One True Love by Guy M. Taylor

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Sunday morning I open the front door and there she is, my one true love.

She really is very, very lovely and what’s more, she’s pretty much everything I expected. She’s got a glow. I check off my order number with the chit she holds in her hand. They match.

‘What’s your name?’ I ask.

‘I’m Suzy and I’m your one true love,’ she replies.

She certainly is my one true love, no doubt about that. I have the butterflies, the shakes and the sweats. Do you know what it feels like to meet your one true love? I guess even I didn’t know until this point, seeing as there’s only one one true love and all that. ‘Two true loves’ has a nice ring to it but, practically speaking, how’s that going to fly?

By now, my one true love looks a little tired of standing outside the front door, so I invite her in. She has just one small brown hold-all. It’s very difficult to describe the rest of my one true love. She’s got that glow and there’s a kind of sparkle to her as well and she’s shrouded in this sparkling glow. I can see her and I can see she is my one true love and that I am totally in love with her, but it’s difficult to pick her apart and restructure her here in words and well-placed commas. You can’t have the hair without the eyes, and the facial structure would be totally out unless I gave you the body shape too, and besides there are qualities there aren’t even words for, not in any language. She is Suzy and she is my one true love.

Boy, am I lucky I ever heard about this. I can’t believe for all this time I’ve been leaving the search up to chance. What good did chance ever do me? I mean, what are the odds? How many gazillion girls are there out there, and how many can I honestly expect to pass by or see in my lifetime? Even if I put myself in high-population density areas. Can’t get them all. I mean, I’ve been wasting my life without my one true love. Not Good. NG. Totally NG. Who would’ve thought it could be this easy?

We go into the kitchen. We sit. I ask her if she wants me to fix her a sandwich or something. She smiles back. I ask her again, and again she just smiles back. I fix a lemon curd sandwich, cut it in half and split it between us. I eat my half of the sandwich, and she just smiles.

I’d be frustrated with anyone else by this point, but this is my one true love and it’s difficult getting frustrated with your one true love.

Instead I change the subject. I ask her where she’s from. She smiles. I ask her how old she is. She smiles. I eat her half of the sandwich. I ask her what kind of thing she likes to eat. She smiles.

It’s lovely, but something’s not quite right.

I ask her if she can talk, if she’s maybe had a tooth out recently or something. Finally she speaks. She speaks, except it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard in my life. The sound that comes out of her mouth is like birds chirping, crackling fires and the sound of red wine being poured, all at once. She only says what I guess is one sentence, then she looks down.

Something is totally NG with this whole situation.

I don’t really know what to do. My one true love won’t say anything more and she’s stopped smiling. I pull the order chit out of my pocket. Right at the bottom in tiny Zapfino font it says:

Helpline: 0800-1-TRU-LUV

I pick up the phone, and take the receiver out onto my balcony. I have a really long cord on my phone. It reaches all the way out to my lawn. My lawn is three feet by two feet and it is well-trimmed and watered, chloridoideae grass. I can see all the way across the city from here, and all the way down to the ground, and I sit here when I need to think. I really need to think right now.

After I think, I call the number.

‘Hello,’ says a voice.

‘Hi,’ I say.

Pause.

‘Ah-hah-ha! Tricked you. This is, of course, a recorded message. If you’re calling about your order with One True Love, please dial two,’ the voice says. I dial two. Then I dial three, four, five and six. I start thinking the helpline isn’t really any help at all. I continue following the instructions, dial seven, eight and nine and finally I’m through to Mal, who is pleased to take my call and begins by telling me he’s at about an eight out of ten today.

‘How about you?’

I pick at the grass underneath me, then I realise what I’m doing and stop.

‘I guess I’m at about a seven,’ I say.

‘And how can I help you, valued customer?’

‘I ordered my one true love but something’s wrong.’

‘Go on.’

‘She’s lovely, she really is. She’s got the glow and the sparkle and she makes me woozy just thinking about her and her chit matches my order number but still, I think you guys must have got my order wrong.’

‘Why is that, valued customer?’

‘Well, I can’t speak to her. She told me her name and she told me she’s my one true love, but after that all that came out was the sound of birds and fires and wine all at once.’

