Why Angela Reed Believed We Were Soulmates But Could Not, for Practical Reasons, Ever Really Be Together

I don’t remember the book’s actual title but Angela called it her Bible of Destiny. A glossy-covered paperback the size of the Yellow Pages, corners all curled and marbled with coffee stains. I was looking for my glasses and boxers when I found the book under the pancaked futon in her dorm room. She said it was from some astrology, mysticism, and voodoo class she’d taken the semester before. For each day of the calendar year, the book charted the qualities, quirks, tendencies, etc., of a person born on that day.

The thing is dead-on amazing, she said.

Side by side on her futon, the Bible of Destiny flopped open between us on our naked thighs, we read aloud my qualities, quirks, and tendencies. There I was, nutshelled: born under a white moon, which meant I was easily enthralled, talented but lazy; Jupiter governed my moods. It sounded like a list my parents might’ve made. I remember laughing at the book’s freakish accuracy and Angela, misunderstanding, gave me a mean look. I squeezed her to me and kissed her.

We read on. Printed along the right margin were the birthdays of people I would encounter in life—like best friends (July 22, Ben Lauter), mortal enemies (October 1, Michael Monnetti)—and nested in that column of words and numbers, the birthday of my soulmate, which happened to be Angela’s birthday, and if the book said so—

But Angela pointed to the asterisk after her birthday, which corresponded to a footnote, which said we weren’t destined to be together in this life. I tried to tell that her it was just a book. Just paper and ink. Just words. Just a cosmic test of love and patience.

Andrew Wickenden is in his final year of the MFA program in fiction at Western Michigan University, where he teaches and serves as fiction co- editor of Third Coast. His fiction is forthcoming in Witness.