The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 031 Now Live!

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 031: How do you choose which story to write?

In this week’s episode, Ari and I discuss deciding which story to write when you have a plethora of ideas and feel stuck. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

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What are your thoughts on this episode? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Short Story Sunday: “Password” [Part Five – 319]

Short Story Sunday: "Password" | Creative Writing | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Read Part Four Here

The two partners sat in Detective Dowen’s car in silence. The car was turned on with the heat on full blast, but the two remained in the parking lot at the hospital.

“I’m glad we reunited Elizabeth with her parents.” Witt broke the silence. “She has amnesia so there’s no way of ever knowing what happened to her.”

“Some mysteries weren’t meant to be solved.” Dowen shook his head.

“We can cross a missing person off that list, which is great. However, now we have a body to find.”
Dowen sighed. He shifted gears in the car and pulled out of his parking spot. “We’re not turning in for the night until Alisha is found.”

Witt nodded in agreement. Sure, their shift had ended two hours ago. But they weren’t going to rest until Alisha was found. Even if it was her body.

“Where are we going?” she asked. “Are we going to talk to Ben again or Eli? Or are we going straight back to the bridge?”

Dowen hesitated to reply. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure. I was just driving. Maybe we should talk to Ben though. There’s nothing we can do at the bridge. The police will notified us immediately if they find anything. Ben might have some information on Eli so I don’t want to go breaking the news to him just yet that we know he never reported his car stolen.”

“We’ll go visit Ben then,” Witt confirmed.

It didn’t take too long for them to make it to Ben’s house. When they did, Ben’s parents let the two detectives in immediately and called Ben down from his bedroom. His mother made the detective’s coffee while his father sat in the living room with them talking about how awful it was that Alisha had done what she did. They were happy she was found though.

“Well, we hate to say it, but the girl we found was not actually Alisha. She’s a missing person who just happens to resemble Alisha quite a bit,” Witt explained.

Ben’s father, Owen, sank into his chair. “Oh, no… poor Alisha… I suppose there’s no hope for her now?”

“Bite your tongue!” Ben’s mother, Louise, came back into the room with a tray filled with coffee mugs, cream, and sugar. “Don’t say that, especially when Ben comes down. There’s always hope.”

“I’m sorry.” Owen shook his head. “I can’t imagine this though… Alisha would never do something like this.”

Louise sighed. She looked at the detectives with a sad gaze. “Ben told us what happened and how he encouraged her. Will that reflect on him somehow? I don’t mean to make the situation all about Ben, but…”

Dowen shook his head. “You’re asking a valid question. It’s only right that you should be worried for your own son in this situation. As of right now, it’s hard to say. He was walking on the bridge when they shouldn’t have to begin with, so he’s going to get in trouble for that at the very least. Until we have a better handle on this case, though, I don’t want to say too much else.”

Witt leaned forward and poured herself a cup of coffee in an attempt to busy herself. She knew Dowen avoided telling them that Ben could be charged with involuntary manslaughter. She poured some cream into her coffee and then leaned back against the couch.

“Have you gotten in touch with Alisha’s parents at all?”

Owen shook his head. “We called a couple of times but they never picked up. We figured we’d go over there tomorrow with a fruit basket or something and let them know we’re here for them if there’s anything we can do.”

“A fruit basket?” Louise lightly whacked him on the arm. “I’m going to make them a macaroni and cheese or something. They’re not going to want to cook and they can’t survive on fruit.”

Owen shrugged. “Excuse me, no fruit. A warm, home cooked meal.”

“Thank you.” Louise poured herself a cup of coffee.

Witt looked at Dowen concerned. He returned the gaze. The police still were unable to get in touch with Alisha’s parents as well. If no one could get a hold of them, then something was clearly wrong. Dowen stood excusing himself. Witt assumed he stepped out to send a patrol car to Alisha’s house. Why they hadn’t done that earlier, she didn’t know.

Ben came down from the stairs as if on cue. He sheepishly looked at Detective Witt and held out a cell phone. “I’m so sorry I took this without telling you guys.”

Witt stared at him in confusion. She put her mug down on the coffee table in front of her and asked what it was. As soon as Ben explained it was Alisha’s cell phone, Witt put on a pair of gloves.

“Benjamin! Why on earth would you take that from the crime scene?” his mother scolded.

