A/N: Sorry for the delay... I find myself working one job and about to start a second in a few weeks... and I'm fighting off a cold. But, on the bright side, I have enough content for several more chapters (even though it was all supposed to be in this one). Hope you enjoy, and please review!

I spent all day on Friday packing. My father was at work, or so he said, and my mother had unsuccessfully tried to get the day off. That was okay with me; I didn't need them hanging around while I was packing. They might as well be working.

I put one of my favorite CDs in my laptop and listened to it for most of the day as I rolled up my clothes and put them in my luggage. I didn't take everything, just my fancy school clothes, the dress I wore for the school dances last year, some workout clothes and a few casual outfits. It felt like I was packing my life into those suitcases.

When I finally decided that I had enough clothes packed, I stopped for lunch even though it was a bit early. I tossed some tomato sauce onto the pasta that was left over from last night and ate that. Then it was back to the chore that was packing. I filled my jewelry roll with earrings and rings, and put my necklaces in one of my two purses. I tied a ribbon around all my bracelets and packed them too.

Then I put each pair of my high heels in a plastic bag so they wouldn't get scratched. I packed them, a few pair of flats and sandals and a pair each of sneakers and flip flops. I left out one full suit, complete with dress pants, a medium blue blouse, a jacket, a pair of black high heeled boots, a gold necklace, blue and gold dangly earrings, a gold ring and my watch.

There was barely any space left in my two suitcases, but I managed to squeeze in a few books that I've been wanting to read, and an empty notebook or two. I packed up a shipping box with CDs, pictures, my empty jewelry box, some pens and pencils and a few other things from my room. Once I had an address in DC my parents would ship it to me.

This is it. This is really almost it. I'm leaving tomorrow. I can't believe I'm finally saying that. I'm leaving tomorrow.

Most of my packing was finished by mid afternoon, so there was no distraction from the nervousness that I was beginning to feel. I was really scared to fly for the first time, by myself.

The only things I had left to pack are my toothbrush, hairbrush and some hair accessories, and I can do that tomorrow morning after I shower and get dressed. I went through my packing list once again, and realized I had neglected to pack my pajamas. I squeezed in two pair, and checked the list again.

Until my parents got home, I sat on my bed and stared at the wall trying not to cry. This is it. It's really going to be over. Tomorrow night this will all be gone. Everything I know will be gone and replaced by strangers in a strange city who will be able to see me exactly like I see them. No one has ever been able to do that before. I don't know what it'll be like. I was nervous about that too.

I didn't hear my father's truck drive in, and didn't notice until he knocked on my doorframe some time later.

"Chloe? Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Just thinking."

"Well, I ordered your favorite Chinese food for dinner. Mom's picking it up and she'll be home in ten minutes. I'll be downstairs if you need anything."

I closed the suitcase that was completely full and put it on the floor. Then I hung up and put away everything that I had pulled out and then decided not to pack. That done, I dragged my suitcase down the stairs and put it in the corner of the dining room. My mother opened the door just then, carrying a few bags of Chinese food cartons. She set the food down on the table and my father and I began opening cartons. I assumed my father had already taken care of all the animals.

A few minutes later, we sat down to have our last dinner together. Thankfully, they didn't spend the entire meal asking me questions, or if I had finished packing. We talked politics, actually. I hate politics. But it was a better dinner conversation than discussing my impending departure would have been. When dinner was over, we put the leftover takeout food in the refrigerator and put the dishes in the dishwasher.

"I left some stuff in the truck," my mother said.

"I'll go get it," my father offered. Once he was out the door, I started,

"There's something you need to know, Mom."

"What is it Chloe? Is everything okay?"

"I'm not sure how to say this… never mind," I said, as my father returned from the truck. My mother wasn't going to drop it there, but I looked her in the eye and shook my head no. We both turned to look at my father as he said my name.

"Chloe, we have something for you," he said, pulling an expensive looking black bag from behind his back. My mother looked as surprised as I felt, so I knew she had nothing to do with this gift. My father was saying it was from both of them, but she hadn't been aware of it.

"We figured you would need a nice bag to carry paperwork and your laptop around in," he said. He handed it to me, and I opened it. Definitely expensive.

"Thanks. It's great," I said, and I really meant that. It was perfect. The perfect going away gift. I wondered why I hadn't seen it coming when I talked to him earlier.

My parents both followed me up to my room and Annie and Noah followed them. Now began the questioning.

As they asked and I answered, I watched them. I could read my mother clear as day. She wasn't hiding anything. That was why my father hadn't said anything to her about the gift. That had to be it. He knew I would see it coming.

My father on the other hand, I could not read, not at first. I looked more carefully, because he couldn't be under my radar. It wasn't possible. Looking closer, I could see that he was hiding something. That was when I realized that he wasn't under my radar at all, I had just stopped looking. I had become so used to secrets in his body language that they had become almost like a new baseline. I tuned back into the conversation and found silence.

"What?" I asked.

"I got your credit card yesterday. Do you want it now or tomorrow morning?"

"Now I guess," I said.

"Okay, I'll go get it. We put a thousand dollars on it for now. Hopefully that will last you for a while. We understand that you'll want to do some shopping or go out from time to time, so just call us if you ever need more money. We'll put it in for you."

"Okay, thanks," I said. My mother went downstairs to get the card.

I looked to my father, who was standing awkwardly in the doorway. He was obviously uncomfortable. His face told me that he knew what I knew. Suddenly the expensive gift made sense. He was trying to buy my silence before I left. Play along, I thought, and that was what I did. Unspoken plea for my silence agreed to, Dad.

My mother returned with the credit card and handed it to me.

"We'll leave you to finish any last minute packing," she said, and they both went downstairs. I grabbed a pair of sweatpants and a tee-shirt and went to take a shower.

I moved my second suitcase and box of stuff off my bed and onto the floor, and I began to do my last minute packing. I charged my cell phone and put the charger in my suitcase. I put my laptop in the new bag and put the charger and mouse in my suitcase.

I emptied my purse and put its contents in my laptop bag, and I put the purse itself in my suitcase. I grabbed the new magazines I had received in the mail recently and put them in my computer bag too, to read on the plane. This was it. I'm really going to DC tomorrow morning.

I got into bed and tried for hours to fall asleep, and hours it took. I lay awake for most of the night, kept awake by nervous excitement. When I woke up at six, it felt like I had only slept for an hour or two, which was probably the case.

I got dressed in the outfit I had left out yesterday, leaving the shoes and jacket off for now. I put on the jewelry and a little bit of makeup and brushed my hair and coiled it up on top of my head, and then I brushed my teeth.

I put my hairbrush toothbrush, elastics, clips, barrettes, headbands and makeup in a plastic bag and put that in my suitcase. I took my suitcase downstairs and put it with the other one in the dining room.

My parents had already been up for hours doing chores, so I got my own breakfast. I poured a bowl of cereal and struggled to eat it all. I was that nervous. My parents came inside as I was finishing breakfast, and they went to change and get ready to leave. I gave my rabbit, Snowy, a goodbye carrot, and put on my mother's work boots to say goodbye to the horses. My father came outside with my suitcases as I was going back into the house.

I took off the muddy boots and went back up to my room to grab the last of my things. I made my bed and put the box of stuff on it so my parents would have no excuse to go through my stuff looking for it. I put my black boots on and picked up my blazer and computer bag.

Taking one last look around, I turned and walked away. I caught a glance of myself in the mirror as I walked down the hall to the stairs. I didn't even recognize myself. The girl in the mirror was an adult. She was going places in life. She was the future, and now she was me.