At the moment, Orvel is running. Frantically. Desperately. Pathetically. He has only one thought on his mind: MUST GET THERE IN TIME.
There was a time when Orvel had dignity. But not anymore. Orvel sacrificed his dignity a long time ago, and willingly. He considered it a small price to pay.
MUST GET THERE IN TIME, Orvel is thinking.
Some time ago, when Orvel still had dignity, he interviewed for a job at a monstrously large company called Conglomicor. He got the job, but he almost didn’t. Of the candidates interviewed, he was the second choice. The first choice decided they didn’t want the job after all. So Orvel got the job. Had he not got the job, he might have lived happily ever after, more or less. But Orvel got the job.
It was one of those dreary office jobs involving a cubicle and a computer and a telephone and data entry and a stapler. You know the type.
Orvel got to know the employee stationed in the cubicle next to him pretty well. They became almost like friends.
Then Orvel’s cubicle neighbor transferred to another branch of Conglomicor. The ex-cubicle-neighbor’s replacement was hired shortly thereafter. Her name was and is Sara Sentera.
Upon meeting Sara for the first time, Orvel became very infatuated with her. He found her beautiful. He found a lot of women beautiful, but there was something about Sara’s beauty that made Orvel feel all kinds of wonderful inside. He wanted Sara Sentera badly.
A few seconds after Orvel and Sara were introduced to each other, Sara said to Orvel: “That’s a nice shirt you have on. My boyfriend has one just like it.”
Orvel was devastated. Sara Sentera had broken his heart. It wouldn’t be the last time this would occur.
Although Orvel knew Sara had a boyfriend, his infatuation with Sara only became stronger over the next several months. Which was strange because, during that time, Sara had revealed herself to have many characteristics that would repel others: callousness; coldness; selfishness. But for some reason, those characteristics only fueled Orvel’s infatuation even more.
One workday, Orvel ended up stuck at work very late. It seemed like he was the only employee still in the building.
Then he heard a faint sound of crying coming from Sara’s cubicle. He went to her cubicle, where Sara was sitting and crying.
“Are you okay?” Orvel said.
“No, I’m not okay,” Sara said. “My boyfriend and I have been arguing so much lately. I don’t even want to go home, because he’ll be there, and all we do is argue, and I know if I go home I’ll just get into another argument with him. And I don’t want that to happen.”
“So you’re just going to stay here all night?” Orvel said.
“Yes,” Sara said. “Will you keep me company?”
“Okay,” Orvel said, trying to conceal just how ecstatic he was feeling at that moment.
That night, Orvel got to know Sara pretty well. She talked and talked and talked and talked about herself for hours. Then, when she was tired of talking about herself, she initiated an affair with Orvel.
That was how Sara and Orvel’s secret affair began. Over the next few months, they had many late nights at the office together, all of which transpired much like that first night.
Orvel was quite happy during that time. It didn’t bother him that Sara was still with her boyfriend and had no plans to break up with him. Nor did it bother Orvel that Sara never asked Orvel any questions about him. Orvel was just content to be with Sara.
Then one night, in Sara’s cubicle, Sara told Orvel that she didn’t want to continue their secret affair anymore; that she and her boyfriend were going to get married.
Orvel was devastated. He begged and begged and begged Sara to not do this. But Sara’s mind was made up.
The next day at work, Orvel overheard Sara cheerfully telling a co-worker about the engagement. Hearing that made Orvel depressed. He took the rest of the day off.
He started taking off from work on a dangerously frequent basis. Eventually, he was fired.
Maybe it’s for the best, Orvel thought. Maybe being removed from that environment will help me get over Sara, Orvel thought.
Several months passed. He still thought about her every day, but the misery was beginning to subside. The wound was healing.
Then one day, earlier today, he looked at the calendar hanging in his apartment. Today’s date seemed familiar to him, but he didn’t know why.
Then he suddenly remembered why.
Several months ago, before he got fired, he was overhearing a conversation between Sara and another co-worker about Sara’s wedding plans.
“When is the wedding day?” the co-worker said.
Sara told the co-worker the date she and her boyfriend were going to get married on. Sara also told the co-worker where the wedding would take place.
That’s why today’s date looked familiar to Orvel: today is Sara’s wedding day.
Upon that realization, all of Orvel’s progress over the last several months evaporated. He bolted out of his apartment, heading to the church where the wedding is going to take place, intent on stopping it.
So Orvel is running. Frantically. Desperately. Pathetically. With one thought on his mind: MUST GET THERE IN TIME.
He sees the church. He is running toward it, hoping he is not too late.
He goes into the church, which is full of seated people attending Sara and her boyfriend’s wedding. At the other end of the church, Sara and her boyfriend are standing at the altar, facing a priest, who is conducting the wedding rituals.
“Sara!” Orvel says, screaming. “Don’t do it! It’s not him you love! It’s me you love! Me! You just don’t realize it yet!”
Orvel is now running down the aisle, toward Sara, intending to further plead his case. However, when he gets to there, Sara’s boyfriend punches Orvel in the face before he can say anything further. Orvel falls to the ground.
Dazed, Orvel sees Sara and her boyfriend and the priest. They are all looking down at Orvel.
