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Everything was just way too loud. Did these people I called my family have an ounce of respect for me? I thought as I buried my face deeper into my pillow and tried to go back to sleep. However, because the cosmos and stars and planets or whatever weren’t in my favour, I wasn’t given the simple pleasure of a few more minutes of blissful sleep. Someone loudly knocked on my bedroom door while someone else (I assumed my mother) banged on the kitchen ceiling (which my bedroom was directly above of), with a broom.

“Rayna, get up!” my twin brother yelled from the door. “You’re going to be late for school. It’s our senior year!” I could practically hear the smile and excitement in his manly deep voice.

I groaned as I slowly rolled off my bed, walked to my door, swung my door open and glared at my brother. “Leave me alone, Bret.” I winced when I got a whiff of my morning breath and judging by the look of disgust on Bret’s face, he’d gotten a whiff of it as well.

“You look like shit,” he said fixing the collar of his letterman jacket. “Are you hungover?” he asked snickering.

“Are you hungover?” I returned in a mocking tone.

Bret rolled his eyes. “Well from the looks of it, you definitely are. I know how much liquor I can handle. You however,” he said pointing his index finger at me, “have no idea how much liquor you can handle. They’re going to kill you,” he said referring to our parents. “They are so going to tear you a new one. They’re little princess is a drunkard.”

“Shut up,” I said pushing him aside. “Mom and dad have no idea I’m hungover. They don’t even know I drink,” I said mostly reassuring myself.

“They do now,” Bret said in a soft tone.

“What do you mean?” In my parents’ eyes, I was their little angel. Though I wasn’t the youngest child (my little brother Timothy held that title), but I was their only girl and because of that, I got a lot of attention and affection from them.

Yes, my memory of the night before was blurry but I was certain my parents’ didn’t know what had happened.  I just remember leaving Bret at the party and coming home alone to both parents in bed, and then going straight to sleep. There was no way they knew where I was or what I did. They slept like the dead.

“Don’t you remember coming home and throwing up?” When I shook my head Bret continued with a slight smirk on his lips. “You were so drunk at the party that I had to physically carry you home and when we did get home, mom and dad were up waiting on us. They’d found out that we’d snuck out.” Bret’s smirk faded a bit as he thought about the night before. “My bet is that Timothy snitched on us,” Bret added as an afterthought. “Mom had to hold your hair while you threw up into the toilet. You’re a sloppy drunk, Rayna.”  

Oh no. My heart sunk and I closed my eyes in guilt. My parents were going to be so disappointed in me. I clutched my pounding head and ran to the bathroom, I could hear Bret chuckling as I scrammed to lift the toilet seat up. I felt like I was getting sick all over again. I didn’t throw up though. I must’ve emptied my stomach last night. Or technically, earlier this morning. What difference did it make?

After I finished showering, wearing my best clothes and putting on makeup, I took a deep breath and forced myself to go downstairs to face my parents’ wrath.

When I got to the kitchen, my mom had already made my breakfast for me. It included all my favourite things. There was bacon, scrambled eggs, toast, and a bowl of fruit salad. For half a second I thought there was no way my mom would make me all of this if they’d caught me in a drunken state. Bret had lied to me, I thought as I happily sat down and shoved a forkful of eggs into my mouth.

“Rayna, we thought you were better than this,” my mother commented immediately in the most disappointing tone I’d ever heard. The eggs tasted stale all of a sudden.  

I slowly sat my fork down, bowed my head and apologized. I felt really humiliated. My mother and I had a close relationship and seeing her so disappointed in me hurt more than I thought it would.

My dad came down from upstairs, kissed my mom’s cheek and stole a sip of her coffee. I smiled at their loving behavior towards one another, but my smile quickly fell from the glare my dad shot me. “So what else have you been lying to us above?” he asked.

“It’s all right honey, she apologized,” my mom said placing a calming hand on his shoulder.

“Nothing else,” I said in a small voice. “I promise.”

“Are you sure,” my brother Timothy said.

“Keep out of this Tim. This doesn’t concern you,” I snapped.

“Sure it does,” he said. “I look up to you as an exemplary person and I need to know the things you do so I may learn from you. You’re my role model, Rayna.” It was a bunch of crap and he knew it, he was just trying to make me look worse than I already did.

Out of all my brother’s, Timothy was the most annoying. Sure, I loved him. He was my brother; I had no choice but to love him. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t think he was a complete pain in my ass. Timothy was the prankster of the family. He was always looking for ways to ruin someone’s life, but he wasn’t really a bad guy. Timothy was 15 but acted like he was 5 or something. Little shit.

