Gray Matters

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write about someone grappling with an insecurity.... view prompt


African American Fiction Sad


The light had never comforted Carson.

He knew that blasted Sun was trying to blind him. It should have died out like all of the other planets. Even though that was scientifically impossible to do on many levels, he wouldn’t be able to stop the Sun from rising and leaving no more that he could stop the press from harassing him.

It made him really pissed off. Carson was more than pissed off. He was seeing red.

That fateful day when his world changed forever. The news outlets wouldn’t let him get off easily, either. They had become so entrenched inside of his brain that it didn’t matter to him that he was a villain now.

He didn’t care about not being that “Golden Child of Kingsley, California” anymore.

After all, the mighty always fall.

Carson Trent is now under 20 lawsuits.

That was the beginning of a sentence that ended up being more cringey than original.

Trent Can’t Pay the Rent; He’s So Bent.

That last line was from that crappy British newspaper called The Sun. Were they all that mentally deformed to the point where they couldn’t be able to create original headlines?


This is what Carson always wanted. The word filled him up with more bile to spew than a 10 year old bourbon drink he had with Hank back in Hawaii. Those were the good old days, he thought to himself.

He thought being born in California would give him that luxury of knowing that his name would never be forgotten.

But obscurity was a drug he craved like an addictive whiskey on a scorching day in Miami Beach.

Miami Beach. Who would have thought all of this would come from a place that disguised itself as an empty paradise?

That had been the last time he had been truly happy. Not just happy for the cameras. Happy for himself and no one else to contradict him otherwise. Away from the artificial, superficial nature of the blind zealots who got aroused from posting generic photos of their shallow thighs on the beach on an app that would die out in fifteen years from now.

Hank knocked on his motel room door.

Carson stopped lying down on the bland hotel bed. He wasn’t expecting anyone to arrive.

Can’t be room service. I asked them to come up discreetly 3 hours ago.

“These Honey Walnut cookies won’t eat their selves up, you know.”

Hank immediately locked through the door peephole for onlookers. The paparazzi could go fuck their selves. He felt proud for flipping them the middle finger whenever they tried to take pictures of him. They were always vultures and were always going to be that way.

He was leaning against a door, making sure that the only thing that Carson saw was a swinging of his favorite comfort meal in the world.

“These Honey Walnut cookies won’t eat their selves up, you know.”

He felt so loved. Carson couldn’t even say a word at all. Maybe this nightmare wasn’t a tragedy as he thought. If anything, Reina had been more of a blessing than a curse. If it hadn’t been for her, Hank and Carson would have never been able to finally fall in love in their forties. Carson never wanted to cry in front of people. It wasn’t really his style, but he didn’t give a crap.

Crying openly in front of his husband, he fell down to his knees, waiting for Hank to hug him and kiss him with nonjudgmental love. 

Who would have thought that being accused of something Carson never did would make him open his eyes to the reality of his life? He never wanted fame; he just wanted happiness.

And Hank was the man that gave him that. From the moment they first saw each other across the Miami bar, “Ursula’s Urchins,” he never had let Hank out of his sight.

Hank, with his blond beach hair and cerulean eyes that would make him the perfect surfer for other sensitive men come forth. Hank, the hands that held Carson’s the moment headlines had made sure that Carson’s career would be obliterated before it even reached the fringes of the deceptive public eye.

“You always know how to cheer me up.”

His fiancé’s heart almost burst out of his chest.

Carson, baby, don’t crumble under this one.

Being a famous person’s partner, whether you were married for 20 years, or even dating for 5 months, was no joke at all. Both of the men had heard about what had happened to that other couple. It was so sad. The relationship had died on the vine before they had even come out to the public.

Gwen and Ivy Hanson.

“Hank, I know what clichéd speech you’re thinking in your head right now to cheer me up, but I promise you, if you knew me by now, it’s that I never fall for bullshit like that.”

In spite of the hellish month of February that they had been through, Hank couldn’t help but softly chuckle to himself. Hollywood loved the idea of making your life a living hell from your utopian heaven in a dash. If you couldn’t beat them, join them.

“There’s no clichéd speech, honey. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t stop myself from cheering you up. Remember what Mallory did to you. That malicious bitch deserves to die.”

Mallory was gone.

Not literally gone, but gone enough in Carson’s turbulent thoughts, for dreams were the only way to escape life. The dreams that Lana, her grandmother, told her about were only for the wise ones who could handle life’s rough edges.

The edges had hardened against her skin. But she was still able to live with the belief every day that life could get better. Cynicism made her want to barf. Who wants to make anything more miserable than it already is?

But a connection to another dream was all that it took to make the indestructible Mallory not fall apart under the seams of her depressing ocean. Validation was never something she craved for herself. Out of all of the people in the world, Carson had been the only person he had trusted in the world besides Hank, and that was saying a lot since Carson had trouble trusting anybody.

Dreams were the entire reason Carson was inside of this mess and no one could tell him otherwise (except maybe for Hank Harrison.)

Carson and Mallory had never even interacted with each other in real life. And yet, he knew that she knew his weakness, his insecurity, his one Achilles’s Heel that could lead the whole chess board to crumple into pieces: the fear of being mocked by the entire world.

Mallory lied to Carson. She was just as cynical as everyone else. She only used optimism as a positive cover up to hide the webs of her lily pad world of haziness. That wasn’t a dream by any means, it was a torture chamber.

“She deceived me. What else is there to say?” Carson’s tears threatened to leave his eyes again.

“No, stop it!” Hank slammed on the mahogany dresser. Carson was shocked. He never saw this side to his husband before.

Then he walked over, grabbed Carson’s shoulders, and looked him straight in the eye.

“You’re still the Golden Child from Kingston, California. You can never forget that.”

Golden child…Carson’s eyes carried nothing but the emptiness of a once great man destined to see the stars, Moon, and the Sun combined into one. In his last sentence for this dark night, he whispered four words that were too painful to repeat out loud.

“The gold is gone.”

October 04, 2021 22:25

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Dustin Gillham
22:27 Oct 13, 2021

Make the sun a “celestial body,” or “star.” Instead of saying it made him really pissed off just say Carson is pissed. He sees red. Or, put it in another tense. Don’t repeated yourself. Avoid too many as or like statements. Readers will assimilate meaning as presented in the text. No need for extra words. The cookies “won’t eat themselves.” I prefer always letting the reader know who said what, but as long as person or persons is established clearly in the flow of the narrative you should be okay. Thank you for the honor ...


Aiyana Henderson
00:38 Oct 17, 2021

Hi, thank you for commenting. I'll be sure to remember that for my future stories!


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