Fly, plume, table, Sweden, apple, turtle, tacos.

Seven writers, seven words, seven stories.

A few weeks ago, Simple Truth sent Sharon, one of our creative directors, and me to an event sponsored by Chicago Ideas. This lunchtime lab, hosted by StoryStudio Chicago, was aimed at using storytelling to “build more creativity into your life and help you become a better listener and leader.”

During the session, we participated in a variety of creative-writing activities, from writing about a stranger’s best day to simply describing our childhood kitchen. In what felt like a terrible flashback to high school English, we were all “encouraged” to share our work. Yikes.

After a rough start, where 15 strangers were asked to introduce themselves by sharing their super power (mine was the ability to terrify any small child), we began to loosen up and have fun. With each new activity, we all seemed more willing to spread our wings and less scared about sharing the results.

The event that day concluded with an exercise that turned out to be the most fun I’ve had writing in quite some time. The setup was simple: We all yelled words at the instructor and she chose seven at random. We then had five minutes to write a story containing all seven words. The results were amazing, often hilarious short stories about anything and everything.

We enjoyed the exercise so much that we decided to try it at our subsequent Simple Truth writers’ meeting. After collecting a random word from each writer — fly, plume, table, Sweden, apple, turtle, tacos — I gave our team four minutes to craft their stories. Below are the results, presented without edit or comment.* I hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

Our stories

“Fly your plumes over Sweden,” said Mr. McGillicuddy… 

“Fly your plumes over Sweden,” said Mr. McGillicuddy. He bit into his apple. Tart, juicy, it wet his dry lips. All he’d eaten until the plane rescued him was raw turtle, chewed slowly as he dreamt of tacos, wishing the whole time on his desert island that he was, instead, in his beloved Sweden.

Timmy turtle wanted to make Swedish meatballs… 

Timmy turtle wanted to make Swedish meatballs so he looked up a recipe on his phone from Apple. He set to work on his kitchen table, but a fly got mixed into the mixture after it was cooked so he had to mash it up and he ended up having to make tacos because the meat was so smashed and he was slow it was already cooked by the time he mashed them.

In Sweden today, a fly landed on plume… 

In Sweden today, a fly landed on plume of noted author Juan Kaminsky. He rose from the table at which he was writing, inadvertently knocking to the ground the apple he was always eating when working on fiction. Before he could retrieve the fruit, his pet turtle, Hugo, ate it. Dejected, Juan decided it was time to call it a day and ordered tacos from his favorite restaurant on Borgen Street.

I took the plume pen from the table and began to write…

I took the plume pen from the table and began to write, but was distracted by the fly buzzing over Sweden. Did I mention I have HDS (hyper-sensitivity disorder)? I flourished the pen in the air, searching for inspiration, where is my muse? Perhaps some lunch would energize me? Should I have tacos with a turtle for dessert?

When I fly first class to Sweden on Plume Airways…

When I fly first class to Sweden on Plume Airways, I always request a table by the window and a meal of tacos. Since I always fly with my pet turtle, Plume supplies crates of apples for her.

After tacos with apple slaw and turtle soup…

After tacos with apple slaw and turtle soup, the man from Sweden got up, folded his table and stool, walked across the sand into the surf, out to his anchored and waiting boat. His guide pulled the anchor and motored them out. The man unhooked the fly and…

It was late afternoon in Sweden as I was flying into the airport…

It was late afternoon in Sweden as I was flying into the airport. The sun was peeking out of the clouds and my mind drifted to the night my pet turtle ate poisonous plume and died in my arms. I can still smell my mom cooking tacos in the kitchen and the core of the apple Terrance the turtle was enjoying before he made the wrong choice.

*Our content manager insisted that I mention the fact that not every writer managed to use all seven words.