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Your words on my skin

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Clarke is nine when she realises she has a soulmate. She’s sitting on the floor of her dad’s office drawing detailed pictures of all the pets she isn’t allowed because ‘they’ll ruin the carpets, Clarke,’ when she runs out of paper. Her dad is in a conference call and even though she had finally turned nine, she still can’t reach the top of the cabinet where the scrap paper is kept. She sighs dramatically and flops back onto the hardwood floor of the office. He had warned her in advance that it was going to be a long call and even got her snacks so she wouldn’t have to interrupt him. But she hadn’t thought to ask for more paper.

Eventually, she decides to sneak up to her dad's desk and swap her pencil for a sharpie. He is facing the window overlooking the pool and backyard, so he doesn’t notice his daughter grabbing the marker she isn’t allowed.

She positions the marker and begins, drawing an otter swimming her forearm. She’s most of the way finished when she feels a prickling and words appear underneath her otter. The fine blue ink and messy scrawl a stark contrast to the thick marker and neat drawing above it.

Go away. I don’t want a soulmate.

Clarke frowns at the words on her arm. She’s heard about soulmates, even seen them in movies, but they’re kind of rare and she’s only met two people who have one. She knows some of her friends have written messages on their own skin hoping that they would get a reply, but no one has ever gotten one as far as she knows. And now the blue ink on her arm clearly states that her soulmate isn’t interested in her. She hates them, she decides. Who cares if they don’t want her?

I don’t want one either. She writes in her thick marker underneath the blue words. But this is my skin and I want to draw on it. So there. She completes her message with an entire zoo down both her arms. She’s working on her legs when her dad finally turns around.

“Wow kiddo, are you going to be a tattoo artist?” He asks, standing up and taking the marker from her. “Let’s get you cleaned up before your mum gets home.”

He somehow misses the blue ink amongst the black, which Clarke is grateful for. Her soulmate is mean and she doesn’t want to have to tell her dad that. Her mum says he’s a hopeless romantic and he has told her lots of stories about soulmates. He would be sad and she’s not, so she doesn’t want to tell him.

*

It doesn’t take long for her soulmate to stop ignoring the drawings that she’s plastering all over her body, maybe only a month and he’s joining in. It started when he turned the princess she drew into a knight. She frowns at her arm, the black pen they are using much darker than the pink she is. But then she notices that it is a good drawing, better than any of her friends and she can’t help but pen in the horse in matching armour. Her soulmate adds a dragon in the sky, so she gives their knight a sword and shield. It’s the first time she has been interested in her soulmate. Maybe if she can have someone to draw with, it’ll be worth it. Maybe she won’t hate them as much.

They don’t draw together every day, that would be impractical because she still has school and soccer practice and ballet and she assumes that whoever it is has a life too. But they usually draw an entire world on a Friday night, so she can wash it off before her parents see. They both start using washable ink because for a while her skin was raw from scrubbing. Most mornings her soulmate showers first and leaves only her pictures but she secretly likes the mornings when she showers first because she likes seeing just their half of the pictures left on her skin.

*

Clarke turns thirteen on a rainy day in November. She has Wells, Miller, Harper, and Zoe sleep over. It’s an odd assortment of friends, but they’re all close. They play party games and eat so much junk food and by eleven o’clock her parents have told them to go to bed. They only wait ten minutes before sneaking out of Clarke’s bedroom and into the study where the two boys are supposed to be sleeping.

“Want to play truth or dare?” Harper whispers, as soon as Clarke clicks the door shut behind them. Harper has tucked her legs under Miller’s sleeping bag already.

“I’m going first,” Miller says, “I dare you to go get us some snacks, Wells.” Wells rolls his eyes, but sneaks back out the door and appears two minutes later with a bag of popcorn and a block of chocolate.

“That was quick,” Monroe comments, reaching for the bag and grabbing a handful. Clarke grins. Wells has been her friend forever and knows all the secrets of her house, like which stair creaks and where her mum hides the chocolate.

