This week’s exercise is based on Chuck Rosenthal’s “The Nicest Kid in the Universe,” found on p. 152 of the book Flash Fiction, edited by James Thomas, Denise Thomas, and Tom Hazuka.
The Superlative Exercise
“The Nicest Kid in the Universe,” is a parable about Franky Gorky, the titular child, for although he is the “nicest” kid, “he wasn’t the smartest kid.” Because Gorky isn’t smart, he doesn’t realize that the moon waxes and wanes on its own; he believes that his wishes are responsible for this, a fact which leads him to run across the street on Christmas morning as his grandmother is parking across the street, and get “rubbed out” by a drunk driver. The story ends with the introduction of a first person narrator and a moral, as if it has been told to frighten a child into good behavior. The story ends with these lines:
That’s what happens, said my father, when people take other people’s parking places.
That’s what happens, said my mother, when you don’t look both ways
What happens is, if you’re the nicest kid in the whole universe, then you have to die.
This is what happens when you try to explain something.
Write a story of a few pages about someone who is the ___est ____ in the whole universe, someone with superlative qualities. Give your protagonist a flaw, like Franky Gorky, who is the nicest kid, but not the smartest. Some possible examples include a protagonist who is the prettiest but not the most coordinated (hello, every Hollywood chick flick), or who is the smartest but not the most socially apt (House, MD). As in Rosenthal’s story, the main character’s flaw should lead to his or her downfall, and the story should end with the introduction of a first person narrator and several potential morals that exist outside the world of the story.