Emma’s soulmate words creep up from her wrist all the way to the crook of her elbow, I’m not going to give up on you. She’s spent so many years of her life being given up on that she almost considers her soulmate words a comfort instead of a curse. Somewhere out there, someday, she’s going to matter to someone. (Sometimes she wants to scream with frustration that she’s going to lose this mysterious person, that she’ll have this gift only to lose it again.)
Regina’s soulmate words are succinct and terrible and have her trembling each time she turns her wrist to see them. I hate you. That’s what her soulmate’s last words to her will be. She can’t believe that this is how it works, that she won’t even find love with the one person destined to love her, that she can be so undesirable for forever. (”You don’t need love,” Mother says, turning her wrist so the writing burns Regina’s eyes. “You need fear.” Mother’s tattoo says Did you ever love me? and Regina wants to rail at the unfairness of Mother being loved and Regina only being hated.)
Lily draws a star on Emma’s wrist and reads the words climbing up her wrist aloud. “Don’t,” Emma says, fearful of what she might lose. Neal never says the words, but he smiles and strokes them right up until the day when he gives up on her like he’d been made for it.
The men and women privileged enough to see the skin of Regina’s wrist read the words there and muffle snickers, and she kills every one of them.