The spine of ghosts

Mama Boo at the beach in 2014

Mama Boo at the beach in 2014

Mama Boo here, working on my first assignment for the family computer classes.

Here we are in the first week of computer class, and we’re talking about storytelling. One of the things I liked best about this week’s computer class is the “story spine,” which you can use to build all kinds of stories. Basically, you set up the story with a narrative of what usually goes on, setting the stage with the normal, as it were, and then you have a “then one day” section that introduces the event. What’s the event? Whatever you want it to be! Then the characters have to react to that (“and because of that…” “and because of that…” etc.), until the climax portion of the story (“until finally …”). Then it ends with some kind of resolution or change and there’s a new normal (“and ever since then…”).

So here’s the Boos’ story using the story spine.

Once upon a time there was a mother and son, who lived happily in Bovine County, milking the cows and feeding the pigs and raising hay and such. The boy had just started school and he was very excited about learning, especially about animals and bugs, and soon he didn’t want to milk the cows any more but just read books. Etc.

Then one day... [well, this is the part I’m not going to tell; this is the mystery part and you can try to figure how how and why] … they became ghosts.

And because of that, the family got real scared and tried to get rid of them, thinking the ghosts were something that needed to be purged, something frightening. But the mother and son just tried to show them that they were just as friendly as before, no need to try to exorcise them or burn down the house or move the whole farm. It took quite a bit of convincing, and the kids were the ones to first take a shine to the ghosts. Well, especially Little Boo, whom they had missed so terribly and were excited to play with again. Eventually nearly everyone decided that the Boo’s (as they now came to be affectionately known) were a welcome re-addition to the Burgeron family. Those that didn’t like it, well, they just had to hold their peace because the Boo’s were here to stay.

And because of that, Mama Boo and Little Boo continued to participate in the daily life of the Burgeron family through the generations, each child growing up thinking that ghosts were just a normal part of life. They felt bad when they discovered at school that other kids weren’t so lucky as to have ghosts living at their house. Some of the neighbour kids told their parents, who told the sheriff, who told the state police, who said “ah heck, Marty, we know the Boo’s from way back. Lighten up a little. It’s the 20th century, and it’s time to welcome ghosts into our communities.” Sheriff Marty wasn’t really convinced, but he knew enough to keep his head down and go along with it.

Until finally … the county commissioners got involved. Someone in Bovine had read an obscure article in an even more obscure medical journal from across the globe suggesting that a community with ghosts living in the open, visiting different buildings with impunity, had seen a jump in the death rate from unexplained causes since the ghosts came out of hiding. And boy if that didn’t cause a ruckus at a public meeting called precisely to discuss the issue. The Burgerons and their friends defended the ghosts, but the tide seemed to be going against them. It looked like the ghosts may be run out of town. The county even called in the Texas Daredevils, the motorcycle dispatch.

But before the final vote, the flood came. No, not the big one of ’57, but one bad enough to take everyone’s mind off the ghosts for a bit. And wouldn’t you know it, Mama and Little Boo became heroes. At least for a time. They were able to warn a family who was sleeping through the flood that the water was rising quickly under their beds and they’d better get to the top of the house, quick. Which they did. And after the flood, no one much felt like bringing back the no-ghosts-in-our-backyard issue.

And ever since then, the Boo’s have lived quietly with the Burgerons, occasionally venturing out into the wider world, but mostly happy to stay at home. The people of Bovine County know the value of a bit of spirit activity here and there.