The Blackburns are married. A job well done, I think, stirring honey into my morning cup of Earl Grey as I flip through their wedding photos.
I’ve decided that I’m having a pleasant morning when a knock sounds on my kitchen door. It’s odd – people normally knock at the front – but I brush the thought off and take my tea to the door. Perhaps another customer. I open the door.
On my stoop stands a peculiar-looking man.He blinks several times, opening and closing his mouth like a fish or a person who is struggling to speak. He seems to fit into the latter, but I can’t be sure.
“Yes? What do you want?” I say, and if my tone is a bit too harsh, I can’t be blamed. I have a strong hatred of fish that roots back to my early childhood, when I was forced to eat the (still quite alive) classroom goldfish by a disturbed child twice my size.
“Er, well… I’ve come to inquire about your services,” He says nervously, fiddling with the brim of his battered top hat. Everything about his appearance was battered, from his scuffed shoes to his weathered suit to his his, well, face. His face looks like something a toddler made out of mashed potatoes.
“M-my services?” I repeat.
“Why, yes,” says the man on my stoop. He looks down at the card in the hand that isn’t fiddling with the hat. “You are the matchmaker, yes?”
“I am, but I- I only take special cases. Have you heard of dating apps? I can recommend some good ones if you like-” I start, attempting to steer him back towards the road.
“But I think you misunderstand! I am a special case!” The man declared. “See, I’ve never fallen in love, If you’ll believe it-“
“Oh, I believe it,” I murmur.
“-And as I was taking a walk on Tuesday, I happened to find your card. So I think it must mean something.”
I squint. “Wasn’t it raining Tuesday? Never mind. So you’re saying that you were destined to come to me-“
The man nods.
“-and I’m supposed to help you fall in love?”
“Or something like that, I suppose. Isn’t that what you do?”
I sigh. “Fine, but give me a day. Meet me at the park bench by the lake tomorrow morning. 10.”
The man seems to be about to say something, but I slam the door before he can and take a sip of my tea.
I wake up too late to make tea, which sets me en route to a bad morning. I grab the folder that I spent all night compiling – potential matches for potato face – off the kitchen counter and set out with little sleep in my eyes and little breakfast in my stomach.
I have to run-walk to the bench to get there in time, but to my irritation Potato Face is already there.
“Good morning!” he calls out cheerfully, waving his battered hat.
“Hmm, sure,” I say, sitting down next to him. I show him the folder. “These are some single people around. Tell me if you’re interested. Isn’t she nice?”
He flips through the folder wordlessly. “He looks like a pleasant chap.” I lean closer to peer at the picture, then glare at him and yank the folder away.
“Don’t be stupid,” I say. “He’s ugly.”
The next few weeks go by in this fashion, with every passing day bringing me more and more frustration. My days have become monotone and bland for the most part – with the exceptions of mornings spent with potato face – and tea no longer comforts the emptiness in my mind. That’s funny, I think. I’m a matchmaker who can’t find a match for myself.
One particularly bad morning I arrive at our usual spot by the lake to find potato face with a tray of tea and a paper bag. “Good-“
“Save it,” I say.
“So… not a good morning then.”
There is a moment of silence.
“Did your dog die?” he asks hesitantly.
“My dog? I don’t have a dog!” I burst out.
He’s startled. “Sorry. I just thought… you had that look on your face.”
I am quiet for ten seconds, then twenty, then thirty. Holding in the pain.
“It was my mouse,” I say finally. “Soybean.”
“Oh.” says potato face. “I’m sorry.”
He is still for a moment, then moves closer until he is hugging me. A strange sensation. I don’t think I’ve ever been hugged before.
“I don’t think I’ve ever asked your name,” I say.