Sooooo I hope you have enjoyed the pieces of the soulmate story I have posted. Since I have finished the last part, I decided to post them all together in one post so you can just read straight through without having to click on different posts.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear some feedback on this short story. I have worked on this for a long time but I’m sure there will be a few mistakes that slipped through.
One and Only (Part I)
It was an interesting concept, one he never really questioned. Not until recently to be honest. The idea of having words tattooed on your body… words he didn’t choose, in a place he didn’t want, and he cannot remove. They’re just words, right? Well, no. They’re words that someone else will say.
“Are you okay?”
That’s the phrase that wrapped around his forearm, from his wrist to his elbow. How many times has he heard those words? None of them were the right ones. How many times could he bump into someone and they ask him those three words? How many times must he be clumsy and fall over and someone asks those questions… how many times!? It’s so frustrating. Was he going to be one of those people who never ran into their soul mate? To never hear the right person, utter those words?
Besides, what will happen when he does? Is there a feeling? Do the words go away? Do they glow? He doesn’t really know because no one seems to really know how to explain what happens when it happens. He dated this one girl for a long time, she wasn’t the one and he knew it. Those weren’t the first words she said to him and he didn’t say her words.
If he was honest, it hurt when she found her soul mate and left him. Well, it wasn’t as bad as that, but it felt like it. They dated all through college and then she suddenly met the guy, and he supposed it wasn’t their fault that they found each other. It hurt, and he wanted to make it work but why would he deny her her soul mate just because he wanted her? Was it selfish? He wasn’t sure then and he wasn’t sure now.
When would it finally be his time?
He continued to walk through the grocery store, he had his mind-set on buying some junk food, it was going to be a night in with video games, movies and food. His mind was on other things, he thought about his parents and how in love they were, their soul marks matched. His older sister was getting married to the person who matched her soul mark, was he going to be the only one not finding his soul mate? He turned the corner and without realizing it, he knocked right into someone, their shoulders collided so hard that he stumbled back into the shelves behind him.
“Seriously?” He steadied himself, but his side ached. Great. Just great.
“Are you okay?”
There it goes again. Those same three words… wait…his arm tingled. What just happened? His dark brown eyes snapped up to the person he knocked into and he couldn’t help but to stare. She did the same. It was like everything around them came to standstill and it was just the two of them in the room. Her eyes were a light brown, her skin was a beautiful shade of brown, like it was bronzed by the sun. Her hair, curly and large, was styled into a fro-hawk. She wore dark jeans, and a blue tank top. He couldn’t help but catalog everything about her. She was beautiful. She was perfect. He felt it. It had to be her. He also understood why no one could ever tell him what it felt like to find the one. How could he ever explain this?
“Um…” she started awkwardly. He blinked quickly and pulled himself from his stupor. What does he say now? What should he say now? He scratched the back of his head and she moved closer to him, her hand touched his arm. “Hello?”
“Oh yeah! Sorry, yeah I’m good.”
“Are you sure? We hit each other pretty hard, you went back into the shelf.”
“Yeah no, I’m mean, yeah. It hurt. But I’m good. Nothing I can’t handle.”
She smiled. It was perfect. “Okay, well that’s good then.” She gathered the things she dropped and started to walk away.
As she moved, he spotted it on her shoulder. The beginning of the word ‘seriously’. It looked like “Ser” in an interesting script. It was his word. It was her.
“W-wait!” The young woman froze her shoulders hunched. She had to know. Right? It can’t be one-sided can it? He walked over to her and faced her. Her eyes were wide, she HAD to know. He refused to believe that she didn’t. Those brown eyes looked up and the feeling he felt, it intensified. He wanted to reach out and hold her, to kiss her, to know her. Why would she walk away without even trying?
“I can’t do this.” She said. Her eyes shifted away but he wanted to gaze into them forever.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about.” Her voice was a whisper. He knew exactly what she was talking about.
“Can we at least talk about this?”
She shook her head. “There’s nothing to talk about.” What should he do? Get on his knees and beg? Just when he thought he would never find her, she shows up. In the grocery store. On the yearly anniversary of when his girlfriend told him she found her soul mate and couldn’t continue their relationship. The poetry and irony of the situation was not lost on him.
“That’s not true and you know it.” He gambled and lifted her chin to look at him. He could feel the fear radiating from her. “We’re not required to get married right away. We don’t have to do anything now.” He released her. “I just want to talk.”
She released a heavy breath. Please think about it. He begged silently. He just wanted to talk.
He almost broke out into a large grin, he wanted to but he didn’t want to freak her out any more than she already was.
He waited for her patiently outside once he purchased his items. His insides were buzzing with anticipation. He didn’t quite know what he was feeling, but he was sure it didn’t mean they had to love each other right away, they still had to get to know each other. He felt something though.
“Oh, you waited.”
He pushed off the bike rack and walked towards her. “Yeah, I didn’t want to overwhelm you.”
“Well… can I see it?”
“Huh?” She arched an eyebrow. “Oh! Yeah.” He pulled up his sleeve and showed her the script on his forearm.
“Wow. How many times have you heard that?”
He laughed and pulled down the sleeve. He shook his head trying to think the amount but there was no way. “Too many to even count.”
“I’m Michael by the way.”
“Theo. Well Theodora but Theo.”
Interesting name. Must be a family one. It suited her. He nodded and then the awkward silence set in. He wasn’t much of talker on the best of the days, so this was torture. She seemed to be much more of a social butterfly, but he could see the awkwardness in her as well. He wanted to ask her if she wanted to go someplace where they could talk, but…at the same time, it was so weird. It’s just like meeting her and asking her out. Get it together. Right. He could do that. So, he took a deep breath.
“So, about this whole soul mark thing-“
“I have a boyfriend.”
Falling Fast (Part II)
It was always there, as far as she knew. Her memory only put it back to about twelve years old when she first noticed it. As a little girl, she knew about the words on her shoulder-blade, but she didn’t know the meaning until she was older.
That was what was written in an interesting scrawl on her shoulder-blade. She didn’t know what it meant, until her mother explained it. Her parents were soul mates. They met in college and have been together ever since. Their words matched. Her mother’s soul mark was on her lower back, a place she hated by the way, you’re pretty when you yell. It was the first thing her soul mate said to her after he accidentally hit the back of her car. She got out and said Are you blind!? and those words were printed on her father’s leg.
Neither one of them could truly tell her how it felt after they said their words to each other. Her parents couldn’t put it into words, so she didn’t know what to expect. All her life she heard people say “Seriously” in various ways, but none of them were the right one. She never had a feeling that she couldn’t explain. She had friends who found theirs, some in high school, which put a whole new meaning to the phrase “high school sweethearts”. She wasn’t jealous, but she couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she never found her soul mate. What if instead she fell in love with someone else whose words didn’t match hers? Would the words go away?
When she met Steve, they had a great conversation and hit it off right away. They talked more, spent more time together and she found herself forgetting and ignoring those words on her shoulder because as far as she was concerned, she found her soul mate. She loved Steve. He was a good man. Smart, had a stable job, a car and ambition that he pursued. Two years they dated, they often talked of moving in together and she barely thought of her words.
Every now and then, someone would say Seriously? and she would freeze thinking it was for her, but it never was. She moved on. Fate would not dictate to her who she had to love and who she could be with. No. She made her own future.