Ben sighed. “I know, I know… I’m sorry. I thought I’d be able to conduct my own investigation and figure out why Alisha wanted to… well, you know…”

“Where did you even get this?” Witt asked.

“On the ground. I noticed it after she splashed into the river. It must have fallen out of her winter coat pocket when she jumped off the bridge.”

“Her parents can track her cell phone, right?” Owen said. Ben nodded. “Maybe she dropped it on purpose then. She didn’t want to be found?”

Witt didn’t confirm or deny this. It was certainly a possibility Alisha didn’t want to be found. However, anyone who jumped off that bridge didn’t need to worry about not being found. They were as soon as dead and the moment the cell phone hit the icy water the GPS certainly wouldn’t work on it anymore.

The detective tapped the screen and it lit up. A message appeared saying the phone was locked out for another minute and seven seconds. She held it up to Ben.

“I assume you’ve been trying to get into her phone?”

He nodded. “I don’t know her password and keep locking myself out.”

Dowen entered the room again. “What did I miss?”

Witt held the phone up to Dowen who took it. “Ben found Alisha’s phone on the ground after she jumped. It has a password and Ben doesn’t know what it is so we’re locked out of it at the moment.”

“Maybe one of the tech guys at the station can get into it,” Dowen said, staring at the phone.

“Ben,” Witt said, “why are you trying to get into Alisha’s phone? Do you think there might be something on there that explains what happened today?”

“She keeps getting text messages from the same phone number,” Ben explained. “There’s no name on the message, just the number, which means this isn’t someone who’s a contact in her phone. I don’t know if she was in some sort of trouble or what.”

Louise gasped and Owen put a hand on her shoulder.

“Has Alisha been acting strangely at all within the past few days, weeks, or even months?” Dowen asked. He put the cell phone in a plastic bag and pocketed it.

“Honestly, no. I didn’t notice anything strange about her. We were hanging out as usual. She was going to school and getting her homework done. I don’t know what came over her,” Ben replied.

Witt nodded her head. It seemed safe to say that Ben wasn’t lying. She didn’t think he had any part in whatever sort of plan Alisha had cooked up. He was merely used as a witness and that was it. The question was why. Why did Alisha jump off that bridge and why did she need a witness?

“Speaking of school,” Dowen spoke again. “You have Elijah Thomas as a teacher, right?”

Ben nodded. “Yeah, he’s a great teacher. Both Alisha and I really like him.”

“Was he at the scene of the crime today?”

Ben furrowed his brows. “Uh, not that I know of? Maybe he drove by on the bridge, but I never saw him.”

“The man who got out of that silver car to talk Alisha down before she jumped,” Witt said, “that wasn’t him?”

“No.” Ben shook his head. “I know I was freaking out and in shock, but I would have recognized him. I would have asked him for more help then what he did. In fact, he probably would have stayed to help Alisha and then me after she had jumped.”

Owen growled under his breath. “Who would someone do something like that? Watch a child jump off a bridge, her friend left in a panic, and then they just get back into their car and leave?”

“Some people are so sick,” Louise whispered.

“Do you know what your teacher’s car looks like?” Witt asked.

“Wait a minute,” Owen stood up, “You’re not suggesting Mr. Thomas had something to do with Alisha jumping, do you?”

Ben answered before the detectives could answer his father. He shook his head. “I have no idea what car Mr. Thomas has.”

“Okay, fair enough,” Dowen said. He turned his attention to Owen. “We need to rule him out as a suspect. The car that man was driving when he pulled over on the bridge to talk Alisha down, that was Mr. Thomas’s car, but he wasn’t the one driving it.”

Ben looked over at his parents and then back to the two detectives. “I don’t get it.”

“Unfortunately, neither do we. We spoke with Mr. Thomas this afternoon and he claimed his car was stolen from his driveway for approximately two hours. He said he called the police and reported it but when we checked, no such call came into the station at all today or yesterday,” Witt explained.

Louise covered a hand over her mouth. “Do you think Mr. Thomas is covering for someone?”

Witt shrugged her shoulders. “It’s a possibility. We don’t know why anyone would encourage Alisha to jump off that bridge.”

Ben gasped. “The phone! I need the cell phone.” He reached out his hands to Detective Dowen, who took a step back.

“No way, this is evidence and you already withheld it from us once before.”

“Do you remember the password?” Witt asked standing from the couch.

Ben nodded to her. He looked at Dowen. “Please, I’ll give it right back. Or you can put the code in yourself. Try one-two-three-one.”

