Match Made

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NINETEEN

After several minutes of silence, during which Christopher gets me some water, my parents start talking again as though nothing has happened.

“So, how do you like your new house?” Dad asks me.

“I like it a lot, actually,” I take a bite of food so I have time to think.

“Tell me about it,” Mom interjects. “I want to know what it looks like.”

You mean you don’t know? That must be killing you.

Chris looks at me for an answer before taking the reins. “I designed it, but had a friend decorate it. So we both got to see it together when we met. I think we’re both very pleased with it. But we aren’t moved in yet, so we aren’t really ready to have guests.”

Mom is looking directly at me, and her face says she is displeased with me. I can’t tell if it’s because of the maybe-not-quitting-work or if it’s the fact that she knows Melody has been over to our house. Melody doesn’t usually tell my parents things, but sometimes they ask her and she doesn’t realize what she’s saying.

The rest of lunch passes with vague pleasantries. It’s almost as though I am sitting through a business meeting rather than a family gathering. Thankfully, there is no rule about the quality of conversation. Simply being here fulfills our requirement to Match Made.

At 1:15, Mom surprises me by standing up. “I think it’s time for us to go our separate ways. I know we said 1:30 but I think we’re done here and your father and I are very busy.”

“Let me help you clean up,” I pick up my dishes and Chris’s before following Mom into the kitchen.

“What else can I do?” I ask once the dishes are in the dishwasher. “I can pack up the leftovers if you want.”

“That’s fine, thanks,” Mom doesn’t look at me when she speaks. “I think it’s best if you just go.”

It sounds like she is about to cry and I suddenly feel like a pretty awful daughter for how I’ve been treating her. I mean, I’m still mad, but maybe I should listen to what she has to say.

“Why?” I ask her with no context.

She turns around to face me, “Why what, Aubrey? It’s clear you don’t want to be here. So maybe it’s best if you just go.”

“No,” I’m determined to stand my ground. “I want to know why you set me a match the minute I turned twenty-five.”

“Because it’s the law, Aubrey,” she rubs her temple as she speaks to me. “I don’t know why you have so much trouble understanding that.”

“It’s the law that you’re allowed to do it,” I counter. “There’s no law saying you had to do it that fast. You didn’t even tell me! Why do you think I don’t deserve any say in my own future?”

“You had plenty of time to have a say in your own future!” she is starting to raise her voice, and I am sure they can hear it in the next room. “You had years to find someone to marry or even date and you just weren’t trying. You were all about your work and didn’t seem at all interested in finding someone to marry. If I thought you were trying, I might have left it.”

I scoff at her explanation. “Did it ever occur to you,” my voice is quiet, but firm, “that I might not be trying to find a husband because I didn’t want one yet?”

“It did, yes.”

That’s not what I was expecting.

“So then why? Why didn’t you let me try?”

“I’ve answered this already, Aubrey,” she looks out the window rather than at me as she continues. “I don’t think you were actually going to try. We had hoped you would show some interest in dating on your own but it didn’t happen.”

I tried to cut in but she pressed on.

“And when we saw Christopher come up in your available matches. . .” she looks back at me. “When I saw Christopher come up in your available matches, I knew we had found the one for you. I didn’t want to have to do it for you, but I couldn’t risk letting him go just to give you another year of not trying.”

I’m pretty sure my jaw is on the floor.

“So, I know you wanted more time, but we didn’t want to wait five years and then still have you settling for someone who wasn’t good for you,” she pauses and lowers her voice to a whisper. “We only want what’s best for you, Aubrey. And I know we don’t always agree on what that is. But please believe I did what I thought was best for you.”

“I don’t know,” I sigh. “I’m not sure I can believe that. You didn’t even talk to me about it. I know you think that’s what happened, but I’m not sure. I just need some time. Thanks for dinner.”

I don’t wait for her to answer as I put the towel I am holding on the counter and walk out of the kitchen into the dining room.

“Thanks for dinner, Dad. Have fun this afternoon,” I try to keep the tears out of my eyes and my voice.

“It was very nice to meet you, Sir,” Chris shakes my dad’s hand. “I’m sorry we don’t have more time to get to know each other. I’ll take good care of her.”

Dad nods firmly and shakes Chris’s hand, “Thank you, son.”

I don’t have the energy to figure out what anything means as we walk out of my parents house and I finally let the tears spill over.

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