It was the fifteenth date she had gone on in the past six months, still with no luck. She felt, then, that she could not be blamed for being less than enthusiastic in preparing for this one, a fact that did not escape Joey’s notice. (Nothing ever escaped his notice anyway, and she had their almost two decades of friendship to thank for that.)
“How do you expect to win this guy over, with you looking like that?” he said with his usual tact when he opened the door.
“What are you talking about? I always look perfect.” She pushed past him into his apartment, and started looking through his things.
“Not with that expression, you don’t.” He grinned. “You look like you’re going to an execution, not a date. And what’s up with the bushy eyebrows, miss?”
“Let him deal with the eyebrows.” She did not look up from her search. “If we’re really 85% genetically compatible, then he’ll like me for whatever I look like.”
“Then you should have liked your last date, bad taste in shoes and all,” Joey put in. “Since that one was 95% compatible with you.”
“I know,” she groaned. “That’s how it should have been, right? I mean, seriously, I really don’t know why the compatibility matching always seems to fail for me, when all those companies report a 99.8% or more success rate. They said even attraction should follow your genes. Oh, really? And supposedly there’s nothing wrong with their tests, or my genes. But I still don’t like the guys they keep matching me with.”
“You’re just plain picky, Em, admit it.” He rested his elbows on the table and looked at her, that infuriating smile still on his lips. “You should just trust their matches. At least none of your children would have any nasty genetic diseases, right? You might even give birth to a genius. Isn’t that what’s important?”
“I’d like to be happy too,” she said. “Aha!” She held up a small flash drive, emblazoned with the letters GG in scarlet. “Thanks, Joey. I knew I left my Gene Genie data here when we were working on our thesis.”
“Wait! That’s not—”
“It’s ridiculous, you know!” she chattered on. “My dates always demand for my compatibility data when I tell them it isn’t working out. As if my not liking them is the fault of my genes. See you later,” she said, halfway out the door. “I’ll tell you all about my date later.”
She completely failed to see how Joey had gone pale, almost deathly so, as she slammed the door in his face.
She came back to his apartment two hours later. She said nothing when he opened the door. She placed the flash drive on his desk, and only stood there staring at him.
“How was your date?” he asked. She could tell, even though he was still smiling, that his lightness was forced. Beads of sweat dripped down from his brow.
“There was a bit of trouble,” she said, also keeping her voice casual.
“That flash drive,” she said. “When I showed it to my date, we realized that it wasn’t mine at all.”
“Yeah,” he whispered. “I know.”
“But I don’t get it. You said you weren’t ready to think about settling down yet! What were you doing checking out gene compatibilities for?”
He laughed bitterly. “It’s not as if it was any of your business.”
“You know that never stops me,” she said. “How could I resist? Besides, there wasn’t much to see. You only had your compatibility checked with one person, anyway.”
He glared down at the floor.
“Well,” she said, “I guess 55% isn’t so bad, huh?”
He looked up at her in surprise.
“The most we could worry about our child having is hypertension,” she said. “And oh, diabetes mellitus and colon cancer. If we teach him to have a healthy lifestyle, he’ll be fine.”
“With your eating habits?” he said. “How do you hope to accomplish that?”
“It’s not like you’re any better, fatty,” she said. They grinned at each other, the ice broken, everything changed, but still all right, after all. She moved closer to him and said, “I could use a drink. Would you like to join me?”
“Jeez,” he said, “you’d really make a terrible mom, you drunkard, you. And I’d make a terrible dad, because sure, I’ll keep you company.”
“You always do,” she said. “You’re always there. For me, I mean.”
He raised an eyebrow at her. “Are you sure you want to bet your future on a mere 55% compatibility?”
“You bet,” she said, and linked her arm around his with a smile.
Celestine Trinidad is a third-year student of Medicine in the Philippines, but she still tries to read and write as much as she can in her (now unfortunately very little) free time. Her works have appeared in other publications such as The Digest of Philippine Genre Stories, First Love, MicroHorror, Philippine Speculative Fiction, and The Philippines Free Press.
This story was sponsored by
Camilla d’Errico: A character designer and artist who dances on the tightrope between pop surrealist art and manga inspired graphics. Explore her paintings, characters and comics: Tanpopo, BURN and Helmetgirls.