What is this? This is the beginning of a story. A story about Truman State University, a story of real people, a work of fiction. A short story from the brain of a person with too much going on inside her head. And this is only the beginning of it.
As the girl sits in front of the blank Google Doc, she wonders if it’s still correct to call herself a girl. She’ll have a college degree soon. She’s looking for apartments and finding a Real Job®️ like a woman. But at the moment, writing her last story for her college newspaper, she still feels like a girl. Uncertain, small, maybe even timid — which is not a word that people would often use to describe her.
How is she supposed to fill this page? How is she supposed to say goodbye?
Looking for clues, she takes a walk down memory lane. It all started with a “Testimony of the Living.” Not sure if anyone was listening, she had begun to tell her classmates and community the story of some shadows from the state of Washington and the living, breathing souls trying to escape their ghostly fate.
Then the story had moved on to a group of twenty-somethings in Chicago with strange abilities and confused hearts. “The Curse of Briar Michaels” might have sucked for him, but it had gotten her a cool headline graphic and another semester of content.
As time went on, the stories began jumping around more and more. She had written about girls and boys, men and women, young and old. Love stories, silly stories, spooky stories. Anything and everything she could think of — or that Pinterest could plant in her mind. Against all odds, the people at the newspaper stuck with her crazy wanderings through worlds past, present and future. They even made more cool graphics that turned her little stories into real life publications worthy of catching a readers’ eye.
And now she’s just supposed to say goodbye? Could this be more “End of Semester Hallucinations?”
Alas, it is real. But please, one last time, allow her to tell you a story.
Once upon a time, a nervous college freshman hiked across campus to a big building called Barnett Hall and tried to look confident as she walked into the Student Media Center. She listened to the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper talk to everyone in the room about what the paper covered and what you could do if you joined the staff. There were people to talk to if you wanted to write news stories or sports stories or take photographs.
Feeling like a fool, the freshman walked up to the editor-in-chief and admitted to having no journalism experience whatsoever.
Then, without really thinking about how silly it probably sounded, she said, “But I can write fiction for the paper if you think that’d be okay.”
The editor-in-chief looked at the freshman with much more curiosity than she’d expected.
“What kind of fiction?”
The freshman described an old story stashed away on her computer about five teenagers living up in small-town Washington state surrounded by lifeless people they referred to as shadows.
To her amazement, the editor-in-chief wanted the story.
They didn’t ask her for a writing sample. They didn’t tell her newspapers were for real stories about real people. They just added her to the paper’s Google Drive.
Now three years and fifty-something stories later, she places one last document into that Google Drive with a grateful heart. She has two editors-in-chief, three features editors, a panel of editors, and an unknown number of readers to thank for helping her reach this moment in her life.
As she clicks submit, she prays that her stories have brought joy to her campus community and that someone might read this last one and remember that they can do anything, create anything, if they dare to walk into a room and ask for a seat at the table. If they dare to believe they have something to offer the world.