My parents’ have four kids. Bret and I both were 17, and Nick was 16.

Nick was very kind. He was very sweet to every single person he ever came across. He never raised his voice or gotten angry at anyone. Whenever he did get angry, which was rarely, it was for someone else. For example, when my boyfriend broke up with me in the beginning of the summer, Nick got mad for me. He comforted me and stuck by my side until I felt better. But, when a girl he liked didn’t like him back and treated him harshly, he never once got mad.

Bret was on and off. He had his moments where he was a great brother and would fight for me no matter what and then there were days where we just fought each other. I understood why he was so hot and cold. He was the star basketball and baseball player at our school. All the girls fawned at his feet and all the guys at the school wanted to be his friend. He had an image to obtain.  

As for me, I was awesome. I’m the best sister these guys could ever ask for.

“Mom, dad, I’m really sorry for my behavior last night. It won’t happen again.” I apologized again giving my parents’ my signature puppy dog eyes. It was killer. As per usual, it worked to my advantage. The disappointing expression on my parent’s face vanished and replaced with looks of acceptance and love.

“Oh come on!” Bret protested, throwing his arms up and spitting food everywhere. “You’ll forgive her that easily? She flashes her eyes at you, blinks a couple of times and all is forgiven?”

My parents’ diverted their attention to Bret, who in turn, shrunk in his seat. Mom and dad were pretty lenient and understanding, which I was grateful for. They weren’t as strict as the parents’ of some of my friends, but they weren’t soft on us either.

“She apologized for her mistake,” my dad said in a soft yet stern tone. “You on the other hand, haven’t explained your actions last night nor have you apologized for them.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong, dad,” Bret defended. “I just drank a bit and hung out with my friends. It was a party to celebrate the beginning of our final year at high school. I was responsible considering the event.” Admittingly, he had a point. Out of the two of us, Bret was the responsible one.

“Fine. You’re off the hook, too,” my mom said before she practically inhaled a piece of toast. “Hurry up, you’re running late.”

We all quickly devoured our food, kissed our parents’ goodbye and ran out the door.

Since all of us were close in age, we all attended the same boring high school. The school was less than ten minutes away so we walked to school every day.

“Are you excited?” Bret asked gripping his backpack strips tighter. Nick and Timothy were walking ahead of us. They had their heads bowed and were engaged in a very serious conversation about turtles and tortoises. 

“Excited for what?” I answered.

“We’re in grade 12 now,” Bret explained like I was stupid. “We finally have our mandatory soulmate class, Rayna.”

Oh right. I had almost forgotten but I couldn’t stop myself from being a bit excited.

Soulmates were everything, according to society that was. If you wanted to live a happy and accomplished life, you had to find your soulmate or else you’d be unhappy forever.

The purpose of everyone’s existence was to find their soulmate and grow old together, because if you didn’t find your soulmate, you never grew old. People aged normally until they turned 18 and once they’d reached that age, they ceased to age. So in other words, if someone were to never find their soulmate, they would never die.

The sound of never dying sounded blissful to me. Who doesn’t want to be immortal? However, not finding our soulmate for a long time had its effects. It seemed like no matter what you did, you could never be truly happy. A part of you would always feel empty. From what I’ve heard from other people, it seemed like there was a constant void in your soul that would not, nor could not be filled. The only thing that could fill it was the bond between two soulmates.

Personally, I didn’t find that unbearable. Finding your soulmate didn’t define who you were as a person nor did it define your purpose in life. Everyone has a different purpose. Whether it be to make people happy, to save lives, to change lives or to simply to affect one person in some way, shape or form, even if that person was yourself.

“It’s no big deal, Bret,” I shrugged.

Bret scoffed. “No big deal!? This is huge. Aren’t you excited to meet that one person that’ll make you complete and whole? The one person, that gets you like no other person, and makes you happy like no other person?”

“Are you excited to die or something?” I retorted harsher than I meant to. “Let’s be honest for a second. Not everyone has found their soulmate nor are they ever going to. You know about that guy in Germany that was born in like the 1700’s and has yet to find his soulmate? You have to be reasonable and learn to live on your own.”

Bret pushed me to the side and stopped walking. “You’re just angry because some guy didn’t think you were his soulmate so he dumped you.”

Bret was satisfied by the hurt look on my face and continued to walk. I swallowed the bile that had risen in my throat and blinked away my tears. Bret was right. I was angry. I was angry and bitter. Who wouldn’t be if they were dumped by someone they loved and genuinely thought was their soulmate? He didn’t feel the same way, though. He thought I was getting in the way of him finding his soulmate.

