Once again, it’s time for First Friday Fiction. Polar Vortex is part six of David’s story. To read the other installments, visit the First Friday Fiction page and follow the links. I’ll conclude the series next month.
David stood on a hill overlooking his cabin and watched the sun dip below the horizon. He snapped a few photos of the sunset before making his way back to the cabin. The wind had shifted toward the north—forecasters called for a “Polar Vortex” to make its way into the area.
Along with his new job, he inherited the camp mascot, a hound mix named Winston, who accompanied David on walks.
When David opened the front door of the cabin, Winston went inside, sauntered across the room, and lay down near the sofa.
“Make yourself at home.” David smiled. He liked having a pet again. Cassie always hated animals.
David still found it hard to believe she showed up on his doorstep before he left the city. Though he told her to leave, she called several times after that.
Not one to take no for an answer, she came to his apartment the day he traded his car for a used Jeep.
“A Jeep doesn’t suit you,” she said.
Sarah had said the same thing about the sports car.
Women! Always think they know what’s best for everyone.
Cassie had called again a few nights earlier in an attempt to convince him to move back.
“What happened between us is in the past. I have my life, you have yours,” David said.
“But I want you in my life. Why can’t you realize I made a mistake?”
“What must I do to convince you I’m happy here? If you don’t believe me come see for yourself.” With that, he hung up the phone. He hadn’t heard from her again.
After learning Sarah would not be spending time with her family on Thanksgiving, David invited her to his parent’s house for dinner. His older brother, Daryl, was in town with his wife Kate and two children.
“Glad you don’t mind going early,” David said. “Mom will serve dinner around six, but this will give us time to visit. I haven’t seen Daryl in a while.”
“This is great! I look forward to meeting Kate and spending some time with your mom.”
They got into the Jeep, with Winston in the back seat, and made the short drive to the Turner’s farm.
“I love this house,” Sarah said as they walked to the front door. “It speaks warmth, comfort, and family. Must have been a great place to grow up.”
“It was. For a while, I’d forgotten.”
The farm had been in David’s family for several generations—the white frame house first belonged to his grandparents. He had fond memories of family meals, helping his father with the farm, wading in the creek on hot summer days, and snowball fights with Daryl in the winter.
Myra Turner met them at the door, and Sarah followed her into the kitchen to meet Kate. David joined his father and brother Daryl in front of the TV set. Animals were welcome in the Turner household and the comfort-loving Winston made his way to the warmth of the fireplace.
It was almost time for dinner when they heard a car pull into the driveway. Daryl, who sat nearest the windows, said, “Know any tall blondes who drive a black BMW?”
David jumped up from his chair and looked outside. Cassie. She got out of the car and made her way to the door.
“I’m afraid I know who it is.” He opened the door and she breezed inside on a cloud of perfume. “What are you doing here?”
“Well that’s no welcome.” She threw her arms around him and kissed him firmly on the mouth. Remember, you told me come. Aren’t you going to introduce me to your family?”
Myra, Kate, and Sarah had entered the room upon hearing the knock at the door. He couldn’t read Sarah’s expression. Surprise, anger, jealousy?
David made the introductions, unsure of what else to do. He came to Sarah last, “And this is my friend, Sarah Keller.”
Cassie locked her arm in David’s and said, “How sweet.”
Sarah didn’t respond.
Myra Turner, who would never turn anyone away said, “We were just about to have dinner. It’s no problem to set another place. Won’t you join us, Miss…”
“Please call me Cassie. After all I am almost family.”
David winced as Sarah turned back toward the kitchen. This time, he didn’t mistake the anger in her expression.
The tension was thick as David and Sarah drove home. David wasn’t sure how he made it through the evening. Cassie dominated the dinner conversation, made excuses not to help the other women clean up, and complained about the dog being inside the house.
Then she announced she was staying in town for a few days and had plans to visit the campground “Because I can’t wait to see where David works.”
After they had driven a while, David said, “Sarah, I didn’t invite Cassie to come.”
“Then why did she say you did?”
“She called a few nights ago, begging me to come back. I told her I was happy here and said something about coming to see for herself. She took it literally.”
Sarah didn’t respond.
“Look Sarah, I’m being honest. That part of my life is over. I’m happy here. I have a great new job with almost no stress. And I have friends like you.”
“Friends? Is that what we are?”
“Well of course you are my friend.”
Sarah turned away to look out the window. She was silent the remainder of the drive. The cold air outside was nothing compared to the Polar Vortex inside.