Hello and welcome to December. I can’t believe it’s the last month of the year already. And, this is our last photo flash fiction of 2018. This picture struck me as somewhat sad and, I decided no way. It’s the holidays so no sadness. Hope you enjoy what I wrote.
Sara sat on the twisting stone stairs with her chin resting in her hands. The little red dress did nothing to keep her warm, but she’d rather sit in the drafty old stairs then head back to the party. She loathed her mother and step-father’s holiday party. Everything was too bright, too loud and there were far too many people. She’d lasted about an hour, her norm, but she couldn’t leave. Oh no, her mother expected her to mingle and talk. That wasn’t Sara. That was never going to be Sara.
The crowd overwhelmed her. She never knew what to say. So, she hid. This year, though, her mother has chosen to hold the party at a castle. Oh, not a real castle, since they were miles and miles away from the United Kingdom. Someone, she forgot who, decided to build a replica castle in the middle of nowhere and now people could rent it out. Her mother has been so excited. Sara, not so much. She didn’t know the place as well as the hotel her mother and step-father normally chose so she sat in the drafty stairwell that led up to one of the towers.
A slight noise caught her attention and she looked up to find Jack watching her. He was so handsome with burnished blond hair and cool blue eyes. Her mother insisted on labeling him her older brother, but she certainly didn’t think of him that way. She’d been sixteen when her mother had remarried. Jack was her step-father’s oldest son and he’d been twenty-six and deployed when her mother and his father married.
Not long after, Sara had sent him a birthday card since her mother had told her it would be “the polite thing to do.” Dutifully, she’d purchased a card and had written an awkward introduction, never expecting anything in return. She’d been surprised to find a letter from him a few weeks later. It hadn’t been long, but she’d liked how he didn’t talk to her like a kid, so she’d written him back. That has started their exchange of letters and, Sara had felt, she finally had someone she could confide in. She could say all the things to Jack she wasn’t able to say to anyone else.
In the nearly six years, they rarely met face to face, but they always wrote. In fact, she was the first person to know he was leaving the service. And, that he was planning to move back to the city. The whole idea confused her. Sara was so glad he’d left the service, but she didn’t know what she was going to do without her confidante. There was no way she could say the things she’d said face to face. And, now that he was back, he had a life. She knew he and a friend had started their own business and that he was dating someone. She’d overheard her step-father tell her mother he thought it was serious. So, Jack didn’t need her letters. Didn’t need her.
He stepped forward and sat on the step below her. The black tux he wore stretched taut over his broad shoulders and it took everything she had not to reach out and touch him. Turning, he propped his shoulder against the wall and smiled at her.
“I’ve been looking for you.”
“What do you mean why? I wanted to see you. No,” he said, shaking his head, “I had to see you.”
She gave a small shrug. “Well, here I am.” Nervously, she picked at the hem of her dress.
“Sara,” he said, reaching up to take her hand.
God, the shock of the warmth of his hand almost made her freeze. How long had it been since someone touched her? That she let anyone touch her? She couldn’t remember. It didn’t feel bad though. No, not at all. It made her feel real, more present.
“Your hands are cold.”
He took both of her hands in his and gently rubbed them. She finally looked up to meet his eyes and he gave her a small smile.
“There you are. My Sara. What do you say we get out of here? It’s too cold to sit here and I don’t want to go back to the party.”
“What about your date?”
His brow wrinkled. “What date?”
“Your dad said you were dating someone.”
He gave a small laugh. “No, I’m not. Besides, I came here to see you. To talk to you. So, are you ready to leave? We can go someplace and get something hot to drink. Talk.”
Sara didn’t hesitate. “Okay.”
He took her hand and pulled her off the steps. Tucking her hand in the crook of his arm he led her out of the cold stairwell and into warmth and light.