That year, thousands entered the lottery for only a handful of husbands. Of that handful, very few could remember what had happened after they had departed. One husband could only recall a smell: the stogie-scented leather of his father’s Lincoln. Another had been stranded in an endless bed of his ex-wife’s daffodils, and whenever he yanked a flower, two more plants unfurled in its place. Was it heaven through which they had passed, or some flavorless form of limbo? There was no one to ask, and gradually the question lost its novelty, eclipsed by the more pressing question of who among the living would land a ghost husband.
After Gina was notified over the phone that she had made it to Round Two, she filled out an online application whose seven personal essays and thirty short answers seemed a test of resolve more than anything else. She also taped the requisite Bio Video, doing the sorts of things that would set her apart from other grieving widows, like somersaulting on her backyard trampoline and baking a kahlua bundt cake dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
In a more serious segment, Gina placed the camera on the kitchen counter and laid out the basics of her life. Her husband had died in a bicycling accident last year. She was a stylist at Swift Clips, but without Jeremy’s salary, she was having trouble meeting her mortgage payments. The bank guy had pitied her for a limited time and cut down her payments, but now, with the imminent rockslide of back taxes and late fees, her house, their house, would soon slip through her fingers.
Gina had to rewind and re-record the segment several times because she couldn’t leak a single tear. Never when she needed it. At one point she got up, diced an onion, and when her eyes were properly bleary, she taped the winning take.
Three months later, the matchmaker came to Gina’s house for what was termed The Final Round.