Sugar High (Short Story)

Sometimes we all need a little push to help us believe in ourselves.

Pabi who suffers from a terrible condition of hallucinogenic hypochondria is about to run one of the biggest races of her life in just a few minutes when the condition starts to get the better of her. Will she pull through?


1. Sugar High

Pabi was sitting anxiously on a tree stump. She was popping her finger joints as she usually did when under pressure. Pabi’s best friend hated her nervous habit and constantly told her that she would get arthritis before she was an old lady.

In less than 20 minutes Pabi would be participating in the junior 10 kilometre run, representing her entire province. If she could get first place – she would be the best in the country. The start was colourful and energetic; the spectators were standing along the sides in tutus and multi-coloured afro wigs cheering at the top of their lungs.

 Many had discouraged Pabi from participating in the try-outs, not because they did not believe in her, but because they were concerned for her. She had inherited a horrible case of hallucinogenic hypochondria from her grandmother. In her younger days, her grandmother was a lazy brat who claimed to be suffering from some illness or another whenever she had to do any sort of work or anything that she considered “horribly dull”. When all the dull work had been completed by other people, suddenly her tooth did not ache anymore, her migraine miraculously disappeared or what she thought was a bruise on her thigh, was actually caused by accidentally spilling water on her overdyed black pants. One day a boyfriend found her jumping on her bed at a slumber party that she was hosting when she should have been too sick to accompany him to the Big Boys concert. He came from a long line of wizards and cursed her to have uncontrollable hallucinations about being ill for the rest of her life.

Pabi was 10 when her grandmother noticed the symptoms. She would walk around with her eyes closed yelling “I can’t see!”  Sometimes she would stand for hours in one spot and when asked why, she said that she had elephantiasis. Doctors could not find anything wrong and besides that, her mental health seemed normal. Eventually Pabi’s paediatrician concluded that the girl just had a vivid imagination.

Less than 10 minutes before the gunshot Pabi’s anxiety started getting the better of her. Her legs started to cramp violently and feel weak. She felt spasms in her glutes, quads and hamstring muscles. “No, no, no!” From a distance her best friend could see that Pabi was having one of her episodes from the distraught look on her face. She struggled through the crowd to reach her friend before she had a complete breakdown.

“Listen Pabi, I did not want to do this but it’s the only way. I have a… an enhancer drug with me.” Pabi’s best friend whispered. She pulled a white pill from her little bag and discreetly put it in Pabi’s sweaty palm. Before Pabi could hesitate, her hand was pushed towards her mouth and her chest punched by her friend. Her friend grabbed her by the shoulders and said clearly “Okay, it takes exactly 8 seconds to work and then this race will be a breeze. Get going.”

It took Pabi 32 minutes to complete the race. After she had the pill she pushed through to the start and the gunshot went off moments after. The race was a breeze, her legs were light and running the hills was like running on clouds. When she passed the 9 kilometre mark she realised that she was in the lead. Her stride became faster and stronger, all sound disappeared and everything was a blur except for the big red FINISH sign at the end.

Pabi came down from the podium to embrace her friend after receiving her medal, flowers and voucher for the under eighteen female first place. “But why do you look so unhappy Pabi?” asked her friend. “Because we cheated.” Pabi whispered, making sure that nobody was listening. “No, that was all you honey; it was a sugar pill that I took from my mom’s office. Remember biology class – placebo effect.”

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