The Soulmate Principle
By Via Justine De Fant
In the year 3020, scientist came out with the soulmate principle. Biologists in the Indian Institute of Science were able to prove that there was a gene found in DNA that directly correlated to a person’s compatibility with another human. Up until that year, it was a gene completely invisible to science. It has been shown that once this feature, specific to only two people, was paired, the details of their meeting and aspects of their personality became trivial. Love became a science and researchers were able to prove that two people were perfect for each other in every way. Before this discovery, the chance of finding a soulmate was at 0.1%. It is now up to 99%.
The organization responsible for this development calls themselves the Science of Ultimate Love, or SOUL. Their breakthrough spread like wildfire and in no time a law passed worldwide, requiring a DNA sample from all newborns to input into a global database. They approved another law that required participants to be 18 years or older in order to make their files public, allowing them to be tracked. This was to insure neither of the partners were found at too young of an age.
I have held on to this principle my whole life.
I’ve spent countless hours wondering about my soulmate and waiting for that one day when her existence would be less of an idea and more of a reality. I wondered whether she was tall or short, shy or confident, relaxed or outgoing. Would she be the type of person who stopped to help the elderly teleport across the solar system? Would she follow me through the aisles at the grocery store and wait patiently as I arranged the various boxes of pasta on the hovering shelves? Hell, would she even be a woman?
I once knew this man from Copenhagen. His name was Rick. Nice guy, really. He was tall, burly, opened pickle jars like you’d open a door, you know? A man’s man. It wasn’t until he found his soulmate that that phrase would be taken literally. Up until he met Jordan, he never dated men. But that’s the interesting thing. This aspect of our DNA, this soul we harbor, it wants for nothing other than its one true counterpart regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion.
I had only dated one girl. I was 19 and her name was Janine. We both knew we wouldn’t end up together. There was no way when we had our own respective soulmates out there waiting for us. We justified our late hangouts and parked car sessions as practice. Practice for the real thing, for when our hushed conversations and furtive touching would actually mean something more, for when they would develop a note of permanence. She’s married now to a deaf woman from El Paso. They’re adopting their third child in August.
Others find their soulmates and live a completely platonic life with them. Before this discovery, these individuals were only known as asexual, a very rare preference of sexuality by less than 1% of the population. They never felt the need or urge to consummate their union physically, but on some gene deep level they made each other happy. Relationships like these were usually made fun of, seen as a more inferior type of love. But when my brother found his soulmate in his friend of 16 years, I saw the error in this notion. They never kissed, never looked longingly into each other’s eyes. But they fit. Like puzzle pieces. Every movement, thought, and word of theirs was in harmony. Their love wasn’t more powerful or even less so. It just had a different context.
Some people aren’t so lucky. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Morgan, found her soulmate in a man diagnosed with pancreatic cancer; the only cancer science hasn’t been able to find a cure for yet. He died within three months of her knowing him.
When I asked her how she had felt when he passed away, she told me, “I didn’t know him all that well. I never got a chance to really love him. Yet, when he left I felt the absence, the feeling of never knowing what I was meant to have. But you’re too young to understand this, sweetie. God help you, I hope you never do.”
On rare occasions, some never found theirs. A neighbor of mine, Mr. Chau, lived on the third floor of my apartment. He was old. His graying hair, liver spots, and purple cane characterizing his 86 years of life. Every day you’d find him looking out the window, as if he was constantly waiting for a package or visitor to arrive. It wasn’t until after he died that I found out he had never found who he was supposed to be with. His soulmate never turned on their tracking device. A rumor spread that they had died before reaching legal age.
My father talked about this principle all the time. He and my mother hated each other at first. They’d bicker like it was going out of style and even after their marriage they’d torment each other to no end. Something you should know is that soulmates and love at first sight aren’t the same. Sometimes the earth stopped before it shattered into a kaleidoscope of colors and other times, that feeling of recognition, of knowing you had found the one, came days, weeks, even months after
On my 18th birthday, after I had enrolled myself in the tracking system, my father sat me down and handed me a glass of brandy. “Son, loving someone sure as hell isn’t easy. You’re really going to have to work hard. But it’ll fall into place. And when it does,” he whistled, “It’s beautiful.”
“What about it is so beautiful?”
He had to think about that for a moment. “Your mother and I may not be perfect people, but knowing you can’t do better, that you have the best you could possibly have, hell, that you’re the best too.” He shook his head. “The security in that is magical.”
It’s true. There is security in finding your soulmate. The idea is that once you prove a person is meant for you and you for them, there’s no curiosity in finding someone else, in wondering what it would be like to taste another’s lips. All you’ll ever need is in that one person. It was science.
I’d always find my parents leaned close together, my father’s arm wrapped around my mother’s shoulders as he whispered something in her ear. The usual response was a laugh, occasionally with a slap on his shoulder, and always that glimmer in her eyes. I craved that glimmer. I convinced myself it was a balm for an injury I didn’t really have, that I would be incomplete without her.
