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Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005 - 11:55 a.m.

He has twenty minutes to get through three women, six minutes and forty seconds each to find his perfect match. He has a little clipboard to take notes, and simply not enough time.

The first woman introduces herself, and makes a joke about how she stole her last boyfriend's shirt after they broke up. Well not really, she says, he left it at my place and I just didn't give it back. She glances at the shirt that he is wearing. Don't worry, she smiles, I just wanted a souvenir. He asks her if she still has the shirt. She is unsure of what to say next and just keeps quiet.

He records her name and a comment: He took her heart and so she stole his shirt. She has attempted to replace the vacuum in her chest with a memory - of how his body once filled the shirt's empty space.

The second woman reviews books for a local newspaper. She reads almost three hundred books a year and is a specialist in South American literature. But, she says conspiratorially, what I like most are the trashy romance novels, anything that has a cover with the picture of a woman lying in a man's muscled arms. Those never disappoint. She asks him what is his favourite book, and when he says that he doesn't have time to read much, she looks a little disappointed.

He writes a question next to her name: I know it is in the nature of men to disappoint, but what is to say your fiction won't let you down either?

The last woman is a schoolteacher, and has just exited a long term relationship. Like so many others, she turned twenty five and despite the comfort and dependency of inertia, could not imagine living the rest of her life with him. She makes a note about how so many of her other friends are on this speed-dating circuit as well; unfortunately, she says in jest, it is all because of men. And then she adds - yet here I am, the scient moth to your destroying flame.

In the blank space under her name, he draws not a moth but a butterfly with blackened singed wings.


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