Pretty Red Thing

A "Tide to Go" short horror.

The woman turns on the TV. The ads come on following her soap opera. She’s about to get off the sofa to refill her bowl of Pringles when an ad comes on. Tide to Go, a brand new product, flares before her eyes, red and shiny like a juicy apple, and she’s sold. Look at how small it is, she thinks, taking her seat afresh. Wouldn’t that look nice in my handbag? She considers the sweet prospect of a portable cleaner. It’s like magic! She thinks. Did you see that? The stain just… vanished. Huh.

It isn’t until she’s in the cleaning isle at the grocery store that she remembers the slender little applicator. She’s momentarily torn, standing just a foot away from the wall where rows upon rows of Tide to Go’s  gleam up at her. It’s 2.99, a price at which she can buy a carton of chocolate milk, or else three banana bunches. Screw it, she thinks. Three dollars worth it. I’m through with coffee dribble stains on my blouses. She picks it up, tosses it into the cart, and continues on.

She’s loading groceries into the car, and she’s thinking about the pretty red thing. She takes the package out of the plastic bag, rips through the tough plastic with her teeth, hacking away at the card backing. It’s out of its package at last, and she places it into her handbag. She stares fondly at for just a second, and then drives out of the lot.

On the drive home, she thinks it over. How often does one slop foodstuffs on their clothes? Then she thinks of something equally dreadful. Where do I keep the thing? My work pants don’t even have pockets! And then What will I do if I’ve spilled tomato sauce on my blouse, and my Tide to Go is with my bag in the locker room on the main floor? I’d then have to rush down seven floors, by which time the tomato sauce would have made an orangey-red stain. Would it work fast enough?

She pulls up to her driveway. It’s the dead of winter, one of those cold-crack, dry days. She forgets her handbag on the opposite seat. She then carts in the groceries in three trips. At the end of it all, she wants to test out her new Tide to Go, stain a portion of her shirt with it to see if it’s really what they say it is. It’s in her car, though, with her bag, and it’s too cold outside, or she’s too lazy to get it.

The following day, she gets into her car. It’s so cold she can see her breath and her face goes starchy dry. She reaches into her handbag, the leather bearing the cold shock, and she finds her Tide to Go, alright. Only it has burst. The cold froze it.

So much for convenience, she thinks.

The End

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