The game continues with the group daring and asking personal questions, laughing at confessions and teasing at crushes until finally Harper finally asks about soulmates.

“I don’t think I have one,” Miller shrugs.

“Me either,” Zoe answers immediately.

“Same,” Wells says. Clarke knows that Wells is the most upset about this, they’ve talked about it before. She thinks it’s unfair because Wells would be the best soulmate. He’s really nice and listens. That’s important.

“I have one,” Harper says quietly. She’s the newest of their friendship group, so Clarke isn’t surprised they’re only just hearing about it. “I’ve known since I was two and woke up from a nap with green ink on my face. Mum says she thinks my soulmate was chewing on a marker.”

They ask Harper a million questions, learning that he’s twelve the same as her, his name is Monty and he lives in Washington. They talk a lot and he’s one of her best friends.

“What about you, Clarke?” Zoe asks finally. Clarke’s hand automatically finds the band of planets her soulmate drew on her wrist just before they went to bed. She’s never told anyone about them. Especially because she doesn’t know anything about them, except that they don’t want a soulmate and they can draw. She thinks they might be a boy, but she doesn’t want to assume without knowing for sure.

“I do,” she says eventually, pulling her sleeve up to reveal the drawing.

“You never told me!” Wells says, pulling her arm closer and looking at the picture.

“I never told anyone,” Clarke says, letting the others look at her arm. “I don’t know much about them. We just draw pictures to each other.”

“Wait, you don’t know anything?” Miller asks. He sounds confused, which Clarke understands. Soulmates are supposed to be how you know you’re going to find true love. Finding out about them is exciting and most people don’t pass up on the opportunity to get to know them. But that’s not how it is for Clarke. She accepted that a long time ago.

“I know they can draw,” Clarke shrugs. “And they don’t want a soulmate.”

“Who doesn’t want a soulmate? That’s weird,” Miller mutters.

“Two out of five of us have soulmates,” Wells says, interrupting before Clarke can start arguing. He knows her well. “What are the chances?”

*

It’s nice to know that she has a friend who has a soulmate. It makes her feel less like she is hiding something from them. She still keeps her arms fairly hidden, but she’s less paranoid they might see. Her friends know she has someone who draws her pictures every few days. Sometimes Wells or Harper ask to see them and she doesn’t mind showing them. They’re good pictures. Washing them off before someone else sees them feels like a waste.

Sometimes reminders appear on her hand like, ‘ pick up O’ or ‘ grounders 3:45’ and she obviously doesn’t know what they mean, but she still writes over them incase they wash off and her soulmate forgets what they were supposed to do. She’s not resentful that they don’t talk. She likes the relationship they have now. If they were talking every day like Harper was to her soulmates, she feels like she would get bored. How much could they possibly have to say to each other?

One day in September her soulmate draws what is unmistakably a birthday cake on the inside of their wrist, so she hikes her skirt up and spends the entire of her maths class drawing a detailed birthday party of animals on her thigh. It’s the giraffe's birthday and she’s trying to make them look like they’re playing party games. She thinks he’s ignored it until she feels the prickling as she gets in bed hours later. It’s the first messages he’s written to her since he told her he didn’t want a soulmate.

Thanks , he’s written in a purple pen, you’re the only person who’s said happy birthday to me today.

Clarke’s hit with a pang, thinking about her soulmate spending their day waiting for someone to say happy birthday. What about their mum and dad or grandparents or friends? Surely there was someone who could have remembered. She falls asleep trying to decide what to say back to him and by the time she wakes up, the message is faded but still there. And now she has an idea.

She draws a huge birthday cake on her other thigh and writes, how many candles?, underneath it.

16, they write back almost instantly.

She delicately draws in sixteen candles with intricate flames. Her art teacher, Mrs Kane, has been teaching them how to draw fire this week. Make a wish!, she writes once she’s done.

I can’t blow out candles on my leg. The wish won’t count.

Did you make one?

He takes a little longer to reply this time and she’s getting ready for school when he finally answers with one word. Yes.

