During an evening, a man named Orvel and his beautiful girlfriend named Sustranna Sentera are laying on the bed in Sustranna’s apartment, having just completed an intimate encounter. Orvel is as happy as he’ll ever be. They have been dating for several weeks now, and it has been going well.
Orvel met Sustranna after Orvel ‘accidentally’ crashed his car into Sustranna’s parked car. Neither Sustranna nor anyone else was in her car at the time, so only Orvel got hurt in the ‘accident’. Just some minor bruises, which he considered a small price to pay for love. After the ‘accident’, Orvel worked out a payment plan with Sustranna for the cost of repairing her damaged car. This interaction with Sustranna gave Orvel the opportunity to converse with her and get to know her and ask her out on a date. And now, Sustranna’s car is fully repaired and they are dating.
“I love you, Sustranna,” Orvel says.
“And I love you, Orvel,” Sustranna says.
Orvel is staring into Sustranna’s smiling pretty face, secretly amused that the lovely Sustranna will never know how much he’s suffered to get to this moment. He considers Sustranna’s love his reward for all that suffering.
Some time ago, Orvel met a beautiful woman named Sara Sentera. Upon meeting Sara, Orvel became very infatuated with her. To Orvel, Sara was the most beautiful woman in the universe.
Eventually, Orvel became romantically involved with Sara. Orvel was very happy during this time. Sara’s beauty made it easy for Orvel to overlook how self-engrossed Sara was. He was content with the idea that Sara was his soul mate, and that they would get married and be together forever.
Then one day, Sara ended their relationship. Some time later, she got married to another man. She now wants nothing to do with Orvel.
Orvel was devastated by Sara’s ending of their relationship. He wanted her back so badly.
Some time after losing Sara, Orvel learned some information about Sara that she’d never shared with him: that she is a nonuplet; that she has eight identical sisters; and that their names are Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia and Sustranna. Eight women who look exactly like Sara Sentera.
Upon learning of the existence of these eight women, Orvel thought: eight more chances to get her to love me back.
Orvel also learned that Sara and her eight identical sisters all hate each other and are all deeply estranged from each other.
Since beginning his quest for a Sentera sister to replace Sara, Orvel has had many, many dreams about the Sentera sisters. In these dreams, they laugh cruelly at him and tell him that he will never, ever win the love of any of them.
After beginning his Sentera sister quest, Orvel met and subsequently became romantically involved with Samantha Sentera. Then Samantha ended their relationship and got married to another man.
Then Orvel met and subsequently became romantically involved with Sabrina Sentera. Then Sabrina dumped Orvel and told him that she did not want to ever see him again. She later got married to another man.
Some time after being dumped by Sabrina, Orvel met and subsequently became romantically involved with Sandra Sentera. Then Sandra abandoned Orvel and got married to another man.
Around this time, Orvel thought: I’m running out of Sentera sisters. It was starting to seem like the existence of the Sentera sisters was some kind of cruel cosmic joke being played on him. It was starting to seem as if the Sentera sisters had each been genetically designed to be utterly incapable of falling in love with Orvel.
Some time after losing Sandra Sentera to another man, Orvel met and subsequently became romantically involved with Selena Sentera. They got engaged. Then she abandoned Orvel and got married to another man.
Some time later, Orvel found his way to Simona Sentera, and his pattern of failure continued with her.
And then later, his pattern of failure continued again, this time with Sonya Sentera.
And then later, his pattern of failure continued again, this time with Severia Sentera.
Sara and Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia: now all ex-lovers of Orvel who all want nothing to do with him anymore.
When Orvel met Sustranna Sentera after the staged car accident, he thought: my last chance.
Much to Orvel’s susrprise, Sustranna Sentera didn’t share some of the negative qualities that the other Sentera sisters have. Unlike her sisters, Sustranna isn’t self-engrossed, thoughtless, petty, shallow, cruel, flaky, or spiteful. Unfortunately for Orvel, just like her sisters, Sustranna does have very sharp teeth, but he considers that pain a small, painful price to pay for a lot of pleasure.
While laying in bed with Sustranna in her apartment, Orvel thinks about an incident that occurred yesterday when he and Sustranna were sitting at a table and having lunch in a restaurant. A handsome man came over to the table and began attempting to converse with Sustranna, clearly trying to charm her and steal her away from Orvel.
Orvel cringed. This had happened to him so many times before, with other Sentera sisters. He had lost so many other Sentera sisters this way. He expected Sustranna to be easily charmed by this other man. Orvel expected Sustranna to get up from the table, and leave the restaurant with the other man, and forget all about Orvel.
Instead, much to Orvel’s surprise and delight, Sustranna said to the other man: “Can you please go away? I’m trying to have lunch with my boyfriend.”
The other man walked away, rejected.
It was a miracle.
In Sustranna’s bedroom, Orvel turns to Sustranna and says: “Will you marry me, Sustranna?”
Without hesitation, Sustranna says: “Yes. Yes, I will marry you, Orvel. I knew you were my soul mate from the first moment that I saw you. It was fate that caused you to accidentally crash your car into mine. Let’s get married tomorrow.”
“Okay!” Orvel says, elated.
They kiss each other.
Orvel thinks: after tomorrow, she will be mine forever.
Suddenly, the phone in Sustranna’s bedroom starts ringing.
Sustranna answers the phone. “Hello?” she says, speaking into the phone. “Yes, this is Sustranna. … Oh no. … Oh, that’s so sad. … Okay. … Yes, of course I’ll be there. … Okay. Thank you for letting me know. Goodbye.”
