by Josh T. Alto
In the morning she made him promise to write a happy ending story about her...
|Susan closed the book and looked up into the fireplace, watching how the flames ate up the remaining pieces of wood, as the red and yellowish lights danced around on the walls. That book confused her totally.
Even if she was holding it in her hand, everything was so unreal; she still couldn’t believe it existed. She sat there stock-still as if waiting for something to happen, a sign that she would understand, a faint noise from the outside, someone calling her name.
She could still recall that moment at the party twenty years before, when they first met and everything began but even now it was hard to explain. It was springtime, in the middle of May. She had just failed one of her exams at the university where she was studying economics.
She didn’t have any luck that semester, she lost one of her best friends, she took drugs, a lot of drugs, she was sure if nothing happened she’d be an addict. She had missed most of the lessons and she hadn’t prepared herself for the exams either. She thought back relieved of her blind flying in that state between daze and dizziness, and she was happy she had been able to overcome it after all.
The party took place in a rather big and richly furnished villa in one of the most expensive districts of the town. She could no longer remember who had invited her to the party, or whether she had been invited at all, how they had met and who had initiated the conversation. But she was sitting there with him in an intimate corner, talking about the meaning of life.
It was absurd however, their spirits flying high nevertheless discouraged and down on their luck. She, with her miserable year behind her with all her failed exams, and he, at the bottom of his unsuccessful writing career.
His name was Peter and he had already written a couple of rather depressing short stories, some of them had even been published, but people didn’t want to buy his sad stories, they needed happy ending stories as one of the publishers had explained to him. ‘But life is depressing’ was his only answer, and continued to write his melancholic stories which all ended up in his drawer.
Later that evening they left together and went to her place, a cheap apartment that she shared with three other girls. They spent the night together; she was not disappointed but it was nothing seventh heaven either.
When he was about to leave in the morning she made him promise to write a happy ending story about her. The total absurdity of her silly wish makes her laugh even now. He looked back from the door smiling, nodded and disappeared in the morning sunshine filtering through the corridor windows.
For a few weeks or even months afterwards she was hoping that he would call her one sunny afternoon and that they would meet again and walk between the jasmine bushes in the park. But he didn’t call her and she didn’t blame him. She wasn’t that kind of pretty girl men fall in love with at first sight; she was just another insignificant broken girl from the college.
It was depressing and it infuriated her at the same time. She didn’t want to be someone who wasn’t worth a second chance; it’s only she who can change her own life. She started working really hard and at the end of the last semester she was one of the few who graduated with honors.
As she became more confident and her whole attitude changed there were lots of boys around her but she was still hopelessly waiting for that boy from the party. As one of the best students from her class she got a job at the leading estate agency in the town and after a couple of years she could even afford to buy a house of her own.
She lived in luxury compared with the life of her parents or even of her friends from university, but she wasn’t really happy with it. There was that feeling that had driven her through all these years to become better than the others, to show that she could, prove it to everyone, but especially to that boy who didn’t even give her a second chance after the party.
From time to time she looked in the catalogues of the bookstores and the new books published in the last few months, hoping to find his photo on one of the covers, but without any real expectations.
One day as she passed by a second hand bookshop she had the feeling she had seen a face there inside who reminded her someone she knew but as she went in she felt disappointed, there was no one there she knew. As she routinely browsed through the books on one of the shelves she caught sight of a picture that no doubt could only be him, the boy from that party.
He looked different, more mature but almost as sad as twenty years before. It was a rather thin book, maybe a hundred or hundred and fifty pages, “a couple of sad stories again”, she thought.
She bought the book, went home and sat down to the fireplace to read. She couldn’t put it down; it was the book she had made him promise to write, the happy ending story about her.
Her hands were already trembling as she started reading the last lines: “… She closed the book and looked up into the fireplace, watching how the flames ate up the remaining pieces of wood, as the red and yellowish lights danced around on the walls. She sat there stock-still as if waiting for something to happen, a sign that she would understand, a faint noise from the outside, someone calling her name.”
She couldn’t move, but only sat there quietly. Suddenly she heard something, as if someone faintly knocked at the window from the outside. She put down the book and took a deep breath. Then the doorbell rang and she stood up as if in a dream and went to the door to open it. She didn’t have to ask, she knew who it was; it couldn’t be anyone else.
(Word count 1047)