She uses a cloth to scrub the flames of the candles and can’t keep the grin off her face when replies again, thanks princess , with a tiny crown beside it. It’s the most they’ve ever really interacted and it feels like the start of something new.

Nothing really changes though, until her fourteenth birthday three months later when she draws her own birthday cake on her wrist. Her soulmate doesn’t reply right away, their replies in the pictures have been a lot less frequent than they used to be, but as Harper frequently reminds her, her soulmate sixteen and they get so much homework in high school. She’s getting changed after soccer practice when she notices the drawing on her leg. She must have missed the prickling while she was running laps. It’s a birthday picture, with a princess sitting in front of cake that’s literally five times the size of her. How many candles? , they’ve written next to it.

14, she writes back, wondering if it’s going to change things between them when they realise that she’s younger. She watches with fascination as he attempts to replicate the candles she’d drawn on their birthday. Her soulmate is not as good as drawing as she is anymore, but it’s not a bad job. She thinks she probably just has more time to practice than he does.

Make a wish princess, they write when they’re finished. She wishes that they could become friends, like Harper is with her soulmates. It feels silly because by now she thinks if she wrote to him he’d reply, but it’s what she wants and it’s her birthday wish. It doesn’t matter if it’s silly. She’s never going to tell anyone.

Done , she replies and watches as the candles on her leg fade until they’re completely gone.

“Hurry up, Griffin!” Niylah calls, bashing on the door to her stall. They’re getting milkshakes after training for Clarke’s birthday and she’s probably the only one who isn’t ready to go.

“Two minutes,” she shouts back, stepping into the skirt she had gotten for her birthday earlier that day. It sits just above her knee and she feels a rush of excitement when she realises that the picture from her soulmate is visible when she walks.

“What’s that?” Fox asks when she finally steps out of the changeroom. She’s pointing to Clarke’s leg and looking at her with curiosity.

“My soulmate,” she says, lifting her leg slightly so her friends can see the bottom of the drawing. She doesn’t show them the words though, that’s between her and the person with the other pen.

*

Three weeks later her dad is killed in a car accident. He’d been driving to work when his car spun out of control on the icy roads. Clarke hadn’t left for school yet and when her mum delivers the news she falls, her knees hitting the ground with a loud thud. Her mum is by her side in an instant and they stay on the floor, holding each other until Clarke is crying so hard she can’t breathe. She feels the prickling on her arm, but she doesn’t move it to check. Who cares what her soulmate is drawing when she has just lost the person she loves most in the world.

Her mum leaves shortly after, to make arrangements and whatever else she has to do but organises with Thelonious to bring Wells over and stay at the house with Clarke. Wells sits on her bed and rubs her back and refills the water bottle on her bedside table but they don’t speak. He’d already said he was sorry and now there is nothing left to say. There is nothing that can make her feel better.

She eventually falls asleep and doesn’t wake up until the next day. Wells has gone and she can hear her mum downstairs talking to someone. She doesn’t get out of bed, she doesn’t want to see whoever is down there. She doesn’t want to face the day. Instead, she stares at the wall in front of her, focussing on the crack just above the window. She’s never noticed it before and now she wonders if it’s a metaphor for her life, that feels like it’s cracking too. How is she going to be okay without her dad? She’s never done anything without him before. And now she has to manage the rest of her life without him? She’s not ready. She can’t do this.

She reaches behind her, pulling the pillow out and hurls it at the wall as hard as she can. It hits hits the mirror on her vanity and she watches with a strange satisfaction as it lands, knocking over perfumes and lip glosses that she’s received over the years. She doesn’t care if those things break because they don’t mean anything to her. Not without her dad.

“Clarke?” Her mum calls, coming up the stairs. “Are you okay?”

Clarke flies out of bed, locking her bedroom door before her mum can open it. She doesn’t want to see her.

“Clarke? What’s going on?” She calls, knocking on the door gently.

