This is a popular prompt that most people don't seem to know is from a movie/ has a movie based on it. Written for a wattpad group.
It's one thing to grow up staring at your wrist every night, watching the numbers tick down, dreaming of true love.
And then finding it at the tender age of sixteen in the arms of a dreamy guy, planning your future together, confident that it is your future. You know there's no need to be apart.
But it's another thing to be around seven years old and, already dismayed by how high your counter is, doing the math and realizing you won't be meeting your soul mate until you're twenty-seven.
Well. Beats forty. That was what I later came to embrace. Beats seventy. Beats never.
But it sure isn't seventeen.
The guy across from me is nervous. Weighing his options. He's young, eighteen, but with a good two years to go on his counter. I'm only two years older than him, but seven years is eternity when it comes to dating. I can tell he's weighing his options- this is only our first date, and he's questioning if our relationship might get in the way of his counter hitting zero.
In some ways I'm honored that he seems to be debating a long term relationship. He's just my type, too- messy hair, bleached blond in contrast with his brown skin, his warm eyes prone to catching light and his face prone to smiling.
He's a good guy. He'll make someone happy. Maybe me. For a maximum of two years.
"What do you think they'll be like?" He asks me. They. I don't have to pause to know who he is referring to. "Any hopes?"
"Not really. Someone nice. Don't care too much either ways." It's standard first date fare, soul mates. You go into the dating scene knowing you'll leave it one day. Might as well use the subject to find out what your temporary partner is into.
"I'd honestly like to marry wealthy." He says. "It sounds shallow, but my family could use it. I could use it. God, student debt, right?" He smiles.
"There isn't much of a point in thinking it over. You could hate every aspect about their appearance. They could be some homeless bloke off the street." I say. "But something about you is going to click."
He cringes a little bit when I suggest this ideal partner might be a homeless bum, and then laughs. "I'm still hoping to get wealthy. Been saving my money and everything. Going to fly to hollywood, pay my way into some fancy nightclub for when my counter drops. Probably by the next day I'll be living in a mansion with the love of my life."
"You can't help fate." I say, trying to hide a smile. This guy's enthusiasm is pretty cute. "Your soulmate's going to be the janitor. Or the burly bouncer who shaved his head in order to tattoo it."
"Why are you so certain I'm going to end up with someone gross?"
I take a long sip of my hot chocolate. "I guess because you're too adorable. Nature has to balance things out somehow."
My sister met her soulmate at nine years old. First day of school and she met her match with an ill tempered boy named Peter. They didn't get along at first, but there was a sort of solemn understanding between the two of them anyway. They'd get together eventually.
It took puberty, but eventually they started dating, and eventually they got married. And things were just perfect. I was there at the wedding, remembering how my sister had come home one day crying because the boy she was supposed to be in love with had been mean to her.
Well, they were perfect now.
The world record for shortest timer ever was three days. In the infant ward, one boy met his soulmate before either of them had even seen the sun. The parents met with a soft acknowledgement of their future: they would be family one day. They didn't live nearby each other, and the kids spent several years growing up with an empty timer. I'm sure more than once they'd be there wondering what went wrong.
But fate cannot be avoided. The parents brought them together again. Told them they were destined.
And they were.
I dated that charming guy for a year, eleven months, and twenty seven days. I think we could have gone the full wait, honestly, but he insisted I move out his apartment so he had time to clean up for when his soulmate came over.
I was on the brink of being in love with him, so it was a bit of a shame. Love in temporary dating is good practice for true love. For your soul mate. Whenever they get there.
I spent the night staring at my wrist. Six years. I could have a child right now. They'd be in kindergarden by then. I could fuck my life up without reason. My soul mate would still have to love me.
I could be in prison. They'd find a way.
Six years is a long time to wait for love.
I grew up in the rural country side, three hours walk from anything of interest. Most of the kids I knew had long timers. A bi-product of location, I suppose. I had moved to the city to go to college, and I chose my college only on how large the student body was. I knew it didn't matter, that it wouldn't change things, but I somehow thought seeing a thousand people a day might cause a little skip in my timer, might push me ahead.
Might jump me to zero.
I spent the next three years not caring for much. Trying to focus on friendships, but reluctant to sleep alone. Having a job, quitting a job, and trying to explain why on my resume.
Dating. A lot.
When I had three years left, I started to panic. Suddenly, time seemed to be racing. My apartment was a mess. I was broke. I wasn't wearing good clothes or associating with good people.
When I broke up with my then boyfriend, surprising him in the hallway of his house with a box of my things, he gave me probably the most serious look I'd seen him carry in our entire relationship. "Bit early, isn't it?"
"Yeah." I had said. "But I have to be ready."
He had a relaxed smile. I was always drawn to people like that, people who were never on their toes about things. People who were easy. "You're the one who always talks about the inevitability of fate." He tapped his wrist, a little over a year left. "Don't you think this is a bit hypocritical? Or have I done something wrong."
