Eve awoke to the warmth of sunlit stripes and a head heavy with grogginess. She blinked slowly a few times, feeling she was wearing a headache for a skull. Gradually she managed to sit up, taking some seconds to shed her disorientation. She scanned the room and concluded her survey with a chuckle. The couch on which she lay was not her own, but at least it was not strange to her. She let herself fall back on the couch and sighed a smile. Its owner likely wasn’t too thrilled with her having stumbled black-out drunk into his care for the second time this week.
She closed her eyes in an exercise of reminiscence, pulling at the threads of the frayed memories from yesterday, trying to weave a cohesive narrative from the first drink up to her loss of consciousness. Eve’s teeth clenched in reaction to the images that painfully traversed through her mind. Consecutive nights of insomnia and night terrors had persuaded Eve to seek out inappropriate sleeping aide at the nearest bar. As she drank, she began to embrace the turmoil rather than fight it. Not long after, her speech began to slur, the discomfort and paranoia surfaced, and she lashed out. During a semi-rational exchange with the bartender, she suddenly got the impression that he was mocking her. While he laughed at something she said, she chugged the rest of her beer and struck the bottle on the side of the bartender’s head. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Eve?” came out of his mouth, his hand rubbing the back of his head, eyes all disbelief. “You tell me.” Eve said before bursting into a fit of laughter that must’ve made her seem not very regretful at all.
All things considered, the outcome was a lucky one for Eve: the bottle didn’t break, there was no bleeding, and the bartender and Eve go way back. Otherwise, she probably would have met with harsher consequences than an angry and heartfelt “Out. I’m cutting you off. You can come back when you get some fucking help.” After that, Eve went and bought more liquor from a blurry place nearby, wandered and drank aimlessly, lost her keys, and vaguely recalls weeping hysterically over a trash can at some point afterwards. She surmised she had finally ceased to be after half a fifth of cheap rum, which had come after two gin and tonics, several beers, and an entire bottle of wine. Given the mnemonical censorship of alcohol, she knew that the total bill of the damage she had accomplished last night had yet to be made entirely clear to her. Eve sighed again, remaining still and blind and thinking about what a miserable creature she is.
This sort of thing had become alarmingly frequent over the past few weeks. Last night she had felt the urge to escape again. She had wanted to lose all, to unleash herself of her mortality, to stop all efforts to restrain the anxiety, the sadness, the anger, the confusion, and paranoia that prevented her sleep; consciousness kept her in a painful, impossible existence. Thinking only made everything worse. Last night it was bad. Last night she had decided she would kill herself again. This time… would she die? She wasn’t sure.
She began to visualize her suicide, her pulse quickening. She saw herself slowly sharpening her favorite knife. She would examine the edge until she thought it impeccable. She would deliberate a little with the tip to her lips, mapping the surest way to death on her wrists. The slitting would have to be quick, no vacillating traces. She’d cut both and then exhale. She could see the blood blooming and slithering scarlet. It would be just as painless as last time. But would she die?
Her cat’s meow snapped her back from her suicidal reverie and she thought maybe it’s time for a drink.
Eve had made it a habit to abuse alcohol to kidnap her psyche from the discomfort her thoughts were regularly living in. This enabled a unique capacity for chaos in her actions, but it did delay most of her suicides in the process. Up until last night she had already killed herself 12 times and it was starting to unravel something dark in her, inspiring a truly potent death wish. Last night drinking had saved her, so to speak.
And although she was by no means proud of her behavior and she wished to make amends for the trouble caused to herself and other people while negotiating with her demons, she could not find it in herself to acknowledge her actions as avoidable. She reviewed last night’s transgressions and fished for new sins. She found her conscience indifferent. Eve’s insides remained as clear and as calm as a sunbeam, although she recognized they had been possessed by some reprehensible storm just hours before. The calm of the moment outweighed the ache of the remorse. She knew she could only enjoy this numbness as a temporary reprieve. The terrible, multifaceted unease would at length re-possess her, her miseries added to, and she vaguely feared that, after some futile resistance, she would again be persuaded to act recklessly under its management. Her momentary apathy was perhaps the most dangerous symptom of her depression because it gave her an addictive respite, although she knew it would always go away. She shut her eyes and thought about trying to go back to sleep and forgetting herself again.
But finding she could not voluntarily fade her thoughts to black sober, Eve began to muster enough willpower to get off the couch. Barely succeeding, she walked to the bathroom to splash water on her face. Above the sink, a fatalistic-looking girl stared back, two eternal dark circles and parched pink lips collecting waterdrops. She dried her face and left as her feet moved independently from her thoughts. No reasoning interrupted the flow from impulse to action. Her hands started searching inside a miraculously un-lost paper bag until her hand encircled around a fifth of rum. She held up this lucky souvenir from last night’s trip to oblivion and smiled at it gleefully, envisioning a self-deprecating gesture only she would find funny. Bottle clasped behind her back, Eve made her way to Isaac’s room.
