Tuesday, May 3, 2016
One Story, Two Endings
This morning, I cranked out a short story that takes place in a universe I created several years ago. The words flowed out of me like water and soon, I had written several pages with an ending. However, as I thumbed through the story, I had a change of heart: Should the ending stay as I had written it, or should I change it? Being me, I then posed the question on Facebook and received a plethora of responses. In the end, both sides were right and because of that, I decided to write the story as well as BOTH endings.
Ready? Here we go!
He had broken her heart. Emma sat in her cubicle and stared at the double monitors, each blinking off spreadsheets and emails gone unanswered. She made several clicks using her mouse then turned to face the window. It was more than him breaking her heart, she thought as she sighed and looked at a woman jog down the street. He left me. He disappeared. She opened an email that talked of nothing important then stared out of the window again. The last time she saw Lucian, he professed his love for her.
"Yet," he said as he pulled away from her embrace as they sat on his couch, "I saw more. I want more."
"You have more."
"No. Not yet. That's why I'm leaving. I found it." She couldn't understand it; did she actually know him at all? Why, if he so claimed to love her, did he leave her? Over that?
Emma typed a response to one of her co-workers who was starting to be a pain, only to stop once more and lower her eyes. She wanted to cry but she wouldn't give him or the situation the satisfaction.
He, as he told her so many times, was a Believer of the Olde Ways. That's what he called it - the Olde Ways. When she jokingly asked if he was Wiccan, he merely patted her leg and sadly smiled. The Olde Ways, he claimed, was older than Time itself. Older than humans. Older than limiting thoughts. And he found the source, or so he claimed that night.
"You can always come with me," he said after kissing her. "You too can feel what I feel."
"Stories and faery tales? I have a job to go to and rent to pay. I don't have time for . . . that. Besides," she continued as she got up to clear the dishes from the table, "aren't you a little too old for such things?" Lucian hung his head low as she cleaned up then later grabbed his house keys and walked out without a backward glance and no further argument. She later returned to his house that night to talk some sense into him and found it shrouded in darkness. She went inside and noticed that he had taken nothing with him. No clothes, no food. Nothing. She walked into the living room and saw a large envelope with a sticky note attached to it. She turned on the lamp and read the note. It simply said - Take it. All of it. I love you. Lucian. She peered inside the envelope and gasped; it was his entire life savings, $100,000 total. She quickly placed it in her bag and left the house while a cold sweat covered her body. She didn't sleep that night.
"Wasting his life over nothing," she murmured to herself as she edited a spreadsheet then sent it to the annoying co-worker via email. Having completed at least one job in a half-assed way, Emma got up to stretch her legs then quickly left the office and walked down the brightly lit hall and slipped inside the women's bathroom. She chose the furthest stall on the left and went inside. She closed her eyes and again fought back tears, only to slowly pull out a folded piece of paper from her pants pocket. She unfolded it and stared at it for the third time today - it was a map of sorts with strange characters on either side, while Lucian's writing was on the bottom. He had left that for her with the money.
"Should you change your mind," he wrote, "follow the map. I'll be waiting for you. I love you." One long road, followed by a thick forest that she'd never heard of. Finally, a small town and then an immense wall shrouded in smoke. Emma sighed and finished up, placing the folded paper in her pants pocket and left the stall.
OKAY - here is the first ending - THEY REUNITE!
Emma checked her backpack straps for the fifth time in an hour. She was nervous, hell, beyond nervous. Scared. Fearful. Did she do the right thing? She checked the map again then looked up at her current surroundings; while the road proved to be boring and tedious, the clear path through the forest was quite soothing. She met no other humans on her travel and while it would have been nice to have said hello to someone, she enjoyed the peace much more. When she reached the clearing, she checked her map then looked up again. He was right. It was a small town dressed in the colours of Autumn. She placed the map in her pocket then walked on. A large sign that said WELCOME TO MABON greeted her with colours of warm red, orange, and yellow. Emma took a deep breath and smiled as the scent of burning leaves welcomed her. She walked in a faster pace. What if he wasn't here, she wondered, only to push down that thought. She came this far. . . . Soon, the sounds of the town greeted her, and she stared in amazement as what was thought to be imaginary was quite real. A woman with green scales down her arms sat in a pool and flicked her enormous fish tail. A winged being no bigger than an apple flew by her head and rainbows streaked behind it. The trees moved with no wind. Laughter all around her. Emma stopped in front of a store then sat down on a bench and took it all in. Too much, she thought.
"And why is it too much?" said a voice next to her. She turned with no surprise to find Lucian seated next to her. It was Lucian . . .and yet it was not. He cupped her face with a golden coloured hand then pulled her forward for a kiss. When their lips met, she tasted apples.
"I'm here," she said with a sad smile when they pulled away. "Now what?"
"Now, you dream."
And, she did.
OKAY - here is the second ending - THEY DO NOT REUNITE!
A strong rain came during the beginning of the funeral; no one was prepared for it. Soon, those who wanted to say good-bye were drenched, yet they remained. All three of them. The priest spoke his words with such care and respect, yet even he wanted to return to his warm home and enjoy a cup of tea. He said his words, blessed the grave, then everyone paid their respects and left. The single mound of dirt with the coffin underneath was now the latest in the small crumbling cemetery in the city. When the last car drove away, a lone figure suddenly appeared from behind a statue of a weeping angel. While the rain fell from the sky with a vengeance, he remained quite dry in his long brown coat and wide hat. He slowly walked up to the mound and crouched down. He placed a golden coloured hand on the dirt and closed his eyes.
"I waited for you," he suddenly said, his voice now deeper and richer. "I waited. You didn't come. Were you that afraid?" He lifted his face to the grey sky and, with a whisper, caused the rain to stop and the clouds to part, revealing a patch of blue sky and the sun. "That's better," he said to himself then returned his focus on the grave. "Such wonders! Fruit too sweet to enjoy, music that would melt even the hardest of hearts, and places of unheard beauty. There's also sadness, much darkness. Evil in the fringes, yet even their beauty is wondrous to behold." He sat on the ground yet kept his hand on the mound. "I knew you were coming. I could feel it. Why didn't you? I have a home in a small town on the other side. I knew you would have loved it." He quickly stood up and brushed off his coat. "I even returned to try and take you with me, yet I changed my mind when I saw you. The shell. Loneliness and a refusal to change your life and take that leap. You died for nothing. I wish I could bring you back, but even I don't have that kind of power." He took off his hat, allowing his long brown hair to gently fall around his shoulders, then ran a slender hand through his thick locks. He stared at the mound for a full minute in silence, then placed his hat on his head. "Goodbye," he said as he turned and walked towards the weeping angel. He touched it and soon disappeared.
The mound stood in silence, easing Emma to into her final rest.
Thanks to everyone who participated in my post earlier today. I hope you enjoy my story.
For the record, this is based in the Mabon universe.
Yes, I really will write and finish Equinox very soon, but a cyberpunk goddess of knowledge has currently claimed my attention . . . .