Popular belief has it that the universe is comprised of atoms. In reality, the universe is actually made up of…
I almost passed on the blind date. I mean, when had that sort of thing ever really worked out? A friend who claimed they knew you, your tastes, and your interests, matching you up with your soulmate? In reality, all it really amounted to was pushing two single strays together to avoid being the couple saddled with a fifth-wheel friend.
But the moment I saw her, Orelline, my blind date, I knew two fundamental things at the exact same time (1) that I was punching above my weight class because she was phenomenally out of my league, and (2) I would be so nervous and foul things up so badly that this would be our one and only date.
And I was nervous, embarrassingly so, and clumsy, and tongue-tied, and trying way too hard to seem more interesting than I actually was. I replayed that night over in my head at least a thousand times, cringing at every fumble and misstep, and for the life of me, I could not understand why this stunningly gorgeous woman agreed to a second date.
I wish I could say that the second date went better than the first, but whatever small measure of confidence I had amassed over the years abandoned me completely. I floundered like an insect drowning in yogurt. And when the date ended and I saw her to her door, I was prepared to apologize for, well, for being me, for not being good enough for her, and I probably would have stammered my way through that speech, that I had been mentally preparing on the way to her house, had she not shut my thought processes down…with a kiss.
By date eight, we had forgone the need for meeting in a restaurant or catching a movie, or going to the theater. Instead, Orelline insisted that I come to her place and bring a change of clothes. I would not allow myself to presume what that meant but I secretly prayed that what I thought might happen would indeed happen.
Her text notified me of the key under the mat and when I let myself in, I discovered a trail of rose petals, lit by a row of candles that led to her bathroom. I had brought with me a bottle of champagne to help ease the pressure of our possible first time together and made a detour to the kitchen in search of glasses.
The bathroom door was slightly ajar so I entered but upon seeing me, Orelline hid her body beneath the suds of her bubble bath.
“I’m sorry,” I said, immediately regretting my intrusion and turning to leave. “I shouldn’t have come in unannounced. I just thought this would be sort of, I don’t know, romantic? It was stupid of me.”
“No, don’t go, it’s sweet, really,” she beamed a smile that seemed forced. “You just startled me, that’s all.
“Look, if you’re not ready for this, if we’re moving too fast, just say so. I can wait until the time is right.”
“No, it’s not that.”
“Then what is it? And please don’t hand me the it’s not you it’s me line. I’d prefer it if you were just honest with me.”
“But it is me,” Orelline confessed. “I’m afraid.”
“You’re afraid? Of what?”
She couldn’t meet my eyes. “I’m afraid that if we make love, your opinion of my supposed beauty will change drastically.”
I studied her face and the peaches and cream flesh of her exposed arms and answered, “I can’t imagine a scenario in which that would be even remotely possible.”
She exhaled slowly and stood up in the bathtub. The soap suds slid down her glistening body, revealing the fact that every inch of her skin that her clothing normally covered was a labyrinthine knotwork of scars.
“I’m into a particular kind of sex,” she said, as the champagne flutes slipped through my fingers.