“Go away,” Clarke shouts. “I don't want to see you. Leave me alone.” She sinks the ground for the second time in twenty-four hours and buries her face in her knees. Letting the tears overcome her again. She can hear her mum speaking soothingly through the closed door, but she ignores it. She doesn’t want to talk to her. She doesn’t want to talk to anyone except for the only person she can’t. A new sob tears through her body.

She’s not sure how long she’s been leaning on her bedroom door for or when she fell asleep, but it’s dark when she wakes up. She’s disorientated for a moment, as she feels the memories of the past two days come back. She hasn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday, she has a headache from crying and her bones are stiff and achy from sleeping on her bedroom floor. And her heart is broken.

The house is quiet when she slips downstairs, her mum is probably asleep. Which is good. Clarke will apologise in the morning, but for now, she just wants some toast and a shower.

Once she’s eaten her toast, is showered and in fresh pyjamas, she finally checks her phone. She has missed calls and messages from all her friends, but she ignores them. They mean well, but she doesn’t know how to talk to them right now. They’ll understand. Wells would have told them what happened and she has no doubts in her mind all her friends will be at the funeral. She’ll talk to them soon.

She’s taking the marker out of her bedside draw before her brain as really comprehended what she’s doing. Are you awake? , she writes on her arm. It doesn’t take long for a reply from her soulmate and she feels a rush of relief when the word yes appears on arm in blue pen, just below her own words.

My dad died yesterday, she writes, the tears pricking in her eyes again.

Holy shit, princess. I am so sorry, are you okay? Stupid question, of course you’re not. Is there anything I can do? The words appear on her arm in rapid succession and she can tell he’s writing faster than he normally does, because it’s even messier than usual.

Nothing you can do, she writes, but it would be nice if we can talk for a bit? Even under the current circumstances, it feels like a lot to ask. They’re soulmates but they’re not friends. She’s not even sure why they are the person she wants to talk to.

Sure. What do you want to talk about?

Will you tell me something about yourself?

She learns that he is a boy, he also lives in the US and has a little sister who is not talking to him because they’re not allowed a puppy. He works at the coffee shop under his apartment building and goes to the public school around the corner. He wants to go to college and study history or teaching but he’ll probably end up doing something more ‘practical’ like learning a trade so he can start working straight away. She works out pretty quickly that they live a different kind of life, but the more she talks to him, the more she likes him. They have to clean their skin a few times, so there is room for more conversation and she is actually smiling by the time he asks her about her dad.

You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. But talking about him might make you feel better. Sorry if that’s stupid, I read it somewhere.

I want to , she writes underneath the words on the top of her arm. She’d switched from the marker to a pen so it took up less room and she’s tapping it between her teeth, trying to decide what to say.

He was my best friend, she begins again. She tells him about her dad, how he used to take her for tacos after soccer practice and they didn't tell her mum. She tells him about the relationship they had. She talks about things she remembers from her childhood and that she’s going to need to get a maths tutor now because he was helping her with the concepts she didn’t understand. Her soulmate listens (or reads) everything, occasionally offering his input.

By the time the sun starts to rise again she’s feeling sleepy and every inch she can reach is covered in memories of her dad. Thank you, she writes along her ankle, for listening. The last thought she has before she goes to sleep is that she never asked for her soulmates name. And he never asked for hers.

*

With the help of Wells, her mum, and her soulmate, after two weeks she finally feels up to going back to her school. Her friends welcome her back with open arms and she can tell they’re making an effort not to treat her differently. The same cannot be said for her peers, who are basically standing on eggshells around her.

She finally cracks halfway through maths class and walks out, locking herself in the bathroom armed with a pen.

They’re treating me like I’m going to explode, she writes on her leg. I am not this delicate. It’s so much worse than just treating me like normal.

Maybe you should explode, his reply is instant, so he must be at school and not at work. She can’t wrap her head around the time differences. That will teach them.

Thanks, she writes, even though it’s really hard to convey sarcasm through the ink on her leg. I really appreciate your advice.

Happy to help.

