Come one, come all, and find your soul mate using our multimillion dollar algorithm! We compare your qualities against every person on the planet, and we find the most suitable person for you! We have a 100% success rate!

            Yeah right.

            Chris felt like he was slouching into his chair further and further as the wait wore on. The receptionist had been calling out names, but as the room emptied around him, he feared the worst. Nobody was his soul mate. STATMATCH had run his name through their computer, and not a person had come up.

            This was understandable. Chris was large, boring, and grumpy. Everywhere that he went, people avoided him. A combination of unpleasant facial features and unpleasant stenches warded everybody in the opposite direction when he walked into a room. While waiting here in the lobby, Chris had seen a number of other unpleasant looking people, but none of them could possibly top him.

            “Christopher Markets!” the receptionist called out.

            It wasn’t until after Chris had stood up that he realized how much his legs were shaking. He tried to pinch his shoulders together, hiding the sweat stains that had formed under his arms in his nervousness. Holding his breath, Chris shuffled into the office across the room.

            Two men in tuxedos were sitting behind the desk. There was a computer in front of them, a surprisingly small computer. One of the men looked nervous, but the other spread his arms wide with a smile. “Welcome to STATMATCH.” His unflinching grin showed that he was used to dealing with unattractive people.

            The other man looked up at Chris. His lips were pursed, and he seemed concerned. He didn’t say anything, and he kept glancing at the computer screen.

            “So,” Chris started. His voice sounded weak from stress. He had been waiting too long for this moment. “You found a match?”

            The grinning man stepped around the desk. “Call me Miles,” he said, extending a hand.

            In his nervousness, Chris took the hand and shook it like a floppy sausage. Still the man’s smile was unbroken.

            The other man merely looked up from the screen and blandly stated, “I’m Johnson.”

            Chris wasn’t sure if he should wave to him or not, so he didn’t.

           Miles moved back to the desk, scratching the scruff under his chin. “There was something of an odd circumstance here…” Miles told him cautiously.

            Chris felt like he was sinking into the floor. “Odd?”

            Johnson leaned back in his chair, staring up at the ceiling. “An odd circumstance can mean a lot of things at STATMATCH. Often it’s something inconvenient, like a match being found on the opposite side of the planet. That one comes up all the time. One time we had a match who turned out to be on his deathbed. But this problem… This is a new one.”

            Clenching his fists, Chris waited for him to go on. He knew that something like this would happen. But… they had said that they’d found somebody. That was better than no one.

            Johnson lifted a hand and rotated the computer monitor around. “Here is your match. Samantha Oliver.”

            And she was beautiful. Not beautiful in the way that a model is, or a movie star. She was beautiful in that she was so normal, so human. It was all that Chris could have asked for. A small smile. Calm, brown eyes. Just a touch of asymmetry. The most ordinary, believable person that Chris had ever seen. How could such a person be his match?

            With a dry throat, he asked, “What is the problem, exactly?” He couldn’t take his eyes off of her.

            “STATMATCH always finds a match,” Miles told him calmly. “And just to be sure that the match is perfect, we do a backwards check.”

            “Backwards check,” Chris echoed stupidly. The words meant nothing to him.

            Miles crossed his arms. “We ran Samantha Oliver through our algorithm, and she had a match. But the match was not you.”

            “Who?” Chris asked, before he had even managed to process what was being said to him.

            “A man named David Larson,” Johnson spoke up.

            “Now this is very unusual,” Miles went on hurriedly. “At STATMATCH, we always boast of out 100% success rate. But this is a first. Two people are always most compatible with each other. We don’t know what to do about this.”

            Chris clenched his fists so tightly that he could feel his hands shaking. “Where can I find her?”

           “Samantha?” Miles leaned forward. Hesitantly, he glanced at the computer screen. “She’s in New York. I can give you an address and phone number, if you’d like.”

            He had been waiting outside of the coffee shop for twenty minutes when he saw her for the first time. The human way that she walked, the ordinary way that she gave him that awkward smile, the simplicity of her movement as she took a seat across from him.

            “You’re Chris?” she asked. The awkward smile didn’t leave her face.

            “And you’re Samantha,” Chris nodded.

            She nodded back to him, very slowly. “Explain to me again who you are.”

            “I went to STATMATCH a few days ago. They matched me to you.” He couldn’t mention that other man, that David Larson. If everything went according to plan, she would never even find out that he existed.

            “STATMATCH,” Samantha frowned. “I had a friend who went to them. I haven’t seen her since.”

            “I’m sure that your friend is happy,” Chris told her. “They have a 100% success rate.”

            “I don’t care about the success rate,” Samantha said adamantly. She was still frowning, and as much as the frown hurt, Chris could see the beauty even in her sadness. “I can’t be with you, Chris.”

            He felt clammy. He felt nervous, he felt winded, he felt nauseous, and he felt like he was never going to see her after this conversation. “Why is that?” he asked her. It sounded like begging the way that he had said it.

            It took Samantha a moment to speak. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know anything about you.”

            “It doesn’t matter that you don’t know me. The statistics say—”

            “Statistics!” Samantha cut him off. “I don’t care about statistics! I don’t want to be with somebody because a computer tells me to!”

            She used that word a lot. “Don’t”. It stung every time. “But STATMATCH thinks that you’ll be happiest with me,” he lied. “Our personalities are compatible. More than anybody else on the whole planet.”

            Abruptly, Samantha stood up. “I can’t be with you. I’m sorry.”

            It wasn’t until she had turned to walk away that Chris noticed her wedding ring.


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