I’m standing on the corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets and John Wood is telling me to make a choice. I can turn left towards Elizabeth and become part of a mystery, or turn right towards Russell and join a struggling writer leaving a play. I turn right, and the story starts straight away, speaking to me in the second person, present tense, giving me a partner, cleverly giving my partner a Gender Studies major and a hatred of gender-specific pronouns, placing a bottle of wine in my hand and a hip flask in my pocket.
In the story, I am walking up Little Collins Street away from the Town Hall, and in real life I am walking up Little Collins Street away from the Town Hall. The story is in step. I just finished reading his memoir, The Feel-Good Hit of the Year, a few weeks ago so I think I recognise the author of this story as Liam Pieper and a peek at the credits for the Twists & Turns app tells me I am right.
Above: This is the part where my partner inadvertently tore my guts out.
The second-person protagonist in the story is just non-characterised enough that it could be anyone; it could be me, it could be you. It could be any of the people spilling into the city now that it’s almost six on a Saturday. When I get to a turning point a little icon comes up and John Wood gives me my options. He says, if you sigh exasperatedly, keep going straight.
Above: This is the part where I sighed exasperatedly.
The story and the streets become the same thing. Melbourne’s laneways have always been characters, and those characters not only have a place in this story, they are telling it. I am in the story, live, in real time, and it’s a good story too, funny and clever and a little bit strange.
Above: This is the part where I sold my soul.
The stories all start at the Town Hall and they all end at Federation Square. Each one will take 15-25 minutes of your time. Each one, depending which way you go, will be different. There are more stories, by Leanne Hall and Nic Low, and more voices, those of John Flaus and Noni Hazelhurst. There are more endings to the story I just finished. I think tomorrow I will put my headphones in and take another walk.
Digital Reporters is run in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival.