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Hey, Lover

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     A soulmate isn’t happily ever after. It’s not a promise, you can never even know positively if someone is “The One.” Sure, your body may prove otherwise. Those raised colored markings on your skin tell you the truth, or what you should believe is such. Eighteen years and you’ll finally be able to find your soulmate! Eighteen years of being filled with anxiety and stress. Overcome with the thought of who, where, how, when. A possibility of an entire lifetime before figuring it out.

     Lucky people who find their soulmates right away. People who are not confused by their own feelings.

     A few unlucky people contract Hanahaki due to an unfortunate and terrible circumstance.

     And an even fewer who have more than one marking. Two or three different colored markings. Each a different person, typically a choice has to be made among the people and the markings. There have only been stories of a handful of polyamorous soulmate relationships from this fluke. Not impossible, not out of reach. Just rare.

     One of the saddest stories, though, is about those who have no soulmate at all. No marking, which isn’t as bad for some. Or a marking that only glows on them, and not for the person who touched it.

     The heartbreak that must follow can be...fatal. In our world, our society, our functioning humanity, the weight of finding your soulmate is crushing. Your whole life, you’re taught about soulmates and what it means, what your role is. A human life is weighed in the quality of love. A love that only brings strife before meeting.

     Tomorrow is my birthday and yet...all of these possibilities have been racing through my head for the past (almost) eighteen years. I keep checking my phone to make it feel as if time will slow down.

     Realistically, it won’t. Time is finite, it feels slow or fast sometimes, but it’s just time.

     Will it burn? Tingle? Tickle? Does it feel like anything at all?

     Do they already know me? Do I know them?

     11:47

     Thirteen minutes isn’t enough time to answer these questions. We deliberate and experiment, humans have for eons. The best we have to show is that it reveals where your soulmate will first touch you. When your soulmate touches that spot, both yours and your soulmate’s markings will glow. At least there’s that.

     11:49

     I don’t like this anticipation. Maybe it’ll be better to sleep and just wake up with the marking already there.

     ...If my parents weren’t standing right below my door pacing around, whispering to each other. They offered pastries earlier and I know my best friend is sitting in front of her phone waiting for me to call. Some comfort is provided by her, since she’s already gained her marking and found her soulmate. I'm just behind, slightly younger than everyone else in my class.

     11:54

     Ugh. Eighteen is so young, why not when you’re, like, 30?

     11:55

     What if it’s somewhere embarrassing?

     I’ll just...close my eyes for a few minutes and not think.

     …

     It tingles. And then burns. They both do.

     Both?

     Oh….my god

     “MARINETTE?!”

     “Mari? Sweetie? Are you okay? Did it happen? What color is it?”

     “Um…” I rub my forearm, then trail my hand down to my waist. Two markings.

     12:02