“Do you think we should finish all this Ben & Jerry’s Leah?”
Katie rustled around, grabbing the half eaten container of “One Sweet Whirled,” and two containers of “Half Baked.” The world might have come to an end, but there was no sense in letting good ice cream go to waste. Granted it had only been 12 hours since it’s apparent end, ice cream could be the only solution to this kind of grief. To be clear the actual world hadn’t come to an end. According to Koin 6 News, “The Great Dating Apocalypse” of 2020 had come crumbling down on single, and some not so single people without a whisper of it’s apparent demise at approximately 6:00 am EST Monday morning. Some of the younger dating crowds had already rushed to the interwebs to create a hashtag for this devastating event; #DateGate was quickly rising as most popular hashtag right next to, #IsThisTheEnd, #NoMoreDickPics, and #TinderGhostedMe. It was safe to say that this was the collapse of love as everyone knew it.
Katie and Leah had been roommates for 6 years or so. A gradual living arrangement where Katie had Leah stay over one weekend. The pair had a project they’d been working on that required more than one fine toothed comb. Leah just never left after that, it was a natural unarranged arrangement of sorts, seeing as their jobs at LoveHackers were always teaming the two up together on sizable algorithms for the app. The people demanded love, and Katie and Leah were in charge of getting the people what they wanted, and that was steady, unrelenting, burning love. Preferably without the burn of a STD. Yes they had an algorithm for that too. They’d been friends since the first day of interning for one of the biggest online dating conglomerates in the world, LoveHackers. The two women bonded over their quirky post-graduate experiences, and how they both had ended up in the dating game professionally.
Katie, with her asymmetric bob and proclivity for tye dye band t-shirts was uncomplicated in nature. She left the smallest town of nobodies, to study the immense world of people. Working behind a screen alone was the dream she had always dreamed of. Katie’s postgraduate work was in Digital Mapping. A combination of everything Katie cherished, studying places (hotspots for dating), finding their patterns (were people more likely to date in the time of a stock market crash?), and potential threats (i.e., ghosting, dick pics, and dudebros). LoveHackers recruited Katie for her innate ability to see what cities would find them the most interactive dating clientele by designing dating quadrants linked with maps. Employees at LoveHackers would joke, “Katie, you could throw a dart at a map of Tulsa, Oklahoma and find two people who both wear banana costumes to church and vote Democrat.” It was true, finding the needles in the haystacks of love was her strength.
Leah on the other hand with her wild hair and signature scar etched into the edge of her chin was evergreen in beauty and filled with life. Every interaction was meaningful and unforgettable for Leah. Like the time Janice the Secretary accidentally ordered the wrong lunch for Leah. Instead of shouting profanities at Janice, Leah grabbed her by the arms and spun her in a swift circle, do-si-do like, dipping her down singing, “I wanted a Club Sandwich Anywayyyys!” Janice was speechless. She also never messed up Leah’s cranberry chicken salad sandwich with extra cranberries ever again. Leah had an eye for what wasn’t seen. She could bore down into someone’s daddy issues by watching them compose a frantic email to their actual daddy. Leah labeled herself as a “Professional Futurist.” No, she wasn’t psychic by any means, but her studies of foresight amplified her gut feeling about people. Leah’s clairvoyance for trends in love and what influenced love brought her to the professional dating app world. “If people can love as much as I do, I’ll use my powers for good!’
Katie and Leah were a team.
“I’ve got the spoons Katie.” Leah quipped with joy as she plopped onto the sofa. It was clear after living together for about a month that Leah was the optimist that Katie had been missing in her own life. The second that Leah sang, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” by Queen word for word, into a kitchen spoon at 3am, Katie knew that she was all in, head over heels in love with her.
Now, 6 years later the love was rooted with sturdy branches that not even a storm could rip away. Would Leah understand what Katie had just done for love?? Would this thing that only Katie could do, be the weight that collapsed the respect between the two of them? If stupid was a vibe, Katie was vibing hard.
Katie closed the freezer with her shoulder, clutching the ice cream, she stared at the magnet that Leah had bought for their shared apartment, “Stupid people make me sad.” A sigh escaped her lower lips, blowing her straw brown hair out of her eyes. She thought to herself, “Yep, I am the perpetrator of my own sadness.”
“What did you say Katie??” Leah shouted from the other room.
Turns out holding three pints of ice cream for longer than 30 seconds was brutal on Katie's hands. Tossing them onto the counter, she reached for the only lighter in the apartment, the one designated for candle lighting, grabbing the half melted candle she lit it. This apocalypse was the epitome of her last fuck, so why not light it on fire? Leah would probably want to burn it all down when she found out that Katie was responsible for the dating apocalypse.
