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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: The Road to Fame and Fortune
By Beckie Stewart


Clay shot up in his makeshift bed, covering his mouth to muffle the sounds. Drenched in his own sweat again, he shivered from the pictures that flashed before him. The nightmares grew worse and more frequent with the passing of time. Clay buried his head in his knees and wept.

How did I ever get myself into such an awful predicament? Clay wondered. How do I get out of it now?

Intending to have the adventure of a lifetime, everything turned sour. Memories of dreams finally coming true faded into the reality of where his choices landed him. Clay surveyed his surroundings and felt a wave of nausea surface from the pit of his stomach. The dry heaves started again, like all the previous nights. He knew nothing would dispel from within him as little had been eaten during the day to throw up in the night hours.

“I don’t need a college education, and I certainly don’t need you to make my way in the world.” Clay shouted to his parents as he grabbed his suitcase, the last of his belongings, and headed for the door a year earlier.

His plans had been devised for sometime. He saved his money from the odd jobs he had done and waited for the day he turned eighteen and graduated from high school. He believed in the decision to finish school. Beyond that, he desired to determine his own destiny.

Never looking back to see his parent’s reaction, he jumped into his car and headed as far away from his family as he could travel. He headed west toward California and the good life.

About three days he arrived in Las Angeles. Clay used the first few days there to practice the song he wrote for his American Idol audition. When the morning of his try-outs arrived, he joined the line with hundreds of other hopefuls receiving the number 450. He would be one of the last to appear before Simon, Randy, and Paula, but he was confident that his impression would send him to Hollywood. It did too.

Using some of his money for a hotel room, Clay got a good nights rest. With a shower and one of his nicest outfits selected, he waited for his turn to appear before the three judges again.

With his guitar in hand, he performed another one of his own original songs. He was sure as the next American Idol his fame would exceed his singing ability and establish him as a brilliant songwriter as well.

“Okay, that’s enough.” Simon said as he waved his hand.

“But I didn’t even get to the chorus yet,” Clay said.

“Well, I’m not interested in the chorus. The first verse was awful.”

“You don’t like the words?” Clay asked.

“I didn’t like anything about it.” Simon stated.

“You just don’t have an ear for good music.”

“Listen, you’re done, Clay. You’ve come in here all cocky and full of yourself. Where was the kid we saw in Los Angeles?” Simon asked.

“I’m right here. You’re just not giving me a fair chance.”

“Really? What do you think, Randy?” Simon asked.

“Man, I just didn’t get it this time. I couldn’t connect with what you were trying to say. Sorry.” Randy told Clay.

“What about you, Paula,” Clay asked as he felt tears forming.

With a frown and glancing down, Paula shook her head and said, “No, I’m sorry, Clay.”

Everything after that day remained vague in Clay’s mind. He left the studio that day devastated. He refused to return home defeated, and so he searched for employment. He worked a few jobs here and there. He brought in some cash but found that he couldn’t afford the deposits or amount needed to obtain a place to live. Living in his car lost its appeal the day he lost his music dream. Occasionally he stayed in a motel, but he couldn’t afford it often.

What am I doing? Clay thought. None of this worked out and the fact was he really needed his parents. Not for their money but for their love and support. With the menial dollars left, Clay told himself. I can face the truth of my situation and dare to make the drive back home or continue on the path I’m going and rot away in my car. With his car in fifth gear, Clay headed toward an attempt to restore his relationship with his parents

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This article has been read 558 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laury Hubrich 09/04/08
Poor Clay. As with many teens, he chose to go his own way and learned to regret it. You portrayed him very well. Good job.
Helen Murray09/05/08
Great modern day prodigal story. Could be a great minifilm for youth clubs.
Sunny Loomis 09/06/08
Very good story. Rebellious teen on his own path. Glad to see he's headed in the right direction at the end. Nicely done.
Marlene Austin09/06/08
Very "popular", up-to-date slant on this common theme. Would have felt more "empathy" for the MC if I had seen more of his emotional turmoil, but, I know - Writing Challenges have their WORD limits. :)
Betty Castleberry09/08/08
Good opening paragraph to grab the reader's attention.
Clay isn't so different from a lot of young people out to conquer the world. You portrayed him nicely.
Jan Ackerson 09/08/08
Kind of a modern-day interpretation of the Prodigal Son--I like it.

I'd have chosen a different name for your protagonist, as there was a famous "Clay" who almost won American Idol, and you might confuse some readers into thinking this is about him.

Lynda Schultz 09/08/08
Yes, a good modern take on the biblical story. I could see Simon and Randy in the words you chose for them to say. Good story.
Leah Nichols 09/09/08
I thought it wrapped up too quickly - word limit, I know - but other than that you did an excellent job with this entry. Very captivating writing.
Sheri Gordon09/10/08
This was a fun read, and I won't point out the typos because you already mentioned them in your post. :)

Being a big AI fan, I have two observations. First, I thought this was about Clay Aiken, but realized it wasn't. And second, there was a contestant from last season with a story very much like this--was this story about him? (I don't remember his name.)

Nice job with the topic--I especially like the ending.