Teresa pulls her lips back from my forehead and locks her gaze on mine.
“Ever thought that maybe the reason why your progression is so slow lies in your attitude?” I tense, surprised by her question.
“What does that have to do with the Karma points I get for my reincarnations?” A soul doesn’t build up any Karma unless it works insane hours of community service. “My mood has nothing to do with it.”
“Are you sure?” She straightens and inspects me up and down. “You bailed out on your first life because things didn’t go your way. And now you’re angry all the time because things don’t go your way. See a pattern?”
I roll my eyes. Teresa’s creativity expresses itself by finding new ways to tease me. Sometimes I laugh it off. Other times the process bothers me but a little patience allows it to pass.
“I’m uncooperative because I don’t like to be enslaved by stupid red tape.” I vent. “I suffered every doomed life they forced onto me to pay for a mistake I couldn’t have avoided!” I carefully regain control of my tone. I don’t want to make a show of myself nor suffer a Karma penalty for misconduct. I hope my insult to Z will remain off my record.
“You can’t control everything. So you’re having a hard time. Crap isn’t cake for anyone. Suck it up and push toward something better.”
The harshness of her tone bugs me. I push her arms off my shoulder and stand.
“What is this about?”
“It’s an intervention, Dave. I’m sick of watching you scuff your way up the Karma ladder and whine at every sorry excuse for a step.”
I want to snap at her. That could spin out of control really fast. Z already primed me for an outburst. I walk away instead. I don’t know what got into her today but I won’t let it blemish my record. I head back indoor. Unfortunately, she follows me through the halls. She even pushes my door open when I enter my room. Damned be the absence of locks!
“Teresa, I’d rather not argue with you.”
“Me neither.” She squares herself in front of the door, trapping me inside my room. “I hoped coming close to zero would knock some sense into you but apparently, nothing does.”
“Again, what is this about?” My tone rises by a few notches. I don’t like where this is going. I really can’t afford some weird soul PMS to retrieve Karma from my bank.
“It’s about you being so busy obsessing over the injustice of your suicide you hardly evolve with each life.” She yells. My counselor commented on that once too. Most people get more Karma points out of each life. I figured the discrepancy to be another punishment layered on my head.
“And why do you care?” I match her tone.
“Why do I hang out with you when no one else’s does? We’re soul mates, silly.”
The weight of the revelation, along with the fierceness in her voice, knocks me down on my bed. I suddenly see her demeanor in a whole new light.
“You can’t become an angel without me.” I murmur. Her rage automatically blows over. She sits by my side and lays her head on my shoulder. The weight of it hardly compares to the one of my responsibility in her happiness.
“I took the slowest possible reincarnation route. I thought you would catch up. But if you don’t start applying yourself to the task, I’ll be the one stuck in community service for an indefinite amount of time, waiting for you.”
She really tried everything short to arguing with me. She supported me after every death, encouraged me to reincarnate as soon as I could, and discoursed at length about how better I would feel once I pass the zero. When the carrot approach didn’t work, she nagged and teased. Today, she offered an alternative to another crappy life. A slower alternative to my evolution.
“Why didn’t you tell me before?” I hug her sideways. I feel weird; I care for her but I can’t love her. My feelings won’t change before I even out my Karma. Stupid Limbo rules. I forcibly turn off the rekindled anger. I’ll need some training to keep the rage from distracting me.
“It might be a stupid girly thing but telling you I’m your dream girl really isn’t as pleasant as having you find out on your own. It’s not like you can return it.” Not yet. And as soon as I redeem my damned suicide, I’ll probably feel like a jerk for forcing her to wait on me while I catch up with her.
Now that I know we’re soul mates, her idea of working community service sounds incredibly selfless. It spares me another cruel life until I reach zero and move on to better reincarnation choices. However, “cruel life” means “lots of Karma points”, thus speedier evolution toward angeldom.
“I’ll take the crappy life.” I whisper into her hair. “You deserve the cake.” She giggles in response.
“I could try to talk Z into letting you on his team.”
“Thanks but that would be too slow. I don’t want to give you another occasion to call me a selfish bastard.” I stand up.
“I didn’t –”
“– You thought it.” I smile. She blushes. In that moment, nothing in the world matters but being the guy her angelness deserves.
Teresa raises an eyebrow and turns her head sideways, detailing me in the most charming way.
“Dave,” she breathes, her eyes full of sparkles. “I think you got a freebie.”
I spin on my heel to see the wall behind me. An interface lights up, inviting me to choose which incarnation I want to tackle next.