At least until she slammed into the body coming around the corner in the grocery store. She was looking for some goodies, she and Steve had a reservation for dinner and then a movie later. It was going to be a good night. But fate apparently had other plans.
Crap! She dropped her items. She scrambled to pick them up while glancing up to address the young man.
“Are you okay?”
Her shoulder tingled, like someone just barely caressed it. Her eyes widened as she looked at the guy who stumbled into the shelves behind him, her items forgotten. What…? His dark brown eyes snapped to her face and she couldn’t help but to stare. He was tall, his skin brown like coffee, hair cut short, but she could see the curls. He was well dressed even though he seemed to just be grabbing goodies himself. A nice shirt, with dark wash jeans, a jacket. He was handsome. He was perfect. She could feel it. It was him. It had to be. Now she understood why her parents couldn’t tell her what it felt like because it was like nothing she ever felt. How could she ever explain this?
She yanked herself out of her stupor. She had to. “Um…” he continued to stare. What should she say now? So, she moved closer and touched his arm to get his attention. “Hello?”
“Oh yeah! Sorry, yeah I’m good.”
Those dark brown eyes blinked rapidly as he seemed to get himself together. He wouldn’t stop staring though and she found herself…curious. She wasn’t uncomfortable, but she wasn’t comfortable either.
“Are you sure? We hit each other pretty hard, you went back into the shelf.”
Her eyes flickered to the shelf behind him, though he hit it pretty hard, nothing too bad happened. Nothing that would cause a bad reaction from an employee.
“Yeah no, I mean, yeah. It hurt. But I’m good. Nothing I can’t handle.”
She smiled at his awkwardness. He seemed to be the type to not say much, he seemed to be someone who observed, which was clear due to how much he stared. But she couldn’t fall into this. Steve. If she was honest, she could have stared into those brown eyes all day, but… Steve. He was good. She told herself. He’s a good man. She thought of his face. His darker skin, bald head, which she always teased him about, his strong arms… Steve.
“Okay, well that’s good then.” She quickly grabbed her things and forced herself to walk away. She would run if she could. She couldn’t deal with this. Nope. She wouldn’t. Fate would not force her into anything, no matter how much her stomach may twist into knots, or how her heart feels like it’s aching. Nope.
“W-wait!” She froze. It was her words. He saw them. He had too. She didn’t even think to look for his words, because she knew. She felt him walk closer, he stood before her and she refused to look at him. If she looked at him, she would fall deeper, and she didn’t want too.
“I can’t do this.” She said. She looked away. She couldn’t do this. Steve.
“What are you talking about?”
“You know what I’m talking about.” She could only muster a whisper.
“Can we at least talk about this?”
No. They couldn’t talk about it. What was there to say? Nothing. She made her own fate, she was with someone else. But she couldn’t help but to think of what would happen to him if she refused to accept this. Now that he knows, would he just be… alone? She shook her head.
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“That’s not true and you know it.” She felt his fingers touch her skin, she tried not to shiver at the electricity that occurred from his touch. He lifted her chin and he made her face him. She could see it in his eyes that he wanted to talk. “We’re not required to get married right away.” MARRIED?? Now she really wanted to know all his thoughts. “We don’t have to do anything now.” He released her. “I just want to talk.”
After a moment of silence. She couldn’t think of anything else to say that would refuse him. Besides, she wanted to talk too.
She went through the store to get the rest of her things. Now her mind wouldn’t stop buzzing. What happens now? Gosh. She was losing her mind. What was she going to do? Part of her hoped he went home. But he didn’t.
“Oh, you waited.”
He leaned against the bike rack near the entrance of the store. When she walked over, he pushed off and came towards her. She felt her entire body stiffen with anticipation.
“Yeah, I didn’t want to overwhelm you.”
“Well… can I see it?”
“Huh?” She arched an eyebrow. Come on. He obviously saw hers. “Oh! Yeah.” He pulled up his sleeve, and she could see the script on his forearm. That looked just like her handwriting. Is… do the words match the handwriting of the soul mate? She needed to see his handwriting.
“Wow. How many times have you heard that?”
If he only knew how many times she’s heard “Seriously?”
He laughed and pulled down his sleeve. He shook his head and it seemed like maybe he was trying to remember but it was a loaded question. He couldn’t possibly remember.
“Too many to even count.” Right, that makes sense. “I’m Michael by the way.”
It was perfect. Everything about him was perfect. She wanted to know how his arms could feel around her. No! Steve!
“Theo. Well, Theodora but Theo.”
He nodded, and it got awkward. Theo shuffled her feet, unsure of what to say next. Perhaps it was time to go. She needed to get back home to get ready for tonight. But he had something else to say.
“So, about this whole soul mark thing-“
“I have a boyfriend.”
It came out before she could stop herself. Steve’s name was lodged in her throat and she couldn’t not tell him… Michael, that she was already with someone. She loved him. Her thoughts were like a broken record today, she would not let fate tell her what to do. She felt bad for Michael, but she loved Steve.
His eyes widened in shock but at the same time, she could see the resignation on his face.
They stood in silence, brown eyes staring into brown eyes. A connection between them that neither could truly explain or deny. What were they gonna do?
Hello Heartache (Part III)
How did he even get so lucky? He didn’t have an answer and he was sure that no one could answer that question for him either. He had the most beautiful girl in the world by his side, she loved him, even though fate said they were destined to be with another. That didn’t matter. The words printed on the inside of his arm didn’t matter. He found love on his own. She was beautiful.
He remembered the day he met her.
There was a used bookstore he liked to frequent. They often had great stuff in there for a cheap price, and he liked things that were good quality and cheap. He was looking at their book selection when he heard someone humming in the next stack. It was just humming, everyone could hum, at least in tune, but he still chanced a look. He acted like he was moving into the aisle to check out the shelves, but when he saw her, he was immediately taken.
There she was, with headphones in, her hair out in a curly afro, intensely reading a book. He could barely see the cover, but she was into it. Her head bobbing along to her music every now and then. Everything about her drew him in. He moved a little closer, hoping to see what she was reading; his hazel eyes shifted slightly to catch the title of the book. He couldn’t see the cover, but he could just make out the title printed on the top of the page. A throner? Nice.
“Winter is coming.” He said aloud, moving a bit closer to her, enough where he wouldn’t freak her out, but enough for her to know that he spoke. She noticed him, and with an arched eyebrow turned her head towards him.
“I’m sorry, what?”
Um, maybe her headphones were too loud. He nodded towards the book in her hands.
“Winter is coming.”
She glanced at the book and it took her a minute before she laughed. It was a beautiful sound and he was already into her. Her brown eyes looked back to him, a twinkle in them… her smile though, wow.
“Yeah, it sure is. I can’t take it already.”
“You read the books?”
“No, not yet. I’m buying some of them today. I was reading the first chapter. I watch the show though.”
“Me too. This last season, man, it killed me.”
“I know right! I cannot believe they ended it with Jon’s death. I’m so upset right now.”
He watched her as she spoke about the show in an animated fashion. She was obviously very passionate about it and it showed, in her facial expression, in the movements of her hands and the speed of her words. He was locked into watching her talk. He could do that all day to be honest.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to talk your head off like that.” She said with an awkward chuckle. She closed the book and moved to lift a stack off the shelf. It was the second and third book of the series. He hadn’t read them before either, but he did have the first book on his desk. He’d been meaning to read it since the second season of the show. He was slacking. She was already ahead of him.
