Annie needs to post some of her writings on Annie Ambles as part of her TCC Trinity River Creative Writing II. class. She hopes you enjoy this short story about a heart in need of repair.
Repairing A Heart
Kay was, in her own mind, both a winner and a two-time loser. Married twice, twice divorced, she moved in a small circle of friends, insulated by a demanding technical job. Her two daughters were now adults, having achieved both financial and emotional freedom and living on their own. Now alone most evenings, she used her home as a barrier to shield her from the perceived dangers of dating. Yet, she felt that she wanted to meet a man who would add to, not detract from, her adventure-less life. She wanted someone to help mend her cracked heart, to love, to travel with, to share her life. She did not want the permanent commitment of marriage or the instability of a live-in. It wasn’t too much to ask. He didn’t even have to be good-looking or rich. She wanted a friend first—a male friend with whom she could generate romance.
She had been burned, and her spirit and mind did not encourage venturing out into the world of singles. Kay vacillated between reaching out and maintaining the status quo. When it came to traveling for work, she had no qualms about going solo. She needed to draw on that part of her ego to get herself back into dating. It was tough. Was her heart beyond repair?
The Sunday newspaper had a section on singles seeking singles. She toyed with the thought of responding to some of the gay men’s ads. That would be safe, but the thought quickly passed. Okay, she’d go for the “men seeking women” batch.
What would dating bring? Probably physical intimacy after a while. The thought of taking off her clothes in the presence of a man her own age (56) and the thought of his nude body were both rather appalling. Oh, well, she rationalized; one shock would cancel out the other. Her body, as she viewed it in the full length mirror, wasn’t too bad. At 5’6” and 128, her chin and throat were still firm as were her stomach and waist. Her boobs were another story; gravity would have taken them almost to her hips without help from Victoria’s Secrets. The short brown hair didn’t have much gray, thanks to L’Oreal. Scrutinizing her face, she noted a few new lines, but none deep enough for Botox. Overall, she was a pretty good package.
If she were going to answer an ad, she’d need some new clothes. Her wardrobe dollars were spent at Talbot’s or Career Lady’s buying the classic suits, blouses, and shoes she favored for work. Dressing for success was her mantra. She didn’t wear flashy items that called attention to her sexuality. Better to win promotions with her brain than her breasts. Attracting a man would require another type of garment. The clothes would be bait, expensive colorful lures.
As she reread the ads, she circled three with red ink, ones that had e-mail addresses. The men presented their attributes in words that spoke to her head and her heart. “Searching for a soul mate”—how many times did she center in on that? What did it really mean? Limited imagination and vocabulary for sure. “Trim and active”—didn’t want someone fat and sedate. Exercise freak who consumed only power shakes and fruit smoothies? No. She needed a thick, juicy steak once in a while. “Interests include walking, attending theater and movies, dancing, and dining”—what about reading, travel, and swimming? Not a single individual was a perfect match, but she was tottering on the edge of writing one man who conveniently lived in a neighboring community.
Torn between contacting the man and facing rejection, or contacting him and scheduling a meeting, she put the ad away. As was her custom, she thought about the pros and cons of putting herself out there. She was feeling like a fresh apple at the grocery store. Comparing herself to a piece of meat was not her thing. Would this man respond to her e-mail, reply, and set up a date? Would he read her e-mail, evaluate her response, and delete it? Chances. It was a big risk.
Knowing this e-mail was a first step, she set a three-day deadline to make her decision. In other words, she gave herself some wiggle room. Just do it!
Day One brought optimism, a draft e-mail, a smiling selfie. A piece of cake. Yes, she was getting back into the dating game. Then, she remembered how she hated games–not competitive enough. Even when she played tennis in high school, she didn’t have that killer instinct, that relentless ego needed to win every match. Would she hook-up with a gamer? Was it worth it?
Day Two gave her even more second thoughts. She trashed the e-mail and thought about something a longtime friend shared with her that very morning. “Men our age want either a nurse or a purse, or both.” Thinking of the men she knew from her volunteer and church activities, she had to agree with her friend’s assessment.
Day Three began with driving rain, just the thing needed to douse the fire of her adventurous quest. Not today; not tomorrow, not next week. Ever? When? Her tentative search ended as it had begun with a chilled spirit and no hope. Guess the cracks would remain in her heart, in her life.
Maybe she would later experiment with an online dating site. More than likely not. Sigh. Gotta get out there someday soon. Why? When? Again that dirty little four letter word. Maybe, like Scarlet, she would simply wait for tomorrow. And, that is precisely what she did.
Annie Ambles writes in downtown Fort Worth