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
“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
“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.
“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
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.