Dowen took the phone out of his jacket pocket. He stared at Ben skeptically but did as he suggested. His eyes popped open.

“Wow, that actually worked.” He took out his notepad and wrote the password down to ensure no one would forget it.

“What’s the significance to that string of numbers?” Owen asked.

Ben shrugged. “It’s today’s date. December 31st.”

Witt and Dowen stared at each other. Maybe it was only a coincidence, but it didn’t seem likely. The two detectives wondered now more than ever that this was planned ahead of time. Alisha must have used it as her password to remind herself but also because there’s no way no one else would possibly guess that.

“Good for you, Ben.” Witt smiled at him. “We’ll figure this out, don’t you worry.”

Dowen scrolled through some of the contents on the phone. He turned it off and put it back in his pocket. “This is excellent information. We’ll have to bring this back to the station and go through it. We’ll keep you posted as best we can about the situation.”

“Thank you so much and if we can be of any further assistance, please let us know,” Owen said. His wife nodded in agreement beside him.

Witt pulled her card out of her pocket and handed it to Ben. “If any of you think of something new, please call me right away. Also, if you hear from Alisha’s parents, please call me right away.”

“Of course,” Louise answered.

Without another word, Witt and Dowen saw themselves out. They had more investigating to do. They needed to look over Alisha’s text messages, figure out who’s number those messages belonged to, talk to Eli about his car, and do their best to get a hold of Alisha’s parents.

If they could find any remnants of Alisha in the process, that was a bonus.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 030 Now Live!

The Merry Writer Podcast | The Merry Writer | Creative Writing | Podcast | RachelPoli.com

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 030: Would You Rather? [Writer’s Edition]

In this week’s episode, Ari and I play a fun round of Would You Rather! Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

Podbean | Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | YouTube | PodLink

What are your thoughts on this episode? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

Blog Signature | RachelPoli.com

Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump

Short Story Sunday: “Thick” [Part Four – 318]

Short Story Sunday: "Thick" | Creative Writing | Short Story | RachelPoli.com

Read Part Three Here

Witt followed Dowen through the hallways of the hospital. They entered the ICU area. They showed their badges to the receptionist at the front desk and she pointed them in the right direction. It wasn’t hard to spot which room Alisha was in. There were two police officers posted outside. The two detectives asked for a quick update, but there was nothing big to tell. The girl was okay, as far as they could tell. Some tests were being run but they wouldn’t have the results on those for another day or two.

Alisha seemed to have no memory of what had happened on the bridge. She didn’t even seem to remember who she was. They had called Alisha’s parents to come down and confirm their daughter’s identity – or at least her whereabouts. However, they still weren’t able to get in touch with her parents.

“Something weird is definitely going on,” Dowen whispered to Witt.

“You don’t think her parents have anything to do with this, do you?” Witt asked shocked.

Dowen shook his head. “No, but it’s strange to me how their daughter went out early this morning, it’s now the afternoon and, assuming this is Alisha, they haven’t seen or heard from their daughter. Wouldn’t they be looking? Wouldn’t they have gotten in touch with Ben if they’re such good friends and he would have explained it all to them?”

Witt hummed to herself. “You’ve got a point. I know I would be worried sick if I couldn’t find my kid.”

Dowen let out a disgruntled sigh. “Well, let’s head into the room and get this over with. I hope you’re in this for the long haul because I have a feeling this case is going to run us in circles.”

Witt entered the room before her partner. Alisha had a room all to herself with the police officers outside the door and there were no nurses or doctors in sight. She laid down in her bed with her eyes lightly closed. Witt looked at Dowen and pointed to the girl and he rolled his eyes. His partner couldn’t help but crack a smile. Yes, Alisha was awake and ready to talk about twenty minutes ago, but she had a rough day. It was entirely possible she had fallen back to sleep.

Dowen sat down on the left side of the bed and Witt joined him. She remained standing. The two stared at Alisha in silence for a brief moment. Then Dowen broke the silence with a whisper.

“I’m sure the hospital cleaned her up nice, but there’s not even a scratch on her.”

“I know,” Witt said in agreement. “She looks pretty good from falling 50-feet.”

“How can she look like this after what happened to her? There are no bandages or anything.”

“Maybe most of her scars are under the blankets.”

Dowen shook his head. Witt knew he didn’t believe that. She didn’t believe it either but she didn’t have any other answers. Unless this girl was not in fact Alisha like they had noticed when she was first found.

