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destiny deferred

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You weren't a stranger to unkindness. As you grew, along with the problems that came and went, as well as those that have decided to make a permanent home in your small, quiet life, you found that you and unkindness were siblings, twins almost— joined to the hip ever since you cried your way into world. However, that does not mean that you did not fight it.

 

There had been a conscious fighting even before your soulmark had failed to show itself at the age of fourteen. Normally, one would welcome them once you hit five years old, when happiness isn't quite complicated yet and celebrations easily found. And it was a thing of celebration, soulmarks.

 

More than words to be exchanged at the first encounter, they were the evidence of a tie that would knot your soul to someone else's. A binding contract, so to speak. For the parents, on the other hand, it meant something else. They were promises; a thing of comfort to ease worried minds. Soulmarks were inscriptions that did not only mean, but assured, that even when life gets too unkind, their children wouldn't have to fight alone.

 

Naturally, when yours didn't appear on the eve of your fifth birthday, it had been the source of worries and confusion, and you had an inkling that problems would soon arise with the then small predicament. But it was soon pacified when everyone else assured that it was normal and a little bit of waiting will have to do so don't cry, alright? 

 

And you did just that. Until the next birthday and with bright optimism you hurriedly searched for the string of words (maybe it's pink and it says, ’ Hi how are you, I love you’ that's why it took so long), your small hands mapping your skin (my friend said it’s usually on your chest), too excited and too sure because of course fate wouldn't be so cruel as to deny you this one thing, right? But then exhilarated seconds ticked into cold minutes, and you were only left with your skin bare and painfully bereft of a soulmark.

 


 

The seventh birthday was also faced with the same disappointment.

 


 

And it was unkind, to rob a child of a small hope. So, you fought it, treated it with the same gentle stubbornness you had every time you were faced with cruelty. Many told you that you were really being naive rather than putting up a fight, that you ought to toughen up more. But that was not you, and 'fighting' for you did not entail stinging retaliation against your bullies, or willfully putting up your claws with the intent to hurt someone back.

 

No, 'fighting' for you was the decisive turn of the other cheek, and when compromised, 'fighting' for you was especially firmly planting your feet on the ground, daring everyone to just try and move you from where you've dug your roots.

 

And thus, with an unrelenting optimism that was half yours and half your parents', you dared to hope.

 

Because even when it was not impossible to have no soulmate and even still when several friends, out of pity, told you that in this day and age soulmarks were irrelevant, a thing of the past, you found the strength to meet both with a clear smile that was unapologetically romantic and left no room for discussion; you were going to wait.

 


 

That same steady heart became a much-needed anchor, because it took you seventeen years to finally realize that there exists a greater unkindness outside the ones you have grown with. It came slowly, creeping into the crevices of your family's peace; daily news was filled with scandals of some political figure involved with some criminal family of some sort. And in the myriad of names written in bold, black ink, all signifying a tip in the balance of power and politics, there was one that stuck in every headline:

 

Han.

 

And if you once thought your own world too far off from the one those names revolved in, you were again proven wrong when a call pierced through the comfortable silence of your home; the simple idyll of your life shattered with a collision, of your world and theirs.

 

Your parents were on their way home. A fight broke off. It happened on some highway. You didn't catch the name, didn't really hear anything amidst your ugly sobs.

 

Cars crashed against one another. Fortunately, (fortunately, they said) the few innocent lives caught between the cross fire got off with injuries and only two (Mine, you thought, those were my parents; my family) took the deadly blow.

 

Four men died (a bullet in each one), all of whom were involved with one of those big named politicians, and you couldn't remember which one, couldn't muster the will to care past the tears and anger and disbelief pushing up your throat. They said that if they only hadn't angered the Han family (God, it's that name again) it wouldn't have gotten so ugly.

 

As lilies slipped from your hand, and as deafening wails laced with the funeral hymns, you thought you knew unkindness best then, all her depths and many faces. But when the night came, and you felt a different kind of pain on your chest, you begrudgingly thought maybe not yet. Your feet felt heavy as you dragged it across the floor, the old wood creaking with a warning to not open the lights and not look at the mirror.

 

What stared back at you made a laugh slip past your cracked lips, but it was not the happy sort of laughter. It had an edge you hadn't heard before, and it was sharp and bitter and wrong to your ears.

 

For your soulmark was a wound that looked like it did not want to heal; a nasty bruise of purple atop the valley of your breasts. The letters were raised, as if someone held you down and forced it on your skin.

 

It's alright. I'll take care of everything.