Choice Matters

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Part 1: NOW…

The rain came down steadily that night. It had been coming down in heavy sheets almost two hours before. That’s when it had caused the most damage. It had turned the cottage roads into obstacle courses with pools of water and large branches and debris strewn across the gravel and asphalt. Wise travellers would have avoided trying to push through such a torrent. But there would always be a few who had “no choice” or a “good reason” to challenge the elements. Some make it through just fine.

Some don’t.

The old blue cube van had been pushed back just barely across the road’s shoulder. It was only a few feet away from a water-filled sink hole that had formed during the storm, cutting off the secluded stretch of old country road for the evening. The grill of the van had branches and leaves sticking out of it, evidence of a challenge fought and lost to the aforementioned pool it was now looking at.

Inside the van, two people sat across from each other in the rear cargo area, staring at one another. Her name was Lena Kim, 22 year old senior trying to get home after aborting a trip to a cottage with a friend. His name was Marko Alves, 26 year old contractor also heading in the same direction coming from the same cottage. The van belonged to someone he sometimes considered a friend, a lot of the time he just considered him to be an obnoxious prick.

Lena and Marko had met at the cottage just earlier that afternoon but hadn’t really spoken to one another that much while they were there. Somehow they ended up in the van driving for about an hour and a half before the storm had killed it. They’d been sitting in the unusually decorated interior of the van’s cargo area, a couple of battery operated lights illuminating the compartment, for about an hour, the smell of alcohol lightly pervading the air. So really, they had known each other for maybe about 3 hours.

But the silence between them was thick now. Marko had a tight lipped smile on his rugged deep olive-skinned face. He focused his green eyes on Lena sitting on the floor across from him. She returned his gaze, but she didn’t have a smile. Her long, smooth-featured face was very stoic. Her small, but full-shaped lips were just slightly pursed. But it was her dark eyes, angled with a smooth lid often associated with the “Oriental” look, that might have revealed what she was thinking as they watched the man seated across from her.

Marko cocked his head slightly, raised an eyebrow to her and broke the silence. “So?” he simply said.

Her lips seemed to tighten as she drew a deep breath. She said nothing.

For Marko, he took that as a signal to start moving slowly towards her. His eyes never left hers as he leaned forward and reached his hand out and touched the toes of her outstretched foot. Lena’s eyes moved to his hand. She watched quietly as he proceeded to run his hand from her toes, across the top of her foot and then slowly up her smooth-shaved shin. He stopped at her knee. Her eyes were still on his hand but she didn’t move, didn’t protest. His smile deepened.

He slid his hand under her knee gently caressing the soft skin beneath it. He thought he felt her tremble ever so slightly. Then his warm hand slid up and out along her outer thigh. He shifted on his knees moving closer to her as he did.

Lena watched the man’s hand as it rolled over her leg and then touched the tender flesh of her inner thigh. His hand was rough. It moved very slowly, deliberately upward towards her crotch. Her breathing intensified. She stole a quick glance up at Marko, saw that his eyes and his pleased smile was fixed on her, before returning her gaze to the hand, ever moving upward. It stopped at the bottom lip of her shorts.

Still there was no response from her. Marko moved in closer now, his body, his face almost next to hers. His fingers slid underneath the leg of her shorts, pushing the material higher up her tanned, sensitive thigh. Her mouth slipped open now. He heard her breathing, watched her chest rise. She started to twist her hips ever so slightly.

But still no protest.

His fingers touched the outline of the crotch of her panties, flicked at it, lifting it up but going no further. The material was so soft, so fine.

Now she looked at him, realized his face was an inch from hers. She gulped softly. Blood rushed to her cheeks.

“You can tell me to stop if you want.” His voice was dry and husky as he said, “Go through or go back. Your choice.”

Her brows angled down sharply. How had she gotten herself into this position with this guy?



Lena stepped out from the passenger side of the VW Beetle, pulling out her school bag. The look of concern on her face was noticeable only to her apparently as the driver, her friend Donna, stood on the other side of the vehicle with a very pleased look of her own.

“Thank God! Fresh air!” Donna declared running her hands through her short bobbed red hair. Then she stretched her arms out, soaking in the atmosphere of the cottage.

Lena was less enthused. “Why are gaziantep escort there so many cars here?” she asked. Her voice was grim.

“Look at the trees! They’re huge!” Donna went on, “The lake! Oh my god! The lake is sooo nice!”

