Slippery Slope

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Riding Switch

Riding switch – riding backwards on your skis.

“What?” Kristy couldn’t believe what she just heard.

“It’s a good thing you told me that the two of you had nothing going on, Kristy, because I sure would have given him a piece of my mind!”

“I don’t believe it. Brent was waiting for you at your house?”

“He sure was. Just sitting there with a sad puppy dog look on his face. Said he wanted to talk.” Hilda laughed and made air quotes.

“I have to leave,” Derrick said suddenly and moved toward the door. Kristy stared at him, too stunned to speak to stop him.

“What’s the matter, Derrick?” Hilda called after him, “You don’t like competition?”

Derrick stopped in his tracks and half turned back but then, without another word, hurried out of the office.

Asher sat down at his desk and rubbed his hand over his face a few times. Kristy just stood there mute. She had seen another side to Hilda the night before. A side she thought was softer, friendlier. Yet Hilda seemed different once again.

“Hilda, are you feeling OK?” Asher asked.

“Absolutely! I had a wonderful run on the slopes. It’s been years since I’ve skied but it’s like falling off a log. Why do you ask?”

“You seem – very relaxed.”

“Uh huh,” she practically purred and stretched her arms over her head, “I feel wonderful – happy.” She leaned casually against Asher’s desk and wagged her finger at Kristy.

“I can tell you, though, Kristy, that Brent is not happy with you at all. He went on and on about how you left without saying anything. He told me you hadn’t called him either, since he picked you up at the airport. He said friends shouldn’t treat each other that way. And, oh!” She broke off and turned to Asher.

“Brent asked me to give you this.” Hilda pulled an envelope from her jacket pocket and handed it to him. Asher opened it, read it, turned it over, then read it again. Kristy waited, her eyes bouncing back and forth between Hilda and Asher.

“What is it?” Kristy said finally, when Asher just continued to stare at the page.

“It’s Brent’s letter of resignation, Kristy. He says he’s taken an offer from Edgewood Lodge. It’s effective immediately. He doesn’t give any notice.”

“Yeah, about that,” Hilda said, “Brent feels real bad but it’s such a good offer – salary, benefits – he couldn’t turn it down.”

Asher looked beyond disbelief. He sounded angry and hurt.

“Why wouldn’t Brent tell me this face to face? How can he give me this news in a letter, Hilda?” Asher looked at Kristy, “This doesn’t make any sense.”

He walked over to her and handed her the letter to read. Kristy could barely focus to read it but there it was, in Brent’s own handwriting. Four short sentences that he was moving on.

Hilda waved her hand dismissively, “Asher, Brent is ready for a new start - to everything.” She smiled at Kristy but Kristy saw no friendliness behind the smile.

“I think you’re lying, Hilda,” Kristy said.

Hilda’s smile vanished instantaneously.

“How long did you think Brent was going to wait for you, Kristy? He waited the whole time you were with Derrick and then you go and run off. He doesn’t believe you about that guy, Tom, either. He totally thinks you hooked up with him. I told him I didn’t think you were that slutty but he was pretty sure about it.”

“You bitch,” Kristy said. She quickly sized Hilda up and started forward but Asher was on her in a flash. Hilda never even flinched.

“Bad idea, Kristy,” Asher said, pushing her behind his desk and into his chair.

“It sure is,” Hilda replied. “Honey, I’d tear you apart.”

“Hilda, you’re off today,” Asher said to her as he continued to block the path between them. “I think you should get going. But we’ll talk tomorrow. And please, ask Brent to call me.”

“And until I speak to him, I don’t believe any of this,” Kristy hissed.

“Fine. I’ll ask him to call you both. But I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, Kristy. He was pretty clear he has nothing left to say to you.” With that, Hilda turned and left, leaving Kristy with a pounding head and dry mouth. Kristy couldn’t imagine what she would do if Hilda was telling the truth.

