Oh bloody fuck, thought Grace Magorian when she saw the two of them coming toward her at the starter.
The girl was twenty-seven to thirty-two, that pitiful age when unmarried women became Cujos beneath their thin, bronze skins. The boy was the same age. Dark-haired and bearded, wearing a sleeveless shirt and nice. No. Wonderful arms. Like a sailor. But of course not. These days, especially in America, men got their muscles at the gym. On the Nautilus. Muscles grew out of air-conditioning. And the boys got their clothes at the gyms, too, these fancy gyms. Grace was fifty. All right, fifty-one. Nobody belonged to a gym back in County Mayo but here she’d joined a Lucille Roberts once upon a time. Most recently she’d started up again at a Health Works for Women Fitness Center. Everything was mauve, rubbery. No men, nothing harder than a lump of cancer in the place. But she felt comfortable. She wore her Goatboy Soaps top and her bleach-stained Lycra pants and on Saturday evenings she swam in the pool, whole place to herself, taking long, luxurious breaststrokes through the green, palmy water.
Everything she did, come to think of it, was to avoid being in the same places as these two, with their sunglasses and their brunch elbows.
Today of all days. She’d wanted to treat herself. Mother’s Day. The golf course was her sacred place. Generally she came on weekdays, at odd times, to avoid being paired with eejits like these. A certain type. Well, what were they? They were young is what they were. The boy could get hard anytime.
快乐飞艇开奖appIt wasn’t really so much about Mother’s Day. Or that she’d been paired with these two. It was that she had been paired with two. Instead of one—a man, with a nice swing, smile. A widower, a divorcé. With children, without. Didn’t bloody anyfuck longer matter. Because the truth was everything Grace did was to fall in love. Even since she’d stopped trying to meet someone. In fact, especially since she’d stopped trying. The stoppage itself was the final crusade, the last line of troops she’d sent out into the tick grasses of May.
This is our second date, the girl whispered to Grace while the boy was teeing off. The girl didn’t know not to talk at all in backswings.
快乐飞艇开奖appOh? said Grace, silently, with her face.
We met on Venus, the girl said. Her face was conspiratorial. Very pretty, dark hair. The kind you could do anything with, barrettes, half-ponytails. Grace’s hair was fan- fiction red, gorgeous if difficult to wrangle and dry. No man had ever dreamed his fingers through it. Not even the Air Force pilot with the Alsatian.
The boy struck the ball well. His body remained curved in the aftermath of his stunning shot. The landscape—a heady mix of glorious Irish links and burnished New World—accordingly froze all around him. They’d imported the very particular fescue from the damp meadowlands of North Africa. It rung the white hazards like troll hairs. Otherwise the lawn was emerald Bermuda and the clubhouse was a cube of imposing, shining glass, where good lawyers went when they died, plus a $500,000 view of the Statue of Liberty and the boats in the harbor of Port Liberté.
快乐飞艇开奖appIt’s a dating app, the girl continued now, louder, where the men have to get in touch first, but they can only write to three women per week. And those women have to neg the guy before he can move on to the next woman. Or, if none of them respond for forty- eight hours, he can move on. What’s the draw then? Grace asked as the boy returned to them, triumphant. Great shot, she said to him.
快乐飞艇开奖appSorry? said the girl.
快乐飞艇开奖appFor the men? Grace said. Why would they use the service at all?
The boy was the type who listened. Perhaps he liked this girl. Grace always figured all men didn’t like the women they were with. It was how to get through a day.
快乐飞艇开奖appEasy, the boy said, clasping both his hands—one white-gloved, the other tan—on the shoulders of the brunette. Quality women.
The girl blushed.
快乐飞艇开奖appIt’s invitation only, she said. You have to be invited to join, and even then you’re vetted. IQ, personality, career.
Career, Grace thought. Grace was the estate manager for a family of the kind of absurd wealth you did not believe until you saw. The Hoppas. The husband was a stockbroker, nothing wild, but the wife was the heiress to a certain mustard empire. She’d gone to Brillantmont in Lausanne. Once she had golden pigtails and now she cried to a black-and-white photo of her mother each night, backlit and trenchant on her vanity. Around the frame was a squadron of Kewpie dolls, bare-bummed, masonic.
Estate manager. A nice title. All that Grace did for the Hoppas, she couldn’t say out loud. Some of it was so shameful, she might as well be flossing their cracks after they took shits in their dual marble baths.
I see, said Grace. Well how nice for you it’s working out.
With everything going on these days, the girl said, you need a third party to make sure a guy isn’t rapey. Venus takes care of all that.
快乐飞艇开奖appWhen the girl walked to the women’s tees, the boy asked Grace Magorian if she was married. Grace could be forgiven for thinking there was some mild flirtation to it. He was a charming type, generous with physical closeness. He picked up her clubs, held the flag when she putted. She was happy there weren’t any around like him who’d fought for their countries, who had any proper manhood bumping about. It would be much harder that way.
