Christmas Catch: A Holiday Novella
 
     
     
     
     

     
     
    As soon as I drive past the “Welcome to Saltwater, Maine, The Prettiest Fishing Village”, I start cursing my mother out under my breath. Prettiest Fishing Village my ass. It’s just like all the other fishing villages, populated by people who never change, with backward ideas that never change.
    As soon as I got accepted to Columbia, I’d driven away in my 1967 Chevy Impala (no, I’ve never seen Supernatural , thank you very much, and I’m really tired of screaming girls taking pictures while leaning on it and asking where the Winchesters are) and hadn’t looked back. I was done with the backwater town and backwater ideas and whenever anyone asks where I’m from, I say “Maine” and leave it at that.
    My phone rings, but I ignore it. Just mom (for the third time) asking me when I’m going to be home. I fiddle with the radio until I find a station that plays classic rock. Only Aerosmith understands my pain.
    I drive past the microscopic high school I’d gone to. I’d been the valedictorian of my class of ten, which was harder than it sounds. I’d had competition from one other student, and he’d given me a run for my money.
    Sawyer . I can’t think his name without bringing up all kinds of memories, most of them good, but all tinged with regret and sadness. Ugh, I do NOT want to think about Sawyer. He’s off at Georgetown doing his undergrad before going to med school to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.
    I slow down to the required 25 mph as I go through what passes for “downtown” Saltwater. A tiny grocery store, a hair salon, a pizza place and a gas station with one pump that doesn’t take credit cards. Big shock, it’s exactly the same as the last time I saw it. All the buildings are coated with the remnants of the last snow storm. It might be December, but the weather has decided to be warmer than usual. The snow would be back though. It always is.
    I turn off the main road and start heading to my house, my dread increasing. I swore I was never coming back here, but my mother had laid such a guilt trip on me for missing last Christmas that I didn’t have a choice. Something about wanting to have all her children under one roof. My brother and sister will both be there because, unlike me, they had never left Saltwater. My brother is a sternman on a lobster boat and my sister married young, started producing babies and became a CNA. They’ve both married and divorced, once for my brother and twice for my sister.
    I’m pondering just turning around and driving all the way back to Columbia when a deer darts out in front of my car, causing me to swerve on the narrow road and go into the ditch to avoid massacring Bambi.
    “Shit!” I slam my hands on the steering wheel. My car is fine, but when I try to reverse out of the ditch, nothing happens. The soggy ground has latched onto my tires and isn’t letting go.
    I let out a whole string of curses and get out of my car to survey the damage. Fuck my life.
    I look up and down the road. I’m not that far from home, so I could just walk and then come back with my brother. He’s got a tow truck and he can get me out. One of his toys that he bought himself. Great. That will mean I owe him a favor and he’ll never let me forget it. I try to avoid looking as a car drives by and slows down. Yeah, yeah. Come and gawk at the damage. I hear an automatic window roll down and then a voice I never thought I would hear again speaks.
    “Need some help?” This is not happening.
    I turn around slowly. The first thing I see is a truck I haven’t seen since high school. The second is the guy I haven’t seen since high school.
    “Ivy?” His hair’s a little longer, and his face is a little leaner. He looks . . . older. But his eyes. They’re still the same.
    “Sawyer,” I whisper, because I can’t believe it’s him. What the hell is he doing here?
    A car drives behind Sawyer, honks, and he waves them on. The two of us are frozen,

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