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The Beta

By Soleil All Rights Reserved ©

Drama

Chapter 1

The Beta

“No!” she screamed, her voice echoing in the long hall. She felt weak and sunk to her knees as she watched him fall, the blade piercing his side. She sobbed into her hands.

“My dear girl, why can’t you see?” Gangrel’s voice danced in her ears as if he were enjoying this scene. He laughed at her, an ugly cackle lost in echoes. “You knew this was going to happen, you could have prevented it.” He leaned down and put his orange lips right up against Lucina’s left ear, his hot sticky breath making her shudder. “And yet you chose to stand by and watch.”

Lucina balled her fists up in an unfathomable rage. She grabbed the hilt of her falchion and recomposed herself. Gangrel only had a millisecond to dodge her attack. The sharp silver grazed his cheek leaving an acute cut. Lucina took this opportunity to ram her elbow into his chin, knocking him back a couple of feet and rendering him vulnerable. Lucina shoved the tip of the blade of legends into the right side of his abdomen, cringing slightly when she heard the horrifying crack of one of his ribs. As she pulled the blade back, she felt as if she had finished what her father had started. If only he were able to make it to the very end. “But,” Lucina thought, “If he were still alive, then I might not have had the adrenaline rush to kill him.”

Just before Gangrel collapsed and faded out of consciousness Lucina put her foot on his chest and glared at him. “I did no such thing. You’re the one who sat in your throne and

watched as your men fought. A craven like you shouldn’t be the king of anything.” Lucina spit on his face. Gangrel’s eyes closed before he could even open his mouth.

“Hey, what’s that?” Sara snatched the piece of paper out from under my pencil. There was a long jagged line all the way from the last word I had written to the bottom of the page

I went wide eyed as I saw her scanning the paper. “Hey! Stop it, it isn’t finished!”

I tried to take it back from her, but she was quicker than me and moved away, holding it above her head and clearly out of my reach. I saw her smile at the paper. I became pale.

“What is this? Looks creepy…” she asked, not really asking to know the answer, more trying to bug me. It worked.

I folded my arms across my chest and tried to look imposing. I looked more like a huffy little girl who was just being a pest to her big brother. “Sara, give it back!” I whinned. She glanced at me, smiling, and handed back the paper.

Sara sat back down at her desk and kicked her feet up on the chair in front of her. Her cheap black boots left a streak of black on the back of the chair where the color rubbed off. She looked at me with a sly smile. I knew exactly what she was thinking. I hated it when she did stuff like that, and it wasn’t like it was a one-time thing.

She flipped her blonde, dyed again hair over her shoulder. I watched it collect electrons and stick to her jacket. She gave me a look. “You don’t have to get so defensive, you know. If you’re gonna post it online, then why does it matter if I read it before anyone else?” This argument again.

I breathed out an exasperated sigh and turned my body towards her with a sharp whip. I pointed my finger at her accusingly. “It’s because you guys always make fun of my writing! Every time! No matter what I write you laugh at it! And I’ll have you know, it wasn’t finished

yet!” I shouted at her, earning a few strange looks from my fellow classmates. I didn’t care. I hated just about everyone in that class anyway. I calmed myself a little, trying not to alarm the teacher with the loudness of my voice. Quickly glancing over at her pink and red polka dotted desk, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw she hadn’t looked up from her phone.

Our classroom was always noisy in the morning, it was no secret. Everyone was always complaining to their best friend about one thing or another. I usually just sat back in my hard plastic chair and wrote on loose leaf pieces of paper until the bell rang. The teacher looked at her phone to pass the time. Typical.

Sara snapped her fingers in front of my face, making me flinch. I was already irritated enough, so snapping her fingers made me want to just hit her. Danielle always told me I was tsundere. Apparently a tsundere is a girl who acts cold and rude on the outside, but once you get to know her, she’s really nice and sweet. Yeah right. I'm more yandere; sweet on the outside, but a total psychopath on the inside. I'm that minus the sweet on the outside part.

Blinking away my frustration, I ignored her and picked up my pencil again. What will I write about now? The breeze that wafted through the open windows of the classroom chilled me and made me shiver. Maybe a story about the cold? A winter story! That’s perfect!

