Henrietta Maddox Webloner

Zooming out
August 19, 2011, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Telling stories, Writing | Tags:

The small, happy family gather in the kitchen. Teenager, Jessie sits texting on her mobile at the table while her mother prepares vegetables at the counter.

“How’s your new bike working out for you, love?” Emily hears herself say.

“Thanks, Mum. I love it – I’m using it every day. You should see me zooming through the city at full speed. Those big old buses seem like gigantic elephants and make me feel like a clever little mouse scurrying between them.””

Without looking up from peeling the carrots, Emily’s smile turns to a slight frown. “I hope you’re careful on the roads.”

“Mum, don’t be silly, of course.” She stretches her whole body out, “I just love the freedom of it. And just think, I’ll be driving next year, it’s going to be amazing.” She claps her hands together and gives off a high pitched squeal.

Still shaving vegetables, Emily giggles, “You sound like your father when he got his camera. I hope you’re getting all this, John?”

“Yes, dear.” he mumbled. Jess munches on a carrot and headed towards her father, her eyes lit up, “Dad, can I have a go?” Suddenly, she’s frozen in time.

The thick parallel lines of the pause symbol cover the left corner of the screen. Emily stands over her television, tears rolling down her face, taking everything in from the image of her beautiful daughter.

Emily takes a handkerchief from her black blazer and blows her nose, trying desperately to pull herself together. She feels the warmth of John’s hand on her shoulder as he takes her in his arms. She buries her tear soaked face in his chest, trying to muffle her bawls.

The cries stop. The couple are frozen as they comfort one another in funeral attire stood in the living room, their television behind them.

Two ad men sit in an editing suite. One sips on coffee, the other on diet coke.

“Let’s take a break, we’ve been here for hours.” He says.

“It’s been worth it, though. It’s going to be very effective” The other says.

© Vicky Bigmore 2011


10 Comments so far
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I really like this. The misdirection is clever and sends the reader off on a tangent, yet it comes back to the focus of people’s emotions. Manipulation and extortion of emotion. Very cool.
Adam B @revhappiness

Comment by adampb

I like the double twist and the commentary on the ethics of advertising is well-focused. Good job.

Comment by antisocialbutterflie

As the other commentators have said, the double twist/misdirection is great.

Did think there were too many adjectives in the teenagers description of cycling. A line like “big old buses seem like gigantic elephants” might be more effective if you cut straight to the buses-elephants comparison… “gigantic” in particular feels a bit redundant. Copywriters are more economical in the confines of a 30 second TV spot.

But really liked it, just feel it would have more impact if a few lines were tightened up. Thanks for sharing it!


Comment by johnluckhurst

Oh yes, I really loved the cleverness of this and to get us TWICE, brilliant. We were drawn into the pathos of the moment, just as the ad men would have wanted us to be, the use of the word zooming made us feel that we understood the name of the piece, so that threw us off the scent as well. As we zoom out for the last time, we feel a great sense of satisfaction at how you’ve sewn up the story and sewn us up as well, and yet the initial emotions you conjured still remain. Just great!

Comment by alisonwells

Very, nice! The first twist was just enough to put me off guard so that the second twist had greater effect. I love it!

Comment by Chuck Allen

Very clever double twist in this! I really enjoyed this.

Just fyi, noticed a couple typos in the last couple paragraphs. 🙂

Great job! Keep up the great work!

Comment by ganymederg

Some very nice misdirection in this piece, first I went one way then another and finally another. You put this together really well, kudos to you!

Comment by Helen

Sounds like affecting marketing right there. One of the few twists in recent flash fiction that sat well with me!

Comment by John Wiswell

Really powerful piece! My favorite part is how Emily “hearing herself” is our first hint that it’s actually a video.
And there’s something haunting about the ambiguity of Jessie’s fate that keeps the story lingering in my mind. Presumably she met an untimely end, but was it on her bike? Or did she get the car and drive similar to how she rode?

Comment by David A Ludwig

Very compelling writing Vicky!

And I agree with everyone else. Nice twists at the end.

It also seems like Ad Men will do anything to grab people’s attention!

Comment by Craig Smith (@CraigWFSmith)

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