If you passed by a sign twice a day that offered a service where you could anonymously scream away all your pain, fear and loneliness, how long would it take before you tried it?

 

If Lizzy and Kait charge $3 for screaming in their dead grandmother’s field and $2 for a cup of lemonade, and they have an average of 7 customers a day, how many days before they can afford a new bike?

 

If traumatic events create ghosts inside people that can only be expelled through screaming, and the sisters start jarring those ghosts to keep people safe from reliving someone else’s trauma, how long before a group of teenagers break into their dead grandmother’s house and smash the jars?

 

If ghosts move like smoke, taking into consideration that there’s no wind that night and the summer humidity makes the outside feel like swimming in clam chowder, how quickly can the ghosts spread throughout town?

 

If three out of five screamers are haunted by personal ghosts, how many ghosts are currently rushing through the town, inflaming the dreams of the sleeping into nightmares and forever changing the way they look at the people they go to school with, work with and see at church on Sunday?

 

(I’ve been working on a micro-chap with all these characters, and I thought a hermit crab might be nice.)

8 Comments

  1. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Hi Chelsea—-Of course I love this! I laughed all the way through it. Wonderful. If we spot Kait and Lizzy riding bikes on cross country bike trails, we will report them to you. Would love to see your chap.

  2. Jonathan Cardew

    Haha, this is awesome. It’s funny that we both wrote word problem stories. I love the “If…” structure of this and I especially liked this: “If ghosts move like smoke, taking into consideration that there’s no wind that night and the summer humidity makes the outside feel like swimming in clam chowder” Great piece!

    –Jonathan

  3. Dennis Holmes

    Chelsea, this is wonderful. I like the slightly modified layered progression of your hermit crab word problems. I am always drawn to unanswerable questions posed. Love how they make one ponder, and you have several brilliant examples of them here. And then ghosts, and the screaming, haunted essence. Yikes! No church for me… LOL

  4. Meg Tuite

    Hi Chelsea! This is hilarious! I laughed all the way through! OMG! Especially LOVE “If traumatic events create ghosts inside people that can only be expelled through screaming, and the sisters start jarring those ghosts to keep people safe from reliving someone else’s trauma, how long before a group of teenagers break into their dead grandmother’s house and smash the jars?” That is brilliant! I can’t wait for your collection! LOVE!

  5. Sara Comito

    This is so smart, Chelsea. A trauma super spreader event! I love that children are the wise ones here, ministering to the town and its residents in intuitive ways. And of course there’s a group of teenagers to mess things up! There’s a poetic tension between screaming (letting it go) and bottling up, and an inevitability about things not being able to remain hidden. Haunting and funny (clam chowder, anyone?). Yes!

  6. Freesia McKee

    Hi Chelsea,

    I have seen such diverse interpretations of the word problem shell in this course. They all have very different effects, which just goes to show how versatile a single shell can be.

    Your word problem hermit crabs read like prose poems, which is truly striking, and I think some of this is because you are very selective about what you include and what you leave out. For instance, we have no idea how much a new bike costs, but we are asked a question about it. This creates a lot of mystery and a surreal effect for readers.

    I love that you are working towards a micro-chap with these characters. It would be so cool to see these hermit crabs within the context of the larger project!

    Freesia

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