A Fine Distraction
A travel fiction story of romance by Adam J. Cheshier.
In any other instance, the fancy car and four-star hotel would turn Nick off. The same goes for a man showing up to dinner in shorts in Julia’s eyes. I guess it was a matter of circumstance in this case that both ended up enjoying the other’s company. But it wasn’t certain at first.
They were sat at the table on the sandy beach.
“You leave this city in a month — what’s your deal here?” Julia asked.
“Ye — why did you ask me out again after two months?” she asked.
“To be honest, I enjoy female energy. I like this moment of unsureness when neither of us knows what the other is thinking. It is my favorite part of meeting new people,” Nick said.
“Is that what you say to cover up the fact that you want to get laid?”
Nick knew to expect this type of brutal honesty from Julia. He wasn’t uncomfortable with it from her. and answered her directly.
“I don’t want this to be a serious thing, you’re right. I do leave in a month. However, I can explain why I’ve been absent the whole summer.”
“Why’s that?” she asked.
“I was traveling with a friend.”
“A friend or a ‘friend’?”
“Just a friend,” Nick said.
“Was it a girl?” Julia asked.
“Where’d you go?”
“We hitchhiked through the peninsula,” he said. They were expats living on Malaysia’s side of Borneo. Julia was Aussie, Nick was American.
“Did you guys have sex?” Julia asked.
“Well, yes,” he said. He was honest because he knew Julia could handle it.
“I see,” she said. “What’s your idea for us?”
“For us? Like tonight?”
“Well, I imagined after the third date — though there were two months in-between the second and third — I thought we might have sex.”
“I don’t know,” Nick said.
“I don’t know either,” said Julia. “This week I’ve been an emotional rollercoaster.”
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” she said.
“Tell me. Then you can kill me.”
“Let me smoke a cigarette and think about it,” Julia said.
She left the table to smoke and came back with her story. It was about her ex. About how he abused her and how, this week, he wants to get back together.
“I’ll probably give in and go back to Australia. I’ve never shared this story with anyone here.”
“I’m sad to hear that, Julia — about getting back together with him. I won’t say anything more because I don’t know what it’s like or what you are going through.”
“He’s the reason I moved here in the first place. I needed to get away from it all. That was nearly a year ago and he swears he has changed.”
“Sounds typical from a guy,” Nick said, “But why me?”
“Why am I the only one you’ve shared that with? Why are you here now when you are so emotionally drained by him?” he asked.
“We could all use a little distraction, I suppose,” she said.
“I guess that’s all Tinder is after all. Just a little distraction from our own lives,” Nick said.
“That’s a good way to look at it. So, want to go get distracted in my car?” she asked.
“Fine. Let’s go.”
But Nick’s mind was far from the distraction. In his head, he was in the Dominican Republic where he spent a good part of that summer. Six weeks, to be exact. He was with a friend like he told Julia. But the friend wasn’t just a friend. She was a ‘friend’ like Julia suspected.
Her name was Greicy. She was Brazilian and hardly spoke English. It is a miracle such memory exists in his mind and even more so that it exists so purely.
Greicy and Nick fell in love with each other, and it happened almost consequently after Nick arrived in the Caribbean.
He was in Punta Cana for a five-day family reunion. His cousins, aunts, uncles, brother, sisters, and grandparents were all there. It was a mess, and not a lot of quality time to his standards, but a must-attend kind-of-thing nonetheless. He was more looking forward to the time after they all returned to the United States when he planned to traverse the Dominican Republic on foot and witness everything that existed in the country outside of their resort.
But that dream was short-lived after he checked into the hostel the morning his family left for the airport. There was no running water or air-conditioning — a far cry from the luxuries of where he had previously spent five nights. But, still, he believed the hostel offered him more than the realities of local people.
The hostel was empty — with the exception of one backpack that laid on the floor in a mess below the dorm bed. Whomever it belonged to was out — probably at the beach as there were not many other places a tourist could be in Punta Cana. Tourist police are steadfast in returning wandering tourists back to their resort. Danger — or some twisted storyline — lurks around every corner in the Dominican Republic.
Nick sat down in the hammock outside and began reading his Hemingway book but not long after the warmth of the sun cooked him to sleep. He was sound asleep for hours into dusk, then, the opening of the front door startled him awake. His face, looking like it was choked red, stung from the sun.
It was a woman. She had a beach bag around her shoulder and earphones in. He could hear her singing as she dropped her things on the bed and checked her face in the mirror. It wasn’t English, maybe Spanish.
Nick went back to reading but kept an ear on the movement inside. She kept singing and eventually made her way to the porch to sit at the table near the hammock.
“Hello,” Nick said as he sat upright.
The woman nearly threw herself tumbling backward in the chair.