When my soulmate didn’t turn up my first year as a legal, I endeavored to prepare for my life with her. In between the time of my 18th birthday to the day I had been notified that they had found her, I bought a home, attained a respectable career, and held off on traveling like I wanted in case SOUL wouldn’t be able to contact me while I traversed galaxies. I had even bought a nice bed made for two and had only looked at houses with dual bathroom sinks.
It was 4054 on the 23rd day of August at exactly 12:20 in the afternoon when I received my hologram from SOUL.
“We found her.”
I remember the exact feeling that coursed through me when I received that messsage. I could never explain it in words, but it felt close to a tornado shaking up my very being, creating chaos in its wake. The anticipation was staggering.
On the way to the meeting center, I decided to walk, to indulge in some outlet that would possibly calm my nerves. I tried to take my time, even stopping to hand a few bills to the homeless alien on the sidewalk. As I moved to hand him the money, he asked me, “You look happy, fella. What’s got your mood up?”
I smiled, “I’m three blocks away from meeting my soulmate. My life’s about to be complete.”
He sighed, his gaze perturbing. “What makes you think you need someone to feel complete?”
“Math, biology, science,” I listed off. “They all say the same thing. We’re all meant for one person, the best. It’s what makes life worth living. It’s what makes us happy.”
He shook his head and laughed, his glowing green eyes becoming blinding. “Take it from me, kid. Be your own soulmate. Then you’ll need no one but yourself and anyone else you start to love will only be a bonus.”
I wasn’t in the mood to explain why he was wrong or educate him on a biological phenomenon that he would never be able to relate to, so I ignored his reply and wished him well. But before I could fully escape his proximity, he held onto my arm, “Remember, kid. Love is not a science.”
I shook off his hold and his odd response. What did he know? Forgetting his words as soon as the building came into view my heartbeat quickened the pace of my steps and I found myself at the check-in counter in no time.
When I got there the receptionist handed me a tablet. “Please check in, sir.”
I hastily took the screen from her and recited my name into the mic. In my excited state, I said my name too fast for the computer to recognize and had to repeat, “Julian Avery” five times before it finally registered.
I handed the device back to her and after 5 agonizing minutes of waiting, she motioned me forward.
“Follow me, Mr. Avery.”
The woman led me to a room with a reflective, double door. There she tapped the mirrored surface and it turned blue underneath her palm, the color indicating that the room would be occupied. She turned to me. “Whenever you’re ready, sir. She’s right inside this room.”
As she walked away, the weight of the moment seized me, rendering me immobile. Questions raced through my mind. What would I ask her first? How will she look? How will it feel?
I placed my hand on the sensor pad and thought the one simple word that would reveal my long-awaited soulmate. Open
Beneath my grasp, the sound of locks disengaging rang through my ears. The chill of the air became more prominent and I could taste the distinct flavor of expectancy. Each one of my senses heightened for this moment.
I stepped into the room and braced myself for the reaction that I expected to follow. There, sitting on the chair hovering over the glass floor sat a woman. Her hair spiraled in untamable ringlets around her face. Her piercing brown eyes were directed straight at me and her small hands wrung themselves as if out of nervousness.
The moment was… anti-climactic. To my dismay, the buildup I created was less than what the moment possessed. Nevertheless, I pushed forward, determined to see it through.
Not knowing whether to shake her hand or give her a hug, I settled with a simple, “Hi.”
She reached for my hand and encased it in the soft embrace of her palms. “Julian.” She smiled up at me and in that moment I felt the acute sense of rightness. “The receptionist told me your name. Mine’s Emma.” She let go of me and the absent warmth of her grip left me feeling bereft. “Please, sit. Let’s talk.”
Emma led me to the sofa hovering next to her former chair and gestured for me to sit down. Only when I took my place did she take a seat. Not knowing what to say, I watched her, trying to be captivated by the gentle way she tucked her hair behind her ear or the way she bit her bottom lip, trying to find poetry where there was none. She wasn’t amazing, I noted. Yes, she was pretty but it wasn’t a movie perfect moment where my breath was taken away by her beauty. Truth be told, she seemed sort of plain to me. But there was something about her that drew me. Science explains this as a biological phenomenon that allows soulmates to recognize their inherent union.
“I’ve wondered about this moment my whole life.” She smiled at me. “How you would look, what we would say to each other.” Emma gazed at me expectantly, waiting for me to chime in, but I didn’t say anything. All the questions I had prepared for her were lost in the sea of my mind.
“Well, maybe I should tell you more about myself?” She raised her brow questioningly and when I didn’t respond, she continued. “My name’s Emmaline. I’m an alien interpreter and translator for NASA. I’m 35.”
