Story Telling is Child’s Play / The Graduate

The kids have this game. I got it for my son years ago and they all still play it. Its name is simple and to the point: “The Story Telling Game”.  The rules are simple. You turn over cards with pictures of random people, animals, objects and food. And you build a story with them.

Like if you get magician, eggs, cow and chair, you make a story like this: A magician wakes up in the morning. He eats eggs for breakfast, then milks the cow in the backyard. Then he trips on the chair and dies.

Not gripping stuff, I know, but still enough to get the juices of their imagination going and encourage creativity. Most of the time, the story goes like this: this happened, then this happened, then this happened. But sometimes, when the stars are aligned just right, they are genius story weavers who come up with very creative stories that ignite my hopes that they will love writing for their whole lives. After all, what better way to get started writing flash fiction?

The kids left the game lying out the other day. I thought I’d give it a try. Why not? So I shuffled the cards around and pulled out three. I was hoping for lumberjack, skeleton and hammer. Or at least fireman, bed and banana. But instead I got graduate, kiwi and tree.

But I’m a writer. How hard could this be? You be the judge:

The Graduate by Marianne Su

Max pulled out of the parking lot, ignoring how the graduation cap on the passenger seat mocked him with self-importance. The diploma, rolled up and tied with a celebratory red ribbon, tapped against the cup holder where it sat soaking up that morning’s coffee spill.

As a graduate, Max wanted to ride the wave of optimism that had been peddled at the ceremony, but all he could focus on was what messages and e-mails waited for him at home. If only the economy was stronger, if only one of his applications got answered, if only there were jobs.

As he neared home, a growing sense of helplessness spread from his heart to his gut. Max figured it was the kiwi he’d eaten at the graduation buffet that hadn’t tasted right. At the time, he figured his bitterness had corrupted his taste buds but the encroaching nausea was getting stronger.

Max blinked hard. His head felt light. The street ahead faded into a blur. He reached up to rub his eyes when the road took a bend without him. Max grabbed the steering wheel, sending his tires screeching across the pavement, thinking he’d corrected the car’s path just in time. But he’d been too late. Crashing into a tree, the car came to a stop.

From high above Max watched the car, saw his body slumped over the wheel. The cap and diploma lay on the car floor, the only survivors of the crash. The car alarm faded until all Max could hear was the whistle of the wind in the tree’s leaves, telling him he didn’t need to worry about the future anymore.