(An excerpt from my short story, adore you, loosely based on my play, Adored You)

Seventy fucking five dates. 

Last year, I went on seventy-five dates. It was based on a challenge to go on at least one date every weekend of the year but because I’m an overachiever I decided I was going to go on a date every day of the weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was unsuccessful and by May, I switched to just one date per weekend.

On my seventy-five dates, thirty of them first dates, someone asked me if I thought I had fetish for “light complexions,” someone threw up on me, someone lectured me on how feminism is actually like super dangerous and will end up canceling the human race, and someone asked me to love them forever and then broke my heart less than three months later.  

On my seventy-five dates, I have cut my legs while shaving, dyed my hair at least four different colors, tried box braids (and immediately regretted it), wrote scripts for myself, and drank at least a gallon of alcohol. I wore thirty different dresses, five different pant suits, and a regrettable overall covered in paint while trying to pretend like I find painting peaceful.

Speaking of, I’ve gone on painting dates, hiking dates, wine dates, fancy dinner dates, chill dinner dates, afternoon coffee dates, let’s watch a movie but not really as someone attempted to poorly finger me dates, sex on the first date dates, sex on the third dates, kayaking dates, and a a very awkward date with the wife of the man who had absolutely promised me he was already divorced. 

I’ve smoked at least twenty-five cigarettes even though I quit two years ago, tried weed for the first time with a bong and immediately got bored with it, and oh yeah did I mention the wine? I don’t even like wine. 

And somehow, by the end of it, I’m still stumbling back to my studio apartment alone, drinking bourbon with my cat, Tabby, slowly biting my feet, wondering why I was gone so long. 

So when my grandmother left me a “magical” bottle of nail polish and a phone number, you can imagine my skepticism. 

My grandmother had made a living tricking people into thinking she was a bad witch when really she was an excellent witch but just also a sociopath. She said that the weight of magic was too much for most people to handle but who doesn’t love a good con? She could shuffle tarot cards with the best of them and give some Becky a bag of cinnamon for good fortune. And it’s not like her clients didn’t always come back. 

She used to say “If the money’s good, let it pour in.” I never really fully understood what she meant by that but it seemed to be that if people are willing to pay for a rose quartz that’ll make their crush suddenly fall in love with them, who was she to turn the money? 

Her best kept secret I think was that despite being seen as an absolute fraud, for 30 years, she lived in the same apartment and never paid rent. A glamor spell she said. Her landlord was always convinced she’d already paid. I think there was more to it than that but talking to her was a bit like talking to a sphinx and most days I had shit to do that was important than figuring out her riddles.

Madam Mayhem. Even the name was a joke. There was nothing “mayhem” about her. She was an incredibly cautious person, calculated and precise. She used to call me a chaos fairy and told me I needed to tame my winds before Oyá tamed them for me. 

Her will reading was packed with believers who’d she’d let down for decades. Nothing like being an acolyte to a stingy witch. 

I lifted the nail polish to look at it under the light. Based on the note she left me, if I applied to nail polish to someone, I would see their whole life, past and present. But if I paint their nails and then smeared it with my left palm, I’d see our life together. 

She joked it would save me some time on dates but I wasn’t so sure. If you could know the whole half-life of a relationship, would you really want to?

And as for the phone number. Lila Rogers.  There was no explanation for that. 

Am I crazy? This is crazy, right? I knew my grandmother was a real witch but I wasn’t. I had never successfully cast a spell in my life. And I had tried.

Look, I know it sounds crazy to western minds. Magic, witches, crystals…I know the astro-girlies have you all convinced that if you just girl-boss your way to a million dollars, it’s, like, totally possible. And has nothing to do with the systemic structures that are designed to make sure that never happens. No, that’s just negative thinking.

But that’s not how I was raised. I was raised that we were a part of a nature and nature was a part of us. That the gods were in everything, including us. And that life, in its purest form, was about learning how to connect the god inside of you to the gods around you. 

Again, I know it sounds crazy but then again my mother and my grandmother were the two most powerful people I’d ever met. So I guess you had to grow up with it. 

