Saturday, September 25, 2010


For this intriguing assignment in my Narrative Storytelling class, we were all meant to write a short story based on one of the 'Mysteries of Harris Burdick' by illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, creator of 'The Polar Express.' I picked The House on Maple Street and wrote about a page of whimsy, inspired by 'Up' and 'Meet the Robinsons.' It was actually a ton of fun to do, so I'm posting it here. I'd love to do more with it.

"To anyone who may have been watching, the scene looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. In the morning parents would tell children they had been dreaming. Spouses would tell each other they were simply imaging things. Crazy old Mr. Finch at the end of the street poured out his entire liquor cabinet.

It had started out as a typical night on Maple Street. The streets were quiet; children had been sent to bed, parents stayed up to watch talk shows. A pale, striped cat poked around a garbage can in hopes of finding scraps. Suddenly a thunderous roar rent the quiet night, a blinding light illuminating this corner of suburbia. The cat yowled and streaked away into the shadows. The noise grew louder, the light brighter, the earth began to tremble, until the simple white house at the corner of Maple and Pine actually lifted off the ground. Trees swayed, creaking, from the force of the blast. A car was pushed into the street until if fell over on its side. A dog in the next yard began barking madly; several faces appeared in windows. The house rose into the air, slowly, steadily, rumbling like a great rocket, the white-hot intensity of the blast incinerating the yard below. No on had ever seen anything of the like on this street.

But to the Robertsons, it seemed the only natural thing to do. Quite frankly, they had become bored of their life. The same routine every day, the same streets, the same faces. It was agreed they were all thirsting for adventure. But how they would be able to afford all the travel expenses, none of them quite knew. It was their youngest son who finally suggested flying away in the house. Admittedly they dismissed this at first, thinking it impossibly crazy. But the more time passed , the more the family began to think; why not?

They began all the necessary preparations; installing rocket boosters in the basement, bolting down the furniture, converting the attic into a control room. They were astounded by how little their neighbors noticed. Perhaps they were simply that content with their own little lives. All the more reason to get away."


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