Out Of The Woods
by Mosca

I swore I'd never go camping with Stu again. What I know now that I didn't know then is, when Stu goes long enogh without escaping to the woods, he gets restless. If he had leaves, they'd be turning brown. He puppy-eyed me all the way to the Adirondacks.

I thought that this would fix everything. Instead, I'm sitting in a broken rocking chair, in a cabin that's not so much drafty as preparing for takeoff, scrolling through the saved numbers in my cellphone for someone selfless enough to pick me up. I keep getting the answering machine at Kyle and Donna's, and Peter says Gillian is way too insistent on weekend Family Time. When I called my mother, she told me that I'd made my own remote, chilly bed, and that it was now time to lie there.

It would be profoundly unfair of me to call Bruce. Not because he would say no and cost me roaming charges, but because he would come to my rescue. When he's not home, I'll have satisfied myself that there is no way out of here until tomorrow night.

If I'm here that long, I won't even be sleeping in the bed I made. Stu's the one that's mad, and I'm living in the middle of our breakup fight. I made the mistake of telling him that this wouldn't be a vacation for me, and he exploded. He told me I'd better get used to it and learn to have fun, because we were doing this once a month for the rest of our marriage. He said it with a smile, but no matter how big the spoonful of sugar, I don't like being told that I'd better do anything. I told him he'd better get out of the house for a while.

Bruce is home, and he says it'll take him about four hours to get here. I can live with four hours of reading the case files I smuggled in the secret pocket of my bag. My guilt is surprisingly un-crushing.

It's so quiet outside that not only do I hear Bruce's car pull up, but it almost jolts me out of my chair. I gather my things up quickly and run out, clutching files to my chest. Bruce pops the trunk open like a true gentleman. In the same spirit, he doesn't ask what happened with Stu, just says something about how pretty the sunset is.

We agree on the oldies station, and I listen to him hum along to Marvin Gaye. There is something about his eyes when he's concentrating that makes me want to gaze into them. I watch his hands instead and find myself staring at the paths of his bones under his skin, the way the pale ovals at the bases of his nails stand out against his dark fingertips. I force myself to look out the windshield at the New York Thruway and see a sign for a rest area. "Can you pull off there?" I say.

"At the truck stop?" he says. "You didn't go before you left?"

"No indoor plumbing," I say.

He waits for me in the car. I splash water on my face. I could have sex with him. He doesn't work for me anymore. And doesn't everybody have a truck stop fantasy? I'll admit that it usually involves a handsome stranger, but to some extent, Bruce has always been that.

I get back in the car and kiss him. He runs his hands through my hair like he's been sitting here expecting me to come back and jump on him. I climb across him. I've got one knee in the door handle and the other wedged between the gear shift and the seat; one hand on the back of his neck and the other down the front of his pants. There are two condoms in my purse that I hadn't imagined using on anybody other than Stu. But it was never this easy with Stu.

It's never been this easy with anyone: to kick my jeans down around my ankles and lower myself onto him. To squeeze fistfuls of his shirt and sink my tongue into his mouth. To want him badly enough that I'm getting close without spending twenty minutes negotiating him into place. He bites my lip when he comes, and I bang my butt on the steering wheel. I start to laugh, but he yanks my hips against his. I lose myself moaning into his mouth.

I crawl into the passenger seat while wiggling back into my pants. He zips himself up and starts the car. "Where have you been all my life?" he says, looking around cautiously before he rolls down the window to toss the condom out.

"Too close," I say. He pulls the car around and onto the Thruway. The yawning, starless blue sky over Albany is more beautiful than anything the mountains have to offer.


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