Uncertainty in the Writer's Circle

Submitted for Contest #46 in response to: Write a story that takes place in a writer's circle.... view prompt

13 comments

Submitted on 06/19/2020

Categories: General

“Everyone here doesn’t even want you in our writer’s circle!” Jeanine shouted across the room.

“Well at least I’m a talented writer! You guys can’t even write a paragraph without me having to check it!” Amelia retorted, glaring at Jeanine.

Jeanine gawked at Amelia in shock of her obstructive comment, harsh wrinkles forming between her brows. 

“You are not welcome in our writer’s circle anymore,” Jeanine spat out.

“Hey! You can’t decide that! You’re not the leader of the group, woman! I’m the only one here that actually gives valid criticism to all your guys’ pathetic writing.

“Ok, then let’s take a vote to determine if you get to stay in this writer’s circle or not!” Jeanine insisted as she raised her hand to match the height of her head. “All those in favor of Amelia leaving the circle, please raise your hand.”

Ted pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes for a second before looking up abruptly and standing up from his chair. 

“Alright, this needs to stop! You two have been arguing for half an hour already, and we only reserved this room for one hour! We’re not gonna have time to do anything else but watch you two scream!” Ted growled while gesturing with his hands. 

“I agree with Ted,” Marcus said, still slumped tiredly in his seat.

“I had something really important to announce, but no one will listen since y’all are too busy shouting at each other to know that I’m leaving the circle!” Ted spouted louder than anyone had ever heard him speak.

Ted sighed, and everyone in the room stared at him. The room was silent like there was no one in it, but in actuality, there were four grown adults facing each other awkwardly.

“Are you leaving because of us?” Jeanine finally asked in a hushed tone, staring at the dark green fuzz on the carpet ground of the library.

“No,” Ted said calmly again as he sat back down in his chair. “I’m leaving because I know I’m not gonna make any money as a writer anytime soon, and I need to get money for my family right now. My daughter’s only a few months old, and I’m out here trying to be a writer when I’m supposed to be buying baby clothes and toys for her. I’m not gonna be a good dad until I stop trying to be a writer and start working to get cash and properly raise her.” 

Ted placed his left hand over his eyes while deep creases tugged downward at the corners of his mouth. Everyone seemed to place all the attention on Ted now, but nobody knew what to do or say. Nobody knew how to comfort Ted or even comfort each other for losing a supportive writer in their writer’s circle. Even Amelia didn’t have any vicious comebacks to hiss at people. Everyone in the group seemed to like Ted, so without him in the circle, it would always feel incomplete or just simply uninteresting. 

Marcus was the first one to address Ted again. 

“Sorry about what you’re going through man,” Marcus consoled as he placed his hand on Ted’s shoulder. “The circle’s not going to be the same without you.”

“Yeah, we’ll really miss you Ted,” Jeanine added.

Only Amelia didn’t say a word to Ted. As Marcus and Jeanine were expressing their despair for Ted’s news, Amelia just stood in the corner of the room, watching everyone else. Amelia was never really good at comforting people or expressing her feelings towards people; actually, she wasn’t really good at talking to people at all. There were very few people in Amelia’s life that she liked. She always had problems with people and judged too harshly before getting to know them. Amelia was the youngest of the group, and because of that, she saw herself as superior to the others. She thought everyone else was getting old and starting to bald and have all sorts of joint problems even though the three other people in her writer’s circle were still in their 30’s and 40’s. 

Truthfully, Amelia was the slightest bit disheartened that Ted was leaving, but she had no problem unfriending people or turning her back on people before, so she easily thought of Ted’s departure as just another goodbye to a stranger. The situation wouldn’t benefit or harm her, so Amelia told herself to think nothing of it. 

The group went on to talk about their favorite memories with Ted in their writer’s circle meetings, and laughter filled the once quiet room again. Another 30 minutes passed instantly, and soon the group of four found themselves saying goodbye. Sadness flowed through the room as everyone said their final goodbyes to Ted and promised to keep in touch, and then the room was empty and silent again.

After the meeting was over, Amelia headed over to the library bathroom while the others headed towards the door at the front of the building. She leaned over the sink counter in the bathroom while taking out a miniature, polka dotted pouch from her black handbag. Digging through her makeup bag, Amelia realized she had left her coral lipstick in the meeting room she had been in, so she started on her way back to the room. 

It was not uncommon for Amelia to lose her lipstick; she used it almost everywhere she went and constantly reapplied it because she couldn’t stand for her lush lips to ever be deprived of a thick coat of pigment. 

As Amelia entered the silent meeting room she was in just a minute ago, something caught her eye as she grabbed her coral lipstick from the leather chair she had previously sat on.

A notebook was lying on the ground next to the leg of the chair right next to her. Amelia bent over to take a closer look at the notebook and realized the green, worn out notebook on the ground was Ted’s notebook. She pulled the notebook out from under the chair and saw the letters T-e-d written neatly with straight black strokes on the cover of the notebook. 

