As Thea regained consciousness she wondered what the ending of her story should be. (https://roughwighting.net/2018/11/30/on-the-last-day/)
And then she wondered which story she wanted to end.
In her fantasy novels, her readers insisted on a concrete “good wins over evil” finale. But as a middle-aged woman, Thea believed that . . .
“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
Thea had assumed her story stopped 27 years ago when her lover was killed by a drunk driver and she was seven months pregnant. She fell apart – she wasn’t proud of that – but her life ended when Ernie died. She barely remembered labor and the birth of a son.
A blonde-haired young man slapped her face gently. Thea’s eyes opened just the teeniest to assess the situation. Was she ready to continue her story, or should she just return to her fantasies of dragons and knights?
“Our story may have any number of endings but its start is a singular choice we make today.”
“I was given this ring when I turned 25,” the man responded. “I made the choice then to search for my beginnings.”
Thea sat up, the room blurry and her vision dizzy. The young man looked at her with an “Ernie” expression –doubt and love and wonder all mixed into one handsome face.
He continued, “I think I found my answer when I stopped at the bookstore yesterday and found your photo on the back of Dragons of the Night.” As he held up his ring finger, the inscription For You gleamed in the darkened living room.
Thea stood up and faced the stranger who wore Ernie’s ring. “Have you had a good life? Good parents? Are you loved?”
The man’s eyes clouded, but he admitted. “My mom and dad loved me, spoiled me, disciplined me, and allowed my wings to sprout. I own a business and I’m engaged to be married.”
With satisfaction, Thea explained:
“I always had this idea that you should never give up a happy middle in the hopes of a happy ending, because there is no such thing as a happy ending. Do you know what I mean? There is so much to lose.”
“Are you my mother?” the young man blurted.
Thea raised her hand, then placed it on the blonde’s cheek, lightly caressing it. “I am a woman whose breath has just been stopped. I am a woman who didn’t believe in light or love, just in fantasy and hot baths. I am a woman who’s not sure she deserves a new beginning.”
Enveloping Thea in a hug, the young man whispered,
“Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.”
Thea sank into the deep leather sofa, sighing, then acquiescing. Pointing to a door, she said, “Go into the guest room, look under the bed, and pull out the box.” She heard him rustling around. Then a gasp. He returned with Thea’s gold ring, the inscription “I Live” still shining despite being hidden for so long.
“For You,” her son whispered.
As they both cried, Thea realized the truth about writing the endings of her stories, and about continuing her life:
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”