If you are new to Darlene’s Story, here’s the gist:  Darlene Whitman always heard that you can pick your friends but not your family.  She realizes the lie in this statement when nosy eighty-two-year-old neighbor, Myrtle Crawford, insists on helping unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of her husband and father.  Darlene discovers her father’s involvement in illegal cancer drug testing, which is also linked to her husband’s courier business.  Her ties to Myrtle are more complicated than she thought, and now, she must piece together the truth before it’s too late to save either of them.

And now, for the next segment in the story:


After donning the disguise of all disguises, Darlene couldn’t get a word out of Myrtle Crawford.  She claimed that even when they weren’t there, they could hear everything in her private hospital room.   Darlene wished she could bust Myrtle out of that hellish prison, but couldn’t.   The sick act wasn’t an act.

Darlene felt the burn of curiosity when her thoughts drifted to the folded papers in her bag.  Just because Myrtle couldn’t talk didn’t mean she couldn’t communicate.  She’d clearly expected Darlene would find a way to get there, because she’d spent her days in the hospital writing, and then hiding the pages when nurses, doctors, or FBI agents came into the room.

Darlene kept her hands on the steering wheel, rented car pointed east, for no other reason than her instinct said west so she did the opposite.  When she hit the Albuquerque city limits, Darlene finally felt far enough away.  At four in the afternoon, Little Anita’s wasn’t busy, despite being located right off the I-40.  The sole waitress on shift shuffled her to a booth in the back of the restaurant.  Maybe her desire for privacy was that obvious.

Sipping on a Diet Coke- Darlene would never drink that- she ordered a smothered burrito and then carefully pulled the tri-folded papers from her bag.  In her acquired paranoid state, she looked around to make sure no one watched before opening Myrtle’s letter.

Tears involuntarily slipped from her eyes when she finished reading.  She tried to stop them with a swipe from the back of her hand, but it did no good.  Myrtle provided more evidence that Darlene’s father was a thief and possible murderer and her dead husband, Scott, the ultimate liar she’d never be able to confront in this life.

This left Darlene with a brand she couldn’t hide.  A criminal’s daughter and a liar’s wife is what her heart knew.  It became her, no matter what clothes covered her.

All because of the experimental cancer drug, MEG42A1.


TrifectaPicture11-1This is my response to the Trifecta weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 333) using the following word/definition:

BRAND (noun):  (a)(1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership ; (2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark; (b)(1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron; (2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma <the brand of poverty>

If you want to read other responses, or try the challenge yourself, click on link above to view Trifecta’s site.  Happy writing (and reading!)


This continuation of Darlene’s Story is still in Darlene’s point of view.  Click here for Darlene’s Story page if you want to read the entire piece.  Thanks for stopping by!


56 thoughts on “Branded

  1. nrhatch August 19, 2013 / 9:10 AM

    Can’t wait to hear what evidence Myrtle has shared about Darlene’s dad and husband.

    Another sentence that could do with a bit more clarification:

    “Darlene kept her hands on the steering wheel, rented car pointed east, for no other reason than she would’ve gone west so she did the opposite.”

    Perhaps the first “she” could be “the real Darlene” . . . and/or the second “she” could be “the disguised Darlene”

    • jannatwrites August 19, 2013 / 10:26 AM

      Thanks, Nancy! Again, I tried to keep it streamlined, but perhaps a bit too much so. I changed the sentence, “Darlene kept her hands on the steering wheel, rented car pointed east, for no other reason than her instinct said west so she did the opposite.” I wanted to get the point across that she’s trying not to be predictable, but I didn’t want to bog it down with the real her vs. the disguised her. Hope it helped 🙂

      • nrhatch August 19, 2013 / 11:07 AM

        Love the change . . . definitely clarifies without bogging it down.

        • nrhatch August 19, 2013 / 11:15 AM

          BTW ~ Feel free to delete my editorial comments once you’ve made whatever changes you want to make.

