The stack of envelopes nested within a small wicker basket on her little secretary desk. A combination of men’s colognes wafted from the pile. The producers had done a nice job of positioning them next to a pile of pink paper, envelopes and glitter pens. Michelle knew she had access to a laptop as well, but this little setup was prettier for television.
Michelle had been told to sit at the desk, glance through the stack but read the top letter first. They said it would look suspicious to the audience if she flipped through the stack to find any specific man’s letter. It would give away too many details about her feelings.
After her romantic date with Victor she didn’t care what all these other guys thought, or so she told herself. The top letter was from Mason.
Dear Michelle, I woke up this morning with a headache. That probably doesn’t surprise you. Why didn’t someone stop me from drinking so much? What an idiot I am! I never drink, hardly at all. That really wasn’t like me. I totally blew my opportunity to get to know you. I hope you’ll forgive me and keep me around for a few more days. I’d like to make it up to you. Please. Sincerely, Mason.
How sweet. He seemed sincere. Maybe that was a one-time thing. He was funny and handsome and worth getting to know better. Besides Michelle had been told to keep at least fifteen of the guys the first week. She decided to wait to write back to the guys until she read all nineteen letters.
Michelle started two piles: ‘keep’ and ‘send home’. She put Mason’s in the ‘keep’ pile and tore into the next envelope. Some guy named Steve. Did I meet a Steve? Apparently, he hadn’t been very memorable.
Dear Michelle, you looked so beautiful last night. I’m excited to get to know you. You’re everything I want in a woman and I want you to know that I’m here for the right reasons. I hope you’ll keep me another week. -Steve
Michelle couldn’t picture which guy was Steve, where he was from, what he did for a living, or the answers to any of his questions. “Here for the right reasons.” What does that even mean? What are the ‘right’ reasons? How could he possibly know if she is what he wants in a woman if they didn’t have any sort of connection.
Michelle understood what Rachel had meant about her knowing the difference between the guys who were sincere and the ones who were saying what they thought she wanted to hear. She put Steve’s letter in the ‘send home’ pile and moved on. Andy.
Hey Michelle, I had a lot of fun with your game last night. All these guys are great. It was nice to get to know everyone at once. Hey, I’m sorry about what Ashton did. I had no idea what he was talking about so I did some research about what a Mormon is. It’s your religion. That’s really cool. I live a pretty secluded life out here in God’s country, so I’d never given religion a second thought. The Church of Christ building is in the center of town and on Sunday mornings everyone dusts off their boots and heads to church. I’m curious to get to know more about what you believe. I look forward to hanging out with you. You seem like a really cool girl. Thanks, Andy
Ah, definitely a keeper! Michelle’s heart warmed at Andy’s kind words. She looked forward to hanging out with him, too. Next on the stack was Brock.
Michelle, Michelle, Michelle, I wanted to smack Ashton for what he did. He took you away from us just when we were finally breaking through your shell. I hope to get a chance to keep peeling back the layers of complexity behind your adorable facade. By the way, I hope you’ll keep Ashton around. He really does feel sorry for the way he treated you and he’s really fun to hang out with. I want to show you some games. I didn’t mean to seem defensive when the guys jumped all over me about my chosen career. I’ve actually got a master’s degree in computer programming with a focus on video game design. It really is quite a lucrative career. I promise, if we wound up married someday we wouldn’t be living in my parents’ basement! See ya tomorrow, Brock
Definitely a keeper! Michelle really liked Brock and the producers had already started looking for an opportunity to play some video games. She was excited about that. Next letter, Casey.
Michelle, what luck! How could we have gotten so lucky to come all the way to LA just to meet. We’ve probably bumped into each other at Starbucks or something from time to time and didn’t even know it. You asked me about my work but I forgot to ask you about yours. I want to know all about you. What hospital do you work at? Or doctor’s office, or nursing home or whatever? Can’t wait to talk more. -Casey
Can’t wait to talk more with you also, Casey. This was getting fun. When she first met the guys and they’d all had glasses of alcohol she questioned the sanity of the show’s producers. Apparently they didn’t do their research about her religion. Alcohol was not on the list of approved beverages. She wanted a man she could have a connection with and that required sobriety. Once she got to know the guys better, she really liked their personalities. Most of them anyway. Maybe this experience wouldn’t be a total waste of time after all. Next letter.
Michelle’s breath caught. Ashton. Her heart raced as she ran her finger over the writing on the outside of the envelope. What would he say?
She set the envelope on the desk in front of her but didn’t open it. What could he possibly say to make up for the way he treated her? She stared at the envelope for several minutes, mind blank, hands shaking. Finally she tucked Ashton’s letter to the bottom of the pile and opened the next one.
Michelle, we didn’t really get a chance to talk much last night so I hope you’ll keep me around a few more days. Have you ever been to New York City? I’d love the chance to show you where I live and work. I love to travel so I’ve been to Denver a few times. It’s beautiful there. I want to hear more about your career as a nurse, and I’d like to learn more about your religion. It sounds like it’s something that’s really important to you and that means it’s important to me. Anyway, I look forward to getting to know you. -Kimball
Michelle decided to give Kimball a chance. It wasn’t his fault they hadn’t gotten much time together. Stupid Ashton. She reached for the next letter, and the next, and the next. Nothing too memorable. In the end it was a tossup. She was supposed to eliminate five men this week. She easily could have gotten rid of ten or more, but she started writing letters back to the best of the worst, simple “Looking forward to getting to know you, also.”
She never got out the laptop. The delicate, pink paper was there and she didn’t really have anything else to fill her time, so why not handwrite the letters. They’d all taken the time to handwrite a letter to her. They at least deserved her response.
Ashton’s letter remained in the basket until she was done writing responses to everyone else. Michelle set down her pen and stood from the little desk. Might as well stretch my legs for a minute. She paced back and forth, staring at the little basket.
I need to use the bathroom. Probably should get my nightgown on. Maybe I’ll take a shower. I’m dusty from being out at the ball field all day. Hey! A bubble bath! I haven’t had a bubble bath in forever.
She took her time brushing her teeth and combing her hair and staring at herself in the mirror. Finally she didn’t have any other excuses. She had to read Ashton’s letter.