Just as I begin to touch the graphite to the tree pulp the bell rings. Great. Lowering myself into a hunched up bundle on my desk, I look around. The walls were absolutely covered in distracting posters with pictures of cartoon characters telling you to do different reading tips. The most distracting one was a Garfield poster where Ode was trying to open a door by pushing on it with all his might, but alas, the door would not open. Garfield stood to the side, giving him a look of disappointment. A thought bubble above his head read, “It pays to read.” By the time you read the thought bubble, you are supposed to have read the sign on the door that read “pull”

and laughed at Ode’s counterintelligence. It took me a couple of times before I actually noticed the sign, and Sara mocked me mercilessly because of it.

After staring at the poster for a while I got bored of it and looked at the book shelves. I vaguely remembered checking in my book after being angry with that ending. I needed something new to read, something at least better than those crummy fanfiction lemons. “Weeping cock.” Please.

The teacher stood up at the front of the room and did roll call for the 100th time this year. I decided to be funny when she called my name,and instead of saying “here!” like everybody else, I called out “preesent!”, putting emphasis on the first e in the word so it sounded the same way you say “chEEse”. Mrs. Marcus gave me a look. I simply smiled at her, not afraid of her stink eye. Now Mrs. Abner was a different story.

After she finished roll call, Mrs. Marcus told us to go get our notebooks from the cubby hole. We all trudged our way over to the two shelves on the far left side of the room. A boy much taller than me shoved his way around me and reached for his notebook so he could get back to his desk quicker. I thanked him kindly with a kick to the shin. He cried out in pain and held his leg, looking for the one who inflicted the suffering onto him. He never once looked at me, though. I was invisible to him, along with the rest of the class. Aside from Sara, of course.

Once we had made it back to our seats, most of us in one piece, Mrs. Marcus turned on the ancient projector and let it warm up while she talked about what we were doing for notes that day. I ignored her and started writing my snow story. I titled it “Snow Fairy Story”.

A glimmering white slowly covers the town.

“Come on, let’s go out looking for a melody to play!” I teased Kirito. He smiled at me and took my hand, leading me out into the street. The last snow of winter has fluttered upon our

town. The snow covered up our tracks on the path that we walked. Breathing in cold air looking up at the sky, wisps of smoke pouring out of chimneys. Kirito held my hand up to his lips. I felt the warmth of his breath on my fingers. I leaned forward, closer and closer to him. He wrapped his arm around my waist, abandoning my hand to pull me as close as possible. My heart fluttered in anxiety as he nibbled my ear. I smiled and let out a low moan. He pulled away, smiling from cheek to cheek. “So I’ve finally succeeding in making you happy.” he teased. I leaned in closer and touched my nose to his chest. He embraced me in the cold of winter. The wind was bracing, but it didn’t bother me; not while I was with him. He placed his hands under my legs and lifted me up. I clutched the fabric of his black parka, trying not to slip. He carried me to the garden, though the only flowers there were snowdrops. He plucked one and tucked it behind my ear. I smiled and plsced my hnds-

After the color had mostly come up on the board Mrs. Marcus walked over to the light switches and fumbled for the right one. A sudden darkness engulfed us, surprised me, and made me scribble letters on my page by accident. I couldn’t see what I was supposed to erase, so I just left it alone.

That day in class was painful from the moment I had to stop writing my story until I got on the bus to go home. At least on the bus I could try to write, though it would always be super sloppy.

My backpack bounced up and down uncomfortably as I walked down my driveway to my front porch. The cat meowed at me furiously as if he was saying, “Pet me! Let me in! Do something, woman!!!” I ignored him like he did to me when he didn’t need something from me. That’s what cats do, after all. Ignore people. Unless they want something from you, that is.

Putting my hand on the door knob, I found that I couldn’t open it. I remembered the poster from school and instantly knew why I couldn’t open it. It was push, not pull. Ode was right for once.

After successfully opening the door, I bolted to my room and opened up my Toshiba laptop. While waiting for it to turn on, I made my bed, since that was usually where I worked on homework and junk. Mom said she would get me a desk soon, but she never said when. Folding the corners of the tie-dye sheets neatly and replacing them with the new ones, my dog barked in protest at my closed door. Once the sheets were swapped out with the plain green ones, the dog was allowed inside. He jumped all over me when he saw me. I smiled and ruffled his dirty, white, fluffy hair. He licked me repeatedly with his long, sticky tongue. Gross.