I rubbed my sweaty palms on my jeans and cleared my throat. Forcing myself to make conversation. “I’m a teleportation technician instructor for UCLA. I just celebrated my 31st birthday this May, and two of my three neighbors are from the third dimension,” I said
After a while of this back and forth, my anxiety gradually eased and we talked more about our interests and our lives. I found out she was a certified galaxydiver and I revealed how just the sight of a rollercoaster could make me hurl. We spouted all sorts of random facts about one another and laughed constantly. There was an easy bond between us and I craved more of it.
An hour into our conversation I noticed her getting increasingly more nervous. I asked the only question burning in my mind.
“Why only now? Why did you wait so long to find me? The database is extremely quick. We could’ve been married with children by now.”
Never looking me in the eye, she murmured, “There’s something you should know, Julian.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “We can’t have the kind of relationship you’re hoping for.”
“What kind of relationship do you think I want?”
“A romantic one. I see it in your eyes even as we talk. You want more than I can give.”
I leaned away from her strangely embarrassed by her blunt observation and casual rejection of what I dreamed my whole life of attaining. “Why do you think you can’t give me that?”
She didn’t answer. In that moment, I felt tiny tendrils of anger drifting through me. “So you’ve waited this long to find me only to tell me that you can’t be with me? And you won’t even tell me why?” Fear struck my brain when I asked what I hoped would be met with a refusal. “Are you terminal?”
“No. No. I’m healthy, really.”
I let out a breath. “Then what is it?”
My brain was rattled as to why she couldn’t continue our relationship. We were the best for each other. There was no one else for me, for her. It was science. During this musing I noticed she let go of her hands and I caught sight of her reason why. The bright blue band wrapped around her finger strangled the words out from me.
“You’re married.” My ire turned to confusion. The strongest wave of betrayal crashed over me. “I–How? Why?”
“Please, let me explain.” She grabbed my arm but I flinched away as if the ring on her hand had burned me. “I met him when we were just kids.”
When I didn’t respond she continued. “We grew up together. He was there when I lost my first tooth, when I won the science fair, even when I got beat up in the third grade. He bandaged my sores and when my brother had died, he helped heal that wound as well. I knew the chances of us being soulmates were rare, but I couldn’t help the way I felt. Neither of us could. We fell in love. We decided that we didn’t want to know who our soulmates were, that as long as we had each other, we’d be happy. We are happy. ” Her eyes were earnest as they pleaded for me to understand.
“Julian, you have to understand. I love him.”
I shook my head at her, dumbfounded. “But you don’t belong with him.”
Her shoulders squared defiantly. “Says who?”
“Says science!” I tried for calm. “This is illogical. You’re refusing the man you need for the one you want.”
“We don’t have to be together. Just because this pairing might be ideal doesn’t mean we can’t be happy with other people. I don’t need to look for something better because I’m already content.”
I ignored her ludicrous claims. It didn’t matter that she was already happy. It only mattered that she could be happier. The goal was always to look for the best. Only the best.
“I prepared my whole life for this, put everything on hold for this– for you.” I was on the verge of hysterics. “It’s not too late. I know this isn’t love at first sight, but most of these situations aren’t. We just have to work towards it. We can do this and you’ll forget about him. He has his own soulmate too.”
“No, Julian. No. I can’t leave him.” She wrapped a protective arm over her stomach. “I won’t.” It was then that I realized she wasn’t just married to another man, she was starting a family with him. “I wanted only to find you so that I could tell you. So that you wouldn’t have to wait anymore.” Bile rose in my throat. All that wasted time.
I looked at her for long moments, maybe hours. How had this woman I just met undo me in such little words? Not knowing what to do I asked, “So is this it then? Do I just walk away from everything I waited my whole life for?”
“I never asked you to wait, Julian.”
“But you knew I was out here!”
My yelling must’ve startled here because her eyes widened in alarm. “Perhaps the system got it wrong. Maybe we were wrongly matched.” Her eyes were hopeful.
“SOUL is never wrong. It hasn’t made a mistake since it was first introduced. You’re being stupid.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted it. I saw the wet path of a tear falling down her cheek, and I was ashamed that the sight of it gutted me. I was never a mean person, but I couldn’t stop my violent reaction of what I was forced to accept, that I would be alone because my true counterpart couldn’t see reason. Not wanting to say anything else I’d regret, I walked away without another word. Away from the one person I was ready to give my world to. Her soft goodbye haunting me for years to come.
I made my way outside and sat on the pavement, the heat of the gravel barely registering in my already occupied mind. I felt the aching need to claw out my heart, to reach inside me and fling my emotions into the deepest pit I could find. I don’t know how long I sat there with my hands buried in tangles through my hair, but the shining of the sun soon gave way to the melancholic darkness of a moonless night. The once busy sidewalk was empty save for myself and one lone figure standing across the street from me. Looking closely, I saw the vague glow of green eyes and the dim silhouette of ragged attire.
A thought rang through my mind.
Be your own soulmate.
And at that, the alien was gone.