“Do you think we made a mistake?” Witt whispered.

“What that?” Dowen looked up at her in confusion.

“We halted the search the moment we found this girl. Now that I see her lying in this bed, alive and unscathed… I wonder if the real Alisha is still out there somewhere. If she is, she has to be dead by now.”

“Yes, then we have to go with the involuntary manslaughter angle again but we’ll also have another mystery on our hands,” Dowen said.

Witt looked at her partner.

“Who is this girl, where did she come from, and what was she doing there?” Dowen continued staring at the girl in the bed.

Before Witt could answer, the girl blinked her eyes open. She immediately turned her head to look at the two detectives. She gave them a small smile.

“Hi,” she said, her voice raspy.

“Alisha?” Dowen asked softly.

The girl frowned. “I don’t know, but maybe. Everyone else seems to think that’s who I am.”

“How are you feeling?” Witt asked.

“Tired, but okay,” she replied.

“Well, I’m Detective Witt and this is my partner, Detective Dowen. We’re going to ask you a couple of questions but we won’t take up too much of your time. We know you need to rest.”

The girl lifted her head slightly and scooted herself up higher on the pillows with her arms. Once she sat up, she smiled again at the detectives. “Of course, please ask what you need to. I don’t know if I’ll remember anything, but I heard there was an accident.”

“An accident that involved you,” Dowen explained. “You jumped off the bridge falling fifty feet into the icy river below. It’s a miracle you’re alive and not as hurt as you should be.”

“I must be lucky. Someone must have been watching over me.”

“Sure,” Dowen said exasperated.

Witt took a couple of photos out of her pocket. She had printed them out back at the station when they were searching for the car’s license plate number. The first picture was of Ben and Alisha standing on the bridge talking. It was a screen shot from the camera footage. “Do you recognize these people?”

The girl leaned forward a little. She squinted her eyes at the black and white image but finally shook her head before leaning her head back against the pillow. “No, I don’t. I’m sorry.”

“This is Benjamin Lame and you right before you jumped off the bridge,” Witt said pointing to the people in the photo.

The girl gasped. “Really? How strange… I know I have no memory of the incident, but I would like to think I’d recognize at least myself.”

“Do you recognize the place?”

She shook her head. “I assume it’s the bridge you mentioned but I have no memory of the place, let alone going there.”

Witt sighed. She turned to Dowen with a look expressing her concern that they might be wasting their time. They couldn’t make any conclusions from the victim if they couldn’t explain anything that had happened to them.

Dowen returned the look and Witt sighed knowing the exact face he was making. He wasn’t entirely sure this girl couldn’t remember anything. Judging from the state the victim was in and how quickly she seemed to recover from the incident, Witt wondered the same thing. Was this all an act? Was Eli in on this act as well?

“I think we may be done here.” Dowen stood making the executive decision. Witt had no objections.

“That was quick. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help to you,” The girl said.

“It’s okay, you focus on getting better. I’m sure we’ll be in touch again,” Dowen said.

Witt didn’t have anything else to say. Normally she was more sympathetic than Dowen but she was far too confused to say anything else to this… victim? Witness? Suspect? She wasn’t so sure.

The two detectives made it back out into the hall. They said their goodbyes to the officers and made their way back to the front desk to check out and give back their visitor’s passes. They were just about to leave when Witt turned back to the receptionist.

“Excuse me,” she said, “may we request to look at the medical records for the patient in room 203?”

The receptionist hesitated to comply.

“She’s the Jane Doe, but may be Alisha Davis. She’s a victim or possible suspect in another crime.” Dowen stepped in.

The young girl behind the counter nodded. “Would you like to see it now or shall I make copies? I can’t let you leave with it since she’s still a patient.”

“Copies would be great, thank you.” Witt smiled. As soon as the girl walked away, she turned to Dowen. “I’m curious about what the doctors think about her condition. I don’t think she’s Alisha at all. I think she’s playing us along with… well, either Eli or Ben. My money is on Eli though.”

“He had the getaway car.” Dowen nodded. “We’ll take these files back to the station and check on the stolen car report. If he never called and reported it, then I think we have means to pay him another visit.”

*

Witt tossed the copy of the medical records on Dowen’s desk. She had combed through them thoroughly while Dowen checked on the stolen car report. Before she could explain her side of the findings, Dowen leaned back in his chair shaking his head.
“It was never reported which means either Eli was the one driving the car or he let someone borrow it.”