快乐飞艇开奖appNo, she said. Never married. She added the second part because it was either you added it straight off or you lied. Had she lied, she’d hate herself all night. She might not even take herself out for the Mother’s Day sushi dinner she’d been planning. Blue Ribbon! She had a gift card from some millionaire friend of Mr. Hoppa’s whom she’d helped out in a titanic way last summer. Seventy-five dollars. It was a nice-enough amount, if you were dining alone.
Well, said the boy, you have a really beautiful accent.
快乐飞艇开奖app When Grace Magorian got home, she drew herself a bath. Home during the summer—and most holidays—was the Hoppa estate in Bridgehampton. She had a room of her own in the service wing, with the housekeeper and the caretaker. But the rest of the year it was a studio on Jane Street. The Hoppas lived in a flabbergasting penthouse on Charles, and they wanted Grace close, so they rented her a small space in a brick walk-up. From her window perch she could watch the mademoiselles pour out of the bars, catch a whiff of them, too. Vodka and sunshine.
In the subterranean wood-and-stone den, she was seated at a table by the bar. All twosomes at the bar, boy girl boy girl, and the girls were all brunettes. Everywhere these days, all you saw was dark hair and faces the color of the cashew milk they glugged. Grace had brought Anna Karenina. She was on page 44. One time, at a little wine bar on Elizabeth, a man saw her reading A Bend in the River and sent her over a double of the Scotch she’d been drinking. He was an Aussie paramedic, with a wide, rowdy neck and blue eyes. They shared some laughs and went to bed. Between her legs, his tongue was a diamond cutter. Come with me to Paris, he said. I’m leaving in the morning. Yes, she said. Yes, yes.
快乐飞艇开奖appThat was seven years ago, and she still brought books to dinner.
Her friend Talia—Hebrew, vicious—told her she was still single because she wasn’t enough of any one thing. She wasn’t frank enough or reserved enough, didn’t drink too much or not at all, was neither rich nor poor; even the weight of Grace Magorian was rackingly moderate—she was neither skinny nor heavy, not busty nor flat. In all departments, Grace was in the middle. Talia was single, too. But Talia got regularly legless on ouzo. Talia went on more dates, she pointed out to Grace Magorian. You see? she said. I am who I am. I am remembered.
Yes, Grace said. Yes, yes.
快乐飞艇开奖appFrom the female (fuckit!) waitress, Grace ordered uni, ikura, kohada, kurage, unagi, and toro. She ordered a plum wine as well as a large sake that came in a perfect wooden box.
Halfway through her fish a man sat at the bar, much younger than she, alone and in a herringbone suit. It used to be that it would take a special sort to get it up in her. A man on the subway, autumn-haired. She’d fantasize the whole ride about the life they could have, sheepdogs in the countryside. Now it was barely love she clung to. Merely the idea of not dying alone. Merely that. She was considering lesbianism. They took older women.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace’s eyes were crossed with liquor, but this man at the bar, he looked familiar. She cocked her head, squinted. It was, indeed, the young man from the course.
Hello! she said.
Half the room looked up from their conversations. But not the man himself. So Grace Magorian stood herself up, closed the distance.
Well hello there! she said.
The man blinked, and then he recognized her.
快乐飞艇开奖appOh, hey, he said. He was a little surprised, not entirely happy.
快乐飞艇开奖appWell this is quite the coincidence!
快乐飞艇开奖appIsn’t it? Yeah. Crazy. Holy shit. Then he looked down at his phone and, drunk or not, Grace was no fool.
Well, I’ll leave you to it, she said.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace, right? the boy said.
快乐飞艇开奖appYou’re here alone?
快乐飞艇开奖appI’d ask you to join me but I have a friend coming to meet me. He lowered his voice, eyes sub-rosa: Actually another friend from Venus. Where I met Veronica.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace nodded. Oh, she said. I see. No worries, none at all, I’m off to my little corner of the world.
快乐飞艇开奖appI just meant like. Don’t blow my cover, ha. You know young women these days, if they figure you’re dating other people, they wake up the next day all hashtag me too and shit.
Of course, ha ha.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe began to amble away, but something stopped Grace Magorian, and she doubled back.
Jed, she said. He was in the middle of composing a text to somebody named Homeland Security.
快乐飞艇开奖appActually, I have a favor. Rather strange, left field, I suppose. Wondering if you might. If it’s not a trouble. Invite me to that site of yours. If it’s not just for young people. If you might, then I could.
Ha ha, he said. What’s your email?
Grace gave it.
No problem, he said, taking it down on his phone.
