ARCTIC TUNDRAH, a Kanuk, Alaska story
By Voni Harris
1-11-11

“Tundrah,” Jack asked, “Where did you get your name?”  

He was always asking her these kinds of questions. Made spending library time working with him on this college history project kind of challenging and fun. Getting to know him was a definite bonus. Maybe he’ll ask me on a date one of these days. 

“My Mom and Dad met on one of those Arctic Tundra tours. It was even a winter Arctic tour. They thought tundra would be a silly name, so they added the letter h at the end as a shout-out to my Dad’s grandmother, who was named Leah.” 

He stopped in the middle of packing his “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know it had an h. I’ve spelled it wrong during this whole project! I’ll go back and change all our documents, I promise. I never even thought to check the spelling of your name.”

Tundrah burst out laughing. Mr. Clean-Cut did not like missing details. “Thanks, but don’t worry about it. It happens all the time. You should have seen my Mom the day she came into to my first grade classroom to explain to the teacher how to spell my name. The teacher kept making me leave the h off.” She took a sip of soda.  

Jack gave her a relieved smile. “That’s a cool story.”

 “How’d you get your name?” Tundrah lobbed the softball question back at him.

 “It’s a boring story,” he warned.

 “Come on, Jack! I told you mine.”

 “Don’t blame me if you begin to yawn. Here goes: I was named after my grandfather.” He held her eyes for a moment. “See. No Arctic adventures or cool silent letters.”

 “Still a very cool shout-out to your grandfather. Must have been quite a man.”

 “He is. I hope you meet him some day.” That took Tundrah by surprise. “Speaking of which… uh…I’ve been wanting to ask you out…”

 She smiled at the ever so subtle shyness in Jack’s voice.

 “…but I’d like to talk to your father first.”

I do not want him meeting my father! No way! “That’s sweet, Jack, but it’s unnecessary. I’d like to go out with you.”

Jack thought for a moment. “Tundrah, I want you to understand. I don’t just want to go out on a date with you. I want a real relationship with you—from the get-go. That’s not something we can really accomplish without your family’s blessing, and my family’s.”

“Uh, Jack, again, that’s sweet. But unnecessary. I like you too, and starting a real relationship with you sounds good to me. You’re not only respectful and thoughtful, but I’ve seen how you treat me and the other girls at the college with respect. I’d like to see where things lead between us. My Dad doesn’t need to be involved. You and I are both grownups.”

She was afraid he was going to get up and walk out of the library. But he wasn’t the give-up kind of guy. “Here’s the thing. I’m a Christian. It’s important to me that I don’t play with your emotions, and so I want to talk with your father to make sure that I’m not and that I don’t. I want you to meet my family, for the same reason. It’s just the way my parents taught me.”

 He’s a Christian? He ought to get along with my Dad. “My Dad and I don’t really talk, Jack. Actually, we don’t talk at all. Not for a couple of years now.”

 “That’s too bad. Why not?,” Jack, asked gently.

 “I’d love to meet your family, especially your grandfather,” she responded, hoping he missed the conversational sidestep. I want to date this man, and I don’t want Dad to ruin it like he ruined everything else.

 “I’d like that, too. Why don’t you and your Dad talk, Tundrah?”

So her options were to go digging into the ancient history of her relationship with her dad, or to let Jack call him. “Fine,” she sighed. “Give him a call.” She pulled out a business card. “I think he’s still at this number.” Hope I haven’t made a mistake!

“Thanks, Tundrah. I will. Well, I gotta go. I’ll call you soon. Need help out to your car with your books?”

“Uh, no thanks. I appreciate it. I’ll get our history timeline completed tonight, so we should be all ready to go with the presentation in class on Tuesday.”

“And I’ll get the list of references typed up,” he said, accepting her slide away from the personal and back to the project. “Talk to you soon,” he promised, ruffling her hair on his way past.

Hope so, after you talk to my Dad!

***************

Jack left the library, swinging his backpack onto his shoulder, and heading for his dorm just across the quad. Whatever Tundrah’s problem with her father was, it was a biggie, and she wasn’t talking about it.

Yet she’d given him her Dad’s phone number.

Jack flipped over the card he’d given her. Her father was Ed Simpkins. Ed Simpkins Realty? Looked like it. He owned the most successful realty company in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska. He was known in the Valley for tough but fair business practices, and he was a Christian, according to one of his friends from church, who’d bought a house through Simpkins Realty.

That knowledge only increased the intrigue Tundrah held over him since they began working on the history project together. What was going on in that family, that a Christian man wouldn’t be speaking to his daughter?

Part 2 here…Enjoy!

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