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written on your heart

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Traditionally it is considered bad form to let a child under 6 have access to anything but crayons due to the risk of them marking up their skin and having it show up on an unsuspecting soulmate. So when one of Julia Wicker’s soulmates (not that anyone knew at the time she had MORE than one) took a pen to their forearm and begin to scribble incoherently when Julia was just 2-years-old, her parents were disgusted.

“Perhaps it’s just an overenthused kindergartener who’s been allowed to hold a pen for the first time?”

“That’s almost worse,” Denise Wicker snapped. “A six-year-old doing that to their arm?”

Julia sniffled from where she sat next to Mackenzie on their plush sofa, not understanding a word of it, just knowing in her two-year-old mind that scribbles were naughty and she hadn’t even done them herself.

“So our child either has an imbecile for a soulmate or a soulmate who’s parents are so negligent they let their child have a pen before they were ready. Let’s just hope they clean their child up soon.”

Julia’s parents went from angry to horrified over the next few days as the markings stayed, only fading in patches. “Her soulmate hasn’t washed his arm in two days, Joseph!” Julia’s mother’s shrill voice carried through the house, causing Julia to try to hide against Mackenzie’s side.

“It’s not your fault,” Mackenzie tried to comfort Julia, but as smart as her little sister was, this was not something that she could understand.

“How can our daughter have a soulmate who doesn’t wash his arm in two days!!”

Eventually Denise took a bright red marker and wrote on Julia’s hand, “WASH YOUR CHILD!”

A few hours later the pen vanished.

Hanna scrubbed Kady raw, ignoring Kady’s squeals and cries. Fucking judgmental parents.

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Quentin’s father Ted had been a bit worried when Quentin’s arm hadn’t cleared up, but he’d just given Q a reassuring pat on his head and said, “She must be one heck of an artist.”

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Eliot’s parents grumbled when they saw the scribbles. Soulmates. What useless nonsense.

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Margo’s entire family had thrown a party in celebration, though they complained to anyone who would listen that it was a bit early and she wouldn’t even remember.

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Alice was two-years-old and already knew how to hide things from her parents, with a little help from Charlie.

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Penny’s parents didn’t notice.

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Julia knew then to hide any scribbles that wound up on her body, and though she was still practically a baby she was able to depend on Mackenzie for help. When Mackenzie saw a pattern bloom on her little sister’s skin she would whisk Julia back to her room to cover it up, and Julia would obediently follow even though she didn’t understand the why.

It wasn’t until she was four that she saw the Mickey Mouse special on soul markings. It aired at least once a month but her parents had never shown it to her. It was the go-to kid explanation for soulmates and markings, comical but informative as Mickey and Minnie found out what they were, how to use them, proper etiquette.

“And remember kids, markers and pens leave marks but crayons and paint don’t! So be kind, and wash your hands after using your markers, use nice words, and when you’re ready say hello!” Mickey chirped, holding Minnie’s hand, matching hearts on their right wrists.

“Hello,” Julia murmured to herself, then looked down at where an errant scribble decorated her own wrist. “Hello,” she said.

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Quentin watched the Mickey Mouse special around the same time, still a largely silent kid. Ted Coldwater hoped he understood.

Margo’s parents let her watch the Sesame Street special episode. It was banned in most states because Bert and Ernie were soulmates and it explained that not all soulmates kissed (though Bert and Ernie sometimes did), but it was “too controversial” for most parents.

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Eliot never saw any of the episodes. He learned at school, on the day he was allowed a marker.

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Alice’s parents sat her down and tried to show her an entirely inappropriate soul mark video. Alice had started crying and her parents had foisted her on Charlie.

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Penny didn’t learn about soulmates until he was nearly 8.

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Kady’s mom explained when she was around five. Kady had been drawing on herself for years, and never gotten a message or anything like that. Maybe she didn’t have a soulmate.