Witt grinned. “Excellent, we’re getting closer. And all this girl has is amnesia. No concussion, no broken bones, nothing. The doctors are calling it a miracle.”

Dowen sat up and took the file folder in his hands. He opened and thumbed through the pages. “You’re kidding me, right? So this girl is not Alisha Davis. She can’t be.”

“I think we need to do a DNA test on this girl. She’s either lying to cover up for Alisha or Eli or whatever is going on here. Or she could very well be a missing person with amnesia who we just happened to stumble upon during our search for Alisha.”

Dowen shook his head. “That can’t be possible though, right? This Jane Doe looks exactly Alisha Davis. Although it would explain the change of outfit.” He put the folder down and began to type on his computer. “I’m going to look up all the missing persons that have been reported within the past year.”

Witt walked around to the other side of his desk and peered over his shoulder. “If we see this Jane Doe in this list, then we have a serious problem. That means Alisha is still out there somewhere.”

“It means her body is out there somewhere, though I’m sure it was washed away with the river at this point.”

“This case is laying it on thick for us, huh?” Witt sighed.

Dowen scrolled through all the missing persons – males and females. Finally, he stopped at a certain young girl. “Oh, man… that’s her. That’s the Jane Doe we just left at the hospital! Elizabeth Hammond.” He wrote down the name.

Witt shook her head in disbelief. “The resemblance to Alisha is uncanny. This can’t be a coincidence, can it?”

“I don’t know, but we definitely need to do a DNA test. We may need to call the parents of this Elizabeth girl. She’s even the same age as Alisha,” Dowen said. He reached for the phone.

“Wait,” Witt put a hand on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t we wait to contact Elizabeth’s parents? We should make sure it’s actually her before we get their hopes up.”

Dowen shook his head. “This can’t wait. I’ll explain everything to them over the phone and make sure they understand that they may not in fact be her. I’m pretty sure it is her though…”

“How long has she been missing?”

“Two months.”

“We’ve had such a harsh winter these past two months. It’s no wonder she’s lost her memory. I wonder what happened to her.”

Dowen seemed as though he were about to reply, but then he spoke into the phone. Witt walked away from his desk to give him some space. She made it back to her work station and looked at all they had figured out throughout the day. The case kept getting weirder and weirder. They might have solved the case of the missing girl but that meant they hadn’t solved the case of the girl who jumped off the bridge. Not to mention that seemed to be more than just her simply jumping off the bridge. Another man, possibly Eli, was involved. There was some plan that Witt and her partner were missing. She didn’t know if Ben had anything to do it or if he was just a pawn to be used as a witness. Some stories weren’t adding up and someone was lying about something. Witt put her head in her hands. It had been a long day and she couldn’t quite figure out what exactly was going on.

Detective Dowen stood beside her desk. He tapped her on the shoulder and she looked up at him. He put on his winter coat. “Elizabeth’s parents are on their way to the hospital. We’re going to meet them there. In the meantime, I ordered a team of officers to go back to the bridge to start the search over for Alisha – just in case. I told them to expand the perimeter down the river as well. If she’s there, she’s bound to be washed up ashore somewhere.”

Witt stood grabbing her coat. She nodded to her partner and followed him out of the station. They were in for a long night.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Please feel free to share this post.

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The Merry Writer Podcast: Episode 029 Now Live!

The Merry Writer Podcast

The Merry Writer started as a hashtag game on Twitter and Instagram. Hosted by Ari Meghlen and myself, The Merry Writer Podcast is a fun, friendly show about all things writing and bookish. Join us as we ask all the “write” questions.

Episode 029: Does “blocking” help with productivity?

In this week’s episode, Ari and I talk about blocking time to help be more productive with our writing time. Be sure to give it a listen through the YouTube video below or any of the links below.

New episodes are published every Wednesday at 10:00 am EST (2:00 pm BST). Please subscribe to the podcast so you can be notified when a new episode goes live. Also, give each episode a “like” wherever you enjoy tuning in. It’ll help the podcast grow and we’d really appreciate it!

Thanks for listening!

Podbean | Spotify | iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | YouTube | PodLink

What are your thoughts on this episode? Let me know in the comments below so we can chat! Please feel free to share this post.

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Podcast | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | GoodReads | Double Jump