You’ve been sketching your soulmate’s face since you were old enough to pick up a pencil, the drawings become more realistic through the years as the day you meet comes closer.
It’s been 25 years since I started drawing him. I didn’t know who he was, and yet I was compelled to draw him. I almost felt like there was a connection there, somehow. Like I was getting to know him through these drawings. Ever since my mom bought me special pencils for drawing at the tender age of 7, I’ve been sketching him. My drawings of him have aged with him over the years. They always stayed true to our age at that time of the drawing. At twelve, the drawings were becoming good enough that you could tell they were based on a real person. My mom used to tease me all the time about the boy I was obsessed with. I let her believe he was in one of my classes. She would be upset if she found out I was drawing a complete stranger. Most of the time, I kept my sketches hidden. I didn’t want anyone to see my sketch book. I’d ruined plenty of relationships because of those sketches. The irony was not lost on me that I kept losing relationships over someone I never met. Not that my boyfriends ever believed me. They always seemed to be threatened by this stranger. Convinced we were seeing each other on the side or that I was secretly in love with him. I grew tired of explaining to them that I didn’t really know him. He could be someone my brain invented for all I knew.
The only one who really understood the sketches was my best friend Rita. She never looked at me like I was crazy. On the contrary, she had this burning curiosity in her eyes every time I spoke about him. Rita was a hopeless romantic and was in love with the idea that he might be my true soulmate. She was convinced that we were somehow meant to find each other. I, however, was starting to think I might be losing my mind. The frequency to which I felt compelled to draw him was increasing. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with the overwhelming need to draw. As I began to sketch, I felt like my hand had a mind of its own. I knew the outline of his face as easily as my own. I let the pencil take flight over the paper as I poured myself into the drawing and lost track of time. Most days, I got lost in his eyes. The almond shape, the long lashes, deep amber color and the crinkle that always showed up when he was smiling. He had a crescent-shaped scar in-between his eyes. This was an extra detail that I’d never drawn before. I wondered how he got the scar as I continued to draw the rest of his face. His nose that was just a bit larger than it should be. That imperfection always made him seem more real to me. There was a fine stubble on his face that framed his cheeks and his squared off chin. He was smiling lightly, as if something amused him. There was a slight dimple that you could see through the stubble. I smiled down at his face and pretended I was part of the reason he was amused. I sighed wistfully as I moved to add the last details that would complete this little drawing session.
My mind was at ease when I was sketching. It had always been a way for me to escape the pressures of my daily life. I’d feel the stress of the day melt away as I put pencil to paper, but with him, it had become a necessity. I felt like I needed to draw him. The drawings had gotten more detailed as of late, so much so that you could probably have him identified through a search database. I was too scared to do something like that. The idea that he might be a figment of my imagination was heartbreaking. I wanted to believe he was out there somewhere. Even if I never got to meet him, I hoped he was happy. I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t admit that in the deepest part of my heart, I hoped he was real and that one day we would meet. I didn’t want to set myself up for that kind of disappointment, so I never let that hope blossom. Every now and then, I’d let that hope out to turn into a fantasy of meeting him somewhere. I didn’t let myself get carried away, though. I needed to be able to separate myself from those feelings. I needed to live in the real world, not my fantasy world, no matter how appealing it may have seemed. I was 32 years old and was starting to wonder if I was going to be alone forever. That thought was depressing. I slammed my sketchbook shut and climbed back into bed. I had another three hours before I had to face to world. It took a little while, but once I finally fell asleep; I fell into a deep slumber as those almond shaped eyes haunted my dreams. I felt like I chased him all throughout my dreams but never quite caught up to him.
I woke up grumpy and irritated because of my dreams. As I fully came out of my dream, I realized two things. One, my best friend, brought me a cup of my favorite coffee, a cup of hazelnut flavored brew, sat on my desk next to my bed with the perfect mix of cream and sugar. Two, I realized Rita was sitting at my desk staring at my latest drawing. As I took a sip of the delicious and much needed caffeinated beverage, I wondered what Rita was thinking. She was oddly quiet.
