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Thompson Residence, Palm Springs, California, USA
April 7, 2025
Night (~11:00 PM)
“They sell happiness now?” Clifford asks while changing the channel. “Wouldn’t be surprised if they will start charging for every mental breakdown.” Evelyn laughs a bit and tells him, “They are always in it for the money. I highly doubt those pills do shit.” Clifford snickers and gets up from the couch to get a glass of water. Clifford replies, “It’s ok, we are in our 30s, and we are sizzling and sunny. We will never need those pills.” Evelyn laughs. She turns around, leans herself over the vivid orange couch, and asks him, “What do you want to watch?” Clifford takes his glass of water and walks over to the sofa. He replies, “You can choose what you want to watch babe.” as he sits on the couch. Evelyn chooses to put on an episode from a random sitcom. Clifford tells Evelyn, “I’m going to head up to bed. You’ll follow?” Evelyn nods and Clifford kisses her on the cheek. He plays with her blonde wavy hair.
“You love me?”
He smiles, gets up and walks to their bedroom. Evelyn watches him walk away with a smile, and continues watching her sitcom. A few minutes later, she finished the episode. She gets up, grabs the garbage lying on the coffee table, and walks to the kitchen. She waves her hand over the garbage bin and it opens up. She throws the trash away, and waves at it again to close. She walks to the dishwasher and empties it, listening to the music that plays when the credits roll. Then she hears an abrupt stop, and she hears a familiar voice coming from the TV. She turns around and realises it’s the same commercial as before.
She turns back and empties the dishwasher, and listens to the TV commercial when she hears that Elysium is like a ‘personal utopia’. She turns around with sudden interest and curiosity and watches the TV as it shows montages of what you can feel like after taking the pill. She imagined how wonderful it would be. She daydreams a bit until reality comes back to her, and she closes the dishwasher, forgetting about that idea. A stupid idea.
Evelyn finishes up, and she turns off the TV and the lights. The words keep coming back to her. “Eternal Happiness”. Evelyn tries to ignore it, but it only increases her curiosity. She goes on her laptop on the couch and searches it on the web. She doesn’t find too many personal reviews. She starts to think that it’s harder to be eligible for these pills. She only found one review online, saying that it was nothing like you would expect. She wasn’t exactly sure what this person meant, which made her interested even more.
She was scrolling and scrolling, trying to find at least one other comment until she realized it was midnight. She starts thinking to herself, “What is with me today? Why am I so drawn to this stupid object? It probably doesn’t do anything. It is just a product solely meant to scam others.” She quickly closed her laptop, trying to get out of it. She walked away, about to prepare herself for bed.
She walks to the bathroom and opens the counter doors. She pulls out her makeup removing wipes. She didn’t have any makeup on her face. She had removed her makeup hours ago. Evelyn takes a wipe, and rubs it on the back of her left hand and upper wrist, revealing marks. Scars. She looks at them a bit and tilts her head. She throws the used makeup wipe in the trash can, and rubs her scars lightly, gazing off into her own world. She finishes removing the makeup and traces the scars.
She thinks to herself, “It’s ok. I have him. I have Clifford. He makes me happy.” She tries to convince herself that it is enough, even though deep down, she knows it is not. She knows that her marriage doesn’t fix all her problems. She leaves the bathroom, slowly going under the sheets on her side of the bed. She cleverly places her left hand underneath the pillow, hiding her scars. Clifford is already asleep. She counts back from a hundred, persisting to get her irritating thoughts out of her head. She reaches eighty-eight, and her eyes close, everything turning black.
The next morning, Evelyn wakes up to a bright joy-filled day. She hasn’t even seen how it looks outside, and she already knows today will be amazing. She smiles, and with a lot of energy, gets out of bed and opens the curtains to let in the lovely sun into her and Clifford’s room. She turns around and notices that Clifford isn’t in bed. She exits the bedroom in her pyjamas and starts smelling smoke. She panics and runs to the kitchen. “Clifford!” she screams. “Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!” Clifford exclaims. Evelyn walks into the kitchen and sees him trying to cook eggs. Eggs. Evelyn thought to herself, “There is nothing easier to cook than eggs.” Evelyn sighs in relief. She quickly runs over to the oven and helps Clifford.
“I think we need a new pan.”
“How did you manage to burn eggs? You made crepes a few days ago but you can’t fry an egg?”
“It’s more complicated than you think.”
