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Of Flowers and Numbers

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Regina started noticing the marks when she was in high school. She was sitting in her business class when black lines started to appear on her wrist. Her attention shifted from the discussion to what was being drawn - a simple flower.


At lunch, Kathryn immediately pointed it out.


“Looks like someone’s soulmate is getting artsy!” she said with a smile.


Regina simply rolled her eyes. “More like giving themselves the potential for ink poisoning— would that affect me as well?”


Kathryn simply laughed in response.




The flower was starting to fade when the next drawing showed up. It started out as simple curling line, and as the time went by it became more intricate, with dots and leaves being added on.


Regina had to start wearing long sleeved shirts to cover it up. The last thing she needed was her mother noticing.




Regina sat in her bed trying to keep herself from crying. Final grades had been released, and she had received a B+ in her geometry class. Her mother found out and yelled at her for it. And yelled. And yelled. And gripped Regina’s arm so tight she was pretty sure it would be bruised.


She was reaching a hand out to grab a tissue when she noticed it.


There was a little heart drawn on the side of her wrist. She smiled at it, silently thanking her soulmate, who had no idea what she was going through but was there for her anyway.


She fell asleep looking at the heart, hoping that one day she’d be able to see the artist in person.




“…When we leave here today, who knows when we’ll see each other again,” Regina said, addressing the crowd in front of her. “None of us can say where we’ll be, who we’ll be with, or what we’ll be doing in the next few years.”


She paused as she noticed circles being drawn around her fingers. She smiled at the sight. “What I do know is that we’ll be ready for the future, thanks to the teachers, friends, and family who have helped us get to where we are today, and will continue to help us in the future…”




The years passed and Regina continued to smile whenever doodles would show up. She considered writing something back, but in the end the nerves got the best of her. Especially with how much negativity there was amongst her friend group on the idea of soulmates.


“It’s just a load of shit,” Marian told her at a party once. “Honestly like who wants their lives to be dictated by some stupid romanticized idea of fate?”


Regina unconsciously pulled down the sleeves of her shirt, covering up her hands, where a couple of smiley faces had been drawn. “Yeah,” she said with a weak smile. “It’s really stupid.”




When Regina was a senior in college, a detailed flower appeared on her wrist, but this time, it didn’t go away.


Kathryn was the first to comment.


“Ooh! Did you get a tattoo?” she asked as she pulled Regina’s wrist towards her to get a closer look.


“No,” Regina said, “but I think my soulmate may have.”


Kathryn looked up at her. “Have you ever considered writing something back to this person?”


Regina shook her head. “I wouldn’t know what to even say.”


Kathryn shrugged. “You don’t have to say anything. It could just be a doodle, like what you’ve been getting this whole time.”


“I suppose I could,” Regina said, pretending to consider it for a moment. But she knew she wouldn’t.




Two months passed since Regina received her unintentional tattoo. And she hadn’t seen anything since.


She started to worry that her soulmate may have died, but Kathryn said that all marks disappeared when they were dead. Regina still had her tattoo, so she tried to remain hopeful.


It was unlike her soulmate, though, to not draw anything. It started to make Regina feel guilty for the lack of drawings on her own part.


She sat at her desk, twiddling a sharpie in her hand, debating on whether her brain was capable of making sane decisions at this point. Probably not. But at this point Regina didn’t care.


Taking off the cap to the sharpie, Regina placed her left arm on the desk, palm facing upwards. She looked at the tattoo and gained a little more confidence. Slowly but surely, she took the sharpie and started to write directly underneath the tattoo. When she was finished she capped it and admired her work.


I miss you.




Nearly a year passed before Regina saw another drawing appear. It was a simple heart drawn underneath the flower. Regina impulsively drew one next to it.




After that, there started to be less drawings, and they slowly became more simplistic and weren’t the decorative ones from Regina’s youth.


Until one night when a phone number appeared with a winky face written next to it. Regina panicked and wrote the number down on a piece of paper in case something happened.


She waited until the next morning to dial the number. Her heart was racing and she felt like she was going to vomit, but she could also feel the excited butterflies dancing around in anticipation.


Finally a voice answered.


“Hello?” a gruff voice answered. “Do you have any idea what time it is?”


Regina glanced at her clock. It was only ten in the morning. Maybe her soulmate was in a different time zone? “I’m… I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was early where you were.”


“What do you want?” the voice asked grumpily.


“You… you told me to call you,” Regina said, feeling the vomit feeling start to overpower the butterflies. “You wrote it on your hand.”