“You’ve got a lot more detail here than I’ve ever seen before.” She said as she stroked the page reverently with her fingers. “In all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never seen his face with such clarity. What do you think that means?”
I knew she was waiting for an answer, but I also knew she was trying to work it out for herself. “All I know is that I woke up from a deep sleep at 3:00 in the morning and I had to draw him. I have noticed a few new things I’ve never drawn before. Each drawing is more detailed than the last. I’m not sure why either.” I said as I shrugged.
Rita had that faraway look again as she tapped her chin. “Maybe it means you’re going to meet him soon. Destiny needed to be sure you recognized him and gave you all the details to do so.” She had a hopeful smile on her face, and I had to resist the urge to roll my eyes. Rita was recently engaged to the love of her life and she was still floating on cloud nine.
“Or, maybe, I’ve become so obsessed with this drawing that I’ve started adding my own details and am slowly losing my mind!” I said as I put the cup down on the desk and stood up. “Listen Rita, I would love to live in the romantic world you’ve spun here, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.” I started pacing to get out all the anxious thoughts that had been bothering me. “Because when reality comes crashing down on me… that he’s probably just a figment of my imagination… I don’t want to lose it. You know?”
My emotions were all over the place and I could feel them building to a momentous meltdown. The hopelessness of my situation resting heavily on my heart. That I was in love with a drawing, a possibility really. I didn’t know if he was real and even if he was; I didn’t know what his personality was like. True, I felt like I knew him through my drawings, but reality was likely I imagined it all. What’s worse is that I would always measure every man I ever met against the face that I’ve drawn countless times over the years. It was almost too much to bear. I’ve been deluding myself. The more I drew him, the more attached I became. I didn’t even look at other men anymore.
“Oh sweetie! Don’t do that. Please! Don’t give up hope. I know you’re scared. I’ve seen what you’ve gone through with other relationships, but they weren’t meant to be. I know you don’t believe in destiny or fate but, I also don’t think you would’ve been this connected to one person your whole life if you weren’t meant to meet. Maybe you won’t end up falling into some great love, but maybe you will be great friends. You never know. Just don’t lose hope. Okay?”
“Okay.” I whispered as I fought my emotions. “I’m just going to jump in the shower to get ready.” I told her as I walked past her and into the bathroom. We were supposed to go out today to start her bridal shopping, and I needed a few minutes to pull myself together. By the time I was done with the shower, I felt much better. Before walking out of my room, I had the strangest urge to grab my sketchbook and bring it with me. I was going to be with Rita, so I didn’t think much of it as I stuffed it into my bag and walked into the living room.
When I walked into the living room, Rita was there waiting with a stack of magazines in her arms. “Oh my God! I’ve got so many ideas! I can’t wait to get started. I’ve got a list of stores to go check out today. These magazines also have ideas that I’ve dog-eared, so that we could see if we could find some of this locally. I’m so excited!” She was practically jumping up and down with excitement, and it rubbed off a little. I may not be getting married, but I was happy for her and I was excited to be the maid of honor.
We made it through four stores before my stomach started rumbling. Rita insisted we try this new restaurant that opened a few months ago. It was supposed to be fantastic but was always so busy. It was hard to get into, but she insisted we’d have no problem that day. Sure enough, we were seated within minutes of entering the restaurant. The food was fantastic, and we were having a great time just eating and making plans. We were looking over the dessert menu when I heard the restaurant manager speaking to the people in the booth behind us. I didn’t bother to look up from my menu, even though that voice seemed to call to me. Goosebumps traveled up my arms as listened to that voice. Hidden behind my menu, my eyes became hazy and I got lost in my head for a minute when the voice became much closer.
“Hello ladies! My name is Dean and I’m the restaurant manager. I was checking to see how your experience was this afternoon?”
I was afraid to look up. If this guy was as handsome as he sounded, I was in big trouble. Instead, I looked over at Rita and she looked like she’d seen a ghost. My brows furrowed in confusion, wondering what her problem was when I felt a swift kick to my leg. I knew without asking why she did that. My heart stopped when I looked up. My heart was beating wildly and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I dropped the menu I was holding, and it knocked my drink over. No one seemed to notice. He wasn’t just a handsome guy; he was my handsome stranger.
