If there were words to describe Shannon Blakely's disappointment, she couldn't think of one. She couldn't even figure out how the world had suddenly begun its rotation while her and her father stood still. But she knew that wasn't really how it had happened. They, her and her father, were the ones in motion and the world was barely moving at all. Sure, the road signs and yellow stripes were blurred with movement but it was them moving, not the road.
She flipped to a new station as the radio began to static and continued to stare wordlessly out the window. Soon her father would be asking if she was hungry and not long after that if she was 'all right'. She knew he would know the answer before she said it and inevitably let the conversation lie after telling her if she ever needed to tell him something, she needn't be afraid to.
She couldn't tell him she wasn't ready to accept her mom was dead. She couldn't tell him she wasn't ready to move into a new house in a new state. She wasn't ready to tell him the things she had told her mother over the years.
It amazed her how you could talk to someone one night, and they would be gone the next. It amazed her how fifteen years had passed without her ever realizing how much she really needed her mom. She loved her father and got along with him better than most kids would their father, but the pain she felt after having her mother torn away so violently wasn't something she was quite ready to tell him, though she knew he had to be feeling the same thing. She had, of course, been his wife and the mother of his only daughter.
"Shan?" her fathers' inquisitive voice came. His eyes glanced at her but quickly returned to the road.
"Yeah?" she asked, trying to mask all of the emotions hidden in her heart with boredom in her voice.
"You getting hungry yet?" he asked uncertainly.
"I suppose." She answered, looking ahead to see what town was coming up.
Up ahead was Kaseville. It was only a few hours to Covington.
Four hours had passed and the night had completely blanketed the road by the time Shannon and her father were anywhere near Covington. She was still staring straight out the window, now through the darkness, and her father's eyes kept steady on the road.
In the blackness Shannon could make out a short wall running along side the highway. Her eyes fixated on the fence and followed it a few miles until an opening appeared. A sign was situated on the brick entry way and read clearly by the light, 'Walker Park Reserve'.
Shannon's mind flickered to the memory of her mother, taking an eight year old Shannon to a wildlife preserve and joyously proclaiming that she wished she could have her own. Maybe her dad would let her visit the reserve during the weekends or something, if it was close enough to their new home.
She smiled and watched the lights disappear behind them. Maybe this was her mother's way of telling her this would all turn out all right...
Two Days Later...
Saturday morning dawned early for the Blakely's. Shannon woke up at six and made breakfast for herself, keen to the fact her father didn't eat before noon most days. She was in a much better mood and couldn't help but feel much better that it was Saturday.
She smiled as her father kissed the crown of her head on his way to pick up the newspaper. She turned and moved to stand in the doorway and watch the older man move to the end of the sidewalk.
"Hey, Dad?" she called as he made his way back to the house.
"Yeah?" he returned, looking up from the paper.
"I was wondering... Do you remember that park or reserve or whatever it was we passed on the way up here?" she asked brightly.
"Uh-huh. Why?" he said curiously.
"Well, I was thinking maybe we could go visit or something. You know, get the feel of the area and stuff. What do you say?"
"Sweetie, I don't know if they even give tours or if they're open or anything." He started, unsure of the idea.
"Aw, come on Dad. We could at least drive by. We don't have anything else to do anyway." She whined, her eyes becoming wide and pleading as her head tilted to the side.
"We need to unpack." He pointed out blankly.
"Oh, but we unloaded boxes all yesterday. And we have two weeks before your new job starts and three before my school starts. We'll have tons of time to unpack later." She beseeched with extravagant hand movements.
"Tons of days that aren't Saturday, is that what you mean?" he smiled.
"Now you're just messing with me." She stated, closing the door as her father entered the house.
"All right, we'll see. Just let me look around in the newspaper and have some coffee first. Then we'll go see about your park." He said patting her head as she threw her arms around his neck in gratitude and then bounced off to her room.
After an hour and a half, Shannon and her father were pulling up to the entrance of the park. There was what looked like an information building and a green jeep about 100 yards up the road. Their car found its way to the small lot and they got out, exchanging happy glances. Surely, if it was closed, there would have been a gate blocking the entrance.
The information building was indeed a place for visitors, as they soon realized. Shannon knocked on the door and a young man, no older than twenty, opened it. He smiled and looked at the strangers.
Kevin Lupinski loved the fact that his job now allowed the option of guided tours by any of the park officials, under certain rules of course.
"We were wondering if the park was open to the public." Shannon's father stated.
"We give guided tours, if that's what you mean." Kevin replied happily.
"That'd be great. Does there have to be a big group or anything?" Shannon spoke up, looking hopeful.
"No. I'd be happy to be your guide." He said smiling.
"Cool. Is that all right with you, Dad?" she asked eagerly.
"Sure, I don't mind. Do we need our car?" he asked.
"No sir. We use the park cars." Kevin supplied happily.
"Oh. Okay, then. We're ready when you are." Shannon's father said, pocketing his keys.
Little did they know the effect the tour would end up having on Shannon's future.
A/N: Kevin Lupinski, if you don't remember, is the patrol guard who helps Ivy Walker. And, yes, I know the park wouldn't give tours, but I'll give an explanation in the next chapter. See you really soon, as I'm about to start on the next chapter.