On happy endings;
I wrote a short story a few weeks ago. I had the ending in mind as I wrote. It was about a girl that grew up with a compass that pointed south, and when she turned 18, she decided that she’d follow the compass to see where it led her. It led her to the middle of nowhere and that was the whole story. Nothing more, nothing less.
The thing that surprised me was how sad of an ending this was, even though I’d had it in mind before I started the story. The ending was bleak. I thought I was showcasing real life. I didn’t believe in happy endings for the most part; I believed in neutral endings. I believed in real life.
I called my dad to tell him how disappointed I was in having written such a sad story and he told me that he was also disappointed in the story. He doesn’t like it when I write sad stories. He thinks I’m falling into a dark place again.
But I didn’t mean for the story to be so sad… I just meant for it to be real.
I spent two months in Key Largo. I came home about three days ago and have been wandering the house, looking for something to do during my ten-day quarantine. Writing seems impossible. Knitting doesn’t sound fun. The Netflix murder mystery I’m watching is… sad. It all reminds me of this story I wrote a few weeks ago about real life that ended up being sad.
I have to remind myself that this isn’t real life, this is quarantine. After quarantine, I have four job interviews and even one job offer already lined up. Things didn’t end in Key Largo the way I would have liked them to; sure, I didn’t feel like I was ready to go.
But I did go. That’s the story.
And the ending isn’t sad because it isn’t the ending, right?
I realized this short story wasn’t supposed to be so short. Yes, the ending was sad but that’s not what the story was about. It was about the journey; following the compass; meeting friends; having campfires under the moon and falling in love. Sure, she finds nothing in terms of following the compass but she finds hope under a few rocks in the middle of the woods. She finds a whole new life.
I’ve decided to make this my new work in progress. A novella, maybe, about a girl following a southern pointing compass. Yes, you already know the ending. But the story is in the details and the ending is just the beginning of a new story.
When you think of it this way, my ending wasn’t so sad. I left a few friends behind in Key Largo but we’ll keep in touch. I feel that I wasn’t ready to go but I was. I was because I went and that’s just how the story goes. It’s not a sad ending, it’s just an ending.
And a beginning.
Of a really long, wonderful story.