“Rayna,” Timothy called running towards me. “Bret’s a dick. Don’t listen to him.” He grabbed my hand and began walking towards the school. “Come on.”

I frowned in confusion and stared at Tim. “Why are you being nice to me Timmy? You’re never nice to me.”

“I can be nice when I want to,” he defended. “I just like to pull your leg. It’s fun making you angry. I don’t like you being upset though.” He paused for a few seconds. “Plus, Nick made me come get you,” he smiled.

“That makes more sense,” I joked, smiling shyly. “Thank you though,” I said squeezing his hand.

“No problem,” he said winking.

Tim and I were actually getting along for once in our lives and were having a fun conversation about Christmas movies when I heard someone yelling my name.

I turned around searching for the source of the voice. It was my best friend Lacey.

“Oh man,” Tim groaned. “I can’t stand that cow.”

“Hey,” I said lightly smacking him on the shoulder. “That’s my friend you’re talking about.”

Tim has always had a problem with Lacey. I thought it may have been because he had a crush on her, but he denied it. He said it was because he couldn’t trust her. There was something about her that he just didn’t like. Also, he said she was a total snob. This technically wasn’t a lie.

“See you later, Rayna,” Tim said walking away towards his friends.

I turned my attention back to Lacey. She had dyed her hair grey. It was a new hipster thing that was going on. It nicely complimented her dark skin tone. I self-consciously touched my hair. Did I remember to put some coconut oil in there? I didn’t want my hair to look dry and dull. I thought as I watched Lacey walk towards me.  She looked completely different, yet her aura was the same. The way she moved and presented herself was the same. She still demanded the attention of everyone around the perimeter. She still had the blinding smile but there seemed to be a bit of wickedness in that smile. Had that always been there?

Lacey lifted her arms in the air silently demanding a hug. She knew I wasn’t a huge fan of touching people. I just didn’t like people touching me. I didn’t mind touching my family members but I didn’t like touching other people. Boyfriends were fine. I didn’t mind them touching me.

I gave a small strained smile and forced my body into her arms. I didn’t quite reciprocate the hug. I just let her hold me while my arms stayed to my sides.

“There there,” Lacey said petting my head as if I was some animal. To an outsider, I probably looked like a helpless person who was being comforted by Lacey. I knew what she was doing. Lacey always had to one up me. By doing this, she was making it look like I was a damsel in destress and she was my hero. People were going to think she was an amazing person, who helped the less fortunate. She was doing this to make me look weak.

It was times like these where I tried to remember why she and I were friends to begin with.

“Okay,” I said getting myself out of the hug.

Lacey shot me a look of pity and my insides burned with rage. “How are you?” Lacey asked as if I were a child.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“I heard about the break up,” she commented with a pout.

“Didn’t everyone?” I asked in a flat voice.

As per usual, Lacey ignored my comment and continued on with her thoughts. “I am so sorry I wasn’t here to support you,” she stated. “As you know, I was in Italy. Italy was so much fun. I met some really great guys. Slept with a lot of them,” she boasted. I lifted the right corner of my upper lip in response. “The scenery there is so magnificent. The architecture, food, people, culture. I miss it all already,” she smiled staring blankly into the air as if she was reminiscing.

I rolled my eyes and asked myself why I was still paying attention to this. Why hadn’t I walked away from her as soon as she opened her fucking arms to a person she knew didn’t like to be touched?

“Do you like my hair?” she asked flicking it behind her shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s nice,” I answered.

“I know,” she laughed while she played with her hair.

I rolled my eyes, turned around and began walking to the doors. “Where are you going?” Lacey asked catching up to me.

“To school,” I motioned pointing to the building.

“Okay,” Lacey quipped. “You know, Rayna, I know you got dumped and all but there’s no need to be a bitch to me. I wasn’t the one to break up with you.”

I stopped in my tracks and really looked at Lacey. I don’t know what revelation I had but right then and there, I was done. I couldn’t be friends with her anymore. She was poison. She was insensitive, rude, selfish and cocky. A few years ago, heck, even a few months ago, I would’ve said she was the epitome of a best friend. I would’ve said she was caring, thoughtful, selfless and generous. She was so fun to hang out with. She was silly and adventurous. She always found the best in people and made sure they knew how special they were.

