‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week#14 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

As we wind down to the end to August, and summer—sob!—I hope your week is off to a good start. My muse was cooperative this weekend, allowing me to churn out ten pages on my WIP, plus play with a flash fiction prompt. Suzanne Burke shares a new photo each Friday. Should you like to play, you can find the rules HERE. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my take on the photo below.

Singer holding microphone with hand raised in the air, stage fireworks in background.
FREE Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Flashback

Clay Rocket downed a double shot of Scotch. Stupid name, Rocket.

He remembered when he’d been Clay Clodfelter, but Clodfelter had no star power. His managers had stripped him of his Pennsylvania Dutch surname, packaging music with his looks and a shiny stage name when he was only twenty-three. He thought he’d landed in Utopia, long days of plowing fields in Adamsville behind him.

His parents had fretted over his contract, but Mary couldn’t have been more excited. She’d baked him a cake, a simple confection of airy white layers with peppermint icing. They’d toasted with champagne and talked about their future long into the night. He’d wanted to make it permanent, proposing marriage despite the lack of a ring, but she’d insisted he establish himself.

His gut twisted.

He guzzled another shot, the alcohol burning his throat, pumping his courage. Even after thirty-four years, he knew her number. Couldn’t forget the familiar seven digits etched in his memory, though they hadn’t spoken since his screw-up at The Plaza.

He picked up the phone, fingers like ice. Huffing out a breath, he paced to the wall of windows overlooking New York City’s skyline. The sleek lines of his penthouse gleamed in the night-blackened glass, overlayed by strings of lights from towering hotels and bridges ablaze with traffic. Before he could lose his nerve, he punched out Mary’s number.

“Hello?” The voice on the line was young, childish.

“Uh…” His tongue felt thick. “Is Mary there?”

“Grandma.” The boy gave no warning, just left Clay hanging while he shouted into the background.

A shuffle of footsteps.

“Hello.” Her voice.

He struggled to swallow the char in his throat. “Mary?”

“Who is this?”

“I…it’s…” He lost the power of speech, forced his cumbersome tongue to move. “It’s Clay.”

“Clay?”

“Clay Clodfelter.”

“You mean Clay Rocket.”

He sank into a chair. “How are you?”

He wondered what she looked like now. If her hair was still glossy and dark, her figure trim, eyes like shaded pools at twilight.

“Why are you calling me?” Her voice was cool, not frost or ice, but frigid enough to take him down a peg. “Now, after all this time.”

He swallowed, wished he had another Scotch. “Do you know what day it is?”

Silence.

“Mary?”

“I have no clue.”

Was she lying? “It’s the anniversary of the day we met. All those years ago. You were carrying a basket of peaches from the general store. I tripped and sent them tumbling.”

He expected her to laugh at the memory. Him fumbling and apologetic, her forgiving and accommodating. Such innocence before the world grew jaded.

“I’d forgotten.” No change in her tone.

He inhaled through his nose. Knew he was getting nowhere. “That girl at the Plaza…she meant nothing.”

“And you don’t see how that made it worse?” A long pause. “Your first major concert. First success, and you abandoned me.”

His gut tightened. He’d been such an ass. “I’m sorry.”

A burst of static came over the line. He imagined her shifting, pacing as she digested his decades-too-late apology.

“I could never hold a candle to the girls who tempted your fidelity.” Her voice was thready. “You proved that as soon as you had success. It’s why I left.”

He considered the empty glass in his hand, the crystal as barren as his heart. He needed something to fill it. Ease the sting, if even only temporarily. “Are you married?”

“Happily.” Warmth now. “I have three children and seven grandchildren. My husband and I are nearing our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary.”

All the things she couldn’t have with him.

He glanced to the framed photographs on the wall. Image after image of his successes on the stage, hand thrust in the air, microphone high, fans clamoring to embrace their idol.

“I’m happy for you.” He didn’t know what else to say. When she didn’t answer he cleared his throat, apologized for disrupting her evening, then made noise about needing to call his manager. Mary bade him well before leaving him listening to a dial tone.

He’d always thought happiness came with fame, but he’d left any chance behind with his one-night stand at The Plaza hotel all those years ago. Strange, how it had taken him decades to realize what he’d lost.

Clay slumped onto the couch. He poured himself another Scotch and toasted his success.

Tomorrow, when he wasn’t drunk, maybe he’d mean it.


It’s always fun when my muse cooperates. I was especially pleased to weave a flash fiction and move my WIP ahead this weekend. With summer waning, autumn is a season that beckons me to write. I’m going to miss my pool and the long, lazy nights watching fireflies, but I do love the cool, crisp days of fall and the creativity the change in temperature ushers in. I wish you happy writing, and an abundance of inspiration from your muse.

Thanks for reading! 

 

 

68 thoughts on “‘Fiction In A Flash Challenge’ Week#14 NEW Image Prompt. Join in the fun! @pursoot #IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity

  1. Really powerful piece, Mae. Despite Clay’s dumbass mistake, I’d love to read more about him, how his life as a rock star panned out, what exactly got him to this rock bottom spot here and now, on this day. The makings of a very interesting character 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Autumn is my favorite season. And anything that advances 2020 and gets us closer to the end of the year, I’m all for.

