if i were really that smart then why am i getting such a low mark in chemistry

Detachment Studies

A soulmate doesn’t always mean a lover. Sure, that’s how the romances go in the movies – revelations of matching soulmarks, followed by candlelit sex scenes – but real life is more complex than that. Plenty of twin sisters are born with matching marks. Sometimes, a mother gives birth to a baby who’s carrying her identical mark, and that mother and child will grow up each other’s best friend. Artists find their muses, and business executives find their right-hand-men, in their soulmates. It’s platonic just as often as it’s romantic. Torrid romances with soulmates can end – though, of course, lasting friendships usually form in their wake – and happy, successful marriages can be forged and maintained in the absence of matching marks.

Ransom’s parents, realists and pragmatists that they are, have drummed that into his head. “Don’t take it as a sign of destiny,” they tell him. “It’s a biological process, but like most biological processes, we’ve found ways to overcome it.” When Ransom – then young Justin – asks what that means, and aren’t they mated, they join hands and nod and sigh. “It’s like this, honey,” his mom explains. “It’s easiest to  remain physically close to your soulmate after you meet. But there are other ways around it, too. Many soulmates manage by just emailing each other a few times a week. They keep their mental synch that way. And even if you don’t – most people are okay.”

“They call those people detached,” Justin says. “Someone says Mrs. North is detached and that’s why she’s such a grump.”

“That’s a myth,” his father says. “The great majority of people can handle being detached, just like we can handle all the other stresses in our lives. You may not be as strong or as smart as you would be with a soulmate, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Some people do have a hard time, but most detached folks are just like you and me. They’re not the people they would have been, but we’ve all got things about us that are less than perfect.”

“It’s stupid,” Justin says. “Why would God make us like that? Why do we need someone else to be the best we can be?”

“A lot of things life deals us are stupid,” his mother says with her characteristic sunny laugh. “The best we can do is to figure out how to deal with them.”

Justin goes on thinking the whole concept is bullshit. He gets into science, medicine and biology, trying to figure out what on earth is the point of soul mating. He never really gets an answer on that front. What he does discover is the detachment studies – the emerging art and science of helping those who, for whatever reason, have met their soulmates but now have to live without them. He decides he wants to go to medical school, create a practice built around helping the detached live their lives as fully and happily as possible.

All the while, the thought of his soulmate never really crosses his mind. If he meets them, he meets them. He’ll go from there.

Keep reading