When Least Expected

by Elizabeth McGinn on February 11, 2021


cartoon figure holding an umbrella to protect himself from heart shaped rain
photo courtesy of pexels.com

by Taylor Rogers ’24

Cupid’s thin, heart-tipped arrow strikes my skin at approximately 10:00 a.m., attacking me while I was suffering through yet another pointless Zoom call. The sneaky little bastard hit me when I was most vulnerable, as he knew I could not defeat him in my lethargic state. Lazily, my blood falls from the wound on my forearm, staining the precious notes and drawings scattered in my notebook. Thankfully, my fellow classmates and professor are unable to see my distress, nor hear my animalistic cries as I pull the stubborn god’s arrow out of my flesh. Once the arrow is laid on my desk, I find myself drawn to the object, its white coloration one that reassures me that yes, Cupid was the one who shot me, not my roommate who’s been reading The Hunger Games a little too much lately. This sacred arrow has an intricate scrawl lazily written along its base, the Latin impossible for me to understand. Thankfully, Google Translate exists, and I type the words into the search engine, eyes widening at the words’ meaning. “Love will come when unexpected?” I ask myself, too stubborn to attempt to comprehend this confusing meaning. 

The words from the “divine” creature stick in my mind all day, causing me to ponder whether my potential soulmate is currently watching me while I walk around my campus, the snow below my feet making this task difficult to accomplish. His words plague my inner thoughts as I do my laundry, and I can’t help but glance around the empty laundry room, hoping my lover is here at the same time I am. I peek around every corner whenever I walk, hoping to see a pair of eyes that will make butterflies burst from my stomach or a smile that forces gibberish to fall from my chapped lips. As I diligently stare at the words on the paper, I can’t help but glance up from my notes, wondering if my soulmate opted to study in the nearly desolate library as well.  

“What’d you do to your arm?” my roommate inquires as I enter our shared space, their indie music blasting from the tiny blue speaker neither of us could fathom living without. 

“Got shot by Cupid’s arrow,” I bluntly respond, my words causing them to laugh. I take a seat in my precious blue bean bag, then gesture for my roommate to talk, since they most definitely have something to say about my “joke.” 

“What are you, stuck in your Roman mythology phase again? That stuff doesn’t happen in real life,” the stubborn human elects to respond, and I decide not to press him on the whole “soulmate” concept that’s been playing tennis with the other thoughts invading my mind all day. 

“Neither do zombie apocalypses, yet that doesn’t stop you from keeping an apocalypse survival kit stashed under your bed,” I point out, causing them to go silent. They select a new song to listen to. Eerily calm music streams through our plant-filled habitation while we begin slowly reviewing homework for the Zoom classes (for which we happen to pay $60,000). Silence fills the room, then my easily distracted roommate points to something on my desk. “Someone left that for you, by the way.” Curious, I rise from the beanbag, and walk over to the desk, immediately grabbing the small note. The complex calligraphy on this scroll is instantly recognizable, and I grin at the words written. Is this what Cupid meant by unexpected? “I’m gonna go talk to the person who left this for me, I’ll be back,” I assure my roommate, who seems to be too focused on the newest episode of The Walking Dead to pay attention to me. In seconds, I have made it to the elevator, ready to meet the person I’m destined to love forever.  

“Shoot, maybe I just got Rick-rolled,” I realize as the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” blasts from somebody’s dorm room above me. Despite what the note claimed, not a single person is under the biggest oak tree on campus, nor are there any hints of a person in a giant, red hoodie. “I knew this was too good to be true. I guess I was expecting the person to actually show up, which went against what my arrow said anyways,” I say aloud, not caring if anybody spots me talking to myself. As I stand outside, Mother Nature playfully opens the clouds above me, small droplets of snow beginning to litter the ground around me. Cursing, I decide that today isn’t the day I want to get hypothermia, and I begin the brief walk back to my dorm. Each step feels wrong, as if Cupid’s bow is using me as an arrow, slowly drawing me back to the tree where nobody awaits me. However, I resist the tree’s strange pull, my efforts to get away causing me to bump into somebody.  

I expect the heavens to halt, for the snow to suddenly stop falling, but nothing happens. Why did I think the person I collided into was going to be my soulmate? “Sorry,” I curtly say to the person, making eye contact with them briefly. Nothing happens, and I quickly look away from the person, who nods before continuing on their journey. I do the same, still wondering when Cupid’s going to magically work his magic and show me who I’m meant to be with for the rest of my life. The snow around me continues to fall, seeping into my blue, oversized hoodie that adorns my small frame. Yet, for the first time in a while, the cold air doesn’t wrap around me like a blanket. Instead, the snow seems to warm my cool figure, and I glance up at the calm, gray sky above me. As if giving me a thumbs-up of approval, the clouds stop sending snow at me for a second, then continues its merciless storm yet again. 

Instead of returning to my dorm, I decide to wander around my campus, the divine above granting me warmth as I rediscover the school I fell in love with the first time I toured it. Snow artfully falls onto the buildings, dancing to its own music as I begin to do a dance of my own, skipping on the sidewalk and admiring the “gloomy” day nature has presented to me. The blue fades to black as my day goes away, and the rainbow of LED lights streaming from dorm windows begins to light my way down the twist and turns of the sidewalk, making me wonder if my soulmate truly is a person. With a smile on my face, I decide to slowly head back to my dorm, not wanting to leave the comforting embrace of the world around me. Snow joins me on the walk down the path, and I know this won’t be the last time I fall in love with Earth’s wonderful gifts. I find myself cured of the soulmate dilemma that threatened to destroy me earlier.






2 thoughts on “When Least Expected

  1. What a wonderful short piece. You captured my mind after the first sentence. Looking for more from you soon and throughout the future

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