Loveless Soulmates by Alison Paige
I live in a world where everyone has a soulmate.
That used to mean the person you were going to marry, even if you didn’t love them. Now we accept that they’re merely just your ‘other half’. Your soulmate could be your spouse, your best friend, a one-night stand, or someone you’ll never see again; they could even be your sibling.
A majority of the world understands that not everyone is going to end up with their soulmate, the two may be connected but that doesn’t mean their lives are tied together.
I was never that interested in following the compass on my wrist, I’m aro/ace so I knew I would never be in a relationship with them and it didn’t really matter if I became friends with them. My family found it interesting how the girl named after the most romantic flower, didn’t experience romantic attraction herself.
There are people whose only goal in life was to find the person fate was pointing them to, who would travel across the world if it meant they might find them. I wasn’t one of those people, but unfortunately, my soulmate was.
work as a barista in a café a few miles from where I grew up. Most of the shifts are pretty copy/paste. You have the regulars who always order the same thing at practically the same time every day, the people who insist you messed up their order and wish to speak with the manager, the ones who want to try everything on the menu, and that one person who claims a free drink with their punch card that you know they punched out at home.
It’s not always in that order but it’s practically guaranteed that one, if not all of them will show up during your shift. We also have our fair share of coffee dates or students coming in to study, but those are hardly as memorable.
I was behind the register taking orders when the door opened; I didn’t look up as the bell was hardly anything new.
A man came up to the counter, a big grin on his face. “Can I buy you a drink?” He asked.
“Excuse me?” It wasn’t the first time a customer had offered to buy us something from the café, most of the time it was because of the holidays or their way of paying it forward. This man was something else, I had never seen someone this excited to place an order, let alone one that wasn’t even for him.
“A drink, I figured I should get you something before I ask you on a date.”
He held up his left arm when I gave him a confused look. His compass was red and pointed at me, sure enough when I looked down my own was no longer black and turned towards him.
This man was my soulmate.
I had gone over in my head multiple times what I would say when I ended up meeting them, however my speech would have to wait as a small line started to form behind him.
“Look, my shift ends in half an hour. If you want we can talk after that,” I said.
He nodded, “sounds great,” a grin still plastered on his face.
I asked him if he wanted anything for himself since he was at the register and punched in his cortado.
“Can I get a name for the order?”
I didn’t need his last name but I didn’t comment on it. “That will be out shortly.”
I couldn’t help but notice how he picked the seat that was the closest to the counter. I had a feeling he wouldn’t like being “just friends” but there was nothing I could do about that.
The next thirty minutes passed by painfully slow, my soulmate seated a few feet away as he scrolled through his phone, occasionally glancing in my direction. My coworker Sarah tapped on my shoulder and I moved aside so she could take over the register. I was now free to clock out and have whatever uncomfortable conversation awaited me.
My purse over my shoulder I made my way over to Chase.
“Hey soulmate,” he greeted.
I sighed, this wouldn’t be an easy conversation. “It’s Rose.”
I don’t know why I introduced myself, I had had a nametag on and I knew he read it. Perhaps I was stalling.
I took a seat across from him, “look Chase, we may be soulmates but there will never be a romantic relationship between us.”
It was blunter than I had prepared but those were the words that ended up coming out.
“I’m sure you’re great and it would be wonderful if we could be friends. But I’m aromantic, I’ll never have type feelings towards you or anyone else that matter,” I added.
I wasn’t sure what kind of reaction I expected; denial, maybe yelling, but not the one I got.
“Okay?” I didn’t think it would be that easy.
“But can I ask you one thing?” He said.
“Sure,” I said, I no longer knew where this conversation was headed.
“Can I still take you out on a date? I know you said you don’t get those types of feelings but I figure I should still try.” He gave a nervous chuckle and I noticed how he kept turning his phone on the table.
I suppose there wouldn’t be any harm in one date, he did know this wouldn’t lead anywhere after all. “Why not.”
We agreed on tomorrow night and exchanged numbers. He waved as he walked out the door, the big smile back on his face.
I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.
* * *
“So you finally met them?” asked my cousin Tyler.
I nodded as I hung my coat back in the closet. I wasn’t surprised that he had followed me to my room when I told him; Tyler now laid on my bed with his feet against the wall.
“We’re getting dinner tomorrow night.”