But me? Whenever I cast a spell, it backfired horribly. Once I tried to cast a spell to save my cat’s life and it actually shortened it. My grandmother said it was because I was too dependent on the cat and that was the first and only time I called her bitch. 

After exactly thirty-eight hours of staring at the phone number, I finally called Lila out for a date. Apparently, my grandmother had sent her a note telling her to wait for me to call and a bottle of hexed nail polish remover. We decided to meet at noon at the coffee shop that was, somehow, inexplicably, exactly half-way between our two apartments. 

I got there early, tried to order a Bloody Mary to soothe my nerves only to find out they used sriracha and beet juice in their Bloody mix. Can we please start calling these hipster Frankenstein-like drinks something else? Beets in a Bloody should be illegal. So I decided on green tea instead and had to be insistent that all I wanted was a cup of hot water and a tea bag. Please don’t infuse anything

Lila arrived about ten minutes late wearing a yellow sun dress and flip flops, even though it was fifty outside. Her long ginger hair flowed as she kind of limped towards the table. Why was she limping? She looked like the kind of girl male authors have wet dreams about and with every awkward step towards me she made I wondered why my grandmother wanted to set up us. 


I nodded and kicked the chair out for her to sit. I probably should’ve said but they say chivalry is dead and I’m not a man anyway. 

“Do you have a limp? Sorry I don’t mean to be rude.”

She smiled quickly and then looked down at her leg. Then she let out the longest sigh I think I’d ever heard in a conversation soon to be plagued with small talk.

“I fell,” she said finally as she waved down the waiter.


“No, it’s not…I fell loff a cliff.”

I waited for her to explain and she didn’t. She called the waiter over and ordered a beer and I asked for another green tea bag and another hot cup of water since i had to separate out the components for these people. 

We stared at each other for a few more moments before…

“You fell off a cliff?” I asked hoping she’d at the very least tell me she was kidding.

I cannot date another hiker. 

“Um, yeah. It’s kind of bizarre.”

The server set down her beer and my cup of hot water. She seemed to linger for a second too long, I almost wondered if she was trying to find her way in to hit on Lila. Lord knows everyone in the restaurant was staring at her. 

“I was spreading my cats ashes over a mountain and then I, like, fell,” she whispered quickly into her beer. 

Okay, now I see why my grandmother set up us. 

We looked at each other before breaking out into laughter. She was right about it being bizarre but of all the possibilities I think she might’ve said, I didn’t guess that. 

The next two hours sped by. We talked about how much we kind of hate adult fantasy because it seems to reinforce incredibly conservative values but with magic. How we secretly hated ourselves for being pretty big fans of Taylor Swift’s music. How we thought Marilyn Hacker was the most underrated poet and how every single other poet was the most overrated. How we almost lost our minds when we lost our cats. And how there’s still a piece of us that feels like it’s missing even though we have new cats now that we love more than anything. We talked about my grandmother and how Lila had gone once a month to have tea with her but never bought anything and how that must’ve driven my grandmother crazy. 

And how sad we are she’s gone. 

As the coffee shop started to close with the servers and baristas actively slammed chairs on the ground to get us to leave, I was trying to figure out how to ask if and when I could see her again when

“Do you have the nail polish?” she asked, looking over her shoulders as if someone might found us out.

“Uh, yeah I do.”

“Do you want to use it?”

My immediate response was to say no. That it felt like the kind of thing we should use after the fifth or seventh date, after we’d already grown into each other a bit. That we should enjoy what we could. But her eyes told me all I needed to know. She wanted to try it immediately and there was no telling her no. 

“Yeah, sure. You okay with coming over to my place?”

She nodded as she popped up. I swear every server there sighed an audible sigh of relief when I stood up as well. I wanted to point out to them that the cafe close at 5 and it was only 4:55 but I’ve had an endless shift before so I get it. 

Though it’s completely out of my nature, I let it go. 

