The Trail

Chapter 1

Independence, Missouri

April 1842


"Bella! Bella!" I turned to see my close friend Angela searching for me from outside the store. I turned back to the cashier.

"Will that be all Miss?" The old man smiled at me gently.

"Yes, thank you sir." I put a few coins in his hand as I put the bottle of laudanum into the basket in my hand. The door to the store flew open as Angela burst in, her blue bonnet askew.

"Oh thank God I found you!" She said frantically. She was breathing so heavily she could barely catch her breath.

"Angela, what's wrong?"

Her eyes connected with mine and I immediately knew why she was in a hurry: Pa.

I pushed my horse, Nessie, harder as the small farmhouse that I called home came into view. I could hear Angela on her horse behind me. When I got to the gate I almost fell off of Nessie in a hurry to get to Pa. I ran towards it in a sprint, leaving Angela to deal with Nessie. I had to get to Pa. My green dress flapped against my legs as I pushed myself harder. I couldn't be too late. I wouldn't even think of it.

I threw the wooden door open as I ran towards the bedroom at the back of the house.

"Bella!" I heard Ben yell as I all but sprinted towards Pa.

I thrust the door open to see him lying in his bed. The red quilt I had made folded neatly under his arms. His breath was wheezing at best. His undershirt was damp with sweat. He turned his head to look at me. The dullness that I had grown used to over the past few weeks had barely cleared.

"Bella," he rasped before he started to have a coughing fit. I quickly went to his side and sat on the little wooden stool.

"Shh Pa. I'm here now. Shh," I quieted him. I picked up the wet rag from the bowl on his bedside table and wrung it.

"I got more medicine at the store, just like the doctor said." I said wiping his brow with the wet cloth. Pa closed his eyes at the cool touch but reached up to still my hand. I looked at his deep brown eyes quizzically.

"Bella I need to give you something. I don't know how much time I have left."

"Pa, don't say that. You have plenty of time. I will just go and get you some medicine." I stood to leave but he grabbed my wrist.

"No. I can't focus with that stuff. I don't need it." He winced slightly as he reached into the drawer beside him.

"You do need it. It will ease the pain. Please Pa." I said, putting the wet cloth back into the bowl. I did not want him to suffer. The doctor had told me the best I could do was keep him comfortable and to give him a few drops of laudanum twice a day. He pulled out a letter from the side table and put it in my hand.

"What is this?"

"It's what I want you to do when I'm gone."


"No Bella," he gripped my hand. "I made your mother a promise on her deathbed. It is one I plan to keep." He began coughing and I quickly grabbed his handkerchief. He put it over his mouth but I could still see little red dots staining the cloth. "Now I know I gambled too much and should have looked after you more." I was about to protest when he shushed me again. "But I am going to keep my promise to look after you. When I'm gone you're going to sell the farm to pay for my debts." He touched my hand that gripped the letter. "I have contacted at old friend about you accompanying him on the Oregon Trail. You're going to start a new life Bella."

Please let me know what you think! This is my very first fanfiction and I would love some feedback. Please review!