I now had his full attention. “You’re going on a date with him?”
“I guess, technically. He knows I’m aro,” I said.
“You’re going on a date. It doesn’t matter if you have a blinking sign, people are oblivious.”
I rolled my eyes even though he couldn’t see, my back towards him as I grabbed my pajamas. “Well if Chase hasn’t gotten it through his head now, he will by the end of the night.”
Tyler shrugged as much as he could while laying down. “If you say so, let me know if you need me to fake an emergency tomorrow.”
“Thanks but that won’t be necessary.” At least I sincerely hoped it wouldn’t be.
I kicked Tyler out of my room as I left to take a shower and he offered to pick out a movie for us to watch.
I couldn’t help but wonder if he was right, did my soulmate really think he'd be able to win me over? I already knew that wouldn’t happen. It never would, let alone over one dinner. But some people refuse to understand that, especially when it comes to soulmates. I prayed Chase wasn’t the same way.
* * *
We had agreed to meet at the local Italian restaurant, already a bit fancier than I hoped. The destination alone made it feel more like a romantic date than two friends getting together. Tyler helped me pick out an outfit, a nice shirt, and a skirt; he said I didn’t have to completely dress up but he lovingly refused to let me leave the apartment in jeans.
I couldn’t help but stare at my wrist while I waited for Chase to arrive, my leg bouncing on the sidewalk from nerves. I still wasn’t used to the red, the arrow slightly moved from side to side. The mark that let everyone know I had met my “other half”; depending on how tonight goes I might get it covered up. There were no rules against getting tattoos over your compass, it was just generally frowned upon. Most people were proud of theirs, some were not.
Chase waved once he came into view and I stood up from the bench to greet him. He wore a fancy dress shirt and nice black pants, thankfully nothing over the top.
“Shall we head in?” I asked.
It didn’t take too long to get seated, I tried not to immediately look at my menu. I was too antisocial for whatever this “date” was. “Any topics you’d like to discuss?” I said after a minute or two of awkward silence.
“I brought an icebreaker if you'd like to do that,” Chase suggested.
He pulled a set of notecards out of his pocket, one stack in front of me, one in front of him. He flipped over the first card, a small “1” in the corner, and read the question.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
I never thought of that before, there were plenty of famous people I would love to meet but for a whole dinner? I wasn’t sure.
I told him my favorite author and he said the president.
Chase gestured for me to flip over the first of my pile. A “2” in the corner of this card; looks like I had the even numbers.
“Would you like to be famous? In what way?” I read.
Chase said he wasn’t sure, he had no desire to be at the moment but wanted it to be for helping people if he ever did become famous. I thought being a well-known artist would be nice.
“What kind of art do you like to do?” He asked; this wasn’t one of the notecards.
“Digital, but it’s more of a hobby.” I pulled up my social media when he asked if he could see something. I averaged about a hundred likes per picture, which certainly wasn’t horrible, it was more than I ever thought I would get, but it was far from famous.
“These are amazing,” Chase said as he scrolled through my page, he left a like on every image he saw.
“Thanks,” I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. Even if the feedback was mostly positive I was always self-conscious when I showed others my work. “Should we continue our icebreaker?”
Another card flipped over. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
I said it depended on who I was calling: if it was important or work, yes. If it was family or friends I rarely did. He said no.
“How many questions are there?”
“Thirty-six,” Chase answered.
I nodded, I knew what he was doing. The thirty-six questions to fall in love. I had heard the first few but never the whole list, I didn’t see the point. You couldn’t make people love each other with a few questions, or maybe you could, I wouldn’t know. I just knew they wouldn’t work on me.
didn’t say anything about it, I did like the already chosen topics. The waitress stopped by to get our drink orders and I waited to flip over the next card till she was gone.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
We looked over our menus while we thought about that one, our server would be back soon anyway and as someone who’s worked at a restaurant, I always hated when people took forever to decide what they wanted. Chase got the seafood fettuccine alfredo, I chose the chicken pasta in white wine sauce.
“So what would be your perfect day?” I asked as I leaned against my elbow.
“I think that would be a nice morning run, followed by a cup of coffee, lunch with my family at my grandparent’s diner, and game night with my friends in the evening.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say they want to start their day with exercise, especially when describing the perfect day,” I laughed.
