Eliza Master is a fiction author and a graduate of the Kidd Creative Writing Program. She is a member of the Oregon Writers Collective and Wordos Workshop. The One Million Stories Project, Words Apart Magazine, Snapping Twig and Pankhearst Magazines have published her stories in 2015. Eliza Master is also a potter and does humanitarian work internationally. Wayzgoose Press will publish her three novels; The Scarlet Cord, The Exotic Flower and The Shibari Knot in 2016. She has two sons and lives in Eugene, Oregon
CUPID’S ARROW by Getz Mitten
We tell Kate to go out, because somebody has to say it. You see, we worry, and care about our dear Kate, that’s no secret. We watch her private danceathons and hear her singing in the shower. Believe us, it’s not pretty. Her fruit loop addiction and her thigh brow are recent evolutions. Defensively, Kate tells us about her research into the mating habits of the hippopotamus and the dung beetle. We have National Geo channel too, we reply. She needs to go outside, and let her hair down and date, we say. She probably needs to get shtupped too. Kindly, we suggest a club, the gym, or a hipster bar. Kate puckers her regular brow and shouts “No!” Is she, like five years old?” we ask each other.
The very next day we show up at Kate’s apartment without pre-texting. She doesn’t mind and ushers us in warmly. It smells like dirty laundry and the TV is on, loud. We turn it off and listen to Kate’s heartbeat. It’s feeble like a dying gerbil. We only had to hear it once to know. She is suffering from a close encounter of the breakup kind. The interloper is Teddy, her high school sweetheart. He’s been with Kate forever and we are all used to seeing them together. He’s tall, dark, handsome and first class at heating hot pockets. “He looks dashing in a speedo,” swoons Kate. We flare our nostrils, erasing that picture before it imprints. So far Teddy has grown up into a twenty-nine-year-old musician. He sings songs about videogames and sleeping all day and other familiar things. Teddy doesn’t have money for the hot pockets or his rent so we suggest he get a job. Instead he drops Kate to pursue his dream in a stinky van with his band, Backstreet Toys. We aren’t going to think the word Loser.
We know Kate can do better and we say so. A lawyer, doctor or a man with a trust fund is top notch. Someone to put a bun in the oven with, start the turkey baking before she gets over the hill. We hope for a Cinderella scenario, but instead Kate permanent presses her sofa cushions, twenty-four seven. We worry she will turn into a crazy cat lady minus the cats.
It’s her twenty-eighth birthday so we have her over for dinner. The table is filled with small talk. There is plenty of food, and everyone has known Kate a long time. We complement her yellow sundress and her highlights. She doesn’t say much. We know she is the only one uncoupled here so we give her attention with extra sugar. We hope she can’t tell. We don’t want her to feel bad. She eats small bites of the meat, potatoes and charred brussels sprouts. Laughter punctuates the get-together when a natural lull descends on the party. Then, “No one wants to go out with me!” Kate says a little too loud. Her interjection belly flops onto the table. Ouch. We know we must help Kate. Like a mission we take it on ourselves Mother Teresa style, to find her a new man.
We are tempted to put out a missing BF poster, but we don’t want to embarrass the girl. Instead we settle into Kate’s living room with some chips and cheap red wine. She pulls the curtains as we nest on pillows listening to Kate’s playlist. Just being together feels good. It’s warm so we take off a layer. We talk about our futures and awkward moments. Yeah, we eat the whole bag of cookies. With permission we download a dating app and take a peek at the merchandise…for Kate of course. We pat our own shoulders here, and emoticon a thumbs up. Our stomachs squirm a little, ha. The “ha” is about us squirming, not Kate. She is ready to go for it.
We have a profile to make. Chop, chop. Photos, a screen name and a little sales pitch. Kate’s a terrific girl and smart, we write. For hobbies we put “fun stuff”, then add “lots of” to the “fun stuff.” We contemplate the body type question. More of a pear than an apple, we observe. Kate has plump lips and wild, (dare we say unbrushed?) hair. There is a cute dimple placed mid-cheek. Slender and athletic aren’t quite it, nor is BBW. We recommend going with Average. Kate chooses Toned.