Ted had left his writer’s notebook at the meeting room in the library, and now, it was in Amelia’s hands. Amelia pondered on how she would return Ted’s notebook to him because she was never going to meet him in a writer’s circle meeting again, and she didn’t have his phone number either. She hadn’t bothered to get anyone’s phone number from her writer’s circle because she told them she didn’t want to be social with them other than in their weekly meetings despite the fact that everyone else in her group exchanged phone numbers. 

Amelia was about to leave Ted’s notebook on the ground in the meeting room so that it would become someone else’s problem to deal with, but then she decided to take the notebook with her and give it to someone in her writer’s circle next week. That way, she would just pass the notebook to someone who could call Ted and give it to him. So, Amelia strolled out the library doors with Ted’s notebook nestled in her black handbag as she was on her way home.

That night, Amelia was up late working at her computer on the book she was just starting to write. She had been typing furiously and deleting for hours, and she ended up with nothing because she couldn’t seem to come up with an interesting enough story to write. Looking for inspiration, Amelia decided to browse the web for ideas to begin her story with. She scrolled through multiple websites full of prompts and ideas but still couldn’t find the one that she thought she could develop into an intricate book. 

Out of ideas and exhausted, Amelia suddenly thought of something she could resort to for inspiration—Ted’s writing notebook. Her handbag was just in reach, sitting on the edge of the table Amelia was working at. Amelia leaned to her right to grasp her handbag and snatched it in front of her. She pulled out the thick, green notebook that belonged to Ted and started to turn the pages in it. 

Amelia was amazed at what she found; Ted had written countless intriguing scenes of stories and full story plots crammed on each page. She was shocked that Ted had written so many interesting ideas. In meetings before, everyone would share what they’d been working on, but Amelia never really listened to anyone else’s writing because she thought the other writers were trivial and inferior to her. Now seeing Ted’s writing, she couldn’t imagine what it’d be like if she wrote a story using his plot ideas. 

Amelia again started to type frantically into her computer, beginning a book based on the ideas Ted had written and placing scenes in it that were stolen from Ted’s notebook. 

...

A few months have passed since Amelia started writing Ted’s story; Amelia has now published her first book and never returned Ted’s notebook. 

Amelia waited impatiently for a couple of weeks; she waited for her newly published book to be bought by thousands of people around the country. Amelia thought she would instantly become a preeminent author and an icon where she lived, but so far, her anticipation hadn’t done anything. She barely had 100 copies sold in the two weeks that had passed, and she was starting to lose hope.

A few days later, Amelia received an email from a well known book store; her book had suddenly skyrocketed, and it was quickly becoming popular in numerous states in the U.S. Thousands of copies had already been sold. Amelia was ecstatic about the news she received. She was going to become a famed writer, and she was going to make millions of dollars. 

At her next writer’s circle meeting, she was stunned to find Ted there. The room burst into chatter as Amelia walked in; everyone was congratulating Amelia for her success with her book. Little did they know that Amelia’s book was really full of stolen pieces of writing from Ted. The group spent the whole time celebrating, but while Jeanine and Marcus were speaking to each other, Ted walked over to Amelia and whispered to her to stay after the meeting so they could chat in private.

Soon the celebration was over, and Jeanine and Marcus left the room while Ted and Amelia stayed back.

“What’s this about Ted?” Amelia asked nonchalantly.

“Stop trying to pretend you don’t know!” Ted shouted in a deep, irritated tone. His red face contorted with anger, and he looked as if he would detonate at any minute. “I read your little book. You and I both know that everything in that book was stolen from me! Those were my ideas and pieces I wrote!”

“I don’t understand why you’re so mad! I didn’t steal anything from you! I wrote everything in that book, and the only thing I took from you were your ideas, which anyone obviously could have thought of themselves. You were giving up on being a writer anyway, so why do you even care?” Amelia rebuked.

“Amelia, you took scenes that I wrote and put them in your book word for word! I mean you stole my ideas for the whole entire plot! I knew I left my notebook at my last meeting, but I didn’t think someone stole it! You clearly stole my notebook and took my ideas!”

“Oh, so now you’re accusing me of robbery? I didn’t steal anything from you Ted! I wrote the book, and you didn’t! You’re just upset that you couldn’t become a successful writer like me!”

“If you don’t tell the public that you stole that story from me, there will be consequences! I’ll make sure of it”

“Listen Ted, you have no proof that I wrote the story with your ideas and writing, so I’m going to keep being a famous author, and you, you’re just going to have to continue being nobody because no one will believe you even if you do tell people what I did!” Amelia roared as a wicked smile crept up her face while her eyes lit up with a malicious glow.

“I warned you there’d be consequences!” Ted yelled as he stormed out the door, slamming it and leaving a ringing clash in the room where Amelia stood all by herself.

Amelia didn’t have any concern about Ted’s threat at all. She went on going about her day running errands and eating out, and at the end of the day, she went back home.

