Riley is 12. She lives on a farm in a small Texas town and has never left Texas.Her father died in an accident one year ago. She misses him very much. Riley is short and she has brown eyes and blonde hair which she cut chin length for Locks of Love*. She loves music and plays the guitar and the piano. She likes to play and play until her fingers are sore. Someday she would like to be a singer or and concert pianist or both. Riley has two really bad habits-teasing her sister and biting her nails. One of her vices is orange juice. Riley can't go one day without orange juice, otherwise she has a hard time. One of Riley's good qualities is her overall kindness. She tries to treat everyone with equal respect, and is known to help animals. The farm she lives on is quite small. Riley and her family raise chickens for eggs. She helps out a lot, especially since her dad died. Riley's favorite books are the Little House books, and she sometimes wonders what it would be like to be a pioneer in the 1800s. Riley loves her family very much and works hard for them.
Riley has one brother and one sister. Their names are Kyle and Bethany. Kyle is two years older and Bethany is two years younger.
Riley thinks Kyle is nothing but trouble. Bethany is often the object of Riley's teasing. Riley's best friend is the neighbor boy, Jordan, who has two horses. He and Riley often go horseback riding together. Riley's mom has a job at the town library. She is very sad about her husband's death but tries to trust that God knows best.
*Locks of Love is a non-profit organization that uses real hair to make wigs for children with cancer.
Riley lives in a beautiful little northeast Texas town called Araya in the present. Currently, it is summer time. It has a population of about 6000+ friendly people, minus the grouchy old lady who is Riley's next door neighbor, and the local gang of teengage bullies. It's a pretty small town, with about four gas stations, eight resturants, an antique store, a library, and two parks, not including the lovely Sunset lake State park. It is fairly warm in Araya, but it gets cold and dreary in the winter. It is a fairly safe place, although there was a murder at the Sunshine diner a few years back, and a few serious robberies are recorded in the town history. Also, behind the QuikTrip gas station is considered a bad place to hang out, on account of the rough, tattooed, smoking teenage boys. Most of Araya's citizens work for the city,by being teachers at the schools, construction workers, police or lawyers, etc., or have small farms on the outskirets of town. Some work at the resturants or library(like Riley's mom) or gas station. During the Summer most people like to be active-except for a few kids who prefer to stay inside and play video games. A good percentage of the people enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, and water-skiing on Sunset Lake, while others like hiking in the cool, shady woods that surround Araya on the northe side. Araya is a pretty nice place to live.
Grandma Judy is Riley's grandma on her father's side. She is fifty-eight years old, healthy, short, rich, cheerful, and full of energy. She has white hair that is dyed pink, which is her favorite color. She likes Starbucks, reading thrillers, and life outside the house. She is married to Grandpa Jeremiah, who is almost sixty and just as healthy and energetic as his wife.
Grandma Judy lives in San Francisco, California in a luxury apartment. She and Grandpa Jeremiah both have expensive Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which they love to ride. They also have a Jeep. Recently they went to the Grand Canyon. Grandma Judy was once a third-grade teacher, but she is retired and now uses the rest of her life to have fun while serving God.
Grandma Judy loved her son, Riley's father, very much. He left her after he graduated from high school, and never called or wrote. She knows he went to Texas. However she knows nothing about his death. She has tried to find him but always failed. But she is planning one more mission to find him.
Riley and the rest of the Merlots know nothing about Grandma and Grandpa. Riley's father never said anything about them.
The long journey will be made comfortably in Grandma Judy's brand new luxurious RV, a totally awesome vehicle which has room for up to eight people. The RV is painted a dazzling bright blue color, with beautiful rainbows on each side, and a large yellow smiley face on the back bumper. It feautures two flat screen TVs, although the connection doesn't work too good on the road. Grandma Judy's pink polka dotted laptop sits on a built-in desk in the back of the RV. There are lots of comfy seats, some of which convert into beds, and several windows. Also there are bunks beds and a small kitchen, which is not used often. Thanfully, Grandpa Jeremiah is an excellent driver, and will easily mantain the fabulous RV.
Riley was curled up in her bed in her bedroom, which was a small, snug room on the first floor of her family's country home. It was a warm summer night in June, and fireflies were darting about outside Riley's window.
Riley took a deep breath. Then she sighed. School was finally out, she should be happy. But she wasn't. No school just meant even more work on the family egg farm. While other kids were swimming and boating on the lake, she would be in the henhouse. Not that Riley didn't get any free time. She did. But it just didn't seem fair. Why do I have to practically run the farm? She thought. It isn't fair. Well, I have Kyle to help me. . .Her thoughts calmed, and she fell asleep and began to dream.
In the dream, she was in a dark forest. It was cool and calm, but felt mysterious, like there was many great and dangerous secrets within the trees. Sunlight found its way between the leaves, dimly lighting the forest. Clear, tranquil pools of water occasionally appeared beside the rocky path. She was walking, and wearing a strange dress made of black leather. Her red sneakers were damp.
Suddenly, someone stange burst out of trees. The person was riding a lime green motorcycle, which did not make loud, normal-motorcycle sounds, but beautiful music. It was a woman, about sixty years old. She was wearing a mask.
Riley stared at her in awe. Her lips mouthed the words: Who are you?
The lady stepped off the motorcycle and removed her mask. She had an interesting face and electic blue eyes. Her hair was neon pink and cut in a punky sort of way. She didn't reply to Riley. Instead she snapped her fingers and a large, bus-like vehicle appeared. It was driven by an old man, whose hair was lime green.
"Get in," the lady commanded. "We are on a mission."
"Where are you going?" asked Riley.
"To get the rest of your family."
"We are going to find your father."
Riley woke up in shock. What was that all about, she thought. My father is dead. He died. Do dreams mean anything anyway? Does a dream has signaficnance? I think, when you dream, your mind is unconcious.
She looked at the digital clock on her nightstand. It read 6:07. In only a short amount of time, she would be back with the chickens.