Sitting at the dining room table, my arms resting against the cool wood. I was wearing a thin tank top and pajama shorts, hoping my mark appeared at a place I could show off.
My phone buzzed against my thigh, causing the chair to make noise from the vibrations. I held back the urge to grab it, knowing that who ever it was, I'd be on the phone for hours. That could wait. My mark, couldn't.
I dreamed of this day since I was a child, when my parents first told me about it. I remember Oscar's sixteenth birthday, when he got his mark. At first Oscar didn't care about the mark, thinking it would be something lame and girly. But once he got it, he spent weeks showing it off. He'd flip his arm over, just do you could see the wolf head mark on his wrist.
Sighing, I prayed my mark would be as good as Oscar's,
“I see someone’s being impatient,” A voice said, giggling from behind me. Turning around, I saw Gwen standing by the front door, Oscar entering behind.
“I wish it wouldn’t take so long,” I groaned, waving her over.
Smiling, Gwen put her book bag by the door, and walked over. She sat in the chair next to me, taking my hands in hers.
“It’s going to be fine,” Gwen claimed, rubbing her thumbs against the back of my hand.
“Did yours hurt?” I asked, instantly regretting it. Gwen’s smile faltered, and the color drained from her eyes. She was remembering the night it happened.
I was nine years old when Gwen got hers. Oscar had been away for a baseball tournament that weekend, only going because Mom and Dad made him. He didn’t want to miss Gwen’s birthday, especially her sixteenth. Nevertheless, they made him go, claiming ‘he made a commitment to the team.’
Gwen found out the day before, played it off like it was cool, and encouraged Oscar to go and have fun. She kept up the act until he left that afternoon, and then came into my room.
“Will you stay with me? Just until I get my mark?” Gwen asked softly, sitting at the end of my bed. Unaware of how she felt about Oscar (at the time), I continued to finish reading my chapter, not answering her. It wasn’t until I felt the slight shake of the bed, did I put my book down and look up.
“Gwen?” I called gently, scooting closer.
She was curled up in a ball, as her back leaned up against the wall. Her arms were wrapped around her legs, gripping the side of her calves so hard, her knuckles started turning white. Gwen was facing my desk, but wasn’t looking at it. Her dark eyes grew light blue like the ocean, as the tears filled them. Cheeks red and tear stained, hair falling from its makeshift bun, Gwen barely managed to hold herself together.
“Gwen?” I repeated, nervous. At nine years old, I hadn’t seen anyone cry like this. I’ve seen girls chase after guys, and cry when they ignored them. Or when one of the boys at school get hurt, they cry. The closest thing I’ve seen to this kind of cry was when Mom watched Dad leave for the boat. She wouldn't let us go as he walked out the door.
“Maisel,” Gwen choked, holding back a sob. “I love him, but it doesn't matter. None of it does.”
Gwen stared into my eyes, hers lifeless and dull.
“Oscar,” She said flatly, “it's always been Oscar.”
“I love him too,” I replied, still confused.
Instead of explaining it to me, Gwen just laid her head on my lap, and cried. Later we fell asleep.
The next day she was gone.
Focusing back to the conversation, I saw Gwen had taken her shoes and socks off, her bare left foot on the chair with her.
On the side of her left foot, starting from her big toe, going to her heel, was her mark. Unlike most, it wasn't a picture or drawing, but a quote.
You can't always fly solo
I watched as Gwen traced each letter with her pinky, humming as she did it. Then, I noticed the ring that sat on it.
“Did William give you that?” I asked, pointing at the little ring, with an outlined star.
“Yes,” she sighed, still tracing her mark. “It's our three month today, he acted like it was a big deal. So he bought me a present, and asked me out to dinner.”
“Are you going?”
“No, I told him I didn't want to miss your birthday and that he shouldn't miss practice for me.”
“Gwen, don't use me as an excuse!” I exclaimed, lightly hitting her arm.
“It was nicer than saying, ‘I don't want to date you anymore,’” she shrugged.
Before I could say anything else, Oscar called Gwen's name. At the sound of his voice, Gwen perked up, and smiled. A real smile.
“Yell for me when it starts!” Gwen said quickly, running to the door. Once she grabbed her stuff, she bolted down the hall. Next thing I heard was laughing.
That's when I realized something: My worst fear was to end up like Gwen. She loved only one man, and fate said she couldn’t have him. Instead, the world gave her a man she doesn’t like, and will never fall in love with. Making the question: How are they soulmates? Are they really destined for eachother?
I started going back and forth between those two questions in my head, absentmindedly stroking my forearm. My cold fingers gliding across my bare skin, hoping the mark would come soon.
I never had a guy bestfriend, so I didn’t have the same risk Gwen had. But I still had grown up with crushes on guys, kissing and dating a few here and there. In the end, everyone was at risk. Rarely anyone had got the soulmate they’ve grown up with, that they’ve loved.
Then I remembered Mom’s story, and how she use to tell us it all the time before Dad died. Before she lost her own soulmate, and the mark that with him.
Mom was the youngest in her class, so by the time her sixteenth birthday had come around, she’d already seen almost everyone’s mark, and dreamed about the possibility of one of the guys being her soulmate.
So at two o’clock on monday morning, the day of her sixteenth birthday, after waking up from the burning pain on her shoulder, Mom looked at her mark. Immediately she recognized the little bear cub that had appeared, to the one the school’s star quarterback had on his right shoulder.
That same morning, Mom had only one thought on her mind: A debate nerd and a football star? Imposible. But, instead of fighting it, Mom did what makes her her, pursued it. Hiding the mark, Mom befriended the jock, and gained more than just friendship, but his affection. She always compared her love story to one of a books, imposible, but accomplishable.
Sighing, I leaned back in my seat, and checked the time. Two minutes left. Since I had just relieved Gwen’s and Mom’s love story, my thoughts shifted to the most interesting one of all. Uncle Uriah’s.
Many people claim you never visit hell until after death, once your fate has been decided, but Uncle Uriah lives in it. His given mark was a quote like Gwen’s, except consisted two words.
Those two words rest on his chest, bold but simple. For years no one knew what it meant, not until Uncle Uriah’s twentieth birthday, when our family met Thomas.
Thomas was the bus boy during our dinner at Southern Grill. He didn’t come and take our trash until after everyone finished, and started to leave. It was the moment Uncle Uriah went to give Thomas his plate when their eyes met. And, it was as that moment that three things happened.
Uncle Uriah claimed to have ‘love at first sight’, the same moment Thomas said to have smiled for the first time in years, the moment Grandma saw a mark on Thomas’s neck that matched the one on her son.
Ever since, Uncle Uriah and Thomas understand the meaning behind their marks. They both were devoted to each other, which was exactly what they had to fight for.
Through all the rumors, fights, family issues, and hateful politicians, Uncle Uriah and Thomas learned the real meaning of love, and how to hold onto it.
I thought my heart warmed to the memory, but the feeling came from my wrist. Looking down, I could see it start to turn red, as shots of pain shot up my body. Suddenly, my whole body started to redden, as the heat from my skin burned more and more. Not able to hold in the scream, I tried to figure out what was happening.
Then, the world went dark.