Eve’s host was dutifully there, sitting with his back to her, hunched over the keyboard of his laptop and the many papers on his great Ikea desk. Light poured in from the west-facing sliding doors that opened to a small 10th-floor balcony. “Good morning, Isaac.” procured Eve’s voice as she banged on the wall, loud and obnoxious enough to pierce through the significant barrier of his headphones. He stopped typing, took off his headphones and turned to look at Eve. He was a tall, dark-haired boy in his mid-20s, possessed of the grace of someone older. He stared at her and blinked twice. “It’s well past 3 in the afternoon, Eve.” His voice was calm, and his gaze went to the window as a prompt to witness the evidence of the afternoon. He then fixed his eyes on her and continued, “You got here in quite the state last night, sometime around 4am when I was just falling asleep. Glad you survived your most recent departure from sanity.” He smiled for a second. “You know, one of these days you’re likely to miss the round trip.” He said and placed his elbow on the back of his chair, resting his face on his slender hand, his headphones hanging around his neck. His expression was equal parts concern and reprimand.
“Eh, I don’t know. I might as well stay there and transcend this state and all its wretchedness once and for all.” Eve said cocking her head to the side and, very quickly, but almost politely, twisting the cap off the fifth and taking a hearty gulp. She offered her widest grin to his stern-faced frown at the stunt, no surprise there. Shrugging cheerfully, she threw her head back taking the last shot she knew she’d be allowed –sans the scoundrel drops that trickled down her chin– and as she wiped her lips, Eve saw Isaac moving towards her. “Enough.” He said as he took the bottle from her hand. She sighed dramatically at her loss and hugged him tightly. “Thank you for granting me asylum once again, brother mine.”
“Oh, you and your wealth of misery. Will you please stop being so charitable with it and keep it to yourself?” Isaac said, hugging her back gently.
Eve coughed. “What? You mean you won’t support a fellow philanthropist? What hypocrisy!” She crossed her arms in mock disappointment. “Why, I thought you—” “Eve, shut the fuck up and sit down.” Eve’s lips zipped up, eyes wide. Isaac was serious.
“Listen. You are going to consume coffee, water, and food and you will tell me what the hell your problem is. I usually would trust you enough to leave you to your own bullshit, but the threshold has been crossed. Your permission to leave is hereby revoked until I understand why you are ruining your life and inconveniencing mine.” Eve’s eyes sobered up and she sighed, bracing herself. “Ok.”
Eve’s and Isaac’s bond was a profound and resilient one; the connection established by their siblingship was made shatterproof by a sincere friendship co-founded since the very beginning of their interactions with each other, as is not the norm. Eve was the eldest by 3 years, but both disregarded this fact completely. They had a mutual, genuine understanding and esteem for each other that often surprised their family and friends. They almost never fought, at least not in earnest. They shared a keen and complementary appreciation for words and music, which always supplied for enthusiastic conversation. And although their ideologies and philosophies were mostly aligned, they manifested themselves in such distinct and disparate characters that their compatibility was initially considered a bizarre product by their parents. Eve felt she could trust Isaac with her life; Isaac, while adoring Eve, knew better.
They walked out of Isaac’s room, crossing a narrow hall to the small kitchen where Eve sat on a stool at the counter-table and Isaac started to brew the coffee. “Look, Isaac, I have to warn you.” Eve began seriously, fingers pressing on her left temple. “I’m going through something a bit morbid and very abstract. I am still taking antidepressants, but I don’t feel they are doing anything anymore to keep me from staying in the lows and my dosage is already the highest I can take safely. I feel like something is unscrewing whatever holds my sanity in place and I feel like the infrastructure of my identity is starting to fall apart.” Isaac looked at her with a quizzical brow and asked, “You think you are going crazy?” Eve gritted her teeth and twisted her face in apprehension at that phrasing. “I can’t say it’s that. My sanity isn’t vanishing, it’s just changing form in a radical way. You may think I’m being dramatic, but you see how it’s taking over me; something’s not been the same with me for a long time and it has gradually eroded a lot of the rest… I don’t know how to handle what I am discovering about myself and about what I’m perceiving as reality.” Isaac looked skeptical, obviously suspecting this was a histrionic, philosophical crisis sponsored by Eve’s oscillating existentialism and increasingly frequent abuse of a depressant, but he remained silent. Eve stared down and her voice lowered as she said, “I didn’t think so before, but now I am certain that this change started with the death of Liz.” Isaac was unfazed. “You know, I had kind of figured that, at least. Even after 3 years, I’m not surprised it still haunts you.” He spoke as he served Eve a glass of water. “Yes, of course you did.” Eve cracked a grin as she dropped her head into her palms, staring into the glass of iced water.
She drank the water and said nothing. Isaac moved on to food prep and began frying eggs. “Well? Could you describe the, um, ‘changes’ a bit more?” He finally asked, without looking at her. She scratched her head and made a face. “It’s hard to explain. You know, it’s in my thoughts, in my feelings, but I feel I can’t really explain it with language?” She said, blushing at her failure to communicate something meaningful. “Mhm, those are stoner words, Eve. Try again.” Isaac looked at her with a cocky grin.
“Oh, fuck off, I’m hungover, my life hurts, I still don’t know how much of a piece of shit I was last night, and this is something I have not tried to tell anyone about. Give me an aspirin, please, and a minute.” She said and he obliged. She drank it down with the rest of the water in her glass.
