Tuesday 27 November 2012

Diet Coke Flash Fiction

I have been inspired by a photo taken by the husband of a good writer friend Susi Holliday and titled simply 'Art'.

I was caught between the bright jovial display, that glitters with it's symmetry and synchronicity, contrasted with the content of what it displayed; a large amount of Diet Coke cans. The juxtaposition of such a commercial object, drunk in such quantity, with its controversial health risks (in my view anyway), being used in such an off the wall artist way, begged to be written about, or in this case 'Flashed' about.

So encouraged by my writer friend, that is what I did. Enjoy.
Diet Coke 

They said that it was the sugar in the coke that was the problem, but they were wrong. Plus it was diet anyway, so there was no sugar.

He counted out the white pegs to make sure he had enough. Then he measured the distance of the line, calculating the breaks between, before he started hanging them. It had to be right, otherwise it would look silly.

The cans glittered in the sunlight. The pegs just catching the top of the ring pulls, so they had room to move in the breeze. He smiled; she would have liked them, and she would have smiled. He faltered, his arm outstretched about to hang another one.

That was where it had begun, with her smile. It had started to decay - not metaphorically but literally.

He continued to hang them and turned them so that their labels displayed the same way. They had to be uniform. Then he took a count – there had to be an even number too.

As each tooth had crumbled, the dentist had grown increasing puzzled. He’d asked her to start listing what she ate. And when he first pointed out the regularity of the cola on the list, she thought it must have been the sugar and had switched to Diet. But then she’d broken her wrist. No accident, no fall, just a quick flick of the wrist to switch off the light and snap!

As he appreciated the contrast of the glaring red ‘Coke’ on the silver background, he remembered the blood test results, the words ‘advanced Osteoporosis’ ringing out and wandering round his head, trying to find a place.

He heard a crumpling sound from his hand and saw he’d dented the can he was holding. He threw it on the ground and picked up another; a clean, smooth one. He stroked it and hung it up, admiring its clean lines, its brightness, and the innocence with which it had held its poison.

It was then that they had heard about phosphates, and in particular Phosphoric Acid and its corrosive properties, particularly on bones. The funny thing was how dumb it was really; everyone knew about the coca cola tooth test, everyone had seen the pile of dust the tooth had become overnight. It was fact, not fiction. But they all kept drinking it.

He placed the last one at the end by the birdhouse. He didn’t think they would mind; birds liked sparkly things. He looked back along the row, looking closely at the gaps between making sure they looked equal, symmetrical.

Then he took the camera and stood back. She’d love it. He would lay it on her grave that afternoon.


  1. I loved the picture when Susi posted it just for its quirkiness and I love your flash fiction too although it is dark and disturbing.
    Personally I have concerns about "diet" drinks and all those chemicals - would much rather drink sugar - or the "full fat stuff" as my husband used to call it.
    But too much sugar leads to tooth decay, as you have said, but more worrying isn't there a link between gum disease and heart problems?
    My husband died from a heart attack - how much was genetic and how much all that sugary coke he was so fond of?
    Hmmmm - sorry if that all sounds very depressing but we never know what's going to get us in the end and maybe that is for the best.

    Great piece of thought provoking writing Miranda! Just add the number of words here to your NaNo word count - no one need ever know ;-)

  2. As the story said, not sugar but phosphoric acid! Much worse, on the entire body, although not strictly the heart. Aspartame on the other hand is also toxic and was used in Coke - full fat version too!

    I am sorry to hear about your husband - I read your blog about it. There are so many factors to heart attack it is hard to define. And we never know what is a factor in any illnesses, or cancers. What makes it extra hard!

    But thanks for commenting and enjoying!

  3. I just love the fact that art and writing can stimulate such intelligent conversation - so glad to have found people to discuss things with at all levels, from the flippant Twitter banter to the deep and meaningful, without these shared interests and new found friends I would be far more lonely than I am...

  4. I was thinking EXACTLY the same this morning! How different and empty my life would be without the internet and how isolated in a foreign country I would be!

  5. Enjoyed the story Miranda, and such a great picture isn't it, appeals to my ocd! Aspartame is my bug bear...I get really riled up about it, I avoid 'diet' anything with a vengeance!

  6. I also avoid anything 'diet' and 'low fat' or 'no added sugar'! Thanks for stopping by!