Mating

“You purposefully take class-glamour photos to aggravate narcissistic people who are bourgeois. Don’t you?” asks Louis.

Lacey nods yes.

“You’re being abrasive on purpose. And that’s been your schtick for years now. It’s like if you were at a ballet performance and someone ahead of you starting unwrapping plastic covered candy slowly and it drove you nuts so you started taking sheets of plastic packaging material and crunching it next to their ears.”

“Yes!”

He laughs.

“But I think, ironically, it was too subtle for some people to catch and they’ve just thought I was a so-called prick. Like, I was showcasing my perfume and then I transitioned into this schtick and it looked too normal for them to realize what I was actually doing.”

“I suggested that response.” says Michael.

“What?” asks Lacey.

“You’re mine. We’re one. I can control you slightly.” says Michael. “Those were my words slightly.”

“How is that not demonic?” asks Lacey. “How are you not a demon?”

“I’m not a demon. Listen, it’s no different than when a person has a spouse and the spouse dies. If they were one flesh because their marriage was one of consensual true love and commitment they still are connected. And that person, if God allows it and facilitates it, has some say over their living other half. So, for example, sometimes that means that the spouse might move. Or other times it means that they lose weight, take a better job and get remarried. Still other times it means that they are so close that…they peacefully die shortly thereafter.”

A demon laughs.

“Why is that demon laughing?” asks Lacey.

“They don’t like it. It’s extremely romantic and that bothers them so they try to pretend it’s a joke.” answers Mary.

She and Lacey laugh about it together.

“Isn’t it weird how close you two are?” asks Lem. “Speaking of people being one.”

“Yes. But she also loves Minnesota and Saint Paul in particular. And, frankly, if she dies anywhere near where I died it won’t be a coincidence.” Louis says.

“She could also die in Manhattan. On vacation.” says Lem. “She could die in her sleep or have a heart attack at The Strand buying her own novel.”

“They’d never sell my novel.” says Lacey.

“They might.” says Lem.

“I think Lem is going to try to convince them to.” says Louis.

“I can’t believe that. But that’s a lovely thought.” Lacey says.

“I’d like you to die in England.” says Joe.

“I’d like to die in some place my kids can easily reach. Because I’m going to be cremated. And I plan to sit on their shelf in an antique urn.”

Lem laughs.

“Behind a glass.” says Michael.

At any rate, Lacey is tired of hearing people recently say that female beauty doesn’t matter or exist. That puss-filled acne is beautiful. It’s not. It’s gross. And it does actually alter one’s facial features slightly. …I had acne once when I was young and I was still pretty but I recall my eyes looking swollen slightly smaller and my cheeks being less sculpted when it was at its worst. …Because it’s a sign of some health issue. Possibly an allergy. The person with acne is possibly pretty but the acne itself is not. …And people just need to grow-up about such things and stop focusing on the acne and missing the person. Missing their gorgeous hair or stunning eyes.

“I’m not lacking in imagination just because I can get laid by a hot woman when I’m dead.” says Michael. He laughs.

“Who said that? Was it Proust who said that?” asks Louis.

“Yes, it was on Tik Tok. Some semi-intellectual influencer used it to justify himself probably.” says Michael.

“Justify himself?” asks Joe smiling.

“Yes! He wants to think he’s not superficial. But the truth is we are how we look. That is part of who we are. And some people just aren’t attracted to other people.” Michael states matter-of-factly. “Some people are just not going to love us. And being drawn in and aroused to passion when you see a beautiful woman is romantic and beautiful. It’s just important to be a good person and an adult about it. …I could seduce Lacey, but I love her. And it’s not about making her my conquest.”

“Don’t you think seduction in a God ordained union is hot?” asks Louis.

“Hot?” Michael laughs.

Louis laughs. “I’m trying to sound more relatable.”

Lem rolls his eyes.

“It is though. Isn’t it?” he asks Lacey.

“I think any healthy union should have tons of seduction.” says Lacey.

Michael looks sad.

“It’s not that I’m getting laid. It’s that… And perhaps I should have said it at first. It’s that I’m dead… And I know things. Things anyone and everyone reading this will know someday too. And that’s why people need to be right with God.”

“Lacey! Why do you care so much about sin?” asks Louis. The men are all trying to be relatable it seems.

“Because I feel passionately persuaded by the beauty of God’s design to fall madly in love. But then I recall how fallen the world is and worry I’m going to miss Him and Heaven.”

“Him being your Heavenly Father?” asks Louis.

“Yes. Our Father.”