Amber approached dating the way Hillary answered questions about Monsanto.
Top of her list of dos and don’ts was the directive: take no shit.
She had rules. (Don’t raise your eyebrows, everyone has rules.)
Not impossible expectations, mind you. Rules. No talking to married men, no falling for obvious bullshit, magicians were okay but no illusionists.
No blurting out “I’m a mermaid” too early.
And, of course, being an actual mermaid, she had to keep an eye out for fishermen and bewitched boys.
One night, after yet another plate of nachos with a bewitched, Amber went to her girlfriend’s instead of her lonely apartment.
Sara poured glasses of pinot grigio and offered Amber a smoke to numb the sadness.
Amber tucked her bare feet under her bum, not caring anymore about wrinkling her one and only little black dress.
“Sweetie, I get it. Before I met Paul I was about to give up.”
“You guys met before you moved here. This is a fisherman town.”
They looked at each other and then burst out in laughter at the absurdity of it all.
Sara pointed her cigarette at Amber. “You, my sweet, need to go on vacation.”
Amber looked into her glass.
“What did I say?”
She sighed. “Nothing, it’s just – I met George in Mexico four years ago.”
“The one you compare, like, every guy to?”
“I do not!”
“Need more wine?”
“Yes. And pyjamas or something. I’m so done wearing this bra.”
“You know where my clothes are. Paul’s asleep.”
I slipped out of my dress in Sara’s ensuite. In the mirror, taking off the dramatic but not too dramatic sexy eye effect, I saw my twelve year old self staring back at me.
This must have been the expression they saw through the screen door.
I rolled my eyes at her.
Downstairs, Sara was putting a pizza in the oven.
“You feel more relaxed now.”
“I wasn’t paying attention, but I guess I do.”
“Come sit down while this cooks.”
Sara hums along to a song on the radio.
“I feel like that girl with her face pressed against the mesh.”
“Oh, Amber, not her. It’s that bad?”
“I don’t really know. I fell too fast, I guess. And when we were back in Canada, he started acting cagey.”
She knew what was coming.
“I asked if he was married and he was all nooooooo, like the worst liar in the world or I was just really tuned in.”
Sara inhales and lets out a pained breath.
“But he wasn’t married. He was with someone. Committed. And therefore unavailable. I told him to call me if it didn’t work out.”
“And he never called?”
“That’s the worst part. He did call. The night they split.”
“I told him to wash the scent of her from his skin first.”
Sara made a low noise that translated into ‘oh shit’.
I started to cry. Sara opened her arms. I tucked myself into her embrace and let it out.
“He never came back.”
“Oh, sweetie, shhh, it’ll be okay.”
“But I loved him.”
“I know, sweetie, I know.”