“What about you?”
“Let’s see, that would include sleeping in for once, the day off of work. I think I would spend the day at the beach with a good book, and end it with a movie with my cousin Tyler.”
Ever since Tyler and I moved in together movie night, practically every night became a sort of tradition.
“What do you consider a ‘good book’?” He asked, which wasn’t one of the icebreaker questions.
“Mystery, a modern Sherlock Holmes perhaps,” I said with a smirk.
He smiled, “I always loved the original stories.”
Chase looked down at the table when he realized he had been staring, “question five: when did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”
He started to turn his phone on the table like he did at the café; picking it up onto its side and setting it back down over and over again. Maybe it was something he did when he was nervous or uncomfortable, maybe it was just a fidget. I always played with the spinny ring on my right hand.
“By myself would be the car ride over here, I love singing along to the radio. To someone else that would be with my coworker a few days ago before opening.”
Sarah was so excited to show me the latest musical she had found and they were always catchy.
“I also sang to myself today and to someone else that would be at an open mic yesterday,” he explained.
“You should let me know when the next one is, I’d love to hear you sing sometime.”
Our waitress came back with our food and politely let us know that the plates were hot as she set them down.
“If you want I could sing now,” he joked.
I merely laughed and took a bite of food. Thankfully he did so as well so we wouldn’t have the entire restaurant’s gaze on us. It doesn't matter how good your voice is, people don’t start singing in the middle of dinner unless they’re paid to.
We set the notecards aside, and both of us agreed to continue the little icebreaker later. Even if they wouldn’t make me fall in love, I did enjoy the questions. They were deeper than the standard get to know yous but not so personal that I didn’t want to answer.
Over the meal, I learned the basic facts about my soulmate. Chase was twenty-four, two years older than me. He was an apprentice at an electrical company and was taking music lessons from someone he found online. He lived with his best friend and was a Gemini.
I shared the same things about myself if I hadn’t already mentioned it: twenty-two, barista, taking graphic design classes, living with my cousin, and Libra.
We liked most of the same things. Same taste in food, and music, we both even preferred TV shows over movies; movies were something I only watched with Tyler.
Chase was easy to like, he was charismatic and awkward, and kind. He was someone I wanted in my life, to learn hobbies with, or even have over for movie night. But as a friend, it would only ever be as a friend.
The bill came and I insisted that either I paid for all of it or we each paid for our meal; we split the check. Chase was the perfect gentleman and opened the door for me, he didn’t ask about a second date but technically the night wasn’t over.
We walked down a few blocks to a park, we did need to finish those icebreakers after all.
Barely anyone was around as the sun was about to set. I sat down on a swing, my legs slightly pushing me as I rocked back and forth but not enough for them to leave the ground. Chase handed me my stack and followed suit.
It was my turn to read a card, “If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?”
We both agreed on body. While the idea of slowly losing your mind and memories was terrifying, not being able to do anything by yourself for who knows how many years was worse.
“Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?” He asked. “I think I’ll die in a car crash, it’s common enough.”
“I have a feeling I’ll drown in the ocean,” I answered.
“That’s morbid, I’m surprised you still consider going to the beach a part of your perfect day.”
“I’m surprised you still get in a car,” I countered.
Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
We both liked the color blue, we both preferred underrated characters, and we both liked to sing.
We both never planned to go to college, we both loved animals, and we both had horrible sleep schedules.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
I said family, he said life in general, being alive.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
Chase said he wished he were raised in a Christian household; the difference in religions was a bit of a sore spot in his family. I told him my parents should have gotten divorced sooner, they failed at hiding their constant fights throughout my childhood, they thought they were doing the right thing. But if we had those little changes we might be completely different people today.
Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
Chase took out his phone and set a timer, I thought for a moment before I hit start.
When I was little, around eight years old, we went to a family camp a few hours away from here. We got a few hours of free time and we tended to separate from each other as we did our own “age-appropriate” activities. I had managed to disappear from all the staff members and when I didn’t show up for lunch they eventually found me taking a nap in the woods with a baby bunny in my lap. I named him Timmy.
We laughed and joked about the fact that surprisingly they wouldn’t let me take him home.
