General Fiction posted September 22, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Soulmates really do exist; be persistent

I found my rare needle (revised)

by Katherine M. Kean

‘Why do people continually ask me if I’ve met my soulmate yet?’ I wonder. Everybody knows that to be a rare occurrence, and yet they persist in enquiring:
“Found your better half yet?” 
“Happy yet?”
“Settled down yet?”
And so on, and so forth.

It is probing to the level of cruelty, and I feel as though a dentist is preparing to insert a filling into one of my teeth. I have had more than enough of it. Therefore, I am working on the development of a massive scam to get these horrible people off my back. The hustle will be based on the statement that yes, I have found a partner, and that we are happy together, despite him being my opposite in every consideration. 

Thus, when questioned I will answer that he is taciturn, a lazy slob who does no sport, just slouches on the couch in front of the rugby on the television, with a cold six-pack of beer for company. I will add that he has no motivation to reach the top of the corporate ladder, being content to remain an extremely small fish in the large pond below. He bears no resemblance to the speck of dust who screams:
“I am significant!” 

Instead he is content to remain highly insignificant. It doesn’t even disturb him that I earn well over twice his salary. He merely shrugs his shoulders and is happy for me, but he shudders at the thought of all that I had to go through to reach the heady pinnacle of my current professional position. I will emphasize that our happiness is based on sex - not romance you understand as he doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body - but on sensuality and intimacy. We’re both good on those two.

By the time I have reeled out all this nonsense, and perhaps even supplied details depending on my mood, I will have totally confused my audience. They will not dare to ask me any more questions aimed to reveal further information or specifics. No, from then onwards, they will leave me in peace to proceed with seeking and meeting my genuine soulmate. As we all know, this is a Herculean undertaking, with a rarer success rate than finding a needle in a haystack. I personally know of only one couple whose love has stood the test of time, and for whom the magic has never died: my grandparents. We celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary three years ago, and on that day they showed themselves to be totally content and true soulmates. They tottered along everywhere arm in arm, each with their stick, looking perfectly happy. We watched them heading for our private dining room, delighted to be surrounded by their children and all their grandchildren and their partners, but, above all, delighted to be together on this momentous occasion. 

The premise of them being soulmates is supported by the fact that my grandparents both declare that when they look at each other they still see a youthful partner. This proves the power of mind over matter. A second couple in our family seems to be heading in the same direction: my uncle and auntie. These two seem to grow happier and happier together as time goes on, although they are perhaps still a bit young to be certain of the ultimate outcome of their feelings for each other. 

Finally, there is my brother and his wife, whose smiles beam out from their limited experience of two years of married life. But what a blissful and blessed two years those have been. 

These positive examples make up for the darker side of life that I see when I look at other members of my family. My mother is twice-divorced and swears that she will not marry again under any circumstances, having finally learned her lesson. My paternal uncle’s marriage did not stand the test of time either. Furthermore, my paternal grandparents were apparently not particularly happy together. My mother tells me that her divorces were inevitable, since as an adult she was never involved in a long-standing stable relationship that could live up to the example set by her parents. Thus, her choice was an unhappy life, or divorce. She once said that it would actually have been easier for her if her parents had set a lower standard then she might have been able to settle into her lot.

Meanwhile, I have to decide how I am going to set about looking for my own true soulmate. It isn’t the sort of thing you can place an advertisement in the newspaper for. “Desperately seeking lifelong bliss; partner-in-crime required as soon as possible; non-serious candidates please abstain,” just doesn’t ring true somehow. Furthermore, I don’t believe that singles clubs would provide the answer and I don’t even contemplate any derivative of blind dates or speed dating. I consider that I am way past the age of clubbing and far too young to join municipal polyvalent leisure groups. No, my relationship will have to be based on an affinity rising out of a common interest, with genuine good old-fashioned face-to-face contact on a regular basis. ‘Is such a thing possible in these days of social media?’ I wonder. 

I look around, and see that every time people have a few seconds free, they no longer interact with each other directly, but lock themselves away from reality, each spinning down into an ever-decreasing well of artificial intelligence. I trawl my brain hunting for my sociable interests, which will buck this trend. I relish gardens and old sailing boats, a coupling that is rather common for some unknown reason, but especially I love sport, particularly African dance.