“No, it’s not that. I just never met anyone who loved the show like that.”
“Oh yeah. It’s great. I can’t wait to see how different it is from the book.”
They stood there and talked for a few minutes. He honestly lost track of time. It was interesting to say the least and he enjoyed talking with her. She was animated, opinionated and passionate. It was kind of funny at how easily they fell into this kind of easy conversation. He never really talked with a woman this way. He found himself wanting to keep in touch with her. He never wanted to leave her presence. She was mesmerizing.
Later, he asked if she wouldn’t mind joining him for a sno-cone. It would be his treat. He was ecstatic when she accepted. As they talked, he couldn’t help but notice the scrawl on her shoulder. Oh yeah. He always forgot about these damn things. He saw the beginning of the word or phrase. “Ser”. What was the first thing he said to her?
Winter is coming.
Damn. He wasn’t her soul mate. But they were perfect for each other. He could feel it. At least he felt something special. He had no idea how it would really feel when he finally met her, but this had to be close.
Yeah, he thought about that constantly. The day he met her. It was supposed to be a special night tonight. They were going to go to dinner and then a movie and just spend time together. They’d been talking of moving in together, well, he talked about it more than she did, he was ready for it, but she always had a reason as to why they should wait.
He checked his watch. It’s been a while since she went out to get groceries. It’s almost been an hour. He hadn’t heard from her, and even when he called, she didn’t answer. Was everything okay?
Those words popped into his head. No. Surely, she would have said something if someone said those words to her, at least to the point where it wasn’t just a regular question. But if he was honest, he already knew who his soul mate was. He met her. He was jogging, and she was walking her dog. He watched as her dog spotted a squirrel and took off after it. The leash was yanked from her fingers. She called after her dog, but he was quicker and went after it.
He managed to grab the leash and calm the dog down. He always loved dogs and this stranger’s dog took to him immediately. She jogged up to them, her face scrunched in irritation.
“Cute dog.” He said with a grin, as the dog continued to lick his face and enjoy his rubs.
“That damn dog.” She said with a light laugh, kneeling next to him to scratch behind her dog’s ears. That damn dog. It was his words, the ones on the inside of his arm. Shit. He looked at her and she stared back at him, the dog between them panting, probably with a pleased expression on his furry face.
No. No. No. NO! His insides twisted, it almost felt a little painful considering what he knew. There was a sharp intake of breath, but whose it was, he didn’t know. They just stared.
“It’s you.” She finally breathed out.
No, it’s not me. He wanted to say to her, but something inside stopped him. What was going on? After all this time, NOW? He’s with Theo. He loves Theo. They play video games together; most times she hogs the controller and he swear she cheats when they play Mario Kart. They watch Game of Thrones and Supernatural together. They go to the movies together. It’s Theo, even without their matching soul marks.
Her expression killed him because he knew, he knew he was going to shatter whatever fantasy her brain and heart cooked up.
“I’m sorry.” He said.
“What do you mean? It’s you.” He watched as she removed her shoe. Her sock followed, and he recognized his own slanted handwriting on her foot. Cute dog. It was right there on her foot. He stood up. She followed. “Wait, please.”
“I can’t. Look, I know what this means but I have a girlfriend.” Her eyes widened, and he turned away.
Electricity surged through his body when he felt her hand on his shoulder.
“I- I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. To find you. For you to find me and you’re telling me you’re going to ignore this?”
“Didn’t you hear me? I have a girlfriend and I love her.” He said firmly. As far as he knew, Theo hadn’t found her soul mate, nor did she ever mention the word on her shoulder. Theo was always determined to make her own way. She marched to the beat of her own drum and he admired that in her. He wanted to be like that. He needed to be like that.
He shrugged her hand from his shoulder and he started to walk away. He didn’t understand it. His parents warned him when he met Theo that this might not turn out very well. Soul mates were hard to ignore once found and though it’s happened before, though people never find their soul mates, it’s not impossible to be happy with someone else. They were still human after all.
“Please…at least take my number.” He could feel the worry in her voice. What would happen to her if he refuses to even acknowledge their connection? Would she give up? Especially since she’s been waiting for this forever. He hated to be a disappointment.
He found himself looking at her contact information in his phone.
Ebony James (704) 931- 8979
He never reached out to her; it was the only viable solution to keep himself from falling in love with her. He even refused to give her his number but for some reason, his mind wouldn’t let him stop thinking about Ebony. Why today of all days?
Steve jumped up from the couch hearing her voice come through the front door. He calmed himself down before casually walking into the kitchen where she was busy putting things away. He leaned on the bar counter watching her. Something was wrong. Something was off. She wasn’t buzzing with energy like usual. Instead she was reserved, something Theo never is.
“Hey, what took you so long. You were gone for nearly two hours.”
“Yeah. I got caught up.”
“Is everything okay?”
She stilled, her back to him, the door to the freezer open. Something was wrong. The nagging feeling in his gut continued to build and he felt like it wasn’t going to be good, whatever it was that she wanted to tell him.
“Theo.” Nothing. He could see the words on her shoulder. “Theodora.”
She reacted to hearing her full name. He heard a heavy sigh be released before she turned around. Her eyes held a weight in them, her energy was off, everything was wrong. But he knew… he knew what happened because he felt the same way when it happened to him. She was about to tell him, but he didn’t want her too. He didn’t tell her when he met Ebony. He couldn’t.
But Theo, she would tell him. She told him everything.
“I met my soul mate today.”
When It’s All Over (Part IV)
“I met my soul mate today.”
Those were not the words he was expecting her to say. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t react. Not at first. He just stood there. Silent. Say something. But he couldn’t, he didn’t know what to say. What should he even say? He knew this day would come, he didn’t know when and he didn’t know what it would do to her and just by looking, he could tell it was killing her inside.
What should he do?
Hearing his name snapped him out of whatever he just disappeared in. He cleared his throat and took a step back trying to regain his balance. Theo moved forward but stopped herself, her eyes darting away from him. He could see on her face that she was confused. He could see on her face that she was in pain.
This is why. This is why he never put stock in the whole “soul mark” thing because of reasons like this. She’s hurting, and he knows he can’t do anything to help her, not really. This is why he admired his parents for making it through this society full of matching soul marks because they are still in love. He never knew if they met their soul mates or not, but regardless they’re together. They’re in love. He wanted that regardless of matching soul marks. He knew Theo didn’t care either, she always wanted to make her own way. So why was this so hard? Especially for her?
“Just…” He waved his hand asking her to stop. Just don’t. He wasn’t angry, not really. Steve didn’t really know what he felt. It was confusing. He turned his back on her and gripped the back of her navy-blue couch trying to stable himself. What does this mean for them? He wanted to move in together. He loves Theo. He doesn’t want to lose her to… “What is his name?”
“What?” Her voice was shaky, almost a whisper. He didn’t want to see the look on her face because who knows what he’d see.
“What is his name?”
Silence. Steve turned to look at his girlfriend. She stood there, her head lowered, her arms crossed, like she was trying to close herself in. Theo had walls up before, he worked hard to get through them, but it was like she was trying to pull them back up.
