Swipe… Hmm, maybe?… Nah.
Swipe… No way!
Shit, this is depressing and exhausting. Endlessly scrolling through a virtual shop window of jaded and tired women, terrible photos, ridiculous poses. A red-eyed, flash blown, dirty-mirrored festival of lust, thinly concealed with a lie about companionship, shared interests in movies, music, books. Everyone looking for the special someone who’ll see them through into old age. Just admit it. You want an easy shag!
I check the time and put my phone away, she’s late. I glance up at the mirror behind the bar, smooth down my hair. I take out the other phone, the red one, to see if she’s messaged me, but there’s nothing. I pull out my black phone again, find her profile page, reminding myself why I’m sat here waiting, she’s ridiculously attractive in that dusky eastern European way. I shiver a little when I look at her photos. Twenty-six, long dark-brown hair. Those eyes like deathly black pools to go skinny-dipping in, pulled down and drowned by a tugging serpent monster underneath. No kids, no ties. She messaged me. What could I do?
She’s late though, fifteen minutes so far and I’m already supping down my second beer, tracing the beads of condensation down the ice-cold glass with my finger. Munching on the bowl of nuts they poured for me. This bar certainly passes my hospitality test.
‘Like staying at your Mums’ is our motto, well, that’s my version, the official marketing spiel is ‘We care, so you don’t have to’. Okay, that isn’t it either, but you get the idea. Every Myatt hotel globally prides itself in the home-comfort hospitality. We’ll get you anything you need, just sit back and relax and Mum will sort you out. That’s the job I’m forced to do, ‘global comfort quality inspector’ in order to keep my percentage of the shares, to show some worth to the company. Rory, my older brother and ‘boss’, invented and delivered me this task at a shareholder meeting five years ago and I’ve been touring ever since. I think he just wanted to get rid of me. It could be worse. I jet around the world, staying in every one of our four hundred hotels and making sure it meets the exacting standards set by the first one, opened just over one-hundred years ago by our great-grandfather, Charles Myatt, just outside of London in a sleepy little town, not so sleepy anymore.
I haven’t been home since Christmas, seven months ago, and that was only a fleeting visit to satisfy the family requirements of homogeny and love. Some chance of that, it was more like a shareholder meeting around the big dining table, endless interrogation on how the business is going by our now ‘retired’ parents and the elected CEO successor to the throne, Rory, who always tries to undermine my authority, I am a significant shareholder too, but you wouldn’t think so. He’s the stable, solid, know-it-all brother, and I’m the loose, dangerous, unreliable and money sucking sibling.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn around.
“Keith?” a voice like dark chocolate, decadent but sweet, a minty cool centre like the pillow-candy we lay out every evening, burning gently and slipping down my consciousness. She smiles and drops her purse on the bar, then sits down on the stool next to me.
“Anastasia? Pleased to meet you.” And I am, too. Her profile photo doesn’t do her justice, she’s definitely pillow-candy. She’s wearing a lot of complicated fishnet things, an overlay of black over lavender, a short skirt that seems to wrap around and up her body, I wonder how it unwraps. I feel like her eyes are burning into my soul, and I have to look away, waving over the barman instead.
“Can I get you a drink?”
“Whisky and coke, lots of ice, please.” Her accent is thick, sticky, the way she said ‘coke’ sounded like ‘cock’ to me. But her English is perfect, I know from the chats we had in messages, she’s studying something in London. I didn’t pay attention to what it was. With any luck, she’ll be studying my ‘cock’ later…
The barman produces a drink and gives me a sly wink and a subtle nod towards Anastasia before heading off up the bar to another customer. He knows me from old. Smart lad. I’ll drop a healthy tip his way later.
“Call me Ana, everyone does”, she puts a hand on my arm, I turn to look at her again, those smouldering eyes! Like she’s interrogating my soul, mesmerising.
“Ana it is, then. Did you find us okay?”
“Yes, fine. Well, the tube was delayed, but is simple.” She waves a hand, dismissive. That explains the late arrival, I suppose. I do like punctuality, but I’ll forgive her, this time.
She takes a sip of her drink and then smiles sweetly, looking straight at me. She seems to be evaluating something.
“This is your hotel? The Myatt?” she motions around at the plush bar, eyes wide.
“Well, the family’s, not just mine, I’m a shareholder, though.” I trail off, realising how minimal my role has been in the opulence all around me. I inherited it, never had to work for it. This work I do now is a pathetic attempt to justify my existence, not a real job. I know that, and lately it has been playing on my mind. I need to make a mark, really prove I am someone other than the trouble-making playboy my family think I am. But I do play that part well, it fit my lifestyle for a long time. Now I think I’m getting bored of it, the endless swiping over women, first dates that never turn into second dates, nowhere to call a base, hours and hours of business class flights leading to a never-ending string of hotels and rental cars. I can’t even take a holiday, because my entire life is one giant holiday. I sound like a whining, entitled little rich shit, and maybe I am, but it isn’t my fault.
“Is very nice,” she smiles at me, beautiful, soft, and she lays her hand back on mine. I could lean in and kiss her right now, but that doesn’t seem appropriate yet. She takes another sip from her drink. “But you are not the one.” She adds, matter-of-factly and sits up straight, taking her hand off me.
“Sorry?” I feel like I have been dismissed, flicked away, like an unwanted slice of gherkin in a cheeseburger. This is not how these dates usually go.
“You are not twin flame. Not your fault, is okay, we still fuck later.”
I realise my mouth is agape. “What?”
She sighs as if she’s tired of repeating this line, “I am searching for my twin flame,” she tells me as if I should know what that is. “And you are not him. Is okay, I am looking a long time now.”
“Your twin flame?” This conversation has gone quite odd, all of a sudden. She’s only been here a minute and we’ve gone from hello to weirdo very fast.
“Like a soul mate, another half of me. I know he is out there, I want to find him.”
“A soul mate?” I’m repeating her words again, but I’m dumbfounded and my brain can’t come up with anything better. “But, we just met! How do you know yet? Maybe we could be soul mates!” I feel I need to defend my court here, I might be a frivolous tosser, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. For all I know we could get on like the proverbial house on fire, soul mating the shit out of life.
“I would know immediately. Trust me, you are not him.” She gulps the last of her drink. “Is okay, we still can fuck, if you want, but I need more of this.” She holds up the empty glass, I think I need one too.
Three drinks later and she’s explained the whole ‘twin flame’ thing to me. We’ve moved from the bar to the antique leather sofa and my hand gently stroking her stockinged thigh. Apparently, there’s a whole sub-culture I had no idea existed of people who are quite convinced that they have a ‘soul-mate’ who completes their very being somewhere roaming on the Earth. That these twin flames are actually one soul, split in two, and their entire destiny is to find that twin and be together, completing each other, filling in the gaps they feel they have in their life. They will know immediately, feeling desperately drawn to that person, who may be their perfect mirror image in beliefs and attitude, sometimes running away because they can’t stand the intensity of the relationship. They will know each other before they even meet, feeling instantly at home, free, open, and utterly in love, and when they look into each others eyes, they will see their own soul, reflected, like family, safe and in complete harmony. It’s quite beautiful when you consider it, or maybe that’s just the whisky talking.
Quite obviously a big load of crystal-wind-chime, tie-dye shirt wearing, incense wafting, weed smoking, naked dancing in the woods, hippy rubbish though! But it does give me an idea…