"You haven't done a thing wrong." I said dully. "I love you. You're lovely."
"You too." He rolled his eyes. "Put down the box. Can we talk this over?"
"Not really." I shook my head as if to emphasize. "I love you. But what's the point?"
"Babe, I still have a year left."
"I have three. You'll survive."
"I don't want to without you."
"We're both placeholders for each other, temporary past times as our timers count steadily down, cheap and breakable items of endearment to prevent our lives from growing too bleak as we polish ourselves up for the inevitable future." I patted him on the shoulder. "Let's stay friends?"
"You're so fucking weird." He said, laughing. We kissed, he carried my box of things down to my car, and we shook hands goodbye.
Despite my best efforts, I was dating again within the month. Sex was nice. Cuddling was nice. Having someone in your life was... nice.
As my timer ticked down, it got harder to get a date. I had always preferred people with a year or two left, as it meant no real obligations or worries. But I realized I had been a minority: most people didn't want to bother with someone who would leave them.
Eventually I had to bunker down and tell myself- no more. Just friends from here on out.
I needed more friends.
By the time that my timer was seven days, my heart never stopped racing. I felt like I was undergoing cardiac arrest, actually. That or heartburn.
My future was soon. My future was next week. I would never again experience a thursday without the love of my life.
It'd be bumpy at first. But we'd find it. We'd perfect it.
That's how things worked.
A breakdown of the last week:
I lay in bed and watch romantic comedies. Then romantic tragedies. Then a war film or two to feel a little less pathetic.
I go to work. On my way there, I make the conscious decision to roll my sleeve up and take off my watch. For the rest of the week, I wear my timer in the open, hoping other people notice how little time is left.
Someone remarks on my timer. I grin.
I realize I can't let myself lose focus of my life. The counter will reach zero no matter what. I get groceries, pay my bills, call up a friend.
Most people I know have found their soul mate. Still, they're all very excited for me at work. I remember being a teenager and how jealous I was of my friends who were meeting their soul mates left and right. I wish I could inspire envy, honestly, but I'm satisfied with just receiving attention.
Life gets back to normal.
My heart kicks up again. Jesus Christ, tomorrow cannot be farther away. I almost wish this pain was a heart attack. Maybe then there'd be a designated end.
Instead, I lay on the couch, staring at the TV and not at all watching. Just thinking. What would my soul mate be like? What if they were a woman? What if they were ugly as sin? What if they were a billionaire? Or a crime lord? What if we didn't speak the same language?
This was pain that deserved to be drunk away. I went to a nightclub. I started drinking. Half remembered my old boyfriend, and his old plan, before I blacked out completely.
I awoke in a stranger's bed. And then I waited there for a few hours, curled up and delirious, my head killing me, my heart forgotten.
Whoever I had come home with wasn't around. He had a nice apartment. Left me a note with his name and phone number, thanking me for a good night. He had drawn a little emoticon on the paper, a tiny ":)".
I briefly considered stealing from his place. It was really quite nice, way out of my pay grade. Maybe I should stick around for him to return. Maybe he'd be my soulmate.
I hadn't met him yet, after all. It was possible.
I wondered what would happen if I locked myself up in the bathroom for the rest of day. If I hid under a bridge. Would my timer wait? If I took a voyage to sea alone, would love ever catch up to me?
I groggy as hell as I get dressed. I should be more excited for today, my heart should be broiling, but instead I slouch and slumber, unwilling to move.
This is a nice apartment. Maybe I should wait here.
Eventually I rouse myself and get moving. I take the guy's phone number, even if I won't be needing it after today. I glance at my wrist.
Half an hour left.
I should get home and change into something nice.
Every step brings me sway, and I really hope I don't look as hungover as I am. I fix my hair in the door of the subway.
I scan the faces of the strangers around me. Have I met them yet, or will one of them be mine in a mere ten minutes? Is 'meeting' the same as 'seeing'? Could my soulmate be someone I've met before?
My mind is a soft wash cycle of thoughts, tumbling comfortably in circles. I dodge through the crowds unevenly. My apartment is cheap, but it's right on the edge of the touristy part of the city. The foot traffic often kept me up at night, and certainly made reaching my apartment a hassle.
Before I can stumble up the steps of my apartment building, the girl who lives next to me stops me.
"Hey, today's your day, right?" She chatters cheerfully, only glancing up as me as she puts something in her purse. "Met anyone yet? You look like shit."
"Thanks." I say, pausing to brush my hair with my fingers. "Do I honestly look that bad?"
"You look like you've been drinking."
"You drink too much." She carries a small frown. "Hopefully your new whatever will help you fix that."
I grin lazily. "Yeah. We'll find out in-" I glance at my wrist.
Zero hours. Zero minutes. Zero seconds.
For a moment I stare in shock my neighbor. Her? I guess...
I guess it was meant to be?
But then I look at her wrist- two months to go.
And I turn around.
"What's wrong?" She asks.
I don't know how to finish my sentence. I just look at the crowd behind me.
No one is standing still.