Summer Heat

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

Jack was coming out of the forest when he saw the little car at the cabin across the way.

It caught his attention for two reasons. He was the only full time resident on a country road loaded with vacation cabins. Most of the people left after the holiday, or they spent all their time in town near the lake where it was cooler. The woods were hot this time of year, and the cabins were old. Most were lucky to have an old window unit air condition. Many had to just leave the windows open and hope mother nature would be kind to them.

The second reason he was looking at the cabin was the brown haired woman walking inside. She waved as she saw him and made her way into the house.

Sarah was happy to get out of the city for a while. She nearly jumped for joy when her grandfather told her to take the cabin for the summer since he had to stay down state after his surgery. After a three hour drive she made found the little cabin in the woods. She hadn’t been there since she was a kid.

Once inside she found the circuit breaker and turned the lights on per grandpa’s instructions.

Next she went to get a glass of water.

And nothing happened.

Not a drop.

Must be the faucet, she thought.

But the bathroom sink also ran dry and the shower wouldn’t turn on either.

She sat for a moment wondering what to do. She couldn’t go without water. She liked camping, but not for a whole summer.

To make matters worse, her cell phone didn’t get a signal and the phone in the cabin had long since been turned off.

Well, this is a predicament, she thought to herself. Then she remembered the guy he saw earlier. The one in the baseball hat.

She walked through the small grove of trees that separated the two properties.

She knocked on the door and waited till a man with a baseball hat, a flannel shirt, and dirty jeans came to the door.


“Hi, I’m staying at the cabin next door. I’m Sarah.”

“Jack,” he said extending his hand, “excuse the appearance. It’s yard work day. You’re staying at Ed’s place?”


“How is he? I haven’t seen him in a while.”

“He’s good. But he’s staying with my parents. He has physical therapy three times a week so he’s not using the cabin.”

“I see, you’re his granddaughter?”


“Did you need something?”

“Oh right. The water isn’t working in the cabin. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“I bet he didn’t have the water turned on.”

‘You need the water turned on?“

“Yeah if you’re not using it in the winter you need shut it off at the well to keep the pipes from freezing. He usually has someone come out in the spring to turn it back on. Must have forgot.”

“Is it something I can do?”

“I’ll do it. You need to get down in the well pit. And I’m already dirty.”

“Are you sure? I can call a plumber. I just need to borrow a phone. Mine won’t won’t work.”

“Oh yeah those things are useless out here.”

“So you don’t have a cell phone?”


She stared at him for a minute.

“What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone without a phone. Do you have Internet?”

“I might. I think it came with the cable.”

“So you have a television at least.”

“For watching football. That’s it.”

“What about Netflix?”


“What do you do for fun?”

“Fish. Spend time in the woods. Look at the stars at night.”

“You’re like a walking country song.”

“I appreciate that. I think. Come on, let’s get the water turned on.”

“You don’t mind?”

“As you pointed out. I really don’t have anything else to do.”

He went to small brick structure at the edge of her yard carrying a ladder. After prying the wood top off, he disappeared down the hole.

Ten minutes later, she heard a knock on the door.

“Try the water,” he called outside.

“It’s working,” she said.

“All set city girl,” he called as he started down the porch steps.

“Wait, can I pay you or something?”

“Nah. Took ten minutes. It’s what neighbors are for.”

“I insist.”

“Nope,” and he kept walking.

“How about dinner?” she said, “I have plenty here. I was just about to start.”

“You know what? I’ll take you up on that. Let me get cleaned up.”

“I need about an hour.”

“That works.”

Sure enough, he came back an hour later, almost to the minute.

“Smells good.”

“I hope you like Italian food. It’s really the only thing I know how to cook.”

“Works for me.”

“I just want to make sure you didn’t only eat squirrel or something.”

“I eat things other than squirrel.”

“Wait, you really eat squirrels?”

“I have. Not in a long time though. My family didn’t have lot of money. Sometimes that’s all there was.”


“I’m kidding. We didn’t eat squirrel.”

“You jerk,” she said, “you had me feeling all sorry for you.”

