How does my story end? I wondered as I sat down for a writing session.
Hmmmm…..and, When does my story end? For me, the ending may actually be the beginning. Playing with the idea of reverse chronology had me thinking about how far into the future I should explore. Would I be conversing with my father when I’m 80? Perhaps. I settled on stopping at age 55, the age he was when he died. I couldn’t quite “see” into the future any further. Maybe another time.
A random date in the year 2033 started my journey. If this is where my story starts and ends and might make it the “last letter?” (or first?) Then, I couldn’t believe it, but I actually…. ummmmm….sort of killed off my mother in the first letter of my creative piece. (sorry mom, love you!!!) Even now as I type it pains me. I debated. I went back and forth wondering what she might think when she reads it (I decided she would be thrilled at the idea of seeing my father again!) I deleted and rewrote the words a few time. Then, I calculated her age to be 88 in 2033 and that made it seem a little more “acceptable.” A recurring theme in my letters is the love my father and mother had for each other so I found it fitting that she “ends up” with him in the end (beginning).
Ch ___ : The Last Letter
October 7, 2033
Mom made it here safely. We are taking care of each other. She sends her love to you and the all the kids. Thank you for keeping her safe all this time. You did a good job. I’ll see you soon.
I love you forever,
July 19, 2033
When she’s ready, I’ll be here waiting for her. I trust your judgment, but it’s not really up to you now.
July 16, 2033
Mom’s not doing well. She keeps asking to see you but I don’t know if I can let her go. I don’t know what to do.
I tried to keep the wording vague enough to make it unclear as to whether or not my mother has died or if she is simply visiting my father someplace….without any background knowledge I wonder what the reader makes of these exchanges.
There are some interesting time-order issues that I didn’t experience earlier. The first letter I wrote (above) was to my father (July 16, 2033) and then I composed his response and my reply and finally the “last letter” that is listed first. It made sense to me to not only start at the end, in terms of years but to have the reader experience each reply first and have the letter that prompted the replies read subsequently. I think this adds an interesting layer of discovery for the reader. It’s a unique experience as a writer, too.
For now, I’ve kept the mode out of the equation, focusing rather on the story itself. My thinking is that I can go back and reformat to a different mode or add in different modes of communication in other sections. I am feeling like there is so much for me to write about at this point. Maybe I’m just getting warmed up at this point…
Here’s another sample “exchange”….as time goes by the interactions get further apart and who initiates them (my father) changes. A little “cats in the cradle-ish” maybe?
September 24, 2031
Hi! Yes, it’s been a while. Sorry. Thank you for the birthday wishes. I guess I am an old lady now…haha!!! Some days I feel 25 and some days I feel 105 years old. Yes, everyone is good and my store is doing great!! It’s been so hectic lately with the grandkids and Autumn’s wedding and everything. I really wish you could be there. I’ve been meaning to write you but just never got around to it. I remember what you also used to say… “You’re my best daughter…and my worst!!!” Remember that? Guess I’ve proved the latter to be true this time. I promise I’ll write again soon!!!
I miss you.
September 19, 2031
Happy early birthday. I can’t believe my little girl is going to be 55 tomorrow. I always said you were the only daughter I’ll ever have and the only daughter I’ll ever need. That’s still true. I haven’t heard from you in a while and I just wanted to check in to see how everyone was doing and to wish you a happy birthday. I miss our conversations.
P.S.- How’s your store doing?
So how does my story really end? I crafted this little note to my father….something I may have done on September 10, 2001. That was weird to write. Thinking about him as really “alive” for the first time….no sad undertones reflected or felt as I wrote. This may be the actual last letter of my project (in order).
September 10, 2001
You were already asleep when I came downstairs but I just wanted to say thank you for fixing the taillight on my car in case I forget to tell you tomorrow. I can’t wait to tell you what happens in the next chapter of the book I’m reading. It’s getting soooo good!!!
One last thought….
If I’m exploring different modes, who’s to say that I can’t create a fictionalized print version of a voice-to-voice conversation….very ala the end of the movie“Ghost.” I imagined, for a second hearing my father’s voice and everything changed instantly. Maybe at the very end (beginning?) I “hear” and speak with him. Why not? I mean, I’m not going to fake a recording or anything but a transcript of that exchange would be very interesting to me. After years of written communication, I would imagine a very different reaction from me in my words….I dunno….just thinking….maybe the very last section is me at 80 (dying?) and seeing my father once again…..if I can write my mother’s death, I can write my own!
And then my son writes me a letter….lol…..
(I’m seeing a movie in my head again.)