Advertisement

An alarm clock is ringing. The child it belongs to reaches out to stop it, and yawns herself awake. With a stretch of her arms over her head, she leans over and cartwheels out of bed.

As she skips down the stairs, she nearly slips on various wrappers and old clothes, but catches herself with cushioned giggles. Bits of lumber have fallen out of the bannister. Pictures of family that once lined the walls now line the floor. She kicks and shatters one with her last descending step, and jumps over her parents on the way to the kitchen.

Standing on a chair, she takes the last bowl from the cupboard and slams it on the counter. She fills it with bits of various cereals — Fruit Squares and Chocolate Zeros and Marshmallow Bystanders and Tiny Fiber Governments — that touch each other lightly, tenderly, in a bounded pile. She leaves the collection where it sits, and reaches into the refrigerator for an ice cold can of Coca-Cola. As she pours, the stack dissolves and condenses into a mushier stack. She scoops some into her mouth and laughs at the flavor, which isn’t real. Nothing is real. The bowl goes to the sink with the other bowls, and the girl heads out for school.

“Marisa, you’ve been wearing the same clothes all week. Is everything all right at home?”

“Yes, Mrs. Korkberkley.”

She comes home to a dark house. The only light she needs is in the refrigerator, and she opens its door. She leaves it open and sits beside it on the floor. The light reaches as far as her father’s face, and she watches his shadow as she pops the top of another Coke. “Not before dinner,” he used to say.

COCA-COLA: YOUR ONLY RESPONSIBILITY

#advertisement, #cereal, #children, #coca-cola, #disarray, #mess, #naive

Advertisement

The suits at the conference table aren’t necessarily paying attention, but they are impressed. Not only are the charts and graphs well-proportioned and color-coordinated, but they are likely based on actual statistics.

“Superlative work,” says the CEO from Germany.

“You should be proud,” says another from Sweden.

The young executive thanks them and politely asks them not to interrupt his presentation.

Before long, he has several blank checks in hand for his project, whatever it is. No one has really grasped the details, but his demeanor is so charming, and his graphic design so clean, that they all feel assured of a return on their investment.

He shakes their hands as they leave the room. “Tell your wife I said hi,” he says to a stone-faced Argentinian. “Hey, have you lost weight? Let’s play golf sometime.” He doesn’t pay attention to whom he’s talking, and they don’t bother answering. They are perfectly content to trade their total financial faith to him for one of a dozen niceties.

When the conference table is cleared and he’s alone, he takes out a pack of Double-Mint gum and slides a sliver into his mouth. He is cool. He is who he wants to be. He washes the gum down with a Coca-Cola. He drives home in his new Nissan Altima, but stops at a McDonald’s on the way.

He makes love to his wife, and as they lie together in a cuddle, he says to her, “Sealy Posturepedics are the only mattresses on the market that offer comfort and support for a wide variety of uses.”

She doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but she loves him. As she covers his sweat-glistened body in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, she gives a cheerful thumbs up.

#advertisement, #coca-cola, #executive, #identity-crisis, #mixed-messages, #money, #products

Advertisement

The children are outside, playing a game of rock, paper, scissors. They say the words with great concentration as they beat their fists into their palms. The little boy wins more often than the little girl does, but is more frustrated when he loses.

The girl is frightened of his emotion, and because she only wants to have a little fun with her brother, she is trying her best not to win.

“You’d do better if you threw something other than paper,” he tells her. All the same, he throws rock in their next round and loses. “God damn it! You’re not even trying!”

He slaps the air in front of her face, and she backs away.

“I’m sorry,” she says.

Kicking the ground, he mutters, “Paper shouldn’t beat anything.” He seems to get an idea, and runs to the house, and back with a pair of scissors and a sheet of eight and a half by eleven. He sets them down in front of her, and picks up a rock.

“I dare you to choose paper,” he says, winding up with the stone in his hand.

The girl crouches down, watching the boy carefully. She picks up the pair of scissors, and when the boy comes charging to break her, she swings the object toward him. It grazes his cheek, and he stands back, shocked.

“You lose,” he says, and takes the scissors from her. She turns and runs.

From inside, they look as though they’re playing a game of tag. Their parents see them running out of the corners of their various eyes and take symmetrical sips of Coca-Cola.

“It’s good to see the children playing,” the father says.

The mother doesn’t say anything, only carbonated gulps.

Coca-Cola: Your Only Responsibility

#advertisement, #anger, #children, #coca-cola, #microfiction, #misogyny, #sore-loser, #violence

Advertisement

Two friends of opposite genders are watching a sporting event on television. The woman is bored. The man is enthusiastic. His enthusiasm bores her more than the game itself. He looks over to her after what to him was an exciting play, and she nods to avoid corrupting his childlike wonder.

Maintaining the implicit deceit in her demeanor is exhausting. She stands up for a break.

“Hey, will you get me a Coke?” the man says, not looking from the screen. He gives a thumbs up in her direction.

She agrees. Opening the fridge, she finds the last bottle of Coca-Cola behind a number of rotten vegetables. A bag of carrots has turned into a semi-transparent ooze, and what used to be a head of lettuce has become a solid ball of maggot. She finds a plastic bag and puts it over her hand. Keeping her gaze on the floor, she pulls out groceries, plunging them out the window into a handy trash compactor. The vegetables produce a visible odor.

A jar of black mayonnaise crashes against the floor. The mold of it seems to be crawling toward her. She backs away. Snatching the Coke, she runs from the kitchen, slamming the door behind her.

She sits down and casually hands the man the beverage. He says, “Alright!” not at her or the soda, but at something on the screen. He rips off the bottlecap and pours the liquid down his gullet. “Woo hoo!” he says. “We did it!”

The wall behind them turns a greenish black. The color fills the room, but the man doesn’t notice. The woman closes her eyes and cheers for the home team, too. She might as well.

Coca-Cola: Your Only Responsibility

#absurd, #advertisement, #coca-cola, #misogyny, #sports, #squalor

Advertisement

drink-coke-full

Bills are stacked so high in the room that they take the place of furniture. From under a pile crawls a man. He picks up one of the few letters without dollar signs.

“I’m leaving you,” it says. He throws it with the rest of the junk.

His cat has died facedown in its food dish. He winces as he looks it over, unsure how he’s going to deal with the remains. He decides to worry about it later.

He opens the refrigerator. It is empty, except for a colony of bees that has taken it over. He closes the door as their humming intensifies.

“Don’t bother coming into work tomorrow,” plays a voice in his head.

“Your father and I are very disappointed in you.”

An eviction notice slides in from under the door. He lights it on fire and throws it on top of the rest of the paper.

From the inferno comes a figure made of smoke, well-dressed and red. “You’re just about to give up, aren’t you? I can help if you want. I can give you your heart’s desire.”

“Give me a Coke,” he says. It bursts into his hand. As the sirens approach, he gulps in down in one go, as though it is medicine.

He feels better.

Coca-Cola: Your Only Responsibility

#absurd, #advertisement, #coca-cola, #illustrated, #microfiction