Backstory for my main character from my 2013 Nano novel.
| Summer vacation. Always something to look forward to and this year her parents were celebrating their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. They decided a trip out west was in order. Robert had always wanted to see the mountains and his wife had been more than happy to indulge that pleasure. She had insisted on at least four star hotels and no camping, though. Robert had laughed and told her most definitely. The children had gone as well. Tara, the oldest at sixteen was enamoured, but a bit miffed at being away from her own boyfriend for three whole weeks. Robbie was fourteen and looking forward to some adventure. Kelly was twelve and also a little upset at leaving her friends for the time, but she came around. It was family time, after all and they were a close family.
The day had dawned warm with the sky lighting up in colours that looked almost spray painted on. Tara stepped out of the cabin they had rented and stared awestruck at the display before her. The mountains reaching up to the sky, still dark in the valleys where the sun had yet to touch. A few patches of mist held along the bass of the mountain, but it too would be gone when the sun rose higher. Tara leaned on the railing and breathed in the deep forest air; zested with evergreens. The breeze danced playfully in the leaves whispering 'good morning'. She sipped her coffee and smiled when she heard her brother's rumbled snore rising out of a nearby window.
It wasn’t long before she heard rustling and knew her father, another early riser, had probably gotten up and gone in search of the coffee she had made. She heard him pour a mug and sigh blessedly as he sipped at his mug of black java.
Moments later the screen door creaked open and without looking at him, he stepped up to lean on the railing beside her.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" He said after taking another long sip of coffee.
Tara nodded then looked over to smile at him. His hair was tousled and sticking up on one side. No doubt the coffee had drawn him. He could not seem to resist it.
"You ready for our hike this morning?" He murmured.
"Most definitely." She whispered back. It was still too early for regular voices.
They stood side by side watching the world emerge, both giving it a reverence it deserved.
When the sun had reached high enough to chase the darkness away fully and the coffee cups were empty, they both turned to head back in.
"What time do you want to head out?" She asked, taking his cup and moving to the coffee machine to refill both mugs.
"It'll depend on everyone else...if it was just us we could be on the trail before anyone else decided to even get up...but I think we should check and see what everyone is doing before we take off."
Tara smiled at that. "We gonna rustle them up or wait them out?"
"We will give them a little more time...at least an hour or so. Then I'll take your mother some coffee. She won't be able to resist when it's right under her nose."
Tara stifled a giggle. Her mother was usually an early riser as well, but she could never beat Tara or her Dad. It was like the sun rise called to them. They met each day with it and smiled.
Her Dad moved to the fridge and drew out the bacon and eggs. "This may help entice them...but we'll see. If anything we'll get a good breakfast before we go."
Tara took the eggs from him as he settled for the organizing the bacon. She broke four into a bowl then added some milk, salt and pepper before her Dad told her to add two more.
"We will need the energy. We’re hiking mountains today, darling, not Ontario foothills. How much bacon do you want?"
"Just three please." She told him, but at his raised brow gaze she held up five fingers and he nodded his approval. "If I get fat I am blaming you."
"Come on now, sweetie pie. Daddy just wants you healthy and I don't feel like throwing you over in a fireman hold to drag your weakened, faint butt back to base."
Tara laughed and swatted at her father's thick bicep. "You're a fireman, You could do it."
"It is not a question of can do, but that I don't want to."
"You wouldn't leave me up there." She told him playfully.
"Well," he began playfully, getting another swat for his trouble, then grinned, "I guess not."
Several hours later they were off. Just the two of them weighted down with sandwiches and fruit and cake for a picnic at the top of the mountain. Her mother, brother and sister had decided they didn't want to hike that far. Robbie wanted to explore some caves with some guys he had met. There were two other adults going - one of the boy's uncle and his father. They felt safer about that, so they let him go. That left Mom and Kelly and they were more into a shopping adventure at the local town center.
That left the two of them eager to get going. Packs on their backs loaded down with the necessaries and the picnic lunch, they headed out along the base of the mountain with the lake spread like glass on the other side of them. The day was getting warmer and they both hoped the higher altitude would bring cool freshness. They would need it as they climbed, climbing the steep incline that rose through gorgeous forests of variegated green. Flowers dotted the ground in patches of colour that burst out in unexpected places. Birds flittered and flew out amongst the underbrush and up into the tree’s canopy. Squirrels played mischievous games amongst the brush, skittering up trees and scatting at them in annoyed pratter. Tara kept up to her father’s brisk pace only slowing him occasionally to point out things too beautiful to pass-by. She snapped photos and tried her best to collect all the sights and sounds to her memory.
Her father laughed at her antics, proudly waiting whenever she called for him to pause. He enjoyed seeing Tara follow her gifts. He knew there would be tales and poetry to accompany the many photographs. He never tired of her stories. To him, she had the best of her mother and him, the adventurousness and the challenge taker combined with the artistic intelligence. Watching, he could not help smiling.
