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I picked up my phone and woke it up for a few seconds.

Seeing that there weren’t any notifications, I put it down on the kitchen table, screen facing the wood grain, and slumped forward with a sigh.

As much as I wanted to grab it immediately and repeat what I just did, I knew it was pointless; Tinder matches, even when Valentine’s Day was approaching, were difficult to come by. Yet, that nagging feeling that someone in those five seconds where I wasn’t looking at my screen could have matched with me challenged me, daring me to see if I had gotten anything in that time.

In less than ten seconds, I grabbed my phone and was, once again, disappointed by the lack of a flame-shaped indicator. At least Rex, my family’s pitbull, stared me down as my lockscreen, providing some level of warmth to soften the blow of a lack of matches. I put it down, the screen once more facing away from me so I could concentrate on my cold leftovers, steak cut up into a small salad.

With every bite that I took of my bowl, though, the nagging feeling returned, like it wanted me to see once again if there was anyone who, two days from now, was going to be sitting across from me at a fancy restaurant (or at least a half-fancy one; it wouldn’t surprise me if all the fanciest restaurants in the area were already reserved to capacity) and imagine it, their smile, the conversation they’d have, literally anything that would take away from the feeling of loneliness that was crushing me.

It was enough that once half of my salad was done, I checked my phone and, seeing the exact same thing as the two times before, put it down so I could focus on my meal.

It had been only a few weeks ago where I had grown desperate enough to use Tinder, even if it was just for a date on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it had been the isolation of the pandemic finally getting to my head that urged me to go out and find people by any means necessary, or it was seeing all those couples on those Hallmark card and chocolate advertisements that made me want to indulge in a relationship, even if it was as fleeting and artificial as the ones in those ads.

I had tried to make my profile as best as I could, and with the nagging feeling that it wasn’t good enough, I grabbed my phone and turned it on. Although there wasn’t an icon, as I expected, I opened the app and went straight to my profile.

I examined my pictures, most of them snapshots that I took at my apartment. Some of them were of me posing, leaning up against a wall or sitting down with a leg crossed, each one of them looking down into the lens with a small, inviting smile. Those were nothing compared to the centerpiece of my profile, a picture that a friend took of me during a beach trip last summer, where I was in only a pair of swim trunks, angled in such a way where I could be seen looking at the waves. Complimenting those pictures was a bio which simply stated looking for a valentine’s day date.

I’m sure that everyone had a bio like that in their profile, though, and I wasn’t going to get a picture like the one from the beach anytime soon, and I didn’t know what anyone thought of the other pictures. Matches were enough of a rarity as they were, and those that weren’t immediately obvious as bots were even rarer. Not knowing how I could improve on it, I put my phone down and sighed, returning my attention to my food.

Had I known about how ridiculously competitive Tinder was around this time, maybe I would have gotten it a bit earlier. At least that way I wouldn’t end up burning through all of my daily swipes and feeling concerned about it so much. At least I’d be getting my profile out more, but would that have really changed the outcome of everything? I shrugged and grabbed my can of sparkling water, using it to clean my palate of the sweet, cloying taste of the vinegarette dressing. I eyed my phone for a few seconds, but I turned my attention to my food not long after. The food couldn’t wait, it was right there, and most importantly, it was guaranteed.

I finished my meal without much fanfare and put my dishes in the dishwasher. The time away from the phone, though, having focused on my food and dishes, once again had me at a point where my curiosity was piqued. I opened my phone once more to the sight of no matches, and I shook my head.

According to my friend, this app was supposed to work.

It didn’t stop me from opening it, though; I had thought that I had at least a few matches left, and the moment where I opened up the app and saw the first face, I wish I had.

Iva, 21

Iva was leaning on something outside, like the wooden railing of a cabin porch; it was impossible to tell what, exactly, because only her face, and a hand that rested against the top of the rail, were visible. She was Asian, that much I could tell. Her eyes were large, dark brown in color and framed with black half-glasses, and her lips were curled in a slightly shy smile, as if she had expected urfa escort the picture to be taken a few seconds later. Her hair was black, but it seemed slightly lighter than her rims and complimented her clear, light skin.

