The Secret Keepers Society

Submitted into Contest #55 in response to: Write a story about a meeting of a secret society.... view prompt

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Mystery

The Secret Keepers Society



Joe stood up and asked everyone to raise their right hand. "Can you keep a secret?" the group stood up and agreed to (The Secret Keepers Society) pledge. He continued to call the meeting to order. "Darlene", Joe asked, "could you read the minutes from last week”. Darlene stood up and told them that last week, the group unanimously voted to accept Charlotte as a member. Everyone looked at Charlotte and smiled with a welcoming gesture. The second call to order she stated was the group had agreed to meet on Tuesday nights instead of the current Monday meeting starting in two weeks. Darlene gave a little frown and told them that the next order of business from last week was the due increase. She told them that they had agreed to vote on this issue at the meeting today. Everyone looked disappointed having to part with more money but knew that the expenses for the building rental had gone up. After Darlene finished reading the last of the minutes, Joe took over and requested a vote.


Charlotte had joined the society after she had heard about it from a friend. Her friend, Alice had been a longstanding member for three years. She told Charlotte that the people were warm and friendly and made you feel welcome. Charlotte needed that acceptance right now.


After ten years of marriage, Charlotte had recently gone through a divorce. Her husband Bill found a younger model and decided to take it for a test drive.  The hurt and the betrayal had left her doubting everything. She blamed herself for not being supportive enough of his career or being attractive enough as she aged to keep Bill. When Charlotte looked in the mirror and tried to give herself a pep talk, it all fell flat by her own insecurities. She couldn't even stay mad at Bill, he just went after what he wanted, she thought. 


Her new demeanor of not even feeling sorry for herself, just thinking she deserved it left her introverted and reserved. Charlotte found out fairly quickly that her quietness attracted unwanted attention. She would be sitting in a doctor's office waiting to get her annual check-up and someone, even though the waiting room would be half empty would sit in the chair right beside her. The talking was the worst, it always seemed to be a one sided conversation. The chair invader incessantly chattered and would inadvertently reveal personal information. She found out one day, the woman that sat beside her had been dating a married man for six years without his wife suspecting a thing.


It wasn't only at Dr's offices, Charlotte would find herself in the middle of a grocery store staring at vegetables contemplating cooking a healthy dinner when some shopper would ask a stupid question like she worked there. After she assured them that she didn't, they still wouldn't go away not noticing she was busy deciding on the green or red peppers. Talking, they always wanted to talk. Charlotte would smile and look interested while the young man in the produce started telling her why he chose that particular store and how he thought the clerk was hot and wanted to ask her out.  


She couldn't get away from it, everywhere she went someone wanted to tell her their deep dark dirty little secrets. She knew everything about everyone at her office even though the trail of gossip stopped with her. It may not have been that she was so trustworthy but she didn't want to put the effort into repeating all of their trash talking. Charlotte knew who was sleeping with whom, she knew who had stolen the most office supplies, who was the biggest butt kisser. Without contributing to the conversation, she thought that their confidences would be better shared with someone who cared.  


Even though, Charlotte didn't care about the people who shared their secrets with her. They weighed heavy on her mind. That is why her friend Alice decided that (The Secret Keepers Society) would be a good fit for her. Alice told her that at the meetings, they would discuss the burdens that people unjustifiably put on them without revealing their confidences. Alice told Charlotte it would help with her sleep disturbances. Charlotte had been tossing and turning all night long for several months worrying about other people's problems.


Two weeks passed and Charlotte found herself at another meeting. She wasn't sure the secret keepers was the right place for her but she didn't have anything else to do. Joe called the meeting to order and then looked at Charlotte and told her he was happy that she had decided to return. Each of the members introduced themselves to Charlotte, the same way they had done three weeks prior. She wondered if they had forgotten already, she had just been voted in two weeks ago.  


The members of the society took turns standing up and stating their names and telling the group that they had learned a new secret. Joe had come up with an exercise for this class which involved writing the secret on a piece of paper without giving any details of the person's identity and putting them in a hat while playing a game of charades. He stated that this particular exercise would help to make light of the secret and help it go away.  


Charlotte thought this was ridiculous, she needed help sleeping not playing silly games. Joe noticed she was looking a little annoyed and ask Charlotte to share. The group he said would sometimes discuss what they were going through in order to try to keep everyone's secrets. Charlotte passed and wanted just to listen instead of becoming an active participant. Richard, another member of the society stood up and took her place, he told the group that he would like to share.  


Richard started talking about his experiences for the week and how many people had stopped him on the street to tell him secrets. He said it was so tough to be an Empath. He told the group that sensing every ones feelings had clouded his own mind and while trying to solve their problems he had not had time to handle his own.  


When Richard mentioned in the meeting about being an Empath, Charlotte wondered if that could be her problem also. That would explain, she thought, why she felt so overwhelmed with the emotions of others and had trouble eating and sleeping. Charlotte knew she had extreme anxiety and had suffered depression on numerous occasions after internalizing the pain of others. She decided if playing a silly game of charades could help her get this weight off her chest it would be worth it to attend a few more meetings.