Sustranna hangs up the phone.
“What’s wrong?” Orvel says.
“My aunt died,” Sustranna says.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Orvel says.
“It was her time,” Sustranna says. “She had a full life. The funeral is later this week. Orvel, can we postpone our wedding plans? It doesn’t seem right to get married at this somber time.”
“Sure, I understand,” Orvel says, trying to conceal his annoyance and frustration.
“I really dread having to attend her funeral,” Sustranna says.
“Why is that?” Orvel says.
“Because my sisters will be there,” Sustranna says.
“You have sisters?” Orvel says, acting like this is new information he is receiving.
“Yes,” Sustranna says. “I have eight identical sisters. They all look just like me.”
“Wow,” Orvel says, acting surprised.
“My sisters and I all hate each other,” Sustranna says. “We’re all deeply estranged from each other, and only see each other at family reunions and family funerals. I hate all my sisters so very, very much.”
“Wow,” Orvel says. “Nine identical sisters.”
“And there might even be a tenth one of us,” Sustranna says.
“What?!” Orvel says. “What do you mean?”
“My mother, a few days before she died of old age, told me that she had been keeping a secret from me and my sisters,” Sustranna says. “My mother told me that she gave birth to ten of us; that there was one additional identical daughter.”
“There’s a tenth Sentera sister?” Orvel says.
“That’s what my mother told me,” Sustranna says. “She said that right after me and my sisters were born, she gave the tenth daughter up for adoption. My mother said she had to do it, as she couldn’t afford to take care of more than nine children. My mother said she never saw the tenth daughter again or learned what became of her.”
“Wow,” Orvel says. “A secret Sentera sister.”
“Of course, she might not actually exist,” Sustranna says. “Toward the end of her life, my mother had become very deranged. She would sometimes tell people stories about her past that were completely fabricated, but that she insisted really happened. It became very difficult to know when she was telling the truth about something. It’s possible that the existence of the tenth daughter was all just a delusion in my mother’s mind.”
Orvel nods, taking in this information.
“So my aunt’s funeral is on Friday,” Sustranna says. “You’ll attend it with me, won’t you?”
Suddenly, Orvel freezes, realizing something: he can’t go to the funeral, as all the other Sentera sisters will be there. Sustranna’s sisters would be shocked to see Orvel there, with Sustranna. And after Sustranna’s sisters noticed each other’s equally shocked reactions to Orvel’s presence, they would realize that Orvel has been romantically obsessed with all of the Sentera sisters. And they would be creeped out by it. And they would quickly expose his obsession to Sustranna. And Sustranna would be creeped out by it too, and would want nothing more to do with Orvel.
“I…” Orvel says. “I’m sorry, Sustranna. I can’t attend the funeral.”
“What?!” Sustranna says. “Why not?”
“I…” Orvel says. “I can’t explain.”
“Orvel, you’re my fiancé now,” Sustranna says. “You’re supposed to support me. This funeral is going to be a stressful experience for me, and I expect you to be there with me to support me.”
“Okay,” Orvel says, knowing he can’t possibly oblige Sustranna’s request.
The next day, in the afternoon, while Orvel is in his apartment, he picks up his phone and, with great hesitation, places a call to Sustranna.
In her apartment, Sustranna answers her phone. “Hello?” she says.
“Hello, Sustranna,” Orvel says, trying to sound ill. “It’s Orvel. I don’t think I’ll be able to attend the funeral tomorrow. I’m feeling very sick. I think I’ve got a virus. I wouldn’t want to infect you.”
“You don’t sound sick at all!” Sustranna says. “You’re faking, aren’t you?”
“No!” Orvel says. “I-”
“Orvel, I’m very disappointed in you,” Sustranna says. “I thought you were a great guy. I thought you were my soul mate. But now I realize you’re a deceptive, unsupportive jerk. I’m cancelling our wedding plans and I’m ending our relationship. I hate you and I do not want to ever see you again.”
“Sustranna, wait, don’t do this!” Orvel says. “I love you!”
“Goodbye, Orvel,” Sustranna says. “Goodbye forever.”
Sustranna ends the phone call.
Orvel weeps for a very long time.
Later that day, Orvel is sitting at a table in a coffee shop, having coffee. This is the exact same spot he was in when he learned that Sara Sentera has eight identical sisters.
Now it’s over, Orvel thinks. Sara and Samantha and Sabrina and Sandra and Selena and Simona and Sonya and Severia and Sustranna. The Sentera sisters. All nine of them want nothing more to do with him. He wonders what will become of him now. He wonders what becomes of a man after he has been drained of all hope.
He thinks that, now, he has no choice but to move on with his life. And for a brief moment, that idea makes him feel optimistic.
But before he can fully contemplate that idea, he suddenly remembers the tenth Sentera sister that Sustranna told him about. The secret Sentera sister who may or may not really exist.
A single tear streams down Orvel’s face. Orvel thinks: if only Sustranna hadn’t mentioned that.
He gets up and quickly exits the coffee shop, beginning his search for the possibly nonexistent Sentera sister, who he probably will never be able to locate even if she is real.
Now Orvel is running. Frantically. Desperately. Pathetically. He has only one thought on his mind: MUST FIND HER. The Sentera sisters still have him in their clutches, knowingly or unknowingly, and forever. His quest for another Sentera sister has begun.