They met online, but that was only the setting. It could have happened anywhere—a bar, a club, a finishing school, a Turkish bath. It was going to happen somehow, somewhere, but it happened online. She was fresh from finally leaving Leon, after years of saying she would; he was startlingly single, though the women in his life said he was eminently eligible.
She jogged every day, five to ten miles to clear her head, not to stay in shape, though that was a great side effect. He was a clean and jerk kind of guy, lifting double his weight easily, though he hid his muscles well in larger outfits. Her friends had told her for years that Leon was no good, but she didn’t want to be single. His mother still did his laundry, even though he was forty-two.
Neither of them was on eHarmony.
It all started with a band. They were everywhere: plastered on billboards, sneaking into friends’ Facebook posts, on television commercials for awards shows. At first she said they were too popular, that she’d never be a fan, but then she heard their music and her resistance melted. He was hooked from the start, authentic because he’d liked them before they got big.
He told her this often on their first date.
The first time he hit her was after the third date, when she mistakenly thought he was a gentleman. He didn’t even remember why he did it, just that it happened. She remembers she told him she was just as big a fan as he was. It was open handed, though, so she let it slide. There were tears, he apologized, and she made him promise it wouldn’t happen again. It would not be another Leon situation, she told herself, which is why she never told her friends.
He sent her flowers the next day, and she knew she was in love. Nobody is perfect, and she couldn’t expect him to be. After all, she didn’t have many options. She was thirty-eight, and life hadn’t handed her any victories, just a litany of self-absorbed assholes who used her to make themselves feel heard. In that way, he was different, as the flowers would attest, though they were roses. She preferred lilies.
He would learn, she told herself.
The second time he hit her was after their eighth date, when she was already committed, when she least expected it because he’d been so good for so long. He apologized the next day, then demanded sex, and she gave it to him, hoping it would alleviate the sense of misgiving she’d begun to have. If there was one place they were in sync, it was in the bedroom. She put ice on her face to lessen the bruising.
She avoided conflict from then on. Yes, dear. Of course, dear. He was pleased she’d finally come around. By the time he moved in, she knew they would last. But she never listened to the band again.
[This is a flash fiction piece I wrote two weeks ago.]