“Why are there so many cars here?” Lena repeated. There were about 10 cars crammed into the clearing around the cottage.

“Well,” Donna said, “I guess they belong to them.”

Lena had already figured that all the people scattered on the dock by the lake and on the cottage porch and in the hot tub had something to do with the cars. That wasn’t what she was asking.

“I thought it would just be 5 or 6 people from school. And girls only,” Lena remarked.

Donna didn’t hear her. The short, freckle faced young woman was scampering off towards the cottage. She met and hugged a blonde haired woman who had a can of beer in both of her hands. Arms crossed, Lena walked slowly towards them.

“Hey! Lena! You made it,” the blonde said, “Welcome to Club Maureen!”

“Hey Maureen,” Lena waved half-heartedly.

The blonde looked her over, “You’ve got to change your clothes, girl! It’s so warm and perfect here!”

Donna had picked up Lena from a morning class. She wore full length black slacks and a button down blouse. It was a little warm and she felt a bit conspicuous. She intended to change at the cottage albeit what she brought was a bit more conservative than the bubble-gum pink bikini that the full-figured Maureen was sporting.

“Um, Maureen,” Lena said, “What are all these people doing here?”

The blonde smirked and shrugged, “I guess word got out!”

Word got out about what? This was supposed to be a quiet girls’ weekend Lena had thought. Actually she wasn’t even supposed to be there. She didn’t really know Maureen, she was Donna’s friend. The only reason she came was at the request of Donna and she was already sceptical about how the weekend would turn out. Donna had broken up with her boyfriend, Tobin, a week ago and was still a bit of a mess. She had called Thursday night all blubbering and begging Lena to come with her to Maureen’s cottage this weekend.

Lena went through her reasons for not coming. Donna countered. Lena had school work. Donna said she could do it at the cottage. Lena didn’t like camping or rustic cottages. Donna insisted that the cottage was new with all amenities provided. Lena said she needed some peace and quiet, no distractions. Donna promised it’d just be a few people from school, all girls. Then Donna “please, please, pleased” her to death.

Inwardly, she should have known better. At best, this weekend would have been one long “Oprah” counselling session for Donna. On the 3 hour drive to the cottage, all Donna could do was bemoan her failures with Tobin. But Lena fell for the idea of relaxing by the lake or taking nature walks. She had to admit, she had been stressed for months now with school and other things. Her social life was shot. Once or twice while she holed up in her small apartment studying over the weekend, the dreaded “R” word came to mind. “Reclusive.”

People were noticing it too and they all seemed bent on reminding her that she was “too everything” to be a shut in. She was too young. She was too pretty. She was too smart and personable. It was a waste for a person like her to be isolated. So before she started looking for a cat, she should do something about it.

Going to a quiet cottage and relaxing for the weekend, while still sneaking in a few study sessions, was a good way of “doing something about it”.

So she was a little perturbed by “Club Maureen”.

“Are all these people staying here?” Lena asked anxiously.

Maureen and Donna were downing their beers. The blonde swallowed and again shrugged, “I don’t know. Maybe. Hey, its all good! The more the merrier! You want a drink?”

“Can we all fit?” Lena was incredulous. She looked at the cottage. It was big, but not that big,

Maureen was unfazed, “We have lots of room! People can share the bedrooms and we can spread out in the living room and game room…”

Lena’s head spun from the porch to the dock. She was unconvinced and said, “There’s like 20 people here.” And guys, too.

Maureen was counting in her head, clicking off with her fingers. She smiled and said, “Actually 25.”

Lena was about to say something else but a loud engine roared as a big, battered, blue van pulled up to the cottage “car park” and blared its horn.

The driver climbed out, a guy with brown spiked hair, and bellowed, “WOOOOOOOO! It’s time to RUMMMMM-BLE!”

Another guy, dark tanned and short black wavy hair, came out of the passenger side looking a bit more subdued.

Make that 27 people.

Maureen and Donna squealed and charged at the driver. “Kirk!” they shouted in unison.

Lena sighed, fuming on the inside, and glared silently at the bouncing trio by the cars. She crossed her arms even more tightly.

