The perfect match, p.9
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       The Perfect Match, p.9

         Part #2 of Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins
 
Page 9

  Author: Kristan Higgins

  You know what? She wasn’t going to Goggy’s. Instead, she went home, went up to her bathroom and took out a pair of scissors.

  All her life, her hair had been the same, thick and long, hanging to the middle of her back, a dark blond with lighter streaks from the sunshine. . . when she was out in the sunshine, that was. It had been a while. She wore it up about half of the time, down and with a hairband at others. In fact, her hairband collection was a little ridiculous. How many did she own? Twenty? Thirty? Until now, she liked her hair, liked the old-fashioned beauty of it.

  Not anymore. It was time for a change.

  The snick of the scissors was oddly satisfying.

  * * *

  ON THE FOURTH Thursday of every month, in an effort to earn her heavenly reward, Honor volunteered at Rushing Creek, the assisted living facility at the edge of Manningsport. This Thursday, Goggy had come with her.

  In the past year, Goggy and Pops had aged a little, as one would expect with people in their eighties. They were both still strong as oxen, but Goggy seemed more forgetful these days, and Honor could swear Pops limped on rainy days. Any day now, she worried, one of them might tumble down the steep, narrow staircases of the Old House, which was something of a death trap, full of the twists and turns characteristic of colonials. They didn’t use two-thirds of the rooms, and the house would never pass inspection, not with Pops having nailed the front door closed last winter “to help with the drafts. ”

  It was Honor’s hope that they’d willingly move to a brighter, smaller place before one of them had an accident.

  “I’ll kill myself before I come to a place like this,” Goggy pronounced dramatically when she came through the doors. A resident in a wheelchair glared before zipping down the hall in speedy moral outrage. Rushing Creek was comparable to the nicest luxury apartments in Manhattan, but Goggy viewed it like a Dickensian asylum.

  “Let’s try to use our inside voices, okay?” Honor said. “I love it here. I’m counting the years before I can move in. ”

  “I’d kill myself. Oh, hello, Mildred! How are you?”

  “Hello, Elizabeth!” Mildred said. “And Honor! You cut your hair! Oh, no! Why, honey, why?”

  “Thank you,” Honor said. Okay, so the haircut was a bit radical. But that had been the point. And yes, she’d gone to Corning, to a stylish, somewhat frightening place where a professional had stared in horror before shaping up her cropped hair.

  Now it was no longer than the nape of her neck. Relieved of its weight, little wisps sprang up here and there, and if it was a shock, Honor told herself she’d like it eventually. Dad pretended to after his initial chest-clutching; Mrs. Johnson growled; Goggy wept; Pops, Pru and Jack had yet to notice. Faith, at least, had seemed genuinely enthusiastic, clapping her hands. “It’s so chic, Honor! And look at your cheekbones! You’re gorgeous!” Which, of course, she wasn’t, but she appreciated the support.

  “So. . . different!” Mildred said. “Anyway, dear, congratulations on your sister getting married. ”

  “Thanks. Levi’s a great guy. ”

  “I bet they’ll have babies any day. ”

  “I wouldn’t be surprised. ”

  Mildred gave her a conspiratorial look. “And you, dear? Anyone special for you?”

  “No, not at the moment. ”

  “Such a shame. Why are you here, then, darling? Elizabeth, are you and John thinking of moving here?”

  Goggy jerked back. “Oh, my heavens, no! We’re just fine in our house. I hope to God I never have to resort to this. ”

  “Goggy. ” Honor sighed, then smiled at Mildred “We’re showing A Walk in the Clouds today. Have you seen it? Very romantic. ”

  “I haven’t,” Mildred said with a dirty look at Goggy. “The last time I saw a movie with these old people, half were gabbing through the whole thing and the other half couldn’t hear. Good luck!”

  Between Goggy and Mildred, Honor noted, it did seem to be a habit to want to distance oneself from the capriciousness of aging. Look at Ellington, he still pretends he doesn’t need glasses. Walked into a post last week. Or, Did you hear about Leona? Alzheimer’s. Thank God I’m still as sharp as a. . . what was I saying again?