Marshmallow eventually left me alone and laid down at the bottom of my bed. He was hypoallergenic, which meant that he didn’t shed and wouldn’t invoke allergies, but Mom still didn’t like the idea of me sleeping on sheets that had been touched by him just in case he did shed, which was physically impossible. Besides, the white hair would blend in well with the color scheme. Baby blue walls and a dark blue carpet. It would have looked like clouds on my bed. I suggested the idea of shaving him and taking his hair and creating a 3D artwork on my walls, but Mom was appalled and disgusted at the thought of it. I settled for switching out the sheets every day before letting him in my room and switching them back before going to bed. A ridiculous rule, but that was the only way he was allowed in my room.

I kissed his head and brought my laptop into my lap. I typed in my password and waited for the internet connection to establish before clicking Google Chrome. I instantly moved my mouse over to the search engine and typed the words fanfiction.net. My computer recognized the

beginning of the web address and suggested it underneath the search bar. I typed it out myself instead of hitting the down arrow. Finally! I had been waiting all day for this.

Going into my account, I clicked on documents and opened up one that I had been working on for quite some time. Normally when typing, the computer used a page counter, like on Google Docs. FanFiction used word counters, which were a little hard to adjust to, but eventually the transition of copy and pasting Google documents into the FanFiction document manager and changing it to that format got easier. One thousand words would be about one page on Google Docs. So far I had racked up a whopping seven thousand words. I was really pouring my heart in soul into that chapter.

I read over what I had written and smiled at some of the fluffy moments. It seemed really cheesy to me. I had to change it.

Clicking and dragging my mouse over the text, I highlighted it and deleted the paragraph, cringing when I hit the backspace bar like it actually hurt to see my work get destroyed. FanFiction didn’t have an undo feature. It made me more nervous than ever to delete something like that, especially when I had no clue what I was going to write about.

I could practically taste the sweat on my face when I licked my lips, hear the hypnotic sound of my fingers getting lost in the rhythm of the keys as I typed. I typed and typed and typed for what seemed like hours. Then finally, wiping the sweat from my brow with the back of my hand, I sat back and read over my edit.

Miku was with Rin at her house. They were waiting for Neru to come over.

"Where's your brother, Rin? Isn't he supposed to be home right now?" Miku asked.

"No, he got detention. I swear, mom was about to march right down to the school and whoop his but in front of the whole class when she found out he got detention for the week." Rin explained. THey both laughed at the thought of her mom coming to school with Len.

"I'm here!" a voice called out. The two girls assumed it was Neru.

"Where have you been? You were supposed to be here a half an hour ago." Miku said.

"I was going to get here sooner, but Leon stopped me and tried to get me to go on a date with him. Honestly, will he ever stop?! He's with a new girl, like, every day!" Neru said.

"I know right? But enough about him. What about you and Kaito?" Rin asked Miku.

"Everything's fine." she answered.

"Everything's fine? Come on. At least say something other than that." Neru said.

"Well, he took me out on a date last Friday." Miku said.

"He did?!"

"Tell us everything!"

"Yeah!"

"Umm...Okay? First, he took me to a really nice dinner. The food was amazing! It must have cost a fortune!" Miku said.

"Aww...Kaito is so nice." Rin said.

"Then we went to the park. We walked around for a little while, then we sat down on the bench by the pond."

"Boooring! C'mon! get to the exciting part already!" Neru shouted.

"Alright! Then he took me to this karaoke place and we sang a duet together!"

"Aww..." Neru said.

"Then I sang a song by myself and he was cheering me on the whole time."

"Aww..." Rin said.

"And after I finished the song, he told me I am an amazing singer and that I did wonderful!"

Rin and Neru looked at each other, knowing they were both going to say it.

"Aww!" they said at the same time.

'I know! It was the best night of my life!" Miku exclaimed!

Just then, Len walked through the door.

"Hey, I thought you were still supposed to be in detention." Rin said.

"I am. But someone said I could leave." Len said.

"Who?" the three girls asked.