“Theodora… what is his name?”
Michael. He wanted to know what he was like. She was gone for a long time, perhaps they got better acquainted. That burned him up inside, it felt like something red-hot was trying to claw its way out of his chest. Jealousy maybe? He never thought he would feel this way. Theo looked at him, her brown eyes wet. Was she crying? Oh god, he can’t handle a crying Theo. She is always so strong, so tears were a rarity.
“Tell me about him.”
“There’s nothing to tell Steve. He doesn’t… I mean, we didn’t… it wasn’t like a full conversation. We just talked.”
She stepped towards him again and he would have moved away but he forced himself to stay. He could smell her perfume as she moved closer. The honey lavender scent wafted into his nose and it centered him. He always loved the way she smelt. The smoothness of her hands touched his arms that tightly gripped the back of the couch behind him. He watched as her hands moved up his arms, rising to his shoulders…his heart beat so painfully in his chest but he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to kiss her. Her hands moved to his neck, they rested on his face and she stood on her toes. Her full lips touched his and he didn’t know if the sharp intake of breath was his or hers.
Steve released the couch and pulled her closer to him. Her body touching his…but something was wrong. Something was off. There was an alarm going off somewhere in his mind. When they pulled away, his breath was heavy, her eyes stared into his eyes and he knew something was wrong.
“Something’s wrong Steve.” She pulled away completely, her movements frantic as she began to pace back and forth. She touched her fingers to her lips, her brow furrowed as it did when she was in thought.
“It’s the soul mark.” His voice was quiet. It was the only explanation. But why would they feel different just because Theo met her soul mate. Nothing changed when he met Ebony. Why has it changed now?
“No. Why would it be different for the both of us and not just me? I don’t understand any of this. It’s so annoying and I hate it. I love you Steve. I know I do but I just feel… so confused that I don’t know what to do.” He watched as her pacing picked up speed. Her face was full of agony and she occasionally stopped to look at him her brown eyes wide.
“No one truly understands how soul marks work Theo.”
“Maybe not but I don’t… I hate this. I hate it. When I heard my words…” No. I don’t want to hear this. “…I, I wanted to fight it. I did fight it, but it wasn’t good enough. I’m so sorry Steve. I never want to hurt you.”
“You know I never wanted to meet my soul mate. I just… I want to be with you. I just can’t decide what’s going on inside of me. If you meet your soul mate you’ll know exactly…”
“I’ve already met her.”
Theo stopped moving, her body rigid. She turned to look at Steve even more confused than she already was. Steve looked away. Today has been ruined. He shouldn’t have said anything, he should have kept everything to himself. He shouldn’t have asked in the first place.
“What? You have? When?”
“About six months ago.”
Theo’s eyes grew large. Steve wasn’t sure what that expression was, but he knew her mind was going through all kinds of scenarios. She stood still. She was so silent. He felt like he should have moved forward, maybe he should reach for her, maybe he should reassure her that it meant nothing. Yeah, he thought about Ebony, but not like constantly. It just happens every now and then.
What? It was so quiet that he almost didn’t hear what she said. He asked her to repeat what she said, but she finally looked at him. Her brown eyes watery once more but soft.
“Is she pretty?”
“Tha- that doesn’t… that doesn’t matter Theo.”
“Is she pretty Steve?”
He sighed. This is so painful, and he didn’t want to make it worse. Why should it matter if his “soulmate” was pretty? It didn’t matter.
The woman of his dreams stood there in front of him. Her eyes a beautiful light brown, seeming brighter because of her tears. Her beautiful brown skin always glowed from the light she carried inside her body. Her large curly hair styled in one of her favorites “go-to” styles of a fro-hawk. Her dark jeans and blue tank top. Everything about her was what he wanted. She was perfect.
But… there were times when he thought of Ebony James. It happened randomly. Not often but randomly. He remembered how she looked when he stopped her dog from running too far.
Ebony had her hair pulled back into a ponytail, it was black and straight with wisps escaping and curling around her forehead. Her skin was dark, he imagined it was beautiful in the moonlight. She had almond eyes, dark as well and a beautiful smile with full lips. She was beautiful and sometimes her face appeared, and he always pushed it away.
Sometimes it lingered for too long though.
Ebony doesn’t look a thing like Theo. But he couldn’t deny his own confusion, but he could push it away a lot easier than Theo apparently could. He didn’t know Ebony. She seemed nice, but he didn’t know her.
Shit. He’s been quiet for too long.
“Yeah, she was pretty.”
There was a sharp intake of breath, but he didn’t see anything accusing or hurt in her eyes. There was understanding, and he hated that. She was perfect and he’s sitting here upset that she met her soulmate, like she planned it.
He sighed and moved towards her.
She wrapped her arms around him and they just stood there entwined. He could feel her heartbeat against his chest, and he really wished everything before this moment could be erased but he knew it was going to be different.
At the end of the day, it’s Theo’s choice.
Thinking Out Loud (Part V)
It’d been days since he first met her.
She was on his mind every day regardless of how many times he tried to push her out.
She has a boyfriend.
Every time she invaded his thoughts he had to remind himself that she has a boyfriend.
Torture. That’s what it is. Every day he thinks about her, her eyes, her beautiful smile, the brown of her skin, the way she smelt, the curl of her hair and he knew he was losing his mind. He always saw her brown eyes, they were a rusted amber color that had to be created only for her. He remembered the way she looked at him when she realized just who he was and what they were supposed to be. Forever. Soulmates. She went through so many emotions in such a short period of time. He committed to memory every expression. He felt it as soon as she said her words and he knew she felt it too, she had to, but she fought against it. After she ran off… it kind of hurt. He didn’t want to admit it, but it hurt like hell.
His mind constantly drifted back to the conversation they had after their first meeting; it was extremely awkward. However, the longer they sat in each other’s presence, it felt natural, like they were falling into an easy rhythm. He liked that. He hadn’t had that in a while. Not even with Natalie. With Natalie, there was excitement, but she was analytical where he was creative. They worked but there were many times when they didn’t. He could see it now.
Of course, she had something to do with her boyfriend, so she left, and it was like… something inside of him left with her. He missed her, and he didn’t even really know her.
It was because of his alleged constant “moping”, that he was dragged out for a night downtown at the new Jazz club The Broken Spoke. Blake and Eric insisted that he tag along with them, it was Open Mic Night and they wanted to be there because women turn up for Open Mic Nights. He was an artist, but creative writing was not a strength besides he was more of an illustrator, a painter, a sketch artist…
“Hello! Earth to Mike!”
He blinked in surprise as Eric waved his hand frantically in his face. Blake watched him with a cool expression while Eric tried to stifle a loud laugh. Their eyes focused on what Michael doodled on the pad he always carried around. He’d been absentmindedly doodling, and he finally glanced down at his pad and immediately felt embarrassed.
“You’ve been doodling her name for weeks.” Blake murmured as he slipped his hands in his pockets.
“This is sad.” Eric said as he slid into the booth and draped his arm around his best friend. “You have to get over this.”
Blake was mysterious and “dreamy” as Natalie used to say and Eric was so cool and open. It annoyed the hell out of him. He could never be like either of them. Michael was always the reserved one, always had been. Reserved. Not mysterious.
