Here is the thirty-fourth in a series of fifty-two one-page stories I am publishing once a week on this site. Thank you for reading.
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A woman called Felix on the phone, said, “Hi, this is Sheila from Transcorp with your credit score,” and then told it to him. “Is that high or low?” Felix asked. “Low.” “How important is it?” “Well, Felix, I guess if you’re planning to buy a house or a car or apply for a loan or rent an apartment or an office space or start a business or get a job, it’s important.” “I live with my mother and I’m set at my job so...” “Then why did you want to know your credit score?” “Because I went on a date with a woman the other night and she asked me my credit score and when I told her I didn’t know it, she excused herself and left the restaurant.” “How rude!” “So, Sheila, you don’t think a person’s credit score should be a criterion for falling in love with that person?” “Felix, I was a math major in college, and I find numbers to be beautiful and mysterious, whereas credit scores and all the other ways in which we use numbers as an escape from recognizing how unquantifiable and unknowable our fellow humans are, are a desecration of numbers and therefore abhorrent.” “Sheila, isn’t this phonecall being recorded for quality purposes?” “Probably, but my supervisor gets about four migraines a week and doesn’t have the time or wherewithal to listen to the recordings. Transcorp sucks the life out of its employees.” “Including you?” “Including me.” “Then why do you stay?” “I’m supporting my parents and it’s hard to find a job in this economy.” “Sheila, would you please go to dinner with me?” “Felix, yes, but first I have a request.” “What?” “Come to my house tonight at ten o’clock, let yourself in with the key under the urn, walk through the living room and down the hallway, and when you get to the last door on your right, find the light switch on the wall and push it down to the ‘off’ position. The whole house will then be pitch black. Open the door. I’ll be waiting for you.” “Why don’t you want us to see each other?” “I do, eventually. But not at first, because in this world you can’t look at a face or a body without assigning them credit scores of beauty.” So that night at ten o’clock Felix went to the address Sheila had given him and did as she asked. When he turned off the light and opened the door, he heard her whisper, “Felix, is that you?” “Yes, Sheila. Why are we whispering?” “Because my parents are sleeping down the hall, and they are old and sick. Will you place my hand on your heart?” He felt in front of him for her hand and brought it to his chest. She said, “It’s beating so fast! Here, feel mine.” She guided his hand to her heart, which pushed wildly against his hand through her soft flannel shirt. “Come here,” she said, and guided him across the thick carpet of the room, in which he could see nothing. “Here is a sofa,” she whispered. He felt his way onto the sofa and she sat beside him. They were still. He saw in the air in front of him the face of a clock reading 10:06, the second hand racing down the right side of the clock and up the left, toward the moment of his own death and well beyond. The clock vanished. Felix just sat there and so did Sheila, into the night. “What do you think will happen tomorrow?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she said, “but do you want to know what will happen in thirty seconds?” “What?” Felix said, lifting his head off the back of the couch in alarm. “I’ll fall asleep,” she said, and she did.