A woman liked my profile on a dating site—a beautiful blonde with tattoos down her arms—and we emailed for weeks and settled to meet at a winery by a lake. She wrote me a week before our date to say that she was not going to lie, that she could not wait for her whole week to fly by. Panic rushed through me like ocean waves—full of fish and bubbles and a torpedo launched by a submarine—and I called a girlfriend to talk me down from the urge to escape. The brunette from months before flashed through my mind. She had been looking for jobs across the continent when we met, and within days she said that because of my eyes and my questions and my hair, she was now searching for positions within the state. “What does that make you feel?” she had asked with a smirk. Discomfort. Dread. And a whole host of other words on the list of feelings my therapist keeps at her desk. And then there was the PhD student I’d picked up for our third date. She slid into my car and said she’d spent the day fearing that I’d stay away. I pictured a Victorian wisp of a woman tearing at a kerchief by a window. I squirmed at the idea of those white-knuckled hands grabbing my limbs and pulling them atwist.
So I readied myself for the winery date. She texted half an hour early to say she’d arrived, and I brushed my teeth with force and flew down the interstate. Unlike her photo—a shy girl in a dress—she sat open-legged in board shorts in the shade. Fifteen years older than what she’d announced perhaps. Had the passion for whiskey she kept mentioning dried her out? And she sipped at her wine and proclaimed she loved sex, and she complimented my lashes and my lipstick and my face, and she said I probably liked yoga and must love travel through the States. Strangely, her words did not enter my swirling emotional space and cast fishing nets all over the place. Rather, they hovered in the air like soap bubbles and burst, and I was struck by how different they were from my readings of poetry by lamplight and my strolls through the city and my plans to visit my friend’s cabin later that day.
Lana Spendl is a Pushcart-nominated writer who holds an MFA in creative writing and an MA in Hispanic literatures from Indiana University. Her creative work and reviews have recently appeared in The Greensboro Review, Indiana Review, and Prick of the Spindle. She resides in Bloomington, Indiana, where she is currently working on a short story collection.