The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 2)


The following is the first installment of a HEAVEmedia experiment in honoring NaNoWriMo, as well as an attempt to write a novella in public. Read on, join us, and so forth.

If you missed our first post, here’s a quick primer on what it is that we’re doing here. Go back and read that, though, because this isn’t going to make a ton of sense otherwise.

Five writers from Chicago, each with their own unique perspectives, will attempt to write a cohesive novella twice a week over the next several months with no knowledge of where the story is going until each consecutive piece is posted here on Heave. Each new part will be posted every Tuesday and Friday, with the writing duties being carried out in a standard batting order fashion (once the end of the batting order is reached, it starts from the top). At the end of each installment, the writer of said installment will introduce a caveat, or an obstruction, that must be adhered to by the following writer in the next written installment.

Now, the writers wanted to take this project a step further and involve the readers in the writing process. After the first five weeks of writing, Heave will begin asking the readers of the story to tweet @HEAVEMedia with their own ideas for obstructions. How the writers decide upon which obstructions to use is up to them.

Today’s part is written by local screenwriter Carly Heiser.


The elevator opened and the bell dinged and Devon stepped onto the 22nd floor. The bags under his eyes matched perfectly with his unwashed shirt. His clean one was at Colleen’s. He sipped his house blend. It was too hot and it burned his entire mouth. He sat down at his desk. He was only drinking the house blend because it had the least amount of calories for the most amount of caffeine, according to Colleen who needed to fuck off already. Alex, the idiot who shared Devon’s cubicle, wheeled himself over. He told Devon he looked like shit. Devon thanked him and ground his teeth.

Leave it to Alex “State School” Brannigan to say exactly what he thinks all the time. It wasn’t enough that he had to sit three feet away from Devon slurping on his Ramen constantly or watching fetish porn constantly or taking sips of Devon’s coffee whenever he left his desk constantly (which is another reason why Devon was drinking the house blend and not a usual cuppachino). NO, he also had to say exactly what he was thinking and seeing and generally feeling. Because Alex is an idiot, Grade A, and this Tuesday was not the day for idiots.

Devon must have sat at his computer for 30 minutes for the same spreadsheet that would usually take him 10. He couldn’t help but keep going back to the document he started writing to record all the names he wished he would’ve called Colleen the night before. It was two pages long, single spaced, and bullet-pointed. He ended on “Lying Heart Killer” because it was the furthest he thought he could go before everything just sounded like high school metal bands/poetry compilations.

Devon got up from his desk and walked towards the bathroom. He heard Alex sputter on the bitterness of his house blend. He entered the men’s room and then a stall, locking it behind him. He pulled his feet up so he wouldn’t be noticed and sat with his head against the left wall, listening to his coworkers pissing. He started crying.

Devon had been in the bathroom for a long time when he finally unlocked the door. He stepped out of the stall and looked in the mirror. It was so obvious that he had been crying there was no point in trying to not look like it. He had put his face under the hand dryer before, and that never made anything better. He stepped out of the bathroom, his hands tense as he prepared for the first woman he saw to look at him, concerned. He didn’t see anyone on the way back to his cubicle. Alex wasn’t there, but he heard the sound of people in another part of the office.

He followed the funeral home buzz to the crowd, where most of the office was standing. When he was walking up, people were turning to go back to their desks. He saw that a lot of them looked about as bad as he did now. He found Alex and a few others with their foreheads and hands pressed against the window. Alex noticed him and moved away, patting his back towards the plate glass. Devon pressed his forehead against the window and looked down to where Alex was pointing. He saw a fire truck, ambulance, and four police cars, lights on. In the middle of a gathering of people, past the do not cross tape, was a tan car with the hood caved in. Broken glass outlined the ground. The blood glittered up the 22 stories as Devon watched firemen zip the broken body into the black bag. He stepped back from the window.

Tuesday’s obstruction: The next part must incorporate at least four different settings.