Rose slammed her drink hard onto the bar. Her eyes squinted at the bright light of the phone, a torch in the dim surroundings of the crowded pub. "I'm not that bad looking, am I?"
"What are you talking about?" Julie asked at the stool next to her.
"This fucking app. It tells you how many people have swiped on you that you haven't swiped on." Rose shot back.
"That's just how they try to get you to pay for it."
"I know that. But the number has stayed at 3 people since I downloaded this thing two months ago."
"You're probably just another victim of a cruel, careless algorithm." Julie said, patting her friend on the shoulder.
"How many do you have?" Rose snapped.
"That's not important".
"Let me see." Rose snatched Julie's phone, pulling up her own version of the app.
"It's like 250-something. Don't worry about it."
"Ha! 412! It's gone up then, hasn't it?" Rose shoved the results in Julie's humbled face.
"I guess maybe it has. It does... a lot." She stared back at her own image, smiling on hikes, in a boat, on a picnic. Julie was gorgeous. Wavy blonde hair and a megawatt grin. Her eyes were a deep blue like twin sapphires, and they drew a crowd digital or otherwise.
"You know why that is, right?" Rose prodded.
Julie sighed. "It's not because I'm prettier than you, you little weirdo."
"Ah! Right there. That's what I'm talking about. That one little number 5." Rose's voice grew louder. "Another two of these." She said to the bartender, pointing to her and Julie's empty cocktail glasses.
"The number 5." Julie replied.
"That one little 5 at the start of your height."
"5'5" isn't that tall. It's barely average."
"It's better than 4'10"! Guys take one look at me and see a midget."
"You're gorgeous, Rose. No matter how tall you are."
"It does matter, though. Obviously, Ms. 412."
"Let me see your profile." Julie shot back. "I can try to help with your... presentation."
Rose tossed Julie her phone, grabbing her fresh cocktail with both hands. Julie thumbed through the app, looking through Rose's pics.
"Well look here. You're not showing yourself off. You've got me dead to rights in the chest department and you're not even going to show a little cleavage?"
Rose stiffened. She couldn't help looking down at her ample chest. "I look like a bowling ball."
"You do not." Julie shot back. "I'd kill for some of your curves."
"I'd kill to be willowy like you."
"I'd need a couple more inches to be called willowy. I'm just skinny."
"Well whatever you are, it's what people want." Rose sighed.
"Why don't you just lie? Just put 5 foot. Not that many people are gonna do the math when they meet you."
"What does it matter? If I lie, it'll just prove I was right. People don't want to date a girl under 5 foot. Why make them?"
"Let's get out of here. We can go back to the apartment and take some new pics that show the real you."
"I want another drink." Rose slurred.
"You just got a drink." Julie shot back.
Rose took a deep swig of her cocktail. "And I want another. Catch up with me."
Like that's hard, with your metabolism. Julie thought.
"Another drink!" Rose shouted across the bar.
"How about a shot, my treat?" came a voice behind them. They looked, to see a tall, dashing man standing behind their stools. He smiled, letting his dark eyebrows slide down his eyes.
"No thank you, we're just about to close out." Julie said, grabbing under Rose's arm.
"I'm sorry. I couldn't help overhearing." the man replied.
"Yes, my friend makes that very easy." Julie said.
"I may be able to help you with your problem." the man said.
"What, you like short girls?" Rose scoffed.
"I like all girls. I'm a biochemist, traveling around looking for the right applications for my products."
"Oh lord, it's an MLM. Good night, sir." Julie said.
"Now hold on. This may be a pitch, but it's for a different kind of multi-level opportunity. No money involved, whatsoever."
The bartender slammed a shot glass down on to the bar behind them. The girls jumped. The man smiled, nodding at the bartender, who poured a half-shot of rum into the little glass.
The man pulled a small vial from the breast pocket of his crisp, dark suit. "This right here, is an agent for post-pituitary growth. It jump starts the gland in the-"
"It'll make me grow." Rose interrupted.
The man smiled again. "It will make you grow."
"Gimme." Rose grabbed at the vial. Julie stopped her.
"Now wait. You don't even know this guy, Rose."
"Oh, what? Like it's poison? I'm probably gonna throw up tonight anyway. Lay it on me, buster."
Julie huffed. "Even if it does work like he says, you don't know what this thing will do to your body."
"I hate my body." Julie sighed. "I hate being small. I hate being looked over. No matter what comes of this, it's better."
"That's the kind of attitude we like to hear." the man said, pouring a dash of the strange liquid into the shot glass."
Rose raised the glass. She looked Julie dead in the eye, motioning for her to raise her glass as well. Julie did, nervously. Rose clinked with Julie and the stranger.
She drank the glass in one gulp, and promptly blacked out.
Rose woke, vision blurred by poor choices. She slid out of bed, rising to her feet. She noticed she was in her baggy pajamas, as opposed to her baggy bar clothes.
She sauntered out into the kitchen, where Julie was making breakfast for the two of them. "Up at the crack of noon. That's a new Saturday record." she said.
"Very funny.... Thank you, for..." Rose gestured to her clothes, and the general care it took to get her into them. Julie smiled back.
"Luckily, you're not that hard to carry. Not that that guy stuck around to help."
"What guy?" Rose asked.
"Oh god, you don't remember? The guy with the shot."
Rose pondered. Her eyes widened. "Why did you let me do that!?"
"I was drunk!" Julie shouted.
"YOU were drunk?" Rose paced around the kitchen. "Should I throw up? Should I go to the hospital? Should I... Do we have a tape measurer?"
Julie's look shifted from fear to curiosity. She plated her eggs and dashed out of the kitchen, chasing the ball of fury that was Rose.
Digging around in the closet, they found a grimey tape measurer, a relic of a move-in necessity long dustified by disuse.
Wordlessly, Rose stood flat against the wall as Julie stretched the measurer along her petite frame. "What is it?" she breathed.
"Four foot eleven." Julie replied.
Rose gasped. "Four eleven." She couldn't believe it. After all these years. "Wait, that's it? All that big talk from the dude and I get a lousy inch?"
"Well, maybe you were always 4'11" and never knew it." Julie tried.
"I know my height. I guess I should be grateful. An inch is an inch after all. What's for breakfast?" Rose started walking back toward the kitchen.
Julie slammed Rose back against the wall. "What the hell!" Rose shouted.
The tape measurer stood exactly as it was, as Julie watched the top of Rose's head creep slowly past it. "Four eleven point one, point... two." she breathed.
Rose's eyes widened. "What's for breakfast?"