Chapter 1:

eh, sure, whatever.

eh, sure, whatever.

It’s going to be a beautiful summer day, or so they say. To me, it looks too hot, too humid, too noisy. My ears are buzzing, even as I lie on my bed. I should get up. My life feels out of sync with the planet spinning beneath me, ticking away like a malfunctioning clock.
“Eh, whatever.”
I sigh. My breakfast is bland, the room just tidy enough to keep me from tripping, and then I’m out the door.
Another day, the same as the last. Even as the seasons change, my days remain the same. It should be boring, but it’s whatever. Not worth a frown or a laugh.

“Do you want to eat lunch with us?”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
That way, you’ll at least stop bothering me.

“Can you stay a little longer today?”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
It’s not like I have any other plans today.

“Don’t forget to...”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
The corners of my mouth twist up with every word I say, and that is enough.
But really, what does any of this have to do with me?

The desire to live.
The desire to die.
Frankly, I couldn’t care less.
It’s time to go home.

“Wanna play a round?”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
It’s a good enough way to pass the time.

“We haven’t seen each other for so long! Let’s talk soon!”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
We’ll disappear from each other’s lives again soon enough.

“Hi! How are you...”
“Eh, sure, whatever.”
I would rather just be on my phone than do anything else, but refusing people is too much work. Finally, the sun sets, and the world turns gray.

When I look into the mirror, I don’t see my face.
She stares back at me, just like she did back when I was young. I was alone, until I wasn’t. Crouched in the bushes next to me, she sat there, casting no shadow.
“My older brothers never play with me,” she said.
That wasn’t my problem. I never liked playing anyway.
“You’re like me.”
Her yellow eyes stared at me.
“Do you want to be my friend?”
I shrugged.
“Sure, we can be friends.”
She smiled, the corners of her mouth barely lifting.

As we grew up, I gave her a name: Apatheia. Ignored by both Eros and Thanatos, I was all she had. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Now, I cast two shadows in this monochrome world. It’s fine; at least I’m not all alone. But sometimes I feel like a fish drifting down the river, its belly warmed by the sun.

I don’t think I’ve ever desired anything in my life. To live, to die – it’s all a bother. I want to sleep, and wake up, and then...
I don’t know. And I’m not in the mood to give it more thought.
Eh, sure, whatever. I’ll keep going, one way or another.

The music blares in my ears, as I squint down at my drink. I don’t know how I got here. Does it really matter? The party’s going on, and it’s too crowded, and the playlist sucks. Everyone is dancing, jumping, laughing. I’m the only one who doesn’t seem to catch the fever. A gray blob in the middle of a multi-colored collage. But who cares about that? I nod my head in tune to the music, and that’s enough. It’s fine. It’s whatever.

We meet for the first time that night. As I look up, your eyes are a dull brown, and yet sparkling with the life of the party.
You don’t wait for me to say anything, but instead, you grab my hand.
“Wanna get out of here?”
“Eh, sure, what-”
“Where are we going?”
You look at me with expectant eyes, and I shrink under your grin.
“I don’t know?”
You intertwine our fingers.
“Well, where does your heart want to go?”
“I don’t know.”
I only see your eyes, as I drift slowly into the night, anchored to you.
“Then let’s find out.” You squeeze my hand. “I’ll follow you.”
We just stand there, the breeze picking up. I can still hear the tune of the party. Is it too late to go back?
But my feet move down the street, until we leave the houses behind us. We walk until my feet hurt, and end up in a small park. The fireflies flutter around us, and you look at them in wonder. I stare at you as you turn, and my hand won’t let go of yours.
Is this what desire feels like?
I’m not sure. Apatheia doesn’t answer me. But whatever I’m feeling, whatever is silently wrenching my gut, hasn’t been there before. I stop and stare, until your gaze meets mine. Under the orange-red streetlights, I see the two of us casting four shadows.
“Thank you,” you say.
I smile back at you with my whole face. What an odd sensation.

The first color I truly see is the blue hue of your midnight hair, and then, the soft pink of your hair tie. It’s the same hair tie I use to try out hairstyles for myself, with Apatheia hiding in the droplets of the fogged mirror. Little by little, I fill my heart with all these treasures, soft hues and delicate melodies.

The purr of your black cat on the couch.
The pitter-patter dance of the rain against my window.
Your soft breathing beside me.

eh, sure, whatever.

Nika Zimt