Evelyn laughs and cleans the pan. She cracks an egg on the pan and gestures to him to come towards her. She explains, “You want to wait for the egg whites to be white, not black.” She waits until the egg is prepared and she starts taking her spatula and starts lifting the corners and edges up. She can see Clifford’s green eyes staring at her and he has a massive smile on his face. “Are you paying attention?” she asks Clifford. “Yeah, I am. Don’t worry.” She smiles a bit and flips the egg. Clifford goes and hugs her from behind. Clifford kisses her cheek and smiles. Clifford looks into her hazel eyes as he drifts off into his own little world. They sway back and forth for a little while.
Clifford lays his head on her shoulder and notices marks on her wrist. “Hey, what are those lines on you?” Evelyn is confused and then she notices what he is talking about. She gets nervous and says, “Oh those are burn marks from the edge of the pan. Surprised you don’t have any cooking burns either.” She shrugs it off and plays it cool. She quickly changes the topic.
“Oh hey, why didn’t the smoke detector go off?”
“I’m not sure. I’ll look into it when I get back from work.”
“Oh yeah, it’s 7:43 already. It’s Tuesday so you’ll be home early?”
“Yeah, I’ll be here around quarter to 8.”
“Ok. You should get ready. Don’t wanna be late.”
Clifford unwraps his hands around her and kisses her cheek. Evelyn smiles and continues cooking their eggs. Clifford walks to the bedroom to get changed. Evelyn whispers to herself, “That was a close one.” She finishes cooking the eggs and puts them on Clifford’s plate. Clifford walks out of the bedroom with a suit on, ready to go. Clifford quickly eats the eggs and thanks Evelyn. Evelyn pats Clifford’s brown hair like a dog. He quickly reviews his documents for his trial today. Clifford has a big case to defend against. He asks Evelyn, “What about you? What are you eating?” He is caring in that way. Evelyn responds, “Oh I know, I will be eating a bit later. Thank you for asking.” Clifford kisses her goodbye and exits the house.
She turns off the oven and tidies up the kitchen. She says to herself, “You don’t need to eat, food doesn’t control you.” She takes a deep breath and goes towards the bathroom. She opens up the mirror, revealing a cabinet, and sticks her hand to the back. She reaches for something, and quickly pulls out two pill bottles labelled “ANTI-DEPRESSANTS” and “ANTI-PSYCHOTICS”. She opens both bottles and takes one capsule from each one. Inside each bottle is an array of different mood stabilisers. A spectrum of medications. She throws the two pills in her mouth and swallows them effortlessly. She takes a plastic cup, fills it with water and drinks it. She throws the cup in the trash and goes to the bedroom.
Evelyn changes into a simple outfit. A white crew neck and some light jeans. She is ready to go. She grabs her wallet, her house keys, and her purse and she is out of the door. Today, she plans to go shopping at the mall. A day all to herself. She is going to have fun and buy what she wants. Good thing her boss gave everyone a week off. Her boss made a big sale and got a ton of money. She leaves the house and remembers. Clifford took the car to work today. She says to herself, “I guess I’m taking the city bus to the mall.” She walks over to the bus stop and waits for the bus. She checks her phone for what time the bus is coming. She reads the schedule and sees that it says 8:46 AM. Two more minutes to go until it arrives.
She looks out into the distance and hums a tune. The tune is familiar. She can’t remember where she heard it. She continues humming it and she sees the bus in the corner of her eye, almost at her stop. The bus arrives and pulls over. The yellow-framed window doors open up and she steps inside. She opens her purse and grabs her city bus card. She taps it against the machine, smiles at the bus driver and goes to sit down. She continues humming the sound as she looks up at the ceiling at the advertisements plastered onto the surfaces. She glances at them and sees a familiar promotion. It is the Elysium Pill. She then realises that she has been humming the tune of the commercial she saw yesterday. It’s like a parasite. Following her everywhere.
Evelyn stares at the vivid colours and shapes on the poster. She analyses them. She thinks, “They are so symmetrical so… synchronised.” She continues acknowledging it and the more she looks at the shapes, the more they move. The lines are drawn hexagonally, in a pattern, switching and rotating. Warping, glitching and distorting. Her vision starts to become black but her eyes are still open. She starts to hear a calming male voice saying, “Drift off and let go.” She starts to see colours and her world is turning. Once she starts drifting off into the void she sees in the distance– *Bing*. She hears the city bus stop sound play after someone pulled the yellow string. She notices her stop is coming up. She grabs her purse, collects her items and pulls the yellow string to notify the bus driver.
Evelyn waits for the bus to stop and she gets off. She walks toward the entrance of the mall. Evelyn thinks to herself, “That was so weird.” She assumes it was just her imagination and her zoning out. She gets inside the mall and immediately goes towards the stores inside. She windows shops for a few minutes and starts seeing the same colours and shapes around her again. She thinks it is just the aftermath of staring at the bright poster for too long. She tries to act like it doesn’t affect her, but it just keeps getting worse.
