I combed my hair back and did not touch my unkempt beard; I wanted her to like my appearance, but I care about staying true to myself. She actually told me she’s not interested in my looks, that it doesn’t matter to her, but that’s what they usually say before laughing about your asymmetric moustaches with their circle of girlfriends. I’m wearing my usual white sneakers, a slightly wrinkled bottle green t-shirt and the pair of jeans I never iron. She says that the skin scent can tell a lot about someone’s personality, therefore I decided not to put on any artificial fragrance, not even the one I reserve for my friends’ weddings or first dates. Today is our anniversary: we met three months ago. Not in person, as it will happen tonight. It’s been three months since I wrote to her for the first time. I was bored, and lonely, so I downloaded the dating app that Marco has been suggesting to me for ages. He met Melissa through it. I had written to a certain Martina too, but she answered first: “Hi, my name is Firefly”. “Nice nickname”. “It’s my real name, my parents have a great sense of humour”. After three days, she asked to exchange numbers because she strongly wanted to hear my voice. Her timbre is clear, reassuring, her pronunciation pleasant: she’s been doing theatre since she was a child. When she’s at home, she talks, sings and reads aloud to feel less lonely. I’ve also talked to Stella, her inseparable Labrador.
I like Firefly, in her profile picture she has closed eyes and beautiful lips open in a smile, with blonde wavy hair reaching her shoulders. We share the same passion for jazz and apple pies. I admit that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with her, I don’t know why. And I wasn’t able to explain it either: “I have the feeling that you perceive the world in a different way, a more encompassing way, as if you had more senses. I am an average guy, who shies away from complexity, won’t I be too boring for you?” “Definitely not, that’s why I like you”. She answered, and the conversation ended. The following night, I admitted that her answer had offended me, and she swore it was a compliment, that everyone wants to feel special but only a few would endure it, like those who say they would love to live in the countryside, but wouldn’t last more than two hours out there because of the mosquitos, the ants raiding the pantry and the unbreakable silence. We talk for hours, sometimes we fall asleep on the phone, and I like listening to her stories: “When I was a little girl, in the summer nights my mum left my window open and told me to count up to one hundred in my head. Every night I counted, excited as if it was the first time, and never got disappointed. They arrived sharp on time. Dozens of fireflies; I could feel the warmth emanating from their gleaming while they flirted through the air. My mother always told me this was the reason behind my name: from the day I was born she knew I was going to bring light to the world, even when I would have felt dark inside”.
And here we are. With chilled wine, a warm dinner, suffused light and the trumpet notes of So What in the background. I hear a knock; my mouth is dry and my heart is thumping. I rearrange my hair, breathe deeply and peek through the kitchen curtains. Stella the Labrador is the first one I see; next to her, Firefly is holding a pie. She looks just like her picture, maybe more beautiful, a lot more beautiful. Blonde hair down to her shoulders, a blue and white striped blouse, an open smile. Closed eyes. I can feel the blinding warmth from where I am. I hesitate, then open the door.