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Love At First Swipe

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   Elsa loved her sister.

 

   She really did. They’ve been through thick and thin together. Traversed through hell and high water.  

 

   Sometimes, she can be a real pain in the ass.

 

   Today, for example – Elsa and Anna were preparing for Anna’s wedding in the fall with her fiancé of three years, Kristoff. Anna wanted a fall wedding, because she loved that time of year. The leaves were changing color, the weather was getting colder, and everything was slowly growing into the festivities of winter. They planned it for October, when Kristoff proposed to her (granted by Elsa’s blessing) in April, over a year ago this month.

 

    She loved her then. She loves her now.

 

    Even still, she can’t help but cry out of sheer frustration over Anna, and the ridiculousness of her behavior.

 

    Nothing was enough. Nothing was perfect. It was always this or that, Anna couldn’t decide for her damn life, and the moment they couldn’t find someone to make the ice sculpture for the reception party ahead of time, that’s when things all went to shit. Then the flowers wilted. Then the glass fell to the floor and broke.

 

   Elsa never cried in front of her family. Only to her cat Gale, and to her salamander Bruni.

 

   Isn’t it lame for a twenty-eight-year-old woman to be crying in her car because she had a fight with her sister? Elsa found herself thinking negatively, and she shook her head. Wiping her eyes, she grabbed her purse, shut the car, and headed up the four flight of steps to her apartment complex. 

 

    She often chastised herself for being childish, in that regard. She shouldn’t be crying, or angry. She didn’t have the time to be bothered with those emotions. Her father, while his teachings were harsh, made sure of that.

 

    Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show. This was the mantra her mother instilled in her when father’s words would get brutal. Do not let him have that power. She was the one who had to be strong.

 

    Make one wrong move and Anna will know.

 

    She didn’t feel strong right now.

 

    Gale meowed softly at his owner, gazing at her. He behaved similarly to an indifferent roommate, only coming in for food or pets. However, Gale’s mannerisms were almost human, especially when it came to comforting Elsa. It was as if he knew – that she was upset, and wanted to do his best with the limited knowledge he had.

 

    Bruni, on the other hand – was just a dumb salamander who liked eating bugs and licking feet.

 

    She loved them both regardless.

 

    “Hi, Gale,” Elsa sobered up, putting her things down by the door and reaching to pick him up. He climbed onto her, and she hugged him close. “I’m okay. Anna’s just… being a lot, right now.”

 

     A lot was an understatement, but it was the only explanation she had.

 

    Elsa and Anna were close growing up as children, but drifted apart during their teen and young adult years. Their father’s passing brought them together, as they cared for their mother, but Anna’s bastard of an ex-boyfriend nearly ripped them apart.  

 

   It was Anna’s 21st birthday and she went out with some guy she met online. Elsa wasn’t exactly comfortable with this, saying and quote, “You can’t sleep with a man you just met.” Anna was furious. She demanded Elsa take that back, because what did she know about love. She shut Anna out. Anna needed affections that Elsa could not give – did not know HOW to give. Elsa was 24 at the time, recently graduated from college, and did not know a thing about relationships. She just didn’t have the time, it wasn’t her focus.

 

      Anna was right. What did she know about love? She’s never loved anyone besides her mother and her sister before.

 

   So, Elsa watched as Anna left her own party to meet with a stranger. Her supposed “knight in shining armor”.

 

   Anna developed a whirlwind romance with this man named Hans Isle. He was the youngest of twelve other brothers. He was charming and deceiving, and had Anna wrapped around his finger. Elsa had her doubts about him, as her heart grew green with jealousy. They drifted apart again.

 

   For months, Elsa found herself alone once more. This time not by choice.

 

   Then, Anna returned all of a sudden, sadness evident on her face, nearly in tears as she gripped a pregnancy test in her hands. She collapsed into Elsa’s arms and stayed there, saying that Elsa was right, that she made a mistake, and she didn’t know what to do. So, Elsa did the only thing she knew how to do: take care of her sister. She let Anna into her home, where she didn’t have much, but it would be just enough. She locked the doors every night, making sure no one followed them home.  

 

    Thankfully for them, he was gone and just left something behind.   

 

    It took a while for Anna to finally open up about what happened between her and Hans, due to years of her and Elsa’s personal separation. Though, they managed, and somehow, Elsa helped raise her nephew, who brought life and light to their once gloomy home.  

 

    Anna named him Olaf. They became a family again. Elsa made sure to raise him with love and kindness, vowing to herself that she would never let Olaf experience the pain that she and Anna did growing up. They were always together, they became an inseparable trio.

