The Journey of a Lifetime

March 1, 2012
By Hollyhomer BRONZE, Carpenter, Wyoming
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Hollyhomer BRONZE, Carpenter, Wyoming
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The author's comments:
I only wrote a short story and this is the whole thing, it is not in chapters.

The Journey of a Lifetime By Holly L. Ali sat on the seat of her family’s wagon next to her brother Casey and pondered the events of the last few months, The events which had forced her, Casey, age 15, Kyle, 5 years old, and their new baby sister Sammie to leave home and travel to Houston to live with their sister and brother-in-law, Josie and Jonathan. Their mother had just died three months ago, while giving birth to Sammie; their father had hurried for the doctor, but he was too late for her mother. Father had died three weeks ago; everyone assumed that it was heartbreak. This put Ali, age 19, in charge of three kids, until they got to Josie’s. This was definitely one scary job for Ali, and she wasn’t sure if she could make it to Houston. All of a sudden Sammie begin to cry in the back of the wagon, ripping Ali from her thoughts. She hurried to grab Sammie before she would wake Kyle up. She quickly grabbed the bottle of milk that she had sitting close to her, popped it into Sammie’s mouth, and got ready to drift back to her thoughts. But before she could, Casey spoke, “How are we going to make it to Houston, these past weeks have been so long, and it won’t be much better there?” “Of course it will be better, we will have Josie and Jonathan, and we will just push on each and every day!” Ali made sure not to let on that his thoughts were right in line with hers, but she had to be strong for her family, they depended on her. “You would think we would be stopping soon”, said Casey. Ali nodded her head now focused on burping Sammie, who had finished the bottle, when a trail scout came up to their wagon. He let them know that Denver, Colorado was five miles away and the wagon train master was determined to get there before nightfall. “Ali, we will soon be in Denver that means only two weeks until we get to Houston. Your right we can make it I know we can!” Casey said excitedly. “I’m just glad we will get there in time to have a couple of days to get supplies before the Houston wagon train pulls out,” Ali answered. Once again she attempted to go back to her thoughts. She looked around at her family that she now was in charge of and wondered, “Will I ever have one of my own?” She wondered who would marry her with three kids to take care of she was just going to be an old maid, and the thought made her eyes water. She quickly wiped the tears away so that Casey would not see, he didn’t need any discouragement. He had a lot on his plate as well, and had to work as hard as the men on the train did. Ali wished somehow she could lighten his load, but she had plenty to do with keeping Sammie and Kyle in line, cooking, washing, and many other jobs. She was glad that they would be able to rest for a few days so Casey could get some much deserved rest. As Denver appeared in the distance, Kyle woke up and seemed raring to go, Sammie as well was starting to cry, and Ali hoped she could get them calmed down before they arrived for camp, so she could cook dinner. She already had been asked many times if she needed help with the children. Each time she had been tempted to say “yes!” but forced her to deal, this was her family, her responsibility. The next morning Ali woke up early to look at the supplies she needed to buy in Denver to last them the few weeks to Houston. She made her list and planned to go to the general store as soon as her family had eaten breakfast. When Casey woke up the pancakes were frying nicely and Ali went to get the younger children. While eating, Ali told Casey, “Sammie and I will go to the store can you watch Kyle for a while?” “Of course, Sis, we might go explore this big town.” “Well, make sure your back for lunch and don’t get lost.” “Ali, you worry too much!” Ali knew she worried too much, but after losing her parents she couldn’t help it. After breakfast and the dishes were done, she grabbed the baby carrier her father had made after Casey was born, and gathered Sammie and her list and headed to the store. When she got there, there was a young man in front of her so she just browsed until the store keeper’s wife came out to help her. “Oh, what a cute baby,” she said looking at Sammie. “Thank you” said Ali kindly. “Now, what can I get you?” asked the women, Ali gave her the list and the women got busy. She then asked “where are you headin’?” Ali replied “My brothers and my sister here are headed to Houston to live with our older sister.” “Oh, no husband or family?” asked the lady as she kept gathering Ali’s supplies. “Nope, just