June 22nd: The future of dating
A Perfect Match
, by Dan Evon

“It wasn’t arranged,” she said. “It was more… predetermined.”

She was sitting at a small table with a man whom she had never met. There was a cup of coffee sitting in front of her but she wasn’t interested in drinking it. She just mindlessly stirred a spoon around its edge as she chewed on a thought that had been lodged in her teeth since she had received the message.

“Your match has been found,” it read. And then there was his photo.

He was handsome, young, had an athletic build and good teeth. He had an IQ of 124, was a good cook, and liked to read poetry. He had completed a marathon last July, he finished just 22 minutes behind the winner, and on the weekends he volunteered at a community bike shop.

The message was full of other interesting factoids and when she had finished reading, about three minutes after noticing the blinking light in the corner of her eye, she knew everything there was to know about him. Everything she was allowed to know about him.

She didn’t know why they bothered with the biographies at all. It didn’t matter. Maybe it made it easier for people to do what they had to do next. Maybe it was just a leftover artifact from the previous system. Maybe it wasn’t even true. She was chewing this over when she realized that he was still sitting at the table with her.

“Predetermined?” he asked.

“Yes, sorry. It was different then,” she said. “You’ve probably heard stories, right? Of how all this started? We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into back then. We thought it would make things easier or better or something. I feel stupid thinking about it now. They developed these little chips, kind of like the ones we have today but these weren’t stitched into our skin. They were in our phones, and computers, and glasses… At the time they told us that they were making it easier for us to connect. Making us more social. And it was really amazing at first. You could find out everything you wanted to know about a person with just a few clicks. What they liked. What they disliked. What type of person they were looking for. If you were that type of person. They could even tell you if there was a match within a mile radius of wherever you were.”

He nodded and smiled like he had been trained to do. He made the right noises at the right moments but he wasn’t listening to her story. He didn’t have to. It was all in her biography.

She had been married once before. She was 17 when she got married and 17 and a half when she got divorced. It was one of the last divorces ever recorded in the United States and it was one of the driving arguments behind the Practical Reproduction Movement.

“We’ve tried to guide them,” they argued. “We’ve given them all the tools. We’ve given them all of the information. But they still make the wrong decisions.”

She placed the spoon down on the table and took a sip of her coffee. It was bitter and cold and reminded her of something she hadn’t thought about in a long time.

“When I met my husband,” she said. “We were sitting in a coffee shop like this. He told me my story and I told him his and we laughed because we already knew everything there was to know about each other. Everything, I mean everything lined up. Our intellect. Our sense of humor. Our aspirations. Our backgrounds. You couldn’t have designed a better couple. So when he asked for me to marry him I threw on my dress and ran down the aisle as fast as I could.”

She waited for him to say something but he wasn’t paying attention. There was a pretty waitress walking around with a pot of coffee and he was doing his best not to burn his tongue before the waitress got to the table.

It made her smile to see real desire in the eyes of someone his age. They had done their best to phase that out and with every generation the need for desire was diminished. They couldn’t kill it completely, of course, but they could trick the population to believe that it wasn’t necessary. Desire was replaced with computed logic and since that was easier anyway no one ever really complained.

He tapped his fingers nervously against his cup as the waitress approached and when the waitress left he watched her dress bump softly against her thighs. His eyes got big and his lips got wet and the woman at the table leaned in and quietly whispered: “She’s pretty. Why don’t you talk to her?”

He laughed and shook his head.

“Her mother has cancer,” he said. “Her mother’s mother had cancer and in about three years she’ll have it too. So no. I think I’ll pass. Besides, aren’t you my match?”

“Yes,” she said. “But only on paper.”

***

They were naked, lying in bed when she started thinking about her ex-husband again. It made her smile, then laugh, and when she chortled he sat up and asked what was so funny.

“Sex,” she said. “You studied for it, didn’t you?”

“Orgasms increase the chances of fertility,” he said. “So yes. I studied. Do you think it worked?”

She knew it did. It was the reason why they picked him. It was the reason why they picked now. His sperm count was through the roof and her body was a willing and ready recipient. She wouldn’t know for sure for a few days but the system hardly ever failed. It was designed to remove all of the guesswork, all of the uncertainty, and all of the thrill from pregnancy.

“I don’t know,” she said. “Do you want it to work? I mean… Do you want to be a father?”

He nestled back into the big pillow at the head of the bed and stared up at the ceiling. She could see the thoughts running across his face as he tried to search for an answer. But he didn’t know how to approach it. The question didn’t make any sense to him.

Did he want to be a father? Did he want anything?

“Everyone wants a child,” he said. “We’ve been chosen to do this. It’s an honor, don’t you think? Some people never get the opportunity.”

