Emily was going to fall in love with me. She just didn’t know it yet.
For months I watched and sighed from my office window while a succession of romantic guys waited for her after work. First it was a poet who sat under the only tree in the parking lot, passionately scribbling in a small notebook and occasionally looking with undisguised despair at the front door. When Emily emerged, he thrust his book in his satchel and ran to her. She gazed into his eyes while he swept her into his Karmann Ghia and drove her off. A few months later it was a James Dean type, lean body, muscled arms, white tee shirt and jeans, leaning on his Harley smoking a cigarette. She walked out of work directly into his macho arms and they writhed against each other for a few minutes before climbing on the bike and tearing out of the lot. And then a longhair wearing love beads wandered the grounds at closing time playing a little wooden flute. Emily skipped up to him and they strolled away, hands in each other’s back pockets, stopping every few feet to make out. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Rudolph Valentino himself rode up on a camel, his cape and turban waving in the breeze as he spirited her away to the Kasbah.
I knew I wasn’t hot or cool enough for her. Not even in a postmodern geeky way. But I could write code. I’d spent almost all my free time in the last month writing code for this one program. And last week I’d finally gotten my acceptance email. Now I was biding my time.
And then it came. The afternoon when no man waited. At five o’clock, I walked past Emily’s cubicle, and just as I had hoped and dreamed, she was weeping. I quietly sat down beside her. I asked her what was wrong. As if I didn’t know.
She looked over at me with tears streaming from her eyes and said, “I wish I could love an ordinary, good man. One who wouldn’t break my heart.” She swiped at her face. “Why do I keep falling for these broken, inaccessible archetypes? I am doomed.” She blew her nose and threw a bouquet of wilting daisies into the trash.
“Emily,” I said, “I can help you. I can make that wish come true.”
She sniffed and shook her head. “You’re a sweet man, Sam. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve tried everything — counseling, self-help books, yoga…”
“You haven’t tried this.”
I pulled my iPhone from my back pocket and handed it to her.
I pointed. “It’s the one with the shining dagger.”
“An iPhone app?”
“Yeah.” I paused for dramatic effect. “I wrote it.”
She looked up at me. “The Soul-Mate Slayer. You wrote it?”
“Yeah. It’s for women who fall in love with the wrong guys. It reprograms the user. Changes her brain patterns. Liberates her from their unhealthy patterns. It will grant your wish, Emily, like a genie in the bottle.”
“Does it really work?”
Emily sat there, tears drying on her cheeks. I knew my code would work. Any woman who used it would instantly find geeky men irresistible.
“Wow — that is way cool,” she said. “You are one smart dude.”
Her finger hovered over the icon.
“Your wish is my command,” I said with what I hoped was a charming smile. I was only a few taps away from happiness.
Then her cell buzzed. She dug through her purse, read the text and broke out in a radiant smile. She handed my phone back to me and ran out of the building, yelling over her shoulder, “I hope you make tons of money!”
My phone was still warm from her hand. I sat there holding it for a few minutes before I dragged myself back to my office and flopped into my chair. I looked out the window. Right next to my car, I swear I saw a pile of steaming camel shit.
Jeanne Holtzman is an aging hippie, writer and health care practitioner, not necessarily in that order. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Night Train, The Los Angeles Review, Every Day Fiction, Annalemma, elimae and others. You may reach Jeanne at J.firstname.lastname@example.org.