I reset the timer for Chase. He shared a story from his freshman year in high school. He and his friends had volunteered to run a haunted house for Halloween and they wanted to make it as scary as possible. They had the standard things like vampires, jump scares, and gory props but they wanted to have something more; for the experience to end with a bang. His current roommate suggested adding some small firecrackers, whatever they could get that was legal. They ended up setting off the fire alarm and got suspended for a week.
“At least I didn’t try to burn down my school,” I teased.
“It was an accident,” he laughed.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
We both went the supernatural route, he chose the power of flight and I said the ability to shapeshift.
I placed the card I had just read at the back of the pile, from what I remembered about the thirty-six questions there were three “parts”, and we were now a third through the questions. I wanted to keep going, I liked getting to know him, but I didn’t want to give Chase the wrong idea. Was Tyler right? Did he think he had a chance at a romantic relationship even though I told him when we first met that I was aromantic? Did he get false hope with every answer I gave?
He read the next card: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
“How I would die, see if my hunch was right.” Chase jokingly shook his head at my response. “What about you?” I asked.
“I’d want to know who I’d end up with.”
I sighed, “Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”
If he didn’t want to speak to me after tonight, which was understandable, I wanted to enjoy being his friend as long as I could and prayed that I wouldn’t lead him on.
We both said we wanted to try skydiving but made no effort to actually do it.
“Maybe that can be the next thing we do together,” he said with a smile. At least he didn’t say date.
What is the greatest accomplishment in your life?
Mine was when I won an art contest a year or two ago; his was being the person he wanted to be. Chase explained how he used to put everyone else’s needs and wants before his, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but what he did wasn’t healthy. It took him a few years to finally work on his mental health.
I smiled. I knew that wasn’t the easiest thing to do, but we both knew now wasn’t the right time for that deep of a conversation. We continued, answering a little quicker as it got late.
What do you value most in a friendship?
We both said loyalty and trust.
What is your most treasured memory?
Mine was some Christmas from when I was little, there was nothing special about it but it was something I loved to think back on. All of us were in matching pajamas while we sat around the tree with a pile of presents. Some holiday movie on in the background and gingerbread cookies in the oven, they tasted like cardboard but we still ate the whole batch.
Chase said his was when his adoptive sister Kathrin asked him to be her son's godfather. His nephew/godson Jonny was three years old.
What is your most terrible memory?
That one got brushed over with vague answers. It didn’t matter if we were supposed to honestly answer them all, “icebreaker” or not, we weren’t ready to discuss that one yet.
If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
I said I would do all the things I was afraid to do; I would quit my job and live off my savings, and make the most of my borrowed time. He told me something similar, how he would treat every day as if it were his last and do his best to have no regrets.
“What does friendship mean to you?” I read. We were twenty questions in, the stars now visible in the dark, slightly cloudy sky.
Chase said it was one of the things that made life worth living, I said it was everything.
We moved to the playground and sat across from each other on the plastic, hole-filled floor. I pointed out Orion and a few other constellations that were noticeable. I couldn’t help but smile when he recited the Greek myth of Orion and shared the jokes his grandpa would make about Ursa Minor.
Card number twenty-two was flipped over, Chase forgot to write down number twenty-one so we moved on. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
“Kind,” he started.
“Friendly,” I said with a smile.
“Intelligent,” he replied.
“Adventurous,” I finished.
Chase grinned and flipped over the next question: How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
Despite my mom and dad slightly hating each other, they were good parents. Minus their fights I think I had a good, happy childhood.
Chase said his family was very close, he and all of his siblings were adopted. He said he wouldn’t change that for the world.
How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
We both said that we could be closer but it was good.
Number twenty-four answered, we were now in the third set of questions. They were more detailed: Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling…”, Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share …”.
They also got more personal, number twenty-seven: If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
I re-shared that I was aro/ace, a part of me was nervous that he would want to end the night there. He merely smiled and shared that his job didn’t give him a lot of free time. I hoped that was a good sign.
Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
I liked how sweet and carefree he was. From our rushed and unexpected meeting to this moment he had shown me nothing but kindness. Even when I could tell he wasn’t sure what to say it was never uncomfortable. I told him I really hoped we could be close friends after this.
He liked that I was real, that I was kind and honest. That I didn’t push him away from the start, that I gave him a chance. He said he also hoped we could be close friends.
The next one was more lighthearted: Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life. We shared silly school stories and laughed at each other's humiliating stories.
