“Am I wearing too much makeup? The red lipstick is a bit much, isn’t it.”
Madeline turned her head from side to side, scrutinizing her face in the mirror. She puckered her lips at her reflection and then she wrinkled her nose.
“I don’t like my eyebrows. Do you think Steve will hate my eyebrows?”
She turned to her roommate, Gia, hoping a comforting lie from her best friend would make her feel better. Gia was prettier than Madeline. Too pretty in fact. She had an hourglass shape and the little black dress chosen for the occasion made her look like a barbie doll. At least Madeline had bigger breasts, and she flaunted them in a drooping cowl neckline. If the date went well, she could lean forward and give quite a show.
“Your plucked eyebrows are,” Gia hesitated before finishing her sentence, “Nice.”
“You still don’t know how to give a compliment, do you,” Madeline huffed, turning back to the mirror.
The phone on the bed vibrated, indicating the Uber was here. Madeline grabbed her purse, a bulky, red one, and shooed at Gia.
“Well, shall we go?” Madeline asked.
“I am ready,” Gia replied.
“Hello,” Madeline said trying to be shy, but it didn’t suit her. She knew what she wanted in a man, and already this blind date at the table looked like he wasn’t going to cut it.
“Hi,” he stood stiffly and in a gentlemanly way. Madeline didn’t like that. She didn’t want a knight in shining armor to tell her to stay home and cook.
“This is my friend, Gia,” Madeline said. Gia stuck out her hand.
“And this is Steve,” Mark said. Mark shook Gia’s hand and smiled. It looked like Mark had talked him into shots before coming to the restaurant. To take the edge off, Madeline guessed. Well, it didn’t help.
They ordered bruschetta as an appetizer.
“Did you grow up around here?” Mark asked.
“Yes. I have been here my whole life,” answered Gia. Madeline nodded at Gia. Come on, ask a question back! Thankfully, she took the queue. “And you?”
“I’m from Los Angeles originally, but I’ve been here in Phoenix since college. Have you ever been to L.A.?”
“L.A., the largest city in California. No, I have not been there,” Gia said. It was painful to watch Gia attempt to be sociable. Madeline decided to concentrate on her own date.
“So, Steve. You work in project management?”
“Yeah, at a stone construction company,” said Steve.
“What do you project manage there?”
“Usually business projects. If a business needs lots of rocks for a xeriscaping or a gravel parking lot, that’s when we get the call.” That sounds boring. Madeline didn’t like boring men.
“I work at a travel agency,” Madeline said, without waiting for him to ask. “We send people on cruises to Antarctica, or camel riding in Egypt, or scuba-diving in Belize.”
“That sounds cool,” said Steve, although the way he said it, Madeline doubted he thought it was cool. “Have you done any of those things?”
“No,” Madeline frowned. “But I want to. What about you?”
“I went sky diving once,” he said, taking a bite of bruschetta. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I did it with my ex-girlfriend.” Madeline decided she would order the lobster ravioli… and not dessert.
The blind date continued and didn’t get better for Madeline. Somehow her love for travel translated to Steve thinking she liked doing dangerous things. He was knee-deep in a conversation with himself about what happened to his buddy at the skateboard park last year.
“Oh, it was rad. His leg bone was literally not in his leg anymore, sticking out of his skin like this,” Steve elated.
Madeline had eaten one ravioli before this story started. The rest of her plate was now cold, and her wine glass had been refilled by the waiter three times. She was drunk and she knew it. She was also bored in more ways than one. Steve continued his elaborate, grotesque story with an open-mouthed chew. She wasn’t going to kiss that garlic face. Nope.
Gia, on the other hand, was gaily chatting away about engines with Mark.
“Tesla engines have an exceptional amount of torque,” Gia stated.
“Yeah! Zero to sixty in less than three seconds? That’s insane!” Mark exclaimed in return.
“The reduction of mechanical components necessary to—”
“Have you ever driven one?” Mark cut her off. “It sets you back in your seat! My friend’s uncle has one, and he showed it to me when I went home for Christmas last year.”
“Hey Gia,” Madeline couldn’t take it that Gia was having a better time than she was. Or at least faking it better than she was. “Ladies’ room?” She raised an eyebrow at Gia, and she obliged.
“Excuse me,” she said. Gia scooted out her chair, stood, and began to follow Madeline to the far corner. A few steps in, she deliberately paused, turned back to Mark, and flashed the fakest, most seductive smile Madeline had ever seen. Wow, maybe I should take tips from her, she observed with disdain.
In the ladies’ room, Madeline dug for the red lipstick again in her purse.
“I’m ready to go and leave these two idiots,” Madeline scoffed.
“Leave?” Gia asked.
“Yes leave. Why? Are you having fun?” Madeline razzed.
“I am trying to fit in,” Gia calculated. “Am I not an adequate companion for this double date?”
“It’s not you,” Madeline said, finding the lipstick. “It’s those guys. They’re the ones that aren’t any fun.”
“So, you want to leave,” Gia repeated. “And not go home with them?”
Madeline sighed. She wished the night ended with that. But she didn’t think Steve would be any more fun in bed than at the table.
“I know. I wanted to explore more of the human body, too.” It was the nicest response she could think of. Android or not, she did like Gia. Actually…
“Ok. We will leave,” said Gia. Her voice didn’t waiver in disappointment because there wasn’t any.
“Gia? I have an idea,” Madeline schemed. “I think we can find a way to end this night on a high note.”
“Yes?” Gia said, turning to her. They were still standing at the sinks in the ladies’ bathroom. Gia’s eyes, or ocular implants, reflected the fluorescent light from the undusted light fixtures and white tiled walls. They were blue, but not a cold blue. They were lively, the circuitry furiously calculating billions of times a second behind them. What was she thinking? Was she thinking about how she could fit the needs of humans? More specifically, was she thinking about how to make Madeline happy? I can think of a way, Madeline thought.
“Gia? How do you feel about exploring a female body tonight?”
Written for February 2021 Prompt at Reedsy.com