Then, almost overnight, puberty caught up to her and she got lucky. All of a sudden, she had grown into her lanky arms and legs. She had grown into her ears and her large wide eyes suddenly looked doe like and it made the boys go crazy over her. Her wild hair was now tamed. Her hair was shiny and bounced with life. She started dressing more provocatively and hanging out with jocks and people that were into themselves way too much. That changed her. That made her someone I loathed. No, I didn’t hate her because she wore better clothes or she was gifted in wearing perfect makeup or that she looked like a goddess. No. I hated her because she made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of being her friend anymore. I felt like I was some kind of social charity case to her.

“Why are do you still hang out with me?” I softly asked. I smiled when I saw the look of confusion flash across Lacey’s face. When I didn’t get an immediate response I asked again. “Why are we still friends, Lacey? Why are we still hanging out? We’re completely different.” I sighed. “You’re completely different,” I said in a sotto voice.

“I don’t understand,” she whispered slightly shaking her head. Her eyes were looking everywhere but my face. For a second I thought that maybe I was making a mistake. I thought that maybe she actually still cared about our friendship and I was just interpreting everything wrong. Perhaps I just wasn’t seeing things clearly. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t unfriend Lacey, was currently my only friend. Our other friends stopped hanging out with us about a year ago when Lacey began to change. I only stayed with Lacey because I felt a sense of loyalty to her. After all, we had known each other since kindergarten.

However, when I was about to open my mouth and tell her to forget about what I had just said, I heard the whispered voices.

I slowly turned around to see what was going on. There were people in small groups standing around watching Lacey and I break up our friendship. I really didn’t care that people were watching, everyone in this damn school never minded their own business.

I returned my attention back to Lacey to see her blotting her eyes with a tissue. I scowled in confusion. Why was she crying? Where did she get a tissue that quickly? There was literally no reason to cry. I technically hadn’t told her that I thought we shouldn’t be friends anymore. The result of that hung on her answer to my question

Then it clicked. She was acting as the innocent one in the situation. Lacey wasn’t stupid, she knew where I was going in the conversation. If she didn’t cry, then in people’s eyes, she’d look like a loser whose longtime friend no longer wanted to be friends anymore. But tears… tears meant victim and victim meant sympathy. She was purposely acting heartbroken so more people would take sympathy on her and her popularity would sky rocket. I would be the bitch that hurt Lacey.

“I know what you’re doing,” I hissed.

“Like I care,” Lacey said bowing her head down so her hair was covering her face from the nosy bystanders watching us. She gave me a snide look. “Rayna, I couldn’t care any less about what you think of me,” she spat harshly. “Do what you want, I don’t care. I don’t need you. I was only hanging out with you because I felt sorry for you. Without me, who else do you have? You don’t have any other friends. What are you going to do? Hang out with your brothers’? You’ll look so pathetic, but that’s not my problem anymore.”

With that, Lacey lifted her head back up, hiccupped, wiped her fake tears, and ran towards the main doors.

I rolled my eyes and turned my attention back to the crowd. Some people were giving me nasty looks while others were actually smiling and clapping. Timothy was amongst one of the ones that were cheering. He gave me a thumb up when we made eye contact. I gave him a gentle smile and a nod. The bell rang and everyone rushed to the doors and towards their first class of the school year.

My first class was photography. Photography used to be my favourite class because I loved capturing moments of things I thought were beautiful and also because I shared the class with my then boyfriend, Tyler. Tyler and I were opposite in what we wanted to pursue educationally, but the one thing we had in common was photography.

When I walked into the classroom, Tyler was sitting in his usual seat beside the window directly in front of the sun. We had claimed that seat at the beginning of our very first class. It was the most beautiful seat in the room. It was actually quite romantic. The idea of hanging out with your boyfriend and having the sun shine directly behind you, illuminating each other. It was corny now when I thought about it.

Tyler made eye contact with me and gave me a smile. I gave him a tight smile in return and looked around to look for a new seat to claim. I ended up sitting beside the Shy Guy who barely spoke a word to anyone. I looked at Tyler to see if he was watching me but he wasn’t. He was staring at his phone and smiling. It hurt to see that he had gotten over me so quickly. I wasn’t over him yet. I guess there was a part of me that still hoped he would think he made a huge mistake breaking up with me and try to get back with me. Of course, I’d say yes.

Looking at him now though, I realized we were really done.

Our teacher had given us all photographs of a group of people who all had different emotions. She wanted us to pick a person and sketch out a scenarios that made them express the emotion on their face. The emotion we picked would be our theme for our first project. The Shy Guy beside me looked at me and said in a low voice, “I thought this was a photography class, not a sketching class.” His small smile fell when I stared blankly at him. He had a British accent. I never knew that. Well in my defense, I had never heard him speak to anyone before.