Marko grabbed his bag from the back of the van and slung it over his shoulder. He didn’t bother to join in on konya escort the revelry between Maureen, Donna and Kirk but he seemed to wince each time one of them shouted or screamed like a lunatic. He walked around the cars and then dropped his bag on the ground and pulled out a cigarette. He lit it and took a long, much needed drag. Blowing out the smoke, he squinted. 20 feet away, he saw a young woman just standing in the middle of the cottage grounds. She looked maybe Chinese or Korean. He’d say she looked attractive, almost exotic, but she had a stern face, her arms were crossed and she was dressed like a teacher. At first he thought she was staring at him but quickly realized her hard gaze went past him and was planted on the threesome by the van.

She was pissed. He knew how she felt. 3 hours in a van with Kirk had exhausted him and possibly wore out any interest in actually socializing with all these party-oriented strangers at the cottage. He picked up his bag.

Lena was going through the options in her head. Hitchhike 3 hours back to the city? Maybe someone had a tent. She was so focused in her thoughts that she didn’t notice the guy in the grey hooded-sweatshirt and blue jeans walking towards her until he dropped his bag next to her.

She blinked and leaned to the side away from the bag on the ground. She looked at the bag and at the man.

“Excuse me,” he said to her.

Lena twitched a smile and shook her head. “It’s alright,” she said. She returned to gazing straight ahead.

Marko did the same, turning to face the cars, hands in the pockets of his sweatshirt.

They stood there quietly for a minute watching the frantic conversation going on between Maureen, Donna and Kirk. “Freaks,” Marko muttered. Lena turned her head and looked at him. She squinted a bit as she watched him rock slowly on his feet.

Marko glanced over to her, his cigarette hanging out his mouth. After a moment, he pulled it out. “Oh sorry,” he said apologizing for the cigarette.

The young woman smiled again a bit more warmly. She shook her head. “Free country,” she said.

He nodded. Cool girl, he thought. He decided to hold out his hand, “Marko Alves.”

Lena took a moment to look at his hand but then took it. As they shook, she noticed how large his hand was. It was also very rough but very warm and he had a firm grip on hers.

“Lena Kim,” she said and added, “Friend of the short freak with red hair.”

He chuckled and smiled. “Kim”. Korean. Very cool. And as her smile grew larger and more genuine, she now definitely fell in the category of attractive. Her hair was long and wavy, black with the faintest auburn highlights. She had the exotic, cut-angled Oriental eyes. Light golden-beige skin. She wasn’t much shorter than his 5’10” height but her frame was much more slender. She actually didn’t seem to have much of a chest but she still had a nice shape to her waist and legs. Her slacks, though a bit formal, were riding low on her waist, exposing her hip bone.

“I’m with the guy with a bottle of gin surgically stuck up his butt,” Marko said.

She had to snigger. Then she inhaled and sighed, her body easing a bit. She also dropped her arms and held them at her waist as she looked down at the ground and shook her head. “What am I DOING here?” she wondered aloud.

Marko paused for thought then pointed at Donna and said, “You came because of her, right?”

She looked at him, surprised. She remarked, “Are you a mind reader?”

He grinned and laughed a bit. Then he said, “So you ARE lesbians?”

Lena blinked and gasped. She was about to object but when she saw his big, coy grin she started to laugh. “No. Not lesbians,” she snapped playfully, calling his bluff, “No. I’m playing babysitter.”

“Would have been more fun if you were lesbians,” he joked, a matter-of-fact look on his face.

In spite of her situation, she laughed again. This was good. Going from despair to something resembling enjoyment was hopeful. This guy didn’t seem like he was going to add to the hell bent party atmosphere pervading the secluded cottage. Maybe it would be infectious.

She pivoted to face him and opened her mouth to say something.

“Chicka! Chicka! Chicka!” the loud one called Kirk yelled out as he strolled over, his arms draped around Donna and Maureen, “Hey, bro’! You picked out your playmate for the weekend already?”

Lena winced. Marko’s demeanour also darkened noticeably as he frowned at Kirk.

“Woo! You’re going for Chinese take out, eh?” Kirk added leering at Lena.

Marko could have snapped but he didn’t. “Shut the fuck up already,” he said with a low grumble. He didn’t shout but no one thought he wasn’t serious. Both Kirk and the two girls shifted uneasily.

Marko glanced at Lena. He could tell her mood had dropped again.

Kirk held up his hands and smirked, pretending to back off. Donna and Maureen slipped out from underneath his arms.

Maureen was still smiling but was a bit more calm. She waved to Donna and Lena. “Come on! Grab your bags. Lena? I can kayseri escort show where you can change in the cottage.”

