By Sara Hinojosa
The female looked at herself in the glass, her green eyes stared blankly back at her the reflection. Tonight was the night. It had been a long time since she’d been on a date and the last one ended like it always did. Nothing ever lasted long. They’d always lose their head over one thing or another, but she was persistent. Pulling herself together, she drew a deep breath, took one last glance at herself and made her way out.
The male sat on the far side of the crowded space, plants towered around him on every side and the others around him seemed to crawl around in every direction at once, going nowhere in particular. He waited for the girl in green and took sips of his drink every now and then, unsure of how to keep his hands busy. He tried his best not to be too early but he still found himself waiting even after the time that was agreed upon. His leg began to twitch, growing impatient. As much as he didn’t want to appear uncomfortable, he couldn’t help but feel nervous. It had only been a day since they had been set up through a mutual friend. Old and quite mangled, as though he’d seen some scarring situations in his lifetime, this friend he closest thing he had to a father. It seemed as though, at one point or another, the other males disappeared. No one ever questioned it. That’s just the way things have been since before the male could remember. The meeting seemed rushed and slightly unnatural. Brushing it off as first date jitters, he took another go at his drink.
He was young, but still he felt he was too old for this, his first real date. He wasn’t sure how this was all supposed to work and he felt sick at the thought of making any sort of conversation with the stranger. He knew nothing about her, but from the impression his friend had given him about her, she seemed to have experience with the males. In fact, the friend who had set them up seemed quite familiar with her, himself. He didn’t know whether he should find comfort in that or disgust. Was that something he should be upset about? He felt awkward and wanted nothing more than to leave, quickly, before she arrived. The only thing that stopped him was the fear of living his last few months of his life alone.
Looking up from the table, he hopped up as he finally saw a girl who matched the description: thin, spindly features. Her eyes, big and dark. He gave a smile as she met his eyes and walked toward him.
“It’s so good to meet you,” he spat out before crashing down into his seat once more. “I have to say, this all came together quite fast, didn’t it?”
He couldn’t quite look into her eyes at first, but stole glances whenever he could. She was mesmerizing. Graceful. Her stare caused all of the chaos in the background to cease in the eyes of the male.
She gave a small laugh and nodded. “Would you think me strange if I said I was eager to meet you? I’ve heard nothing but good things. Thanks for agreeing to all this so soon.”
She was at ease, a large contrast to how stiff the male felt at first. She seemed to think nothing of the way the male twitched and choked whenever he tried to get a word out. As she spoke more, the male eased up, loosened by the drinks and the sound of her voice. She was all around hypnotizing, her facial features, her tone, her mannerisms. Soon the male forgot that he had felt nervous at all.
Hours passed in a second. Those moving about all around them began to blur and the male was certain that the wall of plants seemed to grow taller. He kept hearing the female speak of a ritual. The topic came up in passing at first, but as time went on, it was all she spoke of. The male was having trouble keeping up and attempted to shake himself awake. He ordered another drink.
At any other point of his life, if he’d heard anything about a ritual he’d walk right out on the person at hand without another word. That was never a topic he could contribute to. To put it plain, he was freaked out by the idea. In his mind, he pictured dark figures sitting around a circle of candles in an otherwise pitch-black forest. But this wasn’t what she spoke of at all. She spoke dearly of vague pictures of a conquest that was practiced all throughout generations of their ancestors. Her eyes twinkled as she spoke of the love and torment and death and rebirth that was all wrapped up in the ritual process. The male had never heard of anything like this. If anyone else had spoken these words, or anything even remotely similar, he would have thought them crazy. All he knew was that she was beautiful and that he’d never felt this much desire for one being before. He was in a trance. agreeing with her every notion, though he had trouble comprehending any of the words that floated around his head.
This is how the night continued. The female marveled at her own ideas, beliefs, and fantasies, while the male gazed at her as though he’d found his savior, the one who’d break the mundane routine he’d created for himself and make him into someone worth something. He saw himself in a vision, the most confident one in any room with this beautiful girl by his side. He could see it all clearly when he looked at his own reflection in her eyes.
Before any time at all, he found that they were alone. He wondered how the space had cleared so quickly. The scattering chaos of others had disappeared completely. It was silent, beside their own breathing. Had they moved? Were they still in the same place? He decided it didn’t matter and focused, again, on her.
He stuttered. He told her of the way his heart sang as he looked at her all night and just how beautiful she was to him. He said that he knew he had only just met her, but he felt that both of their lives had led up to this moment, that it was his destiny to be with her for the rest of his life.
She agreed. Smiling, speaking softly, moving slowly.
He gave way to the attraction, taking her into his arms. His head was still spinning when he saw her press her hands together for prayer and whisper once again about the ritual. He thought little of it, thinking only of the desire he felt in every part of himself. As he gave his love to her, his eyes flashed into a white light. A vision. Every scene, her by his side. They would have hundreds of children and watch them proudly, together, as their offspring fought one another to survive. They would raise the few remaining children to fight for love, just as he had. They would spend a long and happy few months together before they passed away, side by side. The story of their love would carry on beyond them, as legend.
As thoughts of the once-in-a-lifetime, miraculous love that was found that night consumed the male’s mind, the female began to saw away at his neck, delicately taking bites out of his head in the process.
Before the male lost his eyes and vision, he admired the female one last time: her giant eyes, leading up to her antennae, her spindly green body that curved outward at her wings. The man thought only of her perfection as he was decapitated.
The ritual was complete. The female mantis admired her work with her alien-like features. She beamed her own happy ending that had unfolded in front of her. Fluttering her long green wings, she thought ahead, eager for the next time she would perform her cherished ritual.