John’s eyes traveled between his right wrist and the clock constantly, swallowing thickly as his Dad merely smiled. The room around them was dead silent, yet the outside provided a few helpful distractions in that department. Tires crunching on the asphalt of their suburb streets from the few random cars that were still out roaming at this hour, along with a lone cricket that called into the darkness.
A single lamp was turned on, lighting up the small corner of his father’s living room that John was sitting in. He took up most of the couch, long legs stretched across the cushions comfortably as his father sat straight forward, hand holding his pipe to his mouth as he puffed at it. Every once in a while, John would ask the same question over and over, his teeth gnawing on his bottom lip nervously.
"How much longer?" John asked, shuffling on the couch slightly as he ran his left hand through his mess of hair once more.
"Eight minutes," His father chimed, puffing on his pipe calmly.
Time: 11:52 PM
Importance: John’s 21st Birthday, and the day he would find the name of his soul mate, was in eight minutes.
Yes, soulmate. It wasn’t some crazy, unheard of thing, it happened to everyone. Seriously, every person in the world had that person that was made for them. The whole thing was interesting, really. When a person was born, they were born with, well, their name already written. Literally. It was already written on the inside of their left wrist, usually in a very pale color that would develop to a darker shade as they grew older.
John was an exception to this rule in several aspects. When he was born to a couple that he never ended up actually meeting, his birth parents were rather horrified to find that he was born with a blank wrist. Blank wrists were commonly considered ‘bad luck’, thinking that the child would die of some sickness or perhaps was even soulless. It was a dumb superstition, but apparently enough to drive his birth parents to set him up for adoption.
His name finally developed in a bright blue the day he was adopted, six years after he’d been given up. He was told that he was going to meet a new person, which at the age of six, he simply thought to be a new friend. Walking into the small room, he looked up at the person at the table, a tall man with dark hair and a kind smile. A fedora was sitting on the table patiently, and the child had practically cooed at it. “Just like Indiana Jones!”
“You watch Indiana Jones?” The stranger lifted an eyebrow, and the boy had nodded eagerly.
“He’s the best!” He’d began talking about his favorite movies almost immediately, saying that he was going to grow up to be a GhostBuster while the stranger chuckled and told him that it did sound like a rather fun job. Babbling on, he’d also talked about how he liked to color and draw, and that he had a lot of friends in his group at the orphanage, how he loved pranks. He told the man that his favorite color was blue, and that he loved cake but was sad because they never got to eat it, seeing as it was a treat.
The man listened to all of it, nodding and keeping the conversation going. Eventually he introduced himself as James, and when the kid heard it, he smiled. “I’m You,” He giggled.
“Me?” James asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Noooo, You! That’s what they call me. Since I didn’t get a name, they call me You!”
“They call you You?”
“When they want to talk to me, they say, ‘Hey, You’. So, my name is You, I guess,” The six year old shrugged, smiling.
“Well, You doesn’t seem like a very fun name,” James said, looking up at the ceiling in thought. “Have you ever thought of picking your own name?” He suggested, scratching at his chin.
The boy had gone a little wide eyed at that. “I can do that?”
“Sure, if you don’t have one and everyone has to have one, you should get one too,” Giving a big grin, James watched as the kid giggled again.
Seeing as he’d never thought of it like that, the child actually got rather excited at the idea. His own name? Of his own choice? He smiled at him then, giving the best grin he could with a missing front tooth.
Right as he opened his mouth to ask what his name should be, it happened. Bright blue ink began to spill across his left wrist, catching both their eyes and making the older man’s eyebrow furrow as the child watched with a slightly open jaw. Soon, the name spelt out ‘John’, quite obviously, and the rest was history. His father had adopted him that very day, and John remembered wearing the fedora on the way to his new home, calling his new Dad ‘Short Round’ and earning a laugh every time he did so.
Because of this odd start to life, John had always been rather interested in the logistics behind it. How could a body create such coloring? Was it really the soul bearing itself? How could something like this even be predetermined? How did your own skin tattoo itself with a different font, with no prompting? Eventually, he began to study it during his college years, planning on making a career in the scientific studies of Biology. He wanted to know what made this process stall for himself, and if it happened for other people as well.
He was actually back from college on Easter break, and also to be back at his childhood home for when he turned twenty one, the age that his ‘soulmates’ name would bear itself on his other wrist.
"Relax, son," His father calmly reassured, patting his back as he took a small puff on his pipe once more, "There’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a name, you’ll find them when you want to, not when you have to.”
John had never seen what Dad’s right wrist said; Apparently, as he’d learned when he was young, it wasn’t all that proper to go around showing the name to everyone. If you did, it was considered ‘less sacred’ or something. Humans were weird. Many wore bracelets and the like, some even just wore long sleeves, though to John that sounded horridly uncomfortable. Dad, as classy as ever, had a watch comfortably wrapped around it, but when he was about seven, John got a glance and saw that the color it was written in was bright orange, much different than his father’s own black font.
Swallowing, John watched the minutes tick by, looking at his right wrist constantly now. What would her name be? Would he already know her? What would she look like? How long would it take to find her? Usually it happened within a year or so, but there were exceptions just as there are to everything. Perhaps there was a large age gap, or a distance gap. There were plenty of things that could go wrong. John could only imagine what his soulmate would be like. Would she love him? What if she was mean? What if she was perfect?
The idea that he could find someone who was perfect for him made his head spin, and he closed his eyes, shaking his head slightly. What if the same thing that happened when he was little happened now? What if he didn’t get to see that name for another six years?
The clock struck twelve, and his eyes shot open, looking at his right wrist intently. Slowly, almost reluctantly, John witnessed a thin red line begin to spell out a name in harsh, blocked font. His breath caught in his throat as he watched. Looking closely, John’s eyes narrowed. Was that… 8-bit?
John’s own name was written in a calligraphy-like script, much to his chagrin. How… Girly. But watching this name spell itself out, he slowly felt his heart beat a bit slower.
D. Dana? Diana? Denise?
A. Darla? Damala?
V… . Wait…
The final letter spelled itself out, the line cutting itself off, and John let out a heavy breath.