My name is Jackson Overmiller-Nesson, but everyone calls me Jay. Even in just introducing myself I could go into the insanely complicated story of my family, but I'll give you the quick version for now. My last name should really be Vandergard, but my grandparents died when my dad, Ben and his sister were still kids. Their uncle kicked them out and took everything. Ben and her were adopted by Dad and Pop. This is already going to be confusing.
You see Ben and my mom were only 19 and 17 when I was born, so Dad and Pop took care of me and Leo while Ben went to college and mom finished school. I grew up hearing everybody call my dad Ben and my grandfathers Dad and Pop so I started doing the same. Now, Leo is Ben's sister, her name is actually Leanne but her initials spell Leon so that's what most people call her. I call her Leo and even though she's technically my aunt she's more like my sister. She hates that but she was only 8 when I was born so we were raised together.
This is too much, my family is crazy so maybe I didn't explain it very well, but that's good enough for now, I'm here to talk about my words. Your words appear somewhere on one of your arms usually between the ages of 13 to 16. I, however, got mine when I was only 10, which was very confusing. On the inside of my right forearm, in a beautiful cursive font it says, "Are you going to take responsibility and buy me a new coffee?" People go nuts about their words, they say you can infer all sorts of stuff about your soulmate by the font, the location, and your age when they appeared. My mom got very excited. She was obsessed with the idea that I was going to meet some sassy college girl at the cafe on the way to the private high school they wanted me to attend. Boy have I thrown her plans out the window.
Ben became a lawyer and took back his birth parents estate and family business. With that him and my mom took the Vandergard name back too, but Leo didn't want to change back since she felt her name was like part of her identity at that point. I've always been super close with Leo so I kept the old name too. Mom was not happy, her and Leo have never really been able to get along so when Leo turned 18 she moved back to Dad and Pop's old house. I would stay with her every summer.
One summer, when I was 12 and I was particularly sick of my mom's theories about my soulmate I decided to ask Leo how she felt about her words. You see Leo was super lucky, her words were, "Hey, my name's Drew and sorry if this is weird, but I just had to come over and say that you look absolutely stunning." She knew her soulmates name. I was terrified, but it is such an important memory for me.
"Hey, Leo, can I ask you something?" I fidgeted in the doorway still pulling my suitcase.
Leo jumped and spun around faster than I've ever seen and then relaxed letting out a big sigh before responding, "Jesus Jay! You scared to shit out of me, why are you here already? I thought you weren't coming over until tomorrow night." She looked and sounded like she was scolding me, but as she saw how dejected I was she gave up and walked over to grab my hand and pull me back with her to sit in her bed. She hugged me and stroked my head. I hugged her back a little to tightly. "What happened Jay?"
"I'm so sick of hearing Mom talk about my soulmate. I don't like the one she wants."
"I'm sorry hun, but then what did you want to ask me? You don't need to ask if you can come over and stay early, you are allowed here anytime."
"That's not it." I paused and took a deep breath to build up some courage. "Do you ever wish that Drew, wasn't Drew?" I worded it very poorly in an attempt to be as indirect as possible.
"Jay, what are you talking about?"
I had to try again, "Like, do you ever think about your soulmate, not being Drew."
"Do you ever wish your soulmate wasn't a guy? ... As in have you ever wanted Drew to be a girl?"
"Oh, Jay... Is that why you get so frustrated with Tammy? You don't want your soulmate to be a girl at all?"
I shook my head against her shoulder and she pulled me in tighter.
"That's okay hun, your soulmate will be perfect for you whoever he is. Tammy just doesn't know any better. She means well, she's just excited for you."
"But what if it is a girl. The font is so cute and the 'i's are even dotted with flowers."
"That could just mean he's cute, it doesn't have to be his handwriting. You'll love him. I'm sure he'll be completely perfect."
We were quiet for a little as I just soaked in every positive word and feeling Leo was trying to give me. I felt better but I was still curious, I sat back to look at her, "What about Drew?"
She laughed, "Honestly, yeah. I've really hoped for a long time that Drew wasn't the absolute creep his words make him out to be. I just wish my soulmate was someone more like Anna. She's just-" Leo hesitated as she tried to find the right word to describe her friend of so many years.
"I think we're cursed." Ben was leaning on the door frame and me and Leo both jumped when we heard his voice.
"Damn it Ben! Like father like son I guess. Are you two trying to kill me?" She said exasperated, and slumped over my shoulder.
I looked at my dad, "What are you doing here?"
"You packed up and took off awfully quick after your mother set you off. I wanted to make sure you were okay. I'm so sorry Jackson. I can't believe I never realized..."
My face felt incredibly hot in that moment, "H-how long have you been listening?" I was flustered.
He walked over and sat on my other side. "Pretty much the whole time. It wasn't hard to keep up with you you know. I've been making that trip almost every week since before you were born."
"Ben! That's super rude! He was confiding in me."
"I know, but I was just so worried, he's been very short with Tammy a lot recently and I just couldn't figure out why. When he stormed out today I thought for sure he was going to come talk to you about it. And I was right. Of course he could talk to you. I'm sorry Jackson you can always talk to me too you know?"
I nodded and Leo picked back up by shoving Ben's shoulder and nearly knocking him off of the bed. "What was that nonsense about being cursed?"
"I was serious about that. Listen, I got my words when I was 16 and Mom and Dad's plane crashed that summer. You got your words when you were 15 and that's when that truck hit Pop's car. You moved out right after Jackson got his words and I was so terrified that something was going to happen to one of us. Thank God nothing has."
"What does that have to do with what we were talking about?" Leo didn't seem too pleased to have such painful memories brought up.
"Look I know you don't like Tammy and I love her, I do, but not the way I did. We are the faces of the Vandergard company, so we stay together and she's great at what she does for the company, but it's honestly just a political marriage at this point. We don't have feelings for each other anymore. I think you and me are doomed to be unhappy with our soulmates."
"Jesus, Ben." Leo grabbed his hand and squeezed it to comfort him. Then he looked at me.
"But Tammy, Lee, and I are all safe even though you've had your words for 2 years. I'm sure if we are cursed, it's skipping over you. You and your soulmate, whoever he is, are going to be the happiest pair, I promise." Ben hugged me super tight and though I was surprised I returned it.
"I'll try to pay more attention from now on too. If you need anything let me know." He stood up and kissed the to of my head, "I'm going to head back before Tammy starts to panic, but know that I love you Jackson. I wouldn't trade you for the world, so I want you to know that you can talk to me about anything. Okay?"
"Call me if you need anything. Love you both, bye."
Leo and I both said goodbye and then we hung out, just like we did any other summer.
It was important that my family knew that I was gay, but I still never talked to my mom about it. We were just never that close so I tolerated her talk of my beautiful college soulmate until the summer before I started high school. I was supposed to go to the same private school that both my parents went to, but something awful happened to Leo that summer. I don't feel like I should talk about it right now, but in the end Ben and I decided that it would be best if I moved in with her and I transferred to a public high school much closer by.
I used to be the picture perfect kid I had short, neat light brown hair and did well in school. However, while Leo was still a little unstable, she set me up with a job with this guy from the bar she works at. Gwyn is a great guy, but the fact that we call it a gang, me bleaching and spiking my hair, plus the little red streak all makes me look like a delinquent. I have piercings and I carry a cricket bat around with me, it all seems pretty bad, but I promise it's not.
Anyway I'm 18 now and in my last year of high school and I'd very much like to meet my soulmate sometime soon. Hopefully before I graduate.