Clarke draws a picture of a stick figure kicking another in the shin and adds a crown to the one doing the kicking, before pulling her skirt back down and returning to class. She’s already feeling better about being back at school and she’d only said four sentences to him. Turns out being friends with her soulmate really is as good as Harper said it was.

*

Not having her dad around is hard and it takes a lot of adjusting to but she is doing better. She gets her homework done and she still goes to soccer training. She does drop her ballet classes, but that has nothing to do with her father and everything to do with the fact she doesn’t want to be a ballerina. She even listens to her mum talk about the colleges she’s going to be needing to look at in a few years. Things aren’t perfect and she misses him more than anything, but she’s doing okay.

Until one night when she wakes up in a cold sweat, heart pounding in her chest. She’d woken up from a nightmare that is rapidly slipping away. She takes the pen from her bedside table and starts writing to her soulmate before she forgets. They’ve been talking a lot about dreams and analysing what they think they mean. But she suddenly has a feeling of overwhelming guilt and drops the pen as if it had scolded her halfway through her message. The only reason she even talks to her soulmate is because her dad is dead. She used his death to make friends with him and that is not okay. Nothing good should have come out of that.

So she puts the cap back on the marker and starts scrubbing her leg before he can wake up and see what she’s written. But he’s already replying.

What were you writing? I had to find a light bulb in the dark so I could see but it’s gone already? Clarke is tempted to write to him, chastising him for not changing the bulb when she had told him to earlier in the week but she can’t do it. She doesn’t deserve his friendship. So she ignores him.

It takes her a while to fall back to sleep. It’s especially hard when she gets a message that says, I assume you’re asleep again, tell me in the morning , because she’s not going to talk to him again. She wants to, but she can’t. Her dad deserves better than that. Better than a daughter that used his death to get in contact with her soulmate.

She wakes up with another message from him, detailing his own dream about the coffee shop he works in and Clarke ignores that too. It’s hard for her because she wants to tell him that his dreams mean he is breathing in too much caffeine.

*

Over the next few days the messages on her skin become more and more frantic. She pretty much has always replied to him within the hour, even when they were just drawing to each other. Now it has been three days of radio silence on her end and she can tell that he’s getting worried. But how can she reply? She was the one who wished their friendship into being but it still only happened because she lost her dad. It’s not right.

She’s sitting next to Harper in their chemistry class watching the words appear on her leg, instead of focussing on her teacher. She really should be paying attention because she’s not doing too well in the class, but the words are making her way to either cry or finally write back to him. But she can’t do either. So she just keeps staring at the messy handwriting and blue ink that she is now so familiar with.

So I spent the afternoon googling what happens when your soulmate dies. Apparently the only way you can tell long distance is if they stop writing back. Where are you? Please don’t be dead princess. Did I do something wrong? I didn’t mean it if I offended you or something. You’re basically my best friend at this point. Please come back.

Her heart breaks a little with each letter that forms, but she doesn’t take a pen out of her. She returns to her notes, writing in pencil so she doesn’t accidentally draw on herself. Harper glances at her, concern obvious in her eyes back doesn’t ask the question. Clarke has been snarky ever since she realised her birthday wish technically correlates with her dad’s death. She knows it’s not rational, nor possible, but she can’t shake the feeling she doesn’t deserve her soulmate. That he does deserve someone better than her. She’s better off ignoring him and letting him realise.

She doesn’t anticipate him not giving up though. By the time it’s been a week her entire body is covered in writing. Some of it asking where she is, some saying that he misses her and others are simply little anecdotes of his day. She’s grateful that it’s still cold enough to wear long sleeves because she’s not really sure how to explain what’s going on to anyone and her mother doesn’t even know she has a soulmate, let alone that she’s ignoring him.

She’s getting ready for school, putting on a tiny bit of lip gloss and hoping her mum won’t notice when the message that is the final straw appears on her collarbone. She knows from experience that it’s hard to write there and reading it is difficult but she sighs when she deciphers it. Tell me where you are or I’ll write on your face .

