Did You See Something You Liked?

Submitted into Contest #19 in response to: Write a short story about someone watching a convincing infomercial. ... view prompt



"What a product to have to follow up. John, tell us you have something good up your sleeve!"

"Boy, do I. The holiday season is where everyone wants to look their best and so today, I've brought you just the thing."

Dot sat at her easel, her self-portrait coming along nicely, and the top half of the TV visible over her canvas. Christmas is a week away and Dot had gifted herself a face mask as an early present. The infomercial channel had been left on for background noise and the presenters have been pitching blenders, towels and mops to Dot for two hours now but something about John's pitch drew her attention fully.

"Without the use of vitamins or additives this one pill can smooth out any wrinkle, cover up any acne, sharpen any jaw line," John said.

Dot sat back in her chair and laughed quietly. She let herself get lost in the pitch for pure amusement. This magic pill John was holding delicately up to the camera was bright pink and the size of his thumb nail. Along the middle seam was a gold, shinny band.

“Now I can feel you all at home judging this little device and let me tell you, so was I. I tried it for myself and I can personally vouch for this little lady.” He popped the pill in his mouth, dramatically swallowed and stuck his tongue out to the camera. “Since I’ve started my daily dose of this stuff, I have lost weight, my hair has grown in thicker and my feet no longer hurt after a long day up here on stage.”

Dot shook her head and picked up her paint brush right as John said quiet sharply, “Just consider,” and he held his hand out as if to stop someone from walking away, “That bump in your nose disappearing overnight.”

And out of the corner of her eye Dot saw on her portrait that she had drawn her own little bump on her slightly beaky nose. She shook her head again, she’s never had a problem with it now and she didn’t plan on having one.

Then John said, “Or that chin that could stick out only a fraction of an inch farther to give you that nice profile you’ve always wanted.”

Dot considered the slight angle she had drawn herself at and the weak curve over her feminine jaw and she decided she didn’t care.

Then John said, “Or those pesky brown eyes you’ve always wanted to be green.”

Dot snapped her attention up to the TV. John was looking right at the camera and somehow right into Dots eyes. A creeping chill slid across her neck and she shook it off. Simple things, she told herself, simple things anyone would want to be different. John didn’t look away from the camera and he didn’t talk for a few second. Dot looked to her window having the feeling she was being watched.

John spoke up then and he had a slight curve to his lips. “Or that dry skin that really breaks out right at the start of winter. Or the calluses on your pinky toes from all those heels you wear. Or that one eyebrow that starts just a little later than the other one that you always have to fill in.”

Dot sat up straight and watched the TV in horror. Every slight issue she has ever noticed about herself this John listed out slowly and knowingly. Dot looked around for the remote, but it wasn’t by her feet and in her franticness caught a glimpse of her neighbor’s TV across the yard.

The man who was on before John was talking away about some necklaces with a yellow living room background and to her left John kept listing one after another small flaws about Dot.

“Or that crooked tooth you think everyone notices when you smile. Or that-“

And Dot stood up so hard she knocked her painting face down onto the carpet and stepped through its back in her panic of finding the remote. John went quiet again and Dot watched the TV half bent over to see what happens next.

“Buy it,” he said nicely with a big smile, “come on, it’ll make it better.”

Dot stood straight and right in front of the TV. The bright lights recolored her head to hip and her hands hung loose by her sides. John’s smile grew to a full one and he motioned for Dot to come closer.

“It’s so easy to pick up the phone and dial the number on the bottom of the screen.”

A 1-800 number began to flash in a rainbow pattern really fast and Dots stomach cramped from looking at it for too long. John kept motioning like he wanted Dot to climb through the TV and she took a step forward.

“Oh, come on, just dial the number.”

Dot eyed the home phone on the coffee table and she picked it up. She pressed each number slowly with long pauses between each button.

“Just a few more Dot, you’re almost there.”

Dot hit the final number and it rung out without her putting the phone up to her ear. It rung three times before on screen John was handed an exact replica of Dots phone. He looked at the number across the phone screen, smiled wider to a level it seemed excessive, and answered the phone. He looked right down the camera as he said, “Hello!”

And his voice rang through right on time at Dots end. Dot watched John talk simultaneous with his voice coming through and only when he said to put the phone to her ear did she finally move to do so.

“Well, Dot, how can I help you?”

She didn’t say anything.

“Did you see something you liked?”

She swayed forward a bit.

“It was these wonderful pills wasn’t it?”

She nodded heavy and said, “I want a whole bunch of them.”

December 13, 2019 00:11

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