Monday, 15 September 2008

"And then I woke up..."

The first person to end a story like this was a genius. We all know about dreams and how they are linked with the self and the inner journey, so the idea that a whole adventure could just be a dream is entirely relevant... but the fortieth time I read an ending like this, I will stop enjoying the novelty. Indeed is is wearing off already.

What's worse is variations on this ending such as the author appearing as a character in his own book and telling the characters what his intended message was... ok so the example I'm thinking of was a great book, but the ending was rushed and seemed, quite frankly, to be a solution to the problem of not knowing how to end it. It ruined a good thing for me.

I'm going to cut all the writer's out there a little slack. Sometimes endings are hard. A lot of my own stories in the past have had rushed endings where loose ends are tied predictably for the sake of tying them. But something I have realised as a reader and a writer is that endings like this, endings that don't shock or satisfy the reader insult the intelligence of the reader. You have to imagine that the reader is someone smarter than you are. It's not about explaining something to them, the relationship between writer and reader should be at least a conversation of equals.

But because I haven't written for a while, I'm going to write a story with a "And then I woke up..." ending.

Cam stepped out of the shower and wrapped herself in one of the monogrammed hotel towels. Barefoot, she padded across the tiles and stood in front of the mirror. The room was full of steam, her skin was pink and sore, and yet she felt clean. The condensation on the mirror began to fade, and she took in the sight of her own face. Long eyelashes covered azure pupils in almond coloured eyes. Her tan skin reflected her Greek ancestry. Her hair, althought wet, was still long and wavy. Cam had never had a problem with admitting she was beautiful.
"Honey?" called the man from the other room. She wrapped another towel around her head and stepped out of the bathroom. Her bare feet registered the change of surface, and the sudden drop in temperature from room to room made her shiver.
"We have to leave soon."
"Okay." Cam reached for the red dress lying on the bed and took it back with her into the bathroom to get dressed. She applied her make up and did her hair as if she really intended to go out. But then, she took a final look in the mirror.

From a toiletries bag hidden amongst her things, she removed the gun. She looked at the sleek black shaft, and she thought about the heat of the bullet leaving the cannon. She had been practicing for weeks and weeks at the shooting range, she was ready.

"Cam, get out here or I am leaving with out you!" called the man from the other room.
She placed the gun on the counter, and rolled up the hem of her dress to look one last time at the bruise on her thigh.

The door handle turned. She hadn't locked it. He was getting angry.

She reached for the gun and pointed it at the door. Her hands shook as the door swung open. In her mind she fought for control. He was her husband. He was a brute. They were married. He hurt her. She squeezed the trigger and felt everything melt away.

Cam opened her eyes. Tubes. Beeping instruments. The smell of pine-o-clean. She tried to sit up, but her arm buckled.
"He got you real bad this time, Baby," said the nurse, "Why don't you just tell someone?"
I hope that wasn't too bad. It felt good to be writing.

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