She doesn’t really have a choice, she reasons as she takes the marker from her vanity and holds it above her palm, the only free space on her body. If she doesn’t talk to him he’ll write or draw something embarrassing on her face and she can’t go to school like that. The alternative is allowing it to happen and then telling her mum everything, which is just as bad.

Wait, she writes on her palm because it’s the only clean space left on the skin she can reach, I’m sorry.

She watches him clean a space on her forearm before writing, where have you been? , and sighs, drawing an ellipsis to let him know that she’s thinking. How is she supposed to explain it to him? Should she even bother? He was the one who told her that he didn’t want a soulmate in the first place. She’d given him the easy way out. But then she remembers that he told her she was basically his best friend and she can’t ignore that. Maybe not talking to him and not explaining what she was thinking had been a little selfish. She might not deserve him, but he deserves an explanation.

When I made a wish on my birthday, she writes, I wished that we could be friends and it came true. But the only reason we became friends is because my dad died. I wrote to you because I was sad which means I used my dads death. I don’t deserve to have a soulmate.

Before I start unpacking how untrue that is, the blue ink on her arm reads, let me just tell you how fucking glad I am that you’re alive. I thought you had died and I would never know what happened to you.

Princess, you didn’t use your dad's death at all. I was basically about twelve more hours of self control away from writing to you first. If you think you wished that happening to your dad into being true, you’re wrong. You haven’t used anything. You’re the most deserving of having a soulmate out of everyone I know.

His words continue to appear on her arm, but the tears blurring in her eyes make it hard to read. She should have written to him the moment she started having these feelings because he always knows what to say to make her feel better.

By the time she is getting into the car to be dropped at school she is smiling again. Her soulmate has convinced her that she didn’t use the death of her father to be his friend. It was something that was inevitable and her reaching out didn’t make her a bad person. She feels better, being in contact with him again. Enough so that she’s able to admit that maybe he is her best friend too.

Platonic soulmates are a thing. She knows that sometimes that’s just how people meet their best friends.

*

Clarke is in her sophomore year when she meets the first boy she gets a real crush on. His name is Finn and he makes her laugh and has cute eyes and long hair. Her friends like him and he even makes a good impression on her mum when he walks her home after school one day.

He doesn’t have a soulmate, but he’s not worried that she does. They talk about it and he’s happy to accept that she’s only friends with the boy writing messages on her arms. He’s surprised when she says she doesn’t know his name, but doesn’t question it. Which she’s glad about. She’s not sure how to explain that she likes the mystery of not knowing who he is.

I met a boy, she writes to her soulmate one night. She’s anxious to tell him because even though they’ve never talked about anything other than being friends, she knows what most people expect from soulmates. What if he gets mad at her and doesn’t want to talk? It takes him a while to reply and she tries to reason with herself that he’s probably working but she can’t help thinking he’s ignoring her.

Cool, he replies at exactly 9, so he probably just got off work. What’s his name?

Finn, she writes, excitement bubbling in her chest. He’s not mad at her. He’s really cool. He plays guitar.

Her soulmate draws a stick figure rolling his eyes, but then asks her another question and let’s her gush over her crush.

She kisses Finn for the first time a week later. They’re sitting in the park and he’s helping her with her chemistry homework, when he takes the pen from her hand and replaces it with his hands. It’s sweet and she likes it and she can’t wipe the smile off her face when he pulls away.

“I really like you, Clarke,” he says, rubbing his thumb over the palm of her hand. She forces herself not to cringe when she remember that her soulmate had drawn a coffee cup there. He’s having a bad shift at work, while Clarke is on a date.

“I really like you too,” she says, ducking her head on a smile and pushing her soulmate out of her mind.

*

“Heard you had a date with Finn Collins?” A girl who Clarke is pretty sure is in the year above says, dropping into the empty chair next her. She’s a little taken aback, but smiles. Gossip travels fast around her school.

“Yeah,” she says. “I did.”

“I hate to tell you this, but he’s my boyfriend,” the girl says.

