Speed Dating Marathon
by Margaret F. Chen

They have five minutes.  Number Seven skips the small talk.  What do you do?  What do you do for fun?  What’s your favorite sport?  Cleft chin, light-colored eyes.  Expensive-looking shirt.  Aggressive smile. 


Number Eight.  Brown hair, dark eyes.  T-shirt, jeans.  Tanned, surfs, owns gardening company.  Checks out girl at opposite table.


Bookish, glasses, likes classical music.  Frowns when she says she likes author, Z—.  Next.  Tallish, polo shirt, receding hairline, eyes, nose, mouth, asks:  What sign are you?

Number Eleven.  Hair, eyes, nose, mole near mouth.  Traveled the world.  Little eye contact.  Next, next, next.  Names, information, faces blur.  She considers moving to mountains to contemplate trees and sky for rest of life.

Number Thirty, Number Forty, Number Fifty.  Sixty.  Something’s wrong here.  Medium height, dark hair.  A blank face?  Yes, an oval disc with no features.  No eyes, no nose, no mouth.  How does he breathe, talk?  She looks away, down at square, brown hands, clean nails, a pinky ring with an unusual blue stone.  Perfectly fitting shirt in a slate color.  Silver cufflinks.  Pleasant voice issues forth from blank being.  Forty-one, financial management, divorced, classics background, reads Ancient Greek history in spare time.  She counts to ten, looks back at face.  Relieved to see features now reappearing.  Square face, brown eyes, crooked nose, smiling mouth.  When the buzzer rings—after puddle-faced Number One Hundred—she has ten numbers written down, but remembers only Number Sixty, with the blue ring.

The one she had blanked out on, but then, thought was rather handsome.


Margaret F. Chen lives in Ames, Iowa, where she is currently working on a short story collection and raising two children and three cats. Contact Margaret.