I swiped right and was immediately rejected; I had a few hours left to go before I could swipe again.

As if I wanted to tease myself further, I decided to check out the rest of her pictures, and grew even more frustrated at my lack of self-control. Particularly, there was a video which played which showed her on a beach towel in a white bikini, stretching her arms up and over her head like a cat. There, her skin was tanned, and she was showing herself off. She was very skinny, with a slight pinch of her waist, and fit; I couldn’t see the indentation of a six-pack, but her abs and long legs were both toned, possibly even firm to the touch. Her body was just as enchanting as her smile.

I instinctively swiped right again, only to be met with the same notice. I huffed and swiped again, thinking it would be different, but my hand slipped, and the image had been sent upward.

The star between the check and x shot out and twirled momentarily. Never had I been more grateful that I had my super like, even if it meant that I felt like an idiot. I had no idea if she would have wanted to see that I liked her.

I put my phone down and walked away from it, not wanting to think of the mayhem that just happened. All I could hope was that she matched, even if all the other super likes that I had sent were ultimately crapshoots.

Thankfully, there was no thought spiral that relaxing on the couch with a bit of GTA couldn’t fix, even if I just decided to spend all my time playing messing around with the cops and running away from them. It was mindless enough for me to forget about work–and now Iva–but also required just enough thought that my brain wasn’t turning into outright mush. It was the perfect kind of therapy for now, even if from time to time I caught myself looking over my shoulder and at my table, where my phone lay.

I didn’t even want to think about her for now, even if she had found a way to worm her way inside of my mind. It was the kind of feeling where I wanted to go and grab the phone and beg with it for us to match. Hell, I just wanted anyone to match, but if I had a choice, she would be the first one I’d choose. Even for an app that captured my attention as much as it did, she made it that much worse.

It didn’t take too long for my curiosity to reach the best of me, and I headed over once my car crashed into another police car and exploded. I was surprised by what I saw on my phone screen when I turned it on: a small flame-shaped icon. My eyes widened, and I clicked on them.

“You got a new match!”

Well, finally. I guess it took long enough for it to finally give me a match. Curious as to who it could possibly be, I opened my phone, which took me right to my new chat.

“You super liked Iva!”

My eyes widened as I stared down that all-too familiar smile, and I tapped it on instinct, opening up her profile. Scrolling through her pictures, they were all there: the bikini, the sundress, even a new video of her sitting with an orange cat in her lap, running her fingers between the cat’s ears. This was definitely Iva, alright.

Okay, deep breaths. Good? Good. I need to figure out a pick-up line now, and scrolling down a bit, I hoped her bio would give me a bit of help.

is someone going to take me out for valentines day

Well, if there was any possible opener, I guess it would have to do with the potential date, and now the one thing on my mind was figuring out the right opener, something which had personality. I closed the profile and returned to the chat, where she was still smiling, her wide, brown eyes as if they were staring deep into my soul.

My thumbs immediately went to work. how are you single for valentines day? was the first thing I typed up, but I immediately deleted it; it wouldn’t work for her. I wanted something with a bit more edge than that, something that would truly grab her attention, but the more I thought, the fewer answers I came up with. At least the first thing that came to mind was something I could send.

After a half-minute or so of thought, I tried again, emptying my mind and typing something in.

can i take you out for more than valentines day

I knew that it was counterintuitive to my bio, but I sent it anyway. It wasn’t like I was going to get anywhere if I mulled around, and with every passing second, Iva could have been getting other matches. It was something to put my foot in the door, and that’s what mattered above all else for me. I put my phone down and expected the conversation to die right then and there, like it had with about half of the matches I got on that stupid app.