  Sort of like single women, Honor thought. Rather than admit they were all desperately seeking someone—like the cannibals chasing Viggo Mortensen in that dreadful movie she watched last night—there were all sorts of excuses. I’m getting over a long-term relationship was a good one. I wish I had time for a relationship! was another. And then the ultimate lie, If the right guy came along, maybe. But I’m happy on my own. Sure. Which was why those dating sites had half the planet registered.

  No, honesty seemed frowned upon in Dating Life. Honor wondered what would happen if she said, I really thought I’d have a family by now. I’m lonely. Also a little horny, and since the man I love is marrying my former best friend, I may have to invest in a superdeluxe vibrator.

  “Come on,” Goggy said. “Let’s get this movie over with before someone comes to lock me up. They use restraints, I hear. ”

  “Honor! How are you?” asked Cathy Kennedy, who didn’t live here but came in for the movies. “Honey, Louise and I happened to be at O’Rourke’s the other night. Such a surprise. ”

  Honor’s face heated in a rush. “Well, you know. It’s a little quiet in the winter here. I was just trying to liven things up. ” Mercifully, it was time for her to get the film going.

  Honor had started the Watch and Wine club a couple of years ago: show a movie that had even a little bit of wine in it and pair it with a themed tasting. For Uncorked, they’d of course had the Chateau Montelena chardonnay. Pinot noir for Sideways. A full-bodied cab for Twilight, though the combination of wine and Taylor Lautner’s torso had proved too much for some, and 9-1-1 had to be called when Mrs. Griggs fainted.

  The monthly gathering had almost immediately been renamed Watch and Whine, given the propensity of the viewers to discuss their most recent health issues, peppering Honor with questions, which she (and her iPad) did their best to answer. Hey. It was a hobby, and one she’d listed on Match. com. Visits the sick and imprisoned.

  As Honor set up the film in the projector in the gorgeous auditorium, Goggy sat on one of the plush seats, sighing dramatically. “Just put a pillow over my face if it ever comes to this,” she said.

  “Goggy, you told Faith you wouldn’t mind a new place,” Honor said. “Remember? When she was moving into the Opera House?”

  “Oh, I meant a place without your grandfather. But the old fool wouldn’t last a week without me. He’d starve to death. I honestly don’t know if he could find the refrigerator on his own. ” She paused. “It’s a thought. ” Goggy suddenly sat bolt upright. “Speaking of miserable marriages, I found someone for you!”

  Honor gave her a wary look. “Uh, that’s okay, Goggy. ” Goggy had recently suggested she marry Bobby McIntosh “before he ended up a serial killer. ”

  “No, he’s wonderful! You should meet him. Plus, it would help you get over you-know-who. And then you could get married and give me some more great-grandchildren. ”

  The projector’s lightbulb was out. Was there another one? She opened the drawer of the AV cart. Bingo. “Just for the sake of conversation, who is this future husband of mine?”

  “You remember Candace, my old friend? She moved to Philadelphia in 1955? They drove that enormous Packard?”

  Honor gave her grandmother a quizzical look. “I wasn’t born then, Goggy. So no, I don’t remember.


  “Well, before I married your idiot grandfather—”

  “You make it sound so romantic. ”

  “Hush up and listen. Before I married your idiot grandfather, I was engaged to Candace’s brother. He died in the war. ” She gave Honor a regal, suffering look, perfected from years of practice.

  “I know, Goggy. It’s such a sweet, sad story. ”

  Goggy’s face softened. “Thank you. Anyway, Candace also had a sister, but she was older and stayed in England. ”

  “Uh-huh. ” What this had to do with matchmaking was anyone’s guess, but such was the mind of Goggy. Honor unscrewed the burned-out lightbulb with some difficulty.

  “So this sister had a son, and then that son had a son, and Candace just adores him, and anyway, the boy’s been living here for a few years and he needs a green card. ”

  Honor squinted, trying to filter through the bundle of facts.

  “So you should marry him. Nothing wrong with an arranged marriage. ”

  “As in, you and Pops worked out so well?” She opened the drawer on the cart and took out a replacement bulb.

  The old lady chuffed. “Please. You want to be married, or you want to be happy?”

  “Both?”

  Goggy snorted. “You young people. So spoiled. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with this boy. He’s very nice and extremely good-looking. ”

  Honor screwed in the new lightbulb. “Have you ever met him?”

  “No. But he is. ”

  “Seen a picture?”
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