Hi-Five

Tag: Paper Heart

Season 1:4 Spark

School offers little respite from the weekend’s events. Felix picks me up to walk over together. Astro barks to announce his arrival. I grab my things and organize them into my backpack.

“So when do you think you’ll hear from him?”

“I don’t know. It could be next week, it could be next year,” I say, “or never.”

“Oh come on, it won’t be never.”

Felix kicks a pebble down the sidewalk. We glance up at a bus moving past. The cool breeze whisks my hair in front of my face. Our tease of warm weather from a few days ago is over.

“Felix, why do you keep pressing me on this?”

Two months before my birthday he started slipping in questions about how I felt. At first it didn’t bother me, and it was probably good for me to start thinking on the subject. But it grew tiresome. Each day meant I had to endure another inquiry.

“Because you’re my friend, and it’s a big deal.”

“But it’s really not that big of a deal.”

“Yes it is, that’s your problem. You want to dismiss this as nothing, like get a turkey sandwich instead of ham for lunch, but it’s more than that. This sort of thing changes lives.”

“I guess. Maybe I’ll understand once I meet Jacob Baxter,” I say.

“Hopefully. I’m just looking out for you, is all,” he says.

Felix had been there for me in times a lot tougher, and weirder, than this. My parents have hit a few bumps in their marriage, nothing serious, but I have a hard time handling those sorts of situations. He always picks up the phone on the first ring, even in the middle of the night, and listens to anything I have to say.

“Thanks,” is all I say in return.

We have ten or so minutes to spare before classes start once we get to school. I can’t prove it, but I can tell everyone is looking at me. They all know I got my letter and a whole part of my life, which remains a mystery for most, has been unlocked. There’s this feeling of a gaze locked on my head.

“How’s it going Livia?” Glen asks. He’d been walking behind us. For how long, I don’t know.

“Fine. Just getting to class,” I say. He introduces himself to Felix.

“So Glen, you’re on the track team?” Felix asks and points to Glen’s shirt.

“Oh, this is my brother’s shirt. I’m on varsity soccer here.”

It’s strange, but I’m impressed. Before just now I didn’t know our school had a soccer team. My eyes dart between his smile and the outline of his chest against the shirt fabric.

“Alright. What position?”

“Striker.”

“Sorry, but I’ve got to get to class,” I say and wave goodbye. It looks like Glen has something else to say, but I turn and hurry down the hall.

The bell rings just after I sit down. Geometry at eight in the morning has never been pleasant. Our teacher is nice enough, but even she seems stuck in a fog at this hour. She drones about Pythagoras’s theorem and other properties of triangles. I hand in my homework at the end of class. We only have four minutes to move between periods.

By sixth period, I’m ready to go home. Felix and I only have two classes together. I don’t have any friends at school aside from him. There’s the girl I called once about social studies homework and the guy who always borrows a pencil for tests in Spanish. Those are the only people I talk to in my classes.

“I thought today would never end,” Felix says. We always meet by the big tree at the edge of the faculty parking lot before walking home.

“How many days until summer?”

“I think twenty two, maybe less,” he says, “but we’ve got all that graduation stuff.” I sigh and roll my eyes. I’m glad to be graduating, but it means sitting through a rehearsal and then the ceremony itself.

We walk home and talk about nonsense. He loves hearing about Astro. I could ask him about Glen, but why would I? He’s just some guy who I ran into the other day and might have heard about me from one of his friends. Probably the guy from Spanish class.

“Whose car is that?” Felix asks. There’s a dark blue sedan parked on the curb outside my house. I’d never seen it before.

“I’m not sure. Maybe someone for my parents,” I say.

“Huh. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says and waves goodbye.

I walk inside and set my bag down next to the door. Astro doesn’t greet me at the door.

“Mom? Dad?” I call out.

“In the living room,” my dad answers.

The two of them are sitting on the couch facing me, and across from them is someone who looks about my age.

“Someone showed up to see you today,” dad says. My heart skips a beat and I can feel my face getting hot.

He gets up from the chair and faces me.

“I’m Jake,” he says.