‘I see. Well, it sounds like you don’t speak her language, so no wonder you hear that!’

‘What language does she speak? I thought she’d speak English,’ I say.

‘No way! She’s your One True Love! She speaks the Language of Love!’

‘The language of love?’

‘Yessss.’

‘What is that? Is that even a language? I thought that was just a saying?’

From down the other end of the phone comes the sound of crows, and sputtering, and glasses smashing.

‘What the hell was that?’ I ask.

‘That was the Language of Love.’

‘But it sounded nothing like my one true love,’ I say, reasonably I think.

‘Well, that’s because I’m not your One True Love. Of course it sounds a little off to you. Everyone speaks differently to their loved ones.’

‘Well. OK. Well, WTF is up with that?’

‘Look, buddy, I don’t make the rules. Them’s the dice. Didn’t you hear about the deal?’

‘What deal?’

‘The One True Love package deal? One True Love and seven lucky lessons in the Language of Love? Didn’t you hear about that?’

‘No I didn’t, I didn’t hear about that. What rules?’

‘You already have your One True Love so you don’t get the deal. But look, buddy, here’s what I’ll do, I can fix you with five lessons and I’ll do it for the same price as the First Spark package. That’s five lessons for the price of three. Can’t say fairer than that. What do you say? Tell me now. Do you want to learn the Language of Love?’

Everything is NG.

I pick at the grass underneath me, then I realise what I’m doing and stop.

‘Well, yes. I suppose so.’

At night I go to bed with my one true love for the first time and we have wild, passionate sex. It’s the best sex I’ve ever had. She squawks a lot, and she sparkles and glows so bright it doesn’t even matter we shut off the lights.

The next day I go to work. I’m on the line in a Takashuuu factory out by the overpass. I fix the casings on Takashuuu clock-in/clock-out machines. Every semi-annular we rotate, but right now I’m on casings. That’s the exact noise the machines make when you clock in or clock out. ‘Takashuuu’. Exactly that sound, that’s where the name comes from. So after I clock-in on our own clock-in/clock-out machine, I get to work putting casings on Takashuuu machines on the line. I fix them fast today.

At the end of the day I clock-out and I go to my first lesson in the language of love. We start with adverbs. There’s some flashcards, some exercises and a whole lot of the teacher talking in bird-song. The script on the flashcards looks a little like circles of rainbow-coloured paisley pattern. I’m not a natural and the language of love doesn’t come easy, but the teacher gives me a pep-talk at the break and for the rest of the lesson he clenches two fists at me with a, ‘We’ll get you through this, don’t you worry’ expression on his face.

At night I go to bed with my one true love and we have wild, passionate sex. It’s just as good as the best sex I ever had, the night before. I suppose that makes it the latest, best sex I’ve ever had. Her squawks sound a little less like squawks and a little like moans and grunts: I put this down to everything I learnt at my class in the language of love.

The next day, while my one true love is in the bathroom with her emery board I dial the helpline. I am laughed at and tricked by the recorded voice message again, then I dial through one to five and back again to one and eventually I reach one true love’s valued customers’ special comments section.

‘I am very satisfied with my one true love. Very satisfied.’ For good measure, I say it once more. I say, ‘I said, I am very satisfied with my one true love.’ Then I drag the phone cord inside from the lawn and hang up.

For the rest of the week I go to work on the line and then I go to my lessons in the language of love. The boys at work all start asking questions and I make up elaborate stories about how I met my one true love: she dropped her shopping and I ran after her runaway apples; I saved her from some ferocious geese in the park; she sat down next to me on the train and we both missed our stops and talked all the way to the coast, where we realised we were in love and had sex in a hotel by the sea. It all sounds much better than saying I ordered my one true love.

Takashuu, takashuu. Love is truly all around me. I am in love with my one true love, and love is all around me. I get a gold star at each lesson in the language of love, for effort. I stick them on my order chit. The effort seems to pay off: at work on the line, I start to hear chirps and splashes of red wine in the machinery. Takashuu, chirp, splash-splosh, takashuu.

