Here’s a piece of sci-fi flash fiction about algorithms, romance, and arranged marriages. It’s about 700 words and has an estimated reading time of 3 minutes. Let me know what you think!
Riva sat in the coffee shop nervously, wondering when he would show up. Her perfect match was late, and she was beginning to worry.
Of course, turning down the government-approved marriage was illegal, and she doubted this Corin guy would do that. Still, it wasn’t unheard of for people to fight back and “rage against the machine,” so to speak.
She looked up from her vidscreen – there he was, Corin.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said. Riva felt a few butterflies; he was quite handsome. He had a strong jaw and a rugged beard, broad shoulders. He shook her hand with a nice, firm grip.
“You must be Corin,” she replied. “I was starting to get worried.”
“Oh, sorry. I got held up in traffic.”
Corin sat down and ordered an espresso. Riva still felt the butterflies; she was highly attracted to him. But, she wondered, what was he really like?
The government began arranging mandated marriages only a few years ago for efficiency purposes. They did this via an algorithm called ReflectBase created by Portia, the god-like artificial intelligence that controlled much of their society.
Most people went along with the marriages, but not everyone. Some, primarily religious folk, decried another infringement on their lifestyles. Then, of course, members of the terrorist Collective group went a step further and vowed to interfere with the marriages by targeting those who submitted to them.
“So, tell me about yourself,” Corin asked sheepishly.
“Don’t you know everything already?” Riva laughed. “I mean, it’s all in my profile. We’re the perfect match, right?”
“I guess so. But are we, really? How can we know that? This is the first time we’ve met. Are you feeling love at first sight?”
Riva blushed. “Well, I am attracted to you, to be blunt. And, apparently, the algorithm is pretty darn accurate.”
Corin and Riva chatted in the crowded coffee shop for about an hour. He told her he was an avid traveler and he enjoyed the outdoors. But, of course, she already knew this, along with most of the things he said.
They decided to go for a walk, and he reached out to hold her hand. She felt a buzz of excitement when his strong fingers tangled with hers.
“What do you think of this whole arranged marriage thing?” she asked.
“I guess it’s not so bad. I mean, we weren’t doing so great on our own, right? The divorce rate was sky-high before they instituted this.”
“True. But, shouldn’t we have some say? The algorithm can know certain things, but certainly not everything. It can’t know the soul.”
“You believe we have souls?”
Riva stopped at this; did he not believe in the soul? If not, then maybe it wasn’t the perfect match. True, she was no religious fundamentalist, but she still had many spiritual sentiments. If he didn’t, that was a bad sign.
Corin smiled. “I believe in the soul, as well. I also believe in soulmates. Maybe the algorithm can’t see the soul, but perhaps it gets close.
“And arranged marriages, well, societies have used them before. It’s nothing new. This way just uses technology to do it.”
They’d walked over to a gazebo in a park by this time, the autumn leaves crunching under their feet. The trees were beautifully golden and red, and a chilly breeze made Riva snuggle up closer to him.
Corin was respectful, and he didn’t try anything sneaky. Instead, he held her, and they sat in the gazebo in silence for a few moments.
“I suppose we have to try this,” Riva said.
“Yeah. We don’t have much of a choice, I guess.”
“Just promise me one thing,” Riva said. “Promise me to be faithful. I know monogamy is out of style nowadays, but I still believe in it.”
“So do I. And I will.”
Riva wasn’t sure if she could trust him, but wasn’t it always like that? Trust had to be built over time. He could say anything right now; he had to prove it.
Nevertheless, she still felt butterflies while he held her. And as they sat there cuddled up, she thought maybe, possibly, it could be a perfect match.
Author’s Note: Some of you may have noticed this story takes place in the same fictional universe as my Mother Portia novella project. Since I was writing science fiction, I figured why not place it in that world? Click here to learn more about Mother Portia and click here to read the novella project from the beginning.