Flash Fiction: Push



Carrie Lynn Roberts was bone-tired. Five a.m. came way too early and after a long shift at the coffee shop, the climb up three flights of stairs added to her misery. Once again, the ancient rickety elevator in her apartment building stopped working. Reaching her front door, she leaned her head against the door frame, too weary to put the keys into the locks.

Certain collapsing on her couch instead of on the hallway floor sounded more enticing, Carrie unlocked the three deadbolts and stumbled inside. She locked the door, threw her purse and the mail she’d picked up onto the coffee table and headed for a shower.

The hot water eased the tightness in her muscles, but didn’t help the anxiety washing over her. She needed to decide soon about her future, a decision she didn’t wish to face. Her brother warned success was not always based on talent, but sometimes on luck alone. Before she left for Los Angeles, he joked that, at least, she wasn’t trying to become an actress. Carrie laughed aloud, breaking into acting had to be easier than trying to be a screenwriter.

She dried off, slipped on an old pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt, and walked across the studio apartment to the kitchenette. After preparing a turkey sandwich and peach tea, she sat on the couch to open the mail. Carrie sorted through the pile of envelopes thankful no rejection letters arrived, today only bills. She pushed her sandwich away and sank back against the soft cushions. Even two jobs, the coffee shop and the customer-service rep job she did four nights a week, barely covered her expenses, and left her little time to write. As she totaled up the bills, Carrie knew she had to call Ben asking for more money. He never failed to help her, but he also made it clear she needed to decide if she should give up her dream, return to Mobile and teach.

Carrie stretched out on the couch, disgusted that after two years, she might as well face it, she was a failure as a screenwriter. One local actors group adapted one of her screenplays for the stage, to very good reviews. The publicity secured an agent for her, but in the eight months since, nothing.

She didn’t want to push the rock up the hill any longer. A smile crossed her face as she remembered Professor Nivens in her mythology/fantasy writing class telling the tale of Sisyphus, the mythological king of Ephyra. The king was punished for his deceitfulness in tricking Hades into allowing him to leave the underworld. His deceit discovered, Sisyphus was forced to roll a heavy boulder up a steep hill, not knowing the boulder was enchanted, destined to roll down the hill as soon as it neared its apex, Carrie empathized with Sisyphus, destined to push for something she wanted only to see her dreams roll from her reach.

Reluctantly, Carrie realized, with her lease up in two months, now was the time to make plans to go home. First, she needed to tell Ben, and as she reached for her phone, it rang. The caller ID identified her agent.

“Carrie, call in sick tomorrow, we’ve got a meeting with Pinetree Studios in the morning. They love the screenplay I offered them, and they want to make the movie. Great studio, a great opportunity… you’ve arrived!”

Excited about her good fortune, Carrie grinned broadly as she thought of Sisyphus. That big rock didn’t seem so formidable anymore.


Flash fiction written for the Moderated Selected Writing Exercise (#writingprompt) on the Writer’s Discussion Group community on Google+. The prompt for this exercise is a painting called Pushing Boulder Uphill by Alan E. Cober. No commercial use intended.


One thought on “Flash Fiction: Push”

  1. As ever hon, you paint a wonderfully clear picture with your words. I can feel Carrie’s fatigue, her determination to succeed and then, just as she’s about to have her dreams roll back downhill, she makes it!!! I felt so happy for her at the end!


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