August is upon us and that means it’s time for First Friday Fiction. I’m continuing the story of David and Sarah. Last month, we left David wondering if his meeting with Sarah was more than a chance encounter. If you didn’t read that post, you may do so by clicking on this link. To read the first part of David’s story, click here. Be sure to join me in September for more of the story.
Almost three weeks had passed since David returned to his job. His vacation was now a memory, but one never far from his mind. Many times, while sitting at his desk, his mind drifted to memories of the nature preserve, Indian Lake—and Sarah.
They had promised to keep in touch with one another and David found himself looking forward to her calls, texts, and emails. The two weeks he spent at home had been among the most relaxing in his life, or at least in the past several years. No needy employees. No pressure from his boss. No complaints from clients.
However, it didn’t take long for the stress of the job to return full force. Perhaps it was due to the August heat, but it seemed to David that everyone he encountered was short-tempered. In addition, his boss was constantly on his back. No matter what he did, Martin Russell continued to pressure David to secure more accounts and convince current customers to spend more money on advertising. Even though David had brought in more new accounts than any of his colleagues, nothing was ever good enough.
“Those two weeks you took off put us behind in profits,” his boss had said. “You need to make it up.”
David had worked without a day off the previous two weeks in an effort to “catch up.” He felt tired, stressed and in need of a day off. On Friday morning, he received an email from Sarah.
I thought of you on my hike to Indian Lake yesterday. Already, some of the trees are starting to change colors in the higher elevations. I believe we will have an early fall. A flock of Canadian geese rested on the water when I arrived. You would have been able to obtain some great photos. I wish you were here.
After reading the email, David decided he was not going to work another weekend. He needed to get away from the confines of the office and the city. He wouldn’t be able to travel home, but he could drive the short distance to a nearby state park and spend the weekend camping and hiking.
“In fact,” David said aloud, “I’m not staying a full day. I’ve put in my time for the week and then some.”
At noon, he shut down his computer, sent his calls to voice mail, and left the office. He drove to a nearby sporting goods store for some necessary items, then went home to pack. It had been far too long since he had spent a weekend away.
He loaded his backpack, camping gear, and camera in his car. The red sports car seemed out-of-place for a camping trip, but he didn’t have time to rent an SUV. More than once, he had chided himself for buying it. He only did so to please his former girlfriend, Cassie.
Cassiopeia. He often called her by the name of the Greek mythological queen. He had not known many people as vain as Cassie. She had expensive tastes and craved the wrappings of high society. They had parted ways a few months back and he heard she was now dating a vascular surgeon. No doubt, she thought his income could better provide for the life she desired. She was so different from Sarah.
After a quick stop at the grocery store, David soon left the city behind. Already, he felt more relaxed—the stress and tension of the job melted away with the miles. An hour into the trip, his phone rang.
He had left a voice mail for Sarah, and thought it might be her returning the call. Without looking at the caller ID, he answered.
It was his boss. “David, what’s the idea of leaving early? Don’t you care about this job? I need you in the office.”
“I’ve worked fourteen straight days—many of them ten and twelve hours. I need some time away.”
“You just had a vacation. What more do you want?”
David wanted to say “A life,” but instead he asked, “Is there a problem with one of my clients?”
“There isn’t a problem. However, I want loyalty in my employees. When you took this promotion, you knew there would be added responsibilities.”
“Yes, and you know I’ve given the job my full dedication—sacrificing my free time. Is there anything that can’t wait until Monday?”
“Well no, but…”
“Then I’ll see you on Monday.” David hung up the phone, knowing he would soon have to make a crucial decision.