It was all over the news. They found this fountain of youth, the real deal this time. The stuff of fairy tales, suddenly infiltrating our world and becoming part of our reality. People that drank this water had actually become invincible. Studies had been done, and the power of the water was proven to be legitimate. They began to sell it in small, crystalline bottles. Million dollars a pop. At first I was skeptical, then amazed, then ecstatic. Just imagine! Never growing old! No death, wonderful, bubbling life stretched out before me; time would no longer being an issue! I could see the grand canon, party in Rio, go shopping in Tokyo, live in New Zealand for a year — why not? No longer would man or God have a say in the way I ran my life. No expiration date on existence meant no one could put an end to vivacity, adventure, beauty; wonderful, bubbling life!
These are the thoughts that led me to drop my entire inheritance and everything I was worth monetarily on my own little vial of magic water. I waited a week, which felt like a year, and it finally came. So, there I was. Sitting at my kitchen table. But… things were different. I tried to conjure my previously positive thoughts as I stared at the small bottle in front of me. It twinkled in the sunshine streaming in from the window, seeming to offer all the beauty and life I could ever want. But there was something stopping me. What… what was it? Something fishy about this bottle’s charismatic twinkling. It was winking at me, saying, “Just drink me. You know you want to. What are you waiting for?” Just a little too enticing, not purely good.
Well, I must have been waiting for something, or I wouldn’t be sitting there just staring at an extremely overpriced bottle of water.
My thoughts rain down without rhyme or reason. “What am I waiting for? An intervention? I must be out of my mind. There’s nothing in me that would want to grow old or wrinkly, slowly decline in quality of life, or walk around with arthritis in my hips. So why don’t I just drink it? Just pick it up, and… drink?” I reached out and took hold of the bottle. Took off the pretty, diamond-cut cork. I slowly brought the bottle to my lips when, suddenly, my thoughts interrupted once again.
“Never changing. Always the same. Relationships, coming and going, watching the world slowly decay. But you. Never growing or evolving. Just staying the same. The other people who were eternal, you would form a support group and talk about how you wished you could just die. That this world wasn’t as beautiful as you’d thought it was, and how you wished we didn’t have to keep looking at it.”
Is that it? Is this why? Is this world too much of a mixed bag for me to handle for the rest of eternity? I put the bottle back on the table next to its cork. What if I were to go insane because I couldn’t handle the badness in the world… school shooting after school shooting… I would LITERALLY be a never-ending insane person. They would have to assign a new attendant to me every 40 years, or maybe just another immortal like me. But what immortal would spend each of their eternal days taking care of an insane person? They’d go insane themselves, we’d only be inmates after a while. Awful, stagnant, bleak life.
I stared at the gleaming vial with distrust. She innocently stared on back.
I had bought myself eternal life. “But it’s not the kind I wanted. If I were to go no living forever, the world would have to be a perfect one. But this one isn’t. I can’t live here in this broken, shattered world for the rest of my days, times infinity. I could keep a positive mindset for thirty more years, maybe even forty, until idealism faded away. But surely after that, negative realism would set in, and I’d live a torturous existence for… well… forever. Who knows what comes after this life, but surely it can’t be worse than living here forever!”
My thoughts continued to tumble over each other, one after another in a waterfall of realization. The curiosity of what comes after this particular world grew. It became stronger and stronger, eclipsing my desire to live forever. I didn’t know if I’d be able to live with that burning curiosity for more than forty more years. Certainly not forever! I suddenly wanted to throw the bottle away, or maybe out the window.
Instead, I called the number on the back.
“Yes, I’d like to return my bottle of water from the Fountain of Youth…. hold on, is this a joke?”
They didn’t give out refunds.
AND in a rather anti-climactic fashion, that’s the day I lost both a million dollars, and my desire to be immortal.
You win some, you lose some, I suppose.
This was really interesting thing to think about. Could you pick up on my viewpoints, even though the character in the story wasn’t actually representative of me? What would you have done in her position?