Soul mates are hard to find. Well that’s what people say anyway. To Julie Molina, it ad never been a problem.
When she was born, her mother and fathers marks showed up on the knuckle of her thumbs. When her brother was born, her pinkie-fingers danced with little baseball bats and balls. When her Tia first came to see her, her wrist tattooed a pink and purple band around her wrist. On her first day of Little Darlings Day Care where she meant Flynn Alice, half the back of her hand burned a bright colour of red in the shape of a trumpet. When Carolina Wilson bumped into Julie and Flynn on the swing set on the second day of school, all three of their hands showcased a small candy wrapper. On her pointer finger and ring finger, she had faint outlines of music notes and unreadable words, usually suggesting that they had passed by in the halls or exchanged smiles on a bus ride. But her middle finger felt awfully bare.
Middle fingers were reserved for romantic soul mates and Julie hadn’t found that one yet. The way her hands were so brightly coloured had people staring when she tucked a strand of hair behind her ears or retrieved a fallen book. She had been told ‘You’re so lucky you have so many tattoos!’ so many times she might throw up if one new teacher says it.
So, there she is. Sat in class, running a middle finger around her lips as she waits for her turn to perform in music class. It was the second week of junior year and she already wanted to leave
“Julie Molina?” Came a voice from the door, she raised her hand at the sight of the principle. She looked like she had been crying. Her sleeve was slightly wet and her nose was red like it had been aggressively wiped.
“That’s me,” Her smile immediately brightened at the sight of the principle. In freshman year, when Flynn and Carrie went off to marching band camp, Julie ate lunch with the principle and they arranged music together.
“There’s a call for you, come to the office and you can take it on your phone if you like.” Principle Lester said, smiling kindly at the girl. Julie stood, grasping the handles of her bag and prayed she wasn’t getting another little brother or sister. Both her best friends instantly shoved their feet onto her chair and she stepped over chairs and open backpacks to meet the principle in the doorway.
“See you soon, Julie.” The teacher called from the classroom as the door faded out from view.
When they both reached the office, Lester only smiled and shut the door behind her for privacy.
Pulling out her phone, she saw the missed call from her Dad.
“Hey, Papi! What’s up?” Her contagiously excitable voice beamed through the phone and the crackly sound of her fathers sniff made her stop in her tracks. “Dad?”
“It’s you’re mom, I’m so sorry Julie.” Her Dad made no other noise and she broke down on the floor. She slid in the space between the drawers of the desk that was under the desk top. The place where you would normally put your chair when you left your work.
Now under the table, the phone slipped out of her hand and the screen hit the floor. She didn’t care if her phone screen smashed into a million pieces. Right now, she needed to get out of school. She tried to crawl out but then was pulled back by something unforgivable happening to Julie’s hand.
The mark beneath her left thumb started to itch. The colourful cluster of music notes with dahlia’s as note heads started to lose their pink, yellow, blue and purple colouring.
It was like the colour bled out of her skin, the ink faded away in time with her tears. And she just sat. She sat until some knocks sounded on the door. Knocks easily recognisable as her two best friends, Carrie and Flynn. Since they took up the space on the back of her hand, they were officially universally paired together.
“Hello.” She croaked, sniffing and wiping under her eyes.
“Jules?” Carrie whispered, opening the door slowly and gasping when she saw the 15 year old on the floor.
Flynn spotted the phone on the floor and placed it on top of her hiding place. Carrie quickly advanced towards her. Shrugging off the pretty fur she was wearing that day and chucking it on the table to get in Julie’s hole.
“Hey.” Flynn crouched down low and sat crossed legged in front of them.
“My mom’s dead.” She finally said, sighing. Her hands came to rest in between her knees and Flynn raised them, eyeing the mark that had once been for her mom.
“Oh Julie.” They whispered, and embraced her. None of them had to say it or check, they knew the yellow bands around Carrie and Flynn’s wrists would have gone grey. Support systems claimed your wrists, people who didn’t fit within ‘best friends’ ‘parents’ ‘siblings’ or ‘romantic partners’. A lot of the time, it was celebrities on people’s wrist. Julie in fact has Carrie’s dad, Trevor Wilson as her second circle.
“Let’s go home.” By home, she meant Julie’s house. It was home.
“Ok.” Flynn pulled them both by their ankles out of the little alcove.
Julie sniffed and rubbed her sleeve against her cheek, Carrie held out the fluffy piece of fur she had carelessly thrown onto the hard wood desk.
“Hi, Principle Lester! You know I’m you’re favourite trumpet soloist in band class 2?” Flynn’s false happiness was so obvious, Julie almost laughed. But then she just admired the girl for being able to smile so well through the news that was just broken to her – even if she sounded like she was part of an introduction video convincing people to join Satan’s sorority.
“Miss Alice, You are the only trumpet soloist in band class 2.” The principle’s tired expression faltered when she locked eyes with Julie. Her eyes softened and her tone picked up slightly
“Do you think we could have the rest of the day off? Something has happened with Julie.” Flynn shot and award winning smile that made Julie want to throw her arms around her neck and worship her forever.
