“Why My Matches Aren’t Responding to Me on the Dating App” by Madison Jozefiak

Why My Matches Aren’t Responding to Me on the Dating App

Last week, Dan was hit by a bus: fourteen tons of glass and metal slamming into him sidelong and sending him flying into a stack of ripe tomatoes at the farmer’s market. The tomatoes went splat. Their clear juices ran freely with fragments of their thin red skin, mingling with the blood. Anyway, he’s in a coma now, with all his limbs encased in stiff white material and his mother and sister sobbing at his hospital bedside. The room is full of machinery attached to his body that blinks and blips forlornly every few seconds. At the bottom of Dan’s bag discarded in the corner, the notification that pings up on his phone—me on Hinge, asking if he has any siblings—goes entirely unnoticed.  

Hoa dropped his phone into the ocean. Based on his profile, this is exactly what I would expect from him. In response to the prompt that reads “I’m looking for…” he wrote, “my keys.” During our brief back-and-forth, he was sweet-tempered, clumsy, and absent-minded. Once he realized what had happened, he borrowed a child’s pair of pink plastic goggles to scan the ocean floor, but his phone had already been swallowed by a manta ray. He got a new one a week later, and couldn’t remember his password for the dating app. It was his only way of contacting me.

Anton was arrested by federal agents for overseas money laundering. He was just about to check Tinder when the FBI blasted through his office door, so he never saw the last message I sent him. Afterwards, the agents went down to the pub to celebrate the easiest case they had all year. Anton is such an idiot he didn’t even think to cover his tracks. I’m just glad he never had a chance to respond to my question: “if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?”

Imti tripped and fell down a well while walking in his grandfather’s garden. Med school taught him to think clearly under pressure, so he managed to brace himself against the sides and only sustained a couple bruises from the fall. As it turned out, the bottom of the well was connected to an underground labyrinth, something Imti’s grandfather had neglected to mention existed beneath the estate. He traveled through mile after mile of darkness, groping at the dirt walls textured with fiber-thin roots. Finally, Imti spotted a weak green light emanating from around the bend. He hurried towards it, turned the corner, and gasped; his legs slid out from under him. Gathered around an ominous emerald lantern was a colony of mole people so numerous they crowded the tunnel and stood stacked on top of each other. They had bulbous eyes behind their glass goggles, large powerful hands, and abundant teeth. They seized Imti and dragged him so deep that the most ear-splitting screams wouldn’t jostle a single molecule of the Earth’s crust. It didn’t cross his mind to respond to my last Bumble message asking if he was free for a drink on Friday. I don’t blame him. 

Colin had a vision from the God of Cheese. Reincarnated from lumps of gray-green mold on a slice of discarded Roquefort, the God of Cheese came to Colin and told him that he had spent too long on the errant path of the lactose-free. He commanded him to don the traditional garb of cheesecloth and salted wax and set out on a pilgrimage to join his brothers in the sacred pastoral setting where the greatest cheese in the world is produced. Colin fell to his knees before the deity and swore to obey. The next day, he shaved his head like a monk and left the city with only a burlap sack of crackers and mini Babybels to sustain him throughout the journey. Before he stopped messaging me in the app, Colin and I were discussing what each of us wanted out of a relationship. Now, I doubt we’d be a match. He has devoted the rest of his life to sustainable farming, artisanal dairy products, and abstinence.

Luca was personally banned from the dating app by its CEO. It was a classic fender-bender situation: he hit the front of her car as she was turning into a T-shaped intersection, she says he should have seen her, he says she should have seen him. Rather than exchange insurance information, Luca and the silver-suited CEO got into a heated argument. I was attracted to Luca’s fiery personality while we were messaging, but it does have its drawbacks. The conflict escalated from insults to throwing travel mugs to the CEO ripping off her Ray-Bans and declaring that Luca would never again be allowed on her app. Not only that, he would be blacklisted from every other dating app in existence as soon as she called up her business connections. Good luck ever finding love in the modern world! The CEO shouted. Luca lurched back to his damaged car, slammed the door, leaned his head against the steering wheel, and wept like a lion with a thorn in his paw.

Malik was sitting by the river, eating lunch. He had just opened the app to ask me a question when a catfish leapt in a long, tall arc, snatched the phone from his hand, and splashed back into the brown water. Dirty fish bastard! cried Malik, shaking his fist at the trail of bubbles left in its wake. I’ll fry you for dinner! The catfish chortled from the silt of the riverbed. It typed out SEND NUDES, flipped the phone away with its fins, and left it slowly sinking in the mud.  

Matt didn’t message me at all after we matched on the app, but only because he was abducted. Not by aliens. By the mole people. Since devouring Imti, they have developed a taste for the blood of men. They are coming for them now, all the men. They are lurking just beneath metal manhole covers and tunneling their way into basements where the man cave can be found. After so many generations underground, they want something fresh and fed by sunlight. They are voracious, dragging down hordes of their prey as if they will never be satisfied. The mole people are craving something real to sink their craggled teeth into. Maybe the problem is that the men are just never real enough.  

Madison Jozefiak is a fiction writer and copywriter from Boston, MA. She graduated from Colgate University in upstate New York with a degree in English and creative writing. Her short fiction also appears in The Baltimore Review and Inscape Literary Journal.