my siblings and I, my brother 15, and then a 5 year old boy and Sammie here” “Wow, that’s one hard trip for a girl as young as you and only a 15 year old to help you! You must have great courage!” the women said as she finished gathering and adding the bill, “That will be $11.28” “Thank you so very much”, Ali said as she handed the women the bills. She started to gather the supplies in her arms and realized that she should have left Sammie at the wagon, or brought Casey and Kyle. Just then the young man spoke “Ma’am do you need some help with those? I’ll take the supplies and you can worry about your sister.” “Thank you so much sir, I realized now it was a mistake to bring her.” She smiled at the man; he had dark brown eyes, a kind face and curly brown hair. “Now none of this sir stuff, my name is Aaron and if you’re headin’ out with the next wagon train, we will be friends for the next few weeks.” “Well thank you Aaron, I’m Ali and this is Sammie, and yes we are heading out on the next train” Ali said and smiled. Ali led the way to the wagon and saw that Casey and Kyle were back from their walk, and she realized it was almost noon. “Oh my” she said “I didn’t realize it was so late, but I must thank you somehow, would you like to stay and eat with us to allow me to pay back your kindness?” “Well Ali” Aaron said “I would love that.” As Ali hurriedly made lunch she watched Aaron play with Kyle and talk to Casey. Then when Sammie started crying he sat down and rocked her, soothing her back to sleep. Ali watched and said to herself, “This is one kind man.” Over the next few days, Ali and her family got to know Aaron very well. He always found little jobs to help the family with and she insisted they pay him back, and that was by feeding him, thus Aaron had every meal with them for those two days, until the wagon train left. They learned about his past, he too was an orphan; he had come out west when he was ten on a wagon train. Now he wanted to see Texas and try his hand at ranching. When he had come out west on the train, he had been adopted by a couple in Cheyenne and had helped with the farm work, but after the couple died he was ready to move on and give up on faming. He told the family “I never want to work behind a plow again!” Finally, it was the big day for the wagon train to take off for Texas, Ali told Aaron “Since you don’t have a family or anyone to travel with why you don’t travel alongside us with your horse and then you can help Casey out and in return I will feed you.” “Well Ali” Aaron said delighted as the wagon train started pulling out, “I would love to do that!” After a few days into the trail Kyle became restless, and Ali decided he could sit on the seat with Casey, while she attempted to put Sammie down for a nap. As she was she kept hearing Aaron and Casey both tell Kyle to sit down multiple times. Finally Ali told Kyle to sit down, or else he would come sit in the back with herself and Sammie and take a nap. She hoped that now he would listen, for Kyle hated to take naps. Ali started to drift asleep when she heard “Kyle!” and felt a bump on the right side of the wagon and then another and a jerk as Casey stopped the wagon. She quickly got up wondering what would cause them to stop and why Casey had yelled. As she climbed out the back of the wagon she saw her brother lying on the ground, not moving, not breathing. He was dead. Casey came hurrying back crying with Aaron right at his heels. Aaron told Ali what happened, Kyle had stood up and the wagon had hit a rut, causing Kyle to fall out of the wagon and underneath the wheels, and the horses being stubborn didn’t want to stop, so both wheels had rolled over Kyle and killed him. That day Ali buried the third member of her family in four months. The wagon train stopped for the day so that a proper burial and service could be done for the young boy. After the last scoop of dirt was placed on top of Kyle’s grave, Ali turned away with eyes full of tears, and she ran to Aaron’s outstretched arms, that held and comforted her. For the next few days Ali and Aaron were barley separated. For Casey felt it was his fault that Kyle had died, thus Aaron drove the wagon while Ali tried not to think about the brother she had left behind. Ali had never seen Casey so depressed before she decided to talk to Aaron about approaching Casey and trying to bring him back to them. “Aaron I’m not sure what to do about Casey he just hasn’t been himself since Kyle’s death.” “Ali you’ve got to think he feels it’s his fault that Kyle is dead, he couldn't stop the team in time…” “But” Ali interrupted “it wasn’t his fault it was mind I don’t put Kyle in the back when I should have.” “Ali no stop, it’s no one fault all I was saying was how Kyle felt, not that it is his fault.” “Oh, Aaron I know I’m sorry, it’s