Each day my one true love fixes a packed lunch for me: a lemon curd sandwich, two biscuits and a kiwi fruit. She cuts the sandwiches in squares. It’s the first time I’ve ever eaten sandwiches cut into squares. On Friday it’s different: scrambled eggs on rice and a ketchup smiley face with heart-shaped eyes squeezed out on top of the eggs. Beneath the face I can just make out something written in rainbow-paisley, but it’s mostly splodged together.

All week long we have the best sex I have ever had. It’s the best week of sex I have ever had.

Friday night I celebrate the first week with my one true love. We make it a date night and we go out for crab. We crack crab legs and gnaw at white crab meat and suck each other’s fingers dry of crab juice.

Throughout dinner my one true love talks to me in birds and fires and wine all at once, except, tonight, in between a crackle and a chirp every now and then, I catch an adverb: ‘beautifully’ and, ‘tenderly’, and, ‘lovely’. I can’t say anything back yet, but my one true love can see I understand and she smiles and squawks and she glows really, really bright. Really bright. She glows so bright I have to shield my eyes each time and some of the other diners in the restaurant yell out suddenly and there’s the sound of glasses being knocked over and plates dropping and people shout out, ‘Shut it off! Shut it off!’

This is NG.

This is totally NG. My one true love knows it and so do I.

Just after I catch, ‘peacefully’, there’s the really bright glow again, and from the kitchen comes the sound of a cleaver hitting a block and an almighty scream.

We leave some money on the table with the crab and scram.

Later, while my one true love is brushing her teeth I dial 0800-1-TRU- LUV.

‘Hello,’ says a voice.

‘Hi,’ I say.

Pause.

‘Ah-hah-ha! Tricked you. This is, of course, a recorded message.’

I curse under my breath as I dial through the recorded message until I reach Mal. He’s at an eight out of ten again today, and I tell him I’m somewhere between a four and a five. By now my one true love has finished brushing her teeth so I tug on the phone cord and drag it out to my lawn. I sit, think and talk to Mal.

‘She glows too much.’

‘What’s that, valued customer?’

‘I’ve been doing really well with the language of love I think, but now that I can understand a little of it, my one true love glows really, really bright. Too bright. She glows too much.’

‘Is that so? I’m sorry to hear that. Got to say, you’re the first customer to call up with complaints.’

‘No, no, it’s not a complaint, I’m not complaining, it’s just a niggle, you know, it’s just a little something. Isn’t there anything you can do?’

‘Never had anyone complain. You know something else, maybe you’re not her true love. Did you ask for that?’

‘What?’

‘She’s your One True Love, but maybe you’re not her One True Love.’

‘Aren’t we made for each other? Isn’t that how it works?’

‘No way! She’s made for you, for sure, but unless you stipulated specifically what you wanted I’m afraid you aren’t necessarily her One True Love. But it’s OK! We’d have to take a few more details for that, that’s all.’

‘But I must be her one true love, everything’s been great, it’s just this one little niggle, this little something with the glowing.’

‘Didn’t you see the offer?’

‘What offer?’

‘The BOGOF One True Love offer?’

‘Bogof?’

‘Sure, BOGOF, Buy One Get One Free One True Love!’

‘Wait-’

‘Did you check the back of your order chit?’

I pull the order chit out of my pocket. On the back is written in large, zapfino font,

BOGOF One True Love

I can’t believe I missed it.

‘You already have your One True Love so you don’t get the offer. But order your next One True Love and here’s what I can do for you, don’t tell anyone though because I could lose my job over this, I’ll fix you with your next One True Love and I’ll even throw in seven lessons in the Language of Love for the price of five. That’s the same as the Getting to know you, Getting to like you package. Seven for the price of five, seven for five. How do you like those numbers? Can’t say fairer than that. Seven. Five. What do you say? Do you want to meet your One True Love?’

I pick at the grass underneath me, then I realise what I’m doing and stop.

‘Well, yes,’ I say. ‘I suppose so.’

Guy M. TaylorGuy M. Taylor currently lives, works and writes in London. He writes for fun, works for money and lives to see the day his tower of stacked books finally topples over. He can be reached at [email protected].

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