Summer Vacation

The day after the kids left, I filled a couple cardboard boxes with my stuff. The school year had been draining, with ‘no child left behind’ forced down our administrators’ throats and ejected through us, the teachers’. I blamed ‘Dubya’ when simultaneously, I knew it wasn’t entirely his fault.

But the new security gates at the entrances? Every-kid-texting-nonsense? And test upon test, feeling as if I was the one, ultimately, who’d failed. Was it all worth it?

Surely, my burn-out would be sufficiently remedied during my summer sojourn. I spent every July and August at our family home in the Adirondacks. Fly fishing was among my favorite activities. There was a calming affect in the repeated cast of the line. A lovely nod to my father and uncles in creating new flies to entice the trout. It didn’t matter if I caught anything or not, just being beside Round Pond Stream felt like home. I’d been spending summers there since I was born.

The night before I left, my ex-wife Hazel stopped by. We were on okay terms, it had been over a year since she split, and no kids to make it a messier transition. She looked fantastic in a tight gray V-neck tee, and tennis skirt. Her firm ass still beckoned, her sleek muscular legs screamed ‘touch me.’ I am much more a legs and butt guy.

“Still playing, I see?” Tried not to stare.

“Yep. Had a doubles match with Len. And the Harters.’ Remember them from the club?”

“Sure.” Len used to be my best friend. Nuff said.

She patted her hand against her thigh. “Got a beer?”

“Of course. Beck’s or Lowenbrau?”

“You pick,” she said.

Normally she’d only pop by for a quick check-in. Take Zeke, our Bloodhound, to Flanders Park. I pulled a Lowenbrau from the mini-fridge in our pantry. Well, my pantry.

“Want some pretzels with that?” I asked.

“No thanks,” Hazel said, petting Zeke. His tail wagged, as usual, to have her calm hands on his silky ears. I envied him.

We sat in the living room, she took a swig of beer. “So, how’re you doing, Hank?”

I shrugged. “Good. Glad school’s out. And I’m off to the Adirondacks next week.”

She smiled, nodded. “Nice. Anyone else joining you this year?”

“We’ll see. Sister Kate expressed some interest coming her birthday weekend in August. If so, Uncle Tony’ll probably drive her. But until then, it’ll just be me. And Zeke, of course.”

She looked around the room, still bare since she’d left. My parent’s roll-top desk and a beat-up sofa. A worn arm chair I’d rescued from St. Marks yard sale. The tree rack that Mrs. Lincoln, our school librarian loaned to me when she took pity. Hazel crossed her legs. “Hank, I miss you.”

I was shocked. This was the first sign of vulnerability Hazel showed. But what did she mean?

Zeke circled, then plopped at my feet.  “I don’t know what to say.”

6 thoughts on “Summer Vacation

  1. Dez

    Great beginning, I hope there’s more to come on this story? You’ve set the seeds for an interesting, creative short story. I’m curious to know what happens next with Hank and Hazel.

  2. Kerry

    Nice start, but don’t get them back together…If she left him once for his best friend, she’ll leave him again. During questioning phase and reconciliation attempt have him realize that “Hazel” was comfortable and what he already knew. no pressures, she already knew him and his faults. easy to go back to where they had been. Especially since the school year had him drained and he probably had not had chance to date other women and try to ahve a another relationship. He needs to stretch himself and be happy with himself and figure out what he wants.

  3. Dez

    I agree with Kerry here, Robert- I like how Hazel seems like a nice person, and all, but if I were Hank, I wouldn’t get involved with her again. All in all, I enjoyed this a lot and wonder if you will continue with these two characters. Seems like it might make a great short story?

  4. Shari

    Continue on with this story! I have to know what happens with Hank, especially. As a fellow teacher, I can relate to how drained he is after a full school year. On break now, I wonder if I can muster what it takes to return in January! You have created much empathy with Hank, and don’t let him get swayed by Hazel’s sudden change of heart near the end of this section!

  5. Tutu Ubuntu

    The co-dependence between Hazel and Hank is too cliched for me until the climax: “Hank, I miss you.” That’s when Hank might notice the return address on the envelope that’s peeking out from Hazel’s tennis bag that was just-so-casually tossed next to the mini-fridge (you know, from somewhere like Willard State Hospital or the IRS). Or, maybe Hazel is stopping-by because she’s an administrator where Hank teaches? Lots of possibilities for engaging character development and use of dynamic settings, which leads me to the question: Is Round Pond Stream near Nipple Top?


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