"Yesterday I saved my soul!" Jenny smiled brightly as she announced her discovery to the woman across from her. As had become her custom, as much as any random circumstance that is neither planned for nor expected can become a custom, she was having tea with a friend. Jenny wasn't sure when they'd become friends, but she knew that they most certainly were, and that it was very nice to have a friend in the great big vastness of space.
Sometimes, though, her friend could be a bit condescending. She knew condescension, and how to recognize it, from her dad. Jenny's friend sometimes reminded her of her dad. Like now, when she smiled as though Jenny had just said something absolutely precious, like a child. "Did you now?"
Jenny's bright smile faded a bit. She wasn't a child! She was ninety-five days old! "Yes. Isn't that a good thing? Haven't you saved yours?"
"What did you save it from?"
"Your soul. What did you save it from?"
Now Jenny's smile faded altogether. What had she saved it from? Damnation. That's what the woman on Peace had said. At first, Jenny had been a bit wary. To be honest, and there was no reason not to be, landing on an entire planet called Peace hadn't exactly seemed like a good idea. Jenny had come to understand and appreciate peace, but she'd never been anywhere that had so much of it that it actually named itself Peace.
So she had been a bit worried about what she would find, as she explored the planet while her ship was refueling.
What Jenny had found was a church. The Church of the Holy and Bright Name of the Saviour, in fact. She'd been asked, immediately upon stepping within earshot of the church, if she'd like to save her soul. The woman who asked seemed very nice, and had a big friendly smile and surprisingly militaristic clothing, so Jenny had stopped to ask her what she meant, exactly, by a soul, and why it needed to be saved.
"Has someone taken it hostage?"
The woman laughed and smiled, and clasped Jenny's forearm. Jenny tensed, but didn't pull away. "Are you already a member of the Church?"
Jenny shook her head.
"I only thought, because you knew of the Kidnapping of the Valiant Soul... well, would you like to learn more?"
"Someone's been kidnapped?"
The woman laughed again, and shook her head, and pulled Jenny gently inside the church.
Inside the church was where Jenny had learned all about saving her soul. "That makes sense," said Jenny, when the woman was done talking, even though she really thought that it made absolutely no sense at all, "but what's a soul?"
"What is a soul?" Jenny's friend asked her as she came to that part of the story. "And what's wrong with yours that it needs saving?"
"Well," said Jenny, leaning forward as if she was sharing a great secret. "The soul's the part of me that's me and no one else, and it was with me before I was born and it'll be with me after I've gone, and it's all my experiences and thoughts and feelings and hopes and dreams, all together, and it's very very special."
"Yes, clearly! Because if I don't lead a happy and good life, and accept the Name of the Bright Saviour, I'll lose my soul, or it'll be hurt, or..." Jenny trailed off. She wasn't exactly clear on this. She just knew that there were consequences for not saving your soul, which made a lot of sense when you came right down to it. Damnation.
"Can I ask you something Jenny?"
"Weren't you leading a happy and good life before you went to this church?"
Jenny nodded. "Yeah. It was brilliant."
"And did you have memories and feelings and hopes and dreams before yesterday?"
Now Jenny narrowed her eyes. She was beginning to see what her friend was getting at. "I did. All of those."
Jenny's friend smiled, this time not at all condescendingly, though it still managed to remind Jenny of her dad. "Sounds to me like your soul's already been saved."
"Do you really think so?" Jenny got a very thoughtful expression on her face. "I hope so."
Her friend reached across the small table, across the tea cups and tea pot, and took Jenny's arm. It was a different feeling entirely to what Jenny had felt when the woman at the church took her arm. She didn't feel that she was about to be pulled or pushed anywhere. No. Jenny felt like she was being reassured instead of confused. Like she was with a friend and not a shopgirl.
"I know so. Come on, let's finish the tea before it gets cold. You hate cold tea."
That was true. She did.
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