Fictional Lessons for Real Life: Happy Endings

What stories would you write if you knew they might come true?

What if you had no idea how they would come true, or when, or who they would affect?

That’s Jane Margaret Blake’s dilemma as she struggles with her fables, the tales she writes that create havoc in her real world. Years ago, one of her fables pushed her best friend Charlie into the arms of another woman. Now, Jane’s written a story that might have shoved Charlie’s little boy in front of an angry dog, putting the boy’s life in danger.

But in the midst of it all, a new character appears in Jane’s tales: a man escaping hell with only a knapsack on his back and a ukulele by his side.

Jane calls Charlie to check on his son, and she longs to tell him about knapsack man… and to discover if it might be him.

“Jane, is this another one?”

Jane considered for a moment whether to stall Charlie further, but she knew it would be useless. “Yeah, Charlie. I think so.”

“You wrote a fable about my son being attacked and you didn’t tell me?”

She could hear the anger building in his voice. “No, Charlie. I mean, yes, that’s what happened, but I didn’t know it was Jamie in the story. I didn’t, I swear.” Jane knew this was only a partial truth. She knew it was the exact question – whose little boy is this? – that she avoided asking herself at the time.

“Jane, you need to get this under control. Don’t tell me, you went out to Molly’s bar and got smashing drunk again last night. That’s why I didn’t hear from you.”

Jane hated it when Charlie guessed the worst about her and turned out to be right. “Molly doesn’t judge me.” She cringed at how pathetic she sounded. “Molly looks out for me, and he doesn’t care if I have one too many now and then.” Molly, full name Hugh David Mollone, was more than a great bartender. His kind soul co-existed with a wicked sense of humour. But Jane was wrong about this, though she didn’t know it. Even Molly worried about how much she was drinking these days.

“I don’t judge you either, you idiot. I’m afraid for you. Can’t you tell the difference?” Something clunked on Charlie’s end of the phone. “I gotta run. Don’t go out drinking tonight, okay? If you get the urge call me instead. I’ll talk you down.”

“Charlie, I -”

“I gotta run, sorry. Call me later, okay?”

Jane heard a click. “Charlie, I wrote another one,” she whispered into the dead phone. “This one might have a happy ending.”

Here’s the fictional lesson for real life for this month:

If Jane can learn to write her own happy endings, maybe we all can.

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