Clarissa and the Cocktail Party

Flash fiction based on a writing prompt from Devon Henry.

Growing up, Clarissa never fit in with the children of her parent’s rich friends. She tried wearing the right clothes or getting fashionable haircuts but her hair remained a boring black. Nothing worked. No one accepted Clarissa.

No one accepted Clarissa’s family either. Her father was an accountant — a well paid accountant — but to everyone in the neighborhood, Clarissa’s family was hired help. They looked down their nose at Clarissa and her family when they moved in and taught their children to do the same.

The worst was Eva Anderson. Eva’s brash attitude caused other kids to flock to her side. What Eva said was gospel and Eva said Clarissa was no good.

Instead of accepting defeat, Clarissa stopped caring about other people. The walls she built around her feelings rose higher than those at the southern border. Who needs those stuck up socialites anyway?

When she came of age, Clarissa moved away and joined a traveling circus. This confirmed all of Eva’s assumptions about Clarissa. In reality, Clarissa found a profession she loved allowing her to interact with real people of character.

Clarissa loved life on the road. She learned to soar above the crowd on a trapeze. Every evening the children smiled while the adults gasped at her agile prowess.

Clarissa spent a few months in a fiery romance with a sword swallower, but it ended when he left the circus to care for his ill mother. Clarissa loved her life on the road with her family of misfits who, like her, didn’t fit in wherever they came from.

On the day of the annual Anderson holiday cocktail party, Clarissa and her circus pulled into town. What better opportunity to return to the old neighborhood and show Eva and her cronies the woman Clarissa had become?

Clarissa donned her trapeze costume which was too risqué to fit the formal attire of the party, which was just what she wanted. For good measure, Clarissa borrowed two of the big cats from the animal trainer to escort her into the Anderson household.

Despite protests by the valet at the door, Clarissa walked in with an air of confidence. She grabbed a drink from the table as everyone recoiled in a mix of shock and fear at her unsightly appearance. The men gawked, the women gasped. Clarissa sipped her drink with a coy smile as she sauntered past Eva Anderson.

Without a word or glance toward Eva, Clarissa whistled a command to Jorgé. The cat growled on command, terrorizing Eva right in the middle of her sultry solo. Eva culled up on the hood of the piano and shrieked as the cat crept closer.

Clarissa whistled again and the cat stopped. Still dawning her coy smile, Clarissa finished her drink and handed the empty class to a butler. With a glance over her shoulder, she looked back and said, “It was lovely to see you, Eva. Thanks for the wonderful evening.”

Clarissa walked out the front door and returned to her new family, never to think about Eva and her boring existence again.

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