A Taste of Online Dating

(Illustration by Maria Korolov based on image via Pixabay.)

Oh, how I hate pantyhose. They itch and run. Resigned, I ease them up, careful not to snag the sheer fabric with my manicured nails. I cast a critical look at the full-length mirror. It is important to get the details right.

Lipstick next. I rummage through the tubes, countless shades of bronze and pink. No, red. Not a brazen crimson, but a deep, smoky cranberry. I slip into heels that pinch my feet—not too high, not too low. There’s a fine line between sexy and slutty. Who makes these rules?

I smooth my dress over my thighs. It clings to my curves and accentuates breasts pushed upward, encased in a prison of lace.

Men’s desires are tiresome.

I consider canceling, but my stomach growls. Hunger wins.

When I pull into the lot at the seaside restaurant, I suspect he’s nearby, watching, and so I make a production of getting out of the car. Legs first, stretched to full length. Standing, I twirl my wrap, and with a graceful spin end up leaning against the car. I run fingers through my hair, angled into the sun so chestnut, wind-tousled curls gleam. It’s a circus act and I am a master performer.

I sense a flare of emotion, down on the beach—a complex recipe, spiced with desire and nerves. I breathe it in. Damn, I’m hungry. Patience. It won’t be long before he comes to me.

Movement draws my attention. I can feel his eyes on me, so I raise a hand in greeting. His long legs eat up the distance between us. As he rubs his palms on his pants, I can smell his anxiety. And his arousal.

“Emily? The photos don’t do you justice.”

I muster a girlish titter. He doesn’t shake my hand, but simply cradles it as if it’s a fragile baby bird. His pulse flutters as I trace my thumb along the inside of his wrist. I inhale his growing desire and an ache blooms in my stomach. My knees tremble and I swallow hard.

Instead of going inside the restaurant, he suggests a stroll by the shore. I smother irritation—the sand will ruin my heels—and paste on a faux smile. Tucking my hand in the crook of his arm, I lead him around a rocky peninsula onto a stretch of deserted shoreline.

It lends some privacy for what’s to come.

Milking a full-lipped pout, I pause by a tidepool and lean close to take a selfie, the two of us cheek-to-cheek. I like to keep trophies. The image on my phone reveals my true self. His eyes widen at the sight of my round, lipless mouth, and rings of barbed teeth. Fear oozes from his pores, a delicious whiff tantalizing my palate. Unable to keep the hunger at bay any longer, I latch lamprey-like onto his temple to suck down the savory emotion.

I rummage through his memories, slurping choice morsels.

The church smells of lilies at his father’s funeral. … His coworkers slap him on the back, congratulations on a job well done. … Walking across the stage to accept his diploma, the world is at his disposal. … The first blush of attraction turns heated, sultry. … A betrayal and broken heart bring on years of darkness. 

A buffet of emotions—pain, pride, lust, joy. I cannot resist and delve deeper into his past.

Clutching a Superman lunchbox, he attends his first day of school. Another boy smiles and he hopes they will be friends. In the afternoons, he romps with a fluffy puppy, watches cartoons, waits for Mommy to come home.

Soon, he’s nothing but a void wrapped in flesh.

I whisper in his ear and fill the emptiness with a command. Zombielike, he shambles back to his car. Within moments the engine rumbles and he’s speeding up the switchbacks. Metal screams as he hurtles through the guardrail, flies off the cliff.

I turn away as the car hits the water, satisfied the remnants of my meal are tidied away. The rules say the female cleans up after dinner. More inane decrees. But one must follow society’s expectations in order to fit in.

My pantyhose squeeze too tight; I’ve gorged myself. In the parking lot, I rip off the offending nylons and sigh in satisfaction. This world pleases me. Why hunt when I can swipe right and a smorgasbord of lonely souls offer themselves to me? If I lick the screen, I can almost taste the desperation.

Sated, I put my convertible’s top down and turn the key in the ignition. I want to feel the wind in my feathers. Hair. Whatever they call it.

MM Schreier is a classically trained vocalist who took up writing as therapy for a mid-life crisis. Whether contemporary or speculative fiction, favorite stories are rich in sensory details and weird twists. A firm believer that people are not always exclusively right- or left-brained, in addition to creative pursuits Schreier manages a robotics company and tutors maths and science to at-risk youth. Follow Schreier at on the web at MMSchreier.com or on Twitter at @NoD1v1ng.