I met Sakae my first semester freshman year at college. She was an international student, and we were both in the computer science program. We bonded over a bunch of nerdy stuff, and a two times we considered dating.
The first time was sophomore year. I asked her out, and she simple replied that she’d love to, but she couldn’t.
The next time was a year later. She began to explain that she wanted to date, but that arranged marriages were a thing in her culture and there was a guy ready to marry her when she returned after college. I promised her that if there was anything I could do to get her out of it, I would do it. I never expected her to take me up on that offer.
It was a few months after graduation. I had just started my new job, and was exhausted after an extensive code review. I went to lie down on my bed, but as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was bombarded with loud music and bright lights. I was wearing a fancy dress, and I quickly learned I was in Sakae’s body standing next to her soon-to-be husband.
It was fortunate that that the whole thing was a rehearsal and not Sakae’s actually wedding. I was able to text her to ask what was going on. She explained that she couldn’t let her parents or her culture down, but she had remembered my promise. If it was something she couldn’t do, maybe it was something I could. I didn’’t ask how she was able to switch bodies; instead, I just started to plan ways to gently tell her parents and her would-be husband to call off the wedding. I couldn’t believe I was doing this, but I knew I couldn’t break my promise to Sakae.