in curves and loops
He’d known that writing anywhere; he’d spent the early years of his life tracing the pattern against the skin on his ribcage. The way she’d written his name was an exact match for his soul mark.
It had been present on his arm for as long as he could remember; his name, written in looped handwriting along his ribcage. It was where he’d learned to spell his name, tracing out the letters with his finger along his side: J-a-m-e-s.
It wasn’t until primary school that he properly understood what it meant, when his teacher first broached the concept with a room of five and six year olds. “Your name is inked on you in the writing of your soulmate.” At the time, James had tried to find his, but most of his classmates still wrote their ‘J’s backwards and his teacher assured him that most people didn’t find their soulmates until their twenties or thirties, if they found them at all.
So for several years, the boy did his best to forget about it, living his own life, going to school and doing his own work. He never was much interested in romance, but the teenager was no romantic, either. He knew that he had a soulmate, and that most people believed in them – and he did too. Perhaps not to the extent of most of the people around him, but he still traced his name written in cursive on his side absently.
It was sometime when he was in high school, about sixteen or so years old, that he noticed someone’s soulmark on their arm. Most people seemed to hide theirs – his was on his side, so naturally it was easy for him to do this by wearing a shirt. The girl next to him – Cecily Blackwell, his lab partner in chemistry – had it along her wrist.
He’d been waiting for his solution to boil at the lab table with her, watching the faint blue mixture bubble and steam in front of them before he could no longer keep from asking. “Your name is in all capital letters,” he vaguely gestured toward her arm, “Why’s that?”
“I dunno.” Cecily didn’t seem offended by this intrusion as she glanced at her wrist. “Maybe they were in a hurry.”
“It looks more like angry writing to me,” James observed before his lips crooked up, “What did you do to get your soulmate so pissed at you?”
“Maybe doing what you’re doing now and ignoring the solution,” the girl rolled her eyes and gestured toward the blue solution, which had now passed the point of boiling and had begun to evaporate.
With an irritated glance her way and a stream of expletives under his breath, the boy snatched the flask off of the hot plate and then hissed as it burned the skin on his fingertips.
Cecily snorted, and he narrowed his blue gaze at her.
Their partnership had started out on the wrong foot, and after a while, they’d began to resent the other’s presence. When James was neglecting the solution, Cecily ridiculed him. When Cecily measured out too much hydrochloric acid, James mocked her. And both of them appealed to the teacher multiple times to switch partners, but to no avail.
For the time being, they were stuck with each other.
They hated it.
Revenge for starting off on bad terms had turned into petty little messes. She switched out his copper sulfate for copper sulfite. He moved decimal places on her calculations. At one point they caused an explosion in their lab and blamed each other.
Eventually, they’d both had enough. She generally left earlier than he did, and today, he found a note taped to his backpack when he returned to his desk.
STOP SCREWING EVERYTHING UP. WE ARE GOING TO FAIL THIS CLASS!
Angrily, he flipped the note ever and wrote, in large capital letters just like she’d written the body of her note. He’d barely begun on the first sentence when he paused, noticing the precise way that he’d written her name, and realizing that he’d seen this name written exactly like this in ink before – on someone’s wrist.
Heart thudding, he flipped the note over and found his name back from where she’d written it. He’d known that writing anywhere; he’d spent the early years of his life tracing the pattern against the skin on his ribcage. The way she’d written his name was an exact match for his soul mark.
James lowered his head heavily to his desk and groaned.