A Creative Essay about our Class Trip to Toledo Museum of Art
by Kayla, Fifth Grade
“Welcome students,” says the museum docent to the twenty-one students of our fifth grade class. “What is a story?” she asks, and it’s no surprise that no one’s hand goes up, especially not mine. My stupid ideas are just that: stupid. They don’t need to be heard or shared.
The docent continues, “Let’s start with character. A person, or maybe an animal.” Maybe a person and an animal, I think to myself.
A girl and her dog.
“You need a setting: a place and time.” A forest, I continue to think.
A forest at night.
“Once you have these things, a picture should start to form in your head.”
A girl and her dog are walking in a forest at night.
“Next, something happens, an action that causes conflict—conflict is another word for trouble.”
The dog runs away.
“Because of that action, something else happens…”
The girl chases him.
“…and then something else happens.”
She gets lost.
“This is called the plot. It all leads up to a moment, a climax, when your character must overcome all the trouble to reach the story’s conclusion—its ending.”
She finds the dog.
“Characters, setting, conflict, and plot, all put together to create a story.”
One night, a girl and her dog go for a walk in the forest and the dog runs away and the girl chases after him and gets lost and she looks and looks and looks and finally finds him and then they go home. The End.
What a stupid story.
“But what makes a story great?” asks the docent. She looks at me, my head full of stupid ideas of a girl and her dog walking in the woods at night. My hands are clammy, my face is red, my heart is racing.
Don’t call on me, don’t call on me, don’t call on me.
“Let’s go into the art galleries to find out.”
“There is a language we use to describe art,” says the docent as she guides us through tall, hollow rooms filled with ornately-framed paintings and marble sculptures. “It is a visual language that we can use in our creative writing, too.”
She describes a language made of colors and lines, textures and rhythm, movement and harmony. In the art, we see the words of this language, follow the curves of outstretched arms, feel the warmth of a shining light, hear the silence of a prison escape.
I give the girl of my story a name, I give her dog soft brown fur, I give the trees crooked dead branches, I fill the night air with coldness and eerie noises—it’s a Halloween story, I decide.
Autumn leaves crunch under their feet. In the distance they hear low whistle. The dog barks, breaks free of his leash, and runs ahead to investigate. The girl runs after him, yelling his name, when suddenly—
“Does anyone have an idea for a story?” the docent asks, breaking me from my trance. She looks at me, my head full of ideas. Spooky ideas to make your hands clammy, turn your face white, and cause your heart to race. I raise my hand, slowly at first. My story needs an ending, I think, as my hand reaches higher than I ever thought it could reach. Maybe somebody has a good idea for one.
Call on me, call on me, call on me.
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*This blog post is fictional but based on a real success story submitted by WordShop, a program housed at the Toledo Museum of Art and funded by Women’s Initiative of United Way. All identities of submitted success stories are anonymous for privacy and story details have been added in order to provide a better understanding of the individual’s personal successes and struggles.