Social StoryCraft

Round 1: March 25 – April 22, 2020

In this new round-robin style writing challenge, storytellers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to submit their best 250 words adding on to the story provided below. Just like a progressive dinner, we’ll keep adding onto the story piece by piece until we have a completed tale!

Email your submission to cliftonculturalarts@gmail.com or send them to us through Facebook by Wednesday. We’ll post all received responses below and on Facebook – check back on Thursdays to see where the story has gone, and send us your 250 word continuation of the story. We’ll continue adding on this way for four weeks before starting a new round with a new story!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our first community-written story: we had a blast reading your submissions! Read on for the full story.

The rain finally stopped: the city sparkled as the sun came out from behind the clouds. People emerged from homes, store awnings, and bus shelters ready to continue their day, none the wiser to what was coming next.

[Part 1, submitted by Chuck D.] The amazing Skylininni, world renowned magician (or so he told anyone who would listen) had been regaling the patrons of The Improv, with his stories, however none of them believed him. In fact, some of the customers were so incensed at his blatant exaggerations that they had demanded proof of his magical prowess or they were going to run him out of Cincinnati forever. As the clouds cleared away and the sun shone down the amazing Skylininni saw his chance. He dashed outside, threw back his cape, extended one hand toward the heavens, and at the top of his voice yelled, “Tah Dah!”

[Part 2, submitted by Michele B.] Unfortunately, none of the gathered crowd paid the least attention. At exactly the same moment that Skylininni was standing in the middle of the street proclaiming triumph over the elements, Thane Maynard emerged from the doors of the Ludlow Garage followed by six marching Emperor Penguins. Taking advantage of the sudden sunshine, Mr. Maynard had made the decision to take his local outreach animal encounter outside for some fresh air. (The fish smell from the penguin treats was a bit overwhelming inside.) Since arctic animals are not normally seen on the streets of Clifton, all bystanders turned their eyes to the tuxedo-ed birds in their midst. Laughing children followed the penguin parade into the nearby park. Penguin antics ensued. Such was the excitement caused by this spectacle that no one saw the amazing Skylininni lift his hands into the air. No one saw him throw back his cape. And certainly, no one heard him exclaim “Tah Dah!” The magician realized that his grand gesture had gone unappreciated and lowered his head in despair. And as he stood there, head in hands, in the middle of the street, he knew that his illustrious career in magic was at an end. He never saw the metro bus coming.

[Part 3, submitted by Amanda D.] The metro bus rushed towards an unaware Skylininni, who was shaking his head in dismay. “Look out,” shouted onlookers, “behind you!” Skylininni raised his head, eyes wide with terror. Suddenly, faster than a speeding bullet, a dazzling brown fuzzy figure dashed into the street, knocking Skylininni to the ground and out of the way of the oncoming metro bus. Skylininni rolled to the other side of the street, stopping with a thud again a storm drain. Breathing a loud sigh of relief, Skylininni slowly looked up to thank his rescuer. The four-legged figure towered above him, her sparkly pink cape fluttering in the breeze and her fluffy tuft of shiny grey hair falling over one eye. Skylininni was momentarily blinded by the sunlight reflected by the silver sequined “LL” emblazoned up the figure’s long elegant neck. Blinking rapidly, Skylininni took in the sight of his rescuer with a gasp: it was Lleia the Wonder Llama, the most famous superhero in all of Uptown! The crowd cheered wildly: Lleia hadn’t been seen in many months, and everyone assumed that Lleia had gone into retirement. She’d actually been on a world-tour vacation, visiting the ultra-exclusive superhero llama farms for spa treatments and socializing with her llama peers, all of whom kept her VIP visits a secret. Lleia looked down at Skylininni, chewing her ever-present cud absentmindedly. “You’re welcome,” she said, before slowly sauntering back across the street.

[Part 4, submitted by Michele B.] After stopping by the zoo in search of a dear friend, Lleia had been directed to Clifton where she had seen the bus, saved the magician, and then stepped into Graeters to avoid being mobbed by her fans. Unbeknownst to the wide-eyed crowd, Lleia and Thane had a past. He had been her trainer when she lived at the Cincinnati Zoo as a young llama. She had been lured away as a teenager with the promise of fame and fortune, traveling here and there with various circuses, performing daring deeds on the high wire requiring perfect balance and an uncanny ability to spit straight. She learned to ride a motorcycle, lasso a charging bull, and tell the future using only a deck of cards and a frog’s liver. She even served as Carrie Fisher’s princess understudy in a few of the Star War’s movies. It was only after she studied meditation in India with the great Dali, that Lleia Llama decided to return home to find inner peace. After spending more time in llama spas than she cared to admit, she had reached the conclusion that celebrity was not as great as it was made out to be. Slowly, she made her way back to Clifton, home of her youth, hoping to reconnect with old friends and begin anew. Just as she was taking the first nibble of her raspberry – chocolate chip cone, the bell on the door of the ice cream store tinkled. There he was, Thane, her friend and mentor. He walked quickly to her side, patted her nose gently and said; “Lleia, please come home and help me at the zoo. We need you. I need you. The children need you.” Tearfully, Lleia agreed to accept a position with the Cincinnati Zoo. She did however insist on top billing so that her name would always appear above Fiona’s. Skylininni returned to the theater, the children went back to their homes, and Thane and Lleia walked slowly towards the silhouette of the elephant house and into the sunset.

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