Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friendship and Continuing the Story

When I was first out of college, I worked office jobs through a temp agency. It provided income until I landed my first full-time job. My first assignment involved processing registrations for a national convention.

I met my friend Heather at that assignment. Eighteen years later, she remains one of my closest friends.

For about six months, Heather and I worked together, just the two of us, in a conference room with a lakefront view. Two low-level employees with the best office in the building! Because we were together all day, every day, we chatted nonstop and grew close fast.

One day, Heather seemed downcast. I couldn’t cheer her up with dumb comments. So I tried something I knew would she couldn’t resist. Not with her forever-young personality.

I wrote the first sentence or two of a story. I don’t recall what the topic was, except that it was random. Because our desks sat ten feet apart and walking struck me as inefficient, I added another aspect to bring a grin to her face: I balled up the sheet of paper and tossed it her way.

“What’s this?” she asked, uncrumpling the ball it to find a story that begged her continuation. A grin crept across her face. I had her hooked.

That marked the first of many stories. From that point on, Heather was addicted. When least expected, a wad of paper would land on my desk. Heather had picked a random topic. Animals, fresh fruit, Elton John, Farmer MacGregor, a guy named Homer. Anything worked for us. She’d send me a sentence. I’d add a sentence or two, wad it up, and toss it back—usually aiming for her water glass. The process gave us a laugh, and it sparked our creativity as we tried to outwit each other. I’d threaten to kill off a character right when  love story was about to take shape, and she’d plead to keep him alive.

Fine, Heather. [*eye roll*] He can stay alive. ;-)

When we’d had our fill with each story, Heather crammed it into a folder she kept hidden in her desk drawer.

Last week, Heather was ill, and for whatever reason, she decided to sift through boxes in storage at her house.

From one box, she pulled out a folder—and discovered our old stories.

The next day, I received a message from Heather on my phone. The beginning of another story.

A hippo she named Joe. A koala I named Arlen. A massive tidal wave that carried Joe from his home in Asia all the way to the coast of Australia, where the two friends met. What caused the tidal wave? The hippo farted, of course. Don’t judge. It’s Heather’s and my world.

Never give up!

John Herrick

Today's Playlist: "Cool Kids" by Echosmith


  1. I was wondering if u were gonna mention the FARTING detail ;) I'm so THANKFUL for your friendship and those wonderful memories!!! As excited to make new ones! Blessings old friend!!!

  2. Just stumbled along here after reading about you at Goodreads. I smiled when I read this story. My friend Brianna and I met when we worked together at a casino. When it was slow, we would take turns writing stories too. Most of them involved silly ways that our supervisor would meet his maker. Trust me, it was clearly not threatening. I remember one involved stumbling on the bleachers at an Angel's game (because what a better place could there be for meeting your maker...right?) while eating a footlong. I enjoyed your snippet. Including the farting hippo. The delight is in the details. Blessings on your new book. :)

    1. Lol nice! I won't ask questions, though your boss concept was probably a great stress reliever! ;-)