The consumer

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The consumer

By Hannah Phinney

The monitor glowed. Camille gazed at the long rows of bright objects against white background, and her fingers on the mouse went click, click, click. Shopping had forever been her favorite pastime. Since she was a child, any new purchase meant: tingly rush, warmth in blood, empty chest filling with spongy wonderful. Nothing else provided her the same pinnacles of pleasure – not work, not hobbies, not her husband or children.

In the last decade, buying things had become magically easy. Now Camille needn’t move through physical space to physical shops to acquire; she simply went online to browse and scroll and click. When her husband was away (often), and the kids at school (thank god), Camille spent her time doing just that. Today so far: electric breadmaker, home mani-pedi kit, family ski suits, G540 meBook. (This last for her daughter, whose first menses required congratulatory gifting).

Click, click, click. Half-hypnotized, Camille scrolled. Sweat beaded her hairline, collected in armpits and crotch. The thermostat was cranked up, but she couldn’t wrench her eyes from the glare, her ass from embedded ergonomic comfort, to go turn down the heat. As day proceeded into evening and evening into night, her skin grew grey and rubbery from overheating – as if she’d been too long in a pot set at low boil. Her husband was out of town on business. Her kids were finally asleep. Click, click. She couldn’t stop. She drifted in a wide sea of two-dimensional images, desiring everything… She slumped, delirious, sick with possessive fevers…

The next morning, Camille’s husband arrived home from his trip. Walking into the study, he inhaled sharply and dropped briefcase to floor. In the swivel chair where his blond-bobbed, large-bottomed wife usually sat, sprawled a giant walrus. Its skin was waxy and wrinkled and homogeneously ashen. Its flipper lay on the mouse.


Hannah Phinney recently received her M.A. in linguistics from San Francisco State University. She is currently slinging booze and writing flash fiction while deciding whether to spend another decade in school. Her semi-surrealistic/sci-fi/“disturbia” prose and poetry can be found at:

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