Kirk pulled at Marko’s sweater and thumbed over to the docks where the coolers were. Marko dragged his feet following him. He glanced back at the girls who were walking towards their car. Lena trailed the other two and she looked up and back at him. She smiled gently. He nodded and waved.


Lena sat on the bed in the room Maureen had led her to, dejected. She didn’t ask if that was the room she’d be staying in but the fact that there were 5 other overnight bags already scattered on the floor led her to doubt that she’d have much personal space this weekend. She could hear the loud conversations and the laughter taking place all around the cottage. She sighed again.

She repeated the mantra “relax, relax” over and over again. One of her mental exercises in doing so was trying recall the best moment of the day so far. That was easy. Marko had got her to laugh. That was something on a day like this. He had a nice smile and really cool looking green eyes, too. Never hurts to have the spirits lifted by a cute guy.

But she knew she couldn’t pin her weekend hopes for relaxation on some “cute guy”. For all she knew, he was pounding away the beers and belly flopping into the lake at this minute. Besides, she had little time or interest in that sort of thing, guys, right now.

So what to do? Relax. Okay. First things first, change out of the classroom garments she was wearing into something more…”cottage”.

Lena stood up and opened her bag, pulling out some beige hiking shorts and a small black, light cotton sweater. Then she started to unbutton her blouse.

On the deck that ran around the entire cottage, Kirk was on the other side of the bedroom window peeking through a crack in the shutters. He took a sip of his beer and chuckled quietly to himself. As Lena wriggled her pants down her slender legs to the floor, he had to admit that she would make it tough to decide if he was a leg or ass man.

Marko came around the corner and stopped. He shook his head and called to him, “Yo Kirk, what the hell…”

Kirk immediately turned to him, a finger over his grinning lips. He waved Marko over eagerly.

Marko sighed and rolled his head then walked over. A few steps away, Kirk moved from the window and leaned up against the wall resting his hand on Marko’s shoulder. He snickered then said, “You can thank me later, man, but if you’d like a nice little preview of your Chinese Delight, take a look.”

Marko frowned. Then all patience drained from him in an instant. He grabbed the smaller man’s collar and yanked him close. He snarled, “What are you? 15? Act like a fucking grown up!”

“Hey! Hey! Hey!” Kirk said, again his hands up, “Watch it!”

“First of all she’s Korean,” Marko said, “Second of all, you’re a dick!”

Then he spun around, dragging and shoving Kirk away from the window. Kirk dropped his beer. He looked down at the can spilling forth it’s liquid happiness onto the deck.

“Aw man. That’s just sad,” he moaned. He was more dejected about the loss of his beer than the obvious anger of his friend.

“Get the fuck out of here,” Marko pushed him away.

Kirk skulked away thinking of where to refresh his drinking hand.

Marko, standing in the middle of the deck, in front of the window, watched him disappear around the corner. Satisfied his idiot friend wasn’t going to come back he eased off a bit. He turned his head and looked at the window. He could see the crack where Kirk had been peering through. He could see motion in the room. He turned his attention to the deck floor and thought for a long moment.

Lena slipped on the sweater. She pulled her long hair out from under the collar then stretched it over her shoulders, revealing her bare smooth skin. She was brushing her hair out with her fingers when she thought she saw movement from behind the shutters of the window. She walked around the bed and drew the shutters open. She had a clear view of a small tree just a few feet from the deck, rustling in the wind. Lena pursed her lips tightly then turned and exited the bedroom.

When he heard her close the door, Marko stepped away from the window side.



Lena couldn’t believe it but the day quickly became worse. It had started to rain. Hard. While two or three of the revellers thought it would be a good time to go for a swim everyone else was packed into the cottage. Their answer to staving off boredom: alcohol and pot. The air was filled with the heady aromas of a mix of liquors and burning grass. When everyone had been outside the cottage, at least the noise and shouting got swept up into the trees and out across the expanse of the lake. Now it was all contained within the cottage and the boisterous chatter and laughter shook the walls.

Lena had holed herself up in the small den. She sat in the easy chair, a pillow wrapped behind her head over her ears as she stared with a knitted-brow at her open text-book. It made absolutely no sense to her. She couldn’t think straight, the shrill shrieks of girls and the bellowing proclamations of guys piercing her pillow ear-muffs. Then someone cranked up the stereo twisting the volume and bass to a “Spinal Tap 11”, loud enough to shake the floor and send ripples through the water in her glass on the desk.

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