Match Made

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NINE

I am sobbing into my breakfast as Christopher rubs my back and brushes my hair off my face. His hands are a little unsteady as he does so, like he’s worried he might hurt me.

“So- sor- sorry” I try to get the word out as my body is wracked with sobs. So much for making an effort on my appearance today, “I ju- ju- just…”

“Please don’t apologize,” his face is contorted as though he is in actual, physical pain, “You aren’t hurting my feelings.”

I’m not?

I close my eyes and focus on the rhythm of his hand rubbing circles on my back as I try to steady my breathing.

A few breaths later, I can string my words together coherently enough to ask him to get me a glass of water, which I drink within seconds of receiving it.

“I’m sorry,” I smile at him, trying to show him I am fine. I’m not fine.

His face betrays him. He doesn’t believe me.

“I just-” I take a deep breath before continuing.

“I just want you to know this,” I gesture to my face, “isn’t because of you.”

He smiles sadly as he searches my face, probably trying to uncover the truth.

“I just, wasn’t expecting this to happen so fast and I thought I had some time to. . .” I trail off again, not wanting to admit what was about to come out of my mouth.

He is still silent, waiting for me to finish what I want to say before he responds.

I finally say what is on my mind in one breath. “You seem like a great guy but I don’t know you and honestly this all happened so fast and one second I was allowed to date whoever I wanted and then I’m married and I can’t imagine a better pick on paper but I just don’t know you and I just . . . I just . . .”

I throw my hands up and let them fall down to the table, hoping he will pick up that I just can’t find the words to describe what I feel.

When Christopher finally speaks, his voice is soft and low.

“I never thought I’d get a parental match either. My brothers all found someone, and it was like they weren’t even trying. No matter how hard I tried,” he looks at his hands, “I couldn’t find someone who wanted the same things as me. So when my parents said they wanted me out of the house and suggested it, I said yes. I’m-”

He sinks a little lower onto his knees and leans on his arms before he finishes. “I know a little about what it’s like to feel like you didn’t have a say.”

He had a point there. Of all the people in my life, he was probably the only person who had a hope of understanding exactly what I was feeling. Why hadn’t thought of that before? I guess I might as well have some good come from this match. No harm in forging a friendship.

“I don’t know if I’m what you hoped you’d find in a wife or not,” I acknowledge the question that hangs in the air. “But my problem is I hoped for time, and I didn’t get it. That’s the hardest thing to accept. I don’t feel like I had time to really prepare myself for marriage.”

I kneel down on the ground next to him so I can look into his eyes. “I feel like you’ve thought this whole marriage thing out. Every detail of this house is prepared with the express purpose of providing a beautiful life for your wife. I didn’t even have time to decide which clothes to wear when I came to meet you. My parents didn’t-”

He perfectly finishes my sentence for me, “Oh, my God. They didn’t even tell you?”

I shake my head. There’s nothing else to say, really. I watch him for any sign that I’ve upset him, but find none. He watches me, too, though I am not sure why.

After a few minutes kneeling on the hard tiles of our kitchen, my knees start to hurt. When I move to get up, I am aided by Christopher’s strong arm on my elbow.

“I have dessert if you are interested,” he smiles as though nothing has happened.

“I am, yes,” I smile back, wiping the last of my tears from my cheek, “but first, I want to finish this.”

I dump a load of icing sugar onto the toast and shove it into my mouth whole. If he’s going to be stuck with me, he might as well know what he’s getting himself into. I might not be comfortable around him yet, but I was comfortable enough to not look attractive all the time. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s the truth.

He brings me some type of pudding as I drink the last of my coffee.

“Mmm,” I pick up my spoon as soon as the bowl hits the table, “you are quite the chef.”

“Thanks,” he shuffles nervously, picking up my empty mug and carrying it back into the kitchen.

I am one bite from finished when he returns with my mug filled to the brim with fresh coffee.

“Bless you,” I cradle the warm mug between my hands and take a sip, “I’m going to need a lot of this after packing for the last day and a half.”

He shakes his head and sits down in his chair again, “I can’t believe they didn’t tell you.”

I shrug, putting my spoon back on the table, “If you knew them, and me, you probably wouldn’t be so surprised.”

There is another pause as we stare at each other.

“So what do you want to do about this marriage thing?” It seems like he is genuinely curious.

I’m not sure how to respond.

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