Maybe we're not meant to meet our soulmates. Not immediately, at least. Sometimes, it just takes a few trys... Or a few lifetimes.


3. Ara and Rohan


‘You know, staring at them won’t get you anywhere’, Zane pressed, snapping Ara out of her daze. ‘I know, and I wasn’t. Shut up’, Ara, grumbled, her tone turning as bitter as she felt. She fumbled with her skirt, trying everything she could not to watch them; a task which proved harder than she thought. The whole thing was turning into one long, painstakingly slow, stab in the heart, not that she really expected it to be any different. Why she even came in the first place? Ara didn’t know.

‘Ara, why are we here? I mean, if you’re trying to make Rohan jealous –’ Ara laughed nervously, suddenly launching to her feet as she cut her friend off. ‘Jealous? No I – let’s just dance’. Zane narrowed his eyes, shaking his head as the girl took his hand. ‘Okay, no. Now I know you’re just whoring me out.’ He pointed a finger, prodding Ara’s stomach, ‘You hate dancing’.

‘I have no idea where you got that idea from’, Ara falsely smiled, subtly dragging the boy to the centre of the hall.

‘From two days ago when I asked if you were coming to the dance and you said, quote un-quote, ‘No. Why would I want to? I hate dancing’. Pretty hard to misinterpret that, don’t you think?’ The pair of arms that wrapped around his neck went unnoticed.

Ara rolled her eyes, slightly proud of herself now that she had tricked Zane into slow dancing with her, ‘I meant the whoring out thing. Sami was my first choice’. Zane blinked at her, ‘I – you think Sami is hotter than me? What the hell, you’d totally be my first choice to whore out!’ Ara’s forehead creased, her eyebrows scrunched, ‘Um… Thank you? I guess’. Zane shrugged, glancing over Ara’s shoulder, ‘No problem. You look really pretty by the way’.

She glanced down at herself, as if she had suddenly forgotten what it was she had worn. ‘Oh, this? Thanks. Just something I threw together’. Zane snorted, ‘That’s a lie.’

Okay so maybe it was a lie. Maybe she’d spent just a little over six hours getting ready for it. And maybe an entire day picking out her outfit. Maybe she went out of her way to find the exact dress she’d rented for the dance last year, the one Rohan said she looked enchanting in. And maybe she was whoring out Zane for her own sake rather than, ‘getting him out of the house, for one’, liked she’d pitched it to him.

‘Shut up’.

‘That’s all I’m gonna hear tonight, isn’t it?’

‘Possibly’, she sighed, her mood falling as she suddenly caught a glimpse of Rohan and a girl she couldn’t recognise from behind. Ara dampened her lips, turning to Zane. ‘Do you – I mean…’ Rohan spun the girl suddenly, Ara’s even slightly joyous façade falling as she tailed off. ‘Do I know who Rohan is with?’ Zane interrupted, attracting Ara’s attention once again.

‘That’s not what I was gonna ask’.

‘Sure it was. I know you.’ He threw a glance over his shoulder towards a happy Rohan and the sparkling girl being twirled. ‘Her name is Safiyya’. Ara nodded, her eyes wandering over to her, ‘She’s pretty’. Zane smiled softly, ‘I guess. I don’t know though, they just don’t look right together. Not like you and Rohan did, you know?’

‘Stop trying to make me feel better. She’s beautiful’.

‘Wow. Someone’s moved on’, Zane scoffed teasingly.

Ara shook her head, ‘I don’t mean like that. She’s objectively beautiful. A comparative beauty. As in compared to me… And everyone else on the face of the universe. And I guess they make sense together; Rohan’s beautiful. Safiyya’s beautiful. Planets orbit the sun, not the stars’.

‘Wow, when did you get so poetic?’ Ara waved him off, ‘I gained a sudden amount of free time. It’s either Love Actually on repeat daily or poetry. And there’s only so many times you can watch the porn plot line before it makes you uncomfortable’.

Zane pursed his lips, laughing nervously, ‘Right. Well, for the record, Rohan’s not the sun. You’re your own sun, it’s up to you who orbits you.’ Ara chuckled, tilting her head and scrunching her face, ‘Scientifically inaccurate but, thanks. For everything’.

‘Hey, happy to be your back-up plan’. Ara nodded, completely missing his joke as her gaze was captured, once again, by Rohan. Zane sighed, ‘Okay, I’m sick of this lost puppy act. You’re talking to her.’

‘What, why? No! Zane I –’ before she knew it, Zane was waltzing her towards the couple, the music blasting into her ears. Or maybe that was her heart, she couldn’t tell. ‘Hey! Safiyya, right?’ Her dark chocolate eyes fell upon Zane’s as she smiled slowly, ‘Yeah…’ Her eyes flitted back to Rohan who only nodded in encouragement, ‘Sorry, Safiyaa, this is Zane. Zane, Safiyya.’ She smiled, taking his hand and shaking it, ‘Hi’.