“I what? Lady I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the man said. He paused. “Oh, wait, are you talking about that soulmate shit?” He guffawed loudly. “Hell no! I didn’t write anything on my hand! Oh wait—” There was a scuffling noise on the other end, and then a deep chuckle that sent uncomfortable shivers down Regina’s spine. “Yeah, yeah I wrote my number on a hand. Not my hand though.” His voice dropped even further. “No, I wrote it on the hand of the pretty little blonde number I picked up last night at the club. Hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but she definitely isn’t a dyke—not with the way she was moaning my name over and over again as I fucked her—”


Regina quickly hung up the phone, her heart racing even faster than before. She felt even more sick to her stomach at the man’s words.


She had some answers, at least. Her soulmate was blonde. And a woman. And she apparently went to clubs to pick up men. Rude men.


Maybe the soulmate thing really was a bust.




There were no more drawings after that. It was like her soulmate was doing everything to avoid her, even though they’d never met.


Regina didn’t try to reach out again. She didn’t think she ever would.




It was not a good day. First, her secretary had stumbled over nothing and spilt her coffee. Rather than have the intern go and get her more and potentially screw up her order (again), she had chosen to just go and buy it herself. Then, she noticed that her stockings had a run in them, and she had just bought them a week ago. Now, she had to walk into the coffee shop with shoes that were soaking wet because a car had driven by and the puddle had drenched everything below her knees.


She quickly ordered her coffee and chose to sit at a corner table near the window to sip on it. She sighed and rubbed at her temples, trying to alleviate the headache that was forming. At least the coffee shop was fairly vacant and the only noise came from the workers cleaning up tables and preparing for the lunch rush in an hour. The only other customer was a pretty blonde woman sitting a couple of tables over, who was jotting down notes from what seemed to be a textbook.


Regina’s phone rang at that moment. She sighed again and answered it. “What?” she snapped.


“Sorry, ma’am,” her secretary said. “You told me to call you as soon as Mr. Gold called back with the order number.”


“Yes, I did,” she said, trying to somewhat comfort the skittish woman. “Let me get out a piece of paper and a pen first.” Regina started to dig through her purse. She found a pen. But no paper. “I don’t have a piece of paper with me—”


“I can just keep it here and you can get it when you come back!” the secretary offered.


Regina shook her head, even though she knew it wouldn’t be seen through the phone. “No, I need to call Whale now with the number.” She sighed and clicked the pen. “Whatever, I’ll just write it on my hand or something.” She listened to the number as it was recited to her, writing them down neatly on the back of her hand. It felt almost juvenile. “Thank you. I should be back within the hour.” She hung up the phone and was starting to search for Whale’s contact information when she felt like she was being stared at.


She looked up and her eyes connected with the wide green ones of the pretty blonde. “Can I help you?” Regina asked.


The woman stood and walked over, her mouth open the whole time, glancing down at her hand. She didn’t say anything, instead just holding up her hand, which was marked with the exact numbers that Regina had just written on her own hand.


Regina opened her mouth in shock, her eyes darting between her hand, the woman’s hand, and the woman herself. “You’re my soulmate?” she asked quietly.


The woman smiled and gave an awkward wave. “Hi.”




When Emma was young, she had heard of soulmates from a foster sister. The sixteen-year-old girl was crying about how her boyfriend wasn’t her soulmate, because markings had started to appear on his hand but she wasn’t writing anything on hers.


The next day the girl had said she was going to be proactive about finding her soulmate, and so she started to write little messages on her hand, waiting for them to be answered.


Emma admired her perseverance, so she decided that was going to start doing the same thing when she was old enough.


And so she did.


Starting on her fifteenth birthday, Emma began doodling on her arms. She drew flowers, vines, celtic knots… anything that meant she would have something marking her skin.


She didn’t receive anything back, but she didn’t mind. Some people just weren’t as artistically inclined as her.




The other kids in her foster home (the ones who still had their parents, who had the privilege of living with them and being loved by them) mocked her. One foster brother said that her soulmate hated her just like her parents did.


She punched him for saying that.


And then she ran.




She continued drawing on her arms, even as she was chastised for it. She’d deal with ink poisoning if it meant she had her soulmate by her side. Someone who would love her. Someone who would stay with her.


Someone who wouldn’t leave her.




She didn’t know what would happen when she got a tattoo. But she got it anyway, laughing at the idea of her soulmate getting an unexpected gift. She wondered if her soulmate was into tattoos.


Hopefully, considering she just got one. And her soulmate probably got it, too, but for free.