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Season 1:1 ‘Flutter’

Tomorrow is my eighteenth birthday.  Only one more day until I discover my soulmate.  It feels a little strange, but everyone’s life just seems to get better after that day.  Some people try and guess who theirs might be.  I haven’t given it much thought.

“Excited for tomorrow?” Felix asks.  He’s been one of my closest friends through high school.

“I guess.  Everyone tells me how big of an event this is, but I don’t know,” I say.

We take our time walking back from school.  The sun radiates a comfortable warmth on the first clear day in months.  A bus chugs past us.  Most kids live too far away to walk home, but Felix and I are only a couple of blocks down the road.

“Come on Liv, all the other girls practically explode the day before they find out.  They all call in sick so they can pick out an outfit to wear.”

“See, that never made sense to me.  I’m not meeting the guy tomorrow, just finding out who it is.”

“True.  But still, you’ve got to be a little excited.”  I shrug.

Our parents were the first generation in the matchmaking program.  On the whole it turned out pretty well.  The divorce rate is at five percent across the whole country.  Of course, everyone gets married at a younger age.  A lot younger.

“It just feel weird.  I don’t want to be one of those people who gets married three months from now.  Can we talk about something else?”  I look away from him.

“Fine,” he sighs, “how’s Astro?”

“Good, he’s still teething on our dining room chairs.  My mom has to keep a close eye on him.  But he’s so cute.”

“I wish my dad wasn’t allergic to dogs, and my mom actually liked them.”

We chat for a few minutes more before arriving at my house.

“Well, happy early birthday,” he says and gives me a hug.

“Thanks.”

Mom and dad are still at work.  Astro charges to greet me at the door.  He’s a white german shepherd puppy we got two weeks ago.  We hadn’t had a dog in eight years and my mom finally thought it was time to get another one.  I’m not sure why they decided on a puppy, but he’s too cute to think about it.  I scratch under his chin and he wags his tail.

I’ve heard so many stories about the letters people get.  For the past few months I scoured the internet for accounts of how these people’s lives turn out.  Deep down, I do care about the letter because it’s going to determine the rest of my life.  What most people don’t realize is how much the contents can shock them.  There’s a document on my computer of all the stories I find really interesting.  I get a weird sense of comfort out of reading them.

Colby Knox’s story is a pretty typical one.  I kept it just because it serves as a good baseline, and I liked his name.  He got the letter at nine o’clock on the morning of his eighteenth birthday.  Trudged downstairs from his bedroom in his sweatpants and flip-flops at the calls of his mother.  She was so excited for her son.

He sat at the kitchen table.  The spot normally occupied by his breakfast was filled with a thirteen by seven inch envelope.  Colby picked it up and opened it at his own pace, despite the excitement of his mother.  I’m not sure of the exact wording in a letter since it’s illegal to post one online, but the name and address of the match is in there somewhere.  He was paired with Alexis Belrose of New York.  You’d think a guy from north Georgia would have very little in common with someone from New York city.  They’ve been married for seven years.

Colby tracked Alexis down a few days after she got her letter.  Knowing who his soulmate was had given his life a new meaning.  Before, he was kind of a self-absorbed soccer star, but then he sort of had an epiphany.  Life shouldn’t be lived alone.  Everyone realizes at one point or another that having someone else, just having them, makes a lot of things better.

She got around to nicknaming him “Cheesy” and he told her he loved her every hour of every day.  Piecing together their sporadic blog and social media posts was like crafting the script of stereotypical teenage romance movie.  Everything about them was cute and mushy and perfect.  They even looked perfect together.  At one point I thought about how flawless their children must look.  His smile was adorable and her features were stunning.

They went to the same college and graduated with impressive grades.  Now they have a house in Maryland and two kids.  He heads a nonprofit in Washington and she’s at home for the time to take care of the family.  I suspect they’ll live happily ever after.

Astro and I sit on my bed and think.  My life could turn out “perfect” like Colby and Alexis.  One piece of paper spit out by a souped up algebra problem will determine the rest of my life.  Even if I meet my soulmate and hate him, even if I love him, even if we never meet, my life will be changed.  I recognize my match might be a girl, but it’s less likely.  For now, I wallow in my ignorance and hope for the best.

 

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