A/N: OK, here's an idea I have. I'm just playing around with it, hoping this will help with the writer's block I'm having with Chasing the Moon. Give this a shot :) Hope you like it. Review please.
Later, she would remember it all in slow motion. She would relive it all in slow motion. She would think of it every time she heard wind rustling in pine trees, the smell of damp earth on the breeze. Running water. Sliding, crumbling rock. Pale sunshine filtering through tree branches. The memory would rush at her so hard it would feel as if she had been knocked to the ground. The memory would come swiftly and silently, like a sudden gust of wind, and fade slowly like the scent of perfume leaving a room.
Her mother had packed for her, chosen all the clothes and shoes she would wear. She'd picked up her daughter's things from her ex-husband's house, and left her to fill her backpack with things for the road. There weren't any explanations or questions, just the sound of suitcases zipping and her mother humming as she crossed things off a list. "Darcy, did you put some stuff in your backpack?" she asked, bringing back memories of a long ago road-trip.
Darcy looked up from her book and watched her mother bustle around the kitchen doing seemingly menial tasks, such as wiping down the counters and the handles of the fridge—things she did when she was stressed. And, Maggie Whitaker just liked coming home to a clean house. The black and teal backpack was on the floor by the couch, ready to go. Five thick novels, a notebook, her iPod and earbuds, a couple new magazines, a deck of cards she'd gotten from her Dad when he'd gone to New York the previous Christmas, a sketchbook, and a pack of brightly colored pens. "I'm ready," she replied, standing with a sigh.
"Sweetheart, are you sure you're alright? You haven't even asked where we're going . . ."
Darcy glanced at her mother and then at the stack of suitcases by the door. The three teals ones were hers, the black one belonged to her mom. "Wherever it is, you don't plan on staying long." Darcy muttered, hefting the backpack onto her shoulders and heading toward the door. "Is Zoey coming?" she asked, looking at the large dog crate and the bag of dog food that was next to the suitcases.
"Of course she is." Maggie replied quickly. "Where is she anyway? Zoey? Maggie called up the stairs. "Zoey, come!"
Nothing. No paws clicking on the hardwood floors, to jingling of the tags on her collar. Annoyed, Maggie turned to her daughter. "Darcy, call your dog."
"Zoey, heel!" Darcy called up the stairs with a smile. Seconds later, the two women heard the dog running down the hall and then saw her stumbled over her own feet on the way down the stairs. Darcy giggled a little at the gangly, awkwardness of the two year-old. The brown and white border collie was grinning happily, her tongue lolling as she panted. Darcy smiled and rubbed the dogs head as she stared at her blue eyes. Zoey had never been too fond of Maggie for some, unknown reason. She preferred Darcy's Dad, Peter. "Hey, missy. Wanna go for a ride?" Zoey's ears perked at the words and she barked, her tail wagging like crazy as she jumped up and started for the door. "Come on," Darcy said, opening the front door. Zoey ran ahead, barking and jumping excitedly, until she got to the car.
"That dog really loves you," Maggie commented, lifting up her suitcase and heading out the door toward the white SUV.
"I know," Darcy said, smiling softly. She picked up her first bag and wheeled it down the driveway. Looking around, she was reminded of exactly how much she hated the city. She had to keep Zoey on a leash when they went for walks, and it was noisy, and the air was too thick. It was fairly cool out for midmorning in June. The forecast had said that it was supposed to be eighty and sunny, but it was Oregon, and the weathermen were wrong more often than not. Everyone she knew called the state bipolar. It had rained for most of May and had rained the first weekend of June—graduation. Thankfully the clouds overhead didn't seem to be threatening any more rain.
Darcy wore jeans and a black v-neck t-shirt that would go nicely under the long sleeved sweater she had in her backpack. She also had shorts in her backpack on the off chance that the clouds actually did clear off. She doubted she would wear them. She almost never did.
Five minutes later, after they'd loaded the luggage and made sure that Zoey had gone to the bathroom, they were loaded in the car. Maggie was driving, Darcy occupied the passenger seat, and Zoey was all too happy to have the entire backseat to herself. Darcy settled in, pulling out a book from her backpack and her iPod. She stared out the window and watched as the signs when by. Leaving Portland, The Dalles, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City, Ontario, Boise. Idaho. They stopped twice, once in Pendleton, and Once in Ontario, to eat at a fast food restaurant and use a public bathroom. It was around seven o'clock when they pulled into a shady looking Motel 8. Darcy was skeptic. There was nothing quite like a run down hotel room with squeaky door hinges, half used rolls of toilet paper, and comforters that probably hadn't been washed since the last customer. Lovely.
They unloaded their luggage and Darcy took Zoey out of the backseat their room to play while Maggie ordered pizza and soda for dinner. Zoey barked happily as she ran after the tennis ball Darcy threw. She watched, amused, as the border collie ran and pounced on the ball, much like a cat would, before snatching it up and trotting away, showing off her prize. "Zoey, heel!" Darcy called loudly, watching as Zoey lifted her head, dropped the ball, and darted happily back to her owner. "Zoey!" Darcy said, exasperated. "You're supposed to bring it back, you know."
"She never was the retrieving type, was she?" a familiar voice said from behind Darcy where the parking lot was.
Darcy jumped, startled by the voice, and spun around with a grin when she realized who it was. "Daddy? What are you doing here?"
The tall, graying man with broad shoulders, and weathered skin, laughed and held his arms open, blue eyes twinkling. Darcy didn't need more of an invitation. She flew into his outstretched arms, throwing hers around his neck, and burying her face in the smell of his jacket. Leather and cologne. "Your mother called me." he replied, releasing her and ruffling her dark hair fondly. "I'm a little shocked that she did, but I couldn't be happier to be here."
