Plot: When everyone is finding their soulmates, what if you miss yours?
Word count: 2064
“It froze!” Joohyun screamed, her tiny hands clutching her clock pendant tightly. 19 years, 4 months, 28 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 58 seconds. You watched as your best friend looked around the cafe frantically, before meeting eyes with a cute boy, his own eyes rounded with shock. “Is that really you?” You almost laughed at her amazement at finally meeting her soulmate. You two were both late at encountering The One, but clearly she was faster than you. You nudged her towards him, and he sent her a bashful smile.
“I’m Kim Jaehwan, a university student who’s majoring in music and composition. And you?” You sat down, muting their conversation. You did not want to impede on their privacy any longer than necessary, and instead fiddled with the delicate silver chain that held your own clock. Now it was 19 years, 2 months, 16 days, 9 hours, 52 minutes, and 4 seconds since you were born, and your watch had yet to stop. Other friends had met their soulmates as early as birth, in the crib next to them at the hospital. You would wait patiently, you decide, and convinced yourself that it was ‘save the best for last’.
“____. Do you mind if we… uh… go out?” Joohyun interrupted your thoughts. You nodded, sending a sincere smile, before shooing them out of the cafe. You took out your sketch pad instead, and looked around. It was a quaint and quiet nook of the college town that you attended. You had promised to take Joohyun here when she visited during her break, as her university started winter break sooner than yours had, but here you are now alone. I guess I can take credit for their amazing love story when their wedding rolls around, you thought to yourself with a miserable smile. You flipped through the pages, studying your past sketches. You and Joohyun were both insistent on majoring in things you were truly passionate about; for you it was art and for her it was law. Your sketchpad was worn out and frayed, but it still contained content that you considered valuable.
You can’t remember how long you sat there, listening to the soft guitar and piano instrumentals from the overhead speakers, flinching periodically at a sudden clatter of plates and cups or scrape of a chair against the wooden floor. Instead you poured yourself into drawing the flower arrangement that decorated your table, fresh despite the frigid weather. Or at least, you had been, until a rough shove of your table knocked your hot tea onto the surface. You frantically scooped up your pencils and pad, but it was too late. A yellow stain was splattered across the top page, and your past works were mushy to the touch. You furrowed your brows, before glaring upwards. A pair of boys stood there, one with a hand over his mouth in surprise and the other stuttering at your gaze.
“I-I’m so sorry!” He stammered, before grasping at the napkin dispenser and dabbed frantically at your art. You snatched it away, gritting your teeth in anger. You pressed it downward, absorbing as much of the liquid as possible, while the boys wiped off the table top. When the mess was cleared up and damage control done, you stared at the ruined sketch pad. It was not as terrible as you had thought it would be, but it was not the perfect bundle of effort you had put in prior to the episode. You stood up, shoving your belongings into the bag. The two boys had their hands folded over one another, staring at the floor. They were clearly expecting an outburst, but instead you just shook your head.
“If you two need a table to sit at, then sit here.” You stalked away, shoving the heavy glass door open and stomping across the freshly fallen snow. It was too late to ask Joohyun to keep you company in your sour mood– she was probably hitting it off with Jaehwan. The faces of the two boys were forever etched in your mind. One had brown hair, while the one who had grabbed the napkins had natural hair. You shook your head. What was the point of being cute if you were a mess?
You dragged yourself into your dorm, plopping onto the bed. Joohyun’s bed was empty, her desk a mess of pencils and textbooks, while her clothes were strewn over the tiled floor. You picked up, folding them absentmindedly while you hummed some holiday festive tune. Perhaps you could go watch a movie by yourself, or you could take a nap to forget the incident. You sighed, before wrapping your fingers around the cold metal of the clock pendant, your eyes fluttering shut as you lay down on your mattress.
“____! Wake up!” Joohyun’s excited voice rang in your ears as you shot up from your bed. You winced at the harsh morning sunlight and stared sleepily as your best friend threw an outfit for you to wear. “Jaehwan is singing at the multi- university concert today with his friends and he asked if we wanted to come! I got us backstage passes for before the show and front row seats.” You nodded, rubbing the sleep out of your eyes.
“What time is it?” You ask, before glancing at the clothes. White cropped sweatshirt and a denim skirt and stockings to cover up for the cold. You changed, listening to her blabber about the details of how perfect Jaehwan was. He had humor. He had the most adorable laugh. His voice was like an angel’s. The list went on and on, and you tried to not cover her mouth as you finished tying half of your hair up.
“- and I was wondering if you would find your soulmate and we could go on double dates.” Joohyun finished. You sighed at the sensitive topic. It was another day closer to 20 years of not knowing where he was. There were always rumors of soulmates never meeting. One would die in an accident. One would never fall in love. Someone would grow old without anyone at his or her side. It was tragic, and something you feared.