快乐飞艇开奖appHe winked at her in a way that made her feel exposed. She turned, attractively, with the soft recessed lighting at her back. The last man with whom Grace had been intimate was an architect. She’d let him come inside of her, had felt the cream of him shushing against the wall of her diaphragm. He’d been beautiful, tall and gentle. Almost an apparition of a man, really, with his nice teeth and his healthy-looking body. He’d been gone, albeit politely, within the hour, never to be heard from again. What came out of her the next morning looked like paint chips.
That was three years ago. And now the world was shifting. All Grace wanted was to be loved, to be heartily fucked and unconditionally loved. She wished she had the occasion to hate that she’d been harassed. Of course she had suffered the tiny, daily rapes, and the more acute ones from her youth. But the dearth of love, there was nothing like it. The truth was she envied these women who had the luxury to evoke the bad fucks and half-fucks and near-fucks that had wounded them. Grace struggled to remember any touch at all.
Later that evening in her pink-walled studio, Grace plugged the new mauve vibrator with the jaunty ears into her laptop and clicked around for something romantic but heathen. She found a video of a young couple on the subway, posted to an Instagram account called Beasts of New York. The girl, in a swingy black cotton skirt, was straddling the boy, who wore velour sweatpants. The girl’s face was pretty and drunky as she butter-churned on the boy’s lap. His gestures were noncommittal; he was not even passionately receiving but laconically entertained. When the vibrator was sufficiently charged, Grace took her fresh laundry from the spinning dryer and went to lie down on her firm twin bed. There she held a bouquet of clean towels to her face and the rabbit to her peach panties as the video of the amorous subway couple cycled on the laptop beside her. These days, it took twenty seconds, max. She barely needed the loop.
Afterwards she lay there and thought of her father. It was best to think of one’s parents directly after an orgasm, when there is so much open space. Donal Magorian. Tall, broad in the neck and shoulders but skinny in the legs, with a pink face and red nose, hands large as irons. From the time he was nine years old, he’d cut turf with two Kerry Bog ponies. Later, when steel came to do the work of men, Donal and several out-of-work comrades took on a project from a foreign developer to build a golf course in their little town. It was two years of bone-breaking work, of men in white pants coming to swing invisible clubs on a mound and determine this hill might look better just there. Half the crew drank itself to death, in rage but mostly enervation. The day of the rope-cutting ceremony, Donal was one of the only men left standing, as much in the foreground of the scene as a blue-collar man could be. He stood just behind a placid Armenian with a big scissor. Grace watched on the telly, a little ashamed though mostly proud. She was at home, doing her homework, dotting all the i’s to ensure she’d never marry a man like her father. Because she was sure Donal Magorian was the only good poor man in the world. This opinion was likely handed down from her mother, Frances, who loved her husband but hated their station, who’d never been to Paris, or in a car that shone. And then, while making eye contact with him on the screen, fourteen-year-old Grace watched her father strike a paw to his chest and keel over, crumple, really, like a bad gag of a heart attack. True to Irish form, the town paper said he’d died of happiness, of pride, in himself and the beauty of the course he’d helped create.
快乐飞艇开奖appBollocks, said Frances Magorian. My husband died a slave. There’s nothing left for us here.
快乐飞艇开奖appIn a matter of weeks they’d abandoned their little flat above McDonells Bar and Undertakers and were off with some pension money to America. It was the particular tragedy of mother-duo systems like Grace and Frances that because the mother had never gotten what she needed out of life, the daughter must never advance past a certain degree. Any improvements must happen in quiet, under cover of night. And eventually even those would die the death of the undeserving, the Icaruses who had flown too close to the suburban suns of the U.S.A. Frances did find her man, a silvery American named George. She said he looked like Jimmy Stewart when he smiled. They never married but Frances and Grace moved in with him, to his ugly but clean split-level in Cranford, New Jersey.
Just then there was a nice ding on her laptop. Grace shushed the jittery vibrator and checked the screen. Welcome to Venus was the subject line. She clicked a link and there were a series of easy-to-follow prompts. She wrote a brief and spry About Me paragraph, and uploaded a picture of herself on the links her father built, in County Mayo. The photograph was taken seven years ago. Next was the birth date, and she toggled around on the year. 1966 sounded like a terrific year for wine, but not for a woman to be born.
Fuckit, she thought. Like Talia said, Everybody lies these days. If you don’t, you’re toast. She selected 1972. Then 1973. Forty-five, she could pass for that. Really, she could. But not a minute younger. The only way to be any younger was to use even older photos of herself, of which she didn’t have that many, or to use a photo of a younger woman. She considered that for a moment. Considered using fake pictures so that at least a good man would write. That might be enough, to just be desired, even if it wasn’t her actual whole self they were desiring.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe was shocked, right away, at how impressive the men were. She’d been on Match last year, remembered with choking gloom all those nights when she’d start off bright-eyed, mousing around and, sure enough, by 2:47 a.m., she would be on the eighteenth page of men forty-two to sixty-four. Feeling winded and having gone back, several times, to adjust the salary range. Grace did not care about money, but her mother had.