"LEN! I TOLD YOU TO GET IN YOUR ROOM! GO! NOW YOUNG MAN!" a woman shouted.

"Y-yes mom! I'm going!" Len shouted and ran to his room.

Rin rolled her eyes. "Oh Len."

And that was me failing to make a one-shot for the Vocaloids. I went with the theory of Rin and Len being brother and sister. And yes, my pairing was Hatsune Miku and Kaito. I like that pairing! Anyways, hope you enjoyed!

I smiled as I read my cheesy one-shot. Only 300 people had read it so far, and I was hoping that after a quick edit, it would attract more people. Once you make an edit on a story, you have to repost it, which puts it back in the “new stories” section. It would be on the first page of suggestions, meaning more people would see it. I posted it immediately.

Instantly I got a few reviews. Most of them were just silly fangirl comments, like, “LOL poor Len his mommy came to 'save' him from detention”

I responded to most of these comments with a “LOL” or “IKR?”, but eventually it got boring and I shut my laptop to let the reviews pile up. I always loved looking at my reviews in a big cluster. It felt like getting one hundred dollars after waiting ten days, rather than ten dollars every day for ten days. I liked things in bulk, so to speak.

While waiting for my reviews to pile up, a sudden shrill voice pierced my eardrums. “Dinner! Get your butt down here!” It was my mom. Her voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard when she yelled. Not wanting to make her mad, I hastily got up and ran to the dining room. Marshmallow jumped up and followed me, tilting his head when I stopped and sat down in the dark wood chair as if to say, “What’s going on?” I smiled at him and ruffled his hair. Mom smacked my hand lightly, startling me.

“Go wash your hands now,” she told me. “You can’t be touching food after touching the dog.” I inwardly groaned, but got up to wash my hands anyways.

I flicked the light on in the small half bath. My eyes quickly adjusted to the sudden glow of the fluorescent lights, my pupils dilating into tiny pin pricks. I got a whiff of air freshener, likely used just moments before. I tried to hold my breath and only breath through my mouth if absolutely necessary. If someone used air freshener, then they must have needed to use it because of something. Just because the room smelled like honeysuckle didn’t mean that it was clean. I averted my gaze away from the toilet.

Trying to hurry because my face was tinted blue at that point, I turned on the water, pulling the knob up and accidentally too high. Hot water hit the bottom of the sink in a jet stream and sprayed onto my shirt. I didn’t have enough oxygen to care at that moment. Hurrying, I scrubbed quickly with lilac liquid hand soap, wincing when the hot water scalded my hands andleft my skin a pink tone.

I leaped out of the bathroom and took in a deep, gasping breath as if I had been choking. It felt good to inhale air that wasn’t sickeningly sweet or mixed with other odors.

I made my way back to the dining room and pulled back my chair to sit down, my raw hands rubbing against the wooden back of the chair as I pulled on it. Mom looked at me for a moment, then refocused on setting the table. “You look like you just went swimming in a hot spring,” she said. I wanted to make a snide comment about her uncurling bangs, or her old mom jeans that totally went out of style five years ago, but I kept it to myself. Last time I said something like that she smacked my hand with a flyswatter. She wasn’t trying to hurt me or anything, she just had recently killed a huge spider and that’s what she had in her hand. I retaliated by smacking her with the lighter I had, which was what I preferred to use to kill the tiny beast, but accidentally hit her hand with it instead of her mom-jeaned thigh. That didn’t end all too well.

“I turned the water up too much, “ I mumbled. She smirked at me, obviously thinking about something other than what I said. I got curious and asked why she was smiling, hoping to get some kind of information about it. She immediately lost her smile as if I had embarrassed her.

“Nothing,” she mumbled, putting the bowl of green beans on the table. I stared at them eagerly. I hadn’t eaten lunch at the school that day, and my stomach growled in protest. Not that I wasn’t used to it. I didn’t have a study hall, so I did my homework in lunch. It saved my butt in class, but at the price of food. I never usually minded, but that was because I ate as soon as I got home. Really, all I did was eat lunch at three in the afternoon instead of noon.

I reached for a green bean with my pink fingers, still raw from the water. Mom smacked my hand before I could even get close. She scolded me and made me wait until everybody else got to the table. I sat back impatiently and waited.

