I stare at the notification on my phone, sure it must be some kind of error. We’ve already received our matches, so what reason does Match Made have to be sending us more notifications?
I turn around to show Christopher my phone as he is looking at his own.
“Did you get this, too?” I ask.
He looks up to check my screen before nodding, “I did. Odd. I thought we’d be done with them now that we are here.”
I could feel myself starting to worry. All the usual signs were there: increased heart rate, sweaty palms, dizziness, and the inability to get a full breath of air into my lungs.
“Don’t worry,” he encourages me to rest my head back in the chair before he sits down himself, “I’m sure it isn’t anything too strenuous. Would it help if I look for you?”
I nod and then stare at the sky as he opens the notification and reads it. I’m conflicted between wanting him to read it out loud so I can know what it says and never ever reading it so I never have to deal with what it says. I wait the length of five deep breaths before he finally speaks to let me know what is happening.
“It’s some kind of reminder of our contract terms for the coming week,” his eyebrows scrunched together in concentration. “It seems like we have certain activities we have to carry out in order for their involvement in our case to end.”
I swear if they say we have to consummate this marriage, I’m running into the mountains and living off raw animals until I perish from hypothermia.
“This one isn’t too bad, though,” he continues without looking at me, “We just have to do some silly get to know you game.”
I’m pretty sure my sight of relief is audible, but he doesn’t say anything about it. Instead, he just gets up and says, “I’m going to go make some tea and get the game set up. When you’re ready, I’ll be in the front room.”
Then he leaves. He didn’t even ask me if I was okay or offer to stay with me. I guess that’s pretty normal for someone I met an hour ago.
A large part of me just wants to stay up here forever, or crawl into bed and bawl until I cry myself to sleep. But that won’t get these Match Made people off my back. And if I’m going to find a way out of this marriage, it’s going to be a lot harder with the professionals tailing me all the time.
Finally, I settle on a quick trip to the bathroom to wash my face. It makes me feel a little better, and I definitely look less puffy. Once my hair is combed into a ponytail again, I wander into the spare room to find the boxes that have my clothes in them. If I’m going to do this, I might as well not look like a greasy mess. Gotta make it believable.
After three outfit changes, I’m ready to go downstairs and find Christopher.
“I’m just going to find some food or something before we start,” I call out as I’m halfway down the stairs, “I didn’t really eat today.”
When I round the corner into the front room, I see Christopher’s opinion of getting tea is very different than mine. Where I think of it as a mug of hot liquid, he clearly conceives of it as an entire meal.
“Oh,” I slow to a stop when I see what he has laid out, “I guess I’ll just join you, then.”
He gestures toward the couch, indicating I should sit down, “I thought you might be as hungry as I am, so I made enough for both of us.”
I sit down on the other side of the couch from where he is sitting, “Thanks.” The words sound hollow and insufficient coming out of my mouth, but I don’t know how to make it better.
“We’ll have to thank the Match Made people for stocking our fridge with such delicious food, too,” I offered.
He hands me a note as he answers my unasked question, “It’s our parents, actually. Apparently they want us to feel at home here.”
“Because this isn’t awkward at all,” the words escape my mouth before I can catch myself. I want to say sorry, because I don’t mean to hurt him. But honestly, this is so weird I just need to say it out loud, so I don’t apologize.
“I know. The most awkward first date I’ve ever been on,” he loaded up his plate with food and then sat back with a questionnaire of some kind and waited for me to settle in.
I hadn’t thought of this as a first date. I load up my plate with food, too. Might as well let him see what kind of girl he’s married to right off the bat. No sense giving the first date treatment to a guy who is already stuck with you.
I eat two whole sandwiches before I am ready for whatever this game is. “Okay,” I say as I put my plate down, “Let’s get this game out of the way.”
“It’s not a game so much as a requirement to sit, talk, and learn about each other.” He hands me one of the papers in his hand, “I don’t think it’s a bad idea, actually. We should probably get to know each other.”
I don’t even look at the paper before responding, “Okay, but either one of us can refuse to answer a question for any reason and the other one has to listen and not push it or get weird.”
He thought for a second, “I don’t think we are breaking the rules with that adjustment. As long as we are both acting in good faith and trying to answer the questions.”
Is he implying I’m not going to act in good faith? Okay, maybe he knows me better than I thought.