“Like the waitress?”

“Yes,” he said. “Like the waitress. She’ll never find her match. She’ll never have a baby. But I don’t feel bad for her. Some people just weren’t built for love.”

“Doesn’t that make you sad?”

“Why?” he said. “I wasn’t built to be a teacher or a construction worker or a politician but I’m not upset about that. We all have our roles and responsibilities.”

He stood up and walked to the other side of the room where a pack of cigarettes was resting on the windowsill. He lit one then motioned to the woman in his bed to come and join.

“You were telling me about your husband,” he said, blowing a small grey cloud out the window. “About how dating used to be. About choice and love and freedom. You talk about that like it is such a good thing but I’ve read your report. I know how things turned out for you. Just like it did for millions and millions of people before the system was implemented. With heartbreak and loss and depression. Why would you want to go back to that?”

She sat down on the windowsill next to him and took the cigarette between her fingers. She felt dirty holding it and quickly brought it her lips as if she was afraid that an army would burst through the door and confiscate it.

“I didn’t know you smoked,” she said. “It wasn’t in the report.”

***

The child was born nine months to the day after that night. The doctors said that it came out singing. They said that it was beautiful. They said it was perfectly healthy and happy. The doctors said a lot of things and she believed every word that they said. She had to. She wouldn’t see the child for a few years and it was better to think that everything had gone exactly the way it had been designed to.

She was sitting in a wheelchair in the sterile hall of the hospital. One of the doctors was standing beside her and talking about the beauty of life and how she had given a tremendous gift to the world.

“Not everyone gets the chance to give birth,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor.”

“Can you tell me if it was a boy or a girl?” she asked.

“It was exactly what it was supposed to be,” he said.

He pushed her down the hallway and out the big glass doors at the front of the hospital. He told her that she did a fantastic job and that the government was thankful for her service.

She feigned a smile, stood up, and asked if the doctor knew what the child would become.

“It’s too early to tell,” he said. “But we have bright hopes for this one. Its parents were near perfect specimens.”

***

She was sitting at a small table with a man whom she had met nine months before. There was a cup of coffee sitting in front of her but she wasn’t interested in drinking it. She just mindlessly stirred a spoon around its edge as she chewed on a thought that had been lodged in her teeth since she had received the message.

“I’d like to see you,” it read. And then there was a photo of him.

It was good to see his face. The last time she had seen it it was smoking a cigarette and talking about heartbreak and loss and depression. He had never felt any of those things and she had told him that he didn’t know what he was missing.

“You shouldn’t marry me,” she had told him. “You don’t want to. You don’t know it yet but you don’t. You’ll realize that one day and it will be too late.”

But he didn’t believe her. He had found his match and that’s all he needed to know.

“But you didn’t find anything,” she had told him. “They found it for you.”

They didn’t talk much after that. An alarm went off and they crawled into bed to make a child. When it was over she got dressed and told him that she would call him in the morning. But she never did. She disappeared for nine months and when she finally returned his call she told him that he was a father.

“Thank you for coming,” he said. “Everything went OK?”

“Just like it was designed to.”

“And the child?” he asked. “Healthy? Boy? Girl?”

“They didn’t say much,” she said. “Just thanked me and sent me home. We’ll find out soon, I suppose. Few years. Whenever he’s ready to come home.”

“And what then?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“The child should have two parents.”

She placed the spoon down on the table and took a sip of her coffee. It was bitter and cold and reminded her of something she hadn’t thought about in a long time.

“You don’t want to marry me,” she said. “You don’t even know what want is.”

He started to respond but the words got stuck in his throat when he noticed the waitress walking toward their table. She was wearing a blouse and jeans and when she leaned in close enough to replenish the cups with coffee he smelled a hint of coconut and lavender radiating from her smooth skin. The smell made him smile. It made him sweat. He tapped his fingers nervously on the table and tried to think of something to say.

“Thank you,” was all he could manage, and he watched the waitress as she made her way from table to table across the restaurant.

“Maybe you do,” she said. “You just don’t know it.”

*

Mr. Evon has been a professional writer for the last seven years but still hasn’t figured out how to write a good short bio. He’s from Chicago, went to school in New Orleans, and is currently drinking (no matter what time you’re reading this) a cup of coffee. He’s also the author of the Flash Fiction Daily.


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2 responses to “June 22nd: The future of dating
A Perfect Match
, by Dan Evon”

  1. Bob Brooks says:

    Story captures the sterility of dating without the emotional component. Even your protagonists reactions to the system seem muted, distant, and hopeless. Nice job.

  2. B Gizeh says:

    ❤ – that’s my ‘heart this story’


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