Thursday, September 10, 2015

Coming to an End

In my last post, I talked about my latest project, PB&J. Now, I think I've reached the end. I can't quite tell because I'm not fantastic with endings, I prefer conclusions. Conclusions are finite, definite, the end because there is nothing else to do or say. But that's not how short stories end or literary literature, they don't conclude, they just stop.

I once read that you should end with an image. I think it was a famous writer who said it but I don't remember nor do I want to Google it. Anyway, that's also frustrating,  to write or to read. I remember when I read The Great Gatsby and it ended with an image, that stupid damned green light. Until I saw the Baz Lurhmann movie, the only thing I could remember of the book was a hot, tense hotel room, mint juleps, the car crash, and my fury at that stupid fucking green light. It made no sense to me, mostly because it was eighth  grade and it wasn't explained well enough in class. But I've always remembered how angry I was about it, even now that I understand a lot more about a lot of things. Still, I don't want to end with an image.

I am also not great with imagery. I prefer dialogue to description when I write. I'm pretty sure I haven't described the physical appearance of my main three characters through this whole thing. But they sure do talk and feel, that's more what I explore when I write.

But, whether I'm ready for it or not, PB&J is coming to an end. There's nothing left but the typing of it. I just don't know which ending. Right now, I have forgiveness. But it doesn't feel right. I think it's because one character changed too much and the other didn't really deserve it. I think I started writing that version in attempt to conclude the story instead of end it.

I'm also horning in some backstory, which is a problem. Back when I still thought I was writing a novel, I created this whole town, these entire families histories, maps, stories, mini dramas to fill out the tapestry the novel would be printed on. Eventually I realized there was just the one conflict, the one drama, for these characters and it didn't need a slow build. I cut the other stuff, but I still can't let it go. It's resurfacing, it wants to get out, and I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be randomly showing up at the end, so I thought I'd share it here.

Some of Jan's backstory

“So, Mina was in there talking to Mrs. Miller while Old Miller was snoozing behind the counter.  She was saying that her husband, Mr. Mina, was at the bar last night when your dad came in, ordered three whiskies and kissed Margaret Johnson on the lips.  Then he ordered drinks for the whole Cider House, charged it to your grandad’s garage and roared out of town with Margaret on the back of his Harley. And Mrs. Miller told her that she was at Lauren’s this morning for a touch up, where Mrs. Johnson was saying that Margaret had told her last week that they were leaving town and it wasn’t a surprise to anyone who had eyes since your mom and your grandad Crocker had been trying to control his every action since their shotgun wedding. Then Old Miller snorted awake and told them that they were addled with gossip and Crocker hadn’t shot anyone since Korea. And Mrs. Miller told him to shut  up. Then Mina noticed me and went all poo faced and started mewing something about those poor girls and how ashamed your dad should be for carrying-on like a fool.”

“So, he’s gone? Like he just left town?” Pete spoke softly.

Suddenly, life rushed at her. The sun shone harsh on the back of her neck, the old peeling picnic table they were sitting on dug splinters into her thighs, her Cherry Coke fizzed, sickly sweet in her mouth and her mind boiled with white hot anger. Truckloads of anger.

“Of course he left. Who wouldn’t leave this shit hole town first chance they got?! “

Her friends were stunned to silence. In their short, fairly typical lives they hadn’t had to deal with anything like this before. Sure, they had their troubles, Bobby’s parents couldn’t seem to stop having kids, and Pete’s Mom fussed over everything from Pete wearing a coat to the precise date the milk might go off.  And they all had to deal with Alice Crocker hating them for no good reason. But they had never had real drama or complications. Their parents didn’t even swear so freely.  They got most of their swearing vocabulary from hangin out behind the Cider House or Jan’s Grandad’s garage but they had no need to curse before.

Before either boy could think of the correct response, Alice Crocker and Sheila Saddler strolled up. Alice was Jan’s cousin but they had never gotten along, mostly because Jan wouldn’t let Alice push her around.

“Granpa said your lowlife father finally blew town with a trampy waitress,” she taunted.

Sheila didn’t meet her eyes and took a step back, like she wished she was any place else in the world then next to Alice. Pete and Bobby were stunned by her callousness. No one expected Jan to drop her soda can, lunge at Alice, and pummel her mercilessly.

Alice busted Jan’s lip and scratched her cheek. Jan gave Alice a black eye and a bloody nose. Both girls lost  handfuls of hair and scrapped various body parts on the concrete. During the fight Sheila looked horrified, then ran inside Miller’s. Bobby and Pete were slack-jawed and continued the afternoon’s trend of doing nothing. When Mr. Miller and his son, Dr. Miller, pulled the girls apart, a breathless screaming match ensued.

“You’re trash, Janice Wagner! You’re trash, trash, trash!”
“Fuck you, Alice! You. . . uptight bitch!” She hadn't learned that one at the garage, she'd heard it from her father towards her mother.

Mrs. Miller, who had come outside, slapped Jan then. Which was the same thing  her mother had done to her father.

“Mom!” Dr. Miller said, who had been holding back Jan and examining her lip at the same time.

“That kind of language deserves a slap." Mrs. Miller she said, indignant. "I’m going to call both their par-,” she stopp, then self corrected, “their mothers.”

“Always have been and always will be trash,” Alice muttered.