“I heard about your mom. I’m so sorry, Julie. My condolences to you and your family.” Julie tried her best for a smile and tried to speak.
“Thank you Miss-” a sob grew in her throat so she just nodded. A knowing look passed over the teachers face, lifting her tattooed hand to pass a tissue to the young girl.
“Take her home, I’ll see you two tomorrow. You, take as much time as you need.” Julie wiped the tissue under her nose and along her cheeks, dipping it all the way up to her water line.
“Thank you. We’ll see you tomorrow.” Carrie and Flynn wiped off their fake smiled as they started to leave the building more affectionately known as prison.
The halls were starting to fill up as the second to last classes ended for everyone, they tried to move faster but they only really sped up when people started going into classrooms.
Ushering their grieving friend into the parking lot, the comfortable silence had stretched as king as it could.
“Do either of you remember where we parked the car this morning?” Flynn laughed, swinging her keys around her finger.
“I don’t know who ‘we’ is, dear Flynnigan. You are the only one with a license. And no idea.” Carrie replied back in her way that only she could get away with saying anything along those lines to their short Flynnigan.
Julie just shook her head and wrapped her arms around her body. “Why don’t you flash the lock button on and off and we look for the tail lights?” Her voice was even croakier than when she invited them into her crying.
So they walked around the school parking lot, occasionally calling out encouragement such as “Here Honky-Honky!”
Flynn aggressively clicked the button on her key and her eyes scanned the large group of cars that were surrounding the three. The cars stayed silent – or rather, dark – at her frustrated clicks.
“There!” Carrie called out, pointing over cars that only she could see in her 5”11 ways.
“Lead us, you beanstalk.” Flynn laughed and surprisingly Julie laughed with her. It was almost like her mother wouldn’t be there when she came home. Carrie led them by hand to the black car that so closely resembled Flynn’s that they had no idea it wasn’t.
They climbed in what they assumed was Flynn’s car and she pocketed her keys and waited for everyone to get strapped in. Carrie sat in the front seat and flicked the radio stations from one to another. Julie had chosen the back seat and was sat behind Flynn who would be driving.
They were ready to go and Flynn picked up the keys, ready to place it into the car. She had almost put the key into the ignition until Carrie flicked to a station that sounded suspiciously like the sort of music that pushed every button inside Flynn.
Julie rolled down the window as Flynn clicked the CD button on the radio. A soft rock-ish sound blew threw the speaker.
“I like this song, its good. What is it?” Julie piped up as Flynn tried to insert the key into the engine.
“Uh... probably the demo I got from one of those groups in the mall trying to promote their band that probably won’t go anywhere.” Her tongue caught between her teeth as she tried a final time to place the key in the slot before sighing heavily.
“Hello, what are you doing in my car?” An attractive blond poked his head in the window Julie had just rolled down.
“What? This is my friend’s car?” Julie said and considered winding the window back up. Carrie next to her, however, said:
“Yeah, you asshole. Now step away from my best friends fucking car or I will bring out the pepper spray.” Ah, Carrie. Something you should probably know about her is how much she wasn’t afraid to say what she really meant.
“Well, the registration says otherwise.” He held up his keys and slotted them into the ignition through the gap between the front seats head rest and the car’s wall.
“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry! We’ll go know.” Her mind was too preoccupied with her embarrassment to notice that her pointer finger had sizzled and itched its way into a red rage.
“Ow, Christ.” Her whispers were loud enough for Blondie to look to his own hand with an odd expression.
“Okay. One of you guys is one of my soul mates.” Blond dude smiled up at the girls and Julie timidly raised her hand
“That would be me. Who’s Sunset Curve?” Her hand was waved in front of his face.
“My band. How many tattoos do you have?” She pushed her mom out of her mind for a second, hoping to make a good first impression.
“As of this new development, 5 support systems, a brother, tw- uh, one parent, two friends, a faint other friend and you. So nine and a half.” Her smile was genuine when she reached out her hand to grasp his.
“Alex, nice to meet you. Thanks for keeping my friends seats warm.”
“Julie. This is Flynn and Carolina. And you’re welcome, now you don’t have to wait for the stupid heater things to turn on.”
“Don’t call me Carolina! It’s Carrie.” She said with a smile.
“What’s your number? If you don’t mind, of course.” He hurriedly added and smiled, holding a sharpie that had appeared from his pocket.
“Well, we’re destined to be friends so why not.” She scribbled down the digits way up his arms; his circles ran till nearly his elbow so there wasn’t much space.
“That’s a lot of support, you alright Alex?” It was a light hearted joke, but his face went slack.
“Uh, yeah. I depend on a lot of fictional things. Good bye.” He climbed in the car and drove out of the space. She was still holding his sharpie, but he didn’t seem to mind when he sped off.
“Shall we go to your real car now, Flynn?” And then the pit in her chest and stomach that had been being held shut by Alex’s newly tattooed hand was opened up again.