He shrugged, falling back into his chair.
I shot him a look that said “Really?”
“What? I clearly didn’t think this far ahead.”
“Obviously,” I gestured at the two necklaces. “Why were you carrying both around?”
He rubbed his neck, “I may have placed them together and forgot which one was mine. I thought if I carried both I’d still find my…err, one of our soulmates. I didn’t think about having to determine whose she would be. At least not until I felt one warm up…then it clicked…and that’s why I ran.”
I let out a defeated sigh. “This was supposed to be easy you know! That’s why they made these things. I thought it would just be like ‘hey I’m Diane, I’m George, Oh, look! We’re soulmates. Let’s date a little, get married, and live happily ever after!’ Now I get…” I looked at him as I tried to come up with what I should call him, idiot, moron, “you” I said with disdain, “and I have to figure out who my actual soulmate is. And what action do you propose? Nothing. You just sit there and shrug. Am I supposed to go on some sort of dating game show now, like in my grandma’s day and we’ll find out who is my best fit?” I started to twirl my hair and in a ditzy voice began, “Um…mystery man one, what is your like, ideal date?” my face deadpanned as I looked back to him.
He stared back at me in shock. Probably trying to decide if he should laugh or runaway in terror. An awkward laugh fell from his lips. “Yeah… Sorry. I didn’t realize keeping this necklace was going to make life so difficult.” He held the two necklaces up staring at them, “I know I should have put it in a box and hid it in my closet or something, but I carelessly left it next to mine. At the same time, if I had done that you might have ended up being a cold.” He caught my eyes looking for a reaction.
I looked away from him, “I could have dealt with that.”
“Really now?” His eyebrow arched. “Miss vehement over here could have lived without a soulmate?”
I crossed my arms, “Of course! I don’t have to live without love you know. I could still try to find someone else.”
“But you’d take that chance knowing someday your necklace could light up. Would you leave them and follow your necklace?”
I started to answer, but fell back deciding to think it over. Staring at the table I stated my answer, “Not if I had a family with them. Love is based off a lot more than just what a necklace tells me.”
He was silent. I looked up at him and he was staring thoughtfully at me. I felt my cheeks heating up, I quickly looked away.
“Oh!” He said suddenly, startling me slightly. “We can go back to the Institute and ask them to look at our pendants. Surely they can tell us which one is mine.”
I was surprised we hadn’t thought of this sooner. “That sounds like an excellent idea.” Having come up with a plan we gathered our things and headed out the door.
“If we take the train we’ll only have to transfer once to get there.” He glanced at his watch, “It’s 3:30 now and I think they’re open ‘till 6.”
I nodded and followed him to the train station. It was a quiet walk as I couldn’t figure out anything to say to him. I felt as though I should get to know him better, but I couldn’t figure out what I should say. He must have been in the same boat as he said nothing either, just a few short glances passed between us.
We made it to the train quickly and as we stood, holding on I studied him a little better. He was probably close to six feet tall, maybe 5’11 to my 5’5. His hair was somewhat of a mess, falling over his ears and just brushing the top of his frames. He had a nice straight nose and defined jaw. I couldn’t tell his build from under his hoodie, but wasn’t fat. He wore nice jeans that were neither baggy nor skinny and a pair of Nikes. “I wonder if he likes to run?” I thought, “I never even got his name.” I realized. Here I was traveling across the city with a complete stranger pretty much. Shouldn’t that be the first thing you get from a supposed soulmate?
“Hey,” I shouted over the noise of the train. He turned to look at me. “What is your name?”
“What?” he replied, moving closer to hear me better.
“I said, what is your name!?” I repeated louder.
“Oh. It’s Max.” he smiled, flashing his white teeth.
“I’m Diane.” I said. I don’t know why, but I held out my hand for him to shake. Maybe because I thought we needed a full proper greeting.
He chuckled before taking my hand and giving it a firm shake. He let go quickly though as the train came to a stop and he quickly grabbed the hand hold above him. I laughed at his mishap, he smiled back at me.
Some seats cleared and we sat next to each other and began asking each other the simple questions to get to know one another. Favorite color, age, where are you from, what job do you have and what do you want to do?
We found out that we are both 22 and he is actually one month younger than me. As for my answers I said, purple, born and raised in Chicago and barista but studying to be a nurse.
He said his favorite color is red, his family was from Columbia, but that he was born in California. They relocated to Chicago when he was in high school though and he was studying history with a minor in anthropology.
Soon enough we reached the Institute. It was a large white building, rather non-descript other than a sign out front that said “The Institute” in large letters with “find the love in your life” printed in smaller letters underneath.
We walked in and saw three other people waiting around. We walked up to the front desk and grabbed a number before sitting down. Two of the people there looked young. Probably sixteen, here to pick up their pendants. The other one was an older man, probably around fifty. I wasn’t sure as to why he was there. I pulled out my phone to pass the time. The receptionist made quick work with everyone, the young girl squealing in excitement as she received her pendant, the boy simply shrugging and placing it in his pocket. The man talked to the receptionist before being whisked back behind a door.
Finally our number was called. We rose to talk to the woman behind the desk. Her hair was gray and pulled back into a bun. She wore maroon cat eye glasses that matched the color of her dress and jacket. Her face was wrinkled and looked tired. “Yes.” She said in a monotone voice, “can I help you?”
Max started, “I got my brother’s pendant mixed up with mine and uh,” his eyes shifted to me, “One of them started glowing to hers, but I don’t know whose it is. I was wondering if you could help.”
The receptionist looked between us, no emotion showing on her face. “This place is only a distribution center. We don’t have the materials to tell what necklace belongs to whom. If you’d like I can send it off for testing and they can get you your results.”
We glanced at each other. “Ok. Sure we’ll do that.” Max replied. “How long should it take?”
“About three months.”
“Three months that’s ridiculous!” Max shouted.
“What? You must be kidding!” My response overlapped his.
“The scientists who create these are very busy testing all the world’s DNA and doing all the other tests it takes to determine who is right for one another. Not to mention the shipping time. I’m sorry, but maybe next time you’ll be more careful.” She looked at both of us, “Are you going to do it?”
“Yeah, yeah.” Max rolled his eyes. “Here.” He fished out the necklaces and handed them to her.
“I need your full name for the process.”
“Maximo Jay Valencia”
She turned to me, “And yours honey?”
“Diane Rose Brennan.”
“Alright. I’ve got all your info here.” She took the two necklaces, I went to hand her mine, “We don’t need that one honey. Just have to determine whose is whose from these.” I shrugged and held my necklace. She packed the two she had and I watched as the glow faded from my pendant.
Still in a droning monotone she said, “Ok ladies and gentleman, the necklaces are sent. Return in three months to find out who your true love is. Goodbye.” She then turned and started filling out paperwork.
I shrugged and walked out of the building. Max right behind me. We began walking back to the train, the sky now dark.
“That seemed easy enough,” I said. “Sucks we have to wait so long.”
“Yeah.” He said somewhat glumly.
“Well…should we try dating maybe? I don’t really feel like doing absolutely nothing for the next three months.”
“But what if you end up with my brother?”
“Well…then you’ll be my brother-in-law. I feel like either way I should get to know you better, or do you really just not want to see me for three months?”
“That is a long time to wait. I guess we can try dating. I’ll even introduce you to my family at some point…”
“Ok sounds like a plan.” We boarded the train. “When should are first date be?”
“Are you free Saturday?”
“I will be after 3pm.”
“Ok, that’s when our first date will be.”