Amelia walked through her front door and collapsed on the comfortable blue couch in her living room, not even bothering to take her shoes off. She was tired after a long day outside, and all she wanted now was to watch TV and go to sleep. Amelia sat up on her couch, propping her feet up on the table in front of her and fiddled with her remote to turn the TV on. 

“I warned you...but you didn’t listen, and now it’s time to pay the consequences,” a chilling voice pierced through Amelia’s home suddenly as Amelia sat up straight, looking for the person who possessed the familiar voice. 

Ted instantly appeared at the doorway of the living room with his hands behind his back. 

“Have you ever wondered what my last name was, Amelia?” Ted whispered in a low, raspy voice.

Amelia sat completely still on her couch, frozen with fear of how Ted knew where she lived and more importantly, why he was lurking around in the shadows of her house. Amelia felt chills down her spine and a growing pit in her stomach as she observed that Ted was giving off a completely different aura than before...a creepy and frightening aura.

“My last name...is Bundy,” Ted murmured with a terrifying look in his eyes. He licked his dry, scaly lips, and said slowly, “I am Ted Bundy, and you shouldn’t have crossed me Amelia.” 

Amelia’s eyes were wide with fear, and now it was time for Ted to behold a wicked smile on his face.



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13 comments

Natalie Rarick
02:28 Jun 27, 2020

Hey Jessica! I'm in your critique circle! What an interesting story, and what a GREAT twist! I like the immediate juxtaposition you start your story with. Jeanine and Amelia squabbling just pales in comparison to Ted worrying about his family and giving up something he loves, and it sets up Amelia as arrogant and childish (which she is) and Ted as considerate, thoughtful, and straight-laced. You carry this on through little details, like Ted's name being printed with "straight black strokes," revealing a certain attention to detail... which ...

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Jessica X
16:19 Jun 27, 2020

Thank you Natalie! I didn't think anyone would notice how the straight black strokes of Ted's handwriting actually symbolize something! I'm still trying to improve and learn, so your encouraging feedback means a lot to me! :)

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Talia Vander
05:43 Jun 26, 2020

Well, I was definitely not expecting that twist! Although, I'm wondering if the matter of his last name matters as much to Amelia as much as it does the readers. This story has lots of high tension moments, and you do a really good job at making Ameila flawed and unlikeable, which, in a story that likely ends in her death, is probably a good thing. Yet, despite the fact I didn't actually like Amelia, I was still curious where her story was going. I think the only thing I'm hung up on is Ted's name, seeing as his last name would not really me...

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Jessica X
15:26 Jun 26, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback!! I really appreciate honest feedback, and I agree with the fact that I should have included if Amelia knew about previous murders from Ted Bundy! I'm still trying to learn and improve my writing, so your encouragement means a lot to me!! :)

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Batool Hussain
08:34 Jun 25, 2020

Cool story! Mind checking out my stories? Thanks.

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Jessica X
15:09 Jun 25, 2020

Thank you! Of course, I'll read your stories!! :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:57 Jun 19, 2020

Very well-written story. The unexpected twist at the end was really good. Amelia deserved it anyways!

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Jessica X
00:18 Jun 20, 2020

Thank you so much for reading my story!! Your encouragement means a lot to me! :)

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Joanne X
18:12 Jun 19, 2020

Wow that was such an interesting read! The plot was very well developed and the ending was so unique and dramatic! You did a great job portraying and giving a unique voice to each of your characters and built the story so that I kept wanting to read on. Great job!

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Jessica X
18:14 Jun 19, 2020

Thank you! I had so much fun writing each character's voice :)

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Emily Nghiem
23:19 Jun 23, 2020

Hi, Jessica! I think your story is intriguing in concept - that a writer who betrays another member in her group finds out he's a serial killer. I would advise AGAINST using the real name of a real killer, where you are relying on something outside your story, and also infringing on a dead person's estate and using their notoriety. That will cause problems, so I think you have enough intrigue here to carry this on your own merit, even a full novel or movie script where you create a brand new character who turns serial stalker/killer. (As for...

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Jessica X
15:54 Jun 24, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback! I'm trying to improve my writing, and your comments were incredibly helpful! Your encouragement means a lot to me, and I'm so thankful that you took the time to read my story and gave me feedback! Your feedback has given me a new perspective of writing! Unfortunately, Reedsy will no longer let me edit my story since it's already been approved, but I will definitely change some things on it on a different app to help me improve! Thank you!! :)

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Emily Nghiem
23:50 Jun 23, 2020

Examples of shorter writing: Nobody here wants you. / At least I've got talent (drop "Well" at beginning of sentences), / shocked at or in shock (not in shock of). / You're not welcome... / Fine, let's take a vote! / Also major editing so you could extend this to a longer novel or script: (A) the entire section of stealing Ted's ideas should not be a narrative telling the audience what happened, like a journalistic news report. If you can show through thoughts or actions, descriptively, this can create tension as it's happening. (B) the sec...

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