fiction, short fiction, women

The Opportunity

Neil looked at the squat white tubs of nutrition powder, stacked in the corner of the garage like decapitated Lego heads. He sucked down the last of his power shake and paced to help him think.

Christine called his name from the kitchen.

‘Be right there.’ he said.

Tommy hadn’t returned his calls. David crossed the street to avoid him when he had been out with Christine.

He could call his mom. Dad had gone into hospital again but Neil knew they wouldn’t let their son go under.

Imagining the scenario made his heart race in his chest and the edges of his vision blur from the pressure held within him.

He was running out of people to pitch The Opportunity to.

His stomach lurched. He used the products he sold, kept ten percent body fat and could squat 200 kilos but it sat so heavy in his stomach.

‘What did you sign me up for?’ she said.

Christine was five feet two, but she could move like a bomb if angered. Or frightened.

Her luminous eyes welled up with tears and her lips were a tight knot of anguish. Neil put his hands up and stepped backwards. His heel caught the back of a tub of Cherry Power Pre Workout and he flew upwards into the air.

He wanted to tell her it was Benjamin’s idea, a painless way to improve his distribution network. Signing her up to the basic inventory package would net him an extra five percent.

The breath flew out of him and he felt his stomach swell as his spine snapped against the cold, hard concrete floor. A deep, hungry tingling began in his limbs as he wheezed out her name. Christine touched his face, sobbing for him to be okay.

Neil strained and shook his head, pain making its way through him. In the pit of his stomach, something shifted.

He tried to speak but the thing inside him whipped upwards, punching through the lining of his stomach and spearing into his throat. He vomited up a gout of dark blood as his eyes rolled back in his head.

2.

Ben got the notification on his phone. The latest acquisition meant he was eligible for Tier Two membership. He could afford to ask Jenny to marry him.

He remembered Neil had signed his girlfriend up. He could push up her order, say it was a mistake on the inventory. He would pretend to sort out a refund but in the end, she would be surrounded by more product, in a house she couldn’t afford to make payments on.

A second acquisition would cover him for the quarter.

The Opportunity was demanding, but it was generous.

He slipped his phone back into his pocket, turned and smiled at his guests across the restaurant table.

‘Sorry about that, where were we?’

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