 

     Then Kristoff and Sven came into their lives, and their family grew even bigger. After so many years of sadness, Elsa didn’t know how to handle the happiness she was getting. So, she was a little awkward around Kristoff, for a while. She knew his intentions with her sister were good, and loving. Her heart needed convincing. That was Sven’s purpose, and the German Shepard puppy did a damn good job of helping her heal. She let them both in and they stayed, despite the skeletons Anna and Elsa have in their closet. Kristoff and Sven stayed because they fell in love with the sisters despite their flaws. 

 

       Elsa took a deep breath. Throughout her life, she became comfortable with sadness. She couldn’t remember a time where she was happy – just faked happiness, for Anna’s sake. Now that she’s in her late twenties, she doesn’t exactly know how to properly express other emotions. Anger, fear, excitement – what were those? When was the appropriate time to express them? Sure, she goes to therapy and that helps, somewhat.

 

      All she knows is how to repress things. That’s all your good at, the negative thoughts spiraled in her head again, and she held Gale tighter. All she knows how to be is sad and faking being happy, but that was laced with sadness, too.

 

        They will move on from this. It was just a little squabble. Anna wanted everything to be perfect, and when things weren’t perfect, she lashed out at the nearest person she could. Anna will call and apologize.

 

       Elsa just needed a distraction. Something to help her through the night.

 

       The young woman let down her hair from her braid and made herself a warm tea. Gale pranced onto the counter, watching her.        

 

       “I just don’t know what more I can do,” Elsa tells Gale, knowing he won’t respond. It was just nice to talk with someone. “The wedding is six months away. We’re in April right now, she has it planned for October 24th. We have the venue, the theme, and the guest list. Granted, it’s going to be a small crowd, but we’re grateful we have witnesses to celebrate Anna and Kristoff’s love. Olaf will be the ring bear,” Elsa chuckled softly, happy that Olaf has a role to play in delivering the rings. He got confused and couldn’t say ‘bearer’ properly, so he demanded he wear a bear costume to fit the part. Kristoff thought it was a beautiful idea, and immediately ordered one. “Anna always wanted a fall and magical-themed wedding. Nothing to crazy, but something to remember. I think she’s just… expecting something awful to happen that’ll rip all her hard work from underneath us.”

 

       Anna wasn’t always like that. She was the happy one, the silly girl who stuffed chocolate in her face when father wasn’t looking. She was rambunctious and said scandalous things, always making their toys marry or kiss each other. She had no filter, was a tigress impossible to tame. Elsa loved her for that.

 

      They got older. That had to be it. They’re both adults now, worn, tired from their never-ending struggle. 

 

      They both changed. Anna through Kristoff’s love, for the better.

 

      And Elsa? Well, Elsa knew she was a good person. She just… didn’t feel like a changed person. A part of her heart still felt trapped in the past, and she doesn’t know how to retrieve it.

 

       “I want things to be okay, I know they will be,” Elsa sighed, petting Gale, “It just seems impossible right now.”

 

        Elsa decided to catch up on some freelance work. She had a client from her art blog who requested a sculpture, and she needed to get it done before the weekend. It was something she could focus on, for sure.

 

         So, diligently, Elsa went to work in her office.

 


 

          

         Elsa doesn’t sleep. She hasn’t since the night Anna came home and announced she was pregnant with Olaf. The only way she can sleep is if she takes her melatonin, or any kind of sleep-help medication. It may have been nearing 11:30 pm right now, but Elsa didn’t feel tired. She just honed her attention into her sculpture, hoping to finish it before the morning came. She was making a clay figurine of Captain America for a client’s child’s birthday. They were obsessed with superhero’s, but strapped for time and cash. Elsa’s prices were enough for people who wanted a quality gift, but without the guilt of spending too much money. Anna always said that she didn’t pay enough for her art, that she should charge more. But Elsa shook her head and argued that it was the people’s reactions that made things priceless and worth it.

 

      She was going to change the song choice on her Alexa, until she received a phone call from her cousin Rapunzel. Rapunzel’s mother and her father were brother and sister. The three girls; Rapunzel, Elsa, and Anna, grew up very close until the tragic passing of her father. Through social media, the girls found each other again, and they were invited to Rapunzel’s wedding to a man named Flynn she met in college. Elsa was hesitant around Flynn at first, but she warmed up to him, after finding out his family owned a horse farm in Upstate New York and he trained one of his own, named Maximus.

