The Matchmaker


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Chapter 1

I've been putting people together like mad jigsaws since I was five. Danny, my sister's now longtime boyfriend, had dared me to climb the ancient apple tree. Instead, I caught my sister on her way up and babbled that he liked her. They were eight, once. It was children playing at love, once. Fourteen years later the shapes of their hearts are molded to one another like petals of a tightly closed rosebud, twins in a cot, hands clasped.

He's planning to propose next week.

The year I walked dogs the park's resident hipster had a thing for the lady with the rosy cheeks and cinnamon skin. Their beagle and French bulldog frolicked much like their owners, the day I summoned the courage to tell him of her covert glances each Tuesday afternoon. 

They're expecting a baby soon.

There was a boy who lived on the corner of the neighborhood, once. He slept to the lullaby of bottles perfecting a tapestry of moldering and pitted wallpaper, and woke to the one laugh his mother uttered each morning as her first cigarette sent curls of lazily spiraling smoke to join the ceiling's permanent haze. A delicate fern trying to survive the sun's harsh eye. He fascinated the girl next door.

I was fifteen once, desperate for love and willing to watch to try to sate that terrible appetite.

He kissed her on my advice, once. And decided to stay. And if they decided to go to college together, well. I only smiled and ached behind my shuttered face.

I was eighteen once, and considered something of a record in school. Eighteen, and without a date or girlfriend in sight. Oh, how they called out the matchmaker. Lily, my Lily, who I could never call mine, used to sigh a little at the title. Best friends aren't meant to be friends forever in high-school. I could never see the 'xo' she signed everything off with, without wishing, hopelessly.

Hazel eyes can't seem to take the place of those 'storm-tossed' ones.

The day those eyes asked hers for forever was the one I had finally decided was the one to break from friendship--to something more. 

I never got a chance to get rejected. Because I had told Josh about her last week. Reciprocated feelings wait for no man. Or so I was told. 'Just friends' turns the stomach when it used to be 'best friends.' Yet who am I to begrudge someone of love? A week-long crush wins over two years of silent pain. Extra, extra, read all about it.
They tell of Cupid's arrows. Paper hearts for everyone. But was Cupid ever given a happy ending?
I'll be twenty tomorrow. Don't be melodramatic, they say. The perfect one is out there somewhere. They talk of small fish in large ponds, but I ask about the pond scum. Lurking above, looking down upon the watery world below.

Does pond scum get a happy ending?

Counterparts, pieces of a heart scattered to the winds. I couldn't seem to help gathering the pieces, relentlessly matching, catching significant glances, sleuthing for sights of interest, a mad game of who likes who this week, and who could like who, forever. 

I wonder if Cupid ever wanted to stick an arrow into his own heart.


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