“Look, could you at least go and get a drink? Act like you’re going to have fun? Cool?” No answer. “Cool.” Eric pushed himself out of the booth and walked off, not missing a beat in his mingling.
Sometimes he hated Eric. They’d been friends since freshman year in college and it was because of him that he got out of his comfort zone. Blake came along some time around senior year and he just mixed right in. He was quiet but apparently there was something alluring about him. Eric was the shortest of the three, but he stood tall. Michael watched as he moved over to a booth full of beautiful ladies. They flirted. Eric was brown skinned with light eyes and girls seemed to just swoon. Always the lady killer.
His eyes fell on the girl at the far right in the group. He jumped to his feet thinking he saw… but in the end, it turned out not to be her. He stood there awkwardly for a moment before taking a wary glance at Blake who regarded him with dark green eyes.
“You should go and get a drink.”
Michael plopped back down with a loud sigh. “I don’t want to get a drink.”
Blake ran a hand through his dark hair and leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. “Listen Michael. I know you can’t stop thinking about this girl, but, there’s nothing you can do. She has a boyfriend, and, in the end, the choice is hers. Right?”
Michael wouldn’t look at his friend. Eric was charismatic while Blake was observant and seemed to just understand everything. They both knew what happened and they had different takes on what Michael should do.
“Alright.” Blake stood. Michael didn’t even remember seeing him sit down. “We’re here to have a good time. There’s good music, a cool atmosphere. Do something other than draw.” He walked away, and Michael wilted. He shouldn’t have left the apartment. He looked down at his pad, looked into the eyes he couldn’t forget and closed the book.
He forced himself to walk to the bar. It was long with three bartenders. There wasn’t a ton of people in The Broken Spoke, but it seemed to be popular as all the bartenders were busy, so he slid into a seat at the end. After a few moments of waiting, the tall bald bartender stopped in front of him.
“Sorry about that. There’s always a rush around this time. What can I get you?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know in as you’re not much of a drinker or you don’t have a preference?”
“Both.” Michael wasn’t much of a drinker. He’d go out with his friends and have a few, or Eric would throw a party and he might drink but that was never a vice for him. He never knew what to order. The bartender nodded and seemed to think for a moment.
“Okay. I’ll give you something simple.” He turned around and did his bartending magic and slid a tall glass of dark liquid to him. “This is a rum and coke.”
That was one of his dad’s drinks. He tried it and it was… okay.
“Good?” The bartender asked with a raised eyebrow.
The guy moved away to help someone else. Michael sipped at his drink and watched the people in the building. Someone was singing on stage, people were chatting in booths, chatting at tables and some were dancing to the girl’s song. It was nice.
He could see Eric swaying with a leggy girl on the dance floor. He glanced around till he found Blake leaning against a wall talking with a redhead girl. Some people just had it.
“You good over here?”
“Are you here alone?”
Silence. Awkward shuffle.
“I might as well be.” He nodded to where his two friends were. “They’re doing their thing.”
Blake was tall and long, with his dark curls and green eyes. Girls just loved him. He and Eric were opposites, but they had the same effect on people and neither one of them cared about soulmates.
“Not much of a ladies man?”
Michael turned away from his friends and leaned his elbows atop the bar. The bartender watched him with dark eyes. It was intense.
“What, you going to be my therapist now?” Michael chuckled.
“Well you know, we do do that sometimes.”
The intensity cracked when he chuckled and swiped a few glasses left on the counter. Michael always wondered if that was a real thing and apparently it is.
“Everyone doesn’t do it, but I enjoy it. I went to school for psychology. People are interesting.”
“Is that why you became a bartender? To practice?”
“Nah., I like bartending and it just so happens I can talk to people. I wear a suit and tie during the day. Not much interaction with different people.”
Michael didn’t have to worry about not having people to talk to. He worked in a museum as a tour guide on the brink of becoming an educator. He saw hundreds of people a day. He loved art and wanted to be as close to it as possible. One day, he wanted to see his paintings, old sketchbooks, original comic drawings put into a museum to be seen by people forever. He always loved the idea of “forever”.
The bartender was called away, so Michael sipped more at his drink and turned back to the crowd. Eric was now sitting at a table with three different girls. One of them seemed intrigued by him and the other two were watching and talking amongst themselves. He searched the room for a tall figure and found him talking to the same redhead he was talking to before and even from far away, Michael saw something different in Blake’s body language. Michael watched for a moment and like he could feel the stare, Blake’s green eyes cut in his direction and they were wide. He’s never seen that look before, not on Blake but in the reflection of Theo’s eyes.
Did Blake meet his soulmate tonight??
Jealousy crept through his body at the thought. At the sight. It clawed its way from his stomach through his chest and he tore his eyes away from them and he tried to push it away.
“Ready for another one?”
He jerked hearing the voice of the bartender walk up to him.
“What?” The words caught up with him and he noticed his empty glass. “No.”
“I think you do.” The Bartender mixed another drink. It seemed stronger this time.
“It’s so easy for some people.”
He had no clue if that was Blake’s soulmate, or if she was single, or if she was even interested in falling into that black hole that was fate. But it was the fact that someone who is indifferent to soulmates, someone who is so casual and so unbothered looked so…
“Hey.” His eyes snapped up to face the tall man before him. The Bartender’s expression seemed a bit worried. He wasn’t angry, at least he didn’t think he was. “I don’t what happened in the two minutes I was gone but get it together.”
“You don’t know me.”
“No. But you’re different now. Why?”
Michael clenched his jaw. This man was not his therapist and he didn’t have to tell him anything. Plus, it wasn’t like he was that much older than him, it wasn’t like he was this adult who had all the answers. The bartender’s eyes flickered away from him for a few moments before settling back on him.
“So, you buy into this whole soulmate thing?” Silence. “Look. We’re human and we have free will. It’s not true love.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not.”
“How do you explain the feeling then? You must not have met your soulmate.” Forget the sip. He drank.
“I have actually.”
Michael arched an eyebrow at the bartender’s words. It was impossible for him to have met his soulmate if he was so nonchalant about it. His parents are soulmates and they were in love. They argued because they’re human, but they loved each other like they need each other to live.
“Then how can you say that? If you’ve met your soulmate then you know how it feels to hear your words and feel like every breath in your body–.”
“Because I make my own way. Just because I met my soulmate does not mean that I’m going to fall for her. She’s a stranger to me.” The Bartender rested his hands on the bar and spoke with a calm demeanor which irritated Michael. “I work in an office because it’s what I have to do but this is what I prefer to be doing.”
“So, what?” Michael’s eyes narrowed. “Are you saying that fate pushed you into your office job, but you go against it by being a bartender?”
“We choose our own path. Just because the universe says you’re supposed to do this with your life, or be with that person, doesn’t mean you have to listen.”
Ever since he was a little kid, Michael knew what he wanted to do with his life. He loved art. He did different kinds and wanted to be around it as often as possible. That’s never changed. Michael liked signs. Whenever he felt there was a sign, he’d follow it. It led him to greatness in many ways. Maybe not right away but life isn’t perfect. He ended up in the museum because he met someone randomly one day who worked there. He took it as a sign and applied. Look at him now, he’s moving up and he loves the museum.
“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that you have to ignore it when a sign does come. People ask for signs all the time.”
“If you can’t find direction on your own–.”