Charlotte met her friend Alice once a week for lunch and the two talked about the meeting. Alice was pleased that Charlotte had decided to give the society a chance. She reiterated to Charlotte how much their group had helped her. Alice told her before she joined the group, she to had trouble sleeping while worrying about everyone's secrets but now with the games and unique ways Joe has for getting rid of the secrets, she slept like a baby. 


Tuesday came quickly and Charlotte got ready to go to another meeting. She thought if she could be brave enough tonight, she may stand up and share. After sitting and listening to other members share, Charlotte sat almost like she was glued to the chair. Her anxiety, she thought must be getting worse. She had never been a confident public speaker but now she was paralyzed with fear. These problems were taking over, she thought, something had to give.


Joe looked over at Charlotte sensing her apprehension and told her that he had a new game they were going to play tonight. He said he wanted everyone to write the secrets on a piece of paper without revealing the identity of the sharer. Joe then wanted the society to address an envelope without a return address and mail the secret away. Charlotte sat down at the table and wrote hers out and did as she was instructed. She was hoping this exercise would help her more than the last one did. She continued to have insomnia after she played charades and acted out one of the group member's secrets.


After (The Secret Keepers Society) meeting was over, Charlotte returned home. It had been a long day so she was hoping that she could sleep that night. To Charlotte's surprise, she went right to sleep and didn't wake up until early the next morning. It had been a long time since she had felt that rested and now had new outlook on the club. She thought could Joe's exercises really help with her sleep problems and anxiety, if so, she was definitely going to keep attending.  


After work on Friday, Charlotte rounded the corner of her office and ran into Richard. She had wanted to discuss his rare empath abilities with him and share a few of her own experiences. Charlotte asked him if he would like to get a drink. Richard agreed and they sat down at a table in a nearby bar. Charlotte asked Richard how he knew he was an empath. Richard told her that from the time he was a child he knew he was different. His parents fought all the time and his dad was very violent. His mother, he said, needed protected so he took on her feelings. From that time on he had been able to feel the emotions of others and apprehend their mental state. 


Charlotte was amazed at Richard's ability and she felt that they were very similar. Richard seemed to be more in tune to his feelings on people's secrets than her but she thought with a few more training exercises from Joe, she may be able to reciprocate. The only way she could get more than just one peaceful night of sleep was to learn how to distance herself from the problems and secrets of others while continuing to attentively listen.  


Tuesday came again, and Charlotte was starting to get excited on the aspect of attending the society meeting. She looked forward to Joe's new exercise of how to get rid of people's secrets and therefore get rid of your problems. Before the meeting started, Joe had informed all the participants in the society that the meeting was going to be held outdoors tonight. The group set up chairs around the campfire, Joe asked if anyone wanted to speak. 


Charlotte had been practicing all day and she told herself she was going to speak tonight. She stood up and all of the other members of (The Secret Keepers Society) watched as she began to speak. Charlotte told them how she had been afraid to speak and that she had a little Glossophobia. Even as she braved talking, she could feel her mouth fill up with saliva from her anxiety and she thought she was going to embarrass herself. Charlotte thanked the group for helping her deal with the problems of being a secret keeper and how she had learned so much from the exercises and personally speaking with members. After she sat down and Joe asked if he had anymore sharers he took the podium. 


Joe told the members to write down on a piece a paper another secret that they had been entrusted with and then he told them to do something a little different. He told the members of (The Secret Keepers Society) to write on the other side their own little secret and then let it burn in the fire.


One by one, Charlotte watched as the members wrote down their secrets, then she took out the pen and paper and wrote about a man who told her he was having an affair. On the other side of her paper she wrote how she killed him and his young girlfriend too.


Dr. Joe Patton asked the orderly what Charlotte had thrown in the fire on the grill. He said he didn't know, it wasn't his job to watch the patients.  


Dr. Joe rounded up his patients after the cookout at the Psychiatric Hospital and passed out their evening medication.  The Clozapine combined with the Benzodiazepine would ensure they had a peaceful night's sleep.

August 17, 2020 16:38

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8 comments

Idan Hamilton
18:38 Aug 27, 2020

This story held my interest all the way through the end. It was very intriguing and well written but I felt that the test at the end was a little to sudden. It's possible I just missed foreshadowing but to me it seems out of nowhere. I enjoyed the story a lot.

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Cheryl Fulks
02:08 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you for reading, I’m glad you liked it. It’s hard sometimes to stay in 3000 word limit and I have to cut parts out.

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Diana Snyder
18:52 Aug 24, 2020

Great short story. Very surprised with the ending. The story held my interest all the way through. Enjoyed it very much.

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Cheryl Fulks
20:50 Aug 24, 2020

Thank you very much for reading. I’m glad you liked it. 😁

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Ed Snowden
05:51 Aug 22, 2020

That’s a great read.

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Cheryl Fulks
18:33 Aug 22, 2020

Thank you so much😁

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19:28 Aug 21, 2020

Very intriguing and well written

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Cheryl Fulks
21:04 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you😁

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