She wondered if maybe this would make the person respond.




She should have figured that Neal would con her. No one ever stays. No one ever loves her. She knew he wasn’t her soulmate, so why did she still trust him the way she did?


Why did she love him?


She sat alone in the jail cell for a month before the miscarriage happened.


Another month passed and she woke up to find something written below her tattoo.


I miss you.


She smiled and started to cry.


Maybe there was still hope.




The second Emma got out of prison, she went to the store and bought a pen, drawing a heart next to the tattoo. A thank you to her soulmate for finally responding.


Shortly after a heart appeared next to hers, causing hopeful flutters in Emma’s stomach.




She fucks up. She fucks up real bad.


She could blame it on the alcohol, but she really wasn’t that drunk. She was mostly just horny and the man seemed so nice and he wrote his number on her hand and she didn’t even think anything of it until the next morning.


The sun was streaming through the windows when she woke up as she felt someone holding her hand before dropping it back down on the bed.


And that’s when she heard the man’s voice filter into her senses.


“No, I wrote it on the hand of the pretty little blonde number I picked up last night at the club,” she heard him say. “Hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but she definitely isn’t a dyke—not with the way she was moaning my name over and over again as I fucked her—” He stopped and started laughing to himself. Emma opened her eyes and squinted up at him through the harsh light. He looked over and noticed she was awake. “Wrong number.”


She had never left a one night stand that quickly before.




Emma didn’t really know what to do after that. She saw the man’s number on her hand and realized that her soulmate must have seen it too.


Her soulmate was on the phone with the disgusting man she had hooked up with.


And now they probably hated her. She probably hated her, if his rude assumption about her sexuality was anything to go by.


Emma was disgusted with herself. She scrubbed and scrubbed at the number, wanting it off of her skin as soon as possible.


She stopped drawing on her hands, and she stopped waiting for answers.




Years passed. Emma finally started working towards a college degree in social work, with a minor in art. She was sitting at her usual spot in the coffee shop when she noticed a newcomer. An annoyed looking brunette was sitting in the corner table, in Emma’s direct view.


The woman’s phone rang and she answered it with a bite in her voice. Emma felt bad for whoever was on the other line— she’d certainly been there before.


“I don’t have a piece of paper with me,” the woman said.


Emma considered offering up a piece of her notebook paper, but then figured it would be best not to reveal that she was eavesdropping on the only other person in the shop.


“Whatever, I’ll just write it on my hand or something.”


Emma snorted a little to herself at that. This woman clearly found her soulmate if she was so comfortable just writing down random information on it.


That’s when the numbers started to appear on Emma’s hand. Perfectly synchronized with the movements of the woman’s hands. And then the woman recited the numbers, each one matching up with the ones written on Emma’s hands.


Her heart started to race. She looked up at the brunette and stared. She knew she was gawking and that it was rude but holy fuck this woman is her soulmate.


The woman hung up the phone and looked like she was ready to dial another when she looked up, her eyes meeting Emma’s. “Can I help you?” she asked.


Emma tried to speak but nothing came out, so she instead chose to stand and walk over, still in shock that this was happening. She held up her hand, showing the woman the numbers that she had already written on her own hand.


The woman’s mouth dropped open, her eyes flickering between their hands and Emma. “You’re my soulmate?” she asked quietly.


Emma finally gained control of herself a little, giving the woman a smile and a little wave. “Hi.”




Emma smiled as she stood in the doorway of the kitchen, watching her girlfriend chop vegetables for their anniversary dinner.


It had been three years since they finally met at the coffee shop. Three magical years that proved to Emma that all of her childhood dreams about soulmates had come true.


She had someone who loved her. Someone who wasn’t going to leave her.


And now she wanted to confirm that Regina was that someone who would stay with her forever.


Emma grinned to herself as she pulled out a sharpie from her pocket, uncapping it and drawing an infinity sign on the ring finger on her left hand with a question mark next to it. She capped the sharpie and waited for Regina to notice.


It didn’t take long. Regina stopped chopping the vegetables and lifted her hand.


She turned and noticed Emma. Her eyes looked watery, but she smiled and stepped forward, standing directly in front of Emma and taking the sharpie from her hands hands. Regina’s hands shook a little as she drew a heart around Emma’s drawing before giving tucking the sharpie in the back pocket of Emma’s jeans.


“Is that a yes?” Emma asked quietly.


Regina rolled her eyes and smiled. She leaned forward and gave her answer in a kiss as she intertwined their marked hands. “Of course it’s a yes, you idiot.”