On Happy Endings (Editorial #2)

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.

Immortal Art


Brianna Fay

Published in “THE UNDERGROUND” literary journal

Winner of the Minerva Campbell Literary Contest

“Broken angels bleed immortal art.”

-Richard Matthews

I used to collect coffee mugs that I would store in my cabinet. Each of them had the name of an artist or author I loved and when everybody came to my flat to work or read a book I would give them their own coffee mug. Van Gogh usually sat by the window; he liked to watch the city instead of the television. Da Vinci liked to eat all of my chocolate when she thought I wasn’t watching. It inspired them and I still hope it inspires you because you were Picasso and I was Virginia Woolf.

You would sip from the homemade coffee mug with your name on it and stare at the canvas like you weren’t sure what was underneath—but there was something and that’s all that mattered. You’d stare for hours, seated on my kitchen floor while I typed away at my table.

Eventually you would get up, the painting not even stated yet, and take the coffee mug from my tender lips (maybe take a sip because you knew that I like hot chocolate in place of the bitter taste of the coffee bean) and kiss me until my knees were weak.

Just like that you would start the painting; like I was your muse. I loved being your muse.

But you were mine too and the thing about that is that it was so much harder for me. A painting is a painting. It’s over once done but I can’t stop writing about you. You’re everywhere.

It’s said that if you take a writer’s heart that you’ll live forever. Honey, you could have just smashed those paintings of me but they built skyscrapers of the stories I told about you.

When you left, your mug was put away. I was still Virginia Woolf, Nate was still Van Gogh and Cecile was still Da Vinci but none of that mattered anymore because when you left me behind you left the soul of Picasso gathering dust in my cabinet.

I know that you always told me that I thought like a mad woman. You don’t have to tell me twice that I sound like one now.

Our friends still come over to work every Thursday. They still read at my place on Saturdays and they still stay for dinner on Monday. We still meet for coffee every morning before work but it’s not the same. It’s not the same for them and it’s not the same for me.

Picasso is missing. What is the world without him? But I must remind myself that the world is not missing this artist—we are. I am. The world may continue with its mayhem and I may open my cabinet and wonder if I should wash that coffee mug. It’s been two weeks since anybody’s used it.

I don’t even miss you. I miss your smell and the taste of coffee in your mouth when you kissed me. I miss the way your hands caressed me at late hours. I miss the way you painted my face so that I looked beautiful.

I miss Picasso, not you.

Virginia Woolf and Picasso were only born a year apart from one another. I’m telling you all of this because she died nearly thirty years before him but I still find myself hoping that she lives ten times as long.

It’s like every time I open my cabinet to grab a mug for a friend and I see the one that used to be yours, I know that it just will never be true. I’ll simply live vicariously through you. Through my muse and through my work.

Broken angels, after all, bleed immortal art and I’ve always wanted Virginia Woolf to live forever.