Before I could hit the power button, though, I saw my message rise; Iva was typing urfa escort bayan something out, and I immediately picked up my phone. I could feel my pulse hammering in my chest; whether it was a rejection or not, I cared little. She was actually replying, which was two messages more than I expected from her.

Her message, though, quelled all thoughts immediately.

maybe we can start with valentines day first haha

I took a deep breath. I was almost thankful that she couldn’t see me right there, trying my best not to explode in celebration then and there even if I knew that I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Thus, my thumbs went back to work, thinking up a suitable reply for her.

would dinner and maybe a movie help me out there?

She started replying almost immediately.

depends on where we go

Her message was immediately followed up by another one.

hint: don’t take me out for sushi

I took another deep breath and put my phone down, letting the wave of relief crash through me. I took the hint, realizing only then that she would have matched with me anyway if it wasn’t for the super like. My thumbs once more went to work once I picked my phone up again.

does a steakhouse sound good?

Perhaps I should have been looking for places which weren’t filled with reservations while I was talking with her so I couldn’t make a false promise, but I was too ahead of myself. The sheer fact that Iva was texting me, even if it were out of desperation for a date, filled me with confidence.

sounds good!

I punched the air with my free hand, the confidence turning into something near triumph. It felt like there needed to be some level of caveat to this, and not before long, she sent another message.

but first, i wanna get to know you better. what’s up?

From there, my thumbs moved much more naturally, typing up a storm. The most surmountable obstacle of our conversation behind us, being more familiar with her felt much easier. I told her about my job and my apartment, and about how the pandemic had left me working from home and even interrupted my final year of college.

Getting to know more about Iva, too, turned out to be interesting.

A chemical engineering student at the university, Iva had shown interest in renewable energy and fuels, and was planning her thesis to be about a kind of jet fuel that would emit about a quarter of normal emissions and drastically shrink the climate footprint of the air travel sector. Even if I didn’t quite understand everything that she said–much like how I had to explain a few things about my line of work to her–she made it seem interesting and simple. She was an only child and from the other side of the country, where her parents had told her that this university was the lowest-quality that they would allow. She also made sure to tell me that she came here mainly because she liked the faculty most, and not because she was an underachiever.

I silently thanked those chemical engineering wizards at the university for being good enough to catch Iva’s attention.

After the introductions were done, the conversation flowed. Random questions, discussions about things we both ended up watching on Netflix, the occasional teasing comment about how cute she looked and her liking the comment. It was almost hilarious that at one point I was concerned, choking on my own tongue about what words to send. Perhaps not being able to see her and her reactions helped, even if a blushing emoji here and there helped paint a good picture.

And then, out of what felt like nowhere, she sent this message.

whats your snap btw

Jackpot.

I sent her my Snapchat handle and not that much later, she sent me a request to add her there. I clicked it and added her there, where the conversation would have continued seamlessly. The screen lit up again, and I read the notification adorned with a Snapchat icon.

Iva Nakano, and beside it, a red square.

I clicked it and was treated to a picture of her face, cheeks slightly red, lips curled in a bright smile, and most curiously, her glasses off. She looked just as cute with her glasses as she did without them, and her gaze once more felt like it was peering into my soul. Intimidated wasn’t the right word, but it was a reminder that Iva was incredibly cute, even if she just sent a selfie.

She even captioned it: hi 🙂

I responded the same way, giving her a selfie and captioning it with a quick hello, something to let her know that I both saw and appreciated the picture. She opened the picture and replied with text not much later.

cuteeee

After the skipping of a heartbeat and thanking her, I found a second seam: the time. I didn’t even realize that it was 11:30 and that we spent the last three hours talking to each other until I pointed it out.

sorry, iva, but i have work tomorrow and i need to go to bed

Iva replied escort urfa immediately.

🙁

i understand tho, i should probably head to bed myself. got a morning class. ttyl?

I replied as if it were second nature.

ttyl. see you on the 14th?