“Who is this guy, Sara?” Sara’s boyfriend says.
“He’s nobody,” Sara says. “He’s just some loser who used to work at Conglomicor. He had a hopeless crush on me when he was there. He asked me out dozens of times. I made it clear to him that I wasn’t interested in him, but he just wouldn’t give up. He’s obsessed with me.”
“Can someone please get this wacko out of here?” Sara’s boyfriend says. “He’s ruining our wedding.”
Four other men collectively pick Orvel up by his arms and legs and begin carrying him out of the church. As Orvel is being carried away from Sara, he hears the priest say: “Shall we continue?”
Then Orvel hears Sara say: “Yes. Let’s continue.”
Orvel then hears the completion of Sara and her boyfriend’s wedding.
The four men who are carrying Orvel bring him far away from the church. Orvel is deposited on to the ground. Three of the four men who were carrying Orvel begin heading back to the church, but the other man remains behind.
“She got to you too, huh?” the man says. “I know what you’re going through. My name’s Todd. I’m one of Sara’s ex-boyfriends.”
Todd invites Orvel to have coffee with him.
Later, Todd and Orvel are sitting at a table in a coffee shop, having coffee.
“I loved her so much,” Orvel says. “I loved her so much and she acted like she and I never had any relationship. She called me a loser. And the worst thing about it is, despite everything that’s happened, I still love her. All I can hope is that maybe someday she’ll realize she’s made a mistake and she’ll divorce her husband for me.”
Todd shakes his head dismissively. “She’s a Sentera,” Todd says. “Senteras don’t get divorced.”
“How can you be so sure about that?” Orvel says.
“I was Sara Sentera’s boyfriend for two years,” Todd says. “She told me all about herself and her family: their culture; their values; their beliefs. Trust me when I tell you that Sara will never get divorced. It’s a lost cause.”
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Orvel says.
“No, I’m telling you this to help you get over her,” Todd says. “Because all you can do now is move on, like I did after she dumped me.”
“But have you moved on?” Orvel says. “You were at her wedding. That doesn’t sound like you’ve moved on to me.”
“After Sara dumped me, she wanted to keep me in her life as a platonic friend,” Todd says. “So that’s what we are now: just friends. I’ll admit, when I agreed to be just friends with her, it was really just an excuse to stay a part of her life, in the hope that she might take me back someday. But over time, I got over her. And you can get over her too.”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” Orvel says. “I don’t even know if I want to. If I stay hung up on her, then at least there’s maybe a chance we could get back together someday. But if I got over her, truly got over her, then that’s it: all hope will be lost; me and my soul mate will never get back together.”
“She’s not your soul mate,” Todd says. “She’s no one’s soul mate. She’s just one of many attractive women in this universe.”
“You’re wrong,” Orvel says. “You only say that because you haven’t met your soul mate yet. You don’t know what it feels like. To you, Sara is just some random pretty woman. But to me, she’s special. She embodies literally everything I want in a mate. To me, she’s a unique goddess who can never be replaced or forgotten.”
Todd laughs. “She’s really not that special,” Todd says. “In fact, she’s not unique at all. Here, let me show you something.”
Todd takes his wallet out of his jacket. From his wallet, he takes out a small photograph. He hands the photograph to Orvel.
In the photograph are nine beautiful women, all of whom look exactly like Sara Sentera.
“The one on the far left is Sara,” Todd says. “And the rest are her identical sisters. Sara is a nonuplet.”
“There’s… eight more of her?” Orvel says. “I mean, she has eight identical sisters?”
“Yes,” Todd says. “I met Sara’s sisters only one time, at the event that this photograph was taken at. I’ve kept it to remind myself just how non-unique Sara really is. This photograph was what helped me finally get over her. And now I’m giving it to you.”
“She never told me she has eight identical sisters,” Orvel says. “She talked so much about herself, but she never mentioned that.”
“I’m not surprised,” Todd says. “Sara hates her sisters. She never likes to talk about them. She’d prefer it if they never existed. All the Sentera sisters hate each other. They’ve always hated each other. This photograph was taken by one of their relatives. The event was a Sentera family reunion. You wouldn’t believe the amount of efforts that were made to get all nine of them to appear in a photograph together.”
“What are their names?” Orvel says.
“Why do you ask?” Todd says.
“I’m just curious,” Orvel says.
“Their names are Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia and Sustranna,” Todd says.
Orvel commits the eight names to memory: Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia and Sustranna.
“Are any of them married?” Orvel says.
“I don’t think so,” Todd says, confused. “They were all single since I last heard.”
Eight more chances to get her to love me back, Orvel thinks.
“Where do Sara’s sisters live?” Orvel says.
“I don’t know,” Todd says. “I really know very little about them. Why are you asking me all these questions about them?”
“I have to leave,” Orvel says, getting up. He leaves the coffee shop.
Now Orvel is running. Frantically. Desperately. Pathetically. He is heading back to his apartment to figure out what his next move will be. The names repeat in his mind over and over again: Sara and Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia and Sustranna. The Sentera sisters. They have him in their clutches, knowingly or unknowingly, and forever. His quest for another Sentera sister has begun.