The Sign Up Sheet
January 27, 2011 § 28 Comments
The pamphlet looks antiquated, like from the 70s. She reads it through several times, making sure she has the required signed paperwork, artifacts from their life together, adequate proof of blood samples, DNA match report, Compatibility Analysis, a mission statement and of course, the Declarations of Love. The last thing she wants is to wait in line and then be missing something. They had been waiting for months just to get the ok to join the line at the Broeder St location. She sighs wistfully as she reads the first page of the brochure again.
So You Have Decided To Share Your Life
No more do couples have to suffer the slings and arrows of the legal nightmare called marriage. Starting in 2117, marriage became illegal in 47 of the 62 states, including Massachusetts. Now, the permanent soul commitment can be made and forever binding with the Forever List. The Forever List, formed in 2079 has now made love easy again. Just visit your local Forever Sign Up Center and enter your forever-partner and you on the list. And remember: If it’s forever, it’s right!
“Pretty heavy stuff, huh?” A man with curly brown hair and blue eyes is across from her in yet another line. He motions to the pamphlet.
“ Yep.” She spits out and gives him a terse smile. She hates making small talk, especially with men. They make her nervous, as if she would just follow any directive they held out to her.
“ Reminds me of the scene in that old movie, Defending Your Life? Have you seen it?” This is one of her favorite movies actually, which is odd since it is very old and obscure.
“Yea, when they have to defend their life, to move on. Lots of long lines in that movie. One of my favorites actually.”
“ Mine too.” He agrees and gives her a smile. She notices he holds a briefcase and nothing else. He has the loose sleeves required to be worn at submission. He has the rings involved in permanent registration with the list. He has the letter tattoo behind his left ear.
“ So did you lose a coin toss?” she asks, remembering how she and her partner argued terribly about who would go and deal with this tedious process. She now has no idea why she is making small talk with the strange man and finds it peculiar that their lines continue to move at the same pace. She berates herself for thinking how easily she could brush his fingertips with her own. She shakes her head and forces herself to focus on his response.
“Nah. I don’t mind lines. Its time when I can’t do anything else. Lets me off the hook.” He does a strange grin, straight face, grin, straight face in a series of twitches, then a real smile breaks through, like sun bashing clouds. A joke, it seems. She giggles.
“Overachiever?” She rests her own bags between her legs, rubs her arms where she had been resting the handles.
“Workaholic. You ever notice Doctors appointments are good for this too? This surrendering to being still?” He is jostled slightly forward. She is soon compelled forward as well and in the process, trips over the bags between her legs. The velvet rope separating the lines (where did they find them, movie theaters from the last century? How quaint.) buckles to her slight weight. He reaches out and catches her, each of his hands claim and save an elbow and her fingers are forced around the definition of his upper arm muscle. She feels all the air sucked out of her body and hears the man take in his own breath. A flash of electricity fills her body and she feels like she is vibrating, like they are intertwining through the rhythm of joyous, pulsing cells. There is a flash and she realizes she is looking straight into his eyes. Embarrassed, she tries to recover.
“God, I’m sorry about that. First day with new feet.” She makes the joke without moving from his arms and a lady behind her murmurs that the line is advancing. “Yes, of course. Sorry.” She flashes the lady a smile and picks up her bags and steps forward. What was that? She thinks. He remains 3 people behind her for a good 7 minutes. She slowly feels her elbows, thinking for sure she will feel little burns or scorch marks. There was such a charge when they touched. She has never felt such HEAT from another person and finds herself getting uncomfortable in her clothes. The waist seems too loose, her underwear is moist and sticking to her. Her socks are making her feet itch. His line floats him next to her once again, like a white shirt on a clothesline. She feels the shock again, only lighter this time.
“Are you ok? That was…odd, wasn’t it?” She can tell he is touching her deliberately. She wonders if he too felt the shock and is checking to see if he can recreate the sensation. But then she dismisses this theory. He is clearly just being polite.
“Yes, a grown woman forgetting how to walk? Very strange.” She says and laughs, but soon sees her assessment is wrong. Disappointment crosses his face, as if he knows her and expects better.
“ I mean when I touched you. Did you feel that? It was like I shocked you or something…I don’t know if I have ever felt anything like it.” He is now looking down at his fingertips. He checks that they aren’t melted indistinct, waxed and smudgy. Meeting her is destroying his history, his individuality. His hand unconsciously rises and he rubs at the tattoo behind his ear. She rubs her wrist where women place their own marks. Her eyebrows suddenly raise in unknown recognition.
“ Yes. I did feel it. I did.” His eyes practically leap out of their socket as they rush to her face, looking for her to be joking. She holds his gaze with a firm grip. No joke.
“Should we trade stories.” Her heart skips a beat and almost fails to restart. This is a rather serious question involving free will and an incomparable complete bureaucracy. And love.
“ I don’t know what to say to that. Look where we are. Have you lost your freaking mind?” She responds with exasperation in her voice.
“No. Or yes. Very much. I mean, you FELT that.” The line is getting short. She sees 7 people now before the office doors they each must enter. The door swings gently open every once in a while, to let out an office worker or someone who is entering to submit their request. She notices she can’t see in, it’s just a white light, an audible humming of typewriters, she tells herself. Now, the permanent nature of her impending act seems impetuous and well, wrong. Wrong. Is it wrong? Whats happening?
“I don’t even know your name.” She whispers. He quickly reaches back to her and utters the words slowly.
“Does that matter?” Make sure, his eyes say.
She looks at him. He looks at her. The chatter around them slowly is muffled, then gone. They step into the blinding white light of twin doors, knowing what to do.