“Sorry,” he said looking down at his feet. “I have horrible humor.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said feeling bad. “Your sense of humor is better than mine. I don’t know any jokes,” I said in hopes of lighting up the situation.

Shy Guy nodded and gave me a shy smile. “I saw what happened this morning,” he confessed. “I thought it was pretty bad ass of you.”

“Thanks,” I sighed not wanting to think about it.

The guy looked like he was itching to say something but he kept his mouth shut. After two minutes, he finally bottled up the courage to speak. What he said shattered my heart.

“Do you think they’re soulmates?”

I blinked at him in confusion. He gave me a pitiful smile and jerked his head towards the far end of the class where Tyler sat. But instead of me sitting beside him, it was Lacey. She was practically sitting on his lap. They were whispering to each other. From where I sat, it looked like they were a couple, a very flirty couple.

“So do you?” the Shy Guy repeated when I didn’t answer is question.

I wanted to tell him that I hoped not. I wanted to tell Shy Guy that I hoped Tyler and Lacey never found their soulmates. I hoped they found people they deeply cared about who weren’t their soulmates only to have the other person they were in a relationship with find their soulmate and leave them. I hoped they got hurt the way I was hurting.

It would completely destroy me if Tyler and Lacey ended up actually being soulmates. Tyler had broken up with me because he thought we weren’t soulmates, but did he think Lacey was the one? How could she be, she’s Lacey. Yet again, how could she not be, she’s Lacey.

I looked away from the two and focused back on Shy Guy. I really needed to ask him his name.

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know.”

Shy Guy offered me a small smile and a nod. He cleared his throat and began to sketch the angry man in the photo. “For your sake,” he whispered without looking at me, “I hope they aren’t.”

I erupted in a fit of laughter. A bunch of students jumped at my outburst and glared at me, while some others smiled at me, Shy Guy being one of the latter. What he said wasn’t even funny, but just the thought of someone else hoping the same thing I did made me laugh. Did that make me a bad person? To wish such awful things for people that meant a great deal to me not so long ago?

“Thank you,” I wheezed happily. It’s been a long time since I let go and just carelessly laughed.

Shy Guy just winked at me.  

The rest of my classes went pretty well. No one bothered me. Surprisingly, most people were much friendlier to me. However, just because I got a few smiles here and there, didn’t really mean I had made any new friends, so come lunch time, I had no idea who to sit with.

I was half tempted to go sit beside Bret, but I didn’t want to surround myself with his rambunctious friends.

Though I loved Nick and Timothy, it would be social suicide to sit with my little brothers’.

“Rayna,” Bret called catching my attention. I raised my eyebrow at him in question. He beckoned at me to join him at his table. It was times like this that I believed in twin intuition.

I had two choices. I could either join Bret and his friends; deal with them for an hour, or I could, just find a vacant seat at literally any table and not have to deal with Bret’s friends.

Before I could make a decision, Shy Guy from my photography class came into view and gave me a bright smile.

“Hey,” he said waving at me even though we stood an arm’s length away from each other.

“Hi,” I greeted in return giving him a hesitant smile. My mind automatically concluded that Shy Guy must have a crush on me. No guy in this school was kind to a girl just because they felt like it or they wanted to be friends with them.

“Would you like to sit with me and my friends for lunch?” he asked excitedly. I quickly tried to think of a way to gently let him down. I didn’t want to lead him on; I was still hung up on Tyler. Shy Guy must’ve noticed my uneager because he gently hit my shoulder in enthusiasm. “Oh come on,” he chimed, “what’s the worst that can happen.”

I shrugged and glanced over at Bret. He gave me a supportive smile and judging from the look he gave me, he was silently telling me to follow Shy Guy. “Okay,” I sighed.

“Great,” he said gently pushing me towards the far end of the cafeteria. “I think you know some of my friends already.”

I highly doubted that. Shy Guy never spoke to anyone and he didn’t seem like the type of have many friends. Sure, he was kind of cute and smart but the way he presented himself just seemed a bit…odd.

My legs stopped working as soon as I realized which table Shy Guy and I were heading to. “No,” I breathed. Shy Guy grasped my wrist and pulled me to the table. “Sit down,” he ordered and somehow I complied without complaint.

Shy Guy went around the table to where the beautiful Latino girl I used to call a friend sat. Shy Guy leaned over and gave her a meaningful, soft and yet quick kiss. Oh. Okay.

They said something only the two of them could hear and the erupted in laughter which was followed by another kiss.

