Side Slipping: A sliding edge technique used to navigate around moguls.
For the next two days Kristy didn’t have much time to worry or even think about Derrick. It was peak season and the mountain was busy. Skiers were arriving hourly in droves. Right in the middle of it all there was a two-hour power outage on the main lift, stranding dozens of people, including one who was very pregnant. The soon-to-be mom was calm, cool and collected, but an ambulance was called for her wife who had a panic attack and was hyperventilating. While loading her wife into the back of the ambulance, the woman’s water broke. She laughed it off – it was their third child - and said she could drive herself to the hospital but Kristy, and Asher, insisted that Kristy accompany them in the ambulance. In the end, the woman was grateful – about five minutes after Kristy wheeled her through the hospital doors, Dakota Kris was born.
The following day brought six-dozen members of a boys group who seemed to be in an unsanctioned competition to win the title of the most unruly horde they had ever hosted. Equipment slid down the mountain, abandoned and damaged; a campfire was built and set ablaze in the middle of moguls run. Ultimately, the mob of mini delinquents were boarded back onto their buses until their counselors were able to call in reinforcements. After that, except for one kid whose attempt at skiing backwards resulted in him hitting a tree and breaking his arm, things settled down.
That she was being avoided was certain. In the hours after Brent spilled the beans about Derrick’s move she had placed three phone calls and sent two texts, all unreturned, before she realized Derrick had changed his number as well.
Asher told her that Derrick had studied the schedule before settling on his shifts and he noticed had picked the opposite of any that she was working. Asher was livid but Kristy made him promise to keep his cool. Everyone on staff knew something was up but it seemed they were going to to allow her to make the first move.
She had been tempted to go to Derrick’s grandmother’s house, confront him and demand to know what was happening, but reconsidered. She was angry and confused and, actually, fearful of her reaction if they were alone together. Whatever was going on, it could not be good. She would face him here, on her home turf, among friends. Here she could be tough, and if the news terribly bad, rely on her friends to help her through.
So she sat and waited in the main lobby of the lodge on the long low row of benches opposite the great windows that faced the mountain. Derrick would need to pass through this way to check in before heading out. She felt as if the world was moving all around her and she was at a standstill. People hustled by in pairs and packs, talking and laughing. The sound echoed off the high ceilings creating a hum that reverberated throughout the lodge. The sun was already hovering close to the mountain ridge, throwing light onto the walls and casting them in an amber glow. Kristy watched a little boy play beneath one of the windows. He stood on a bench and ran his action figure across the sill and flew him through the air. The bright light streaming through the window framed him in a perfect silhouette. Occasionally he stopped and climbed off the bench, running to his mother, who sat a little off at a table, holding a baby. The child would show his mother his toy and, she imagined, report on his activities. He then would pat the baby on its head, before flying himself and his figure back over to the window, arms spread out wide, scaling the bench again, to continue his play. The mother kept a watchful eye, periodically calling out a word of caution. At times she bounced and raised her baby in the air, covering its little face and round belly with kisses.
Kristy checked her phone. There were ten more minutes till Derrick was due to report. That was fine. She wasn’t going anywhere. Sooner or later, they would have to see each other. She continued to watch the little boy and even laughed as he bounced his action figure along its adventure. Suddenly, though, something caught the boy’s eye. The action figure was unceremoniously tossed and fell to the ground. The woman stood and watched as the little boy went straight for a tall, athletic figure that approached them, a figure that grew in detail as the sun slowly slipped behind the mountain.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy!” the boy hollered and launched himself into the man’s arms. The man caught him up and slung him over his shoulder. He strode over to the mother, kissing her and the baby on their foreheads. The glare of the sun extinguished behind the crest of the mountain and Kristy could see the trio clearly.
The father was Derrick. The three stood close together, the boy now up on Derrick’s back, his arms around Derrick’s neck. Derrick’s one arm was firmly around the woman’s waist, the other cradling the baby in a football hold.
The crowd in the lobby had cleared as night skiing had begun out on the mountain. Unaware of how she got there, Kristy found herself in the room’s center. When she realized she was still walking toward the little group, she abruptly froze. The woman noticed her staring at them and tilted her head at Derrick with a questioning look. He had not yet seen Kristy but now looked up. Derrick met Kristy’s gaze and then bent close to the woman’s ear while handing her back the baby in one fluid movement. He tossed the little boy around his head and placed him on the floor in front of him. The woman busied herself with the baby and diaper bag, laying the squirming child on a bench. Derrick began a slow, casual stroll toward Kristy, the little boy skipping beside him. Kristy wanted nothing more than to be able to run but her feet would not move.
Derrick walked right up to her, giving her a light peck on the cheek, like an old friend.
“Hi, Kristy,” he said.
He sounded completely calm but Kristy knew better now that she could see him up close. His forehead was sweating and his eyes were just a little too wide.
“Derrick,” was all she could manage to say.
“Hi, lady,” the little boy said.
Kristy looked at the child and managed a smile, which wasn’t that difficult. He was adorable. He was also without doubt, Derrick’s. From his sandy blonde hair to his blue eyes he was his father’s spitting image. Kristy felt her eyes grow hot. She looked back at Derrick, swallowing hard.
“My name is Little Rick,” the boy said.
She looked back down at the child.
“It’s nice to meet you, Little Rick,” Kristy said and crouched down to face him.
“How old are you, Little Rick?” she asked the boy. She heard Derrick exhale sharply.
“I’m four, and my little sister is – Daddy,” Little Rick tugged on his father’s pants, “How old is she?”
“She’s ten months, Rick,” Derrick answered.
“Tem’months,” the boy said proudly.
Kristy stood slowly back up.
“Daddy, can I go to Mommy?” Little Rick asked.
“Sure,” Derrick replied.
The boy ran away and Derrick quickly glanced back to where Rick’s mother was gathering up their things.
“Kristy, I’d like to explain,” he began, looking her square in the face but speaking very softly, “But I can’t explain now.”
Suddenly, his son was back, barreling into Derrick’s legs. Derrick gave her a pleading look she had never seen before.
“Daddy, Mommy needs help carrying everyfing,” he said, dancing around.
“Derrick, it sounds like Mommy could use a hand,” Kristy said.
Derrick’s eyes grew wider still but he said nothing.
Kristy again crouched next to the little boy and took his hand to shake it, “Go tell Mommy that Daddy will be right there.”
“Okay!” Little Rick shouted. She watched as the little boy ran back, spoke to his mother, and pointed back at her. The woman now watched them, no doubt wondering who she was. Well, Kristy thought, at least that feeling was mutual.
“Please don’t make scene,” Derrick pleaded as she straightened back up.
“You have a nice life, Derrick,” she said, and as the woman, laden with her children, coats, a stroller and bags, started to slowly make her way toward them, Kristy walked back across the lobby and out the front doors.