The Captain was a special case. I had been talking to them online for years and we were fairly close. I wanted to meet up and learn their story, so one weekend the two of us met at the beach.
"It's a guy day today," he informed me as we hugged. He was genderfluid which was confusing for me at first, but he was patient until I learned to get the hang of the pronouns and the change of days. Until I knew what day it was the pronouns were always them/their.
We had jokingly came up with the nickname "The Captain" when I was still slipping up, to help me remember. After that it had just stuck and it would be weird to call him anything else.
We sat down in the sand as we talked, me sipping my water, him lighting a cigarette.
"It was the most beautiful day of my life when I met her." He began. "I was struggling, coming to terms with living on my own and not.. not having a family. Although I guess if you can lose a family they never were there at all. I don't know." He took a drag.
"I was shopping, trying to get the knack of buying nutritional foods instead of, say, five tonnes of pasta and a packet of poptarts. I had taken a recipe my friend had given me to help me find the ingredients. His handwriting was awful."
"Anyway, she saw me squinting at the unintelligible scrawl in front of me and asked if I needed any help." He chuckled quietly to himself and flicked the ash off the end of his fag. "She hasn't stopped helping me since."
"Do you think she knows?" I ask.
"That I love her? No. I doubt the thought even crossed her mind. That's okay though. I just want her to be happy."
He looks down lovingly at his wrist and strokes the ticking numbers as if he is wiping down the seconds.
We spend the rest of the day talking about other things but I can't help but remember the look of contentment on his face when he thought of her. I mean, he wouldn't know if she was truly his soulmate until she died and by then it would be too late.
He didn't seem bothered though. He was happy to just focus on the now. He would cross those other bridges when he came to them.