“They’re always like that,” the guy beside me said. He had long hair which he had tied up into a bun. “What can you expect with soulmates, really?” he said smiling at the couple.

“Huh,” I sputtered.

“Patrick and Lola are soulmates,” he explained as if it was old news. “I’m Frank by the way,” he introduced sticking out his hand for a handshake.

I blankly shook his hand. I was still wrapped up about Lola and Shy Guy – Patrick, being soulmates. I knew Lola was 18; she started school a year late because her parents’ were very over protective and thought it was wiser to have Lola wait a year longer before she started school.

I knew this because Lola and I used to be very close friends. There was an entire circle of us. A clique if you will. Lacey, Lola, myself and four other girls, said girls were currently sitting at the table as well. They were giving me comforting smiles. I couldn’t understand why, they should hate me for wanting to only be friends with Lacey.

Lola, Ingrid, Sapphire, Denise, and Nora were smart enough to ditch Lacey when she began to change. They hadn’t liked the way Lacey had made them feel so they split from the group, though they remained a group of their own. They had advised me to leave Lacey as well but because of my loyalty to Lacey, I didn’t. I thought they hated me for not joining them. I had every reason to think they hated me. They stopped talking to me, texting me, or even sitting beside me in class. They had stopped all levels of communication.

“How can they be soulmates? How did they know so early?” I wondered.

“Fate I guess,” Frank explained. “They’re both 18,” he said explaining further. “I was there when they met. It was during the summer when we all went to an amusement park. It wasn’t as dramatic as you’d think but as soon as they’re eyes met, they knew. They’ve been inseparable since.”

I waited for it. I waited for the pit of my stomach to roll in a fit of jealously. I waited to feel pain and hatred from watching Patrick and Lola be happy together seep into my bones, but it never came. Instead, I just felt happiness.

The rest of the lunch period went by without a hitch. Everyone at the table was nice and they welcomed me with open arms. Within the fourty-five minute lunch break, I had made four new friends and reunited with another four.

I had two classes before my soulmate class. Every senior in the school had to take the course. Every senior in the world had to take the course. From what I’ve heard from people who have taken it before, it is really eye opening and educational. Since all of the seniors were put into one class, the class was held in the school’s auditorium.

I pushed my way through the crowd to get a good seat. Everyone knew there were about 50 seats that were horrible in some way shape or form. To my absolute horror, I couldn’t find any of the good seats available. I was about to sit on a squeaky chair when I heard someone calling my name.

It was Lola and everyone from lunch. I walked up to them and said hi. I could afford leaving my squeaky chair for a few minutes; there was no way I could find anything worse.

“We saved you a seat,” Lola said pointing to the seat between her and Frank.

I stood there speechless for ten seconds before I sat down. “Thank you,” I said giving Lola a smile. She graciously returned my smile and asked me about my day.

I was in the middle of telling Lola, Frank and Patrick about how I had put excessive amounts of salt into everything Timothy ate for an entire week after I had found out he had read my diary when I was interrupted by one of the teachers.

“Welcome everyone,” she said in an excited voice. “As most of you know, I’m Mrs. Ingrite and I am the head guidance counselor at the school. What most of you might not know is that I am also a soulmate specialist.” She dramatically paused, waiting for the audience to ooh and aah. It never came. Everyone already knew she was a soulmate specialist.

“Okay,” Mrs. Ingrite said when she didn’t get the response she wanted. “So we are going to get right into business. Beside me are two wonderful individuals,” she said pointing to the two women on the stage with her. “They are here to help me with the class and to tell you a bit about their own personal experiences. So without further ado, they’ll begin.”

I took the slight pause to look around the auditorium; most of the students actually looked intrigued and happy.

The woman closest to Mrs. Ingrite took the microphone and warmly greeted us. She looked older than 18 which meant she had found her soulmate. “So,” she sighed looking around the auditorium, “how many of you have parents that are soulmates.”  I raised my hand as well as about 70% of my school mates raised their hands. “So I assume that the rest of you have parents’ that aren’t soulmates but decided to get together anyway. Correct?” Choruses of yes’ were shouted.

“Alright, nice,” she said sitting on the edge of the stage. “Oh, sorry,” she giggled. “I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth. I’m not a teacher so just call me that. Over there is Daisy. Everyone say hi to Daisy.” Surprisingly, people obliged. There was something about Elizabeth that made you like her. It was just her demeanor. Elizabeth patted the floor beside her and told Daisy to join her.

“I think we should have discussions instead of Daisy and I just telling you stuff,” she said to the group. “Mrs. Ingrite, I know this isn’t how it’s normally done but I feel like this is the best way for them to learn,” she confessed to Mrs. Ingrite.

