Today’s prompt is: “On everybody’s 18th birthday, they wake up with a tattoo of what their soulmate will first say to them.”
If you asked Eliza to describe herself in one word, she would immediately respond, “bibliophile” She was the kind of girl who preferred to stay home with a good book while her friends were out at parties. She would much rather prefer the company of a good book to someone her own age any day.
She remembered reading in history books about how people used to celebrate their 18th birthday in the past. She read about many of them looking forward to owning a car, and going off to college; how bizarre that their future was not immediately known to them. In Eliza’s world, at 12, you already knew what your career would be and what colleges would accept you once you turned 14. Once you turned 18, you were already well on your way to starting in your field of work. People no longer had distractions stopping them from excelling in their careers or field of study, even soulmates were revealed. No one had to waste their time dating around, like grandparents did when they were young.
On the morning of a person’s 18th birthday, the person would wake up with a tattoo on their wrist detailing the exact first words their soulmate would speak to them. As Eliza’s 18th birthday approached, people would not let her forget that she would soon receive her tattoo, and possibly know who her soulmate was. Because of the excitement behind her 18th birthday, Eliza would often find herself imagining what her tattoo would say. Perhaps times hadn’t changed much after all, everyone would always look forward to their 18th birthday.
Eliza would often daydream about what her tattoo would say. Naturally, she imagined it would be someone who knew a little about her, he would walk up to her and say Mr.Darcy’s “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” Or maybe he would ask Romeo’s “Did my heart love til now?” upon seeing her for the first time. She would often think of the very moment they might meet.
Nothing would have prepared her for what she found upon waking up on her 18th morning. She could not believe her eyes when she read her tattoo: “Reading is a waste of time, just watch the movie.” There was no way this could happen to her. Soulmates were assigned to be 100% scientifically compatible. It was scientific! There has never been a mistake, but surely this had to the first mistake ever. Who would she even talk to? Everyone who saw it thought it was hilarious and true. No one was horrified the way she was.
Eliza began to avoid places where she could meet non-readers. She hid in the library and in her room as much as possible. In order to transport in between locations, she would make sure to arrive at the shuttle spot right before it would take off in order to keep contact with non-readers to a minimum. She kept this lifestyle for years. She knew she was smart enough to beat the system. She would never be happy with someone who didn’t appreciate literature as much as she did. If anyone was determined enough to beat the system, it was her.
Years turned into decades, and Eliza lived alone with her thousands of books. Because of her old age, she had to hire someone to check on her daily. She made sure to only hire young people who could never fall in love with an old lady like her. She had replaced several aides, as they all moved on to bigger and better jobs. She had excellent judgment and never had a poor assistant. They were all punctual, and thank goodness for that. One day as she climbed the ladder to reach a long forgotten book, she lost her balance and fell. She thought to herself, something must be broken, but could not get up to call for help. She knew her assistant would be in soon, so all she had to do was hang tight. Within minutes, her assistant entered the room and immediately called for help.
At the hospital, she was told she needed surgery. At the thought of surgery, her old panic of meeting non-readers was quickly replaced by the panic of possibly dying of complications. Before she knew it, surgery was over and she woke up to a lovely young nurse asking if she would like ice chips for her thirst. The nurse was so lovely, she said yes and asked for a book to read. The nurse smiled and responded, “Of course. You’re assistant has brought them in and they’re waiting for you in your recovery room.” She was relieved simply knowing that her books were waiting for her.
Once she was placed in a much bigger and brighter room, she was relieved to find that her roommate, Tim, was another book lover. They discussed the many books they were currently reading, and Eliza suddenly realized how much she had missed out on life by hiding from her soulmate. This sudden realization made her sad so she turned away from her new friend and turned to her old one, but she soon noticed that she had been reading the same line over and over again. A handsome doctor approached her and said “Reading is a waste of time, just watch the movie.” Eliza could not believe it. She responded, “Please tell me you’re joking.” The doctor laughed and apologized. He explained that he loved to annoy Tim by saying something negative about reading every day. That’s when Eliza noticed his tattoo, “Please tell me you’re joking.” She could not beat the system after all.