On Venus there were only three men per page, and Grace was being asked to rank them so the site could better configure its algorithms to serve her. The pictures of the first three men. Grace’s jaw dropped. They were kind-looking, wealthy-looking, no ornery eyebrows, no shirtless hicks on motorcycles. No selfies in bathrooms.
Fuck me! said Grace Magorian. She’d found the cache! Where all the good ones had been hiding. Nearly, she texted Talia.
快乐飞艇开奖appWhere is everyone? Grace’s mother used to ask. She’d come to America hoping to see “good people” and where were they? Were they in Aspen in the winter? The Hamptons in the summer? But some summers they were in Nantucket! It took Frances too long. In many ways, Grace knew she’d taken the job for the Hoppas to answer her mother’s question, to know where the good people were. And now she knew where all the good single men were, too. She thought of all the Beaujolais she had drunk alone.
She went through a couple of pages, ranking. She was supposed to do this for 101 sets of three, or until she found what the site called The One, a man she wanted to message her straightaway.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe could not believe how impressive they all were. Frances Magorian used to say, All the reflective men are gay. Don’t chase a dream, Gracie. Men, in her mother’s estimation, were either hardworking oxen with big jaws and hearts and no brains, or else they were rich, perfect, cruel, and unattainable. How rare it is to grow up past the iniquities that ached our parents. They are little holes bored in the brain, too small to ever fill. Outside, it began to pour. Almost immediately after she heard the first pattering, Grace’s phone sounded the familiar siren. A voice memo from Mrs. Hoppa.
Grace did you secure the exterior door to the outdoor sauna in Bridgehampton
Grace knew Mrs. Hoppa didn’t want a voice memo back. She wrote, Yes, ma’am. She deleted the ma’am. She added an exclamation mark after the word, Yes, then deleted that, too. She added a period, and sent it.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe went back to her laptop. Please one of you save me, she said to the screen.
And then, one of them did.
His handle was DigLitt. He looked like a John. Like a man, is what he looked like. The way they used to look. The first line of his profile text read, “I am searching for the best woman in the world.”
快乐飞艇开奖appThe balance of the text was confident but not arrogant. He was not, he wrote, a metrosexual or a tough type or a brunch type or a Trump type, he was not any type, he was simply a man, his own man, and possibly yours. He was good with tools, cooking. He owned a construction company and built houses in underserved villages in South America. He’d lived and worked in thirteen countries. He knew how to read maps, and yet he always stopped to ask for directions. He believed red hair was caused by sugar and lust. Grace touched her hair, her red, red hair. He was wealthy but not an asshole. Was this possible? Grace hadn’t thought so. But here was this man. This smart, funny, alluring, six-two, fifty-year-old man. His pictures depicted a full and varied life. Kentucky Derby with ringleted nieces. A black-and-white wedding in Rio. Making French toast in Telluride. Playing with a glorious golden retriever in Central Park. He loved William Trevor stories and raclette and Abraham Lincoln and was of Celtic descent and loved Irish dance and loved Irish accents and he loved women who could play the violin and who weren’t arrogant and he loved golf and coconut water but distrusted the yoga community at large.
Her hands flew off the mouse. She was afraid. That digital fear of showing someone you love them, you are stalking them, you are watching their Instagram story seventeen thousand times in one evening. There was the button at the bottom of the page, Tell DigLitt he is the one! (Don’t worry, we won’t actually tell him that, we’ll just say you wouldn’t mind if he borrowed your Short History of Nearly Everything快乐飞艇开奖app. Then he’ll have forty-eight hours to feel you back.)
快乐飞艇开奖appShe touched between her legs. She felt hungry again, as though she hadn’t come a mere hour earlier. She imagined John—she was sure that was his actual name—atop her. Fondly she remembered sex, the back and forth of it, the way it was best when it felt the man’s member was slipping away, out of you. Christ how much was inherited from her mother, the disease of her need.
In the past, Grace had felt deplorably happy when men bestowed the smallest kindnesses. If they held the door. If they absorbed their semen off her thigh with a quality paper towel. But this man. This John would love her. She could feel it.
She took a deep breath in, and clicked the button.
In Grace Magorian’s sixteenth year, she’d learned what true love was and, just as quickly, accepted that it was not for her.
Other bits of love had begun sooner, starting when she was nine or so. Instinctively she knew love快乐飞艇开奖app was not the right word. Cuddling twiggles on her knee at the dinner table. The nighttime check-ins that began quietly and grew into fifteen- and thirty-minute sessions. Out her door after, she’d hear him say to her mum, Another nightmare. Not a problem, Franny. It’s my pleasure.
