The tiles were cold against her bare feet. Karen dangled the shoe straps from one hand, fished around in her purse with the other. The key had to be in there somewhere. A powder compact fell out, crashed onto the floor below. She bent down, opened the marble plastic. Clay colored lumps lay scattered inside, useless now. She snapped the case shut again, shoved it back into the overcrowded jumble. She'd need to buy a new one before the next date. What a waste. Trust it to break now.
Ah, there was the sliver of purple, peeping out between tissues and a folding umbrella. She pulled at it, tugged until the key ring dislodged from the mess.
With a twist and a push, she was inside. She dumped the purse and coat and keys, all in a pile on the bench by the phone. The shoes, she dropped onto the carpet by the dining room table. She'd taken them off in the elevator. Beauty was pain.
Karen went straight to the first bedroom off the hallway, still wallpapered with pink rosebuds, a remainder from the girly phase she'd had in second grade. She didn't stop to turn on the lights, or pick up the clothes that lay scattered everywhere. It was always a rush before, always a mess left behind. But she ignored it, pressed the computer's big rubber button. When a soft whirring filled the silence, when flashing icons appeared on the monitor coming back to life, she paused, to catch a breath, to settle in.
Tights came off. Fuzzy bunny slippers went on bare feet. Lenses came out, glasses went on instead. She loosened the earrings and necklace and hair clips. She rubbed at her eyes, smudging mascara and eyeliner carefully applied a few hours before. When she looked in the mirror, black panda eyes stared back, out of a pale face. She reached behind, under the shiny fabric of her top, to undo the bra's clasp, and wriggled arms out of sleeves to slip it off. That was better.
She settled into the swivel chair. Squatted on it cross legged, reached out fingers to the keyboard. The web browser was still opening. She didn't move, just gazed at the screen until the homepage had finished loading.
There were messages. One was from that guy who wouldn't take no as an answer. She'd have to be blunter with him, explain again how unsuitable a match they were. On second thought maybe she would ignore him, not answer at all. Maybe that way he'd get the message.
The second was from "Avraham". He'd replied at last. She crossed her fingers, said the only chapter of Tehillim she knew off by heart, chapter 121, and clicked on his message, to open it. He sounded so perfect, so right.
It was a rejection, couched in kinder words. Karen opened up his profile again, compared the "what he's looking for" paragraph with the description she'd written of herself. She couldn't find any contradictions. She wondered what put him off her. Was it worth another try?
The third message was from someone new. She hadn't noticed him on the site before. She'd read that, before going to bed. She hovered the mouse over the envelope, was about to click on it, when the door swung open.
"Sweetheart, how was your date?"
4 days ago