“If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know?”
One minute, 37 seconds.
My legs are shaking. Holy cow, there is no way I can do this. None.
One minute, 29 secods.
I glance around at the faces surrounding the room. Of course my Meeting would take place in the gross, overcrowded cafeteria.
One minute, six seconds.
Somewhere within these four walls, someone has the exact same countdown on their wrist. They’re going through the exact same pressure as me.
Mom said I should be excited, not nervous. Yet I still find myself wiping my sweaty palms on my dress. I can’t believe she talked me into wearing a dress. I mean, shouldn’t my Soul Mate meet me as I normally am? All plain jeans, blah shirts, and wild brown curls?
Something deep within me tells me to stand up. I do, drawing the attention of my tablemates. They all know too. They smile encouragingly up at me. I chew my lip nervously.
That same feeling pulls me towards the center of the room. My stomach drops away from me as I take a step in that direction.
I continue in that direction. With each step the tempo of my heart picks up.
17. More rapid.
16. It’s racing.
Oh my god this is it. The moment my life changes forever.
My eyes search frantically around the cafeteria, searching for someone who looks as nervous as me. For someone who’s heading towards their future with no sense of direction like me.
The feeling directs me slightly to the left. I turn to accomodate.
5. My heart has given up entirely.
4. I stop walking.
3. Just waiting left.
2. Everything is about to change.
1. Deep breath.
0000 d 00 h 00 m 00 s
Someone bumps my shoulder. I twirl around and my gray eyes meet blue, blue ones.
“Hello there, love. It appears as though we’re Soul Mates then, eh?”
As my words fail me, the only thing I can think is “I’m so glad I shaved this morning.”
I’m sitting outside a cafe when it happens, sipping some cheap drink, pretending to enjoy the sunshine. The counter runs to zero, and there is an audible click, the tab deactivates, falls off. The clink of polyurethane to cobblestone floor is echoed a few feet ahead of me. I shake a proffed hand, look up at a disdainful face.
“This is all I get?”
It’s just a couple more weeks, now. I’ve been watching closely as the numbers tick steadily down. Just a couple more weeks, I keep telling myself. Out of my group of friends, I’m on what they like to call the “fast track,” people whose numbers start much lower than others.
Two weeks, six days, fifteen hours. The clock keeps ticking. Two weeks, one day, four hours.
The days are getting so close now I’m pretty sure my uncontrollable excitement is starting to seriously annoy everyone around me. My friends tease me incessantly about who they imagine my soul mate will be. Tall, short, fat, dimples, nail biter, foot tapper.
At one week, three days, and seven hours, the clock stops.
Instead of a soul mate I get condolences, a therapist, and a broken clock.
I hurry down the clinic hallway as I slip on my button-down shirt. They just installed it- how could it have been just two minutes?
Two minutes, thirteen seconds to be exact, and I was nowhere near ready! My hair was a mess, and I felt something in my teeth. I had to look good for my soulmate. A perfectionist through and through.
A sign hanging from the ceiling pointed to a restroom to the right. I checked the time again. A minute and thirty-three seconds? Fuck! I picked up the pace and almost slipped on the time floor.
Time was almost up and my heart was racing. Finally, I dashed into the bathroom to fix myself up. The door shut, and as I looked into the mirror, I heard a click.
I checked the time. Zero.
What? This doesn’t make any…
I looked back at the mirror. Then back at the timer. Back at the mirror. Back at the timer.
Can this please become the new machine of death??? I want a whole book of little stories like this!!
Forgetfulness and loneliness could be such a deadly combination, especially in this case. Or perhaps it was just a lack of noticing how long I really had. The last time I looked down at my wrist was God knows when. Maybe yesterday, maybe last week. Possibly longer. And living in such a busy city should have really made me more aware of when I was going to meet my soulmate.
It was one morning when I was drinking my coffee when I realized already that it was already at 000 days.
And 00 seconds.
My heart drops. I could have passed my soulmate by in the crowd of people crossing the street. It could have been that woman who gave me directions to the bookstore or maybe the waiter who let me have a free cup of coffee. It could have even been that man who almost mugged me a few nights ago, knowing how strange fate can be.
But I never knew who that one person for me was. I’m going to have to go through my whole life without another chance to meet them again. I wonder how they feel about all this…
Not a half hour after installation, my clock went off. A doctor (very handsome, although clockless) was working on my bedside, assisting my nurse. Well then, we both must have thought, why not?
Early on, things went smoothly. But when your clock goes off, it usually does. There’s no not-knowing. You’re insured. It’s safe.
He and I were comfortable.
And I was bored (to tears).
This man was not what I had envisioned. He was safe, and easy and cut and dry.
He didn’t understand, and though he was happy (content) with me, I wasn’t with him. I left.
Busted clock, I thought. A scam? Maybe it’s just not for me.
But what bothers me most, is that when I think back,
my nurse was clockless too.
And I’m not sure what that means.
That damn clock had been going for what seemed like forever. Realistically, it was just set to a longer time than all of my other friends. Such was the way things were I suppose. Some had less time, some had more, and honestly, I wasn’t sure which was worse.
With less time, it’s like waiting for a birthday, or Christmas, or some other wonderful special occasion, because when it comes down to it, isn’t that what it is? You never feel ready enough, pretty, handsome, perfect enough for that moment when it comes, and time just moves so fast.
I possessed far more time, and at first it was agonizing. Thirty-seven years, fourteen days, ten minutes exactly. Why did all my friends get to be so happy so soon? Why, by having less time on their clock, did they get so much time with their soul mate?
But… after a while… I just forgot about it.
Sure, I occasionally glanced at it, but for the most part I just worked. I busied my mind to rid myself of that damned clock and all it’s many minutes and hours and days. Eventually I stopped worrying, and eventually I stopped caring. I traveled the world, saw amazing sights, ate amazing foods, and met some of the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful people.
I wasn’t ready for that to stop. I wasn’t ready for the adventures to go away. When the test results came back, I was devastated. Dying… so slowly… from the inside out. You’d think that with all our advances, we would’ve found a cure by now, but no… no treatments… just enough to stop the pain, and if I didn’t feel that… how could I tell that I was alive?
Less than three months into my assisted care, I noticed my clock ticking down.
Three days… four hours… two minutes exactly…
Could I hang on for that much longer?
The days passed slower than anything in my entire… in my entire life. How final that sounds…
When morning came, I saw the young man and I knew, even without looking at the clock.