Yep, this is a love story like any other.
He first saw her at a cocktail party. She wore a black dress, short, and pearls. So did all the others. She had long, corn-gold hair and blue eyes. So did all the others.
He knew she was 25. In that year, the year when she’d been born, Griselda Dansk was Bollywood’s number one screen goddess. All the girl babies born in that year had golden hair and blue eyes, just like Griselda, and small cup sizes, which Griselda had made fashionable in her classic role as a flat-chested, gloriously naked Virginia Woolf.
He got there late, and tripped on the hostess’ welcome mat. As Debonya held out a pale hand to help him up, and waved with the other for a maid to clear up the mess, all the women looked at him, and looked away again, embarrassed. All except one.
She smiled, then, and there was no trace of mockery in her joyful grin. She held his dark, long-lashed eyes – born in 2062, all the boys had them – and winked, slowly. He grinned back, let go Debonya’s hand, and came to her like a cat comes to sit by the fire.
He told her she was beautiful, in bed, later that night.
“You’re so warm, I could lie beside you in the snow and not feel it.”
“Flatterer!” That wink again. It was entrancing.
“I’m not! And you’re so gorgeously clever. I bet you’ve got a PhD. Tell me, you have, haven’t you!”
“Historical anachronism, from Harvard.”
In the morning he woke up to find her awake already, her windows wide and open on the world. He searched for last night’s scene within them: she continued as if they’d never moved from there.
“Do you find my intellect attractive, then?”
“Of course! Doesn’t everyone?”
She wrapped a long, lightly tanned thigh around his waist.
“Some men would rather make the jokes than laugh at them, you know. And then, some men ARE the joke.”
He smiled uncertainly.
“Do you know, in my grandmother’s day, THIS would have been the candy to attract the flies. THIS is what you would have found beautiful.”
She ran a hand over her peach-like behind, flicked the golden hair in disdain.
“Yes but everyone – I mean everyone from 2058 – looks the same. It’s just a shell – why would I be interested in a shell? It’d be like falling in love with your dress!”
She sat up.
“Did you say ‘falling in love’?”
He brushed the glossy, careless curls from his eyes. Was it his imagination, or was he starting to feel the cold?
“I only meant..”
“I don’t do love. Come to think of it, you’re not really my type. I prefer the 2040 crop -much less naive.”
He looked into the sea-blue windows of her soul, and saw that he had mistaken the fires of lust for abiding warmth, and cleverness and superficial charm for a complex intelligence she did not have. She was not, after all, beautiful. He was not the first man who’d woken up to that conclusion.