Mrs. Ingrite nodded and said it was fine. Mrs. Ingrite was a 60 year old woman who, because of her fabulous genes, looked like she was 30. “You know,” Daisy said speaking for the first time, “before we talk to you all, why don’t the three of us talk a bit about ourselves and how we met our soulmates.”

 “What a splendid idea,” Mrs. Ingrite said joining Daisy and Elizabeth on the edge of the stage. “I’ll begin,” she said excitedly. “So I grew up in here in Ajax. I lived in a quiet neighbourhood not too far away from here actually.” She took a big breath and continued. “So in high school, I had this boyfriend and we were crazy about each other, we thought we were it. We thought we had found our soulmates in each other. Luckily, we both go accepted to Columbia, so we moved to New York together. Our parents’ were okay with us moving in together once we were in New York. It wasn’t a big deal since we were 18 and practically adults. We could make our own decisions. Everything was going fine. Everything was perfect.” Mrs. Ingrite paused for dramatic affect and to be honest, it was working. I was hooked onto her story. “Then come, five years, James, that was his name, I don’t know if I had mentioned it before,” she said going off in a tangent. “Anyway, come five years, neither of us had aged. I didn’t notice at first, until one day, James and I were going through our photobook and we noticed it. We thought it was nothing at first. I mean,” she said laughing, “an 18 year old and a 23 year old don’t look that different? Do they?”

The drama queen that was Mrs. Ingrite paused once again to get up, walk to her chair where she had left her thermos, take a drink from it and slowly walk back to join the other two on the edge.  

“James and I loved each other, we really did. So we lied to ourselves. We convinced not only each other but ourselves that we were soulmates and if we waited another few years, we’ll see that we’re aging.

“Another five years passed and we still looked like we had just turned 18. When we both finally accepted that we weren’t soulmates we spent the entire night crying into each other’s arms. James thought that since we’ve been together for so long, we should just stay together; there was no reason to split up since neither of us had found our soulmate. I agreed.

“We stayed in New York for another seven years or so. On Christmas, we were getting ready for our flight home when James got a call from work. He had to rush over to work for an emergency, so we decided that I’d catch the flight without him and he’d take another flight the next day.

“So I was at the airport waiting for my flight when this man sat beside me. He gave me a small smile and I felt like my insides had exploded. A deep shiver ran through me. I thought I was going crazy because I was feeling all these feelings that I had never felt for James. It wasn’t love, but it was some sort of raw affection and fondness. My heart was racing and my hands were shaking but I confidently returned his smile. His smile brightened and he introduced himself. In the twenty minutes that we sat there waiting for our flight we had gotten to know each other a huge deal. Coincidentally, we were seated beside each other on the plane so we only got to know each other more.

“Believe it or not,” Mrs. Ingrite laughed, “we found out we grew up two houses away from each other. After we had gotten to our respective homes, or rather our parents’ homes, we didn’t speak again that day. But he was in my mind the entire time that we were apart. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and I felt so guilty because I loved James. Oh!” Mrs. Ingrite exclaimed raising her hand, “the other guy’s name is Sam.”

“That night, after I had met Sam for the first time, James called me and told me that he would be another day later than he thought. He apologized so many times and I kept assuring him it was okay. Before we hung up, James said ‘I love you,’ and I said it back but I felt guilty saying it and I felt like it didn’t mean the same anymore. It hurt me so much because James and I had gone through so much and my heart completely changed within a few hours.

“The next day, I woke up to a now familiar voice laughing from downstairs. I climbed out of bed and saw Sam helping my mom make pancakes. The sight made my heart burst and I knew for sure Sam was the one. It’ very hard to explain how it feels when you met your soulmate but once you do, you’ll know. Sam hung out with my family the entire day and everything just felt…right.

“The following day, James finally came to town. He found me sitting on the patio crying. I think he knew what had happened even before I told him. He was happy for me and I just felt so bad because I had found my soulmate and he hadn’t. We had built a life together and he had to return to it after the Holidays were over. He was the one that had to go back to our shared apartment. He was the one that had to take down every photo we had hung up around the apartment. He was the one that had to lie down in our shared bed every night.

“Knowing that someone I once loved and deeply cared for was suffering, was the biggest heartache I had ever endured”

There was almost complete silence throughout the entire auditorium. There were some sniffles here and there. I felt something crawl on my cheek. I thought it was a bug but when I touched it, my fingers came back wet.