“So, you’re one of those then? One of those people who just ignore it when something is put right in front of you for a reason?” Michael ran a hand through his hair at the thought. The Bartender watched him. It made him uncomfortable. Michael wrapped his fingers around his sketchbook tightly, trying to maintain the stare.
The moment broke. The Bartender pushed off the counter and turned away from Michael. He spoke to the brunette bartender who nodded and smiled. He turned back to the young artist and rolled his shoulders.
“Taking a break.” Silence. Stare. Moves around the bar to take a seat next to Michael. “So, it’s obvious you’ve met your soulmate. I can only assume that it wasn’t happily ever after for you?”
“She has a boyfriend.”
Now that he was sitting next to him, he couldn’t see his expression. Not that he really wanted to anyway. He heard the man make an understanding noise. It was quiet again. The only thing making a sound was the band playing in the background. He was sure Blake was still enthralled with the redhead and Eric was still making his way through the lounge. Here he was, sitting next to a bartender who clearly doesn’t agree with him and he hasn’t moved yet. Maybe he just needed someone who wasn’t close to him to talk with. They always say it’s easier to talk to a stranger about personal problems.
“There’s nothing you can do about that.”
“I know.” Two drinks appeared in front of them and he took one like a thirsty man in the desert. Drink. “But what happens to me if she doesn’t choose me?”
He didn’t want to end up like his aunt. She found her soulmate, according to her, the woman was beautiful and everything she wanted in a partner, but she was engaged to another woman. The woman chose to be with her fiancé instead of his aunt. Aunt Sharon was still single. He loved his aunt, but she always seems sad… would that happen to him if Theo chose her boyfriend and not him? Would he be sad for the rest of his life? How could anyone ever measure up?
“I wish that it wasn’t like this. I’m an artist, I agonize in general,” Soft chuckle. “But I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life.”
“You have to make waves for your own life. I mean, what if you have to wait five years or ten years before you see her again? You make your own choices. Life doesn’t happen to you. You happen to life.”
Ugh. He didn’t even come here for this. He came here to have a good time. Well try to have a good time. He’ll probably be up late tonight sketching again. He might have to break out the big guns and cover up that hole in his wall with a new mural or something.
“This whole soulmate thing has people doing things they probably wouldn’t if they didn’t think their life was mapped out for them just because of some magic little words on their body. If we didn’t have them then none of this would be a problem.” Pause. “I think you have to just live your life man. My parents aren’t soulmates and they’re happy.”
“My parents are soulmates.”
“Good for them. That doesn’t have to be you though. Artists always make their own way. I don’t think it should be any different for you.”
Michael also couldn’t help but to think about her boyfriend. If Theo did choose him, then what will happen to that guy? He’s been in that position before where he wasn’t the soulmate and he wasn’t chosen. It hurt like hell. Michael didn’t think he was a bad guy and of course he wanted Theo to choose him but… god this is so hard.
Silence loomed over them again. How could he love someone he didn’t even know? That’s what this guy was saying. That’s what kept him from making the choice of going after his soulmate. Michael wasn’t sure if he could do that though. Even without the matching soul marks, he felt a connection to Theo, he knew he could love her no matter what.
“Hey man.” Eric sat on the barstool on his left and released a huge yawn. “I’m beat. You wanna go?”
Eric waved his arm somewhere behind him without turning around to see. “He’s talking to that redhead over there. I think she’s his soulmate. I’ve never seen him look like that before.”
“That’s what I thought.” Well good for Blake. He took a deep breath and allowed himself to come down from being wrung so tight due to the extreme jealousy he couldn’t help but to feel. Once those feelings drained away, he felt exhausted.
Eric looked past him at the man on his right. The Bartender nodded at him and downed the rest of his drink.
“Steve!” One of the girls shouted from behind the counter. He made an annoyed noise and jumped to his feet rolling his neck.
“Guess I have to get back to work. It was cool talking to you man. You finished?” Michael pushed the empty glass to his outstretched hands and watched as he walked back around the counter. “Good luck in everything.”
Michael stood to his feet and stretched his limbs, he noticed that Eric was trading eyes with the brunette behind the bar. Michael shook his head and patted his shoulder.
“Come on man.”
He grabbed the back of Eric’s shirt and he stumbled back off the stool. He made a “call me” sign at the girl who winked at him. Michael shook his head.
“You okay?” Eric asked once he got himself together to catch up with his taller friend. Michael shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets as they moved towards the door. Blake was waiting for them with a mystified look on his face. “You get that girl’s number Blake?”
He nodded, his green eyes looking through his friends. “Yeah. Her name is Delia.”
Yep, soulmate. Michael knew because he acted the same way when he told them about Theo. Eric laughed and nodded turning Blake away towards the door. After he had a chance to get his life together, Michael smiled. He was happy for Blake. All the ladies could eat their hearts out.
Just as they got out the door, he realized he’d forgotten something.
“Oh, hold up, I left my book. I’ll be back.”
He turned back made his way back towards the bar. He narrowed his eyes seeing The Bartender standing there flipping through his book. Michael didn’t mind people looking at his work but he’d rather if he was showing it instead of them stealing looks. As he got closer, he noticed The Bartender’s eyes were intensely focused on the pages.
The Bartender had a tight hold on his sketchpad. After what seemed like forever, he looked up at the young man before him, his eyes a mixture between confusion and anger. He slammed the book down on the counter and slid it towards him. With a downward glance, Michael saw just what he saw.
“Are you Michael?”
Only Forever (Part VI)
“He’s been drawing you.”
What? She frowned as she pulled herself into a sitting position. It was still dark in the apartment, with only the light from the television illuminating the tall man standing by the dining room table. He looked so rigid. She would never particularly say that he was easy-going, but he wasn’t uptight either. This posture was out of character and it worried her.
“What are you talking about?”
“He’s been drawing you.” It was a little louder this time, but the words still made no sense. “He’s been drawing your eyes and your face. The likeness-“
“Steve what are you talking about?”
He turned sharply in her direction like he finally realized she was there. He may have been talking aloud before but not directly to her. She couldn’t really see his face, but she was sure there was a crease between his eyes that appeared whenever he was distressed. He was silent again and Theo couldn’t help but to want to fill the silence, but she needed to know what he was talking about, so she didn’t.
After a few slow moments ticked by, she moved. She climbed off the couch, her feet moved across her wood floors to her boyfriend as he stood there, his body tightly coiled. Something happened tonight. She’s seen him like this before, holding tight to the anger restrained in his body. However, unlike last time, she had no idea how to soothe him because she didn’t know the problem.
She stood in front of him, careful not to get to close, even though she knew he would never do anything to hurt her. Her curls fell into her eyes as she looked up at him, his eyes staring at the ground.
“Steve.” He made an unintelligible noise in his throat and she wrapped her arms around his and pulled his body into hers. “Steve.” She felt his body shudder as she continued to whisper his name with the hope of pulling him back from whatever place he was pushed too. She didn’t stop even when she felt his arms circle her back and hold her to him. But something was still wrong because he held her like she might float away.
“I don’t know what to do.” She hummed giving him a moment to decide if he’ll continue on his own. He did. “I didn’t know who he was. He was just some kid, some artist who needed advice and we talked, and I liked him.”
“What did he do to make you so upset?” Her voice was gentle as she questioned the broken story, her hands smoothing up and down his back. He breathed into her hair and he held on tighter.
