Match Made

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EIGHT

When I wake up the next morning, it takes me a few seconds to realize where I am. Though my bed back in my old apartment was objectively less comfortable, it is still unpleasant to wake up in this spare bedroom. The bed might be nicer, but everything is foreign here.

I sit up in the bed and look at the clock. It’s past nine in the morning. When I flip my legs over the side of the bed, I am surprised to find my slippers beside the bed where I expect them to be. I don’t remember putting them there in my tired haze last night, but I’m glad I did.

After sliding my feet into my slippers, I walk towards the window and draw back the pale blue curtains. Though I am sad and scared in this new situation, the sunshine pouring through the window brings a smile to my face.

I stand by the window, watching the wildlife pass by, until a small noise from downstairs draws me back to my present reality. My first morning in my new house with my new husband. No matter how many times I say it, it still feels weird. I’m not sure it will ever stop being weird. I just need to get through this.

My tear stained pillowcase is proof that not everything is perfect here, but I’m determined to make the best of it. I’m pretty sure my new husband is a good person, so all in all the situation is as good as I could possibly expect it to be.

* * *

When I am finally showered, dressed, and ready for the day, I follow the smell of French toast down the stairs and into our kitchen.

“Oh, my gosh! You cook?” I slap my hand over my mouth as soon as I say it, mortified. I cannot believe the things that are coming out of my mouth right now!

“My talents are endless,” he is facing away from me while he cooks. I can tell he is smiling by his voice, though he saves me from further embarrassment by not turning around as he speaks. He transfers whatever he is cooking from the frying pan onto a plate before he continues, “How did you sleep?”

“Oh, uh. Fine,” I stammer. Why is this so hard?

“Well, take a seat if you want. I heard you moving around up there and thought we could make this our first official date.”

Yeah, if you can call it a date when you are already married.

“I guess we might have to find something else to call it since we’re already married,” he shrugs, bringing over the plate of food. “But date will have to do for now.”

“That sounds nice,” I’m not sure it is, but the food smells delicious, so this date won’t be a total failure.

He scurries around the kitchen collecting fruit, juice, and coffee to complete our delicious breakfast before sitting down across the table from me.

My mouth is full of fruit when he asks, “So, tell me about your family.”

An awkward silence greets his question as I chew and swallow, “Did you go to waiter school or something?” I laugh at my own joke, but he doesn’t seem to understand. Before he can ask me what I mean, I answer his unspoken question, “You know, when you are in a restaurant, the waiter always manages to come ask you how things are going when your mouth is full of food?”

He doesn’t look like he understands the experience, so I try to cut my losses by turning the conversation back to my family.

“So, you wanted to know about my family. Okay. Wait, you’ve never met my parents?”

Not sure how that came out when I was only trying to say ‘I’m an only child.’ His eyebrow raise makes me feel like he’s questioning my sanity. I can assure you that you aren’t the only one who feels that way right now.

“No, I’ve never met your parents. When would I have met your parents?” he replies. Upon looking at my face, he adds, “How much say do you think I had in this match, exactly?”

“Uh, more than I did.” I stare at my lap to avoid seeing if I have hurt him, “Hopefully, at least.”

The silence expands like a balloon, forcing the air out of my lungs. With the last of my breath, I squeeze out a few words, “What about your family? Are you close with them?”

I risk looking up as I wait for his response.

“Yeah, we’re pretty close. I have five brothers. All older,” he picks up a piece of banana with his fork and stabs some toast before putting the bite into his mouth.

“Wow. I can’t imagine having that many siblings,” I take a sip of my coffee, which burns my lips and throat as it descends. “Actually, I can’t really imagine having any siblings.”

He is not quite done chewing when he speaks again, “Really? You don’t have any siblings? Can I have your life?”

I smile a little at the thought, “I don’t think I actually want to have five brothers.”

He laughed, “Probably the best plan. Anyways, so I was the only one left without a wife and my parents decided it was time to be empty nesters so they selected a match.”

I desperately want to ask ‘did you want one?’ but instead I just nod, pretending to understand.

“How old are you?” I ask the only question I can think of.

He chews and swallows before responding this time, thankfully. “I’m thirty. I’ll be thirty-one on the twelfth of next month.”

That’s not too bad. A lot of these parental matches you hear about in the news are a lot worse than five years apart.

He is looking at me expectantly, “Aubrey?”

“Yeah? What?” I must have missed something he said.

“I asked how old you are.”

“Twenty-five,” I manage to keep my cool as I continue, “as of two days ago.”

I look down at my lap again, but I can practically hear him screaming, though he makes no noise.

“Twenty-five,” he breathes, barely audible.

There is a pause before he continues, “So you got your match-”

I cut him off, “Exactly a minute after I reached the age of twenty-five. Yeah.”

“Sorry.”

It’s only one word, and it’s not very romantic, but it sends me spiralling into a sea of relieved tears.

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