The thing was, what was the thing? The thing was, by the time Grace was old enough to feel the oval notion, George was the only thing she associated it with. It made it better that he belonged to her mother. Each time Frances was cold to her, Grace had her little revenges. The first night George became her lover coincided with the week that Frances had all but forgotten her only child’s birthday.
快乐飞艇开奖appFrig me, Grace, you’re fifteen today. Feels like only yesterday we put yer big da in the ground and you held to my knees like a refugee.
Grace didn’t know she was with child for three months. There was so much extra saliva in her mouth, but otherwise she felt like a regular blooming girl. She was excelling in school, had loads of friends, and was fucking her mother’s boyfriend once a week. Wednesday was the special day, when Frances would go out food shopping, which she enjoyed doing alone. There was a little routine. As Frances was preparing to leave, George would shower and go to wait in his office, reclined on the faux-suede pull-out, which they didn’t discuss he’d bought precisely for this purpose, and reading some big, beautiful book. James Joyce, often. And when Grace sauntered in, like a less-aware Lolita, George would clear his throat and begin to read aloud.
It was of a night, late, lang time agone, in an auldstane eld, when Adam was delvin and his madameen spinning watersilts, when mulk mountynotty man was everybully and the first leal ribberrobber that ever had her ainway everybuddy to his love-saking eyes and everybilly lived alove with everybiddy else . . .
And Grace would go to sit beside his waist and on cue his large priestly hand would come to rest on her hip. By increments—and it was these discreet slow-building increments that she grew to associate with rocketing desire, so that for years Grace could wait on love—he would be plunging inside her, the book wedged somewhere against their still-clothed bodies. She would come again, later, to the presence of paper cuts.
By the sixth month there was no hiding it. One fall morning Grace emerged from the shower and Frances saw it, the slope of her daughter’s young belly, and grabbed her by the ear. Grace said it belonged to some eejit from Irvington. A black feller, she said, by way of accounting for some wrongdoing. Where was George? Grace could not remember those months. She had no memory of him from then, but he was not dead yet.
She was not taken to the doctor. Frances gave her black syrupy things to drink. Potions, she called them. But the fetus, who evidently had the genes of Donal Magorian, persisted.
快乐飞艇开奖app In the morning, there was a single email. From The One, by way of Venus.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace’s heart grew to twice its normal size. She did not open the email straight away. First she did the three or four things she’d been dreading. She sent an email to both Hoppas, Thing One and Thing Two, asking for a raise. She paid off a credit-card bill with some of her dwindling cash. She made a mammogram appointment. Then she went on Facebook and wrote to a few friends back in Ireland who she felt warmly towards, but who thought of her as a prodigal daughter, gone to eat from silver spoons in the New World. Hey Angela, nice photo. How’s the craic? G. For a few minutes Grace got lost in Angela’s little, warless life. Angela had a beautiful daughter named Mary Katherine. She had red hair like her mum, and like Grace; it seemed all the girls Grace had grown up with had had red hair. Mary Katherine appeared to be single, but it wouldn’t be long. She was in her late twenties, with a set of erotic tits and a rich, auburn brow.
Finally, with a cup of pine tea she’d stolen from the Hoppas’ Ketchum home, Grace read DigLitt’s profile again. Particularly she loved his Idea of a Perfect Day. A farm of fresh-cut winter berries, glazed in a frost. We aren’t homesteaders but in the winter we can things, you and I, and we don’t tell anyone, which is how to maintain goodness. The clouds are winter blue. Our Alaskan huskies are tired from a day of herding the miniature Babydoll sheep. We take off our water-resistant winter boots that we bought in Montreal, when everything seemed free, and dry our wet feet by the fire. You heat our cider and calvados while I clean the artichokes and later, we eat them, our faces glazed in the oil of the vegetable. I ask you to say plum pudding, again and again and again and again. And again.
快乐飞艇开奖appHe liked his cold to be ice cold and his hot to be melting hot. He liked extremes in everything, his trees to be not pines in the Adirondacks, not even sequoias in the Sierra Nevadas, but the Hyperion giant in a secret place only a handful of people knew. He liked his women either untouched angels or deeply damaged, like a case of chilled Labatt that had been shipped without temperature control to Florida.
This article appears in the April/May 2020 issue of Esquire.
She opened the email. Dear Grace, it began.
快乐飞艇开奖appHer heart, her red, red heart!
I am writing to say,
And then Grace’s heart turned cool, into a gray liver.
The email ended there. No more text, no more signature, just a swath of white. At the very bottom, Sent from my Venus.
