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Matchmaker's Mansion: Ch. 2
With her backpack slung over one shoulder, Asha reached into the mailbox to pull out a handful of advertisements and letters. As she walked up the porch steps, she shuffled through them, letting out a cry of excitement when she saw one labeled Matchmaker’s Mansion.
Dropping her backpack inside the door, she tore it open to read:
Your presence is requested at 4’clock tomorrow evening to meet the three persons we have chosen to be capable of being your match. But only you can decide who the lucky man will be. –Matchmaker’s Mansion.
Hugging it to her chest, she twirled. Her heart fluttered with the idea of meeting true love. Sure, she was only seventeen…but a seventeen year old could still dream of being a princess swept off her feet! Couldn’t she?
She slowed her twirling to stop by the dining room window, looking out into a drizzle of rain.
The first question of the Matchmaker’s Quiz still burned fresh in her mind, warning her that perhaps what she was doing still wasn’t a good idea.
Asha stood before the door again, her eyes fixed to the doorknob. Nobody knew what she was doing—nobody knew where she was. She glanced over her shoulder in the direction of home. Her mom was at home reading a book in the Lazy Boy, thinking she was upstairs doing her homework like the good little girl she’d always been…until now.
With a guilty feeling sitting at the bottom of her stomach, she turned the doorknob and stepped into the same candlelit room. The same man sat at the desk, his hair slicked back with gel. He waved a white gloved hand that matched his white suit.
“Hello again, miss. You apparently received our letter since you are here.”
Asha sat down on the edge of the white velvet chair, the feeling of being dirty mixing with her guilt.
“From now on you must call me Shaun,” the man smiled, his white teeth sparkling in the dimness of the room.
“Then, Shaun,” she smoothed her sweaty palms on her long wool coat. “What are we doing today?”
The man clapped his hands. “I’m so glad you asked. Today we have three young men who are eager to meet you…but unfortunately you will not be able to “see” them. You will hear them. Come this way, please,” he stood up from his chair, the long coattails of his white suit jacket falling to the backs of his knees.
Asha moved around the desk to follow him through a curtained door into a long hallway. Mounted candlesticks lit the small passageway between the gray brick walls.
They must bring only skinny people down this hall, Asha thought, turning sideways a little.
“As you know already, I am not the owner of this place, but rather the clerk. I will always be in the front room and will guide you to the places to which your matchmaking sessions will be held in,” Shaun said as they turned down a different hallway leading off of the main one they had been walking down. He stopped at a polished oak door, turning to see if she was still behind him.
“Will the matchmaker be with us during the sessions?” she asked, her eyebrows pinching together in worry.
Shaun smiled, “Very rarely do people ever get to meet their matchmaker. Instead the matchmaker assigns quizzes for every day. In order for you to continue with your sessions you must pass the quiz…along with your partner.”
“But how do they know if we pass or fail if they aren’t with us during the session?” she said as Shaun took hold of the door handle in front of them.
“Trust me…they know,” he said without looking at her. Asha’s confidence shrank to the size of an apple seed. What if she didn’t even pass her first quiz? What would she have to show to her ex-boyfriend. He had only given her a few months to prove her capabilities in getting a new boyfriend. And if she didn’t…well…
“Don’t worry so, miss,” Shaun put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You did excellent on your first quiz. We’ve never had a client fill out every single question before.”
He gently propelled her forward into the room, closing the door behind them. Asha laughed lightly, “I have to admit though, it took FOR-EVER!”
“Yes, well,” he led her to a red velvet seat before a wall that was entirely a mirror. “The longer the quiz is, the more we know about you and who would be the best partner for you.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Asha said as Shaun handed her a white headset that she put over her ears and wiggled the microphone around so that it was off to the side of her lips.
“Very good,” Shaun stepped back to take a look at her. “Now I’m going to exit and when I do the first young man should come on. Don’t be afraid and talk your heart out. I will be back when your session is over. Have a splendid time,” Shaun smiled and clapped his hands. Asha smiled back but there was a weakness in it.
She watched his whiteness disappear out the door and waited silently in the velvet chair, looking at herself in the mirror.
“Hello…hello?” she whispered in the mic, pressing the headphones to her ears to help her hear any noise that might come through.
“HELLO, WOMAN I DO NOT KNOW,” a deep voice echoed through the headphones and Asha flinched, shivering in her seat. “Wait.” She heard someone tap a mic, “Is this even on?” A boyish voice came through the headphones. “This better be on, because I hate talking to myself, it gets very boring.” The boy must’ve been talking to someone else because his voice faded in and out like he kept turning away from the microphone.
Asha swallowed the lump in her throat, “Hello?” her voice was a little shaky and she hoped she didn’t sound as frightened as she was.
“Hey, I heard something!” the boy’s excited voice bounced. “If you’re there, say, ‘Chase is the awesomest guy in the universe.’”
Asha obeyed, saying it a little stronger this time, “Chase is the awesomest guy in the universe.”
“GAH!” the mic made a weird noise from his exclamation. “I love her already—she’s so cute! Can I marry you?” Asha could feel his boyish energy through the headphones.
Without even realizing it, her fear had dissipated into the air, a huge smile on her lips.