“I know. I should have kept it up.”

“Just eat the food.”

“This is great,” he said leaning back in his chair, “but the air conditioning might be even better.”

“You don’t have one?”

“Mine broke last week. Haven’t gotten a new one yet.”

“Oh god, how have you made it? It’s been brutal.”

“It’s not fun.”

They ate and laughed and ate some more. Jack insisted on helping with the dishes. By the time it was done, it was starting to get dark.

“Come with me,” he said.

“Where are we going?”

“I’m going to show what we do out here for entertainment.”

They walked outside to the small fire pit in the backyard. Jack loaded it with wood from a nearby pile.

“This is what you do for fun? Burn stuff.”

“This isn’t all, but country rules dictate that if one is outside past a certain time a fire must be going.”

She took seat on the two person swing near the pit. Jack sat on a stump while tending the fire.

“Why are you sitting over there?” she asked.


“I don’t bite,” she said a patted the seat next to her. “It’s got to be better than sitting on that stump.”

And so Jack took a seat next to her. She was right. It was better than the stump.

“So when does the entertainment start? You got a string quartet hidden in the woods or something.”

“Just wait.”

And wait they did. Chit chatting to pass the time.

Finally, Jack told her to look up.

She couldn’t believe she didn’t notice it sooner. The sky was full of stars. Nothing she’d ever seen in the city. Just a brilliant patchwork of light. She was in awe of the cosmic light show.

“Oh my god.”

“See what I meant?”

“I get it now.”

“Not going to get that on Netflix.”

They talked some more. Jack pointed out some constellations. Sarah continued to be wowed by the sight.

As it got later, Jack stood up saying good bye.

“I’ll see you tomorrow city girl. Can you put the fire out?”

“I’ll handle it. Goodnight Jack.”

“Goodnight Sarah.”

She made her way inside after dousing the flames. Sometime after midnight though, the air conditioner died.

She tried to turn on the lights but they didn’t work. The power was out.

Great, she thought.

A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door.

“It’s Jack,” he called from outside. “The powers out on the whole road.”

“What are we supposed to do?”

“Wait for the power company. It’ll be a day or two.”

“We’ll be baked alive.”

“Ed has a generator in the garage. I’ll hook it up for you.”

“You don’t have to.”

“It’s fine. Otherwise I’ll just be sitting in the dark,” he clicked on flashlight and jogged over to the side of the house.

A minute later, she heard him yelling something.

“There’s no gas,” he said, “I’m out too. I used the last of mine this morning.”

“This is going to awful.”

“I know what to do,” Jack said.


“It’s a surprise. I’ll show you how we keep cool in the country. Come with me.”

“I’m in my pajamas.” Pajamas was a loose definition of her outfit. It was really more like a T shirt and underwear.

“Who’s going to see? There’s not a light ten miles.”

And with that she followed her new friend into the forest.

“Do we have to go in the woods?” she asked. The woods looked far creepier at night.

“It’s a shortcut.”

Ten minutes later, she realized where they were. She could smell the water, and hear the river up ahead.

“Oh this was smart.”

“Why thank you. You coming in?”

“What? No.”

“Suit yourself,” Jack peeled off his shirt and jumped into the water.

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” he called.

The heat must be getting to me, she thought and next thing she knew she was slipping her shirt off and jumping into the water.

The water felt great. Since it was so shallow it was warm, but still cooler than the air.

“This is amazing,” she said.

“Told you so.”

“I never want to leave.”

“You don’t have to but you not want to be here in the morning, unless you don’t mind giving the fishermen a show.”

She laughed, “I’ll just have to charge money.”

“Don’t blame you. Pretty good show.”

After finally cooling down, they made their way out of the water and onto a blanket Jack brought.

Jack was surprised when Sarah laid down right next to him, but he thought it best not to say anything.

Neither of them said anything as a matter of fact. Each one trying not to break the mood.

Finally, Jack said, “Beats Netflix don’t it?”

“It sure does.”

And that night they laid there until they fell asleep while watching the stars.

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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