Ethel stared at the box of chocolates, feeling sick. She’d eaten thirteen of them, throwing them into her mouth like a goddamn monster. There were only two left now, a coffee cream and a nut whip.
She could feel the prickles from the chocolates rippling up the backs of her arms. Over the past few days she’d become increasingly affected by the stuff, with odd symptoms occurring all over her body. She began to tremble in fear, worried that she was about to have a heart attack and frightened that she was all alone in the cottage. The very thought made her chest thunder, and her throat felt tight. Get a grip! She thought. If she had a heart attack nobody would care anyway. It served her right for being such a pig and driving Gavin away. He was just the last of a long list of men amazed and sickened by her reliance on the brown sugary stuff.
She stared at the coffee cream, and then like a striking snake, grabbed it and thrust it greedily into her mouth. The disgusting tang of coffee was only partially relieved by the thin crust of chocolate, but still she groaned in pleasure.
She froze still for a moment in the sitting room, staring down at the threadbare carpet and the little chunks of mud that had dried up and flicked off her shoes.
Closing one eye, she imagined that the mud was also chocolate, and then picked up the nut whip. It was cool and hard beneath her fingertips, and a few quick bites mashed it to paste in her mouth. She pushed it through the gaps in her teeth with her tongue, trying to taste every single atom of the chocolate.
All too quickly it was gone, melted away along with her hope.
She gently placed the empty box on the floor on top of the other five. It was a bad day. Her mouth turned down and she fell to her knees on the itchy carpet, and then lay down on her front. The urge for more was deafening, her ears alert to her stomach’s sounds as the chocolate moved downwards. She considered its inevitable demise and with a sinking feeling caught herself wondering if the chocolate could be rescued and tasted a second time, or if the flavour she so craved would be completely degraded by her stomach acids and digestive processes.
Such a waste.
She remembered Gavin buying her that very first chocolate orange, joking about it counting as one of her five a day. He stopped laughing when she really was eating five a day, and she closed her eyes at the thought of five of the heavy little cannon balls, all considerately sliced up into slick chocolate pieces, the oily smell of orange in her nostrils even as the tang of the chocolate melted between her teeth.
She was disgusting.
Her mouth inched open and she tried to suck the carpet even as she lay on the floor, feeling the kick from the last two chocolates as it hit her blood. It controlled her every waking moment, and she realised with a shudder how much that her life had shrunk. She was either hurriedly on the way out to buy more, on the way back with her purchases, sitting here eating it, or mourning the death of another box even as she sucked the last brown smudges from her teeth.
Well, she hoped Gavin was still as miserable with his next girlfriend as he had been with her. It was his fault, all of this. He had broken her fast, presented her with that first temptation, even fed her pieces himself. She cursed him even as she tasted the dirty threads of the carpet, the grit of the mud rasping between her teeth, spoiling the honey of that last nut whip.
She closed her eyes and drew in a long breath, visualising the fatty molecules from the chocolate slowly waltzing through her blood, clogging her arteries and her pores, sweating out as brown grease through her skin and into her hair. She licked the back of her hand as the thought occurred to her, but it didn’t taste of chocolate.
Just then, the doorbell rang and she cursed whoever it was. She paused a moment, considering whether to ignore it and continue her lolling, when it rang again, totally breaking the spell. She slowly walked towards it, her eyes dull.
As the door swung back she let out a tiny cry. It was Gavin. And in the hands beneath his sheepish smile, he was holding a giant Mars bar.
Her eyes jumped from him to the glossily-wrapped block, unsure which she was happier to see.
‘I’m never letting you go again,’ she murmured, reaching out for the bar.
Gavin grinned happily. “I hoped you’d take me back. I’m here to stay this time, my sweetheart.”
She nodded, eyes gleeful as she caressed the heavy block of sweet delight. “I love you,” she said. It was always the chocolate.
Carolyn Ward is working on her first novel, fuelled by biscuits and generally in agony from standing on Lego. She lives in Wolverhampton in the UK and is @Viking_Ma because a dentist informed her that she was once a Viking. Yes, it was literally that weird.
(Ed Note — Now THIS was a damned good love story… and photo shoot)