I. Squaring the Isosceles.
Eva had come out her seemingly self-imposed exile. She used to turn off her phone and disappear without word for days, weeks on end, and nobody could get a hold of her, nobody could find her. She kept her distance. And then suddenly she began going the other way. Eva seemed to have opened up, blossomed in a way, and very quickly — and it occurred around the time I heard of Abbey and Zeke’s break-up.
Zeke had departed, leaving an empty space beside Abbey, and Eva seemed to rush in to fill the silhouette. To feed the gaping, hungry void. You could feel the connection she was forging with Abbey. I’d sit in the back seat of Abbey’s car and watch the two of them up front, just talking, and sense the bizarre intensity of the rapport. And it was from both ends, yes, but it was more, I don’t know, naked and confident from Eva’s end, far more unhinged and certain, far more passionate and unambiguous in general.
I don’t mean to imply I was tapping all this through psychic intuition, of course. It could be in the tone of voice, in the body language that the nature of the matter here was conveyed. It could have been in the many ways one can pick up signals that inspire that feeling of certainty about something without entirely knowing why.
There were others in our circle who had said Eva seemed to have more than a friendly attraction to Abbey, but it was taken more along the lines of a joke; I, on the other hand, felt it to be serious, though I denied it when it was brought up, at least at the beginning. Still, I felt certain.
Abbey was horny. I was horny. There is, at least on the surface, a simple and obvious solution to our resonating predicaments here. Eva seemed very territorial around Abbey, very aggressive to me when I was around, and I couldn’t help but feel that it was because she knew that Abbey and I wanted to have sex and she felt her newfound place by Abbey’s side in the wake of Zeke’s departure might be threatened by me.
If I was right and Eva just told me, if I knew for certain I wasn’t crazy, then I wouldn’t do it. Of course, part of me thinks its senseless for Eva to tell me she doesn’t want me to — after all, if she won’t make a move on Abbey and Abbey won’t make a move on her and Eva has denied it to others and Abbey has denied her attraction to Eva to a large degree even to herself, then why not? What is it about Abbey and I getting it on that would be threatening to Eva? We would just be two friends doing each other a favor. Two friends having sex. We would not be in a relationship.
Anyway, regardless as to whether or not Abbey and I were dating or just having sex, wouldn’t Eva rather Abbey be with me rather than with some presently unknown guy or — which would be worse, I think all who know him would agree — that she get back with Zeke, her negligent asshole of an ex-boyfriend out of her intense desire for some intimate, if only transient, human contact? And doesn’t Eva think that this sort of thing is going to happen eventually, one way or the other?
II. No Reason.
About half passed nine I’m in the dining room, cleaning the tables at work. I check my cell phone and notice a text from Eva from about twenty passed nine, in which she asks, “What are you doing?” I text back that I’m about to clean the restrooms. The question seemed rather out of nowhere and I had the feeling something might be behind it, so I also asked her why she wanted to know. At about fifty passed nine she texts back, “No reason.” I don’t believe her, so I text back, “There’s always a reason.” Quickly, she texts back a simple, “No.”
And Eva’s, “No,” sounded loud and bitter. It reverberated. It was a lot like when someone snaps at you; someone you have never heard snap at you before, never thought could possibly snap at you, and the shock is compounded by its seeming lack of any conceivable justification. Even if this person had snapped at you, in other words, you can think of no reason why they would at this exact moment.
It took me entirely off guard. I didn’t respond for the rest of night and there were no further texts from her. Still, even right after I got the text, I just felt confused and dismissed it as my imagination. As me merely projecting again. As strong as I felt the anger in her voice, the power behind that, “No,” of Eva’s, there was no real reason to think she might be mad at me. My mind couldn’t cook up a reasonable scenario. I coughed it up to misinterpretation, as a momentary paranoia. I let it go and went on about my work.
Then, out of nowhere, something incredibly unprecedented and absolutely terrifying began to occur within me. I began to feel hatred towards me. It felt as though people I really fucking cared about hated me at an inconceivable depth; as if I’ve done something horrible. There was this dread, this need to fix something, to say the right thing or explain or help or something. Finally, in my mind, in some vague, transparent kind of daydream, I saw or got a sense of Abbey and Eva talking and had the weird notion in my mind that they had both determined something about me; that they had teamed up, bonded in some joint agreement with respect to something that was bad about me. I definitely got the feeling I was being talked about, and that what was being said would hurt me if I could actually hear the words. It felt like a joint thing, however, between Eva and Abbey; like you might talk ill about someone behind their back but would never have the indecency to be so candid about it to their face.
