A Parcel of Addiction

Posted: October 1, 2010 in #fridayflash, Short stories

BOOM. 

The compulsion was like a car crash, smashing into her within seconds and without realising its existence.  Her hands had worked independently from her body.  The excitement and exhilaration were like no type of drugs she could find anywhere else and she had to do it again.  She allowed herself to simmer slightly, before bubbling over like a boiling pan.

Click.

BOOM. 

Her heart was racing and the smile on her face was bigger than any birthday or Christmas present could ever achieve.  The adrenaline constricted her air passage and the brief second of lack of oxygen, was like a hug from someone she’d missed and longed for all her life.  She had to stop.  But wanted one last go.

Click.

POW. 

She lent back in her chair and sighed the biggest happy sigh in the world.  She was captivated.  The emails, which poured into her inbox, were like little achievements.  They weren’t major accomplishments like having a baby but like passing her driving test, over and over again.

People might judge her and she knew she was getting herself into debt by doing it, but she couldn’t stop.  Each and everyday was a new feat, a conquest and the feeling she was getting, was out of this world. 

Those three words, which appeared in the title of every email, felt like a triumph, something, she’d done all by herself.  “You have won!”

It wasn’t alcohol, or drugs, or an eating disorder, which are some of the worst addictions and habits people can fall prey to.  It wasn’t gambling, unlike her mother had to said some weeks before.  It was just an online auction site, winning items she bid on. 

Tina added up the cost she’d spent during her online entertainment and even though she would be in her overdraft, there was just one more thing she really wanted to win.  She sat watching the time ticking down in bold red font on her screen, whilst her finger hovered over the mouse button. It was like watching a bomb, her heart racing, ready to cut it off at the last second, saving herself from the world, with this one item.

Click.

Oh no.  She had been outbid, the adrenalin evolving into panic and hunger.   She could feel her stomach churning and eyes unable to blink.

Click. 

NO!!! I can’t live without this, she thought, her fingers pulsating whilst clutching the mouse; I’ve always wanted a Smurf limited edition pencil case and mug set. 

Click. 

“YES!” She sighed.  Although it was ten pounds over her original limit, she’d won it and was elated.  Success.  What an exhilarating feeling.

She worked in the local post office.  Most would have thought handling parcels day to day would have put her off seeing another package until her pension.  However, the excitement when returning home to find the parcels sitting waiting for her inside the front porch was almost as exciting as the auction itself. 

Her house was beginning to accumulate ‘stuff’, but things she liked; needed; longed for; or wanted to win against someone else.  Each category of reasoning had its own logic and each item she won had a purpose.  “Its for such-and-such’s birthday”, or “I had one of these as a child” she would say, defending herself and justifying her purchase.

“But Tina, this must be costing you a fortune?” Her mum growing increasingly worried over her daughter’s obsession. 

“Its all under control and like I said, its stuff I want.”

“I think you have a problem, don’t you? It isn’t the item, it’s the feeling of being a winner I think you like.”

“Its not gambling mother,” she smirked, finding her mother rather juvenile and actually over dramatising the situation.  “Everything I’ve brought, I need or want.”

“Really?” her mother smiled back.  “So, you need or wanted an alarm clock in the shape of a Care Bear, which you haven’t even brought batteries for yet? Or a china teapot, which has feet with, socks and shoes on? How about this glasses case? Sweetheart you don’t even wear glasses.”

“I thought I could put my sunglasses in them? And those are hand painted socks and shoes and every home needs a teapot!” she was feeling slightly embarrassed but trying desperately to justify herself, as her mother stood in her living room, picking up items from the table, which stood proudly next to her computer desk.

“Darling, you don’t even drink tea!  I’m not being mean Tina, honestly I’m not,” her mum put her hand on her daughter’s shoulder gently, as she stood next to her daughter who had now reverted to the computer chair, already logged onto the auction site for the evening. “I’m just a bit worried about you.  You look tired.”

