CHRISTMAS DEBT • by Jenny Schwartz

The invitation flashed in his Facebook notifications. Spam, obviously. But… it had a picture of a Star Wars grinch. Star Wars! His palms grew sweaty. Back at his mom’s house, his Luke Skywalker costume still hung in the closet of his old bedroom. He could practically feel the Force.

He clicked.

“Smile now. Pay later. Introverts, you can survive the festive season.”

He wouldn’t have believed it, would have dismissed it as a clever marketing ploy, but there was something about the photo that went with the invitation, something about that not-quite-a-credit-card image.

So he clicked.

The website opened. “Psych-Banker. Open an account.”

He wasn’t stupid enough to give some phishing site his personal details. But he was intrigued. He investigated the site.

It offered packages: Survival, Career Assist, Family Loyalty and Sparkle. They came with different levels of emotional responses. Survival offered 100 smiles, 20 fake laughs and 10 deletions of snark. Career Assist upped the deletions of snark to 50, and offered 10 compliments. Family loyalty made it 500 smiles, 50 laughs, 100 deletions of snark and 100 compliments. He didn’t bother to click on Sparkle. He wasn’t a sparkly kind of guy.

He found himself searching the site for the small print.

Oh, yes. Here. “Customers will make themselves available to be rent-a-crowds for failing comedians in the New Year. Repayment by easy stages.” And in truly tiny print. “Overdrawn account customers will provide audience participation for mimes and clowns.”

Ugh. He shuddered and hurriedly closed the site. Smiling at Christmas parties wasn’t actually that bad! Heck, if it meant avoiding clowns, he could be downright amiable.

***

In the secret room hidden deep within the site and accessible only to parental customers, his mom paid her Sparkle fee, and smiled. $100 to have Andrew fully committed to socializing this Christmas was a bargain.

Happy holidays!


Jenny Schwartz is a hopeful romantic with a degree in Sociology and History — people watching and digging into the past. She lives in Western Australia and is working towards her dream of living by the sea. Jenny writes contemporary romance, paranormal romance and steampunk.


If you want to keep EDF around, Patreon is the answer.

Rate this story:
 average 3.6 stars • 30 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • He wasn’t a sparkly kind of guy…

    yet. 😉

    Fun story.
    I also like how FB knows he’s an introvert and adverts to him that way.

  • Lisa Walpole Finch

    You can run but you can’t hide. Facebook knows where you live. As Dustin says, this was a fun story.

    • FB is very scary :) glad I could twist it for some fun
  • Mothers everywhere are having a collective ‘Aha!’ moment. You do know what you’ve unleashed, here, Jenny?

    • LOL I sure do! I'm going to look for the next big start-up company :)
  • Michael Stang

    Some day someone will explain to me what 10 deletions of snark will do to change my life.
    Light, entertaining, cute.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Cute, though I prefer more meat with my fiction.

  • Great fun. I don’t know if I’m more amused or terrified, heh.

    • Imagine if it was true! Panic!!! Audience participation probably scares me more than spiders :)
  • MPmcgurty

    This is a nice, light, fluffy snowball. Imaginative too. Thanks.

    • LOL I'll take that snowball! It's hot in my corner of Australia right now.
  • Fun story, and a clever concept. I would have liked to see it in operation to get a better idea of what the website was all about, and if it actually worked. Thanks for sharing.

    • The website is in start up stage ... and I'm totally kidding ;)
  • Amy Sisson

    Made me smile! (and I didn’t even have to sign up for a Psych Account to do it!)

  • I would have preferred this in first person which would allow more access to the kid’s psyche, personality and thinking.

    • That's a good idea, Jeff! I've gotten out of the habit of using first person. Thanks!
  • Pingback: Flash Fiction Sunday Edition - Issue 34 - 101 Words()