small short story

I've got writer's block, hence this.

On his sixteenth birthday, he’s supposed to get a purple string extending from the dip in his collarbone out to his soulmate. He’s supposed to follow it to the person he’ll spend the rest of his life with. He’s supposed to fall in love instantly, and know that this is the right person. He’s supposed to kiss them in front of the rising sun. He’s supposed to go and have a life with them. He’s supposed to have a child and share loving glances with them. He’s supposed to meet them and look into their eyes and sigh in delight. He’s supposed to follow that purple string to that right person.

Except, he doesn’t get a purple string.

He gets a red one.

His mom comes into his bedroom the next morning to find him curled around the string, hands trying to grasp it and not succeeding, lungs panicked because this is not what is supposed to happen, what is happening, why.

Naturally, his mother doesn’t have the answers to everything, but she’s a doctor. She did her thesis on the soulmate strings, she knows how this is supposed to work. So when he finally stops breathing in shuddered, gasped breaths, and listens to his mom’s voice, she’s trying to explain.

Honey, this isn’t bad, she says, all calm smile and reassuring figure-eights on his back with her doctor’s-fingers, it’s just different. Red is for love - you’re just asexual. Listen to me baby, go follow your string. You can do it. Your soulmate is probably just as freaked out as you are. Go, Toby.

She’s the voice of reason, as always, so he leaves her there sitting on his bed, and climbs out his window.

He follows the red string, hands still ghosting through it, until he meets someone else in the street, their fingers trying to tangle through the color as well.

The person has dark brown eyes, thick eyebrows, and a strong jaw. They’re bulky where Toby is pudgy, tall where Toby is short, pleasant-faced where Toby is scowling.

Suddenly, everything that is supposed to happen just- doesn’t.

Toby trips forwards, introduces himself with harried words and awkward sentences, and Patrick (Patrick, he wonders, amazed) does so in kind.

They stand there for a moment, before one reaches out a hesitant hand, and the other takes it.

They smile at each other for a moment before they start to walk, under the new strands of sunlight, to places not yet determined.

The End

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