Kate snaps lots of selfies, it’s a photo shoot blowout. We pick one. Innocent but worldly, it features the dimple, with Kate winking through some stray (actually placed) locks. She looks like a secret agent girl who lives next door. Good one. Now we use our phone and have Kate lean over while we snap madly. Oooh, a sexy cleavage shot with Kate’s lips in cherry gloss. We grin. Last we choose an outside photo under a maple tree, nice and wholesome.
We write, “just ask” in the description portion, short and sweet. Now for her screen name… This is a lot harder than it should be, Jesus. ChickPea, Honeysuckle, and Boomshakalakka are cute, aren’t they? Finally we decide on KittyKate. We tap Post and wait. Kate guzzles a full glass of wine. We down two, but who’s counting? Time to line up, boys! (Ok, maybe we are a little tipsy.)
And they do. Goodie! Boobop, bebop and boop trills from Kate’s phone as the messages come in. We shut off alerts, we can’t have Kate binging like crazy. Within a few minutes Kate has three messages. They must have been awake at 2:39 AM as well. We don’t know why the message senders are awake, but since Kate doesn’t blink an eye at this, we think it best to go along as well. One guy messages that he has a big…..vocabulary and that he’d like to know Kate better. Then there is some blahblah, and his number. We can’t read the whole message, not wanting to creep over Kate’s shoulder, or at least we pretend that. Pretty soon she has an engagement with Dweeb87. It’s going to be a coffee date.
Everyone is excited. Kate jumps up and down, while we applaud. Wisdom is offered. Just be yourself, but don’t talk much. Lots of, “very cool!”s and drawing out the syllables in ‘interesting’ are the best responses. Kate puts on heels and vows to start exercising. We throw away all her granny panties. We tell her the fur burger is out and the bald look in. Can’t lose Kate in the bushes, so to speak.
The café is filled with computers and their owners. It smells like chai. Arriving six minutes after four, Kate has perfect timing between fashionably late and neurotic top of the hour precision. We are happy to see that Dweeb87 is there waiting at a table off to the left, ready to identify himself as Kate approaches. Dappled sunlight spots the outdoor tables and it is just cool enough for a sweater. Kate wears a plunging cashmere with wispy tendrils that say pet me. She’s a bit nervous and so is he. He waves just as she turns away and goes inside to search for him. Awkward. We can’t do a thing about it so we just sit and watch trying not to feel invested. Perhaps he does look a bit different from his photos. Finally girl finds boy and Kate says, “Dweeb??” She chirps his name in soprano, with a prepackaged smile. Apparently, Dweeb87 had grown a long beard Whisker Wars style since his profile picture. He holds his facial hair back with one hand as he reaches the other across to Kate.
Dweeb does have a wide vocabulary and begins using it to impress our princess. He speaks in a monotone from somewhere beneath his mustache. Kate sits on her left cheek only. Did he just say canoodle? Right off our girl moves from surprise to idiot stare focusing solely on the hairy bramble coming from the man’s chin. She’s paralyzed, with her left you know where getting beyond sore. We hope there won’t be a bruise. This is not the kind of chemistry we are seeking. It has to end, for Kate’s sake.
“So what do you do for fun?” Dweeb87 asks Kate. His inquiry breaks her trance. Kate’s regular brow crinkles across the table and lo and behold, her vision clears. Gears crank. She mouths the words… Dweeb87?…. Date… Beard… Gandalf…Creepy Santa- Leaning closer! Escape, RUN!
Forcing her eyes above Dweeb’s tangled growth, Kate says, “Nice meeting you, but I’ve got to go.” The courtship had lasted eight minutes, forty seconds. Somehow he doesn’t get the message.
Dweeb asks hopefully, “Can I meet you again?”
“You and me?” Kate breaks Cupid’s arrow. This time Dweeb can tell something’s off. Good for him. Needless to say we don’t hear from this guy again.