I don’t know why I typed that second part out, and I was too tired to be nervous about it. I kinda knew that it’d be pointless to worry about it, and she reassured me with her final message.

definitely. good night!

Just to make sure, after I sent my last goodnight to her, I opened up the app so I could delete my bio. I could replace it with something interesting later. And, for curiosity’s sake, I looked at Iva’s profile.

Her bio was also empty.

**

I was lucky enough to find a place that had an open reservation. Even if it took a few tries, with most of the most upscale locations being, as I expected, completely occupied, I had been able to find one which, after scanning its menu and different sites for reviews, the perfect place to take her for a first date.

At least, that’s what I had hoped, and considering that there was only one table for two left, I was reassured I didn’t ruin the date before it even started.

But, just to make sure of that, I called them anyway, darting my eyes at the clock; I had about an hour before the date actually began. I had been pacing around my room for most of the day, picking out the best clothes I could and making sure that everything was according to plan. I brought my phone to my ear.

“Hello! You’ve reached the Blue Hill Grill. How can we help you?”

“Hi, I’m here to confirm a reservation that I have at 6:30.”

“Under what name?”

I gave them my name.

“Oh, let me check…”

I drummed my fingers against my desk and darted my gaze to my outfit for the night, lying on my bed: a light green dress shirt and a pair of black slacks, something basic but with some level of personality to it especially when complimented with the bright red clip-on bow tie that lay on top.

“Yes, we have your reservation. We will see you in an hour.”

I hung up the phone and put it down, taking a deep breath. I needed to keep reminding myself about it, because as nice as Iva was, it was still a first date. I had made it this far, and I should be worrying in a tee shirt and some underwear. I just needed to stay calm.

Before I could take a single step towards my bed, though, my phone lit up with a notification from Snapchat. I grabbed my phone and pulled it towards my face, seeing the small blue mark next to the phrase “Iva sent a chat.” I immediately swiped it open.

you’re meeting me at my place, right?

I immediately started typing.

yes

give me 30 minutes. brb

I put my phone down and returned my attention to my clothes, walking away from all of that and getting into my outfit. It didn’t take too long to slip on my shirt and pants, and once I put on socks and shoes, I returned my attention to my phone, but not before giving myself one final look-over in the mirror.

‘You got this,’ I reassured myself. ‘You made it this far, and Iva seems really nice. Besides, it’s only a one-day thing.’

As much as I wanted to put the cart before the horse, that little nagging suspicion was right. I shouldn’t be thinking that much further ahead with her until we actually got together. It was a first step, a first date: nothing more. If more came from it, great; if not, too bad for me, there will be another chance someday.

I grabbed my phone and saw that Iva had already replied, the notification lighting up my home screen. Opening the app, I was curious as to what she had to say.

The little square was red.

It felt like my phone was burning my hand. I dropped it and only squatted down afterwards to make sure that I didn’t break the screen and I didn’t open the picture by accident. Thankfully, I didn’t do either; the red square right next to her bitmoji, which did a decent job at emulating her looks, was still there. My heart was hammering, though; not that it wouldn’t have when I came and saw her anyways, so I might as well open it and see how she looked.

She looked, in one word, breathtaking.

It was a mirror shot, using her phone to hide her face as she showed off the little black dress she was wearing, contrasting dangerously against her skin. It came down to her mid-calves, but there was a slit on her right side that went up to her mid thigh, showing off her leg as she kicked it out to the side, and the sheer hosiery that covered it. Although that was the main part that left nothing to the imagination, the dress hugged her curves quite tightly, showcasing her petite, toned frame. She was standing in what I could only imagine was her bedroom, given the bed and the desk caught in the reflection. Not even the caption could pull me away from looking at her, and the words only rested in my peripherals.

ready when u are

I was ready. I put the phone down on my desk and only then did I realize how much my hands were trembling. Might as well get all those nerves coursing through me out now, even if I was already dressed in everything except the bow tie. After a ten-second detour to clip it on, I was ready now.

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