Lacey Andrews was born on a warm day in 2013, March the twenty-second. Like every other child, she grew up being told that on her seventeenth birthday, Lacey would find out whom her Match was.
The program, called Timer by TYL Industries, was supposed to be installed the day of the person's seventeenth year. TYL Industries started their research in the early 2000s, and began giving people their Timers in 2009. By 2013, Timers were well known and almost required internationally. If you didn't have a Timer, you were as good as shunned. It was seen as rude and inconsiderate. The Timer only worked if your Match had a Timer, as well. If they didn't, your timer would be blank until the other person received and installed their Timer.
March 22, 2030, Lacey's seventeenth birthday, and the day she receives her Timer. She wakes up early in the morning to shower and do her hair. Putting her hair up in a cute but casual fishtail braid, Lacey smiles at herself in the mirror. Her nerves bubble up inside, and her hands start shaking as she attempts to put her mascara on. She calls out to her mom for help.
"Mom! Can you come help me?" Lacey sticks her head out of her bedroom door and cries. Her mother bounds up the stairs with a big smile. Swooping into the room, her mother pushes Lacey into a chair and goes to work putting makeup on her daughter. After only a few minutes, Lacey's mother backs away, allowing her daughter to see herself.
"Mom, this is great. Thank you!" Lacey hugs her mom excitedly and turns back to the mirror to examine her makeup.
Lacey's mother smiles softly, brushing a stray hair from Lacey's face, "Anything for my daughter. I wanted you to look extra beautiful, in case you meet your match today. You know, your father and I-"
"Met only a few hours after you had gotten your Timer. I know, mom... And I hope that happens with me, too. I'm horrible at waiting," Lacey grins at her mom. She's heard the story many times before as it is one of her mother's favorite stories to tell.
Her mother only nods, "Yes, of course. What are you wearing to your interview?"
Lacey goes to her bed and picks up her favorite maxi dress, pink with light gray pinstripes. She presses the dress to her front and spins around to face her mother, who nods in agreement. Her mom swoops out of the room to let her daughter prepare for the day.
Knees quaking, Lacey makes her way to the check-in desk at TYL Industries' office. A chipper young woman greets Lacey from behind the counter.
"Hello there! I'm Lena, how can I be of assistance?" The woman smiles, folding her hands on the desk. Lacey, shaking with excitement, leans against the desk.
"Hi, I'm here to receive my Timer... Today's my birthday," Lacey replies with her own gentle smile. The woman hands her the proper forms clipped to a board. Lacey returns to her mother, who readily helps her daughter when filling out the forms.
"Mom, what do these mean?" Lacey points to a group of lines on the last sheet.
"Oh, that's what you'd like for your Match to look like. It's just to know what you're interested in now. After your tenth marriage anniversary, they send you a copy of this so that you can see where you were when you first got your Timer." Lacey's mom watches intently as her daughter filled the form out. Lacey stops dead in her tracks when she sees the question she's been dreading, "Preferred Gender: Male or Female?" She looks up at her mother and bites her lip.
"Mom... I have to tell you something. I've been meaning to for the past year, but I couldn't find the courage to tell you," Lacey pauses for a moment to look down at the ground, then says, "I'm gay... I like girls."
Lacey can hear her mom exhale slowly, "Lacey, I will love you no matter what... I just want you to be happy. If that means your Match is a girl, I'm sure she'll be just wonderful."
Tears welling up in her eyes, Lacey hugs her mom, "Thank you, mom... That means a lot to me."
Lacey's mother aids her daughter in finishing the rest of the forms and hands them to the receptionist. A few minutes later, a male nurse in clean light blue scrubs comes to take Lacey and her mother into a small room. Lacey clenches her fists when she sees her Timer, crisp white with a blue LED screen, still in the antibacterial package. The nurse motions for Lacey to sit down in the chair, similar to a dentist's but with bigger armrests.
The nurse retrieves a gun-like contraption, and Lacey remembers seeing something like that in the videos she's watched online where people recorded getting their Timer. From what she saw, the Timer went into the gun , and it was supposed to insert the tiny needles in, similar to a piercing gun.
After everything was prepared, he gave Lacey a blindfold, "It's easier to handle if you can't see what's happening. Trust me." He waves his own Timer around, and Lacey notices that his says "04:09:28:12:00." The man wouldn't get to meet his own Match for almost another five years. Four years, nine months, twenty-eight days, and twelve minutes to be exact.
Lacey willingly puts the blindfold on then holds her hands out, palms up. One for her mother to hold and the other for the Timer. The nurse starts counting down from four, but presses the trigger at two. Lacey cries out in surprise and by the time she rips the blindfold off, she is bandaged up , and the straps to the Timer are clasped around her wrist.
A loud beep sounds throughout the room, and everyone turns to look at Lacey. She looks down at her Timer, recognizing the sound. The screen flashes the numbers '00:00:00:05:29." The room falls silent, and her mother and the nurse look at each other before checking the screen. Lacey's mother gasps, and hugs her daughter.
"I knew it!" She cries with excitement, "I knew you'd find your Match as soon as I did!"
Lacey's hand slaps her mouth, and she releases a shaky breath. There is no way she is going to meet her Match in five minutes. There was so much Lacey wanted to do with her life! She wanted to become a famous journalist, get a dog... It seems so surreal that she is about to meet the person she is supposed to spend the rest of her life with.
The nurse smiles supportively, "Well, that's excellent! You won't have to wait as long as some people." It is very clear he was referring to himself, but Lacey and her mother couldn't care less. He continues to speak, "We'll send you a bill for installation and the Timer. You may leave, and find your Match!"
Lacey grips her mother's hand, afraid that she might fall if she isn't supported by something. They leave the office and make their way down the elevator and through the lobby. They stop for a minute or so, Lacey trembles with fear and excitement and many other emotions. By the time they get close the door, Lacey looks at her Timer, "00:00:00:00:30."
30 seconds: Lacey balls her fists and stands up. She doesn't want to look like a nervous wreck the first time she meets her Match. Her mother follows her hopefully, a proud smile on her face.
20 seconds: She hitches her purse onto her shoulder and walks in a determined manner to the door, her mother on her heels.
10 seconds: Lacey fixes her skirt and smooths her hair. This was it, a few more seconds, and she will meet her Match.
0 seconds: She's startled by two loud beeps and spins around, looking for someone who's Timer is beeping, too. Lacey spots a beautiful girl only a few feet away from her stop in her tracks, look at her Timer, then look around. Their eyes meet, and instantly Lacey knows that this girl is her Match. With as much confidence as she can muster, she approaches the girl.
With a wide grin, and a hand out, Lacey greets her, "I'm Lacey McMann."
Thankfully, the girl smiles back and shakes her hand softly, "I'm Kara Dunham... You must be my Match."