Redic! Brent looked up at the ceiling. This situation was redic. He played the night over and over again in his mind. He had wanted so badly to talk to Kristy but wanted her to call him first. Since they had gotten back from the airport, there was not a word, not a text from her. When she told him about this guy Tom she had met, who had saved her life, instead of feeling grateful, he was crazy with jealousy. He had always liked Kristy, but when Derrick was in the picture, he had kept it to himself. And despite all the shit that Derrick had pulled, he and Derrick had been friends a long time. And a friend didn’t swoop in on a friend’s ex-girl – not that quickly, anyway. But on Christmas Eve, he blew it. Even if Kristy wouldn’t admit it, Brent knew he was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After everything she had been through– the breakup with Derrick, the accusations from Jessica, the accident, the avalanche – he should have went after her immediately when she saw him and Hilda kissing. But he didn’t. He didn’t realize until that moment how hurt he had been by Kristy’s feelings toward Derrick. To watch her wait for Derrick to come back every year, when he was there every day. If Kristy liked him, and he had been starting to sense that she did, then let her stew a little. Let her know how it feels to want and not have. How stupid. Then the last message he got from Derrick sent him in the wrong direction once again. Derrick’s text said he had just seen Kristy hanging out with Hilda in the hot tub, drinking wine, like friends, and so what was up with that? So what does he do? Instead of seeking Kristy out, instead of going to her and telling her how he felt about her, he goes to Hilda’s. Women talked, didn’t they? He could pump Hilda for some info, and be sure of some things before putting his heart on his sleeve with Kristy. More than anything he wanted to know if Kristy had mentioned him, or had told Hilda anything about Tom. It was a risky game. Brent knew Hilda had the hots for him and he was feeling vulnerable. A glass of wine into conversation with Hilda, he knew he had made a big mistake. And now, his head was pounding. His whole body ached. He shifted uncomfortably on the couch and craned his neck to see the clock in the kitchen. Hilda had been gone for hours. Where was she and how would he ever get himself out of this? Redic!

Just as Kristy was leaving the lodge, her phone rang. She and Asher had had a long talk but it had just kept going around in circles. This was not at all like Brent.

Kristy wondered if she had underestimated how Brent had been affected by everything that had gone one in the past several weeks. Maybe he was having some sort of breakdown, like Kristy was now convinced she had. It was not like her to run from anything, but that’s exactly what she had done. She could see now how depressed she had been. There was no other explanation. But it was selfish. In only thinking of herself, she had betrayed her friend. Kristy looked at the number. It was Brent! She took a deep breath and answered,

“Brent! Hi. I’ve been so worried. Are you all right?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. You?”

Kristy blinked and stopped cold where she was.

“I’m okay. Are you?”

“Yes. Hilda told me you wanted to talk to me?”

“Well, yes. Yes, I do, Brent.”


“You have to know how sorry I am for leaving like that, Brent. I realize now I was really upset and depressed and…lonely.”

She waited but he said nothing. “Brent?”

“Yeah, so what do you want me to do about it?”

“I can tell you’re still really angry with me, Brent, but quitting the lodge?”

“That has nothing to do with you. I got a really good offer.”

“I know, but,” Brent cut her off.

“Listen, Kristy, I have to leave for work very soon. Is there something you want?”

Kristy felt herself on the verge of tears.

“I don’t know, Brent.” Then something occurred to her.

“We never talked about that beautiful Christmas gift you gave me. I really love it.” She touched the pendant at her neck, feeling the points in the snowflake. She put it back and ran her fingers nervously down the other chain to the small round pendant from Tom then zipped her jacket up, shivering in the cold.


“No, I mean it. And what you wrote in the card. Did you mean that?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I remember what I wrote.”

“You said that I was unique, like a snow flake,”

“Yes, and like the petals on a flower,” he said quickly.

“No. It was something about falling, Brent. It was sweet.”

“I said I can’t remember, Kristy,” he interrupted. “I have to go.”

“Brent!” she said, but he was gone.

Kristy looked down at her phone and slowly put it in her pocket. She felt numb. She brushed a tear from her cheek and walked in a daze to where she had parked her truck and stared. Her truck was gone. She walked up and down the aisle. There was no mistaking it. She had parked it where she always did in her regular spot in the employee parking lot.

Turning back to the lodge, she bolted through the front doors and ran to Asher’s office. He was gone. Looking around helplessly, she considered calling the police, but decided that wouldn’t do. It would take too much time. She needed to talk to Brent, in person, now. And in order to do that as quickly as possible she would head him off at Edgewood Lodge before he started his shift. It would take her about an hour to get there. She wouldn’t let him end things this way, she couldn’t. She knew if she saw him they could work it out. Without giving it any further thought, she took Asher’s truck keys. She would explain it to him later. She did just one more thing before leaving the office. She unlocked the cabinet with the human resource files and looked in Hilda’s file. Making a quick mental note, she relocked the cabinet and left quickly before Asher came back and tried to convince her she was doing the wrong thing.

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