P and M jumped in and out of bodies. They preferred good-looking 20-somethings, with interesting jobs. Considerable time was spent observing potentials before attaching.
They would usually leave by the mid-30s. P liked having many sexual partners. M preferred to enter into one or two serious relationships. They would often switch sexes. The only rule was they couldn’t be intimate with each other.
P and M were coming to the end of this particular Arc. The friends had careers, marriages, kids. It was time to leave.
They were following a new group. It was six friends: three male, three female. P was attracted to Zack, an investment banker. M was attracted to Zoey, an aspiring actress.
The friends frequented a bar called the Spire. There they would drink and discuss their misadventures. P and M had to wait for their potentials to be drunk before attaching.
It was a raucous night. The friends were quarreling. Jack and James got into a fistfight. Vera and Jill made each other cry. Zack and Zoey hooked up.
But P and M were still determined to attach despite events.
They woke up in the bed next to each other. Zoey went to kiss Zack. But M stopped her. Zack looked at Zoey, “I lo—” P stopped him. Usually P and M didn’t interfere. But the one rule was the exception.
“I need to go!” Zoey barked. She left, feeling confused and scared.
“Love you…” Zack said after she left.
It was Jack’s birthday. James hired a stripper. This made Vera upset, considering they had slept together the night before. Jill loved the idea, and came out as a lesbian.
Zack went outside to smoke. Zoey followed him, “We need to talk. Something happened three weeks ago.”
“It’s just sex, it didn’t mean anything,” Zack said.
“But it did. Zack I lo—“ M stopped her. “What the fuck is wrong with me!” She ran away.
Jill had a new girlfriend. The group hated her. James and Vera were together. Jack got fired from his job. Zack and Zoey avoided each other.
P and M needed to talk. They could only do so when their potentials were drunk and alone. They got their chance late New Year’s Eve.
“I feel bad,” M said. “I think they love each other.”
“You know the rule,” P said.
“But don’t you think it’s cruel what we’re doing? We’re passengers. We’re not supposed to steer.”
“There’s millions of people to choose from. Why should they settle for each other?”
“What if it’s true love,” M said.
“I don’t know. We’ve never been intimate.”
“But haven’t you thought about it?”
“I suppose so. But the rule is there for a reason,” P said.
“Let’s make an exception, for this one Arc.”
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” P said.
James and Vera broke up. Jack got a new job, as a foot model. Jill was now bisexual, and looking for a threesome. Zack and Zoey were in love. The friends got plastered for Valentine’s Day.
“We need to talk,” P said. “I don’t like this arrangement.”
“I think it’s wonderful! I’ve never been in love like this,” M said.
“You know this isn’t my style. I’m not monogamous like you. And it feels weird with you there,” P said.
“P, I think I love you.”
“I knew this would happen!”
James’ mother was in town. Jack hit on her. Vera had a new puppy. Jill was back to guys. Zack and Zoey were planning on getting married.
The wedding was two months away. Vera and Jill were joint maids of honor. Zack chose his asshole brother as best man to keep the peace between Jack and James. Zoey found the perfect dress.
A week before the wedding, Zack cheated on Zoey with a coworker. He confessed to her.
Zoey looked down. “How could you do it? I thought we had true love. Something unbreakable.”
Zack cried, “I don’t know how it happened. Something came over me. It wasn’t me. You have to believe me.”
“I don’t ever want to see you again!” Zoey yelled. “You hear me. Never.”
M looked through Zoey’s eyes with hate, “How could you, P!”
“What, who is P?” Zack frantically asked.
Zoey started crying hysterically, “I don’t know.”
P and M split up after a thousand years.
Nicholas Schroeder is a philosopher, living in New Orleans, who enjoys writing flash fiction with a philosophical bent.