Four of Spades: What Jane Knew

Jane knew she wasn’t supposed to feed chocolate to the lizard. That’s why she did it. She knew Mrs. Beagle always gave a chocolate to whoever got the best score in the maths quiz. That’s why she studied. She knew Mrs. Beagle always left straight after school on Wednesdays. That’s why she chose that day to sneak back into the classroom where the class lizard was kept.

What Jane did not know was what would happen to the lizard when it ate the chocolate.

Jane also did not know that Mrs. Beagle had left her keys behind. That’s why she jumped and dropped the lizard when Mrs. Beagle opened the classroom door. Jane did not know where the lizard went when she dropped it. That’s why she was surprised when it bit her on the ankle a few minutes later, while she was writing out ‘I will not feed chocolate to the lizard’ 100 times on the blackboard. Jane did not know that the chocolate lizard bite would make whatever she wrote come true. That’s why she kept writing. She did not know why she was writing it, since she had never fed chocolate to the lizard, and she wouldn’t, even though she wanted to. That’s why she stopped writing. Jane did not know what to do next. That’s why she started writing a story on the blackboard:

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jane who knew everything and didn’t need to go to school.

And Jane knew everything. That’s why she wrote that some cake would appear. Jane knew that everything she wrote would come true, and stay true until the bite from the chocolate-fed lizard healed an hour later. That’s why she was worried. She knew that she would have to feed more chocolate to the lizard and let it bite her again when that happened. That’s one of the reasons she wrote that a lot of chocolate appeared. But she knew that she could not feed chocolate to the lizard after writing that she wouldn’t. That’s why she lived out her wildest dreams until the spell wore out just before Mrs. Beagle returned.

Mrs. Beagle still knew what Jane had done. That’s why she came to make sure she’d completed her punishment, even though she’d rather have gone to her mathematics society meeting. Mrs. Beagle did not know what the chocolate-fed-lizard bite had done. That’s why she was surprised by the faint smell of ponies and chocolate cake that disappeared just quickly enough to make her wonder whether she’d ever smelt it. Mrs. Beagle did not know that Jane wanted to feed the lizard again. That’s why she dismissed the girl and left.

Jane knew that Mrs. Beagle would write a disciplinary report detailing everything she’d done. That’s why she put the lizard in Mrs. Beagle’s bag, with her chocolates.


Mrs. Beagle knew that something was up when she saw what happened as she wrote about Jane feeding chocolate to the lizard. That’s why she wrote that Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem could be disproven.

I didn’t know what to write this week. That’s why I just started writing whatever came to mind. I knew that anything I wrote would be an improvement on the last four of spades. That’s why I could turn off the censors and just write randomly until some kind of form emerged.

I don’t know why I decided to keep writing the entire story in the same format as the first two sentences. I originally wrote perfectly normal third and fourth sentences, but changed them to another ‘Jane knew’ and ‘That’s why’ pair on impulse.

Somebody gave me the Alcatraz Rules and Regulations cards on JoCo Cruise Crazy. Each week I’ve looked at the text on that card and the the ’52 ways to say I love you’ card and wondered if I could put them together to make a plot. This time, I decided to do it, with somebody who has been caught doing something wrong getting revenge by leaving something in the bag of whoever caught them. I couldn’t think of an interesting enough scenario, so I just decided to write whatever came to my head and see what came out of it. That’s why you get chocolate-eating lizards.

I didn’t have a lot of time, since I was attending CinéGlobe screenings this week, but I always had my iPad with me and would write a sentence or two whenever I had a few minutes. There was no plan about where this story was going. The first few paragraphs were written at home, and while I was writing them, if I hesitated for more than about a minute, I would pick either a new four of spades or a card from Once Upon a Time (a great story-telling card game I discovered on the first JoCo Cruise Crazy) at random and work it into the story.

All in all, I think it went quite well, or at least better than the last four of spades, which was probably my worst card of that cycle. I wrote the ‘last line’ about Jane putting the lizard into Mrs. Beagle’s bag at around the time the blackboard came up, and then I just had to figure out why. At the end, I thought about what I’d write if I were a maths teacher and everything I wrote came true, and I thought I’d write P=NP or P≠NP and claim the Millennium Prize, or maybe write something definitive about the Axiom of Choice. I couldn’t resist putting that into the story, since I’d already written Mrs. Beagle as a maths teacher. But thinking about whether Jane’s strategy would work, I thought Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem would be more appropriate, even though that one has actually been proven. Just imagine what would happen if you could make a 100% proven statement false. If you’re not into maths, just ignore that part and pretend the story ends with Jane putting the lizard into Mrs. Beagle’s bag.

My alternate post-ending ending was:

Jane knew that Mr. Ling always gave a chocolate to whoever wrote the best story. That’s why she wrote that story. What Jane did not know was what would happen to her gerbil when it ate the chocolate. That’s why she tried it.

Please, people, do not feed chocolate to your pets. It might harm them and it will mean less chocolate for you.

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  1. #1 by peterrecore on April 1, 2012 - 6:05 pm

    Peter knew what he would have written on the board. That’s why he had to write this comment. Peter knows that when given one wish, one must wish for more wishes. That’s why he would have written “The effect of the board will not end in 1 hour”. Peter knows this sort of thing is usually doomed to failure.( That’s why he hopes he is never a protagonist in this kind of story.


    • #2 by Angela Brett on April 1, 2012 - 8:20 pm

      Peter does not know whether any changes to the time limit effected by this technique would last past the original hour. That’s why he’d be better served by wishing to know everything first.


  1. What Jane Knew: The Improv Exercise « Creative Output

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