          I am not being critical of the story itself. It’s a real page turner!

        • jannatwrites August 19, 2013 / 11:17 AM

          I understand, Nancy. I see your point on the first paragraph. I think it’s clearer now. Thanks 🙂

        • nrhatch August 19, 2013 / 12:28 PM

          Yes! That’s perfect!

  2. Debbie August 19, 2013 / 11:51 AM

    Fascinating segment, Janna. And thanks for the capsule-sized recap of the action to date. I’m sure that was as helpful to you as it was to your readers! Keep ’em comin’!

    • jannatwrites August 19, 2013 / 11:57 PM

      Last time, someone suggest a recap of what happened in the previous segment. I wasn’t sure that would really help since the story has gone on so long, so I figured I’d post my (very rough) first draft of the story description for a query.

  3. philosophermouseofthehedge August 19, 2013 / 12:24 PM

    The recap is a good idea as you pick up new readers
    ..and we are ready to roll with more of this story!

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:20 AM

      I hope it helps, Phil! Thanks so much for keeping up with the story (and taking time for refreshers along the way :))

  4. Kir Piccini August 19, 2013 / 1:17 PM

    Love a “gist”, what a great word (has Trifecta used it yet?? 🙂 )

    this was one of my favorite installments, the story is not only interesting and intriguing it’s wonderfully written.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:21 AM

      I couldn’t resist…looked it up – gist only had two definitions 😦

      I’m glad you enjoyed this part of the story, Kir. I appreciate you reading it!

  5. Sean August 19, 2013 / 2:23 PM

    This is good fill in information and of course just enough to keep everyone guessing. You are good at that. Thanks for the read.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:25 AM

      Thanks, Sean. There wasn’t much ‘action’ in this one, though…maybe next time 🙂

  6. howanxious August 19, 2013 / 3:46 PM

    Interesting… Even though I missed various portions of the story, I now know what is going on. Thanks for providing the gist.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:26 AM

      Thanks, HA…I’m glad it helped clue you in to the story!

  7. Catherine Johnson August 19, 2013 / 4:22 PM

    I love hearing greater details of this mystery and how fun Myrtle is.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:29 AM

      Thanks, Catherine…I’m glad you stopped by to read it!

  8. Michael August 19, 2013 / 6:48 PM

    I see that, unlike a certain rabbit, Darlene did take that left turn at Albuquerque. . Great addition to the story. I want to know more about this mysterious drug….

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:32 AM

      I just like the type Albuquerque 🙂 Thanks for taking time to read this segment, Michael.

  9. pattisj August 19, 2013 / 9:10 PM

    I appreciate the “gist of the story,” too. You should do like tv and give a preview of the next episode! 😉

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:33 AM

      That’s a great idea, Patti….the only problem is that I don’t know what happens next until I see the Monday morning prompts!

      • pattisj August 20, 2013 / 7:48 AM

        Oh, we’ll. I tried! Lol

        • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 8:26 AM

          Can’t blame a girl for trying 🙂

  10. Eric Alagan August 19, 2013 / 10:16 PM

    Keen to know what Myrtle wrote – must be some revelation as Darlene seems convinced now of her festering suspicions about both her father and husband.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 7:35 AM

      She knows enough that o matter how much she wants to deny it, the nagging feeling won’t let her. More should be revealed in future segments. Thanks for reading, Eric!

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 8:29 AM

      She’s certainly at a low point, but I think things will get better for her. Thanks for reading, Christina.

  11. Ivy (Mommy Dourest) August 20, 2013 / 8:54 AM

    This must be what it felt like to watch those film serials in the silent movie era. I look forward to a new installment of Darlene’s saga each week. 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:46 PM

      Thanks for your kind comment, Ivy – I appreciate you reading each week 🙂

  12. Jennifer August 20, 2013 / 9:07 AM

    I love this story so much. And Darlene and Myrtle. And the idea that we wear the brand created by the people we love, which isn’t exactly true even though it feels that way. So good.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:48 PM

      I’m glad you enjoy the story, Jennifer. Those we love are a reflection on us, if we let it be that way.

