God, not again. How many times has it been now? I lost count after a month or so. Day in, day out, the same thing. I would wake up next to the bed, my legs barely able to hold me up. I would collapse into the hospital cot and call for a nurse. They would rush in and hook me up, check my vital signs, work to keep me breathing. They were good at their jobs, experts at keeping me alive just a few minutes more, then another shot of meds and it was hours, sometimes days. I had just gotten lucky. Somehow I had gone two full days without my heart stopping or my lungs collapsing, two full days that I got to live every second of, albeit slipping in and out of consciousness. Two entire days was a miracle, almost– sometimes death would take me just an hour after the midnight mark. Those days were a curse, but a blessing in their own way. Sure, I lost a whole day of life, but I also got to skip a whole day of suffering and overall patheticness. You take some, you lose some, I guess.

And it wasn’t like this was some kind of hex put on me by an angry wizard or something. I had asked for this!

Back in my first year of college, when I was still vulnerable and scared of what comes after death, I had become acquainted with some…very unique people, you could say. I had only kind of believed it when a girl I barely knew offered to ‘make me immortal’ and handed me a little pink pill. “What is this?” I had asked. I wasn’t refusing it, exactly, but I had learned by now to always know what I was putting into my body.

“Have you ever felt like nothing could ever stop you? Like if no matter what happened to you, you could always bounce back and be okay?” I replied that I hadn’t, actually, and that sounded pretty good to me, so I swallowed the pill. As I was leaving the party later that night I went up to her again. “What was that pill supposed to do? I didn’t feel a thing.”

She smiled at me. “You’ll see.”

I had more or less forgotten about that night, just another one of the endless disappointing parties I had been to.

Then, years later. I had been out drinking all night. I didn’t have a ride, and my house was only a few minutes away. So I drove. Stupid, I know. I can’t say exactly how it happened, but all I can remember are bright headlights and the screeching of tires. Then waking up at home. I freaked out. I knew I had been in an accident, I was hungover, my car wasn’t even in the driveway. Why was I at home now?

Then there was a knock on the door. In my crazed state I wanted to just yell at whoever it was to go away, but I tried to maintain some politeness. I opened the door. Standing there was a blonde girl in shorts and a bright neon tank top. “Remember me?”

I stared at her blankly. She looked vaguely familiar, but I had no idea who she was. “Little pink pill?”

The memory was hazy, but her face was familiar. “What are you doing here?” I asked.

She smiled almost condescendingly, as if she knew something I didn’t. “I saw on the news there had been a bad car accident right near here, but the driver was nowhere to be found. The ambulance guys figured the body had just been smashed to nothing because of the impact of the accident, but there was nothing there. Then I thought of you.”

This girl was obviously insane. I wanted to slam the door shut in her face, but she turned to leave. “Every time you die,” she shouted over her shoulder as she walked away, “you’ll just wake up on your bed the next day. Like a checkpoint in a video game. Your body will just go back to how it was the last time you woke up. I know you won’t believe me just yet, but one day you will. Trust me, I took the pill too.” 

She lingered for a moment. “Oh, and you should know…it wears off once you turn 80. So get your extreme sports career out of the way before that, I guess.”

My little trip down memory lane was interrupted by a nurse coming in to check on me. “You have visitors coming in just a few minutes,” she informed me.

Sure enough my family walked in a few minutes later, birthday cake and balloons in hand. 

“Happy birthday!” they shouted.

I smiled warmly- I had nearly forgotten. Today was my twenty-fourth birthday. I should’ve been out partying today, or having dinner with my family. Anything but laying in a hospital bed all wired up and dying of stage 4 lung cancer.

And I really do mean dying of cancer- present tense, not about to die or going to die or anything. Because it just keeps happening, almost every day, my body can’t take the cancer anymore and my heart rate drops to 0 and then I get to wake up the next day and do it all over again.

56 years to go.

By Jennifer Houley


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