Susie Adams was a short girl with a fair bit more than she’d like around the middle, although at age fourteen she still lived in hope that her growth spurt was coming on any day now. She also had a particularly nasty case of asthma that caused her to miss school days and left her with too much time on her hands.
It took her six months to hack into Valentine Inc., the world’s premier dating site. As Valentine Inc. had gradually taken over as almost the only means of dating, many people had tried to game the system, but Susie had two advantages over the multitude: a brilliant brain that spent too much time cooped up, and a father who worked for the company and kept his password taped underneath his desk.
Susie planned to set herself up as the perfect match for Dylan Colin: school quarterback, honors student, and dark-eyed Latino senior. It was true that Dylan had brushed aside her clumsy attempts at flirtation and the last time he and his friends had passed her in the hallway they’d all started spontaneously laughing, but Susie remained convinced that he was the smartest boy in the school and she was the smartest girl and they were made for each other.
Susie’s plan screeched to a halt when she was unable to crack the security for underage profiles. Loath to just leave, she flicked through the profiles of unmatched adults in her city, mischief in mind.
She found two college students, both passionate baseball fans, science-fiction readers, and majoring in chemistry. Susie activated a match between them.
Her next couple was a man who looked sort of like Han Solo in the original trilogy but a decade younger, and a woman who looked sort of like Princess Leia but a decade older. Susie felt confident it was true love.
She passed the profile of a fifty-year-old man seeking only women aged twenty and younger. Vaguely indignant on behalf of her gender, Susie matched him with the first woman she spotted who was ten years older than him.
When she found the profile of a chubby balding publishing house owner who exclusively sought athletic women, Susie’s sympathies swung in the other direction since she’d been mocked for her weight in the past, and she matched him with a gorgeous blond English PhD student.
Next, Susie clicked rapidly through profiles, looking for a woman who looked like herself. She finally found someone of roughly the right hair color and facial structure, and paired her with a former football player and Spanish professor with smoldering dark eyes.
Susie abandoned her project when her mother called her down for dinner.
That very evening, beyond Susie’s sight or knowledge, the matches began exchanging emails.
The two chemistry majors were both astonished to see that they have been paired with each other, as they were ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend. However, if Valentine Inc. said so…
The Han Solo and Princess Leia look-alikes met in a coffee shop, but once small talk ran out, they discovered that they had nothing in common, and stared at each other awkwardly.
The fifty-year-old rejected his match based on her picture, and sent her a scathing email about what a hideous bag of bones she was that reduced the poor woman to tears.
The publishing house owner met the English PhD student for lunch, but declared that his type was redheads, not blondes. He then proceeded to lambast her choice of a major, mocking English as a worthless degree, and made it clear to her that she had better be able to pay for lunch. The English student wolfed down her sandwich so fast it gave her a stomach ache, threw her money on the table, and fled.
The woman meeting the Spanish professor wrinkled her nose in disdain upon hearing his accent, and the date went downhill from there. She checked her phone repeatedly during the date, criticized his shirt, flirted with the waiter, and finally made an offensive joke about Mexicans that had the professor storming out of the restaurant.
Valentine Inc.’s security system discovered Susie’s intrusion within twenty hours, but not fast enough to stop the dates from occurring.
The ex-boyfriend and girlfriend simultaneously received apologetic emails telling them that their match had been made in error. They both looked at their smartphones, shrugged, and then went back to making out.
By sheer coincidence, the Han Solo look alike and the English PhD student stood next to each other at the bus stop coming back from their disastrous dates, and the Princess Leia look alike and the Spanish professor fell to talking at the gas station where they were filling up their cars. Han Solo and the English PhD student were both reading the same book, which led them to start a conversation about their mutual passion for Edgar Allan Poe, and then exchange phone numbers. Princess Leia and the Spanish professor had differing beliefs on the most likely winner for the next Superbowl, and arranged a dinner date in their eagerness to convert the other.
The sixty-year-old woman was given several free matches from Valentine Inc. as an apology for her bad experience, and within eight months she was engaged to a Canadian hotelier and widower who adored her.
The remaining three all continued to have trouble finding anyone who would meet their exacting standards.
Valentine Inc. never did uncover what had caused the error, but Susie’s father noticed that someone else had used his login. But Susie had a particularly bad asthma attack and he couldn’t bring himself to do anything but delete her dating profile.
Susie, who had faked the attack, despaired over her lost match with the profile-conscious Dylan Colin. However, a month later, Jake Callahan won the state robotics championship, and Susie realized that he was the real smartest boy in school. She contrived a plan to impress him by doubling the robotics’ club budget via a school-wide pyramid scheme.
Katherine Toran is an economics PhD student at the University of Kentucky. She has coauthored eight nonfiction research papers, and writes fiction as a relief from the endless math jargon. Her fiction has been published in Short Fiction Break.