  13. debseeman August 20, 2013 / 9:35 AM

    This may be part of a larger story, but it does a pretty good job standing on it’s own. It does make me want to go back and get caught up on the story and see how Darlene found herself in such an awful situation.

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:49 PM

      At this point, writing a complete stand alone piece in this series is difficult, but I do try. I appreciate you reading, Deb!

  14. Jennifer Dillon August 20, 2013 / 10:02 AM

    I agree that this one can almost stand alone. I thought this sentence was super interesting because of the different implications of ‘became’, both to flatter and to actually become: It became her, no matter what clothes covered her.

    Great writing Janna!

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:51 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read and share your thoughtful comment, Jennifer. When I first wrote that sentence, I intended it to be that it became a part of her…it wasn’t until after I wrote it that I saw the other meaning 🙂

  15. lovelylici1986 August 20, 2013 / 2:24 PM

    Nicely done, as always. 🙂 I love paragraph 3, sentence 1. Great characterization. The last sentence is a great question mark, urging the reader to keep going.
    -Alicia Audrey

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:51 PM

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing specifics about what you liked in the story. I appreciate you stopping by to read it, Alicia!

  16. Brian Benoit August 20, 2013 / 5:50 PM

    Great stuff Janna – I love your evolving characterization of Darlene, how she’s developing and reacting to her circumstances in such interesting ways. I hope you collect all of these together someday!

    • jannatwrites August 20, 2013 / 11:53 PM

      I’m slowly working on the novel version of this story, Brian. At the rate I’m going, I just might be done by 2019! (Only kidding…sort of.) I appreciate you taking time to read it.

  17. Tina August 21, 2013 / 6:51 AM

    What a sad tale. Everything she thought she knew about her family, all swallowed by that lie. Poor Darlene–I hope she figures out a way to make things right!

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:14 PM

      It’s a tough time, but she’ll find her way, I’m sure. Thanks for keeping up with the story, Tina!

  18. steph August 21, 2013 / 8:01 AM

    Nice touch on the waitress directing her to a booth in the back with the thought that her desire for privacy was that obvious. Intriguing, thrilling, current, all the makings of a high sum for the screenplay rights. Well done. I look forward to more.

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:18 PM

      You comment made me smile, Steph! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story. I appreciate you taking time to read it and your kind words 🙂

  19. Imelda August 21, 2013 / 9:06 AM

    No no. What other’s did was not her fault. Let her not sink to despair, please please. 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:24 PM

      I won’t let her sink too far, Imelda 🙂

  20. Tara R. August 21, 2013 / 9:31 AM

    I’m anxious to read what was in Myrtle’s letters too. No matter if it isn’t her fault, I like how you humanized Darlene with her guilt over what her father and husband possibly did. Very realistic.

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:27 PM

      Thanks, Tara. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Even though we aren’t responsible for others’ actions, it’s hard not to identify ourselves with those people who have been part of our lives.

  21. Valerie August 21, 2013 / 10:56 AM

    Janna, I love how the direction of this story is inspired by the weekly prompt-you are so creative!

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:29 PM

      Thanks, Valerie. The planner in me is actually quite uncomfortable at times with the seat-of-the-pants nature of the story 🙂

  22. Draug419 August 21, 2013 / 1:04 PM

    Stir that plot nice and thick. Another great installment!

    • jannatwrites August 21, 2013 / 9:30 PM

      Thanks, Draug – I appreciate you stopping by to read it!

  23. Annabelle August 22, 2013 / 12:23 PM

    I want to see those papers! Great tease.

    • jannatwrites August 23, 2013 / 10:57 AM

      Maybe I’ll just have to work that in next time. Thanks for reading, Annabelle!

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