“He’s been drawing you.”
“The kid you talked to tonight?”
“Who is he?”
He was silent for a little while. The lights from the TV flickered across his face as she waited for him to continue. She had no idea who this person was. Maybe some weirdo saw her on the train and was inspired. Or perhaps it was someone she massaged before at work. Customer service allowed for her to see many people a day. She couldn’t possibly keep track of every client.
Her movements froze hearing the familiar name. It couldn’t possibly be him. She hadn’t talked to or even seen him in so long. He was an artist? Did he mention that when they spoke the first time? She couldn’t remember. Even still, the fact that Steve and Michael happened to meet? No. There’s no way the universe would do that to her. To them.
Silence. Ugh, she had to stop letting the silence overtake the moment because now it was uncomfortable. She carefully moved so she was looking up at him again.
“So?” The word hung in the air and again she waited. He huffed and pulled away from her. Cold air rushed into the space where he just stood. She wrapped her arms around herself to fight against it.
“So? He’s been drawing you Theo. That means he’s been thinking about you. The likeness was amazing.” He folded his arms across his chest. “I can’t even take his talent away because they were so good. You have to see where I’m coming from.”
“No, I don’t see. Just because some guy I met months ago, has been drawing my face and my eyes, which is a little weird if you ask me, doesn’t mean anything.”
“He’s your soul mate.”
Theo couldn’t help the twist in her stomach when he said it. When she met Michael, she was so confused, and it bothered her for days. It bothered Steve for days and she wished it never happened. They had a little bump in their relationship where it seemed like things were different between them and while they both acknowledged something was… off, it didn’t change how they felt. She loved Steve. He loved her. That wouldn’t change just because they both met the person the universe said they were supposed to be with.
“That doesn’t mean anything Steve. I’m with you. I haven’t even seen or talked to him in months. There’s no way for us to communicate.”
He started to pace, his shoes sounding heavy against the hardwood and all she could do was watch. If she was honest with herself, she understood his frustration, if she met that Ebony girl and found out she’d been drawing pictures of her man, especially after having a pleasant conversation, she would probably be in the same place as Steve. She understood. She did. But, at the end of the day, she’s with Steve. She loves Steve. Michael may be her soul mate, but she didn’t choose him.
He stopped pacing so abruptly she saw his body lurch from the impact. He turned to her, the muscles in his arms flex and his voice sounded strained.
“I know that! But the fact that he’s thinking about you! Of your face and your eyes–it’s–it’s killing me.”
“Steve, listen to me please.” The light from the television flickered across his dark skin, she needed him to stop thinking about this before it ruined everything. She ran her fingers through her curls, pushing them from her face and she gave him a gentle smile. “I love you. We know we make our own way, and we have no idea what the future holds, but in this moment… it’s me and you.” Her smooth hands held his face and she brought his lips to hers.
That moment sat in the forefront of her mind as she walked towards the cafe where they agreed to meet. She checked her watch and quickened her pace. She didn’t want to be late.
He sat at one of the outside tables, a book flipped open on the table, but it didn’t look like he was reading it. His eyes stared at the pages, but they didn’t move. She couldn’t help the smile that crept onto her face seeing him there.
He looked up startled at the familiar voice.
“Um… it was when I was actually reading it.” He held up the book for her to see the cover. She smiled seeing it was the book she was excited about a while ago, Children of Blood and Bone. She saw it on Instagram before its release and he probably heard her mention it many times. She bought the book, hadn’t read it yet as she didn’t have the time, but it was on her list. “It’s good but I haven’t really focused on it much today.”
She sat across from him and quickly put in an order as he talked about his day. Getting his call surprised her. She hadn’t heard from him in a while but according to her best friend, he’d been doing well for himself. She was truly happy for him. Marcy was into the soulmate thing, but it never stopped her from being a social butterfly. She says she’s not actively looking for someone but if a man manages to catch her eye, she wasn’t going to ignore him. However, Marcy is ready for her destiny. Theo couldn’t help but to roll her eyes as her mind wandered through topics.
According to Marcy, Steve was busy and making moves. He’s always had big ambitions and often talked about his plans. He worked in finance but wasn’t happy in that role. It paid the bills and gave him something to do during the day, but he always liked the night life, not necessarily living in it but being the reason why people went out. The Broken Spoke was nice, but he always wanted to have his own, to be in charge and create his own way. It was one of the things she loved about him.
“What?” He said with an awkward chuckle. Theo found herself looking him over amid their silence. He looked the same, same chocolate brown skin, same bald head that she still remembers massaging whenever he had a hard day. He was strong physically and those eyes still showed so much emotion. She remembered how they always held the answers, so much passion and they meant safety for her. It surprised her that they still meant that for her.
“Oh nothing. Still bald I see.” Laughter filled the silence slicing through the fog that was settled between them.
“So, I saw that you’re in grad school.”
She inhaled deeply, sipping the water the waiter placed before her. She wondered just how often Marcy still talks to Steve. She said once before that until she met Michael, if she ever met him, she was #TeamSteve. It made sense that she might share updates. Marcy-always trying to pull people together.
“Yeah, I decided to stop thinking of getting my MFA and actually do it.” She picked at the fruit brought to her as she talked. It felt nice catching up with him. “I thought about doing it online since you know, I have a major fear of rejection and I don’t want to see people’s faces while criticizing my work but-“
“But you decided you should actually meet with people because it would get you out of your comfort zone. But then you decided to do it online anyway because it fits better in your schedule and baby steps.”
She wondered if it was Marcy who shared that information, or did he figure it out on his own?
“The fact that you even got that right is amazing.”
“Well, I know you pretty well Theo.”
“Congratulations on your bar by the way.” Marcy showed her the photos on Instagram. It looked like Steve found someone to go into business with him if the guy whose hand he was shaking in the picture made any indication. Marcy said that it was turning out nice for him.
“I’m sure Marcy probably saw,” she smiled at his knowing smirk. “But I think it’s going to be really great. It’s in a part of town where they’ve been trying to bring some creativity back and I think The Doors will help that.”
The Doors? He’s played around with the name for a while but to hear that he settled on that one left her flabbergasted.
“That’s… really good Steve. I’m happy for you. I’m glad your dreams are being realized.”
She was happy. A year and a half did him a lot of good. They walked away from each other for a reason and though it was hard to be back in his presence, she found that she was okay with how she felt in that moment.
She was forced to walk away from him once more. The conversation turned from them catching up, to him talking about them being together. He wanted to give it another try. Theo could only listen and watch him as he spoke. She could hear the sincerity in his voice, the love in his eyes and her heart lurched in her chest. It was like a caged bird wanting to break free, but she couldn’t. At least not freedom with him.
She spent a long time thinking about them after their break up. It was painful but mutual. It was his idea, but she’d been thinking about it. She’d ran into Michael a few months after the conversation she had with Steve about him and it wrecked her life more than their first meeting. The universe was cruel, and she hated it. She tried to fight it for as long as she could but as fate would have it, she started to dream about Michael. Almost every night, she’d wake up with his face at the forefront of her mind. There were even times she’d wake up in Steve’s arms with Michael’s face there. It was too much. She couldn’t take it.