Kate goes on lots of dates. This week’s line up is the wilting vegan gluten free cook, the unemployed poet and a camping gear hoarder. We’ve condensed their stats so we can remember which is which. “Why date so many?” We want to know. Isn’t one enough for our KittyKate?
We don’t feel well. We have a case of aggressive dating burnout, on Kate’s behalf of course. Our noses are stuffy and we hope we don’t get laryngitis. We suck on cough drops and eat chicken soup while Kate continues copiously dating like a rabbit. We are here for Kate, but we can’t keep up, nor do we want to. We do have other things to do, just saying. No one is perfect… Ok, ok, the truth is we’re on vacation! Can you pass the sunscreen? The Mexican Riviera is really beautiful, the sand feels like baby powder. “Pardon, Senor, uno mas por favor?” Oh boy, they must have poured the whole bottle in here. Cheers!
Like all good things, vacation ends and we are besieged with The Bad Friend Complex. We haven’t called Kate in a while. We feel guilty, and remember how she held us when our Grandma died. She is so sweet. We miss laughing together. We text and she doesn’t answer. Finally we stop by. The floor is sticky and the rug needs a shave. Dirty dishes accessorize every surface and the windows are all fogged up.
Kate runs to the bathroom and we follow her. We see hair clogging the drain and the toothpaste cap is off and runaway. We should have brought toilet paper. Is Kate crying? There, in the bathroom? She is definitely looking in the mirror and crying, we see that now. We feel like crying too. Some hot tears fall out, more than expected. Poor girl, her heart’s wrapping is coming undone like wet tissue. We wish to tape it back together but we don’t know how. Finally the weeping abates and Kate spills. “So there’s this guy, Jonathan…he’s really cute, and nice and everything…” We wait. “ Well, he said…he…he wants to…break up.” We must have missed the “Kate has a boyfriend” announcement. Kate sniffles and falls into our arms.
“Why?!” He must be a jerk or a moron, we think, but don’t say. She is too good for him, we do say. Kate cries a bit more. After she is dripped dry, we drink hot cocoa and have a heart to heart. She comes full circle. Back on the horse, we swipe and search for a nice gentleman, one good enough for our Kate.
His screen name is LuvIsSweet. We like him already. They have a dinner date at the Thai place. He brings her flowers and picks her up in a convertible. Kate doesn’t notice anyone besides LuvIsSweet and dinner goes more than well. The gentleman secures another meeting, a hike with a mountaintop picnic. She accepts. At her door he gives Kate a shy kiss. His phone drops and Kate picks it up. They laugh.
Does she believe in true love? Is he The One, we ask? Everyone has flaws, we say. We want Kate to pick the right flaws. But Kate doesn’t tell us anything. We need to know the juice, but don’t push. We do notice that Kate is positively perky. When we invite her out she’s always busy, even on weeknights! Of course, we give the lovers privacy. No one likes a busybody.
Soon we can’t resist any longer. Just a quick check in on our Miss will make us feel better. We think we know where LuvIsSweet lives. Yes, we do. We drive by because it’s not out of the way and we are concerned. Not creepy at all. His house has big windows without curtains and all the light are on.
Kate is at LuvIsSweet’s door. She is wearing a little black dress with spaghetti straps. Kate radiates and her eyes glow. Are those ruby earrings? She looks so adorable in that updo that we almost don’t recognize her. There is a doorbell but instead she knocks softly. LuvIsSweet opens the door as if he has been holding his breath. He hands Kate a red rose and says, “I love you.” Kate leaps into LuvIsSweet’s arms. We feel flutters. Our hearts flood. We are in love too. LuvIsSweet kicks the door shut behind him and carries Kate into his house. We are sure that it’s very warm inside and smells like wild herbs. LuvIsSweet sits Kate on his kitchen counter, oh my. Here we have to bleep out a lot of stuff. Anyway we weren’t watching.
And We Live Happily Ever After.