Betty was attending her writers group. This was held in the basement of a local library. She was sitting at one of the many rolling tables. These tables were set in rows with an aisle in the middle. Her laptop was open and plugged into one of the outlets built into the top of the table.
She was wearing: her reading glasses, a coral colored cold-shoulder V-neck top, underneath she was wearing a basic cami with a built-in shelf bra, and a pair of five pocket reversible denim jeans. The side visible to everyone was light blue with a red and dark blue flower print. Her accessories included tassel detail hoop earrings, on her left wrist were two red and blue bracelets, and she was wearing brown lace-up gladiator sandals. She liked them because of the floral jeweled detailing.
Walter was up front reading a story he submitted. While he read the story Betty was silently following along on her laptop. He was a man’s man in his late sixties. He attended the writers group because his wife asked him to. He made the best of it by writing short light-hearted stories and by encouraging everyone who wrote anything. This was why the group was shocked by this longer more personal account. His story was about a hunting trip where he unsuccessfully tried to save his best friend from a grizzly bear attack. Walter killed the bear. What pulled on everyone’s heartstrings was how emotional Walter became as he described his failed attempt at trying to save his best friend’s life.
Betty was sure a few of the people who moved from the large metropolitan city to this medium-sized college community were upset he shot the bear and found this story disturbing. Betty was equally certain a few of the women who grew up in a metropolitan city were against guns and hated the idea of hunting. Growing up on a ranch near a national forest Betty knew guns and hunting were necessary. Her Daddy and older siblings made sure she knew how to shoot a gun.
The college was a medium-sized state college with a division two college football team. An hour east was a small metropolitan city. It was between two to six hours depending on the direction to reach a larger city. Driving fifty minutes west a person was in the middle of a national forest. Just before entering this national forest was a small tourist town and ranching community. She grew up just outside of this town on a large ranch.
When Walter finished, Betty had the impulse to run up and give him a hug. She remained sitting to avoid embarrassing him. Normally critiques and questions related to the story lasted anywhere between fifteen to forty-five minutes. Because of the subject matter, it only lasted ten minutes. During this discussion Betty clicked open her story and prepared herself to read her story.
This was the first time she was reading in front of the group. How this writers group worked was a member submitted their story to a private website. Everyone read these stories. The group would suggest what stories or portion of stories would be read out loud in front of the group. A date would be set, and the author would read the story. Betty was surprised that everyone wanted to hear her story. She had submitted a few in the past. During the week, Betty practiced reading her story as if she was in front of the group.
Madison was sitting beside her. There was no way Madison would miss Betty reading in front of the group. At the beginning, it took a great deal of effort for Betty to attend. In the last year, Betty’s attendance was better than Madison’s.
Cheryl, the facilitator of the writers group, stepped up to the podium. She was in her early forties, dyed her hair blond, wore glasses, was in tip-top shape, was a published author, and in her spare time wrote for the local newspaper. She spoke into the microphone, thanking Walter for his story. She then introduced Betty, making it a point to let everyone know that this was her first time reading in front of the group. Everyone gave an encouraging clap. Betty took a deep breath and stepped in front of the group.
This was a true story. The story was about falling off her horse during a roping competition. The emphasis of the story was her Daddy forcing her to get back on the horse and finish the competition (if she would have been seriously hurt, he would have acted differently). Because he loved his daughter, he wouldn’t allow feelings of embarrassment to stop her from competing. Betty would never forget how upset she was for ending up in last place. She was ready to stop competing altogether, but her Daddy encouraged her when he said, “he was proud of her for finishing.”
The true story continued. She read on about how her Dad and two older sisters worked with her until the next competition. She ended up in fourth place at this competition. After this fourth-place competition, her Dad and sisters worked with her again. Eventually, she won many competitions. That last-place finish and the fourth-place finish meant more to her than many of her first-place finishes.