Clarke’s blood runs cold as she turns to stare at the girl sitting next her. She has her long dark hair in a ponytail and is wearing a red bomber jacket. She doesn’t look angry, just a little upset, which Clarke takes as a sign she is telling the truth. Finn really has a girlfriend.

“He’s… what?” Clarke asks, shaking her head. How could he do this to her? He’d been so nice.

“We’ve been together since we were thirteen,” she says. “Guess he got bored.” Her laugh is bitter and she rolls her eyes at Clarke as if they’re sharing some private joke.

“I’m so sorry,” Clarke manages to spit out, furiously blushing and wanting nothing more than to be out of the library and at home writing to her soulmate about how wrong she was about Finn.

“It’s not your fault, you clearly didn’t know,” she says, shrugging. “I’m Raven.”

“Clarke,” she manages, her cheeks still red.

Raven manages to convince Clarke to skip her next class and get coffee with her. They end up at a coffee shop that Clarke has never heard of and one she is sure she’s not going to run into her mum at. Raven orders them both a drink and somehow doesn’t have to pay at the counter. They sit in a quiet booth at the back of the coffee shop and start talking about Finn.

“I had a feeling he was lying to me,” Raven tells Clarke with a shrug of her shoulders. “So I started doing some digging and heard he was on a date with you.”

“I’m really sorry,” Clarke says for what feels like the hundredth time. “I had no idea.”

“Yeah, I know,” Raven assures her. “I just don’t know how he thought he could get away with dating two girls from the same school at once.”

Clarke half laughs because even to her, someone who knows nothing about high school dating, it’s obvious that he was going to get caught sooner or later.

“- have a soulmate and he doesn’t,” Raven is saying when Clarke tunes back in. “Finn always said it didn’t bother him but maybe it does.”

“You have a soulmate?” Clarke asks, a little shocked. None of her friends with soulmates ever really dated. People usually waited until they could meet theirs. It was refreshing to meet someone who wasn’t waiting for true love with someone they’d never met.

“His name is Zeke,” Raven tells her. “He lives in Detroit though. We agreed that the universe doesn’t decide who we’re meant to be with. Zeke’s my friend, but we’re just friends. We’re going to meet before we go to college, but we’re not waiting for a relationship together. Especially if it might never happen.”

“I have a soulmate too,” Clarke admits, pulling up her sleeve to show Raven the drawings on her arm. She thinks it’s supposed to be him serving customers at work, but it’s incredibly smudged.

“Maybe he thought we were both hung up on someone else,” Raven says, “so it justified cheating.”

Nothing justifies that,” Clarke says firmly. Because it doesn’t. Finn had no right to treat her or Raven that way. Raven nods her head in agreement and takes a long sip of her coffee, staring out the window for a moment. She seems okay, like Finn hadn’t really hurt her, but Clarke has a feeling that she is putting up a tough front. She’d said they’d been together since they were kids. She already likes Raven. How could Finn do this?

Later when she gets home, she writes, Finn is an arsehole, on her leg and waits patiently for his response.

It takes about ten seconds for the words to start showing up, in blue ink right underneath her black. What happened?

Clarke writes and writes until she runs out of room on her left leg and moves onto her right. She  writes about how she had thought Finn really liked her, how she thought she really liked him. She wrote about Raven and how she feels bad for hurting because Raven should be hurting more. She writes about finding out she was the ‘other woman’ and about how embarrassed she is. She writes until she needs a new pen.

Her soulmate doesn’t reply until she’s finished, He’s an idiot. You and Raven are both better off without him. But I’m sorry you went through that, princess. Let me know if you need me to come out there and punch him.

Clarke doesn’t know exactly where her soulmate lives, just that he is two hours ahead of her and is often asleep after her and awake before her. The sentiment of him travelling to punch Finn still makes her smile though, so she draws a little love heart beside his words and watches as more words of encouragement advice appear.

She loves him, her soulmate. Maybe not the romantic love that everyone expects, but he’s her best friend.