“I’m sure he’s out there somewhere.” You mumble, before checking your pendant. You froze, feeling tears well up. Joohyun immediately tensed, before running to your side.
“What’s– Oh crap!” It was frozen. 19 years, 2 months, 16 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes, and 56 seconds. You had seen your soulmate yesterday. “B- but who?” Your mind whirled. The two boys. It had to be one of them.
Secretly, you had wished it were the boy with darker hair. While you had undeniably been angrier at him, you were touched by his efforts to save your sketch pad. His manners softened the doubts you had about one of the two being your soulmate. The brown haired one was not a bad guy either from what you had seen; he had an adorable eyesmile that he made when he was flustered, and a Busan dialect that had started to leak as he would stammer words to his friend. Still, you leaned towards the former rather than the latter.
“What if I never see him again?” The words stuck to your throat. So close. So so so close. How could you have missed it? You normally checked after meeting any new guy. Sure, the pair had pissed you off, but you must have been stupid to not have thought about it. Hope flaired in the pit of your stomach. You would recognize the two anywhere, and you would figure out when their clock had stopped, and if it matched the time at which yours had.
“You will. Come on, let’s head to the performance hall and we’ll think up of ways to meet him again.” You allowed Joohyun to drag you across campus, wiping away stray tears from your eyes. By the time you arrived to the sound check and rehearsals, your eyes were tinged with pink, and Joohyun was handing you her handkerchief. The image of the boy burned in your mind.
“Do you want to see Jaehwan with me or?” You nod your head, before following her backstage. The halls were full of rooms where the performers were getting ready. Racks of clothes lined the walls, the scent of cosmetics heavy in the air. She knocked on a white door, and it opened to reveal Jaehwan’s smiling face, who rushed to embrace her. A cough strangled out of you before you could help it, and you turned away. Keep walking. Walk it out.
Your feet dragged heavily, dodging oncoming traffic as other performers rushed to finish their hair and styling. Once or twice you almost walked into props or pieces of a set for the stage. More than once people had thrown pitiful looks at your tears. You finally sat down on a chair outside of one of the rooms, not minding the rush of boys running in and out. Your eyes closed as you sighed, leaning your head back against the wall.
“Exactly 14 hours, 28 minutes, and 1 second ago, I met you.” A familiar voice startled you. It was soothing to hear, unique to the ear but comforting at the same time. You looked up. It was the boy with darker hair, the one who had spilled your tea. The one you had been waiting for.
“The one I’ve been waiting 21 years, 2 months, 7 days, 52 minutes and 11 seconds for.” He remarked, before offering a hand to you. You stood upright, mouth gaping but unable to utter a sound as you grasped his outreached hand. It was rough but warm, something like his neutral expression but his contrastingly teasing tone. He was wearing a white hoodie, with a ripped denim jacket and matching torn jeans and white shoes. It’s so similar to my outfit, you thought. He smiled at you, and a triangle of beauty marks on his cheek caught your attention. “It would be nice if you could talk to me too. I thought I was going to be single–”
You cut him off with a constricting hug, arms wrapped around his lean but sturdy frame. He tensed in surprise, before a hand reached up to stroke your dark hair. Tears framed your eyelashes once more as you hiccuped pathetically. He laughed at the sight, and it sounded like music to your ears. You loved the way he smelled like cotton, and how his hair was messy and fell perfectly around his face. You loved how tall he was, how his tongue poked out just a little when he laughed, and how willingly he made you drop your former grudge.
“You’re still a clumsy ass.” You mutter, and he rose an eyebrow at you. Wrong words to say. “I mean you still ruined my art and made me think I didn’t have a soulmate and I hate how cute you are now that I forgave you and I’m so glad I finally met you but I was so scared I didn’t know it was you until it was too late and–”
“You really need to breathe.” He remarked, before wrapping his arms around you. It was a warm embrace, something you had been waiting for all your life. He simply felt like home. “I never thought the first words I would ever hear from my future wife would be that I’m a clumsy ass. Colorful language. I assume my future is about to get a lot brighter.” You blush out of embarrassment, but mentally check off that it would be hard to win an argument with him. He simply had a way of making his words humorous and direct.
“Can I at least have your name before I can agree to be your wife? I think you’re proposing a little too fast there,” you counter. He grinned even wider at this, a warm glint in his eyes as he peered into your face. He was obviously admiring it, and you blush a deeper shade of red, much to his delight. He cleared his throat slightly.
“I’m Ong Seongwoo. I’m a student who majors in dance and theatre from one of the visiting colleges. I’m graduating this year and this is my last college performance. And I’m so glad you made it.”