Then I felt a deep, writhing agony, almost like fear, like abandonment, and I had the silly notion all of this came from Eva, and it was this collage of negative emotions that slowly grew within me throughout the night. I couldn’t shake the certain feeling though that these were absolutely not my emotions. They were coming from somewhere outside of me. It was like there was a wall between me and her and suddenly it cracked and out dribbled some emotions towards me. The pressure on the other side of the wall built, the crack grew, branched, there was more dribbling, now spouts of water. Steadily this proceeded. By the time I was in my car and driving home I was unable to contain it.
The dam fucking broke and it was proceeding on what seemed to be its course towards breaking me. I felt cold, I was shaking, it was a full-body emotion. At this point it was so intense I could not possibly choke it down or ignore it or push it to the side. It was everywhere. It was filling me up, bloating me, radiating off my skin. I started screaming in my car, asking what the fuck was wrong with me. I knew and could not ignore the knowledge that there was absolutely, positively no rational reason whatsoever for me feeling like this at all, let alone to such an intensity that it felt worse than death.
The only comparable experiences I was able to come up with — and I should say that I came to realize this later, in retrospect — were my break-ups with Anne and Kate. Worst of all — perhaps merely because she broke up with me, rather than vice versa — was the break-up with Kate over the phone when she had called me from what turned out to be her permanent vacation to see her parents in California. The feeling in the car was not as bad, of this I am sure, but the feeling that night was far, far removed from my normal range of emotional pain. But this was the closest I had felt to it. And add into that the fact that I felt certain these were not my emotions and the terrified reaction to this fact, to the fear of what this emotion might do to me or how long it might linger or how much greater it might grow. The terror inherent in not having any level of control here or even any means of anticipating its course as it was, as I said, not my rush of emotions.
It all coalesced into alarm, horrific alarm, and I got home and sat in front of my computer and just tried to relax in the familiar environment. My safe haven. I stared at the phone. I wanted, needed to call Eva or Abbey. Or both. What could I say? If I was wrong, I’d sound insane and feel insane, which would most certainly not be a glorifying addition to how I presently felt. And even if I was right, they may not admit to it, which would not be much better, because I’d have no sound reason to think they were lying and would be forced, through the eye of reason, to label myself batty as fucking hell.
How the fuck does one ask the question I wanted to ask, anyway? “Hey, was there maybe some shit-talking, after which Eva decided she fucking hated me and wished I’d die a miserable death and feel all the pain she felt for whatever horrible thing she had decided I’d done to her? Why? Oh, no reason. No reason.”
So I just sat there at my computer desk, in my chair, staring at the bottom of my computer for awhile. A few minutes, maybe, I was just zoning, trying to cease freaking out, waiting for the foreign emotional mass within me to quell and depart, to have some mercy. Then I reached out and plugged in my cell phone so it would charge. The moment I did that, it rang.
It was Abbey. I picked up.
“Hey,” I said, unable to conceal the terror in my voice and my simultaneous and blatantly contradictory relief, pure ecstasy over the fact that she had called me. I somehow managed to tell her that I was freaking out for some reason, that it felt worse than death, that it had come out of nowhere. She told me to try to calm down. She asked me when it started to happen. Confused, hopeful, I told her about nine-thirty. I added in that Eva had texted me around the time it started, but I didn’t see how it could have anything to do with it. She had asked me an odd question, asked me where I was, asserted there was no reason she asked, but nothing in that conversation could possibly produce this. There was just no way.
Eva was already in her mind when she had asked me when all this had started, however; she checked her cell phone and informed me that this was exactly around the same time she had been talking with Eva and had told her that her and I might be having sex. Eva, apparently, was quite against the idea, as Abbey implied.
I didn’t ask for elaboration. A part of me felt I really didn’t need it.
All Abbey said was that it was strange timing, considering. I asked her if she would call her to see if she was all right. I would, but I wouldn’t know what to say and, well, it might not help matters. Might make them worse. “I don’t know why you’d be so sensitive towards Eva,” she said.
I said I’d try and call her, so I hung up the phone and did so. Eva didn’t answer the phone, so I left a message — a stupid, insane, and thankfully vague message — and called Abbey back. She was sincerely worried about me and, I think, a little curious about the whole thing, too, and so tried to call her for me. Curiously enough, she managed to get through. I texted her, asking if she was okay, if I was insane. Abbey texts back, while apparently on the phone with Eva, “You’re grade-A bonkers.”
I thought this would be good news, but I texted back to her something along the lines of, “That does it. I’m getting on medication.” And at the time, I really meant it. If something this intense was nothing, I honestly was insane, and I really did need professional help. I certainly did not want this happening, unprovoked, tearing me up inside whenever it wished.
After I calmed down a bit, I decided there were two options. That either I’m insane or this is something weirder. And if its something weirder, then Eva really ought to be honest with me, because I’d back off in a fucking second if she gave me validation of what I’ve felt from her towards Abbey. I don’t want to hurt anyone. Make anyone feel the way I’m feeling now. Least of all Eva.