So, there we are. My entry points into my search are sketched out, and now I just have to mine deeply into the rock that hides the golden treasure to liberate the latter. I decide to seek in the sphere of sport in the first instance, as I can’t think of a way to meet weekend gardeners, and I do not have the time to commit to sailing on a regular basis. I know that men are thin on the dance floor, so decide to favour other sports at the weekend, and restrict my dance classes to mid-week. Initially, I promote rock-climbing as an activity. It’s a male-dominated area, and in my city many clubs have installed rather trendy artificial cliff faces. On the first Saturday morning, I go down to the club I am already familiar with and like. But looking at things from my new perspective I am disappointed. Where are all the men? I am forced to conclude that after their hard week of corporate meetings, they contrast with women, as they are not raring to release an endorphin rush. 

Following my unfruitful visit to the sports club, I call in on my best male friends, to see what happens at dawn on a testosterone-filled Saturday. I find Yannick and Anthony still eating breakfast. A leisurely meal, that they consume whilst lazing in bed. Thus, I deduce that instead of seeking exertion and proving themselves to be dynamic, businessmen remain at home using all the Rs at their disposal to get over their hard week: rest, recovery, revitalisation etc. So, should I shift my sporting activity to after lunch? The idea fills me with dismay. By then I am usually slothful and sleepy after a copious brunch, and I slot incompressible chores into this otherwise wasted time. I am a speedy shopper, and a hurried housekeeper, but I do need to leave some limited time for these tasks. On the whole, my life is perfect as it is, and I push to the back of my mind the idea that a soulmate may not actually be the most convenient of additions, certainly if the logistics of the search are anything to go by. Still, all’s fair in love and war. However, there is no way that I am going to attempt to be a zealous rock-climber after a glass of champagne, or two. 

I decide that the best solution is to hit the weights and cycling machines. This should be a relatively low-key activity for me, as I don’t particularly want to gain any more muscle. My dance and yoga classes take care of that more than adequately. Still, on the second Saturday I fight off my lack of motivation, and head for the circuit training. It’s hell! Easy to see that I am in fact out of shape. I fall off the moving walkway not once but twice during my warm-up. However, my persistence is rewarded by the number and variety of males crowded onto the circuit. What’s more, they trip over each other in their rush to pick me up and dust me down following my misfortunes with the moving walkway. So, Hell recedes rapidly, giving way to much pleasanter locations in the tunnels of my mind. 

I am particularly impressed, impressed and enthralled, by three invitations to pursue the sporting encounter over a glass of wine. Although it is perhaps not the wisest approach, I persuade my three suitors to take me out on a group excursion. I am suffering from the misapprehension that I don’t have to devote a lot of time to this business of looking for a soulmate, and that I will recognise him instantly when he jumps up and bites me on the nose. Of course, nothing like that happens. My “group date” merely discourages all the men. They are each persuaded that I’m not looking for a serious monogamous relationship, and I am not invited out again. 

I have now spent six months-worth of Saturday afternoons in the gym, growing even sleeker and more honed and toned in my silhouette and body mass every week, but there has been no sign of the elusive soulmate. I say that, but recently My blinkers are starting to come off. It has gradually begun to dawn on me that he has been there at my side all along. I see that he is permanently in the gym, the one who is always there for me, always ready with help when I need it, and who makes me laugh with his jokes. In addition, he is actually very attractive. Where and to what alternatives were my senses drawn to for so long? Why didn’t I notice the manager of the gym?


We are now a happy ten years down the line, and yes, it is “we” all the way. No more separation for us. We have neatly avoided the seven-year itch, and things still look good. Children are starting to appear, and they are growing satisfactorily. We moved into a large house to provide enough space for them to enjoy a good quality of life, and are beginning to fill it with animals, bicycles, and musical instruments. There is nothing particularly extraordinary about our life, but it’s the one we have chosen and are constructing together, and in our togetherness is our strength. 


Soulmate contest entry


word count is 1843 words

This is radically changed grammatically, thanks to reviewers' generous input - as it's a blind contest entry I'll thank you personally when the contest is closed.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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