The following piece was awarded First Prize in the OU Students Association Freshers Writing Competition for Freshers Fortnight 2023 (25 Sept – 8 Oct). The author is Zara, who lives in Northamptonshire and is studying Advanced Creative Writing.
Buzz… Buzz… Buzz…
Oh my goodness; this is actually happening. My wrist is buzzing. Literally! See, we have these timers on our wrists. At birth, until whenever, the timer is blank, and just flashes every few minutes. Then just one random day, the timer will vibrate, which the person would feel, and a timer appears on their wrist. He timer will state how many days until you meet them; your soulmate. The shortest time I’ve ever known of so far is my best friend’s. Kyla’s timer was only 30 days, but as soon as the time clocked to 0, her eyes met Wyatt’s eyes. The moment was so amazing, and extremely romantic. They have been together ever since, which so far is a year and a half.
My heart raced knowing there was a time on my wrist. Knowing that out there, his timer has just gone off saying the exact same thing. I turned my hand over, so my timer was facing me, and it read 0d 3h 59m 28s. I was going to meet him today! Today is the first day that I start university, and I will be arriving in about 4 hours. This is crazy and I felt I had barely enough time to think about things. I got out of my bed, and went downstairs to where my mum was. I cheered a simple ‘hello’ at her.
‘Morning, Aimee. You seem happy.’
‘Yeah, I was just sat on my bed, and my timer went off.’
‘Wait, timer as in…’ Mum started. I nodded in response, which was replied with a huge smile. ‘How long?’
‘That’s today? That’s very exciting.’
‘I am so nervous knowing that I am going to meet him today. I have no idea how to feel.’
‘You’ll be fine. I’ll make breakfast, and then you can get yourself ready. You don’t need to get to sign up until 12, so you have time.’ Mum smiled. I nodded, as she started to cook me breakfast, while talking with me.
After I had finished, I went upstairs, to get myself ready. I made sure to make myself look really nice. 0d 47m 28s. I took a deep breath looking at my timer. I had to leave now and it took 30 minutes to drive to Oakland University.
I walked in, and went to the cafeteria, where I saw everyone else signing up; it looked as though a lot of people were here to sign in already. I saw there were signs with letters on, so I assumed you went to the table to sign in. I walked towards where M was.
‘Hi, I’m Aimee Maynard. Is this where I sign in?’
‘Yes, it is. Let me just find your name…’ The woman said, before looking down at her list. ‘Oh yes, here you are, Aimee. You are in room 201. I have your key right here, so let me find that for you now.’
‘Thank you.’ I smiled. A few minutes later, the woman gave me my key, and I took it. I then caught a glance at my wrist. Oh my goodness! 1 minute, 37 seconds! My legs started shaking. Holy shit, there’s no way I can do this, not now.
1 minute, 29 seconds. I looked around, and glanced at the different faces surrounding the room. This was it, I was going to meet him in this over-crowded cafeteria, filled with people.
1 minute, 6 seconds. Somewhere within these walls, someone has the same countdown on their wrist, probably going through the same pressure as me. What if he hasn’t noticed his countdown is almost at 0?
54 seconds. When I told mum about my timer this morning, she said I would be more excited than nervous, yet I still feel myself wiping my sweaty palms on my dress. My soulmate should really see me as I am, in jeans and shirt, but mum insisted I had to wear a dress; being the first day I meet him. I just wish she’d left my hair alone. But, she decided that I should have it down, in soft brunette waves, with a nice bow tying half of my hair up.
30 seconds. Something deep inside me tells me that I should head towards the middle of the room. People start staring. They don’t know me, but they must know I have a timer that is almost at 0. For those with timers at 0, did they feel the same? Is that why some attention is on me?
25 seconds. I bit my lip, nervously. That same nerve also starts to pull me towards the centre of the room. My stomach drops, as my legs start to move me.
20 seconds. I continue in that direction. With each step, I feel my heart beating louder.
19. 18. 17. 16… this is it. This is the moment my life will change forever. My eyes dart around the room, desperately trying to find someone else looking around, like me. For someone who is heading towards their future with no way of knowing who they’ll end up with.
10 seconds. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest, as I quickly turn away.
5 seconds. My heart has stopped.
4. Like, just given up beating.
3. My lungs have jammed where they stay
2. I can’t breath; everything’s about to change..
1. Deep breaths.
My wrist vibrates gently. 0d 0h 0m 0s. I feel someone back into me, and I turn around to find my grey eyes have met sky-blue ones. My wrist vibrates again, longer. This cannot be. My timer has it wrong. Is there someone behind this person?
‘Hi.’ I say back.
‘Did your timer go off, the exact time as I bumped into you, by any chance?’
‘Yeah. How did you know that?’
‘Mine did, too.’
‘But how?’ I confusingly stated. This couldn’t be right. My soulante can’t be a girl… can it?
‘I guess we’re soulmates.’ She shrugged.