We stared at each other in shock. Both of our faces mirroring the same kind of surprise. I couldn’t believe it. Here he was in the flesh and looked just like my drawings. I was speechless. After all these years of waiting, I finally got to meet him, and I couldn’t make my brain work long enough to form thoughts. His presence overwhelmed me. I itched to push the hair back on his forehead that was always falling in his eyes. I don’t know how many times I drew it that way and had the same thought.
“I can’t believe it…” I whispered in shock.
“It’s really you…” He whispered back.
My eyebrows shot up in surprise at his words. “You know me?” I asked, eager for his answer.
He didn’t move from his spot, as he just stared at me. It was almost as if he was cataloging my every feature. “I’ve known you since I was eight years old.” He admitted.
I gasped as I stared at him in awe. “Wait! What do you mean you’ve known me since you were eight?” My heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to burst from my chest. It couldn’t be true. Could it?
“Hang on a second. I’ll be right back. Please don’t go anywhere.” I could see the pleading in his eyes. He was afraid I was going to bolt.
“I’ll be here.” I whispered with a shy smile as I looked up into those beautiful amber eyes I knew so well. There wasn’t a soul on this planet that could tear me away from this table. As soon as he was out of sight, I realized Rita was calling my name but failing to get my attention. I looked over at her and she smiled brightly at me.
“See! I told you!” She beamed from her seat. “Now listen, I’m going to go now. I don’t want you to feel rushed because I’m here. I’ll have Tony come get me so you can drive home. Please make the most of whatever this is and don’t worry about me.” Rita dropped a $20 on the table as she stood up. It didn’t feel right that she had to leave. I was about to say something when she put her finger to my lips. “Don’t. This is epic. You need this more than you need to be here with me. I’m fine. Call me later, okay?” I shook my head yes, and she moved out of there with a quickness I didn’t know she possessed.
When Dean came back, he had a black spiral bound sketchbook in his hand. It was the very same kind of sketchbook I had with me in my purse. “Is your friend okay? I hope I’m not intruding on your lunch.” He asked with real concern and such kindness in his eyes.
“She’s fine. She just had to run and thought I really should stay and talk to you.” I felt the blush rise on my cheeks as I told him.
The amusement I recognized from his face last night appeared again at that moment. “Why is that?” He asked playfully.
I blew out a nervous breath and tried to still the butterflies in my stomach as I reached over for my sketchbook. I pulled it out of my purse and set it in front of my nearly cleared area. Huh, I was so caught up in my thoughts I didn’t even realize the waiter had been by to collect the plates. I looked up into those eyes to see what he might be thinking. He looked intrigued as he stared at my sketchbook. “Because of this.” I pointed to the book. “I’ve known you since I was 7 years old.” When I looked up to see his reaction, he looked just as eager as I was to see inside the book. “How bout we exchange books and take a look at what we have here.” I suggested. I hoped that I wasn’t wrong, but my gut feeling told me this was the right thing to do. Dean sat in the chair next to me and turned towards me.
“Are you sure?” Dean asked with a tremble in his voice.
I rested my hand on top of his and assured him that this was okay. We exchanged books, and both looked at each other before we made a move to open them. When I finally cracked open his book, what I saw took my breath away. He was incredibly talented. There was no denying that, but what left me breathless was the image. It was a drawing of me laying in my bed looking up at the ceiling in contemplation. This was last night! I could tell because of the t-shirt I was wearing in the drawing. I laid there in bed, trying to fight off the sadness I was feeling before I fell asleep. Dean seemed to catch my expression perfectly. My hands were shaking as I went to the next page. I was laughing at something Rita said as we sat at my little dining room table. Each page seemed to catch a moment in my life with great care and detail. When I got to the last page in the book, I had tears running down my cheeks. I could tell these were done with the same care I took in my sketches. They were important to him, just as my drawings of him were to me. It settled something deep inside of me. I wasn’t crazy after all, and maybe fate did have a plan for us.