“Well I didn’t sleep well last night,” she said almost through gritted teeth and wishing the rhetorical question wasn’t hovering above her head, like a grand piano in a cartoon, ready to be dropped from a great height.

“Why didn’t you sleep very well?” her mother asked curiously.

“I just fell asleep on the sofa, that’s all.  I’ll get an early night tonight,” she smiled.  There was no way she would tell her mother, she was tired due to setting her alarm twice during the night, for items which had auctions ending.  She smiled as she realised that she’d conquered them both, one in the very last precious seconds of the auction.  It was exhilarating and had been on such an astronomical high, she couldn’t sleep.  She wasn’t quite sure why she’d had a sudden urge to start collecting thimbles, but the ‘very rare’ thimble with her name hand-painted on in pink, was an incredible find and as it stated ‘very rare’.

The following day, she returned home to find no packages waiting for her.  She felt let down, disappointed and like a child with presents to open on Christmas day.  It was a feeling completely opposite to the thrill of bidding and winning the items.  She wanted to cry but didn’t understand why. 

She felt an incredible appetite and urge to get online and ensure she didn’t experience another day with no presents.  It was then she wondered if her mother was right after all.  Was she addicted to the winning and receiving of a ‘prize’, rather than the actual item? 

NO.  After all, she needed a stress reliever in the shape of a banana.  She liked bananas and was getting stressed with her mother thinking she had an addiction.  It was perfect. 

Click.

BOOM.

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Comments
  1. itallmeanssomething says:

    I think you did a terrific job of describing this addiction. There were a lot of lines I liked because they let you really feel how much this means to her and how hard it is to stop. However, I especially liked the grand piano line- what a great way to paint the uncomfortable, precarious position of having to admit something you don’t want to admit. Loved trying to figure out what on earth she was doing at the beginning. Nice build up!

  2. Vandamir says:

    Love this story! The “click BOOM” breaks were really effective. I never thought of online auctions as being addicting, though shopping can be. Like the slow build up and seeing some of her underlying issues that makes her compelled to buy more and more things. She’s going to be on the show “Hoarders” if she’s not careful. 🙂

  3. adampb says:

    I so know this feeling. I limit myself to just scrawling through ebay. What a great way to describe an addiction. Very effective, showing the excitement and the letdown.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  4. Blackbirdsong says:

    Great job with this. I liked the way you broke it up with “click” “boom.” You did just enough for effect, but overdo it at all. Good work on describing this addiction and in showing how people like this behave.

  5. Sam says:

    Brilliant! You captured the allure of The Bay perfectly here, especially the “you’ve been outbid” part; I’m sure we’ve all been there. Bravo!

  6. Fantastic! I love this! You might even say it was an addicting read. 😉 Well done!

  7. Pamila Payne says:

    You really captured all of the behaviors of an addict. Very well done. I felt bad for her and her mother, who couldn’t help her.

  8. Icy Sedgwick says:

    Perfectly describes the feeling of using eBay. Excellent capture at her panic at the thought of being outbid.

  9. Jax says:

    The way you describe that unstoppable urges, and the heartbreaking disappointment was wonderful.

  10. denise says:

    I love this. I could easily allow myself to be her, but i don’t. Great story idea, CLICK, BOOM!

  11. John Wiswell says:

    eBay might be the death of her…

  12. Good job describing an online addiction. I’ve never been on ebay or the other auction sites, but I know what this type of addiction feels like, because I used to stay up half the night playing online virtual reality games like Second Life. It can take over your life pretty quickly, and it’s easy to be in denial about it. You did a great job describing this lifestyle.

  13. Laurita says:

    You did a fantastic job of pulling us into her addiction. The justifications and reasoning really rang true. Nicely done.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Great story of addiction. I think the line breaks with ‘click BOOM’ or ‘POW’ work really well.
    It sums up very well the sense of addiction, especially the denial.

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