‘Hey, so you’re pretty new right?’ Zane started, sweeping her casually to the other side of the dance floor, an action going unnoticed by both Ara and Rohan alike who were suddenly left alone.

Rohan’s grin quickly fell as it stumbled upon Ara who could only smile awkwardly. ‘Uh, hi’, she muttered, doing all she could not to let her eyes join with Rohan’s. The battle was quickly lost as Ara’s own eyes were trapped in the innocent gaze of a broken Rohan, the girl’s abnormally crystal blue eyes sparkling in a way that couldn’t compare to anything from Ara’s memory. ‘Hey’, Rohan smiled as if the past few months had never happened, ‘You look beautiful’. Ara blushed, bowing her head hiding the colour, not that her skin tone would let the redness show. Still, it was Rohan, and Ara didn’t doubt that she already knew how flustered she made her.

‘Uh, thanks. So do you’. Ara hadn’t dared look at Rowan’s attire before then. But, caught up in the moment, she fought her morals as her eyes scanned the emerald shine of the silk dress she wore. Jesus, beautiful didn’t begin to cover the way Rohan looked just then. The fabric fell like waterfalls over her curves, flowing down her legs. Her hair had been casually curled with a red rose pinned to the side of her head, a look that would look horrifically tacky on anyone else. But it was Rohan. The girl could sport a potato sack and still be enchanting in Ara’s eyes.

‘Do you want something to drink?’ Rohan asked, gesturing towards the table to the girls’ left. Ara smiled tightly, ‘Uh, sure. Yeah’. Rohan nodded, soundlessly pouring both of them a drink which they both sipped in silence. An awkward sort of quiet hung between them, despite the songs pounding around them.

Rohan took a sudden step towards Ara, dipping her head towards the side of her face. ‘I mean it’, Rohan whispered, her breath warm as it fanned the skin surrounding her ear, ‘You look amazing’. Ara shut her eyes, her heart stopping at the closeness. Rohan suddenly pulled away, her full mouth grinning as she swooped a lock of Ara’s hair behind her ear. ‘Rohan…’ Her name fell like a song from Ara’s lips. ‘I’m sorry’.

Faced scrunched, Rohan pursed her lips, ‘Sorry? For what?’

‘Not… You know…’ Ara gestured awkwardly, hoping she knew what she meant.

A laugh escaped her form, ‘Not wanting to marry me? Ara, it’s fine. I can’t force you to love me’.

‘I do love you, just…’

‘Not enough to want to marry me…’

Ara ran a frustrated hand through her hair. ‘It’s not that. Rohan, we’re eighteen. I’m supposed to be looking at colleges, not wedding venues’.

‘No. Yeah. Of course, it’s just…’ She paused for a moment before taking Ara’s hand and leading her towards one of the benches placed at the side of the hall. The two took a seat as Rohan enveloped Ara’s delicate hands in hers, Ara’s hands tingling from she didn’t know what;

‘First, I want you to know that I love you. And, that’s not me trying to get you back, because I don’t want you back. You make me happy, and when something makes a person as happy as you make me, all you want to do is repay them. So I’d like to make that clear, I love you but I don’t want you back. And me letting you go is me repaying you. I love you, so I’m letting you leave. So you can be happy.

‘Second, I’m sorry. I. Am. Sorry. Because I tried so hard to make you be happy with me that I tricked you into thinking you were. I manipulated you. Then I asked you to marry me. And you said yes. And then you came to your senses a little and said no. Which I’ll admit – pissed me the fuck off. Not because of you. It was never about you. And I know that’s not what you want to hear. You want to hear that I wanted to marry you because I loved you – which I did; I do – but that’s not the case. I asked you to marry me because I wanted you to keep me happy. Because I’d never had something so good in my life and the thought of losing that – you – scared the crap out of me. And I am sorry.

‘Third. I love you. And, maybe in the future we’ll be together again. And maybe we will get married and it will be because I love you. Just not right now. And maybe not in this lifetime but I am very much in love with you. So I want you to leave. Please…’

Ara stiffened, her throat suddenly dry. ‘Okay’. A few seconds later, Ara took to her feet, not even glancing back at Rohan as she left to find Zane, who took her arm quickly upon being found and bid Safiyya a goodbye.

It was only as she left the hall did Ara notice the curled red rose Rohan had tucked in her hand. A sad smile fell upon her face as she leaned down and set it at her feet, her best friend by her side as she trekked home. And, though her heart may have been shattered, it seemed, for the first time in a long time that Ara felt whole again; felt… at peace. 

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