- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)
- Castle in the Sky (1986)
- Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
- My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
- Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)
- Only Yesterday (1991)
- Porco Rosso (1992)
- Pom Poko (1994)
- Whisper of the Heart (1995)
- Princess Mononoke (1997)
- My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999)
- Spirited Away (2001)
- The Cat Returns (2002)
- Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
- Tales from Earthsea (2006)
- Ponyo (2008)
- The Secret World of Arrietty (2010)
- From Up On Poppy Hill (2011)
“If a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate, would you want to know?”
One minute, 37 seconds.
My legs are shaking. Holy cow, there is no way I can do this. None.
One minute, 29 secods.
I glance around at the faces surrounding the room. Of course my Meeting would take place in the gross, overcrowded cafeteria.
One minute, six seconds.
Somewhere within these four walls, someone has the exact same countdown on their wrist. They’re going through the exact same pressure as me.
Mom said I should be excited, not nervous. Yet I still find myself wiping my sweaty palms on my dress. I can’t believe she talked me into wearing a dress. I mean, shouldn’t my Soul Mate meet me as I normally am? All plain jeans, blah shirts, and wild brown curls?
Something deep within me tells me to stand up. I do, drawing the attention of my tablemates. They all know too. They smile encouragingly up at me. I chew my lip nervously.
That same feeling pulls me towards the center of the room. My stomach drops away from me as I take a step in that direction.
I continue in that direction. With each step the tempo of my heart picks up.
17. More rapid.
16. It’s racing.
Oh my god this is it. The moment my life changes forever.
My eyes search frantically around the cafeteria, searching for someone who looks as nervous as me. For someone who’s heading towards their future with no sense of direction like me.
The feeling directs me slightly to the left. I turn to accomodate.
5. My heart has given up entirely.
4. I stop walking.
3. Just waiting left.
2. Everything is about to change.
1. Deep breath.
0000 d 00 h 00 m 00 s
Someone bumps my shoulder. I twirl around and my gray eyes meet blue, blue ones.
“Hello there, love. It appears as though we’re Soul Mates then, eh?”
As my words fail me, the only thing I can think is “I’m so glad I shaved this morning.”
I’m sitting outside a cafe when it happens, sipping some cheap drink, pretending to enjoy the sunshine. The counter runs to zero, and there is an audible click, the tab deactivates, falls off. The clink of polyurethane to cobblestone floor is echoed a few feet ahead of me. I shake a proffed hand, look up at a disdainful face.
“This is all I get?”
It’s just a couple more weeks, now. I’ve been watching closely as the numbers tick steadily down. Just a couple more weeks, I keep telling myself. Out of my group of friends, I’m on what they like to call the “fast track,” people whose numbers start much lower than others.
Two weeks, six days, fifteen hours. The clock keeps ticking. Two weeks, one day, four hours.
The days are getting so close now I’m pretty sure my uncontrollable excitement is starting to seriously annoy everyone around me. My friends tease me incessantly about who they imagine my soul mate will be. Tall, short, fat, dimples, nail biter, foot tapper.
At one week, three days, and seven hours, the clock stops.
Instead of a soul mate I get condolences, a therapist, and a broken clock.