Out With the Old, in With the New – A creepy short story

Out With the Old, in With the New

by Wendy Dranfield

 

Luke has never used an online dating site before but, as it’s all the rage, he decides to give it a go. Once he’s settled on a site that sounds suitable for his needs, he fills in his profile details, obviously including a few little white lies like every other user. It’s expected on a site like this so he doesn’t feel bad about it.

He selects a profile photo that makes him look like he’s half decent, and clicks ‘save’. There. He’s all ready to find The One. Or at least; The next One. He’s surprised when he feels the familiar flutter of hope in his stomach.

His mother is making dinner in the kitchen and she’s not being quiet about it. ‘Are you hungry?’ She shouts as though he’s in another country.

‘Yes, mother.’

‘Good. I’ve done way too much pasta as usual.’

As she goes back to cooking their dinner, Luke moves to the armchair by the TV so she can’t see what he’s doing if she peeks over his shoulder. She always wants to know what he’s up to. It’s embarrassing enough having to live with your mother when you’re twenty-nine, he doesn’t need her knowing he’s looking for women online. Within seconds Pumpkin, his new ginger rescue cat, jumps on his lap and settles down. As Pumpkin purrs, Luke absently strokes him with his spare hand.

Once his profile is set-up, it matches him with some potential women in his area. He starts swiping through the list, focusing primarily on their profile pictures:

A red head who enjoys reading and hiking. He swipes left. He doesn’t like hiking.

A blonde who looks like a young Britney Spears. Her interests include bungee jumping and travelling. He swipes left. She’s way too outgoing for him. He’s looking for someone like him; a quiet, reserved introvert.

A brunette wearing glasses piques his interest. Sarah. She enjoys Marvel movies, online gaming and scrabble. He looks closely at her photo. She looks petite. Her teeth are crooked and she’s looking at the camera as if she wants to run away. He can tell she’s shy. He wonders if she’s ever even had a boyfriend before. This is just the kind of girl he was looking for. He enjoys movies, although not Marvel movies, and he plays World of Warcraft regularly.

He swipes right.

His mother calls him into the kitchen to eat dinner and, not for the first time, he’s reminded that she’s never going to win any cookery awards. By the time he’s finished eating, he has a message from Sarah.

‘What attracted you to me?’ she asks.

He tries to think about what to say while ignoring his mother’s soaps playing loudly on the TV. The woman’s driving him mad.

‘You need to take the rubbish out tonight as the bin men are coming tomorrow. Something smells bad in that bin. When it’s empty you need to clean it out with disinfectant.’

‘Yes, mother.’

He replies to Sarah with what he thinks she’d like to hear. He tells her that he thinks she’s cute, he loves the Marvel universe and he’s a big gamer so they have a lot in common. She tells him he looks like Harry Styles in his profile picture. That makes him smile to himself.

She’s chatty. She asks him some questions about his gaming and before he knows it, Luke has spent an hour chatting to her. He feels good. He likes her. She could be The One.

‘Take that bin out, for God’s sake, Luke! How many times do I have to ask?’

He looks up, dazed. He’d forgotten about his mother.

‘Well?’ she says.

‘Yes, mother.’ He stands slowly and pockets his phone.

Outside, in the dark, he pushes the wheelie bin to the end of the driveway and then pulls his phone back out. He might get some peace out here. He leans on the bin as he reads the latest message from Sarah.

‘Want to meet for a coffee? I don’t drink alcohol.’

He thinks about it. He has nothing to lose so he agrees. He patiently watches the blue dots that indicate she’s typing a response.

‘Saturday at noon in Starbucks?’

He agrees again.

‘I look forward to meeting you,’ she types.

He smiles. That was so easy. He wonders why he’s never thought of doing it this way before.

He pockets his phone and opens the lid of the wheelie bin. A nasty odour strikes him immediately. Jane. He met her in the library. She lived alone apart from one cute ginger cat.

As he heads back inside he wonders if Sarah has any pets, because there’s no way his mother will let him have another one.

 

© Wendy Dranfield

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