The assignment was at once simple and terrifying. Write a story.
“What type of story?” the boy asked.
“Any,” said the teacher.
“What do I write about?” he pondered out loud.
“Whatever you would like,” she responded.
With that, the barriers to creativity were shattered.
He found some looseleaf sheets of paper. Ones that had the red line indicating the margin, with blue lines dividing the vast white space of the page.
He found his favorite pen. At his point, he preferred blue ink.
Then the depth of the challenge dug into his young heart. Without rules, with no restraints, what would he write? He wanted to write something that mattered. Something that readers could learn from. Words that would make a difference. A story of significance.
The vast wasteland of white space laughed at him.
Days passed. He took to reading his comic books for consolation. Those stories were great, but he wanted something deeper. He had been on a journey with Bruce Banner. He saw the challenge of the Hulk, and he drew inspiration from it.
The name hit him as hard as the Hulk would.
He took out one of the sheets and titled it, “The Abomination.”
It was a word that he had heard once. The rhythm of the letters spoke to him. This would tell the reader that this story was important.
The words came. The story unfolded. A scientist was driven. He felt that the best way to create peace was to wield a power that would overwhelm all that opposed it. When he showed others his formula, they laughed at him. He used it on himself, and he changed. He grew to a massive size. His strength was beyond any man. He could destroy tanks with a swipe of his arm. Nuclear bombs didn't faze him. He went from country to country, destroying all of their weaponry.
Instead of garnering peace, he inspired fear. Armies gathered to defeat him. They failed. Nations fought him. They perished. He had become the unbeatable foe. His anger destroyed all. It left him as the sole surviver of humanity, isolated on what remained of his planet. He had found peace, at he price of everything else.
Now this was a story. There was meaning. Words that had substance. Sentences that moved him, as a writer and as a reader. Unbridled creativity poured from his heart, through his pen, onto the page. His passion for writing was unleashed. His ability to tell a story that made a difference, had been set free.
He signed his his name at the end, and handed in the assignment just before the deadline.
He waited for a grade. None came. Others had received their stories back with red letters scrawled on them. Mostly “C's,” with a few “B's” and a rare “A.” Plusses and minuses accentuated their fate.
He saw his mother in the hall. She had been called in.
After the students had left, the teacher spoke with his mother, in front of him. She held up the story, looked at him, and declared that there was something “wrong.” Not with the story. With him. The teacher said that he needed “help.” No discussion of why. No reason was stated. The deepest wounds are often caused without reason.
The word reverberated to his core.
It chilled his bones.
It froze his heart.
His creativity had been judged, juried and executed in one word.
He stopped writing. His stories were isolated on a planet the size of his heart. A planet that no one visited, including himself.
His pen had been drained of ink, and was lost. Paper was folded into airplanes or used as spitballs. The battlefield of stories had been defeated by five simple letters.
Five decades later, different letters arrived.
These bring healing in place of destruction.
Hope instead of hate.
Peace in place of war.
Time heals. Pain becomes an illusion. New perspectives are seen. Pens are found. Scars evolve into armor. Ink is replenished. Passion is unfettered. Creativity is born anew. Words flow into stories and the hero's journeys continue.
Thank you dear reader, for joining my on my journeys. I hope my words make a positive difference in your life.