Love Solutions, Inc.
By Sarah Henry
Violet had a hopeful feeling about this dinner date. Pre-date stalking his social media, she noted that he had nice eyes, good teeth, a couple of pictures with his dog, no pictures with other women draped around his shoulders, and a job.
They met at a trendy restaurant. Shared plates. It was nothing but incredibly lackluster and Violet left with a dull ache in her throat. She wasn’t sure why she wanted to cry, he had been such a nice man, but there it was nonetheless.
Standing outside the restaurant, Violet sighed, and reached into her purse, compulsively, looking for her phone. It was a soft, still night. Spring, a time for things to blossom.
Instead, her fingers grazed a small piece of flimsy cardboard. Curious, she lifted it out of her purse. The card was a simple thing. Off-white, with a company name, Love Solutions, Inc., and a number printed just below it.
She had found it tucked in between magazine pages while waiting at the dentist’s office. A long-forgotten bookmark perhaps.
Usually Violet was incredibly skeptical of things that offered promised solutions to anything, but the very simplicity of the card was what proved its potential legitimacy to her. If it had been glossy and pink, embossed with hearts and kissy lips, she would have left it exactly where she had found it.
She sent a brief text message to the number provided on the card, and soon it showed that the recipient had received and seen it. Read. 11:57.
The little “…” bubble appeared, and Violet waited.
“Ok. I can meet now. 12:15 at bar on corner of 1st and Cherry?”
Violet set off to meet her destiny.
“Listen. I never intended to end up here,” she told him. And to his credit, he listened sympathetically, though she guessed he was probably thinking about other things, like what to make for dinner tomorrow, or how much the dry cleaning of his favorite sweater would cost him.
“Not many young women like to admit they need help,” he responded. His voice was soothing, though his words were not.
“I don’t consider myself like many young women. I’ve done my research, you know, I understand as much as I possibly can about this topic and all its intricacies and complications.
It is still so elusive.
Did you know that some scientists have discovered that the beginning stages of romantic love are linked with diminished levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin? Low levels of serotonin are also found in those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some could say that love, then, is simply an obsession of the brain brought about by a lack of certain important chemicals. If this is so, I can so easily get obsessed about little things…why not another person?” She laughed awkwardly.
He looked at her thoughtfully, assessing. “So, who is this potion for? What are the characteristics of the person you hope to fall in love with you?”
“Oh no! This isn’t for anyone else; I thought I made that clear. It’s for me. I can’t fall in love.” She said this looking down at her drink, traced her finger through the wet ring it left on the bar. Embarrassed.
“Ah. I see,” he said quietly. “Well, I have just the thing for you.” He reached into the smart leather laptop bag hanging on the back of his chair and pulled out a small vial filled with a shockingly bright yellow potion. Shielding it with his hand, he passed it surreptitiously to Violet. Holding the vial in her palm, she imagined that the room had suddenly grown brighter, and that the conversations swirling around the room had paused, heads swiveled, eyes all on her, if just for a second.
She thanked him, handed him some cash as payment, and quickly left the bar, looking over her shoulder only once before pushing open the door.
Over the course of his long relationship with the Earth, the man had been called many things. Yue-Lao, the Old Man Under the Moon who unites couples with a silken thread. K?madeva, winged and green-skinned. Eros. Cupid. It still bewildered him that mortals, despite their centuries of experimentation and research with this concept, had such trouble understanding that love simply is. He finished his drink slowly, taking a moment to look at his watch, anticipating how long it would take the woman before she drank the vial of colored water.
Violet hailed a taxi and while she was waiting, she unstopped the vial and poured it down her throat. It tasted like nothing. A taxi pulled up to the curb, and when the driver turned over his shoulder to ask where to, she smiled disarmingly at him. Such a handsome man. Kind eyes. She wondered if he had a dog.