The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 8)


The following is a HEAVEmedia experiment in writing 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. Heave will be 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.


Esther sat outside the police station, opening and closing applications on her phone. She was waiting for her imaginary brother to pick her up, if any concerned police officers wanted to know why she was loitering. You don’t even know the guy, he could just look a lot like the guy in the drawing. Which, you know, would make him a fucking criminal. God, what is wrong with you, just go report him. He wasn’t THAT cute, you have hooked up with cuter guys. Even that Amish guy who was super adorable. JUST REPORT HIM ALREADY you know he lives in Edgewater. That isn’t anything, though. That’s nothing, tons of people live in Edgewater. And he’s a criminal so he could be lying. 

Esther looked up quickly at the three police officers walking into the building and immediately brought her phone to her ear.

“Yeah, I’m here. I’m waiting. Okay, cool. Bye.” She pretended to hang up and lowered her phone down to her lap.

JUST GO IN AND REPORT HIM THAT’S WHAT GOOD CITIZENS DO THEY REPORT CRIMINALS. THAT’S A SIGHTING. Ugh, whatever, he wasn’t into you anyway. You cannot be that desperate for a boyfriend that you are SERIOUSLY SECOND GUESSING reporting an ACTUAL criminal WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. You SAW his picture on the way to the bathroom… Oh my god. And then he saw his picture, too. He saw it before you did that’s why he left and was being weird. You’re a fucking detective. He wasn’t being weird because he thought you were lame, he was being weird because he’s an actual criminal and he saw his picture! This is some serious SVU shit right now. What is even going on?

Esther breathed out and stood up. She sat back down.

Okay okay, hold on. What was his name? Shit. SHIT. What was his name? Oh my god, now? You’ve just been thinking of him as the Coffee Criminal this whole time, you just FORGOT what his name was even though he told it to you? You can’t go in there and be like “I know who the Coffee Criminal is” ugh. UGH. DAMN IT. The ONLY thing that matters that they’re going to ask you. “Yeah sure officer, I totally got his first and last name when he was trying to flirt with me in that coffee shop, yes.” 

“Esther?” Esther looked up and saw the girl who weaseled a free bagel from her every morning walking towards her.

Name tag. Right.

“Hi?” said Esther. I hate you I hate you I hate you, you bagel stealer.

“It’s me, Colleen? Oh well… I guess we’ve never really met. My name is Colleen I came into Einstein’s—“

“I know who you are,” said Esther. Colleen looked at Esther, expecting her to finish when she had no intention of doing so.

What now, bitch? I bet this is awkward. I feel really awkward about this but I hate you more than I hate being awkward. 

“Well,” said Colleen. “My apartment got robbed so I have to go do this police report.” Esther squinted at Colleen and her friend as they walked away and into the police station.

GOOD because you’re a DICK.


Monday’s obstruction: Mike has to do whatever YOU suggest. Tweet us your obstruction ideas, and we’ll use the best one!


  • Alex T

    can you post the chosen public obstruction in addition to each writer’s submission? the whole idea of getting the public involved puts a great twist on an already fun read. I’m excited about what comes next!

    • Dominick

      We actually started doing this in the portion right after this one. Starting after the holidays, once people get into the swing of things, we’ll be noting both the obstruction and the person who came up with it!