The bell rang but no one moved. We all just sat there and let what we heard sink in.

“Mrs. Ingrite?” someone on the other side of the auditorium questioned.  

“Yes, dear,” she smiled turning to them.

“Did uh, did, James ever find his soulmate?”

Mrs. Ingrite gave us a teary smile and simply said, “No.”

The silence in the auditorium was broken by the loud bell indicating class was over

“We will continue next class,” Mrs. Ingrite said.

My school wasn’t a semester school so wouldn’t have my soulmates class until the day after tomorrow.

I was leaving the auditorium with Lola and Patrick when from the corner of my eye; I saw a flash of grey hair. Lacey. She was holding onto Tyler’s arm. Tyler was telling her something that made her laugh. From where I watched the two, I could tell that Lacey was doing her fake laugh which made sense because Tyler wasn’t funny at all. He couldn’t tell a joke to save his life.

“Don’t mind them,” Lola said walking towards the doors with me.

“Rayna!” Brett shouted as soon as I stepped out. I hadn’t seen him yet but I could tell it was him from the sound of his voice. When I finally saw him, he was standing beside Timothy and Nick.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said waving at Lola and Patrick. I caught Frank’s eyes and waved at him too. Before I could leave, Lola grabbed my arm and hugged me.

“It was nice talking to you again,” she whispered hugging me. “I missed you.” She immediately let me go as if I burned her. “Sorry,” she said blushing. “I forgot you don’t like people touching.”

I smiled because she remembered and she respected it. Not like Lacey. To both of our surprises, I grabbed Lola and hugged her tightly. “Thank you. I missed you too.”

“Rayna!” Nick yelled this time. I waved at Lola one last time and ran towards my impatient brothers.

“What?” I asked sharply.

“Have you forgotten what day it is, you clown?” Timothy asked. Glad to see that his compassion from this morning was gone.

“It’s Tuesday,” I answered trying to figure out where he was going with this. “The first day of school.”

“Yes!” he snapped. “It’s also Taco Tuesday!”

“Let’s go,” Brett said.

Our parents’ were big on us being a unit. They wanted us to go to school together and to come home together. They thought that it would bring us all closer together as siblings. It did, but none of us wanted to admit it.

On our way home, we all spoke a bit about our day and how it was. My brothers’ were nice enough to not mention, Tyler, Lacey or the soulmate class we had. They were waiting for me to bring it up. I could tell that Brett was dying to talk about the class though.

“Soulmates class was interesting,” I started.

“Yes!” Brett erupted happily. “It was awesome! Did you cry? If someone says I cried, they’re lying,” he warned. “I yawned and my eyes got wet.”

“You totally cried you baby,” Timothy mocked.

“Shut up Timothy,” Nick and I said simultaneously while Bret yelled, “No, I didn’t.”

“I’m only kidding,” Timothy defended putting his hands up.

Brett relayed Mrs. Ingrite’s story to Nick and Timothy and once again to our parents’ when we got home.

Taco Tuesday was delicious and fun as usual. Dad being Mexican took Taco Tuesday seriously. He’d always have the house decorated, he’d make the tacos and we’d watch a Mexican or South American movie while eating ice cream.

I had very little homework to do since it was the first day of school. Once I’d finished it, I went to Nick’s room and played card games with him. Nick’s room was just like Brett’s and Timothy’s. It was dirty, it smelt weird and there were posters of cars everywhere.

My room wasn’t much. I didn’t have the walls painted or anything. I just liked things simple.

After I had kicked his butt in goldfish countless times, he showed me how he edits his YouTube videos. Nick is a popular YouTuber. I’ve appeared in some of his videos and so had Brett and Timothy. Brett mostly. He loves the comments people leave about him and Nick’s too nice to tell him piss off.

It was eleven when Timothy came into Nick’s room. Nick was lying down on his floor and I was sitting by his feet. We were on our phones. Timothy sat on the floor with us and made us play Uno with him. He won.

We were halfway into our second game when our dad came into the room and ordered us to go to bed.

It had been a good night but as soon as my head hit my pillow, all my insecurities came rushing into my mind. I tried to shut them out. I was successful for the most part but all I could think about was Mrs. Ingrite’s story.

What if her situation was like mine but the roles were reversed?

What if Lacey was Mrs. Ingrite, Tyler was Sam and I was James?


What if I never found my soulmate?

Chapter End Notes:

If you read the entire chapter, thank you! It was extremely long for a single chapter but thank you for taking your time to read it. Please leave me a review so I know if you liked it, if I should continue this or let it die. All comments are appreciated!!

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