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.

17 Responses to Story Telling is Child’s Play / The Graduate

  1. A sad blend highlighting the effects of the recession, especially on the young.
    A promising future cut short, and fruit is supposed to be good for you.

    I think you could have a lot of fun with prompts from that game, and possibly a lot of muse-wrestling too. 🙂

  2. Nicely done Marianne and I can only say Wow. I’m definitely buying that for my nephews. The hours of fun that can be had from the Storytelling Game and it gets them to use words alongside learning more. Great stuff.

  3. Writer’s block will be a thing of the past! Repackage the game, like they did with the ‘adult’ versions of Harry Potter (not in the erotica sense of adult). Sell it as a writing creativity aid and you will make thousands. 🙂

    You got three tough word picks to blend together, but I think you did really well with it. Now I am sad.

  4. A gruesome little tale. I hope you didn’t tell that one to the kiddies LOL. Likely to give them nightmares. That does look like a fun game – so much better than electronic entertainment.

    • What’s wrong with nightmares? 🙂 That’s where some of the best writing inspiration comes from. But no, this piece was special to my blog.

  5. Looks like a great game!

    I enjoyed the story … it’s a tough world for young people to try to start their adult life in at the moment. I especially liked the line “the road took a bend without him”. Nice one!

  6. As Steve said, it definitely casts light on the economic environment to which so many of us are aware, either through our own circumstances or those we know.

  7. Wow. Daughter-unit just graduated from college last weekend. No tree-slamming here, fortunately, but no job either. Like I told her though, I graduated into a recession & it took me a few months to find something. Unlike me, she wants to stay close to home though.

    But yeah, I want to get this game for when Mason gets a little older… and it could make for some interesting prompts until then!

  8. Fantastic job, especially with those prompts! I absolutely love this line: “The cap and diploma lay on the car floor, the only survivors of the crash.”

    And what a cool game to have for your kids. I wish I’d had that for my daughter when she was little.

  9. With those three simple words, I sure wasn’t expecting a story where Max takes a turn for the worse. Although, after re-reading your story, it’s almost as though you were alluding to his pending fate by referring to the colour red and using the word ‘spill’ in the same sentence, both conjuring up the image of blood. Nicely done.

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