tightness set in to my jaw. What is attraction, really, but a submission to a thing perceived as beautiful simply because it mirrors the other’s hopes for a time? Beauty is really quite transitory and subjective, I thought then; perhaps even meaningless in the scope of more serious things like the soul. So what could other men know about me based on how they thought I looked? I knitted my brow. And what use had I for the opinions of men other than him anyway? I weighed my so-called dating options carefully and decided it was wisest to stand by my soulmate, to stick to the plan of chastity. And wait.

*     *     *

When I was a very young girl, I frequently laced the ice skates on to my small feet in winter, then I sailed out onto the ice and skated in figure eights. Sharp metal blades, cutting into the cold, hard white of endless ice; mindless patterns tracing the shape of infinity: it was what I now knew of love.

*     *     *

Purge, purge, purge. I looked in the mirror most days and did my best to disclaim myself.

Beautiful yet unlovable – how could that be? At the very least, it was unfair.

He refused to take my calls. Once, though, he answered his cell phone, apparently by mistake. He spoke to me. He was, by nature, prone to being considerate. But there was a wife I hadn’t known about. And some kids. There were past indiscretions he was trying to distance himself from. A new leaf he’d turned over and was now trying hard to keep in that fresh and prostrate position – downward-facing, away from temptation.

“But what about me – your soulmate?” I asked, something in my voice sounding tiny and quivering. Apparently, the plan was to leave all thoughts of me behind.

This was not in the cards – and I had cast the cards many times, so I knew whence I spoke. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I apologised for everything abhorrent I might have said or done to cause this reversal in my fortune. I tried making the apology sound full and soft as a comforting eiderdown that could cover even things I could never imagine he might have inferred. But it was useless. Hopeless. Utterly over in his mind.

“But that orgy of togetherness,” I tried weakly. “That melding of our souls –

don’t tell me all this waiting was in vain.”

“I never agreed to anything like that.” It struck me then that I might as well have been speaking in a foreign tongue. My pleas did battle with his rebelling ears – he steadfastly refused to listen.

*     *     *

Obviously, I had hoped our union would be less invasive for him – more of a treasured embrace, without all the struggling. As it was, I had sunk to the least attractive place inside me, and here I had spent so much money on all the black undergarments. I could no longer wear them; they made me feel foolish – like a woman who has aged beyond her prime and is the last one to realise it.

The idea of buying the wig came to me suddenly – like a flash of brilliance across the doomed landscape of an emptying mind. In the wig I felt pornographic, unchaste; my soul degraded to two slick lips, a hole spread open and willingly probed by the greedy glare of even my own judgmental eyes. I could be anyone, any girl; there was no one I would need to protect. In the wig and a pair of dark

glasses, I could approach him easily as he’d finally exited the towering building downtown where he worked and was getting into his car. He turned to face me without suspicion; why would he suspect a redhead of anything sinister? He probably didn’t even know any redheads.

/ My soul degraded to two slick lips, a hole spread open and willingly probed by the greedy glare of even my own judgmental eyes. /

I pushed the knife into him simply because I could; because it was very sharp and it was in my right hand and because when he had turned from his car to face the red-head, he wasn’t in any way expecting to be stabbed. But I didn’t want him to die; I only wanted to shock him into submission. It was the only plan I could come up with that was likely to be taken seriously, to force him to stumble backward into the front seat of his car, scoot over and slump there slightly, letting me drive.

A simple phone call, an acquiescence to meet for dinner would have alleviated all this pressure; a few hours alone with him, each of us