just been a very hard couple of days and I’ve been thinking about Josie, she didn’t even want us to come, I’m not sure what will happened when we will get to Houston.” “Well Ali you don’t have to worry about a home, because I want you to live in my home, on my ranch. I guess what I’m saying is will you marry me?” Ali was stunned she knew that she had feelings for Aaron, but no idea that his were as strong. “Well, I will marry you, but first we have got to talk to Casey about Kyle’s death.” So that night after supper and Sammie was asleep Ali decided to talk to Casey. “Case, you know it’s not your fault, don’t you?” “No Ali your wrong it was my fault, I should have held on to him better, or stopped the team sooner or…” “Or nothing Casey” Aaron jumped in, “Kyle is gone and blaming yourself won’t bring him back, do you understand?” “Yes Aaron I do… I heard you talking this afternoon, I know I should listen to your conversations, but I would like to work on your ranch Aaron, if you will let me.” “Casey you are like a brother to me of course you can work on my ranch.” “Well” Ali said smiling “that leaves all but Sammie, what we shall do with her?” “I’ve always wanted a little girl to spoil” explained Aaron “I guess that’s it, we will all live on the ranch” Ali said as she gave Aaron a hug, knowing that he was accepting her and all the baggage she came with. The next day the train arrived in Houston, were Josie and Jonathan were waiting silently at the land office, until Josie saw Aaron. “Who is this strange man driving you wagon” Josie inquired. “Hi Josie it’s good to see you to.” Ali said pleasantly as Aaron helped her down and then handed her Sammie. “And where is Kyle?” Josie demanded. “There were some difficulties on the trail and Kyle was killed, but perhaps we should talk about his when we get to you house, and this is Aaron, my Fiancé.” “Fiancé what? Kyle is dead?” Josie exclaimed. “Yes Josie on both accounts, now if you wouldn’t mind watching Sammie and Casey, Aaron and myself are going to go get deed for our new ranch.” Ali said this all as she gracefully put Sammie in Josie’s arms ad turned linking arms with Aaron and containing into the land office. Once Aaron and Ali were inside Josie turned her head to Jonathan and stared to protest her sister, but Jonathan inputted saying “Well you didn’t want to have to support your sibling you got your wish, now shush that kid up people are looking” nodding his head in Sammie’s direction. Thus Josie stayed busy until Aaron and Ali came out. “Well we have our land now all we’ve got to do is get hitch and be on our way.” Aaron said beaming. “Well” Jonathan said slapping Aaron on the back in a brotherly type of way “let's go celebrate.” Josie and Jonathan choose one of the hotels to eat at and the food tasted better cooked in a stove then over a fire, they all agreed on. Ali told them about how Ma and Pa had died, and Kyle, their trip out here, meeting Aaron. Aaron talked about his dreams for his ranch and a family. They talked until the waiter came up and said “I’m sorry folks, but we are closing now.” Then they went to Jonathan’s and Josie’s house and talk about tomorrow. “I feel I should get out to my land as soon as possible, but I want us to be married first, Ali” Aaron said. “I agree Aaron I think we should find a priest and am married in the morning and then head for ‘our land.’” “Well you love birds’ better get some sleep, so you can be out of her, as soon an s possible” Josie said attempting to sound like she cared. So it was decided that Sammie and Ali would sleep in the house, while Casey and Aaron got to spend the night in the wagon. The next morning Ali woke up with the September sun shining on her face and grew excited and Joyous. She was going to get married today! She carefully pulled her best light green calico dress out of her trunk and put it on. She then attempted to tackle her curly hair into something fashionable, when she finally succeed, she hurried down the stairs that Aaron and herself could go find a priest and get married. The service was short, and got right to the point of making Ali and Aaron man and wife. After a quick meal at Josie’s, Ali quickly gathered Sammie and said goodbye to Josie and Jonathan. Then Aaron helped her up into the wagon and gently handed to seeping Sammie up into her arms, then thanking Josie and Jonathan, checked to see that Casey was ready on the saddle pony and acknowledging he was they took off towered their land. Ali looked that the man beside her, and Casey off to the side and at Sammie sleeping in her arms, she realized that this was her family, which she needed and love. She smiled as she looked towards the unknown for she was ready for anything with this man and her siblings standing by her side.

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