快乐飞艇开奖appClearly, clearly! There had been a whole beautiful paragraph in there, saying she was the one, too, her love of Bach and Gaddis and bidets, but he didn’t realize it had gotten erased before he hit Send. He was worldly and had lived in Africa and was full of pulchritude and nonprofits, but he did not know how to work these newfangled dating sites and why should he!
Quickly, she wrote. Hey hey—I received your Dear Grace, but it ended after I am writing to say, and Dear John, I am writing back to say, I read your profile and Jiminy Christmas! Also your eyes are remarkable. I enjoy artichokes more than any woman in the world. I don’t know if I am the best woman in the world, but I think that I could be? Can you kindly resend what you wrote?
When the baby, at last, had come out of her, it was plain and silky as a rabbit in a store window. It was too early but alive, and Grace herself was so young, she didn’t realize it was not too late to be saved. When Frances left the room for more towels, the wonderful thing swam to Grace’s breast. It did not suckle, it was not interested in food. She. She was a girl. With lips like tuna belly and fingers like the springing tendrils of grapevine left to stand lonely after the harvest.
快乐飞艇开奖appAs the years burred away the glinting trapezoids of memory, Grace was left with merely the summary of the situation: In another life, Grace Magorian lost a child. A miscarriage in the seventh month. Back in Ireland, was it? No, no. Here, in the States, and yet, a late, lang time agone. And remember. Women like her did not make a big deal. The type of women men found the easiest to be around, and yet did not marry. At noon there was a ding at her computer. But it was not from the love of Grace Magorian’s life. It was an email from the Hoppas. From Thing One, the missus.
快乐飞艇开奖appDear Grace, Thank you for your email, our account manager has advised against a raise but we will talk about it some more. Would you have the freon checked in Bridge, we never got properly cooled last night. We are on our way back into city. See you. —Mrs. H.
They liked Grace to be in whichever house they were not occupying. Grace packed her bag. It would be good to be in the Hamptons. The love of her life would feel her distance and he would seek her out faster. It was necessary, of course, to play games in the very beginning.
The kitchen of the house in Bridgehampton was a kitchen for astronauts, for moon boots and bottomless bowls of lemon. Azul Macaúbas counters and steel that shone like guillotines.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace had brought artichokes from the city. They were charred at the tips but otherwise sumptuous. She set them on the counter, with two bottles of claret. Grace had stopped smoking in 2004 but sometimes she forgot, and looked for a light. It had been two days. He had not written. She knew, if the whole weekend passed without word, that she would write again. But that she already knew this was hurtful enough to make her hate him. Already he was cruel. Already, once again, her life was over.
But he wasn’t cruel. He did Habitat for Humanity. He did not merely go to charitable parties but built houses with his own hands. He’d watched every single episode of Sex and the City.
I am looking for the best woman in the world.
Grace remembered, with bitter fondness, the time her mother said to her, Who do you think you are in that getup, Gracie? The First Fecking Lady?
快乐飞艇开奖appThis was a year ago, several days before Frances Magorian died easily in her sleep. Having drunk one of her potions. The brill thing about them, they were full of everything you already had in the house. That same day she’d said to Grace, Remember me in the same color green, Grace? That dress I usetuh wore to the club?
快乐飞艇开奖appFrances Magorian hadn’t wanted to be forgotten. It was the terrific plight of women who wanted to be remembered to shack up with men who needed to forget it all.
In a way Grace had felt she could not be free until after Frances was gone. In terms of finding love. After all, think of what she had done to her mother. Yes of course she’d been groomed for the raping, but hadn’t she been complicit? Wasn’t it, in the end, also a rape against her mother? She said as much once to a therapist. The therapist, newfangled, was aghast. She had short gray hair and did not go in for nuance.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe clicked again through his pictures, admiring the JFK jaw, the Irish-American skin that would soon sag but for now still looked lovely on ski trails.
Why won’t you write to me? she whispered.
She put on some Debussy, decanted the claret, and trimmed the artichokes. She floated around the kitchen, selecting the River Cafe olive oil from the suspended shelving and the coarse Korean gray sea salt from the lit spice display in the wall. You couldn’t see the speakers but the music felt like it was coming from inside your own ears. She’d shown her mother pictures of the Bridgehampton kitchen on her cell. I don’t go in for that modernist shite, said the old lady, turning her face away without fully registering the image.
快乐飞艇开奖appWhile the artichokes were roasting in the royal blue La Cornue, Grace cut up a link of wild boar salami and rang Talia on speakerphone. She told her about the man from Venus, the empty email. Talia was from Pittsburgh by way of Israel but really she was from nowhere.
快乐飞艇开奖appFuck it, Grace, who cares. You’re fucking fifty, you can’t afford to play these games. Just write again. What’s the name of that site? How’s it I haven’t heard of it?
It’s invitation only. You have to be invited.
快乐飞艇开奖appSo fuckin’ invite me.
