Find a random book. Go to page 42. The first complete sentence on that page is the start of your story. Find another book. Go to page 42. The last complete sentence on that page is the end of your story.
Write everything in between than makes a story to connect these sentences (and let us know the books you used).
Add your response
There are 7 written responses to this assignment.
Oh, how times have changed (Get Financially Naked by Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar)
He had always planned to write the great American novel but time slipped away and life took him away from literature and writing to survival and teaching.
He had no time to read the books he loved, let alone write them.
Finally, he reached retirement age and on his first day of freedom he began with the book at the top of his “bucket list.” He sunk into his easy chair, sipped his tea and began to read.
The fingers loosened, and the book they had held moved slowly and then swiftly across the still body and fell into the silence of the room (Stoner by John Williams).
This is really just the start of a story. The first sentence comes from The Apothecary by Maile Meloy and the last sentence comes from Eat, Drink and be from Mississippi by Nanci Kinkaid, both books I checked out from the library last week.
I got through the Friday at school by keeping my head down, and I stayed in study hall at noon because I couldn’t face the lunchroom. Word of my outburst in English class had gotten around pretty quickly: you don’t stand up and call out the Big Man On Campus for making fun of the teacher without serious ramifications. Especially when, after you finish, you realize your fly is down. All I could do was walk out of the room, head held high, and hope that a memory erasing cloud floated through the room before class ended.
I realized I had no such luck when, as I huddled in one of the bathroom stalls, several classmates came in laughing and reliving my humiliation. “Miss Wilson deserves better,” one of them said, making me sound like a girl. “And then we he realized his fly was down,” the other said. “Just classic.” I stayed where I was until they left and then slipped out, trying to figure out where I could disappear for awhile.
That’s how I ended up in study hall. At lunch, the place was usually empty. Today was no exception. I sat in the table at the farthest end of the library, back to the room, head down, pencil in hand, doing the only thing that could help me relax: working on my latest comic book project. Drawing was my escape, my way to create a world where people like the quarterback of the football team were not heroes. Where the Big Man on Campus wasn’t anything like the big, blonde bully who ruled over my high school.
This comic book was a bit different from some of my others that included super heroes. For this one, I had created a more folksy hero. And I got him in Jaxson Wilson. Maybe I had been watching to much of the country music channel or something. Or just longing for an alter ego. As with all the characters, I created, I wanted to be like him. Jaxson had some country boy in him—cowboy boots, shaggy hair, a hearty appetite for which he was famous and a fondness for loud music.
My spring of philanthropy is not so torrential. When I pass the bell-ringer in front of the grocery, I seldom drop change into the kettle, much less currency. Slam the phone, slam the door…same response to beggars after charity.
My wife, bless her heart, would give the very foundations of our home and hearth to help the downtrodden. Once, she convinced me it would be a good deed to lend my truck to a “friend of Bill’s” she met at a meeting. He needed to move his belongings from one shelter to another, I’m sure. Funny thing, though: when the truck came back a week later, it was cleaner than I ever kept it, the cracked windshield had been replaced, and it had a full tank of gas!
Still, I missed seeing the truck sitting in its spot on the street. My wife just doesn’t understand that a man has a relationship with his truck. How she and I ever tied the knot, I don’t know. We are so different. One of these days I’ll get her into the office for analysis.
As a psychaitrist, I’m aware of some pretty unusual relationships that function quite well.
First sentence from Three Men Out, by Rex Sout, a collection of Nero Wolfe novelettes, 1954, Bantam Crime Line edition 1991.
Final sentence from Third Wish: A Novel in Five Parts, Vol. 1, by Robert Fulghum, 2009, becker&mayer! Books
“The fact that I am writing this book on an IBM typewriter, and not with a quill pen dipped in homemade ink, is almost wholly due to a nondescript-looking moth called Bombyx mori, otherwise known as the silkworm.”
While I sit here contemplating the sad existence of the silkworm, and how much we humans have come to prey off of its better (or perhaps ignorant) nature, I begin to think of other creepy crawlies who like to prey on us.
Plasmodium is a genus of parasitic protzoa, with its infectious agent much more commonly known: malaria. I myself cannot be infected with malaria even though I do not travel, as I take hydroxychloroquine for an auto-immune disease Take that, developing world mosquitoes! Plasmodium always has two hosts in its fairly deadly life cycle: a mosquito who passes the infection along and a vertebrate host who becomes infected to varying degrees.
Plasmodium first invades red blood cells, and they clump up in balls under the cells making an odd, goosebump like appearance.
“Plasmodium then pierces the goose bumps with sticky molecules that can grab hold of receptors on the cells of the blood vessel walls.”
Insects, The Creeping Conquerors and Human History by Carson I. A. Ritchie
Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer
(I mostly read non-fiction. That’s just how it is…)
“Now what should you hope for?”
Frederick knew better then to offer attention to a voice emanating from the base of a wall. Little surprise to see that it came from a yellow toothed mouth mostly hidden behind a knot of grey beard.
“Well big timer, you have no hopes?… how sad, you do have it all.”
Manic shoppers, kids locked into their headphones, big eyed tourists, the shifty grey people of 3rd Avenue parted ways around Frederick, all of them knowing to watch this scene without looking.
Late for a business meeting, lost in knowing he had not found one gift for his wife, nor for his son (who typically offered eye tolls in return), Frederick was not prepared for a debate with a homeless philosopher. The safest escape, once having vacated the proper distant bubble of aloof disconnect, was to proffer some coins.
