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November Short Story Writing Challenge Part 1

November is National Novel Writing Month. In celebration, there is a novel writing challenge where participants attempt to write a 50,000-word novel during November. I took this challenge as inspiration for my own November writing challenge. I definitely won't make it to 50,000 words, so it's more of a short story than a novel. A new part of the short story will come out every Tuesday this month until the story is complete.


Here is part 1 of my November short story.


 

"Ghost Writer Wanted

I want to write an autobiographical piece that my grandchildren can someday read and learn about my life.

Price Negotiable

Contact Mildred A. Besent"

 

"It's frustrating," said Denise as she opened her front door.


"I know, but I promise something will come up; you'll get more writing jobs."


"Jim, if I don't start writing something soon, I won't make rent. Freelance writing was supposed to give me the freedom to write my novel, but now, I have writer's block and no money."


"You complain too much; it'll work itself out," Jim said as he entered his car and drove away.


The gust of wind from Jim's car caused the autumn leaves to ruffle, exposing a crumpled newspaper.


"It's 2022; I can't believe people still buy newspapers," Denise muttered to herself as she picked up the newspaper intending to throw it in the recycling bin. Then she noticed a Ghost Writer Wanted ad.


Excited and desperate to make rent, she quickly called the number on the ad and prayed someone would pick up.


Denise was beginning to lose hope, but after four rings, an older woman with a whisper-like voice answered.


"Hello, is this Mildred Besent?"


The phone fumbles a bit.


"Who's asking?"


"I'm Denise Short. I'm inquiring about the ghostwriter job. I saw an ad in the newspaper."

"Oh yes, I'm Mildred. Are you a writer, hun?"


Denise explains her qualifications and charms her way into a meeting with Mildred.


"My granddaughter and I will meet you at the Starbucks on Main at 3 pm tomorrow."


"Sounds great! I'll see you then."

 

After yet another restless night of staring at blank Word documents, unable to continue her novel, Denise rushes to her car with the newspaper and a notepad in hand.


After a stressful parking situation, she enters Starbucks. The Starbucks on Main is usually full on a Sunday afternoon, with the local church's congregation grabbing a snack after mass. However, this time it was much more crowded.


Everyone was wearing black, a woman in the corner was getting consoled, and tissues were getting passed around like candy.


Denise awkwardly made her way to a corner by the door, hoping to catch Mildred and ask to change their meeting to the diner across the street. She hid her face behind her newspaper and frequently checked her phone, wondering where Mildred and her granddaughter were. After ten minutes, she was bored and distracted herself by reading the newspaper.


She silently giggled at the comics, tried and gave up on the crossword puzzle, and skimmed through the economics section, pretending to care. Soon enough, she hit the obituaries. Thinking she might find whose funeral she was crashing, she read through the obituaries.


Suddenly her stomach sank.


"Mildred A. Besent, 62, from Dispa, Connecticut, has sadly passed away. She leaves behind her loving granddaughter, Ingrid. Mildred loved mystery novels, her cats, and playing Bingo at the local Senior Center. She will be greatly missed."


Before she could even process what she had read, a man walked up to Denise, handing her a pamphlet. It was a funeral program for Mildred A. Besent.


Denise frantically flipped through the program. Mildred was a curly-haired blonde woman with a KISS tattoo on her neck and purple lipstick.


Astonished and confused, Denise looked around for someone who could answer all the questions racing through her mind.


The woman who had been crying in the corner and getting consoled earlier walked up to Denise.

While holding back sobs, she said, "Hi, I'm Ingrid; how did you know my grandmother?"


. . .

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