“Oh!” she said as she grabbed her chest and took out her earphones. She wanted to say something but patted her chest and smiled instead.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Nick said.
Now, the woman’s face was as red as Nick’s.
“OK, OK,” she said, still smiling.
“I’m Nick,” he said.
“Oh, hello,” the woman said timidly and abruptly turned her gaze to the floor.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“My name is Greicy,” she said.
“Where are you from, Greicy?”
“Brasil,” she said and immediately her accent shined. “Sorry, my English not so good.”
She spoke slowly and unsure and was in a rush to get back to her earphones.
“It’s OK, don’t worry about it,” Nick said. “So, you speak Portuguese.”
“Sim, Portuguese,” she said with a smile. “You know?”
“No, I don’t speak Portuguese.”
“Espanol?” she asked.
“No, just a little — un poco,” Nick said.
“Oh, OK. Me too. Un poco.”
“Are you traveling alone?” he asked.
She looked perplex.
“Um — in espanol?”
“Ah, no. Sorry — lo siento. I don’t know,” Nick said.
She raised a finger in the error and picked her phone off the table and began typing. Soon, she was holding her screen to the face of Nick. It was situated on Google Translate, translating from English to Portuguese. Nick typed in his question and raised the phone back to her.
“Ah — yes. I traveling all-lone,” she said.
Despite the struggle, the two were good company for each other into the night. Nobody else stayed at the hostel that night or the next two days. Greicy and Nick spent most of the days with each other by default, if nothing else.
When Nick asked her to go to the capital city, Santo Domingo, with him, she said yes. She was fine company and he believed every day she spent with him her English was improving.
They went to Santo Domingo for a few days and mingled with locals. It’s not the resort town that Punta Cana is. Locals are friendlier. There is less foreign resentment. Things are better. But Greicy wanted the beach and so Nick followed. They went to Puerto Plata for a few days and back to Santo Domingo and back to Punta Cana.
It was there that Greicy asked Nick to continue to Peru with her. Nick couldn’t. He was impossibly low on money with no income to offset the flights. He could barely get back to Borneo where he had a steady job with the World Wildlife Foundation.
She was sad. So was he. They had four days left together. By this point, Greicy had momentum in her English and they were communicating without the translating app — simply — but communication nonetheless.
Greicy would travel seven more weeks in Peru and Nick couldn’t convince her otherwise. She had saved two years for this trip as an apprentice to a construction contractor. Nick wished he could go on with her. He wished he could take her back to Borneo. He loved her by now. All it took was a week and he was not one to fall in love.
“Are you kidding, dude?” Julia said.
Nick woke up from a daydream. Julia was on top of him in the car.
“You’re not even fucking here. I’m fucking a rock.”
“I’m sorry,” Nick said.
“No, you’re not. We’ve been going at this for half an hour now and you haven’t said one word.”
“I’ve got things on my mind,” Nick said.
“It’s that girl you fucked on your trip, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is.”
“Do you love her?” she asked.
Julia got off Nick back into the driver’s seat. She started sliding on her pants.
“Let’s talk about it. I don’t mind,” she said.
“Talk about what?” Nick asked.
“Her. Who is she?”
“No. No way. I’m not talking to you about this.”
“Why not?” Julia asked.
“Are you serious?” Nick asked.
“We might as well talk about something. We’re here, aren’t we?”
NIck looked vacantly out the window.
“She’s in Peru now. I should be with her. I don’t know why I’m here.”
“So, you feel guilty for being here with me, don’t you?”
“No, not really,” Nick said.
“What! How come?” she asked.
“I’m in love. It’s a fleeting love. I won’t love her tomorrow. Or the next day. Hopefully.”
“That’s ridiculous, you know,” she said.
“Yeah. Love isn’t supposed to be like that, is it?” he said.
“Why didn’t you go to Peru with her?”
“I told her I don’t have the money. That’s not the truth, though.”
“What’s the truth, then?”
Nick paused. Reflected.
“What’s the matter with me, Julia?”
“Don’t be like that,” she said.
“I’m embarrassed,” he said. “I promise I’ve never made my problems someone else’s like this before.”
“You shouldn’t worry,” she said.
“Yeah, but what if she doesn’t feel like this — this emptiness.”
“She does,” Julia said. “Or else she wouldn’t have told you to follow her to Peru.”
“What made her special?” she asked.
“Maybe it was just circumstance,” he said.
“That’s not what a girl wants to hear.”
“Yeah, OK, I get that. But why else would we be put together just to be separated so quickly?”
“It’s was a moment for you, Nick.”
“I’m a big believer in fate, Julia. For the first time in my life, that felt like fate and I can’t describe it any other way.”
“Now, that’s a good answer.”
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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **