Dreams and Expectations

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ripped from the Headlines!.”

The newspaper’s headline glared at him from the kitchen table: AN ARRAY OF OVERSIGHTS SET THE STAGE FOR 2 KILLERS’ ESCAPE. The world was falling into chaos, if the newspapers were to be believed. He set his coffee mug down on the newspaper, leaving a ring of coffee across the picture.

He had more important things to think about, like whether the interviewer would prefer the blue or beige shirt. The beige shirt showed just how much beer he had been drinking, but the blue shift was fraying at the bottom. At this point did it matter? He had spent the past month applying for jobs and going to interviews and for what?

He was still unemployed, still going to be late on rent this month, and still going to be a disappointment. His parents would be throwing a party right now if they could see what his life had become.

“You want to become an actor?” his father nearly spat out his coffee, “Absolutely not.” 

“Why not? Because it doesn’t fit in the plan you’ve created? This is my life and I will live it the way I want to live it,” he said, throwing the napkin at him. 

His mother fixed his hair, “But I thought you wanted to become a doctor? Where is this coming from, Charles?” 

Charlie backed away from his parents, “I wanted to be a doctor when I was five, mom. I wouldn’t have brought this up if I hadn’t given it some thought.”

“And who will support you while you pursue this foolish dream?” his father asked, “You have no money, no job, nothing!” 

He looked around the kitchen, with its sparkling stainless steel appliances and granite counters. His mother’s pearl necklace, his father’s rolex, and their bright, straight teeth. He had never wanted to get out from his parents’ influence more.

“I will get a job. Father, I will do this whether you want me to or not,” he said. 

“If that is what you want, then I expect you to pack your things and leave tonight,” his father said, taking a final sip of coffee.

“Henry, you cannot be serious! Let him find a job first, then a place!” his mother said as she picked up her husband’s mug. 

“No. This is what he wants. He will stop taking my money for granted. He will see how hard I had to work for our family to be where we are,” his father said standing up, “We will not bail you out if you should fail, son.” 

Charlie had left that night and hadn’t looked back. His father’s words haunted him, but he hadn’t taken it seriously at first. This apartment was Charlie’s first taste of freedom, despite the cracked windows, the stained carpet, and the mattress on the floor. He hosted parties, stayed up as late as he wanted, ate pizza every night. It was great until he ran out of money.

His father had drilled budgeting into his head his entire life, but he never understood the point of it until now. Defeated, his mother had given him a small allowance to get him through the next round of bills, but his father had found out. Charlie knew that he couldn’t get more money from her despite being her only son.

He had gone to auditions. There always seemed to be new auditions, but he was never tall enough, old enough, attractive enough. The rejections kept piling up just like his bills. Charlie knew he had to think of a new plan.

He had considered going back to his father and admitting defeat. Going to an Ivy school and become a doctor. Most people would kill for that opportunity and part of him hated himself for not wanting that. It would be so easy, except every fibre in his body protested at the thought of being a doctor.

The shift work alone would be the end of him, but he hated the thought of playing God. Doctors decided whether someone lived or died, could be healed or had to be let go. He wanted a family one day and he remembered the absence of his father growing up.

But acting… The ability to discover new characters, to tell their stories to other people, appealed to him. It was an escape of sorts. Sure it was difficult now, but it would be worth it once he made it.

Until then, he had to find a job. Grabbing the blue shirt, he put in on hoping that they would hire him despite his lack of experience. How difficult could it be working at a coffee shop?

I was going to continue the story until I realized that the last paragraph was a good place to end it. This is probably my longest post yet :).

What did you think? Any suggestions?

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7 thoughts on “Dreams and Expectations

  1. Arpita says:

    I think it is a very beautiful story, Juliette. You have a great skill. The dialogue was refreshing and realistic; it brought out the backstory nicely. And yes, it was a good idea to end it where you ended it; it is always good to leave something for the reader’s imagination.

    One suggestion regarding formatting: I don’t find centre-alignment quite charming in fiction because it looks like poetry. I understand you did this because you wanted to identify it as past event, but I suggest you do it through the text, not formatting.

    All the best with your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Juliette Chartrand says:

      Thank you for your feedback. I hadn’t considered the parallels between poetry and centre-alignment in fiction. It’s something I will keep in mind when I write in the future!

      Thank you for the detailed feedback. I’m trying to work on my short story writing and I’m glad that I ended it in the right place. I’m also happy you found the dialogue refreshing and realistic! It was also something I was striving for.

      Thank you again for you comments. You have given me some food for thought :).

      Liked by 1 person

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