Aging With You

There are, I believe, many different dimensions to the universe. Each one is unique and ever changing. I like to imagine some to be ruled by dolphins, some completely filled with starlight. Some have the typical aliens, some are just like ours but with a twist, or maybe set in a different time period/setting.

Ours is definitely interesting. It’s a lot like yours, but we have something you don’t. A power that each person is born with.

Actually maybe I shouldn’t call it a power, more like a curse. Or a gift, depends on how you look at it.

Basically, we age normally like you humans do, but at your 216th cycle (18 years by human calculations) you stop. Aging, that is. Your skin stays smooth, your eyes don’t dull, you don’t have arthritis or anything, not until you’ve met your soulmate.

When you meet the person you are destined to be with forever the two of you will grow ancient together.

Wrinkles begin to appear, bones protrude a bit more sharply, limbs ache a little more easily. But if something is to happen to one of you, their partners biological clock seems to freeze again until another soul is ready to move on with you.

At 144 cycles I was sitting with my four Heart Sisters, Awanata, Serilda, Akila, And Svana, as we drew Henna across each other’s skulls. That day was when we vowed to one another our pledges regarding the Soulmate curse.

Awanata decided to wait until love found her and to enjoy the simple pleasures of life in the meantime.  She happily lived up to her name, which means Turtle, and she ended up adopting a few tortoises which can often be seen wandering our front porch.

Akila also followed her names definition, and went on to study and then teach at the Anthropological University downtown. She doesn’t really think much of love.

Svana was, as ever, as hopeless romantic, but although she’s had countless suitors and marriage proposals she’s never found The One.

I still remember as we were sitting there, Svana patiently painting the top of my head with a cold brush, Akila waiting for hers to dry, when Awanata asked me what my pledge would be. She already had the others written down on a piece of paper she insisted we sign after.

“Come on, Nova, we’ve all decided, you have to too.” Akila begged with a smile.

I sighed. “Fine. I think that Fate will find a way to bring me where I need to be to meet my soulmate. Until then, I’m working on being happy. Whatever makes me smile and feel good about myself I will work for. Swimming, learning, reading…”

Awanata nodded, finished her marks on the page and handed it to Svana to start signing.

Around 72 cycles later we had our coming of age celebration, and the whole town partied the night away in honor of us four. We had already managed to accomplish many of our goals and our family and friends were encouraging us in more of them.

Somewhere around 48 cycles after that wonderful weekend of fun, I am laying on the floor of our small flat, a ridiculously large hand of cards in my grasp, and a very determined Akila sitting across from me.

“You’ve never beat me before and you never will.” She grinned smugly.

Svana turned from the cake batter Awanata had her stirring to chirp “I think she has a pretty good chance of doing whatever she puts her mind to.”

Akila frowned up at her. “I beg to differ. Statistically, she has an extremely small chance at beating me an-”

Awanata cut across her to call for help with a large bubbling pot of stew. Giving up on the game I was obviously losing, I stood and seized a couple hot pads to help her.

“When will they be here?” Svana asked, trying to keep Awanata from noticing Akila sneaking away some of the frosting.

“Akila, stop that. In about an hour, so get that cake in the pan!” Awanata tossed a ladle to me before grabbing a bag of rolls to toss in a bowl.

A moan came from underneath my feet and I carefully stepped over Nata’s tortoise.

He cried again, yawning lazily and nudging his bowl, begging for lettuce or other scraps.

“Just a moment, Bingley.”

Since Nata was busy Akila helped grab him some snacks.

A loud beeping from our kitchen timer shocks everyone. Awanata goes to turn it off and then screams.

“I miscalculated!!! They’re going to be here in ten minutes, run! Nova, get dressed for heavens sakes! Akila, take the wrap off your henna, run guys, run!”

We run.

In the next ten minutes we prepare everything from outfits to the dining room to the tortoise.  The doorbell rings almost exactly on time.

We take a collective breath, and Svana opens the door.

“Welcome!” Her airy voice is soon joined by a dozen others of varying tones. In come many of our closest friends and classmates, hugs and smiles all around.

Once everyone is seated in various cushions around the living room, steaming bowls of stew in hand, I dim the lights and pull out my lighter, setting aflame a few candles on the mantle place.

“Thank you all for coming.” I said after a few minutes of pleasant silence.

“Happy Birthday, girls!” My cousin Eleanor gave me a side squeeze.

Beside me Awanata gasped quietly. Svana turned to her.

“What’s wrong, love?” She asked gently. “Is the soup too hot?”

Nata said nothing, just shook her head slightly. A moment later she stood up, moving almost robotically, and walked down the hall into the bathroom.

“Excuse us for just a moment…” Svana whispered apologetically and hurried after her.

The rest of us sat in slightly awkward silence, waiting in anticipation.

It wasn’t long before they returned, arms linked, both smiling widely.

“Tell them.” Svana nudged.

Awanata smiled shyly. “I’m aging.”

Silence, and then squeals of excitement.

“Ooh, do you know who?” Marlene giggled, her arm wrapped around her boyfriends waist.

“Um, I’m not sure…” Nata glanced around at everyone. That was when I noticed the small black tally mark on her wrist.

“Look at your mark!” I seized her arm, admiring the small line. “How exciting…when did it appear?”

“Just now.”

Everyone froze, Andy then immediately began checking their own wrists. If hers hadn’t only just appeared that meant that someone in this room would have one too.

After a moment of scuffling, one guy raised his hand high, a small black line visible in the candlelight.

It was one of Akila’s classmates, a tall, strong looking man with a thin build. His curly brown hair across his brow, wide black eyes meeting Nata’s.

“Hi, I’m Phoenix. Pleased to meet you.” He reached out and shook her hand.

Svana started shooing people out of the room. “Go, let them get to know each other.” Out we went, leaving the two to meet properly.”

It was so exciting, knowing that just on the other side of the door, soulmates were becoming friends.

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