Falling Fast

Seriously
*Companion piece to One and Only.
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.
“Seriously?”
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 been together ever since. Their words matched. Her mother’s was  on her lower back, a place she hated by the way, You’re really 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 of 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?
They didn’t.
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.
“Seriously?”
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. Her eyes couldn’t help but to look. 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 of 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.
“Fine.”
“Thank you.”
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.”
Too late.
“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… does 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 really 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 in 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?
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One and Only

Are You Okay
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 that he didn’t choose, in a place that he didn’t want, and that 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 definitely 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, styled into a fro-hawk. She wore dark jeans, and a blue tank top.. he couldn’t help but catalogue 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, and he blinked quickly, pulling 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 a beautiful script. It was his word. It was her.
“W-wait!” The young woman froze. He could see her shoulders hunch. 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 and he wanted to look 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.
“Fine.”
He almost broke out into a large grin, he wanted too but he didn’t want to freak her out anymore than she already was.
“Thank you.
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 that it wasn’t 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 of 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.”
She nodded.
“I’m Michael by the way.”
“Theo. Well Theodora but Theo.”
Interesting name. Must be a family one. 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.”
Oh.