A Thousand Small Explosions

By: John Marrs



Amanda stared at the photograph on her computer screen and held her breath.

The shirtless man with the cropped, dirty blond hair posed on a beach with his legs spread apart and the top half of his wetsuit rolled down to his waist. His eyes were the clearest shade of blue, his huge grin contained two perfectly aligned rows of white teeth and she could almost taste the salt water dripping from his chest and onto the surfboard lying by his feet.

‘Oh my Lord,’ she whispered to herself and let out a long breath she didn’t realise she’d been holding. She felt her fingertips tingle and her face flush and wondered how on earth her body would react to him in person if that’s how it responded to just one photograph.

Her coffee was cold but she still finished it. She took a screengrab of the photograph and added it to a newly created folder on her desktop entitled “Richard Taylor.” She scanned the office to check if anyone was watching what she was up to in her booth, but no-one was paying her the slightest bit of attention.

Amanda scrolled down the screen to locate other photographs in his Facebook album entitled Around The World. He was certainly well travelled, she noticed, and he had been to places she’d only ever seen on TV or in films. In many pictures he was in bars, trails or temples, posing by landmarks, enjoying golden beaches or choppy waters and he was rarely on his own. She liked that he seemed the gregarious type.

Curious, she looked back further into his pictorial timeline, from when he first joined social media as a sixth former and through his three years at university. She even found him attractive as a gawky teenager.

After an hour and a half of gawping at close to five hundred photographs of the handsome stranger’s history, Amanda made her way to his Twitter feed to discover what opinions he’d felt the need to share with the world. But all he ranted about was football club Arsenal’s rise and fall up and down the Premier League, occasionally broken up by re-posts of animals falling over or running into stationary objects.

Their interests appeared to differ greatly and she questioned exactly why they had been Matched and what they might have in common. Then she reminded herself she no longer had the mindset required for using dating websites and Apps; Match Your DNA was based on biology, chemicals and science – none of which she could get her head around. But she trusted it with all her heart like millions of others did.

Amanda moved on to Richard’s LinkedIn profile, which revealed that since graduating from Loughborough University two years earlier, he’d worked as a personal trainer in a town approximately forty miles from hers. No wonder his body appeared so solid, she thought, and she imagined how it might feel on top of hers.

She hadn’t set foot in a gym since her induction a year ago when her sisters insisted she should stop lamenting her failed marriage and start concentrating on her recovery. They whisked her away to a nearby hotel day-spa where she’d been massaged, plucked, waxed, hot-stoned, tanned and massaged again until she felt her ex had been pummelled out of every back and shoulder knot and each pore of her skin. However, motivating herself to work out every few days had yet to become part of her weekly routine, but she paid for the gym membership regardless.

Amanda began to imagine what her children with Richard might look like, and if they’d inherit their father’s blue eyes or her brown eyes; whether they’d be dark haired and olive skinned like her or fair and pale like him. She found herself smiling.

‘Who’s that?’

‘Shit!’ yelled Amanda at the voice that made her jump. ‘You scared me to death.’

‘Well you shouldn’t have been looking at porn at your desk then,’ Olivia grinned, and then offered her a chocolate from a bag of Minstrels. Amanda declined with a shake of her head.

‘It wasn’t porn, he’s an old friend.’

‘Yeah, yeah, whatever you say. Keep an eye out for Charlie though, he’s after some sales figures from you.’

Amanda rolled her eyes then looked at the clock in the corner of her screen. She realised that if she didn’t start doing some work in company time soon, she’d end up having to take it home with her. She clicked on the little red ‘x’ to make the page disappear and cursed her Hotmail account for assuming the Match Your DNA confirmation email was spam. It had sat in her spam folder for the last six weeks until, by chance, she had discovered it earlier that afternoon.

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