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Under Water

by J co about a year ago in literature
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A Single Attempt to Break Even

The glow of the already too-warm screen bathed me in the light of the numbers that danced across it. Glued to my seat, a bead of sweat made its way from high on my back, rolling downwards, soaking into the thin fabric of my stained underwear. My hands trembled as I refreshed the screen in yet another flurry, the cacophony of flashing numerals filling my ears.

10.1, 10.11, 10.08, 10.07, 10.03, 10.11, 10.10

The digits that flashed seemed to have a mind of their own; oblivious to my desperation.

"Come on..." I muttered under my breath, urging the numbers higher. There was a lot riding on this. My thoughts shifted briefly to Ash; what would she think of me if she saw me like this? It was already 10am. Work wasn't going to miss me today, I'd made sure that everything was in order before I left last night. The market opened at 9am here; 10am Sydney time.

10.01, 10.03, 10.02...

My gaze flickered briefly over to the small black notebook resting on the desk beside my trading screen. God, I wish I had thought to record this trade, the way I used to. The book contained a myriad of entries, each describing an entry point and an exit. A strategy. Writing it down made it so that I had rules to follow. Defined exit points. Reasons to enter in the first place. What was my entry point for this one? 11.10? 11.40? I am a long way now from the habits of the past, entry points, exit points, stop-losses. Recently I have been performing only the briefest of analysis before I commit fully. A zoom of the graph. A once-over any market announcements. I can hear the other users urging me on, "to the moon!", "easy 5-bagger", "lets gooooo"; the euphoria sweeps me up, and I can feel my emotions take over. It's fun, this is fun. I am having fun. My eyes are drawn back to the screen, text flickering rapidly.

9.98 now, the resistance at 10.00 has been broken.

The pain in my stomach has returned.

That's what had gotten me into this. Why did I need to make $5k overnight, again? Up, up, always up. Grow the portfolio. Grow it for the future, to really achieve something today, rather than just going to work and back home again. The bank had given me $50k, at a reasonable 13.5% p.a.; I'd thrown it into the first ticker that struck my fancy almost as soon as the money hit my account. To my surprise, within a week that $50k had become $70k, a free $20k that I'd received completely unexpectedly. But it wasn't enough.

Back up to 10.05, looks like support has returned and is holding.

I need 10.40. At 10.40 I am back to $50k. If I am back to $50k, I can close the account with the bank. I don't know why I have leveraged myself to this extent on borrowed money. Once more, I am conscious of the sweat, and the heat within the room. I take a deep breath, the inhale hot, the exhale slow and hotter again, even against the scorching heat of the room.

10.01, 10.03, 10.01, 10.02, 10.03...

The thought of the future; the debts that are already outstanding, barely register anymore. It is like living underwater. My breath comes labored, my chest tight against itself, my hands still tremble. I cannot think of it, as it's all I ever think about anymore. The numbers here, these are what really matter. They consume me. It is hard knowing Ash is right, that I need to focus more on her, but being completely enraptured in these numbers, right here. The distraction is becoming an issue. I am barely present anymore; all I can think of are future valuations, next announcements; what was once a hobby has now consumed me completely, a desperate rush to break-even. We will be ok, once I make back what I've lost.

10.12, 10.11, 10.09, 10.07.

It's not going to make it. 10.4 was too high for a stop-loss. Overnight gambles are like this, I know, sometimes you just don't hit. Why didn't I exit on open? It opened at 10.2, for Christ's sake! That's close enough! That's a whole lot damn closer than 10.09! I pause, as the reality of yet another loss sets in.

I push through the order; sell it all, clearing for 10.025.

The confirmation comes instantly, fills the screen. My body slumps, the numbness returns. The come-down from the high drives me into the ground. My head feels warm as blood rushes within, my mind trying to register its own blankness. It is a strange sensation for someone not used to it. It was, the first time. Now though, I don't feel it the same way, the adrenaline. A near win. I understand problem gamblers see near-wins differently to normal people; always thinking "what-if", content to lose if they come close. This one was close. I don't see why it dropped 10%. Was the outlook that bad? It hadn't already been priced-in? I was sure it would bounce today, netting me a sweet $5k in the process. Then I'd be at $70k again. If I hit $70k again, from here, I'll cash out. I'll close the loan account and go again from $20k. I had $70k. Why didn't I take it when I had it?

The numbers still flash distantly on the screen, but my gaze has already drifted. The cacophony has been muted, the sound completely drowned out by new thoughts, rushing to be heard.

Do I ask Dad for another loan? Can I stomach that conversation? He'll want to talk about it. He'll ask me why I didn't close the account already, when we first talked about it. I did close the account after we talked about it. I just re-opened it later on, for a second chance. It had briefly been worth it - $20k is a big difference from what I'd had!

With a deep inhale, I navigate to the settlements due for my account. $46,880. That will not pay off the bank loan. I wonder if Dad can cover the rest? My mind goes blank with sickness. At this rate, it will take five years. Five Years of full-time work, living hand-to-mouth. I cannot allow anything to go wrong for five years. I wonder if Ash will wait for five years. It's hard to think that only ten months ago I was ready to propose. I cannot get sick for five years. I cannot get into an accident, or a speeding fine. This is the reality I have been trying for ten months to avoid. I am not ready to face five long, fragile, austere years.

All I have to do is turn this $46,880 into $50k again. Or $70k. If I had that extra $20k again, I'd cash out this time. I would cash out and close the bank loan. The bank loan was a stupid idea. Both times. All I have to do is make the $3,220 back, first. I can do that.

The heat in the room becomes stifling. I try to breathe, but all that comes is heat. Water clings to my hands and body, the sun beats down outside. I can barely feel it.

I have to keep trying.


About the author

J co


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