I read number thirty which was similar to one we already had: When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself? Neither of us remembered when that was, each I suppose is a good thing as that means we haven’t cried recently.
Someone came by and asked if we could leave the park, it was already 11:00 PM so this area was technically closed. We apologized and quickly left. Chase read the next card as we walked to our cars. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
“Didn’t we just answer that a few questions ago?” I asked.
“I think we did,” he laughed and gestured for me to flip over number thirty-two.
What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
We both agreed on suicide and other similar topics.
If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
I wasn’t sure, I’d like to think that I tell people everything important. Chase said we can circle back to that one as he also wasn’t sure.
Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
“Probably a box of things I consider irreplaceable, you?”
“My computer,” I answered.
“Your computer?” He said with a small laugh.
“Hey, I paid a lot for that thing.”
Our vehicles were in sight and we had two questions left, this would be the end of our late night.
Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
“My cousin Tyler, I’ve known him my whole life and live with him. I don’t want to think about him dying anytime soon.”
Chase nodded and said his father; he had been there for him for as long as he could remember, he couldn’t imagine what it would be like without him.
I flipped over my last notecard, the last of these thirty-six “icebreaker” questions.
Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you on how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Maybe it was because we wanted something to come back to, maybe it was because we didn’t want to ask the other for help. Whatever the reason was, we didn’t answer the last of the questions to fall in love.
Chase kissed my cheek and wished me good night. I smiled and waved farewell as I got in my car. That was the end of our “date”.
* * *
I didn’t hear from Chase the next day or the day after that. It hurt but I wasn’t sure if I should say something; if he didn’t want to be friends I didn’t want to push it. Tyler said there was no harm in sending a simple “hello” but I felt like if I sent something I should say more. I wasn’t sure why but that’s how I felt.
I was near the end of my shift at the café, Sarah was in the back making the drinks while I punched them in as normal. The bell rang; I didn’t look up from my task, the bell rings all the time.
“How can I help you?” I asked.
Chase stood on the other side of the counter, “A cortado and a conversation if you’re free,” he said with a shy smile.
I typed it in. “I get off in fifteen,” so similar to the day we met.
He paid for his drink and sat down at the same spot as before. I didn’t know what to expect from this conversation but I tried to stay hopeful.
“Rose,” Sarah said as she tapped my shoulder.
“Is that your soulmate?” She asked with a small gesture towards Chase.
I nodded and took the next person's order.
It was time to clock out when she spoke again. “I don’t mean to pry, but is he also aro?”
I hung my apron up with a sigh, “no.” I didn’t see her reaction and made my way over to Chase. “Can I sit here?”
I took the seat across from him. “I’m sorry I didn’t message you,” he said.
“You don’t have to apologize.”
He shook his head, “it took me too long to accept that I wouldn’t marry my soulmate, you told me from the start that wouldn’t happen.”
I looked away, so that is why he didn’t reach out; because I would never love him that way. Chase continued to speak, “I thought maybe it would be different since I was your soulmate, I was even foolish enough to try those ‘scientifically proven’ questions to fall in love.”
“I knew what they were from the start,” I said. He seemed surprised by my answer. “I’m sorry if I lead you on by wanting to continue the questions, but I liked getting to know you and I didn’t want that to stop.”
There was a moment of silence, a moment too long in my opinion.
“Friends?” He asked.
I smiled, “I would like that.” Part of me couldn’t help but feel relieved. My soulmate and I were on the same page, we were honest with each other, we were friends.
I got a drink of my own and we stayed at the café; we conversed and laughed. Sort of like part two of last night, but this wasn’t a date. There were no questions to fall in love, there was no lying about who we were to get the other to like us. Just two friends hanging out. It was wonderful.
“You know, if you want to be in a relationship I know someone I could set you up with,” I offered.
I smiled and gestured towards the counter, my coworker Sarah at the register.
“What about her soulmate?” Chase asked, her red compass visible from here with her short sleeves.
“He has a boyfriend so there shouldn’t be any problems there,” I answered.
I had a feeling they would get along, and the two of them looked like they would be a cute couple.
We continued our conversation while Chase debated if he should go talk to her, which I eventually convinced him to. And I was right, the two of them hit it off almost immediately.
Our relationship may not have started how either of us expected but no matter what happened, I’m glad my other half is a part of my life.