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Drama Suspense American

The day’s fierce blizzard had dissipated, leaving behind small flakes falling sparingly onto the thickest layer of snow New York City had seen that year. The suburbs surrounding the city appeared magical, though many residents saw nothing more than an annoyance. Along with many in her neighbourhood, Isabelle Moore watched the snowfall outside her office window. She was momentarily distracted from the task at hand; the writing of her will.

This was rather unusual. There was, in fact, no particular reason for Belle to be concerning herself with matters of her demise. She was young, just over twenty-five, and as healthy as ever. No reason, aside from her grandmother’s grieving wishes.

Isabelle’s mother had passed away in a car accident on Christmas day, mere weeks before. Though many across America grieved Sierra Moore’s passing, remembering the sweet and kind daughter of the country’s beloved former president, none despaired more than Sierra’s mother. It quickly became Isabelle’s job to take care of her feeble grandmother. 

So when Belle called her that evening, and Grandma Betty pleaded with her to prepare for the unlikely possibility of her death, she didn’t know how to say no. Her grandmother’s words echoed in Belle’s mind as she stared through the window. Please, Isabelle. You never know how much time you have. No one does. It didn’t matter that Belle was very much alive and showed no signs of this changing, because neither had Sierra Moore.

As much as Isabelle didn’t want to admit it, she missed her mother just as much as her grandmother did. Isabelle and Sierra were never close, never got along, and always argued, and the consequences of this had more than taken their toll on Isabelle. The spontaneity of her mother’s death was frightening to them all, a violent and shocking awakening of epic proportions. One brought on simply by the decision of a cab driver to send a text, and miss the new red of the traffic light.

It is this dreadful thought that led Belle’s mind back to her laptop, and back to the present. She scrolled through the long document open in front of her, the product of her evening. It was filled to the brim with money allocations and property designations referencing nearly every one of Isabelle’s notable possessions. As her eyelids drooped, she decided to turn in for the night, but not without first scanning her evening’s work. It was in the last possible moment that, thinking of legacies and final wishes, a dangerous idea hit Belle like a bolt of lightning.

When Isabelle was nine years old, her mother told her a secret. An outrageous, shocking, and scandalous family confidence, one that she made Isabelle promise to take to her grave. You have a right to know, Isabelle, she had said. Sierra’s words troubled her even then, echoing dimly through the many years separating her from the memory. But don’t tell. You mustn’t tell. Your family would be ruined if you were to ever speak a word of this. “Why?” Isabelle asked herself now, just as she had on that fateful day, and just as she had every time the memory surfaced. This time, however, the sound of it was more haunting than ever before.

That was a day Isabelle would never forget. It was the moment every child has, when their world expands. When suddenly, the black and white becomes colourful. People are no longer just good, or just bad, and neither is anything else. 

What’s more, since that day, Isabelle has always struggled with the secrecy forced on her. Though she had always been loyal to her family, she had never had her ancestors’ grasp of politics. She never had a talent for the scheming and theatrics, and never appreciated it. In Belle’s mind, it was just an inhibitor, an extra set of rules, a grand irritant, and a restriction. It kept her from so many things, and that was the day the limitations were born.

It hurt her relationships. How could you truly be honest with someone if you couldn’t confide in them your deepest secret?

It hurt her confidence. If something about you was so dangerous that it could ruin lives, what does that make you?

It hurt her family life. How could you have a healthy relationship with your family if you so strongly disagreed on something so important?

This was what she had asked her family on countless occasions, and every time they responded the same way. We just can’t, Isabelle. You don’t understand. But she understood more than they knew.

So when Belle saw before her a once-in-a-lifetime chance to end one small corner of the twisted and detrimental secrecy her family worshipped, she couldn’t help but be intensely intrigued. Her heart pounded at the realization of such a mastermind idea. Suddenly more wired than ever before, she clicked the delicious words into existence.

“I, Isabelle Jane Moore, wish that upon my passing, the secret of my heritage is revealed to the public.”

Belle went on to briefly explain her secret. She didn’t bother to add emotional appeal, as she knew her family could never say no to her if she wasn’t around to argue. They would obey. It was brilliant. 

Evidently, Belle also understood that she would have to die for her wish to come true. Though she wouldn’t be around to see it, and she knew it would more than likely take a long time, she knew it would be worth it.

Even so, Isabelle wasn’t stupid. She may not have had an affinity for politics, but this was little more than common sense. She knew her loved ones would face backlash, and the resulting scandal could ruin their reputation, not to mention the strong possibility that their descendants would follow in her grandfather’s political footsteps.

Despite all these facts, and the certain heartache her will would eventually cause, she knew it would save even more heartache. Belle hoped to have children one day, and she didn’t want them, or Peter, her boyfriend, to have to deal with what she did. Isabelle had not told Peter her secret, but one day, when they were married, and it was no longer a betrayal of her blood, she would. She could not keep it a secret from him, but she could only hope to one day spare him some fraction of her burden.

When Isabelle finished writing her will, when she went to her lawyer’s office to finalize it a few days later, and for the rest of her life, she knew she had made the right decision. When she told Peter on her wedding day, he knew it too, and upon Isabelle’s death, sixty-two years later, he told America the great Moore family secret.

September 05, 2020 02:50

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4 comments

Funkhead Yeh
19:08 Sep 10, 2020

I agree with Rachel about restructuring some parts. I also think that more focus should be put on how Isabelle feels about the will and the secret. Play more with the dread she has when she types this out. I see that you're great with describing emotion and emotional backgrounds and I'd love to see you put that kind of writing more onto the actual writing of the will. Do Isabelle's hands sweat when she writes? Is her apartment messy because the will has made her neglect some chores? Does she envy the innocence of kids playing out in the snow...

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Susannah Webster
15:06 Sep 11, 2020

This is awesome feedback! I totally get what you're saying. I will try to focus more on this in the future. Thanks. Good luck to you too! -SW

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Rachel Yoritomi
04:40 Sep 10, 2020

Interesting premise of family secrets in a well-known family. Some feedback for possible ways to reshape the writing: starting with some action related to the relationships in the story (the mother, who Peter is to Isabelle/Belle (instead of spending intro sentences focusing on the snowy weather and location) might be a quicker way to get to know the central character and conflict. Also the switch between full name and nickname seemed distracting, so maybe choose the main one and only introduce the nickname through dialogue or something.

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Susannah Webster
14:58 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks! This is all great feedback. I'll keep it in mind. -SW

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