“Merry Christmas,” he mumbled dropping 5 quarters into the upturned hat, more than doubling the balance statement contained within.
Why was Frederick not motoring on?
A rain of quarters landed on his feet. “Keep your chips, Wall Street, your 401K is shaky. I repeat, what should you hope for?”
Hope for? Is this some sort of internet gag video? Am I about to be the next meme who cannot spout a reality show line? World peace? Happiness? Independent wealth? My own tropical island?
Out of some crevice of obscure fantasies, Frederick just said, “I hope for more music in the world.”
The man’s eyes literally twinkled. Like stars, and with a wink, he nodded, “A fine hope indeed, you are indeed a fine human being.”
And with that, like some lame hollywood musical, everyone on the street stopped, turned and formed a semi circle. Cabs gently ground to a halt. People put their cell phones away.
And they all broke out in a soaring harmonic rendition of “I’d Like to Teach the World To Sing”.
Frederick felt a warmth in his spin never present, and a tear wormed its way down his cheek. “And you sir, are a gift as well. Is there room against the base of that wall, that I may sit and hear some more?”
Meeting forgotten, gift ideas to be sorted later, he gave into the moment. Frederick insisted that he had only stayed over to hear the mellifluous chants.
Opening line from “Dog is my Co-Pilot” a collection of essays about what else, dogs.
Closing line from “The Last Crusade” the epic voyages of Vasco de Gama
And the story? completely impromptu. Go sing out on the streets, willya?
They probably swam into Kapunakea on a high tide, and some unlucky few ventured through the cave entrance, never to find their way out. On Kauai, commoners did not belong to the land. The cave deities, by law then, were forced to suspend those early explorers vertically from the ceiling in stalactites; between the ceiling and the floor of the cave you may see them, each face a frozen rictus of agony, both hands pressed in final protest against the fluid crystalline calcification of their icicle tombs.
Burney, David A. “Back to the Future in the Caves of Kaua’i.”
Joesting, Edward. “Kauai: The Separate Kingdom.”
“There are many instances of these subtle interrelationships between the developing technology of photography and the established arts of painting in the nineteenth century, and the next major development in the esthetics of painting, in the early twentieth century, corresponded with the rise of the moving picture.” taken from top of page 42 from ‘How to read a film’ 3rd edition by James Franco.
“An apprehensive look around showed no other means of ingress, so clearly this was intended exclusively for him.” taken from bottom of page 42 from ‘The Inscrutable Americans’ by Anurag Mathur.
‘There are many instances of these subtle interrelationships between the developing technology of photography and the established arts of painting in the nineteenth century, and the next major development in the esthetics of painting, in the early twentieth century, corresponded with the rise of the moving picture.’ the teacher quoted James Franco during the film appreciation course that Shawn was taking at the local community college on the outskirts of the town.
Shawn kept wondering about this particular statement from that day’s class. Intrigued he headed to the local museum of art in order to delve deeper into the subject. It wasn’t his first visit to the museum, he used to visit it as a little boy with his father, but that was almost twenty years ago. He hadn’t been to the museum since his father skipped town on him and his mother. The old memories suddenly came back to him – how he would look forward to Saturday each week, the dizzying array of colors, though he didn’t recall any paintings in particular and the ice cream treat he would get at the museum cafeteria each time which was the best part of the week. After recovering from the flashback, he just got lost in the world of Picassos and Cezannes and he loved it, ‘Why didn’t I come back for all these years?’ wondering to himself.
It was almost New Year now and since that day in early autumn, Shawn had been a regular visitor to the museum. Over the period of time he had also got to know Bernie Masters, the head security guard and the oldest employee of the museum. Casually he mentioned one day about visiting the museum as a child with his father. ‘What is your name again Shawn?’, ‘Shawn Walker’, ‘as in Shawn Paul Walker, are your Richard Walker’s son?’ ‘Yes, he is my father’, ‘My god you are Dick’s son, I can’t believe myself. How is the old fella?’, ‘Err…frankly I don’t know I haven’t met him in many years’. A strange silence suddenly fell upon them.
Bernie and his wife Martha did not have any children of their own. That night Bernie told her about seeing Shawn in the museum and, both shared stories of how little Shawn used to amuse them both on the museum lawns on his weekly visits. Bernie wasn’t the closest friend of Dick, Shawn’s father but he always though him as a nice chap and being a security guard his inner compass about people was almost always right. They both felt bad about the bitterness that Bernie sensed in his chat with Shawn about his father.
The Masters were not a religious bunch but liked the joy and positivity in the air around Christmas time. They had over a period of time started amassing a small art collection, saving a little here and there. Among it was a small charcoal by Picasso.
On his visit the next week, Bernie took Shawn aside, ‘Shawn I wanted to show you something. Your father had given it to me to get it evaluated, but before I could return it he had left the town’. The fallacy of how his father won’t return back to collect something valuable did not occur to Shawn. ‘It is kept in the display room E210 which is currently closed for public. And it belongs to you.’
Bernie led him to the room E210, wherein was hung the Picasso charcoal, not protected with any security glass. A small note read ‘My son Shawn I am sorry and I want you to know I really love you. Take care buddy’. Shawn was happy but also a bit sad and unsure about this art piece but, an apprehensive look around showed no other means of ingress, so clearly this was intended exclusively for him.