 

      Their family grew once more, and Elsa was content.

 

      “Hey, Ice Queen. What’re you doing?” Rapunzel said, and Elsa could tell she was beaming. That girl was always so cheerful.

 

       “I told you not to call me that. And, you know I’m in my workshop at this hour. I have a very important client –,”

 

        “Yeah, okay. Buzz me in, will you? I’m outside and I’m sweaty, it’s so hot.”

 

         Elsa visibly groaned. “Punzie, I told you many times. Tell me at least a half hour before you come, so I can prepare –,”

 

          “—for my visit. I got it, geez.” There was a pause. “I need to use the bathroom.”

 

          “On my way.” Elsa breathed through her nose, praying for whatever got was out there to give her patience. She loved her cousin, but she was honestly like a second Anna, minus the sugar addiction.

 

           Elsa pressed the buzzer near her door, letting Rapunzel get in from the lobby. Within seconds, her cousin breezed her way up the stairs, gave Elsa a kiss on the cheek, said hi to Gale, and rushed to the bathroom.

 

          The young woman chuckled as she made her living room look somewhat presentable, refilled two glasses of wine for them, and made a meat and cheese platter. Even if it was one guest, Elsa always had that charm of knowing how to host a social gathering.

 

          It’s a skill that Anna was always begging Elsa to teach her.

 

          Rapunzel came out of the bathroom, making herself comfortable on the couch. She patted the seat next to her, an eager look on her face.

 

    “What’re you doing here, anyway?” Elsa asked her cousin. She gave her a glass of wine.

 

    “I got lonely at my home since my husband is training Maximus for their big race in the summer. I know it’s important for Flynn to see his family, but… I can’t help but miss him.”

 

      “You know you always have a place here. I’ll make the guest bedroom where Anna usually stays for you.” Elsa suggested without hesitation.

 

        “Thanks, cousin,” Rapunzel said gratefully. They hugged each other. “Hey, I have an idea.”

 

        “I’m sitting down.” Elsa rolled her eyes. 

 

        “I know that you and Anna had a fight today. While she loves you and she appreciate the help, there’s… not much you can do as far as preparations go. We’ve got that covered.”

 

         “I get it. But, I just want to be there to support her emotionally.” Elsa argued. “That’s how we’ve always been.”

 

           Rapunzel placed a hand on Elsa’s shoulder. “This is something that she needs to talk about with Kristoff. It is their wedding, you know. Not – the three of you marrying each other.”

 

           Elsa blinked. That sentence alone was enough to help her understand that maybe, she was being a little overbearing with all this. That she was sticking her hands into a pie that had too much help already.

 

          “I guess I should just… stop asking if she needs help, then,” Elsa sighed, feeling defeated.

 

           Rapunzel nodded. “Getting back to my idea. Here’s what you can do – and this is a suggestion – maybe look into having a plus one for the wedding? So, you wouldn’t be lonely.”

 

           “A-a plus one?” Elsa asked, licking her lips. She felt her hands grow sweaty. “Like, a date?”

 

             “Yes, that’s what a plus one is, dummy. Come on – you’re twenty-eight years old. When’s the last time you’ve dated?”    

 

             Elsa tried to think. She thought too long, and found that she didn’t have an answer. Gosh, when did she become so boring?

 

              “It was never – anything I wanted, Rapunzel.” Elsa eased softly, feeling lonely all of a sudden. Gale curled up on Elsa’s lap, mewling. She scratched his ear.

 

            “I think it’ll help. Having someone around, I mean. It doesn’t hurt to try,” Rapunzel held up her hand, “And – if it doesn’t work, that’s okay. At least you went for it and put yourself out there.” 

 

       “I – I know. Thanks, Rapunzel.” Elsa stared at her drink, feeling tingly. Her fingers twitched. “So, what do I do?”

 

        Rapunzel chuckled, “Give me your phone.” Confused, but eager to meet someone, Elsa handed her smart phone to her cousin. After a few fast clicks, she’s already went and downloaded three separate apps.      

 

       Lime Connection, Buzz, and Talkie. Buzz’s colors were a vibrant yellow and white, Talkie’s was red, and Lime Connection’s was blue. She didn’t know which ones to click on first. “Is this how people meet each other these days?” She felt so old saying that out loud.

 

        “Pretty much. The classic meet-cutes you read in stories or see in movies are fairytale at this point. I downloaded apps for you that are LGBT+ centric.”

