Keep the Story Going: What Happens when you leave the course of a story open to college students…

As part of the Literati Exchange exhibition opening in May, I handcrafted a notebook to leave on the desk for those who visited to add a sentence to the continuing story. That was the intention anyways. To call it a well rounded story would be stretching the truth immensely, but if nothing else, it was entertaining and an interesting social study into the minds of the general college student populace. But don’t let that statement deter you from reading this story (that, as I only recently learned, can be described as being “Rick-rolled”, so prepare yourself).

“Today wasn’t supposed to go like this, but it is over and I am stronger for it. The night won’t swallow me, nor will the sun burn me out, because I am the sun, brighter and hotter than before. I am the star, shining in the bleak and darkness. I will lead myself down the right path of life. I will not stand down or give in. For every step I take gives me an experience to further navigate me.

Suddenly, a shot rang out! The noise brought my attention back to the mirrored image before me. I turned around, startled, and all I saw was a cloud of dark, ashy smoke. I forgot I left the fucking stove on, and burnt my pot roast!!! Do I start over, or clean the mess? It’s not a mess, it’s the beginning of a new project. One that will be presented at a big convention.

I’ve spent my life in preparation for this big event without even knowing. With luck, this shouldn’t be too bad. I will make the journey north! Facing the storm, I will look back at this moment one day and wish I could live it again.

So, I made the pot roast again, and this time it was perfect. I could tell from your eyes you were truly happy. If you weren’t, you were a pretty good liar.

But that didn’t matter to me. You were here and you took my heart like it was nothing special. How could you hurt me like this? I trusted you. I told you things I never told anyone. You lied and cheated and hurt me so much and it still hurts even a year later. Why would you do this?

But then I remember I’m stronger than this and move on. I am made of steel. Literally. I am a robot. Beep-boop my battery is running low so ya know, gotta go to a place nearby.

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me, I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

The road may be long, you may want to give up. Don’t! Keep going, you won’t regret your decision. Every day that I get up and work towards my goal of the day, no matter how small, I am glad that I did. For example, last week I made it my goal to tell at least 10 cats I loved them. I beat it by 9 more. I weeped for joy at my success.

Then I realized there are more important things than telling cats I loved them.

Turtles.

“You may not know what you’re doing, but as long as you keep moving, you’ll be fine,” she told them. “Positive thoughts, positive outcome. Don’t give up!”

She rolled her eyes, looking annoyed. “Take your sympathetic magic elsewhere. If you’re not willing to live in observable reality, you will soon die by it.”

“But I can’t die! I haven’t even lived!” she said.

“Who am I in an external world?” he said.

An explosion of stars mapped across a velvet landscape. Where figment and imagination join to create… new.

A voice answered them both, “…never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and hurt you.” Why did their voice sound slightly like the late pop-sensation Rick Astley? How did I know who Rick Astley was?

Wait… oh yes, I was Rick-rolled that one summer. The same summer I cut my hair and left my abusive hometown. All at once, I felt this was the moment I had been waiting for. The moment I would go out into the world and become the next Rick Astley. I would sing along, Rick-rolled with my favorite teddy bear.

Like the storytellers of old, the song and I traveled far and wide, and one day, I came to town to see it had arrived before me. “A thorn of experience is worth a wilderness of warning.”

And then she said, “did you know a tampon dipped in yogurt cures yeast infections?”

“I did not know that Erin.”

And then we came to the end of everything. They call it “commencement” because it is the beginning of your life beyond your education. But it is also the end of many things. No matter what anyone says, it was a grand experience.

Just because you think you’re not capable doesn’t mean you will become that way.”

So there you have it, raw college student ramblings. It is worth noting that after seeing how this story came to be given its particular environment, I think it would be interesting if The Literati Exchange continued the experiment now that we’re back in San Antonio. Perhaps we could leave a notebook in a variety of coffee shops around town and see how the people in each given area approach storytelling. Could be cool… maybe. I suppose we shall just have to see.

In other news, we’ll throw out a quick thank you for your dedicated reading of our first post! Stay happy, read books, and keep writing.