At BYU-Idaho, all communication students are required to take a Writing For Communication course, also known as COMM 111.
Stephen Henderson, a faculty member who teaches the course, uses an assignment called Fly on the Wall, where students people-watch in a public place and write what they see.
This article is part of a series that showcases students’ Fly on the Wall pieces. All stories are edited by Scroll for grammar and clarity.
A college night in
Submitted by: Morgan Thrasher
As I gaze through the window of a quaint college apartment, I realize that outside my window, just beyond the door, life marches on.
A man with long hair, and a beard to match, throws a football with his friend. Every once in a while, a dull thud hits against the outside of the building.
Others are out and about, and their features shine in the final golden rays of the afternoon sun. A worn concrete path leads to a firepit, and soon enough, the last traces of the day fade away and the darkness of night prevails.
The fire lights. Its flames emit a low and steady yellow glow. The nameless crowd starts to gather around it, and the group ebbs and flows like ocean tides.
The night starts its descent into darkness. No words can be heard through the closed doors and windows, but conversations make their way into the world. Students work on assignments, surrounded by papers full of words that feel useless.
What I see next fills the air with confusion. The group has wandered from the warmth of the yellow fire, and an eerie glow of a phone flashlight turns on. It highlights a man on the ground — a perfect spotlight for the scene.
The man is squeezing a watermelon as it rests between his legs. His hands are behind him in the grass, and his ankles are crossed to defeat the challenge. Minutes pass with considerable effort, and soon, the group surrounding him leaves to feel the warmth of the fire. The man, undeterred, continues his struggle.
Suddenly the watermelon slips, and the spotlight he held has gone.
Submitted by: Lexi Johnson
It is quiet, but not silent. This makes the small sounds seem loud. They echo off of the marbled floors, the light tan walls and up to the far-away skylight. Back and forth, up and down, the little echo loses its momentum and falls silent.
It’s almost 5 p.m. now, and the majority of students have gone home. A few teachers remain finishing up work, and their steps echo.
One teacher passes the same bench four different times, each time moving a little faster as if he is anticipating going home and is trying to speed up the process.
Besides the teachers’ steps, the remainder of the small echos consist of students’ voices. Three relatively small girls walk out, accompanied by a tall boy, making the contrast between their heights quite apparent. As they walk, they discuss the approaching weekend and their extensive plans. While they speak, one of the girls stops short as she sees who is waiting at the elevator.
She walks quickly over to Brooklyn and they hug.
“It’s been so long, I haven’t seen you in forever!” says one.
While the two catch up, an older woman asks one of the girls about the location of the art exhibit. The student is unsure of the event the woman is referring to, but points her in the direction of a wall of glass windows covered by shades, obscuring the view into the room. The woman thanks the student, then sits and waits quietly, looking at her phone as more time passes.
The traffic in the hall begins to pick up for the art show, and hurried footsteps make louder echoes.
Roommates at Broulims
Submitted by: Mason Carpenter
A cool, gentle breeze blows through the parking lot as the trees to softly sway to an unknown dance.
Cars, trucks and vans fill the parking spaces separated by worn white lines and an unspoken promise to not cross them. A Broulim’s employee wearing a grey shirt, blue jeans and reflective yellow vest walks around the parking lot gathering shopping carts. He pushes the shopping carts back into the store, their loud rattling shrill squeaks garner the attention of customers.
Four roommates arrive in a white Toyota. They wear casual clothes and two of the girls continue a conversation they began in their car.
The third girl follows along without smiling or frowning. The fourth is frowning with her arms folded across her chest. She is simply following along to get her shopping done, and clearly wants to go home.
They quickly arrive at the entrance of Broulim’s, its automatic doors open with a faint whir and they disappear inside. After being inside for fifteen minutes, they leave the store.
None of them speak as they walk back to their Toyota.
The false-uniqueness effect
Submitted by: Daniela Delgado Torres
A party all starts because one guy invites a few people, who invites more people. The small room fills with strangers, and people shuffle in every few minutes, looking for that one friend that brought them here in the first place, each one more unique than the other.
Or so they think.
The main reason they’re there is because of the theme: a potluck. People play pool, the men have the classic Utah look, and in BYU-I fashion, complain about their summer sales experience. To them, this is the blonde boy’s first time hearing this.
Further in are the underground indie type. They talk about how they just came back from band practice, and one brags how their music relates to another indie band, but no one knows them.
The indie boy captures one girl’s attention. It is only after two hours of talking that she builds the courage to talk to him. He left ten minutes later.
The moment you step out of the party, you notice the busy intersection with collections of people crossing the street.
Looking past the pedestrians, you can imagine the lives of those in the apartments. All with the same slouched couches and small televisions. Everyone is striving to be unique when, in reality, they are all the same, one way or another.
That’s the beauty of the false-uniqueness effect.
Submitted by: Katie Hill
Nothing brings people together like a bowl of frozen yogurt on a late summer evening.
Rexburg’s first date and FHE group hot-spot, Kiwi Loco, bustles with crowds, per usual on a Monday night. Talking, laughing and blenders buzz in the air, and people can only hear each other by shouting.
Only college students fill the store, packing tightly into overflowing pink and green booths, and random chairs are scattered to make room. The self-serve line wraps around the room, and the cashiers frantically refill toppings and ring-up orders.
A group of guys walk in, acting like roommates. Three of the six wear black T-shirts, making one wonder if it was on purpose. They huddle together and fill up their green paper bowls, switching back and forth between soft-serve dispensers. They make small talk and little jabs — testing the waters of their early friendships.
One roommate towers over the others, wearing a red shirt and blue shorts. He’s quiet and doesn’t engage much with his company. They direct polite comments and questions to him, but they do not actively make conversation. He hovers in the back, overfilling his cup with yogurt.
They sit down, and for a while, they talk about their missions, their new ward and their favorite scriptures. It’s formal chitchat; they’re still trying to figure each other out.
Then, the big kid says something abrupt and the conversation halts. Worry darkens his face, fearing he said something wrong. But the table of roommates erupts into surprised laughter. None of them have ever heard their tentative roommate say something so hilarious — if they ever heard him say anything at all.
They slap him on the back and wipe tears from their eyes, laughing hard. This unsuspecting joke shatters the ice, and they begin talking like old friends.
Nothing brings people together like frozen yogurt.