Darcy sighed lightly and leaned against him again. "Where are we going?"
"North Dakota. To visit with my best man from the wedding. Frank Silver. You haven't seen him since you were little. Didn't your mother tell you?"
"I didn't ask." she answered, as she tried to put a face to the familiar name, but found she couldn't. Why were they going to see Frank anyway? And why so suddenly? Darcy glanced back at the door that led to their hotel room, a sudden thought coming to mind. She looked at her father in his work clothes. "You're not staying in the same hotel room as us, are you?"
Peter Anderson shook his head quickly, scratching the back of his neck. "Of course not. I have my own room."
Darcy nodded. "Right. I knew that. Zoey, heel."She called, watching as the dog came bounding back to her side, the green tennis ball lodged firmly in her mouth. "Sure, now you bring it back . . ." Darcy took the ball and put it in the pocket of her sweatshirt and glanced back at her dad. He was watching Maggie as she walked back toward the room from the office, her long hair blowing gently in the breeze. The look on his face was soft and tender, a mixture of longing and sadness. He was still as much in love with her now, as he had been the day he'd asked Maggie to be his wife.
He sighed suddenly and turned back to her, smiling slightly. "I have something of yours in the truck. Your mother forgot it."
Wondering what on earth it could be, Darcy followed him to his gleaming white dodge, and waited patiently as he dug around the back seat. Zoey lay down on the cool pavement near their feet, panting and looking expectantly at her mistress who knew she still had the tennis ball. "Good girl," Darcy said, as she glanced down. "Stay."
"Here we go. I thought you might enjoy having an old friend around." Peter offered his daughter a medium sized stuffed horse.
Darcy stared, memories flooring her. For a minute she didn't know what to do. Finally, she reached out and took the toy, running her hands over it's smooth hair and fuzzy main and tail. The animal was light brown with a star on it's forehead and a few little spots on his rump that Darcy had bleached when she was younger, insisting the horse become an appaloosa. In some places the fir was wearing thin from love, and one of his ears was floppy from a home sewing job. Darcy remembered the day she'd had to rescue the toy from the mouth of their puppy many, many years ago, probably when she had been seven or eight. The puppy had gotten a hold on the horse's ear and tore it off completely, before Darcy was able to tug it from the pup's mouth. She remembered she had been so furious with the little puppy that she had wanted her father to get rid of him, but luckily Maggie had been able to sew the ear back on, and Darcy agreed the puppy could stay. On the the condition he stayed away from Felix the Horse. "Oh, my gosh. I can't believe you still had this guy."
Peter smiled. "He was in a box of your things I found in the back bedroom after Maggie had left." He paused. "You had some good times with that thing, kiddo."
Darcy nodded grinning softly. "I know."
They both turned their heads and looked down the parking lot. Maggie was waiting. She waved. "The pizza is here!"
"Okay!" Darcy called back. "I'll be there in a minute!" Darcy settled her attention back on her dad. "I guess that means I should go."
"Only if you want to eat." Peter teased, a twinkle in his eye.
She laughed. "Right. Well, you know how it is with mom . . . it's her way or the highway."
He nodded and she detected a little bit of fondness in it. "That's Maggie. She always was that way. Even in high school."
Darcy sighed and rolled her eyes. "You'd think I'm a dog."
Peter smiled softly, but it didn't reach his eyes. "She doesn't want you spending too much time around me. She thinks . . . I'm going to steal you from her."
"Now that I'm eighteen, I can stay with whoever I want." Darcy replied, stroking Zoey's soft ears for comfort. Conversations like this always bugged her. If she spent too much time with her Dad, then her mom felt left out. Even when Darcy had spent the previous summer in Baker City after living in Portland with Maggie for the entire school year, her mother had been upset. So upset that Darcy didn't get to to see her father at all after that until graduation. That still made her mad.
"Well, you can always go to College of Idaho, if you're feeling too deprived."
Darcy knew her father meant the comment lightly, but she could tell how much he actually meant it. "I got accepted, actually, with a bunch of scholarships."
"Did you?" Peter asked, surprised, happiness lining his eyes. "That's great kiddo!"
Darcy frowned. "Didn't you get my letter?" Darcy still sent letters to her dad every week, even though talking on the phone or emailing him was faster. They both liked the feel of open envelopes and unfolding a letter pages long, hand written.
He looked at her quizically. "What letter? I got one from you towards the end of April . . . but it didn't say anything about the College of Idaho."
Anger bubbled up inside her. "I gave the letter to mom . . . she was supposed to mail it! Ugh! Sometimes I really hate her!"
"Now, honey, don't be so rough on your mother. She loves you a lot. She doesn't want to lose you."
"I love her—she knows that. But, I love you too! And I never get to see you!" Darcy exclaimed.
"Darce, go back to the room. Eat dinner. I'm in room 211, right down the hall."
Darcy sighed, clenching her fist, and nodded. "Fine. But, Mom is just going to-"
"Kiddo, don't say anything to her. Not now."
"Dad, I can't just leave that alone! It's—it's wrong."
"Just, go eat dinner. Don't fight with her now. Please."
Darcy took a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing her eyes tightly. "Alright. But, only because you asked."
He grinned. "Thanks, kiddo. I'll see you later."
"Okay." She hugged him, even though he was just down the hall, and turned back toward their room. Zoey trotted along, her ears back, sensing the melancholy that was seeping from Darcy.