Once we all made it to the table we got to eat. That night's dinner consisted of Sloppy Joe's, green beans, baked beans, lemonade, and a peach cobbler for dessert. Honestly, she could have been serving sewage water and rat pies for all I cared. I just wanted food.

I smothered my bun with red, runny meat. Just the sight of the sandwich lying next to the baked beans, the sauce soaking into the bottom bun, and the juicy green beans all together on one plate was enough to make my stomach growl loudly. Nobody said anything, but my brother smiled down at his plate moments after. I gave him a very mature looking face; I stuck my tongue out at him.

After devouring my plate and guzzling down two glasses of lemonade, I grabbed a slice of the cobbler and ran up to my room. I should have waited to finish eating, but I had grown increasingly impatient in the time from when dinner time started and just then so much so, that if I were to spend another moment away from my computer, then I would have started having a nervous break down. I just needed to know what people were saying. It had been nearly forty five minutes since I was last online and that was certainly enough time for people to read and review.

Opening the lid of my laptop, I quickly clicked on the reviews section of my story titled Stupid Vocaloid One-shot. Most of them were cutesy little comments again.

I got a little disappointed at seeing that. That was really all people had to say about it? Just an, "OMG! Sooooooo kjawt!" "MikuxKaito forlife!!! <3<3<3(less than three as I like to call it)"

Just as I was about to close my laptop, I get something in my inbox. I froze when I saw it. A beta reader had read my story and made a review.

I gulped. A beta reader? Why did a beta reader care about some silly teen fantasy one-shot? I obviously didn't write it to be serious or anything. Beta readers weren't supposed to review stories under misc. So why did this one?

Unnerved, I clicked the review. I widened my eyes at this review. It was nearly a page long, and just from reading a line or two from the middle I could tell that this was going to be a horrible experience.

I may not be right on this, but there are two types of people on FanFiction.net; readers and Beta Readers. I went into my control panel on the left side of my screen, and it had a little link labeled "beta". I clicked on it one day out of curiosity, not noticing until then. It brought me to another page on the site. The whole page was dedicated to beta readers. A beta readers job is to read stories with a critical eye and private message or publicly display their review to the author. Usually beta readers PM'ed their reviews, since the defensive authors usually had some sort of rebuttal, and then the reviews were just a conversation between a beta and a hot-headed fangirl. Betas never held back, which is why most people hated them. It wasn't like it was constructive criticism, they just gave you grief about every little mistake you made, right down to the punctuation. Betas were the ultimate grammar Nazis.

I read over the review as slow as possible, not able to keep myself from focusing on the harsh words. He wrote things like, "Your spelling is horrendous and your sentence structure makes me wonder if you're even from this country. Is English your first language?" He went on to say, "All in all, this story sucks and you shouldn't have written it in the first place. FanFiction.net is a place where people can post their well written stories for others to enjoy, not horny twelve-year-olds to post about what they want other people to do to them. You're a terrible writer. Get a life and stop mucking up this awesome sight with crap like this." He completed his assault by reporting my story and having it taken down.

I sat there in my bed with my Toshiba in my lap, my hand lazily hovering over my mouse. I was dazed. Was that really true? Was I a terrible writer? Obviously if a beta reader reviewed it, then he had to have been told to. I was pretty sure that beta readers were assigned things to review, which meant that someone else had asked him to do this. I was singled out. Beta readers are not allowed to lie to make authors feel better about their writing. What he said had to be true.

I looked back at all my other reviews that were going to be instantly deleted after I closed the tab since the story got taken down. All those people were liars. They didn't really think it was a good story, they just liked the idea of Miku going on a date with Kaito. It didn't matter how it was written. No one cared anyway.

I closed my laptop that night and didn't open it again. I didn't want to be reminded of the fact that I couldn't write. I would never write again.

The next morning I woke up, I realized I had forgotten to change the sheets last night. Less work for me. Groaning, I levered myself up to my feet and trudged my way into the bathroom. I simply stared at my reflection, slightly frightened. It was clear to anyone at least ten feet away that I hadn't slept well. My eyes had bags under them, my skin was pale like a ghost, my blonde hair looked more like a mop than hair, etc. Basically I looked like I had just risen from the dead. Sighing softly, I took off my clothes and stepped into the shower. The water felt cool against my feverish skin. I hadn’t turned on the fan in my room the night before, so I was burning up all night. Not that it mattered anyways, I wouldn’t have slept well hot or cold.