Back at my apartment, we poured ourselves a glass of wine and lit some candles just to set the mood. There was nothing in the instructions that said any of that was necessary but I’d hoped we could set the mood for something a lot more fun with a lot less clothes and I think Lila just liked the aesthetic. 

It took us about three glasses of wine before either one of us was brave enough to apply the nail polish.

“So do it go on your hand or on my mine?” Lila accidentally shouted into her wine glass. 

“I think I have to apply it your hand and then smudge it with my palm.” 

“Do you paint all the nails?”

I wasn’t sure and the directions weren’t clear. It said nails not how many and I wasn’t sure I wanted to see the entirety of our lives in a single night. To be honest, the drunker I got, the more I wanted to see none of it. I just wanted to let it play out in real time before the inevitable end came crashing in.

“Maybe I’ll just paint your pinkies,” I said finally, thinking the smallest fingers would be my best bet. 

Surely, the size of the finger had to matter right? 

“Yeah that works.”

Lila took a deep breath and then extended out her hand. The touch her hand to mine was electric, literally. She shocked me and then immediately her skin felt so smooth I almost dropped her hand. In a moment, I felt exactly what the nail polish would tell me. I knew for sure what was coming but there was no turning back now. 

We both took simultaneous deep breaths and I painted her pinky nails, one of on each hand. And then I used my left palm to smudge the nails. Then we both winced, expecting some bright light, some whoosh and off into another dimension, some magnetic current that would either attach us together forever or pull us apart…but nothing happened. 

After ten minutes of waiting, the mood had died down. Lila finished off her glass and called an uber home. 

The apartment felt empty with her gone which made no sense because she’d spent less than four hours in it. Still, something in the space had changed and I wasn’t sure we’d ever recover. 

I looked down on the nail polish lightly burning my hand. I knew my grandmother well. Her spells didn’t backfire unless she wanted them to. Unless there was some greater lesson to be learned. The old bait and switch. I knew her well enough to know this was possible and yet still felt some sort of relief that it hadn’t worked. Maybe after things cooled down, I could call Lila tomorrow and ask her out again.

We’d still know how everything would play out but in due time. Nothing last forever but shouldn’t the good things at least last a while? 

I woke up the next morning in a house I did not recognize. Tabby licked my face as another cat I don’t know slept on my feet. The sheets, the bed, the room…where was I?

Slowly and carefully, I got out of bed to feed Tabby and…the other cat. Wait. Socks. The other cat’s name is Socks. And I think she’s my cat. Our cat. 

What the fuck. 

As I walked from the bedroom to the kitchen to feed the cats, I looked at the pictures on the walls. Pictures of me and Lila at bars, out hiking, making ceramics…even what seemed to be an engagement photo. I looked down at my finger. Guess she got the ring. I always wondered why only one person got an engagement ring but knowing how possessive I am it makes sense that it was her not me. 

No one was going to steal me away in the middle of the night. Lila, on the other hand, had an offer an hour, I’m sure. 

With every step, another memory came flooding in. Our second date at an abandoned wind mill. The play I dragged her to and asked her to be my girlfriend after we sat through three hours of just vibes and no story. How I had asked her to move in with me and how she’d convinced me it was time we got a house. Even if we were renting it. Our first fight about what color we should paint the walls and how I was insistent that at least one wall in the house should have chalkboard paint. She hated the idea and yet is the only one who uses it for her brainstorming. The first time we said I love you to each other, regrettably during sex but not regrettably during the best sex either of us had had up until that point. How we created a scavenger hunt in Ikea so we wouldn’t fight as we picked out furniture. How we fought a little anyway but agreed a small fight didn’t count. Plus, the fight was over food not furniture. Years of laughter, tears, board games, hanging out with cats, seeing bad movies, watching TV shows together, going to friends’ weddings and unfortunately a couple funerals too…The history of us flooded into me. 

I was so overwhelmed I stopped to catch my breath by leaning against the wall, which Tabby did not appreciate. After waiting a polite six seconds, she bit my foot until I was moving again and it wasn’t until I had made to kitchen, opening the food pantry, that I saw Lila on the couch, eyes red from crying. 

What did I miss?