“What?” She asked catching his grin then clicking his picture before he could respond.
He laughed. “I’m just admiring my kid.” He told her proudly.
She beamed back at him; then turned to catch a few more shots before letting her camera rest. She jogged up to where her father had stopped. From their vantage point, they could make out the lodge where they were staying. It was nestled back among the trees; the lake spread out before it reflecting the clear blue sky above. It was breathtaking. Standing beside him, Tara snapped a few more pictures.
“Mom is so gonna wish she had come.”
Her Dad nodded.
“Too bad her back was acting up.”
He nodded again. “She does enjoy her shopping, though.”
“True.” They both chuckled and then carried on.
They passed others on the trail. Some couples like them, nobody hiking alone, others in groups with a guide. With each passing, they greeted the others and raised a salute, like this was a common bond they all shared.
Just after lunch they decided to break out the sandwiches and more bottles of water. They were both too hungry to save their food until the mountain’s peak.
Tara opened her pack and pulled out the sandwiches.
“Don’t forget the cake.” Her Dad called out as he wandered off to relieve himself.
“Of course not.” She called back. Her Dad loved their mother’s chocolate cake. He would eat the whole thing if possible. She made sure to give her Dad the bigger piece. Then settled in to wait for him to return.
While they ate, her Dad asked about school. It was her last year, grade 12. She was a year earlier than most kids her age, but she had been too smart to hold back. Her mother had insisted. Maybe being a teacher had helped. Others said it would not be good for her, but she had flourished. Much of that was due to a loving family who supported her dreams.
“You still want to go to Ryerson next year.”
He smiled at her confidence knowing she would go now if she could. “Don’t rush life, sweetheart.”
Giving a sweet smile, she said, “No Daddy, not to worry. I am going to enjoy my last year at Bluevale. Besides I got Jimmy.”
Jimmy, the boyfriend. He wasn’t sure he overly liked the boyfriend, but he seemed harmless enough. He was also happy his daughter was her own person and had decided to come on this trip, when he knew she had initially thought of staying behind to be with Jimmy.
“You glad you came?” He asked wanting to know.
“Yes, Daddy…I am glad I came. This place is amazing.” She held up her arms and looked straight up into the thinning tree line. “I am glad it is just us that came out here today. It is nice getting you all to myself and not having to share you.”
He laughed reaching out to cup her cheek. He knew things could get chaotic at home. Tara was quieter than her brother and sister and being the oldest she tended to get overlooked at times because she was so steady and confident. Her brother and sister tended to attract the kind of attention that had both parents wondering if this was just a phase or something to worry about. They tended to jump in without thinking at times. They would grow out of it he was sure, he just hoped it would be sooner than later or he would not be able to survive Kelly’s advancement into the dating world.
“This has been the best day.” Tara mused, her eyes scanning around her before resting on her father’s smiling face.
“Mine, too, Sweetie Pie.”
“Love you, Daddy.” She said leaning over to give him a quick kiss on the check.
“I love you, too.”
They sat a bit longer basking in the moment, then as if reading each other’s minds they got up and collected their lunch things packing them away to be discarded later back at the cabin. Ready, they made their way up the trail.
They passed another trail guide with a larger group. Waves were shared as they moved on past. The group was settling in for a break.
Twenty minutes later they could see the top of the mountain. The crest bold against the backdrop of mountains and sky. Tara moved up past her father eager to reach the top.
“Hold up, Tara.” He said as he slowed down.
Tara turned to see her father bent over.
“You okay, Daddy?” She asked moving back towards him. A flicker of fear caught at her.
“I’m feeling a little weak. My legs….”
“We can sit…rest a bit. It’s okay, Daddy.”
They moved over to sit on a large boulder. Tara looked at her father’s face. It had gone pale beneath his tan. She leaned in to kiss his cheek. Worry skittered along her spine as she noticed his brows twisted in pain.
She turned. “Let me get you some water.” She dug into her pack.
That’s when it happened. He slumped forward pushing her and she turned back to see his ashen face. She caught him and lowered him to the ground. Calling to him without any response.
Checking his breathing she sobbed but pushed passed it to perform the CPR he had made sure they all took every year. How long she did this she did not know, but there was no change. He was already gone. Her sobs rose up and carried on the wind.
It was slumped over her father’s prone body, that the trail guide found her. He had heard her wailing and had left his group to find the source of the distress. Checking for a pulse, he knew it was too late; had probably been too late even if she had tried CPR. He radioed his base and asked for a rescue helicopter, then he stayed by her; feeling the sorrow that ripped at his own heart. Only a short while ago they had passed his group happy and full of life. Now his heart ached at the unfairness before him.