You know that story, about the red string of fate? The invisible red ribbon that ties us to our soulmates, the one that’s looped around our pinkies and sits there, out of sight but always in mind? Well, I don’t believe in it. No, you see our story of fate isn’t a red ribbon, or string, or even twine—it’s a red pen. It was that day in tenth grade, sitting in a stifling hot classroom, white sheets of paper being passed around as students who hated to admit their summers were over murmured about the lake, their flings, middle school, and starting new. As Mr. Chadsey greeted us with his elated voice and even brighter smile, a panic struck me as I looked at my paper, no writing utensil in sight. Maybe it was the nerves of a new school or the excitement of seeing my peers again after so long, but the thought of bringing my pencil case to the first day of school has completely slipped my mind.
And then there was you, sitting in the seat beside me. I had remembered you from leadership camp, where they stuck all 30 of our poor souls on a creepy little island adjacent to what I knew was a haunted power plant and made us “bond”. You were the guy with the cute lisp who had punched a volleyball over the net and claimed it was “your thing” (which you boldly pointed out the moment a certain Swiss exchange student copied your move to impress the cute girls around you. And no, I’m not talking about Heidi, OK. She’s irrelevant to this story and I’m still touchy about it so let’s move on). To be honest, I did know your name because I remember Eugenia mentioning it and, back then, I remembered Korean names easier than English ones. Plus you were pretty much the only Asian guy there so it was a little easy to figure out who “Kyujin” was. I was nervous because I was very sure you didn’t remember me, nor would you know my name (though I was pretty sure Chadsey had said it earlier but who knows if you were even paying attention), but sometimes you just gotta take a risk and ask for a pen. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But boy, did that risk pay off.
I remember tentatively looking at you, and in the nicest voice I could muster uttering “Umm, Kyujin, can I… borrow a pen?” You wordlessly looked at me (which, knowing you now is very uncharacteristic of you so… please explain), looked at your pen, and placed it down beside me. Red. It was a red pen which, though unexpected, is where our fate began. Not a chance encounter, or a string that binds us. It was a red pen. Funny that you, a Korean, would give me a red pen to sign my name in but stranger things have happened. Maybe this uncharacteristic thing was the universe’s joke. It’s funny how the world works, and how our lives can become connected by a simple, out of character moment that seals the deal. So welcome to our story: the red pen of fate.