A Story Inspired by a Written Prompt
Songs that helped inspire ...
-One Day (Tate McRae)
-Always (Isak Danielson)
-Edelweiss (The Mayries)
-Up, Up & Away (Chance Pena)
-With You (Jacob Lee)
I hugged the classical books tighter to my chest, trying fruitlessly to shelter them from the sprinkling rain as it sought to soak the already dreary streets. If only God had blessed me with foresight instead of an unquenchable desire for knowledge, I might have brought an umbrella instead of these rare, priceless books.
I jumped over a puddle, feeling the wetness of the road seeping in through my sandals and in between my toes. If I wasn’t careful, these shoes would get too slick to walk in and I might fall. I batted my stringy hair out of my face and focused on the uneven cobblestones ahead of me.
A shoulder collided against mine and I yipped as my precious treasures nearly slipped from my hands, but the stranger’s hand reached out to steady me and them alike.
Our eyes met and I almost dropped my books again.
That’s all I could think when I looked into those mysterious eyes. They were like stars with black expanses and little gold flecks.
“Are you okay?” His voice was rich and hidden by a thick accent.
I took too long to snap out of the wonderland his eyes had trapped me in before I answered. “Oh, yes,” I whispered blandly, awkwardly making no move to step away from his half embrace, and struggling to say much more.
His brows furrowed down before one rose along with the corner of his lips. “Are you okay?” He asked again and a flutter of embarrassment brought me down from the stars.
“I am.” A strange laugh left my lips as I stepped away from him and quickly brushed the wet strands of hair out of my face, realizing I was most likely only making myself look more frightful. “Thank you. For catching me.”
He shrugged his broad shoulders good-naturedly. “No need to thank me. I bumped into you after all.”
“Why aren’t you using your umbrella?” The question jumped from my lips before I could stop it and I quickly shot an apology after it, but he had already started laughing. I blushed red hot, suddenly feeling warm despite the cold water that trickled down my back.
“If I told you, you would think me strange and laugh.” His starry eyes sparkled like the galaxies I loved painting with acrylics back home.
A stab of offense shot through me. “I will not.”
His brows raised again as I stared a challenge at him before he broke out again with that beautiful laughter.
“I watched a movie once, with a man and woman dancing in the rain. They seemed so happy being wet, like little ducks, that I soon lost interest in using umbrellas.”
I wrinkled my nose in amusement.
“You’re laughing.” He sounded almost wounded but I quickly shook my head.
“I am not. I find it endearing. Why do you carry one, then, if you’ve no intention of using it?”
The umbrella twirled in his hands and then opened with a pop before he handed it out to me. “In case I meet a woman and she doesn’t want to be wet.” His eyes motioned to the books in my hand. “Perhaps you are that woman?”
My heart slammed against my ribs and I could do nothing but sputter for a moment and dumbly reach for the umbrella as I balanced the books in my other hand. “Thank you,” I finally managed when I was safely sheltered under the black, cloth expanse.
“Absolutely.” He bowed as they used to in the olden days and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had gotten that from one of his movies as well.
I clutched the umbrella tighter in my hand as he tipped his hat to me, bid me a good day, and strode away.
I watched him go, too dumbstruck to move. It was only after I had watched him weave his way through the crowd and my heart had stopped running that I realized my mistake.
In a world where names meant everything, I hadn’t asked for his.
With reckless abandon, I ran after him. Water splashed up my legs, soaking my chic business suit pants and destroying my sandals. I kept a tight hand on my books and umbrella but was unable to keep my heart and hopes from running themselves into the grave.
I called for him, pushing people aside in my haste and frantically asking where he had gone, but he had disappeared.
I stopped running when it became apparent I wasn’t doing anymore than making a fool of myself, my legs and lungs burning, my face streaked with rain and tears.
His starry eyes and accented voice played over and over in my mind and my heart did somersaults. My lip quivered as I bit back the overwhelming sense of defeat that had suddenly overcome me. I felt like I had lost everything I had ever wanted, though I didn’t know why. I stood under that flickering street lamp for God knows how long, people and cars passing me by, unfazed by the crying girl in the rain.
Finally, with my heart left to rot in the puddles on the streets, I turned and made my way home. With labor, I trudged up the stairs to my studio apartment, dripping water in a miserable little trail across the light brown carpet and into my home.
I set down the books, which had fared my wild goose chase far better than I had hoped, and that I myself had fared, went to close the umbrella when my eyes caught a name engraved on its handle.
My heart leapt into my throat and a gasping sob left my lips. There was only one name, no middle or last, but it was enough.
I tore my jacket off, baring my arm.
My trembling hand covered my mouth as I sank to the ground, half in horror, and half in awe.
Everyone here was born with two names somewhere on their body. One of their soulmate, and the other of the person, or persons, who would kill them.
One of the names on my arm was Elizabeth. And the other was Jack.
No one ever knew which name was which. Either Jack or Elizabeth could be my soulmate. One never knew. But now, as I remembered his starry eyes, his wet hair, and the way he raised his brows, I knew more than anything that Jack was my soulmate.
But how would I find him?
I searched the internet, I searched the phone book, I called my friends, my family, my coworkers, but none of them knew anyone named Jack.
Finally, exhausted, I sank down onto my couch and turned on the news for white noise as I stared at my popcorn celling.
One soulmate. Only one. And they were the only one we could truly be happy with. I had known many people to try and make relationships work outside of their soulmate but had watched as all of them ended in disaster. I had waited thirty years for mine. I had held out for them, knowing they would come, praying they would, that we could be happy together, truly happy. That’s all I had wanted.
If Jack was my soulmate, and I never saw him again, was I doomed to loneliness? And he too? Was Jack doomed to always search for his girl in the rain? Would we never be able to dance together in the rain?
The news announced an emergency and I only faintly heard it. Some girl had stepped out into the street at a crossing, a car hydroplaned and almost hit her. Thankfully, a man had pushed her out of the way. She had come out unscathed, but e was in the hospital in critical condition, and his name was …
I nearly screamed as I stared at the screen, the name ringing in my ears.
Starry eyes stared back at me.
I didn’t remember much as I ran from my apartment, forgetting my shoes, my jacket, even Jacks’ umbrella.
I ran all the way to the hospital, forced my way through security, and made it all the way to his room just as I heard the nurse pronounce him … deceased.
My blood ran cold. I sank to the floor, my heart tearing itself apart in my chest.
The nurses and security escorted me to the waiting room, comforting me, trying to help me, but I hardly heard them.
And then, I realized what I must’ve always known deep down.
A cold calm poured over me like the rain had only hours earlier as I dragged myself from the waiting room and out of the hospital. It had stopped raining, but that didn’t cheer me up. In fact, I missed it. As if it were the last piece of him I would ever have.
My feet carried me mindlessly down the dark streets, in and out of the street lights’ eerie glow, until I heard the rushing water beneath me.
The iron under my hands was cold as I gripped it.
I now knew why the other name on my arm was Elizabeth. I put one foot up on the railing and pulled myself up, balancing on the small metal strip with one hand on the pole next to me.
I would never be fully happy without my soulmate: that was the one cruel truth of this world which everyone knew.
The metal left my fingers as I loosened my grip and let myself fall.
Now, as the raging, cold water rushed up to meet me and darkness consumed me, I knew, truly knew, why the other name on my arm had always been my own.
This story was created from the prompt pictured here, which was picked out for me by my friend Levi.
I swear I tried to make it happy but just couldn't do it. Forgive me this sin. Maybe one day I'll learn how to write happy things. Maybe ...
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!
May the suns smile upon your presence.
—Effie Joe Stock