After my shower, I got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast. I went through the motions of a morning routine, not really paying attention to anything around me. My siblings got ready like I did, all of us acting like zombies. Though the others were acting so sluggish because they were just tired and grumpy about having to wake up at six in the morning, I had other reasons.

We went out into the morning cold to wait for the bus. I stood next to the dark evergreen beside the lamp post and plugged in my earbuds. I hit shuffle on my Google music app and waited for the first song to play. Usually it was MMORPG Addicts Anthem, but that particular cold morning the song that played was Kimi No Taion. Your Body Temperature. I found it funny how even my music mocked me.

In school I was cold to everyone. Not super mean or anything, but I would snap at them if they tried to get my attention. I didn’t want to talk to anyone that day. Especially not Sara.

Mrs. Marcus sat at her desk again and played with her phone. I stared at my blue folder where I kept all my writing. It pained me to open it and read over the loose leaf papers. One particular one was most painful. It was the rough draft of my edit from the previous night. I covered up the words with my hands, refusing to look at the paper. Suddenly my fingers weren’t covering anything anymore. I looked to my left and saw Sara holding up my paper and reading it with a sly smile. I was in no mood to joke. I demanded that she give it back to me that instant. She simply smiled more and held the paper away from my outstretched hand. That was the last straw.

“Ow!” Sara cried, her hand holding her side. “Okay, jeez! I’m sorry! You didn’t have to shank me though! Ugh, here.” I snatched the paper back and heard a horrifying rip. The entire bottom left corner of the page ripped, rendering the bottom three lines incoherent. I glared at her

as I put the remains of the paper in my cerulein folder. Mrs. Marcus watched me from her desk and immediately stood up, making her way over to my desk. I sighed in exasperation. I didn’t want to talk to her at all.

Mrs. Marcus stood beside my desk in all her pudginess. I frowned at her wrinkly face and rolled my eyes at her granny outfit. She wore a solid blue one-see like outfit with tan loafers and a pearl necklace. Students who claimed she was the Fashion Queen were straight up liars.

Mrs. Marcus stared at me through narrowed eyes. “I believe that we have a rule in this classroom,” she began. “And that rule is keep your hands to yourself. Do not touch other students or their belongings!” People stared at her while she chastised me. I didn’t care if I had an audience. If they thought I was a delinquent or a degenerate then I could say that they were bystanders and gossipers.

I knit my brows. “She took my stuff of my desk for, like, the one thousandth time! I’m tired of her messing with my stuff and not getting in trouble for it! If you don’t punish her, then I will!” Mrs. Marcus looked surprised that I would talk back to her like that. No one disrespected an old woman. Especially not the mean ones. But hey, there’s a first for everything.

She looked at Sara. “Did you take something of her’s?” she asked. Sara quickly shook her head.

“No, I didn’t,” she lied. I glared at her. Mrs. Marcus looked at me and put her hands on her hips.

“One of you is lying,” she said. No dip, Sherlock. “I demand to know what is going on.” I groaned.

I picked up my folder and held out the paper Sara snatched. “Here,” I said, handing her the paper. “I ripped the corner on the bottom left when I took it back from her. There’s no way the paper could have ripped if it was in my folder the whole time. And if it was an old rip, the part where it got torn would be smooth and likely covered in graphite.” Mrs. Marcus looked at the rip curiously. Sara got nervous.

“She can’t prove that it was me who ripped it!” she exclaimed. “She could have ripped it on purpose when she took it out of the folder!” I gave her the evil eye again. Suddenly I noticed something about Sara that I didn’t catch a moment before.

“If I ripped it,” I began. “Then why is there a piece of paper stuck to your sleeve?” Sara looked at her sleeve and pulled off a right angled piece of paper with one jagged side. Mrs. Marcus crossed her arms and gave Sara a knowing look. I smiled.