Then Eva suddenly calls, but for some reason I think its Abbey when I pick up the phone — swear it was her name I saw on the screen — and Eva seems, I don’t even know. I know she’s calling because I’d called her and left her a text message. I tell her it’s nothing, I was wrong, I’m probably crazy, and I make haste in getting off the phone with her.
Abbey calls me back after talking to Eva, but we speak only briefly; she tells me that maybe I just need to sleep, as I had confessed to her that feat has not come easy for me as of late.
The next day at work, Abbey texts me to ask how I am; I tell her that I feel as though, for the most part, my emotions are my own now, and I guessed that was good. I felt increasing disconnection (though never entirely) from the source of the emotion, which I, in my likely insanity, still felt to be Eva, but the connection never went away entirely, although the emotions were losing force. It was kind of like when you loose control and maybe bark at somebody and you realize, shortly afterward, that you didn’t know your own strength; you kind of say, “holy shit,” to yourself and take a step back, let the air clear a bit.
Towards the end of the night, I felt that “piercing through” sensation in my mind — I remember the moment; I was at the counter and talking to my coworker, Mister Peepers — and impressions started pouring through again. Not like the night before, but the normal flow of emotions I sense from others. It again seemed to be from Eva. But subtler, thankfully.
III. Recovery of the Second Act.
It took me a day or two to realize what the flood of emotions I believed I had received from Eva reminded me of; what personal experience in my history it was analogous to. The answer, as it turns out, was my break-up with Kate. That was when I had felt that intense pain so many degrees more lethal than the cold fear of the clear and present potentiality of death. That is where I had felt that horrible sense of abandonment.
I remember it clearly.
It was not simply as if the universe, which was suddenly personified in my mind, simply had no sense of justice; it was not only that it had failed to recognize that I had, after all, earned this chance at true and lasting happiness through my agonizing endurance of loneliness over the years. It was not merely that the universe was impersonal. No, the universe was downright hostile — and it was hostile to me, specifically. It was cold and cruel and that night she called me, when my paranoia revealed itself to be intuition and she told me she was not returning from her vacation, I wanted to die. I felt as if I was the butt of the cruelest of the cosmic jokes, and I should have seen it coming from the beginning.
I should have seen the formula in action. It was simple. Clear steps. Take someone who fails to believe in love and fails to believe with normal strength. Break him down, convince him until he stops and goes retrograde, does a complete 360-degree turn. Watch him believing in love completely. Go too deep, too fast. Let him lift himself up on her wings, up higher and higher still and then — and then drop him. Make him a fool. Punish his stupidity. His naivete. Punish the crimeless, the ever-so cautious in trust. Reinforce the doubt he had for so long maintained despite the pain all in order to protect himself from abuse, betrayal and abandonment. Teach him there are no exceptions, no matter how convincing. Teach him you cannot believe in anything. Trust in anything. Punish him. And do it mercilessly, as if he were just any old fucking fool of love; as if he was the sort who had it coming.
I felt as if I had been tricked, as if I had been betrayed at a level so high and a degree so profound it was previously inconceivable.
I realized what the emotions had reminded me of maybe a day or two after the whammy emotional transmission. And three days after that psychic punch, I had a dream.
There is something I’ve found about dreams; maybe it is this way with everyone. Usually, if you look at it long enough, hard enough, and from enough angles, you can determine to some level of satisfaction why it is you had a particular dream at a particular time and what, at least in a generalized way, it was manufactured by the dark of your mind to convey to your conscious light. It has often seemed to me that dreams process data and make correlations waking consciousness may not see so clearly; this assumption of mine was only reinforced by my dream on November fifth, as it answered a question that had been gnawing me in the wake of the experience. I felt she cared for Abbey in a more than friendly way, but I still didn’t understand why she felt the way she did about the prospect of Abbey and I having sex. And then, as I said, along came the dream.
In the scene, I am at front counter at work, right in the area where those guys did construction in real life, but here its like a bar rather than just a counter. There’s an empty seat between me and someone else and this guy I know fairly well but haven’t seen in awhile sits down. He’s distraught, apparently, because he has just broken up with his ex-girlfriend. He explains things about the break-up to me and the guy on the other side of him — as well as to some tall, skinny, hairy heavy-metal-looking guy working by where the fryers would be in real life. Quickly I come to realize that this guy’s newly ex-girlfriend is Kate, my old ex-girlfriend. He just broke up with Kate? I try to hide my excitement, this surge of energy in me out of respect, but I’m excited by the possibility that she’s available. That things aren’t going terrific for her, that this guy has been tossed aside, that there might be hope for her and I because this guy has been removed from the equation. That there is a space to be filled now, and potentially by me.
