He was heading back from the gym when another message pinged through. Wary, he glanced at the phone screen, but the right name lit up the screen. Alex.

-“What are you up to today? x”

Funny, that a combination of letters could elicit such a response- but, no matter what her texts said, they always made him smile. He liked to picture her typing them out, maybe taking a minute or two to think over exactly what to say, laughing at whatever he’d said…

-“Just back from the gym! Heading home for a shower x”

Not that he had much to picture. The photo on her profile was a simple ocean view, with no other information listed. If she hadn’t messaged him first, he’d probably never even have noticed her.

When he’d asked, she’d kept it simple. Blonde hair. Blue eyes.

-“Bulking up are we??? I like a bit of muscle ;) ”

He debated over whether or not to send his reply. But then, secure in the knowledge that she’d flirted first-

-“Send me a picture? I want to see you x”

He got under the shower without waiting for a reply. Let the water run scalding hot, then gradually twisted the dial until it was freezing cold, tingling on his sore muscles. As he washed his hair, his phone buzzed. Expecting a rejection, he couldn’t help glancing at the screen-

-Alex sent a photo.-

He let the anticipation build as he rinsed off, clicked to open the image while scrubbing his hair with a towel. For a moment, the loading symbol spun- then a picture bloomed, sent his stomach swooping. Curly blonde hair, eyes that crinkled up at the edges, killer smile-

He realised he’d never asked if “Alex” was short for “Alexandra”.

For a while, he’d been pretending. Pretending that he switched his preferences from girls to boys and back again just to see what other guys put on their profiles; just out of curiosity…

It hadn’t even occurred to him that he’d matched with Alex during one of those little switches.

He’d explained it away before. One of his mates must have messed with his settings, what a wind up, he was surprised they hadn’t sent a cheeky message or two as well, sorry about the mix up-

-“Hope I haven’t put you off!”

But the photo hadn’t put him off. Far from it; anything he’d imagined when picturing the female Alex was nothing, nothing compared to the warmth that was coursing through him now. Fingers fumbling, he managed to tap out a reply.

-“No way. You’ve got a great smile. Fancy getting a drink this weekend? x”

-Molly Duffield

[15/02/17: Decisions, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”- Shakespeare]

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