“Sara, don’t touch other people’s things,” she said sternly. “See me after class.” Mrs. Marcus walked off, still holding my ripped paper. Sara got all huffy and angry with me. It only made me smile more.

After class Mrs. Marcus asked to see me along with Sara. Uh oh. Too late to avoid it.

Mrs. Marcus scolded Sara mostly then asked her to leave with a warning saying next time there would be a detention. Then she turned to me and held up my ripped story. I took it from

her. Mrs. Marcus scolded Sara mostly then asked her to leave with a warning saying next time there would be a detention. Then she turned to me and held up my ripped story. I took it from her

and tried to leave, but she put her hand on my shoulder, signaling me to stop. I stood stiffly and stared at her, waiting for her to do something. She sat down at her desk, her top sagging a little bit. I bit my lip to refrain from commenting on it.

“I read over your paper,” she said quietly. I froze. I didn’t want anyone to read my writing that I knew and could talk to face-to-face. If I can see their reaction to it, I don’t want them to read it. It made me self conscious every time.

She continued, “I’m really interested in your writing.” Wait, what now? Mrs. Marcus crossed her legs and asked to see the paper. I gave it to her, my hand shaking. She pointed to a few red notes on the paper with her pen. I realized that she had made edits herself with that very pen.

She licked her lips, the soft skin pulling slightly when her dry tongue ran across it. “I made a few notes for you to look at,” she said. “There aren’t many, but I think you’ll find them helpful.” I nodded. She smiled at me. “I’m glad that students still write for other reasons than classwork. You know, we have a club at this school. Power to the Pen.” Oh no. I knew she wasn’t really

interested in my writing. She just wanted to recruit a new member to her stupid clubs. Someone did the same thing to me with the book club. They started talking to me about a book I was reading one time, really connecting with me and chatting about characters and stuff. Then they dropped the bomb and told me that the book club met on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they gave me a flyer then walked away.

“Oh,” I said glumly. I tried to hide my disappointment. “No thank you, Mrs. Marcus. I have church on Wednesdays, I can’t do the club.” And I didn’t want to.

Mrs. Marcus frowned and put her pen down. Looked like i got through to her. Until she persisted, “I’m sure your parents won’t mind if you skip for a while.” I gave her a look. She didn’t appreciate it. After finally getting it through to her that I didn’t want to join her club, she gave up trying to convince me.

I turned to leave yet again and she called out to me. “Even though you aren’t in the writing club,” she said. I looked over my shoulder at her. She had stood up and was giving me a poker face. “You shouldn’t ever stop writing. Ever. Literacy is important in your life, I can see very clearly. You could do great things with writing, you just need to give it more detail. Instead of just writing dialogue, explain what happens through setting. Give a lot of details about the surroundings of the characters. I’m sure everyone will love your work if you just do that.” She finished her speech with a smile and sent me off to my next class with a note. In class I couldn’t

focus. I was confused. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know if I should write or not. I didn’t know who to listen to. My teacher made some good notes about spelling and grammar, just like the Beta, but she actually told me how to improve. She explained ways I could change it. She would have made a much better Beta than that guy.

I was thinking about it all day in school. I couldn’t get my mind off it. It almost got me in trouble when I was asked a question and didn’t know what the teacher said since I was spaced out. Luckily I was saved by a classmate who whispered the answer to the question I hadn’t even heard. Mostly I was thinking of my writing. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to stop writing or not. I mean, I loved writing and reading reviews. I didn’t want to stop. I didn’t think I could go on knowing that I was terrible either…

It was in fourth period that I figured out what I would do. It was science class and we were taking notes about the Scientific Method. “State the problem, form a hypothesis, run a test, and collect results, then make your conclusion,” she would say repeatedly as we filled out our notes. In that moment I realized exactly what I would do. I would hold an experiment. I would take my time in my writing and try to describe what was going on rather than scribble down lines and post it immediately. I would spend a lot of time on it and make sure I liked it before I posted it, making sure I made no spelling or grammar mistakes. After all that, I would submit it to a Beta and get their opinion. If the Beta burned it, then I decided I would never write again. But if the Beta only mentioned a few things, or maybe none at all, then maybe I would continue in my writing. But I would make a different account on FanFiction and delete my old one, start off fresh.

And so I did.


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