You have to be vetted, Grace said.
快乐飞艇开奖appSo fuckin’ invite me then fuckin’ vet me already. I think I just had my last period.
Grace pictured Talia in her apartment, a fifth-floor walk-up in Chinatown, with the racket of the city and the steam of the prawns from the restaurant below. She was in a garnet negligee probably, and perfumed.
Yeah, I have to uh. I have to be a member for a certain interim, and then.
You fuckin’ keeping the keys to the kingdom from me you ragged cunt?
Grace found Talia mysterious. She did not seem to want anything, she just enjoyed the feeling of wanting. They were friends because they were both middle-aged and single. Divorced women did not go near women like Grace and Talia. The fifty-plus never-marrieds were zombies who ate foul cheese and smelled of crying.
While Talia rattled on about a recent Tinder date—a sixty-something who got drunk, berated a busgirl, and confessed how sad it made him that he no longer cared if a woman was hot; they could have hairy moles on their lips, he just wanted to fuck something that sprung back at him—Grace opened her laptop, logged into Venus, and wrote to DigLitt: Are you still out there, love o’ my life? Then she deleted that, and wrote, Please, I need a sign. She deleted that as well.
Life doesn’t end till you wannitu, Frances Magorian said to Grace Magorian as the latter held her glossy blue child to her breast.
快乐飞艇开奖appPeople go when they wannu. Same went for your da. Was it irrational, Grace thought, to have become so incapacitated because someone she didn’t know, never met, had ghosted her?
She sat for a spell in Thing One’s hinoki- wood soaking tub. The water was scalding and the eucalyptus oil smelled, pleasingly, of poison. But she had never been able to stand a bath. Just sitting there. It seemed so sloppy. She climbed out, her heart racing from the heat of the water. Her hands still dripping, she reached for her phone. An email from Country Living. 17 Explosive Desserts for the Fourth of July. Nothing more.
No, it couldn’t be. Clearly there was a mail-carrying issue with this stupid hipster site. Like everything created by millennials, Grace thought, it was beautiful but empty.
It took several minutes but she found a contact number for Venus. A girl answered, who most definitely had cobalt fingernails. Grace explained the situation, the mostly blank email, the soundlessness that followed. The girl, named Jo, asked for Grace’s handle, and for the one belonging to the man she loved. For several minutes there was silence at the other end, and Grace could feel the girl’s eyes on her profile, this Cujo who knew nothing, thinking, Yeah, right this man wrote to you, you old hag. Looking at both their profiles and thinking, Get real, lady.
When her voice returned to the line, Jo told Grace there had been no outages on their end, and there was nothing they could do. If somebody didn’t write you back, it was recommended that you move on as quickly as possible.
Then whytha fuck did you ask for our frickin’ handles!
I’m sorry, ma’am, the girl said. A voice had never sounded farther away.
Within minutes Grace was naked astride the mahogany captain’s chair in Thing Two’s office, furiously toggling between windows on her laptop. She searched DigLitt’s profile for phrases and places she might string together, to figure out his real name. She did not look for him on Facebook, because his World at Large section called social media “an extant place for those who don’t think the bad things will happen to them, who think the good are due to them, and want you to know about every Miami vacation.”
She spent four hours sleuthing. It was feverish. She didn’t realize the time going by. The only time she’d ever felt such a divine slippage of time was at a school dance the year before she became intimate with George. She’d danced most of the night with a boy named Brian, who seemed too good for her but did not act it. He wore a plaid blazer, and his skin was attractively acne-scarred.
For all her intelligent effort, Googling Africa and Brazil and architecture and all the clues in his profile, she could not turn up a LinkedIn or anything. Nothing at all!
She took a pill from Thing One’s medicine cabinet. It was a pink oval, like the beginning of a woman. At first she meant only to hold it for another date. She had a storehouse in the studio, of pills and gold bits and bobs she’d been squirreling from the Hoppas these many years. She thought, how much easier it would have been for her mother to have such pretty little pills, instead of the potion of a poor woman, the bleachy rubbish kept under the sink. She placed the pill under her tongue. It felt so small, like it wouldn’t do anything at all. So there she placed another.
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As the sun set, Grace Magorian began to feel feral. The many years of aloneness piled up inside her like indigestion. She didn’t know where the housekeeper was, the landscaper. If anyone was home, alive, in that great breathless house. Naked, she ate the leftover artichokes over the kitchen sink, the army-colored juices streaming down her chin and neck, onto her medium, freckled rack. Then she floated outside, still naked. The backyard was a solitary rectangle of prim lawn encased by privet hedges. There was a pool, of course, as lonely as could be, and two Adirondack chairs gazing into the emerald hinterlands. She took her laptop by the edge of the water, and laid out beside it, feeling the elegant stone against her skin.