 

          Elsa smiled at her cousin gratefully. Rapunzel was the first person she came out to about being gay when they were teens, saying “I think I like girls.” She knew she didn’t like boys, as one asked her to the school dance and she felt uncomfortable so she turned him down. She never told her father or her mother this, fearing the consequences. Just Anna, and Rapunzel, and later as she got older, a few close friends.

 

         As she got older, she realized the world she grew up in wasn’t as accepting as the outside world. Her father and mother were just born in a different time, and didn’t understand her life. She’d always felt different. She grew uncomfortable with being different, until she met Kristoff, who was the most unique person she’s ever known.

 

         However, due to always being busy with her work and supporting her family, she told herself that it was okay she didn’t have someone. That it was okay Anna had Kristoff, and Olaf, and Sven.

 

        Elsa never tried to force herself out of her comfort zone if she didn’t need to be.

 

        Now, she supposed, was the appropriate time to try looking and experience something new.

        

        “Chose three photos that bring out your personality,” Elsa read aloud, feeling shy. “I… don’t exactly take selfies, if that’s what they’re after.”

 

         “Ugh. Do I have to do everything myself?” Rapunzel chastised, giggling. She reached for Elsa’s phone again, and found three photos to put on her profile. One of her posing with her most recent artwork, one of her building a snowman with Olaf, and another one of her braiding Anna’s hair.

 

         “Now,” She chirped, pointing to the bio, “Say something about yourself.”

 

          Elsa couldn’t think of anything. She just put a link to her website. 

 

          Rapunzel slapped her head. “Okay, I guess that’s good for now.”

 

     Elsa was confused, “What? If they’re interested, I have a bio about myself on my website. They can check there.”    

 

     “You’re too much sometimes.” Rapunzel rolled her eyes at her cousin.

 


 

      The two girls hung out in the living room for a few hours, occasionally swiping left or right on potential matches. Rapunzel took this seriously, bringing Elsa’s white board from her office and writing down ladies who were promising. Elsa of course, thought all this was ridiculous. 

 

       It was next to impossible for anyone to make a connection online.

 

       They were just talking through a screen, there wasn’t much about another person to know.

 

       Elsa was telling herself these things, to remain a sense of hesitant skepticism.

 

       She told herself that no one really piqued her interest, that they were all either looking for a one-night stand, or someone to add to their threesome.

 

        That is, until she came across a match. The girl was 27 y/o, lived on 32nd street and 8th Ave, and owned a popular flower shop. Elsa knew this right away because most of her profile pictures were of her flower arrangements. And her bio? Nothing about herself. Just the entirety of the Bee Movie script. Rapunzel was cackling, reading it aloud.

 

       Fittingly, her name was Honeymaren.

 

       “Oh, I want to know more about her.” Rapunzel was beaming.

 

       “Fine. You talk, then.” Elsa huffed.

 

       “No! You matched with her. This is your chance! Say something witty.”

 

        “What if she’s not even gay?” Elsa feared. This whole thing was so embarrassing.

 

        Rapunzel took another look at Honeymaren’s profile, and nodded. “She’s a lesbian. Or, pansexual. Or bisexual. I don't know, don't quote me. I could be completely wrong on that.”

 

        Elsa stared at her cousin, her mouth agape. The young woman in question had short brown hair, beautiful brown eyes, and a dark skin tone. She wore an intriguing outfit, where in the background it was snowing, and her hat looked as if it was made of unique animal fur. She stood out amongst the white snowflakes.

 

        She was gorgeous, and Elsa’s body grew warm.

 

        “Go on!” Rapunzel urged, shoving the phone to Elsa.

 

         Elsa took a deep breath. Clicking on the chat option, she began to type.

 

    Hi! I hope you can forgive me, I’m quite new at this and I don’t know what to do. My cousin suggested I make a profile and start talking to new people. Then, well, I came across yours. We matched, so, uh… I just wanted to say your floral arrangements are gorgeous. :)

 

    Send. She didn’t have the time to fix any grammatical errors, even though her fingers were itching to. 

 

     “Good start!” Rapunzel cheered, bumping shoulders with Elsa.

 

     “What’s next?” Elsa asked, at a complete loss.

 

      “Well, you got over the hardest part. Now you just have to wait.”

 

      Elsa frowned, not exactly liking that idea. She was never good at waiting to begin with. Nonetheless, Elsa put her phone back on the coffee table and gave some appreciative pets to Gale, who had made himself comfortable in between the cousins. 

 

     For the first time in forever, she was looking forward to something – something very new.

 

     That both terrified and filled her with excitement.