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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Shah

November Writing Contest Winner


Each month we hold a writing contest for our members, by our members. Writers are given parameters, such as a word count and/or a prompt. Entries are judged and discussed blindly. For July, submitters were asked to submit their best passage from their current work in progress.

Best Dialogue Sequence: "This isn’t a very convincing pitch."

by Alexandra Parthun




“This isn’t a very convincing pitch,” Thomasin drawled. “You don’t need to be

nervous. I thought we were friends.”

The woman’s mouth snapped shut, and she straightened her shoulders with

awkward urgency. One of her hands came to rest purposefully on something in her

bag. “I am here to hire your services. You see, I am embarking on a quest that will

change the world’s understanding of history, science, even religion. All I need to

accomplish this is an escort. The journey will be perilous, and I unfortunately do not

posses the worldly skills that someone with your profession might have.” She finished

her obviously very practiced speech with a huff of breath.

“So you want someone to do your dirty work?” Thomasin pointed a lazy finger at

Edith.

“No! Not anything so nefarious. It’s quite a noble que—“

“Noble? You’ve lost my interest there, dear.”

Edith’s jaw clenched and she almost looked as if she were about to stomp her foot.

“Well then I’ll do the noble part, and leave all the nefariousness to you.”

Thomasin pushed off her chair, and the room spun only a little bit. Christ, she really

did need to stop drinking before dinner. She placed one foot in front of the other until

she was only a few strides away from Edith. “All this talk, and you still haven’t told me

what exactly you want from me.”

“Again, I’m offering you an opportunity—“

“The only opportunities I’m interested in are the ones that end with me sleeping in

piles of gold.”

“Gold?” Edith looked flummoxed. “But this is so much more important than just

riches.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Thomasin smirked.


Edith swallowed, tilting her chin up as if fortifying herself. Thomasin had no idea

what she was going to say next, and when people came to hire her, she always knew

what they were going to say. Steal this. Kill her. Burn that building down. But this—

this was new, maybe even exciting.

“I’m on a quest to find the thirteen treasure of Britain. They’ve been lost since the

age of King Arthur, and only I can find them.”

Exciting indeed. Edith sounded so earnest that Thomasin really did try to keep the

grin off her face. But she just couldn’t help it. “Thirteen treasures? King Arthur?”

“Yes. My ancestors lived in Camelot, and an artifact has been passed down through

every generation. With this artifact, I can find where the treasures were hidden.”

Thomasin’s brow raised, she could feel the charcoal smeared on her skin creasing.

“Camelot isn’t real. King Arthur is a fairy story. For children.”

“That’s what they want you to think. The best way to hide something is to convince

everyone that it’s stupid.”

‘They?” Thomasin wasn’t sure why she was entertaining this conversation. It had to

be the girl’s impeccable grooming and fancy clothing. That spoke of money, and even if

she was a lunatic, she’d make a good mark.

“Merlin and Arthur. They hid the treasure, so that only the worthy could find it.”

“What makes you worthy?” Thomasin asked, noting the way Edith’s hand once

again drifted down to hover over something in her satchel.

“I’m worthy because I believe in chivalry and goodness. Magic and honor. All the

ideals that have been lost with time,” she said as if she were giving a stump speech, and

then tacked on at the end, “Also because I have the artifact.”

“Is that what you keep stroking in your satchel? The artifact?” Thomasin reached

for the bag, but Edith tugged it behind her back.

“No.”

“Then what is it?” Thomasin stepped into her space, reaching around for the strap

of the satchel. “C’mon, I’m curious.”

They grappled for control of the bag. Thomasin could have had the satchel in

seconds if she wanted to, but she was having far too much fun needling the girl. Not to

mention she smelled better than anyone Thomasin had ever known. Like lilacs and

vanilla.

Edith pulled back roughly. “It’s my grandmother’s ashes, okay! Are you happy?”

Thomasin dropped her hands, and Edith clutched the bag protectively to her chest.

After an awkward beat of silence, Thomasin asked “Are they like loose in there? Or

is it an urn situation?”

“Ugh! Obviously an urn. Can you imagine trying to clean—you know what, never

mind.” She unbuckled the satchel and pulled out not an urn, but a heavy brass key.

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