"Googie?" Sooby will ask. "Do you want to hear the shortest story in the world?"
"Sure," I answer, knowing full well what is coming. At this, Sooby stretches the corners of her mouth up ever so slightly, and her eyes grow round with anticipation. She thinks she is about to get my goat with the funniest possible punch line. Again.
"Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after," she will say, giggling at my latest demonstration of fake surprise. Again.
"Sooby," I think to myself. "We need to discuss plot development." The need for this discussion is even more apparent now that Sooby is writing books.
One of Sooby's "books" consists of three or four sheets of paper she has filched from my computer printer and stapled, more times than really needed to hold the pages together, down the left-hand side. She does this not so much because she is afraid her masterpiece will come apart, but because she loves to work the stapler.
This weekend, inspired by a batch of homemade "flubber" my neighbor made for the kids, Sooby authored a book titled The Goo! (The exclamation mark is her doing.) This title she featured prominently on the cover, along with her name and a "note" that identifies her as a "child writer." (She offers this thoughtful explanation, no doubt, to those readers who might not otherwise discern this particular fact of authorship.)
Next comes the page of dedication/ownership clarifying that the book belongs to her brother Pooh and her sister Bootsie. A bright yellow sun is crayoned cheerily below their names.
Page 3 looks promising. It reads, "there onece was a BloB of Goo," text she has printed into a blue rectangle. Below that, in all its glory, is an illustration of the goo itself, a formidable green splotch that strikes fear in the heart of even the bravest reader. (It is enough to make you wonder what Stephen King was writing when he was in the first grade.)
And then, just when our suspense has reached nearly insurmountable heights, Page 4 comes along and takes the wind right our of our literary sails. "The End," it says, and it is over. Finished. We experience the kind of letdown known only by people who watch soap operas on Friday.
We are left with troubling, unresolved questions that would stump even a graduate class in the American novel. Just who is this goo? What is its back story? Is it protagonist or antagonist? In what time and place do we find this goo? How, exactly, does goo handle conflict?
Does it demonstrate a biographical connection to the author's life? Is it a symbol of modern man? Does it demonstrate existential angst?
Is its color imagery related to the theme? Does its story share similarities with the works of other science fiction writers? Will there be a squabble over the movie rights?
Yep, Sooby and I need to talk about plot development if there are going to be enough scenes for Steven Spielberg to do something with.