“I want you to reach your hand into the box and pull out the first thing you feel.” Mr. Grayson picked up a good sized box from his desk. It looked like an ordinary box. One he may have reused after ordering something online. Red construction paper was tapes all around it as though that would make it look more appealing to the class. He shook it in his hands showing his students there was a good amount of items inside the box.
“Is there candy inside?” one of the kids asked while raising their hand.
Mr. Grayson shrugged. “Why don’t you stick your hand in and find out?”
She withdrew her hand and placed her hands under her desk. “I don’t want to go first.”
Mr. Grayson chuckled. “I didn’t put bugs or anything inside in the box. I assure you all this is perfectly safe.”
“You’re asking us to go in blind.” Another student piped up.
“I’m asking you to trust me.” Mr. Grayson sighed. He scanned the room with his gaze. “Guys, this is but a simple writing exercise. Come on.”
Trevor, sitting in the front, raised his hand. “Fine, I’ll go first.”
“Excellent!” Mr. Grayson brought the box over to his. There was a felt flap covering a perfect circle cutout on the side of the box. “No peeking, turn the other way. Stick your hand in and grab the first thing you touch.”
Trevor did what he was told. He closed his eyes and stretched his arm forward, Mr. Grayson having to move the box so Trevor’s hand would actually go in. When Trevor brought his arm back out, he opened his eyes.
“A lollipop?” he asked.
Mr. Grayson nodded with a smile.
The girl who asked about the candy shot her arm through the arm. “I’ll go next!” she beamed.
Mr. Grayson brought the box over to her. She reached in and pulled something out excitedly. The smile quickly faded when she realized she had grabbed a baby apple. The class giggled and she looked up at Mr. Grayson in frustration.
He shrugged. “Don’t blame me, blame the box.” He turned around. “Who wants to go next?”
A few students raised their hands and he went around the room allowing them to take their time pulling objects out of the box.
“I got a pencil.”
“Cool, I got an old cell phone!”
“I got a fridge magnet of the letter R.”
“Is this a bottle cap? Mr. Grayson, do you like beer?”
Mr. Grayson shook his head. “It’s from a Coca-Cola bottle.”
“Rod, it’s red and has the Coke symbol on it.”
Mr. Grayson chuckled as he made his way back to the front of the class. “Alright, did everyone have a turn? Do we all have some sort of object?”
He saw nods come from everyone in the class. Looking at all the desks, he could see everyone has something random in front of them. He gazed at the front row and sighed upon seeing a stick hanging out of Trevor’s mouth.
“I didn’t say you could eat the lollipop, Trev.”
“Oh… Sorry.” He said, his words muffled from the candy.
“Alright,” Mr. Grayson said clapping his hands together. “Get out your notebooks. I’m going to set a timer for ten minutes and I want all of you to write a story about your object. It can be as simple as describing it or you can write a background story for it.”
“How am I supposed to write a background story for my apple…?” Brooke held it up balancing it in the palm of her hand.
“The baby apple is but a child. The tree is its home, the surrounding apples its friends and family. How do you think it felt being plucked off his home? Being carried away from its family? How did it get from that tree to your hands? What kind of journey did it endure?” Mr. Grayson rattled off ideas as though he had already written a store about the apple himself.
Brooke stared at him in confusion and also like he was crazy.
“Use your imagination. Write whatever comes to your mind.” Mr. Grayson concluded. “I’m going to set the timer for 10 minutes starting…” he looked at the clock waiting for the second hand to get onto the 12. “Now!”
The kids picked up their writing utensils in unison and began to work, the student who got the pencil using that pencil to write.
Mr. Grayson smiled down at Trevor. “I hope you remember what that lollipop looked like.”
Trevor took the stick out of his mouth, the hard candy completely gone. “I do. I know what it tastes and smells like too.” He grinned.
Mr. Grayson chuckled. “Touche.”
Trevor picked up his pen and began to write.