Evelyn runs to a skincare store, the closest one nearby, and runs to the washroom inside. She goes toward the sink and holds onto the counter. She tries to keep her balance. She takes deep breaths and attempts to maintain her vision. Her world is shifting into a hexagonal pattern, like the ones she saw on the city bus. She begins to lose her mind and her vision starts to be lost. She looks into the mirror and sees herself but her reflection is smiling at her. Not in a creepy way. Her reflection is smiling as if her life is truly happy. Evelyn takes deep breaths and continues to watch her smiling and swaying around as if she is happy. She watches as her vision starts changing.
As her reflection walks around, the bathroom starts shifting and transforms into a field of flowers. Evelyn watches as her reflection skips around in the field of flowers, her hair and dress waving with the wind. Her reflection starts walking away, and Evelyn follows her. Her reflection stops and picks up a flower. The flower is different from the others in this vast field. She lifts it as the sunlight washes over the flower. She smells it and holds the flower against her chest. She walks towards her to take a closer look at the flower. It is a fuchsia chrysanthemum. Clifford gave her those flowers on their first date. The chrysanthemums were also the centrepieces at their wedding. Evelyn starts smiling and a joyful tear falls down her face. She looks at her reflection and they join hands. Evelyn and her reflection merge into one. Evelyn bends down and reaches for the chrysanthemum, and– “Amanda? Amanda, can you hear me?”
Evelyn wakes up and notices herself in a hospital bed in hospital clothes, lying down with an IV in her arm. She sees the doctor in her room and sits upright. The doctor asks her, “Amanda, can you please tell me what happened in the bathroom?” Evelyn, still disoriented, replies, “Why do you keep calling me Amanda?”
“Well, after you collapsed in the bathroom–”
“Yes, someone saw you zoned out, looking in the mirror, and then you collapsed on the floor.”
“Oh my god.”
“But when the paramedics came and brought you here, they checked your purse and they found a health insurance card for Amanda Winters. Is that not your name?”
Evelyn, quickly snapping back to normal, very quickly responds, “Yes, yes, that is my name. I forgot for a second.” The doctor looks at her hesitantly, presuming that this accident could have led to much worse conditions. He asks her, “Is it ok if we run a few more tests?” Evelyn nodded her head tentatively. The doctor guides her way to the PET scan room. She goes to the table and the doctor turns on the machine. The table starts to convey toward the main device, and Evelyn is starting to get a bit nauseous. She takes deep breaths and starts to calm down, as the laser starts scanning her.
The scan finishes, and Evelyn sighs in relief. The table starts to convey, and she gets off. Evelyn follows the doctor and gets a glimpse of her scans. She is brought into her room, and the doctor puts the scans on the lightbox. He reads it over and tells Evelyn what happened.
“You experienced a high to moderate psychotic episode, due to severe hemispheric synchronisation.
“Yes, hemispheric synchronisation is when you see certain visualisations or hear noises, and it creates a link between the two hemispheres of your brain. Except, in this case, an incident occurred in your mind and started a psychotic episode. Did you hallucinate or see anything?”
“I saw a field of flowers, nothing too bad.”
The doctor flips through her medical file.
“You have had psychotic episodes before, right Amanda?”
“Y-yes, a few years back. I haven’t experienced them much now.”
“Yes I see, are you still taking your prescribed pills?”
“Yes, I am. Every night.”
“Okay then. I will be able to discharge you today. It was a minor episode, and the pills already prescribed will cover any possible future episodes. You are free to go. Have a good day.”
“Okay, thank you very much, you too.”
The doctor leaves the room. Evelyn takes her clothes into the room and goes to the bathroom to change out of her hospital gown. She leaves the hospital and opens her purse. She takes out the insurance card, with the name Amanda Winters on it. She flips it over and looks at the small counterfeit ID symbol. She thinks to herself, “Thank God they didn’t find my real ID. Wouldn’t want my medical history to show up on Clifford’s insurance too.”
Evelyn walks to the nearest bus stop and waits for the city bus to arrive. She gets on board and sits at the very back. She watches outside the window, and a few stops after, she pulls the yellow string. The bus stops in a plaza nearby. She gets off and starts walking toward the superstore. She enters the store and looks at the directory. She traces the map with her finger, trying to find the one department she is looking for. She finds it, taps it twice and starts walking. She goes past every aisle in the store, and she finally makes it to the area she was looking for in the very back. She enters the line and waits for a few seconds. It is finally her turn, and she walks up to the counter. The lady at the reception asks her, “Hello, welcome to CPA Pharmaceuticals, how may I help you?” Evelyn looks at her and says, “Hello ma’am, I was wondering, am I eligible for the Elysium Pill?”
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