday come to you. There will be one that you will love so much more than you feel that you love this one now,” she said and nodded at the magazine.
“So, I’m going to meet Prince Charming and live happily-ever-after?” To an outsider, Daina’s response would have seemed flippant. The fortuneteller was pronouncing her divination, and it seemed that Daina was a skeptic. But she was not. If Aunt Bellona pronounced Prince Charming, then it would be so.
“No,” Bellona said, and that one syllable chilled Daina. Bellona sat down beside her niece, and the expression on her face told Daina that she would not, indeed, live happily-ever-after.
“He will not be Prince Charming, as neither are you Snow White, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.” Bellona fluttered her hands in annoyance. “You are a young woman of flesh and blood, and your blood now begins to sing to you of the charms of that being that is woman’s other half. But no man is Prince Charming, Daina. That is a fable, a fairytale.” She fluttered her hands again in dismissal. “And as for happily-ever-after . . . ever-after is a very long time, and we must take happily as it comes. Heed me: you will share a love, as Romeo and Juliet, as Anthony and Cleopatra, as Napoleon and Josephine. ‘I truly loved my Josephine,’ Napoleon said, ‘but I did not respect her.’”
Daina looked at her aunt sharply at this, but Bellona only shrugged. “Yours will not feel that way about you. There will be no disillusionment in your love for each other, Daina, and that’s more than the great lovers of history and fiction could say – the disillusionment or else the tragedy are what makes for a good story.”
Here was a point that couldn’t be denied, and Bellona smiled at Daina’s acceptance of it. Then she sobered. “But still there will be tragedy. The circumstances of your love – when, who, how – are unclear. But that love shines through; it will endure. Yet still there is a blot of tragedy. Your son –”
“Enough!” Aunt Penny cried from the doorway. “Don’t further burden her with what might be,” she admonished.
“What will be,” Daina said softly.
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