I wake up on the morning after my friend’s wedding to the sound of a notification on my phone. I am going to kill Melody for messaging this early in the - I’m forced to eat my words when I see the time on the clock reads 10:30 am. I guess it isn’t early in the morning at all.
I rub my eyes and put my glasses on before opening my phone to read the notification.
There, on my home screen, are those two dreaded words: Match Made.
Two minutes before, 10:28 had signaled the end of my twenty-fifth year of life. One minute ago, 10:29 had ushered in a new era of a match made for me by my parents. They sure didn’t waste any time turning my life into a nightmare.
I guess it’s time to pick myself up and see what this process is going to be like. None of my friends have ever gone through a parental match. They are becoming more and more rare in general as most people would rather pick their own spouse, even if they pick poorly. I guess it won’t be too bad to date someone my parents pick for me.
It’s not going to get better if I wait. So I take a deep breath and open up the notification on my phone. I don’t even read the whole message before I lose hold of my phone and it falls to the floor.
Through a cracked screen, I can still read the message that fills my screen:
We regret to inform you that you have been engaged.
Engaged? This must be some kind of sick joke! Parents get to pick spouses for their kids at twenty-five if they don’t do it themselves. But engaged? I don’t even get to date him first? What is his name?
I look back at my phone, searching for more information on the man I was supposedly going to marry. It isn’t just the cracked screen, either. There really is no information at all about the man my parents chose. This must be some mistake. Some sick joke my friends are pulling.
I want to laugh at the thought of my friends being responsible for this. But deep in the pit of my stomach, the knots tell me that there is no way this is a joke. This is my life now. It takes everything in me not to throw up the entire contents of my stomach.
Okay, I can figure this out. I can pull myself together. I look at my phone one more time and take a screenshot before backing out of the message, just in case it gets lost.
I swipe open the phone app, fully intending to call my parents and ask them directly. Because I am desperate to know what the heck is going on. I mean, they could at least tell me his name before we’re married to each other.
As I am dialing the third number, my phone beeps again. Through the cracked screen, I see another blue message titled Match Made. There’s no point calling my parents before I read it, so I open the notification.
You will have 22 hours to prepare and pack those belongings you wish to take with you to your new residence. A moving crew and driver will arrive to take you to your house on Monday at precisely 9:00 am. We wish you the best of luck with your new spouse.
I should have saved my phone drop for this moment. I am going to be married? By Tomorrow? How is this even possible? Isn’t there a paper I have to sign or terms I have to agree to? Something?
A huge part of me wants to call my mom and yell at her, but I know that won’t do anyone any good. I’m almost resolved to call Melody during her honeymoon when instead, completely without my consent, I fall to the floor and start sobbing.
I can feel the tears rolling down my face as I struggle to get a full breath into my lungs. Every breath I take feels like a thousand pins being pushed into my chest as I attempt to take in enough air through the tears. The more I cry, the harder it is to breathe. I try to focus on calming myself and my breathing when I feel the blackness closing in on my vision.
I’ve been here before - it usually means I am close to passing out.
I put my head between my knees and wipe the tears off my face. I try to reason with myself. Maybe he won’t be that bad. My parents have always loved me -- I’m sure they didn’t pick someone totally awful. I’m sure he’ll be a reasonable guy and we can figure out if we like each other and then find a way out of this if we decide this marriage thing isn’t for us. It’s going to be okay.
My heart isn’t in it, but I am able to convince myself enough to take normal breaths again. The sting in my chest is dissipating slowly with every breath I take. I am calm enough that I can decide what steps to take next. I can figure this out. I will be fine. I think.
I drag myself off the floor, put on my favourite dance tunes playlist, and begin the process of packing my apartment. The boxes the message promised were waiting outside my front door just as I expected. I might as well get started.