Almost immediately afterward, I felt that this dream leaped off the similarity I had just recently consciously recognized between Eva’s transmitted emotions and my own. On the basis of conscious recognition my subconscious built up an analogous situation which would put me in Eva’s shoes and give me the opportunity to understand another aspect of her situation — one that, at least to some feeble degree, might also be analogous to the circumstances that had occurred between Kate and I. In the dream I learned that Kate’s boyfriend, or ex-boyfriend, was out of the way; their relationship was over. However unlikely it was that her and I would get back together in light of this fact, it nonetheless gave me space for the hope. And the idea that Kate was quite likely presently alone, lonely and unhappy because of this, that there was a space to be filled — it somehow added to my hope, however morbid that might sound.
So what on earth does this have to do with Eva and Abbey? Well, perhaps its analogous to how Eva herself felt when I told her I was convinced having sex with Abbey would ruin our friendship and that the romantic feelings I sensed Eva herself had for Abbey only added to my hesitance. She felt I was out of the way. When it seemed to Eva that Abbey and I wouldn’t be having sex after it at first seemed so certain that we would, I became analogous to the “ex-boyfriend” of my dream and her hope was lifted. And in that, the dream filled the gap between what we could refer to, for the purposes of order here, as the first and last acts.
The first was my awareness of the triangle. The third was seemingly unprovoked the psychic punch. The dream, then, provided the missing “second act” — it helped me, through analogy based on similarity of shared experience, just why Eva felt the way she did. Kate chose her parents and friends in California over me and I was expected to simply respect that because her love for them was not just different but of a higher order of importance. I could not compete. Then her father said he’d help her get a job, then she met that boy, got pregnant, got married. I could not compete. None of that was ever said explicitly, of course, but the circumstance seemed to communicate it in utmost clarity. Actions speak louder than words; as cliche as it sounds, it is undoubtedly true.
Perhaps Abbey’s desire to have such intimate contact with me made Eva feel the same kind of thing. She could not, or would not be so bold as to offer a resolution to Abbey’s sexual frustration; she could not, in that sense, compete. And if she had convinced Abbey she was not attracted to her, and Abbey could therefore not be rightfully blamed for failing to consider Eva’s feelings since she had been convinced that they did not exist, then the blame, in her mind, at least in a relatively transient and yet intensely emotional and reactionary moment, was to be laid upon me, who she knew to know of her feelings towards Abbey. And so in the very least she would have seen me as considering her feelings to be irrelevant in the matter, or at least of a lower order of importance, than the raging sexual impulses of Abbey and I.
IV. Instinct & Psychic Latrines.
On the phone, I tell her that I cannot seem to accept things as confirmation. It’s weird, because I automatically trust what I feel, what I intuit, the strange things I experience, but then I stop and step back and I don’t trust my trust. Silently, I know the problem is that I’m afraid of being wrong, that I feel as though maintaining doubt is my only means of defense against insanity — which is perhaps itself insane, because accepting nothing as true necessitates a standstill, which is clearly at odds with my quest for answers.
I explain how I’m also trying not to be a hypocrite. I spend a lot of my time attacking the blind faith of religion and fear falling into the same trap. She assures me that its not the same thing — that its an instinctual response to accept your perceptions after they satisfy certain basic criteria; that this is a sort of survival technique. And that sort of cliques with me, I must admit.
“And you can never know for certain if you’re right,” she says.
I also told her that when I had previously come across people who fit into the category I’d place both her and I in we both seemed to have intense affects on and reactions to each other — the paranormal activity between the two of us, in other words, tended to amp up, and weirdness in general seemed to escalate. Though I didn’t say it in this way, it seemed that when I came across people like Eva, who had recurrent experiences in the weird, we tended to synchronize in a way analogous to how women synchronize their menstrual cycles.
In her email a day or two ago she had confirmed to me (once again) that she did indeed hear my voice inside her head so long ago and, though much more hesitantly, she now confirmed, over the phone, that she had indeed purposely “downloaded” her emotions into me that one evening, much more recently. She says that she didn’t think it would have hit me so hard if I wasn’t so receptive, however, and then went on to suggest that my receptivity was only one of my many feminine personality traits, to which I conceded.
I explained the sense of abandonment I felt that evening. While she seemed hesitant to confess to it at first, she tried to explain what I felt to be a sense of abandonment and elaborate upon what she meant when she said she had purposely dumped her emotions into me. And she expressed it in what I think turned out to be an effective analogy. She said it was like when an animal’s eating and you try to take away its food — it tends to snap at you.
I am, of course, supposing Abbey was the food in this respect, and I, the foolish hand.
Most interesting is what she said next. It seems that once she dumped her emotions into me at a distance, she no longer felt them herself — they were gone; out of her. So I had in a way become the psychic equivalent of her emotional toilet.