She set up a new email, then she invited the new email to Venus. She knew exactly what she wanted and found a series of images, easily, on Facebook. Mary Katherine was, of course, a few years older than Grace’s daughter would have been. But it was close enough.
快乐飞艇开奖appGrace was tired by then, her eyes warped by the squiggles of text, so she wrote a meager little About Me section. She named some movies an eejit might like, said she lived in Fort Greene, enjoyed temperate weather, and the skin of an old book. Grace deleted the last bit, and replaced it with something about art galleries and air travel, called herself Toni, and clicked Save. Then, feeling free, light, shaved of those twenty-plus extra years, she found DigLitt again, his eyes shining coldly in the photograph on the ski run, which he had newly made his main image, meaning he’d been online since she’d written him last.
She moved her head back and forth, to feel the blood whoosh around. Then Grace had Toni tell DigLitt he was The One.
快乐飞艇开奖appBehind the hedges there was a noise. Larger than a rustling. Grace froze. Talia had wanted to come down. She always wanted to come down, drink the booze of rich people and talk about herself. Sometimes Talia did impulsive things, but she would have written first.
快乐飞艇开奖appTalia? Grace said. No sound returned.
In what felt like an act of self-preservation, Grace got into the pool. It was cold. Even in the heat of summer. Another derivative of Thing Two’s penny-pinching.
快乐飞艇开奖appThere was another, louder noise, this one a nagging thump, a human head dropped from a park bench onto grass.
It’s him, Grace thought, it’s him. Come for me. The way George came, the prefatory night in her room, when Grace figured it was what God sent for her, what He knew she needed—not another father or a childish lover, but some glorious, steadfast in- between. I am ready, Grace thought, to be swallowed by love!
She’d told Talia on the phone, You don’t understand, this man’s profile. It is enchanting. He is perfect. Kind and funny and loves all the right books and films. There is a picture of him, for fuck’s sake, stirring a huge pot of crayfish with a crescent of Mongolian babes at his knee.
Talia said, Sounds like a regular asshole to me.
快乐飞艇开奖appAnother noise in the brush, this one fantastically loud. And followed by a whimper, not human, but nor did it sound like it came from animal, though it must have. It must have been a deer come to die in the brush. Hit by a Range Rover on Montauk Highway, struggled to this private square of land to go tenderly into the night.
Grace Magorian was neither sad, nor afraid. She did not pity, or require any in return.
快乐飞艇开奖appIn the thicket the noise persisted for a minute or less, and then stopped, the way a metronome stops. When the vibrations persist. Grace imagined cool, soft blood, like a quality egg yolk sitting around.
She checked her Toni Magorian email account for what she knew would be there. Her fingertips dripped cool water between the flat keys. She felt young in the pool, as young as she had been before she turned old.
快乐飞艇开奖appShe blacked out maybe, and when she blacked back in, she looked again at her screen. The eyes of the love of her life were startling, truly.
His eyes did not betray him. But Grace knew now where the good people were. She had always known, of course, that whereas old women for the most part grew into their age gracefully, abandoned the frissons of youth, old men more firmly clawed into the bedrock of their power, their money. If they had none, they hated the world. Hipsters. Bitcoin. If they had plenty, they were afraid of everyone trying to steal it. If they had a stepdaughter, then that was the only time they were afraid of women. She dipped her head beneath the surface of the water. Her scalp went aqua cold. Down under she couldn’t hear anything at all, the whole nut of her was senseless as a toenail. She opened her eyes and realized she had never opened her eyes underwater in the dark, not once in her whole life. There was so much to see. Grace saw the thumbs of her father, the boundaries of his laugh, the great vineyard of his chest. She saw the dance with the young man in the old barn the night that went by too quickly. She saw in the deepest layer of water the bite-blue lips of her child, a young woman for whom all the boys would have gone crazy. All the barn dances, the nights in green dresses. At last, in the hoofing beat of the water, she heard her mother. Stop waiting on ’em, Gracie. Stop looking for them. And then she heard the old lady laugh, as much as someone could hear someone laugh underwater.
Meanwhile the water turned darker and warmer and sweeter. Up above the surface the night changed its clothes. Somewhere someplace forgettable—Philadelphia—a pretty girl played Debussy for an auditorium of throat-clearers, having only learned, thus far, to wait for the clap. The music filled the room, stretched itself out to every corner. The music rose to the ceiling and pressed heavily against the doors and dispersed into the thin night, it poured out of speakers in rich kitchens and poor, and all the way down beneath the water, it dripped out of those Diluvio Aquasonic speakers that glowed like fucking aliens. So that Grace heard the music loud and clear.
快乐飞艇开奖appYes, ma’am, said Grace Magorian. The best man in the world does not exist. But the best woman. That is me. I am the one you are looking for.