The day Steve said he wanted to take a break, it was on the tip of her tongue as well. She knew it wasn’t her fault, but it felt like it. They talked for a long time that night and in the morning, through teary eyes and a growing migraine, she watched Steve close the door behind him. She missed him so much that her heart felt empty but as she got ingrained in her writing and in her master’s program, her life became full again.
She moved on.
She scrolled through Instagram as she walked down the road towards Marcy’s place. Her headphones were secure in her ear and she bopped along to the Michael Jackson. She did a little dance step to shake off any negative or fleeting feelings that tried to invade her heart and mind. Theo liked different kinds of music but there was always something about Michael.
She shook it off and matched her footsteps with the music. She saw the body moving towards her but for some reason, she couldn’t make her body move out of the way fast enough. Their shoulders collided, she grunted in discomfort at the hard contact and she stumbled backwards. She planted her right foot to catch herself before she tumbled to the ground. That would be horrifying.
“Sorry!” She said as she straightened herself.
She froze. That warm voice invaded her senses. Her eyes zeroed in on the tall frame standing across from her. He stood there in his light wash jeans and dark shirt. Her eyes trailed over him as she cataloged everything about him, reminding herself just how good he looked. He was tall, his skin brown like coffee, full lips, his hair was a little longer now and the curl was more pronounced. His eyes, that deep mahogany that stared at her with what looked like disbelief.
Whatever he was wearing closed the distance between them, she could only pinpoint the faint scents of rosemary and jasmine but this… whatever he was wearing, it enticed her. It assaulted her, and she kept her feet planted to keep from moving towards him.
It was then she realized he’d been talking while she was being pulled in just from him standing there. It was so strong, and she didn’t want to fight it. The feeling was different now. Was it because she was no longer in love with someone else that this was no longer clouded? Was it because she fought against it so strongly that now it came at her full force? There’s so much she didn’t understand but she knew she didn’t care that much. She just stared.
“Sorry. I-I must have zoned out or something.” She pulled one of her headphones from her ear. “What did you say… before?”
“I said, I haven’t seen you in a long time. You… look great.”
She noticed he watched her too. Those brown eyes tracked over her body and normally she might have been offended at the brazen look, but she found she didn’t care. She wanted his hands to mimic his eyes.
“Thanks, so do you”
Theo felt in her bones that she was meant to be with him. She wasn’t against it anymore. She wanted to tell him that she dreamed of him almost every night. She saw his face at random times. They’d only seen each other three times, including this encounter, but she knew she could never forget him.
“I draw you all the time.” It was quiet, but she heard it, however, his tone did not match the intensity in his eyes. The awkwardness she felt from him in their first two meetings was long gone. She remembered Steve coming back to her apartment distraught at Michael’s apparent drawings. She thought about it constantly. She wanted to see what caused Steve’s fear and how Michael saw her.
“Can… I see them?”
Without hesitation, Michael showed her the worn, leather book she just noticed was in his hands. She took it and flipped through the first pages that held sketches of random people he may have seen on the street, people with eyes and facial features that resembled his own. There were landscapes and birds. Then… she paused, the gasp caught in her throat.
Wow. I’ve never seen myself like this before.
The sketches going forward were of her, with a few ones of nature, but they were all her.
“You’re beautiful.” He muttered moving closer to her, they were on the sidewalk after all.
“I dream of you every night.” It came out before she could censor herself. She’s had dreams where she’s walking through a large crowd, something she hates, but all the colors were drained from the people’s faces, their clothes, everything. It always made her uneasy however, in the distance, there was a flash of color. He was always drawing, painting…something and the colors were so vibrant. It would vary but it was constant.
“I’ve never stopped thinking about you. I tried to stop because I know you were with someone else.” He took a step forward, “I met him a long time ago.” She remembered. “I’m trying to care about the fact that you’re with him-“
As he spoke, the impulse rose up from her stomach, it spread to every nerve. Her skin tingled, and she closed the distance.
“I’m not.” Before she could stop herself, her hands came to rest on his arms. Theo felt the strength in them, she slid them up to his shoulders, feeling the muscle and ridges his arms. She grazed the skin of his neck, his pulse jumped beneath her fingers. She needed him, and she hated the fact that she was falling into the black hole that was fate, but she didn’t care anymore. She didn’t. Without saying a word, Theo used her grip on his shoulders to pull him forward, her lips brushed against his.
It was electric.
Lighting reverberated through her body. His arms wrapped around her waist and he pulled her flush against his body.
Fire! There was fire everywhere. She was lost in the flames, but she was okay. This felt so right, and she wanted to be lost in him, his taste, his smell and his arms. She understood now. She loved this feeling and she wanted to continue feeling it.
She wanted to know him. She wanted to be lost in him. Michael. Theo couldn’t believe she was missing this for so long. The young woman inhaled deeply, pulling him in as much as she could. He seemed to do the same.
Theo pulled back breathless. Her mind warred against her actions. She couldn’t believe she just kissed him like that! That she was doing this! She didn’t even know him! His forehead rested against hers. His breath came out heavy across her face. Peppermint.
She shook her head, their skin hot as they rubbed against each other. “I- I don’t just kiss…”
“I don’t either but…” It was amazing. How could just one kiss feel like this? A kiss with a stranger? What did fate want her to do? Just run into the sunset with him and they’d live happily ever after? They were still human after all. Her mind tried to make sense of it all, but even the most dedicated scientist didn’t seem to understand how the universe worked. Not in this way. “Theo, I want to get to know you.”
And she wanted to get to know him.
“Me too.” His lips brushed against hers, “But-“
“No. No.” He lifted her chin, his eyes focused on hers and she found herself getting lost in those eyes. She had nothing to fear. “I know you feel like you’re being forced into something and I would never do that to you Theo.” He ran a hand through his hair, but he didn’t let go of her waist. “I want to be with you. I want to know you the way no one else has never known you. I want to know what your voice sounds like in the morning.” He caressed the side of her face, her skin tingled in the wake of his touch. “I want to be able to look at you every day and discover new planes of your face. I want you to be my muse.”
She felt her face warm at the words, however, she couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face. Theo tried to suppress the giggle, but it bubbled from her lips. It turned into a full-blown laugh. Michael’s expression turned indignant.
“I-I’m sorry. That’s hilarious.” She noticed the expression but still laughed, “I don’t mean it in a bad way Michael. It’s so just so cheesy.” The indignation smoothed into fondness.
He cracked a smile.
“Yeah,” Michael moved his arms from around her waist, “But it’s what I want.”
She could tell. No matter how lame it came off, she wanted all of that and more. Michael held his hand out to her. Theo looked at the outstretched hand, her eyes then traveled to his face and he was waiting.
Her mind ran through so many thoughts. She knew she was ready for whatever happened between them. She knew she wanted to know him, to see his face every morning, to look at him and be inspired to write. Theo knew fate, the universe, God… she didn’t know what it was, created them for each other and pushed them together when it got the chance.
Before, she wanted to make her own path in every part of her life. Theo always knew or had some idea of what she wanted and that would never change. She will still march to the beat of her own drum, but this was a part of her life that was always full of uncertainty. It always landed back on those word on her shoulder. It pulled her away from Steve, but it led her to Michael. She never realized that no matter what kind of free will she had, certain things were always meant to be. She couldn’t dwell on the how or the why but the hand waiting for her.
So, she took his hand.