    You did a great job with this story, Mae. I often wonder if cheaters regret their decision, and if they do, if it’s because they’re sorry they hurt people or sorry they got caught. This one was a compelling exploration of the aftermath.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m willing to bet a good portion of cheaters fall into the second part of your question, Staci. When I started writing, i didn’t expect the story to head in the direction it did, but Clay and Mary had their own ideas. Characters are so persnickety about how their tales are told!

      Summer is my favorite season, but Autumn is a close second. And yes, I look forward to when we can kick 2020 to the curb, and start over on new and better footing in 2021.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Great minds and all that, Joan 🙂

      I saw that photo and immediately thought rock star. From there it was just a matter of who and why.

      Here’s hoping when 2021 does arrive, it as wonderfully fabulous as 2020 was wretchedly horrid!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Craig. I wrote the flash fic piece first as a warm-up for the WIP. I always love it when words flow.

      Autumn comes in second for me after summer, but I am looking forward to it. I’m already envisioning brisk afternoons, bright sunlight, and fat pumpkins!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I had a great writing weekend for a change, Teri. Lately, I’ve been so distracted by my pool, but those days will soon be behind me. In the meantime, it was fun dreaming up dumbass Clay and his story, LOL. And even better adding to my WIP.

      I will miss my pool days, but I am looking forward to hunkering down in my writing cave when cool weather rolls in!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jina. Clay blew his chance, trading success for what really mattered, but at least Mary is happy! 🙂

      I’m a summer person, but autumn is my second favorite season–I think. I’m also really partial to spring, when everything is new and blooming with rebirth. And yes, on 2020 needing to end. Let’s hope the last few months make up for how rotten the middle was!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is hands-down, my favorite of all the responses to the prompt, Mae. If I had only had a minute to write, I would have gone in the direction of stardom is not always as it seems. 🙂 Great minds! Thank you for writing it! I LOVE it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow! I am so flattered by that comment, Jan, and thoroughly jazzed that you enjoyed my little fic so much. They always say it’s lonely at the top, and I guess Clay found that out. I’m glad I was able to spin the prompt in a direction that resonated with you. Thank you for that fabulous comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This one makes me so sad. What a lost soul, and so filled with regret. I suspect if he were asked to define his life, it’s that one (or first) big mistake he’d go with.

    Brilliant, Mae.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think so too. They say to be careful what you wish for, because it doesn’t always turn out as planned. Clay learned that lesson too late, but it was interesting to explore his character and life when he popped into my head. So glad you liked my flash fic, Marcia!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Success and happiness – two separate paths, two realities of life – captured so well by you, with fabulous images Mae. Do they ever meet? I loved some expressions like… “sleek lines of penthouse…” “eyes like shaded pools.” A story with a warm human touch. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Balroop. I love playing with words, choosing ones that evoke emotion, images, and even music in their fluidity. Thank you for sharing those that stood out for you.

      I think there are many people who manage to balance success and happiness, but too often we see or hear about the ones who fail. I guess that’s why my muse took me in that direction. But on the flip side of the story, is the person who does find happiness–Mary. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great insight to how fame isnt what people think it is. I could feel his sadness when he finally realized what he had lost. I could see his story in a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! This is one powerful piece of writing, my friend. Thanks so much for taking part again. I’m sorry for the delay in responding. For some odd reason, the post didn’t pingback and this is the first time I’ve seen it. I’ll be featuring it on the Challenge site in just a few moments. Kudos! Love where your muse taking you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Soooz, thank YOU for such a stellar prompt—again! You keep inspiring my muse 🙂 I think the goof with the pingback was on my end. I did something different this time and fouled it up. I’m glad you found my entry despite the goof, and I’m thrilled you liked the story. I’m really enjoying the challenge of crafting a tale in so few words!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A powerful story, Mae. Fame and fortune are not the ticket to love and happiness. It’s unfortunate for Clay to find it out decades too late.

    I took voice lesson for 10 years and passed the grade VIII exam from Royal School of Music in Hong Kong, but didn’t go on to take Performance exam, also didn’t choose music as my career because it didn’t make a living!! 🙂

    I’m here in Portland, Oregon and have a wonderful time with my daughter and granddaughters. I’m taking a blogging break but just visit a few friends. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clay definitely didn’t learn the lesson until much later. In some ways I feel sorry for him. Of course, he has all his fame, so I guess he found something he wanted.

      That’s amazing about your musical background, Miriam. Do you still sing? I would think music would be for a singer like words are for a writers….something that you always have a passion for.

      So glad you’re enjoying your time in Portland with your family. And I’m honored you chose to visit my blog during your break. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your story reminds me of The Great Getsby. Fame and fortune can only satisfy for a while.

        When I sang solo, I had the songs memorized. The lyrics play a good part in my writing. I still sing in a chorale and an annual Messiah (not this year). I don’t sing solo anymore after cancer because my health doesn’t give me the strength and sleeping needed to maintain the voice.

        Time goes by fast here. I’m going home tomorrow.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels. I hadn’t even considered that. I’m honored if my humble story awakens a thread that that classic book.

        I can’t hold a tune. At all. I’m so glad you’re still singing, even if you’re not doing solos anymore. I bet you have a beautiful voice, even after the cancer.

        Have a safe trip home and cherish the lovely memories you made on the trip 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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