There was once a boy, who unknowingly volunteered to go insane with twenty-something other people. This was a student signing himself up for a class that involved many projects, papers, and a singularly liberal amount of reading. The reading, of course, did not bother him in the slightest bit for he was a bookworm by nature, and for the most part he also enjoyed writing his papers. Sanity stayed with him until just about half way through the course of his work, and that is where something went inordinately wrong.
The afternoon was seemingly a good one, sunny and just entering the fourth month. As per his routine, he made for the last class of the day and, before sitting, checked the blackboard at the front of the room for instructions on what he was to do. "Read Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper,' page 118," the board read. "Copies are by in the shelf by my desk." The student grabbed a copy and took a seat near the back of the room.
This was where it started, his fall into the darkness of lunacy. That book, which contained a story was step one. He had begun reading to himself "The Yellow Wallpaper" already. Before the end of the first page he had lost interest. The class would discuss it, he assumed, and then he would learn what he needed to about the book. Instead, he began doodling and chatting with a friend across the aisle from him. The bell rang some time later to dismiss them and he went home, thinking that his mind was still in a state of propriety.
This sequence of events repeated itself in the student's life for three more days, until the class hit the date on which they were expected to finish their reading. And, as was predicted by the student, the class discussed "The Yellow Wallpaper" that day in surprising detail for those few who had not lost interest in the reading. The second step to him falling into the pit was his paying somewhat of his attention to the ongoing conversation, and as the period wore on he gradually resumed his task of doodling and generally slacking off. At least, he did until the unexpected came.
The professor at the place of power had begun handing around small slips of paper, of the same kind the student usually found his essay assignments on. Having caught the brunt of what Gilman's work was about, he was confident that this particular essay would be a slice of pie (he liked pie, which was why he used pie instead of cake). He looked over the paper and smiled, becoming thoroughly engrossed in the topic.
"This is not an essay per say," he caught the professor saying. "It says to entertain me. I don't want five pages of blah. You can do this however you want, as long as it is long enough and not a book."
Step three came shortly after his initial examination of the assignment. So much freedom on this assignment was not normal for this class and the student found it troubling how he would work this out. But being imaginative by nature, he was confident that all he needed to do was exercise a bit of thought to come up with something dazzling. The bell chimed its high-pitched whine and he went home to begin the writing process.
The next day, a mere twenty-four hours later, he had nothing to show for his contemplation, having been unable to decide on poetry or prose. But he was not deterred by the lack of results, and only hardened his resolve to make something worth giving attention. That day the instructions on the chalkboard were clear and simple, to sit and jot down ideas for the assignment. He did this with a passion and doodled half the period. It was then, at the bottom of the hour, that an idea struck him. It was an idea, the kind that is so obviously going to work that one snaps one's fingers at the revelation. He had a piece of work already about insanity, and he decided to use that.
However, as was stated before, this was a naïve student. In his mind, he had to seek permission from his teacher first. He did, calling attention to a work of poetry based off of a good friend of his. Having been asked if the poetry was prewritten, the student replied that in fact it was his locker.
"The answer's no. I want something unique for this class." The student cursed himself after hearing that reply. If he had not asked, it would have been fair game and the teacher none the wiser for it. So the snap-one's-fingers idea was a catastrophic failure and blew to bits on the launch pad. Unless he had something else he could use. He ran a mental check of what he had written up.
"No… No… No-oo, not that one… Eh, no… too short…" The list of negatives grew longer as time grew shorter. The class was under threat of having to turn in the assignment early if they showed no progress. So far, his list was a never-ending festival of no's. He would have to lie if he were to get any grade on this one. "Four steps to falling in the pit?" He questioned, seeing his professor looking extremely displeased with him. He passed on and saw many other students who had at least a few words written down and, much to the student's gratitude, did not make good on his threat.
"Due Monday," the man said just as the end-of-day chime sounded. "MLA format and it's worth double points now!"
The student muttered a few bouts of foul words under his breath to no one in particular. At least he had the weekend, though, to come up with something. He spent that night as well trying to versify under the watch of his computer's only source of luminocification. One idea seemed to work for him, and he sputtered out a few stanzas that seemed fall flat in the dead midnight air. He kept them saved on the computer and decided that rest was what he needed to think.
The next day he reopened the already dead stanzas and read them aloud. They were not just dead, but buried too. That day he tried asking some folks in a local chatroom for inspiration, to which they failed miserably to give him. In a second place, he asked again and received the same discouragement. The student had become obsessed with the assignment. Every waking moment he poured his mind out on the problem in futile attempts to find a solution. He asked his parents for advice, which they failed to deliver in a satisfactory manner.
The last day of the weekend, Sunday, came upon him quicker than he had hoped for and still the student had nothing to show for himself. He only had a few hours that day to write if he could think of something to write on. Previous engagements kept him held up until late in the afternoon, which he thought he needed rest during and napped (hoping to dream of some sort of idea). Nothing came to him, and he woke ready to break something or someone. This entire assignment had driven him to loose his marbles!
But wait? There was just a hint of a glimmer of a hope there. Step four had came almost an instant later with the booting up of his personal computer. The terrible dread of not having anything abated for just the moment needed to see clearly his topic. The student forgot about the dead stanzas and strained rhymes—he would write prose instead. He typed long into the night, wondering why he did not think of this sooner. Maybe it was a miracle, but he sensed that his misery was at an end.
At nearly three in the morning, the Monday that the paper was due on, he typed his last paragraph and smiled proudly. All that was left was a title, which was important because his teacher was a real stickler when it came to interesting titles. He reviewed the writing, all five pages and decided on what to call it: My Own Insanity: Four Steps to Falling in the Pit.