Weekend In The Woods
Santos came out of his parents' house and headed for his pickup truck parked in the driveway
"Hello, Santos," he heard a voice call out.
He glanced up to see a woman of about thirty walking across the street toward him. She was wearing jean cutoffs, a tee shirt and a ball cap on her head, her brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. "You are Santos, aren't you!?"
He studied the woman as she approached. "Emilia!?" He said when he recognized her. "You're back?"
"Living with my parents for now," she revealed with a shrug. She glanced at the truck he was standing next to. "Nice sign," she said.
The sign on the door panels read "Dorsey's Overhead Doors".
"My father invested in the business," Santos explained. "Doing pretty well so far."
"You still living here?" Emilia asked.
"No, I have an apartment over Grogan's Furniture on Channing Street," he revealed.
She nodded and smiled. "What are you doing here on a Friday afternoon?"
"Grabbing the keys to my grandfather's cabin," he explained. "Thought I'd do a weekend escape up there."
"You guys still have that place?" She asked with surprise.
"My mother will never get rid of it," Santos laughed.
"Can I go with you?" Emilia asked bluntly.
He wasn't sure if she was teasing him or being serious and she laughed when she saw the look on his face.
"I'm going stir crazy," she let him know. "I could use a change of scenery for a few days."
It would have been Santos' fantasy come true if he was still sixteen when Emilia was his sister Beth's best friend but now he was twenty-five and Emilia was thirty coming off a failed marriage and Beth was living in North Dakota and Santos hadn't seen Emilia since her wedding day eight years earlier (he was eighteen then and still crazy about her). Now Emilia's self-invite felt weird for some reason.
"The cabin is pretty small," he said awkwardly.
"I'll go get my stuff," she said, taking his response as an acceptance. "Wait for me!"
Santos watched Emilia trot across the street with much more pep and energy than she had shown when she first approached him. He pondered hopping into the truck and escaping without her but that would be mean. He rubbed his chin with doubt and insecurity. It had been a long time since he spent any quality time with Emilia and even then he was usually the third wheel kid brother, always five years behind Emilia and Beth.
A lot had changed since their days of youth on their friendly neighborhood street. Emilia's older brother Hank was killed in a Marine Helicopter training mission crash when Santos was sixteen and there was a pronounced change in Emilia's demeanor and outgoing personality in the aftermath of her brother's death - a permeating sadness about her.
Emilia and Beth both attended nearby Green College and lived at home so Santos still saw plenty of Emilia but she was dating Brandon by then and Santos felt betrayed even though he knew there was nothing between him and Emilia except for good natured ribbing and a big sister kind of teasing. Emilia and Brandon's wedding was the most expensive and elegant ceremony Santos had ever seen and when he watched the newlyweds drive off in the limo on their wedding night he knew that it would never be the same again.
"Okay." It was Emilia's voice bringing Santos out of his thoughts. She was standing in the driveway with a backpack in her hand. "All set."
"You sure you want to do this?" Santos asked skeptically. "It's out in the middle of nowhere. There's not much to do."
"I'm not doing anything here," Emilia responded. "You ready to go?"
Santos had already packed his bag which was in the bed of the truck. "Sure," he said, trying to act laidback. "Let me take that."
He took the backpack from her and secured it in the back of the truck before they both climbed into the cab.
"Did you tell anybody where you're going?" He asked as he started the truck.
"I left a note," she replied. "They'll be fine."
Santos nodded and backed the truck out of the driveway and just like that they were off for a weird weekend in the woods.
"How was Richmond?" Santos asked once they were on the road out of town. The local radio station softly played in the background on the truck radio.
"I liked Virginia," Emilia replied. "I just never saw Brandon. Maybe we should have waited until after med school and residency and all that before we got married. He was always busy, studying and working, training and learning. I felt like a widow. Far from home. Alone. Lonely. There was never time for anything, including sex."
"Oh," Santos said awkwardly. "Sorry."
"By the time he finally landed his first real job as a doctor we were estranged and miserable and I figured out that he really didn't want to be married," Emilia explained. "He was too preoccupied being a Doctor to be a husband."
"So, you came home," Santos said.
"I'm not even sure if my parents have fully paid for the wedding yet," she sighed. "I have a degree from Green College that I've never used. I was mostly doing retail work in Richmond."
"You can start over in Hillsboro," Santos pointed out. "If I can do it, anybody can."
"You were always a hard worker," Emilia recalled. "I'm not surprised you're running your own business."
"Only because of my parents financing."
"My parents financed my college and my wedding," Emilia said. "At least your parents have something to show for their investment."
"Don't be so hard on yourself," Santos advised.
"Hank flew helicopters," she remarked sadly. "He was going to own the skies."
"You'll fly when you're ready."
Emilia peered at him as he drove the truck. "I remember you used to dance," she said. "At Step Up! I thought it was great of you as a guy to dance in a mostly girls' endeavor."
"What better place to meet girls?" Santos smirked. "I knew girls loved to dance and they respected that I danced too. "I always felt like I was floating on air."
"I remember you in Grease."
"My one and only starring role," Santos said.
"And you dated Sandy in real life!" Emilia laughed.
"Whatever happened to her?"
"Kim!" Emilia nodded.
"We were sixteen," he sighed. "It was never destined to last. I think she's married now. Lives in Florida or something."
"How 'bout that girl you brought to my wedding?" Emilia asked.
"Becky," Emilia acknowledged.
Becky was Santos first true love. They started dating high school senior year, becoming expert make out artists and body explorers. She let him take off her clothes one night after a party and they made love in the back of his paternal grandfather's 1962 Chevy pickup truck, but Santos didn't last long because it was his first time. Becky was understanding and forgiving and they lay together under the stars cuddling and talking until the sun came up and although the sex wasn't very good Santos remembered the experience as his most romantic and intimate night because of Becky's passion and compassion.
Ironically, the next time he had sex with Becky was on the night of Emilia's wedding because Santos need to forget about his fantasy and concentrate on his reality. But Becky went off to college while Santos stayed in Hillsboro and that relationship eventually ended.
"Last I heard, Becky was working on her Masters out in Iowa," Santos said.
There were other girls and Santos had sex with most of them but none of those relationships were serious or lasted very long. Then he met Julie - ironically at Becky's wedding - she was the sister of one of the bridesmaids and Santos ended up dancing with her and that led to the stereotypical wedding sex that night. Santos really liked Julie and he was serious about her until he learned she had a boyfriend stationed overseas in the military and he wasn't interested in having an affair instead of relationship so he broke it off. Since then, he focused on the business and hadn't pursued romantic opportunities.
The cabin was less than an hour from Hillsboro, located in a heavily wooded section of Southern Vermont. Santos stopped at a country store for weekend supplies and Emilia picked up a case of beer and some wine before they travelled the last few miles to the cabin.