Minutes passed and Isaac served her the eggs, toast, and the coffee and sat down on the couch. “Thanks.” She ate greedily, sipping from the coffee now and then. Finally, she took a moment from shoving eggs into her mouth, turned around and said “Isaac, I should have died with Liz. I should have been dead after what happened. But I’m not, I didn’t. And maybe it’s because I couldn’t. Maybe it’s because I can’t die.”
Isaac’s expression is one of pure confusion. “Why do you think you should have died?” He asks. She scoffed and responded by grabbing her stomach. “I was eviscerated. And I felt nothing.” Eve stared blankly at her plate. Isaac nodded, “Yeah”, he shrugged and said, “But, Eve, we were all relieved to hear nothing vital was hit. Plus, you know shock is prone to numbing you in extreme circumstances.”
“Yeah, I don’t think that’s true, Isaac.” Eve stared straight into his eyes. “I think I should have died.” Isaac shrugged. “Well, I think you are being kind of silly. You’re alive because your wounds were not fatal and you managed to heal. But your immortality hypothesis doesn’t really explain why you’re booze-binging. Are you even going to your job? It’s Friday and you slept through most of the working day. Also, you lost your keys three days ago due to being shitfaced and then yesterday you lose your spare keys because, same?” Isaac’s concern was tinged with condescension. He always expected better of her. Eve blinked at him without a response and shrugged. “Maybe it’s time to go back to therapy?” He sighed.
Eve straightened herself on the stool. She wore her most serious expression. “Isaac. Nobody knows this. But when I got depressed after the accident and my recovery, I tried to kill myself.” Isaac was shocked and opened his mouth in response, but then decided to let her keep talking. “I shot myself. With a gun I bought.” Her gaze was deadpan, fixed on his eyes. “and it didn’t hurt. And I didn’t die.”
Isaac’s mouth was open as if about to say something, but nothing came out. “Eve…” He managed. His eyes widened as he looked away. “What the fuck…” he muttered to himself, really trying to gauge the possibility of this feat. He kept silent for a minute, shock melting into a pensive expression. “Were you… Are you on drugs?” He bluntly asked. “No. I was stone-cold sober.” She paused and then, smirking, said, “And I only drink a shit-ton on the regular, but nothing illegal.”
“What… um… what did you do exactly?” he started softly; in the case that it was a strange delusion, his sister wanting to shoot herself raised all the alarms and he felt he had to tread carefully around it. “I ate a bullet.” She simply stated. Isaac drew in a sharp breath and nodded as if having gained complete understanding of Eve’s attempt. “I see. And you are evidently alive. And seemingly intact. After doing what would have killed any other human.” He said this very seriously, as if considering the possibilities, logical and otherwise. Eve continued “But that’s not all. I feel different every time I survive these… deaths.” Isaac looked at her questioningly. “I feel more less human, less put-together, like the fibers of my being have unraveled a bit more every time. My thoughts increasingly yield no sense from what I perceive. I have worse control over my impulses. I feel like I’m becoming something else. And, honestly, sometimes it is pure agony to just exist consciously. But dying is not an option out for me. I have already tried too many times.” Her eyes claimed absolute sincerity. She wanted him to understand that this was real, and that she was experiencing a unique affliction. Isaac struggled to comprehend her words, but there was little doubt in his mind of his sister’s suffering.
“How many times?” Isaac ventured and then thought better of it. He really didn’t want to know. “Actually, do not tell me. I’m really sorry you are going through this, Eve.” Isaac said, with sympathy and pity. “I’m not sure I can believe you can’t die, but I do believe you are struggling with a difficult problem. I think you should seek professional help to cope with or change these ideas, for the sake of your mental and physical health.” He delivered this counsel promptly and directly, as he preferred to communicate. Eve sighed. “Very sensible, Isaac. As expected. I just doubt the benefit of going through with it. I am feeling a little hopeless, to be honest. I honestly feel like-” and she couldn’t say it. She knew it would be cruel and he would not understand if she told him she really, truly wishes to die rather than do anything else. Eve turned to her coffee to hide her frustration at having to hold herself back.
“What do you honestly feel like?” Isaac asked after a pause. She turned to look at him, decided on a plan. “I honestly feel like I’m too alone.” She made herself sound honest and serious. This will work. She had already written the script in her head. She began performing the lie. “So maybe you are right. Maybe I can’t tell what’s real and what’s not.” She sighed. “I guess I need help.” She looked at him pitifully.
Isaac felt in his chest some relief and offered “Getting help is no problem, Eve.” He smiled encouragingly. “I really think it’s the best call.” Eve smiled back “Yes, me too.” She looked away and bit her lip. She had never lied to Isaac before. But these were extenuating circumstances; he was better off not knowing about her growing fixation with dying.
“You know, though. If I were immortal… Maybe I’d have enough time to figure out what consciousness is all about.” She shrugged.
Isaac chuckled “Eve, greater minds than yours have tried.”
Eve scoffed and sneered. She shook her head and replied: “No mind like mine has tried.”