Walking with the gait of a zombie to the futon, Katie shoved over to the side with all the pillows. Leah presented two spoons protruding from her hand while the other hand gestured a “gimme gimme” motion.
As if cheersing one another with their sweet treat, simultaneously they chanted, “Best wishes, warmest regards, go fuck yourself!” This mantra was the bedrock of Katie and Leah’s relationship. Cordial and polite, but with a little bit of go fuck yourself is how they liked to live their lives. Especially their dating lives. When suitors found out that one of them worked at LoveHackers, it wasn’t long before the dudebro would inevitably peace out on a dinner bill or ghost 3 weeks into a text message conversation. If only the dudebros named Chad and Owen knew how hard Katie and Leah worked to create a dating world where guys like them could date on the regular.
Watching Leah use the very app that Katie had created soulmate quadrants on was crippling. To save face Katie would occasionally “Pass a Note” on the LoveHacker app, and suffer through another tireless date with a man who knew more about the variety of Gatorade flavors than love. It was impossible to have a forever love with a man who would choose Glacier Freeze over Fruit Punch gatorade. Fruit Punch was the only choice. Afterall it was Katie who realized that she and Leah were nearly perfectly matched. In the passion columns they matched directly with love of books (Sally Rooney was the shit), music (Queen and Fiona Apple for obvious reasons), and midnight snacks (Bugles and cream cheese). The discovery of this match was accidental and coincided with the loss of Leah’s cell phone. It had fallen behind the couch during the last 80’s movie binge of Pretty in Pink and The Lost Boys they’d had together. Thank god the alert came during the phone's disappearance, giving Katie enough time to switch the settings on Leah’s app alerts so that she wouldn’t discover her roommate/best friend was actually a love match.
Katie played with the idea of “Passing a Note” to Leah, to see how she might respond.
“Maybe she loves me too,” Katie would pine over the possibility.
Leah was vibrant, and would continue to date even when the quadrants barely lined up. For someone so well versed in foresight and the telling of what was to come, she couldn’t see what was in front of her. It was on the night that Leah barged through their aluminum hollowed door, letting it slam a little too hard despite the clock reading 1:22am that Katie had an epic realization.
“What if love is dead Katie? Like, what if this is the end for everyone?”
“Ah, c’mon Leah. It must’ve been a rough date huh? What’d this guy do- show you pictures of his third nipple?”
“No, nothing like that. It’s just this roundabout I’m on. I can’t figure, I mean how is it that one of the biggest creators at LoveHackers can’t match with anyone?!?! What’s a girl gotta do to get a note passed to her?”
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
“I’ll just crash the algorithm me and Leah created. It’s the only way to take her heartbreak away.” That was the last hopeful, yet impulsive thought Katie had before she uploaded a simple algorithm design that no one could trace back to her. It was not lost on Katie the level of catastrophe this change would bring the dating world. It would be the end of times, hopeless even for so many searching for love. If there was any chance this forced dating apocalypse could bring Leah to see what was right in front of her for the last 6 years, it was a chance worth taking. Screw everyone else.
Click. Tap. Save. Done.
“Tonight on Koin 6 News, we answer the question all you lovebirds have been asking: Is Love dead? How LoveHackers the world's largest dating app may have flattened the dating field. Our field reporter Kurt Samuels is live in the plaza. What’s the energy down there like Kurt? Is #DateGate the end of love online?”
Leah's spoon scraped against her top teeth. Like a piece of silverware clanking against a porcelain sink basin, loud and shattering mixed with the murmurings of Kurt Samuels, Leah took her last bite of ice cream. A swift tear melted down her face mixing with the Half Baked treat at the crevice of her lips.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Katie realized that maybe this might backfire. Now seeing Leah cry actual tears into her Ben & Jerry’s like it was some kind of terrible rom-com on Lifetime, she regretted her forced demise of LoveHackers.
Katie leaned toward Leah, linking fingers like they always did on those really hard post-date nights. This was the supposed end of love, and all Katie could muster was, “Leah, you know we didn’t invent love right? This isn’t the end, maybe it’s just the beginning.”
Leah brushed the tears away with the back of her hand, “No really, it appears love is dead.”
Unlocking her fingers from Leah’s, Katie searched her back pocket until her fingertips found the folded, lined piece of paper, “Here Leah, I wrote you this note.”