Ending Things


The end of my story is problematic. Too many choices.

  1. Theo strolls up to the gray, stucco bungalow. Lizzie flings open the red door, her eyes bright blue in her flushed face. Theo isn’t alarmed, though, until she says, “I know about your affair.” Theo searches her damp eyes, clasps her to his strong chest, and admits everything. “It was a terrible mistake.” Lizzie pulls away and perches on the end of their plaid couch. He kneels before her, like when he proposed ten years ago, square-jawed and handsome. His brown eyes roll up to her as he begs forgiveness. “We married so young,” he says. “I foolishly started to wonder about ‘the other.’” He takes her hand, thumbs her wedding band. “There is no other.” Lizzie’s resolve crumbles. She drops to her knees beside him. He kisses her. “I’ll do anything you want. Counseling? Therapy?” She pushes him flat on the carpet and straddles his hips . . . . Cheesy, but readers enjoy a happy ending.
  1. Theo strolls up the walk, another woman hanging on his arm. Lizzie parts the blinds and stares, not quite believing. The audacity! Bringing her here! When Lizzie is home! Of course, as a writer, when is she not home? The woman is wearing a long coat. Fur! Is this what Theo’s been seeking? A bad girl. Someone to reawaken passion? The woman tosses peroxided hair, her gash of red lipstick opening into a laugh. She leans against Theo to balance on impossibly high stilettos. Lizzie backs away from the window. Theo swings open the door and grins. “Surprise!” The other woman lets the fur coat drop in their entryway. Her naked body is svelte, her creamy breasts bobbling. “Hi, Lizzie.” Her lips curl into a seductive smile. “I’m a unicorn.” She sashays across the carpet, places one hand on each of Lizzie’s shoulders, and kisses her neck. Lizzie glances over the unicorn’s shoulder at Theo, who tosses his shirt over the back of their plaid couch. “So this is what you’ve been up to?” Lizzie asks. The unicorn unbuttons Lizzie’s blouse . . . . A surprise ending. Readers like those, too.
  1. Theo is not strolling. His head is on swivel. He slides along the side of the bungalow, behind the juniper. He’s wearing a black trench coat. Over the top? Theo nudges open the back door. Lizzie’s head whirls toward him in surprise. Her eyes are wary, mascara smeared under them like she’s been crying—again. “Theo, we need to talk.” Cliched. But isn’t this exactly what people say—what she might say—before the Big Conversation? The words squeeze through Lizzie’s tense lips. Theo pulls out a nine-millimeter pistol with a silencer. “There’s nothing to discuss,” he says. “We’re finished.” The gun pops. (Yes, dear readers, silencers don’t fully silence.) The bullet rips into her heart. Blood pours from the hole. Lizzie gapes—not in disbelief. In fury. He beat her to the punch. Her brain is unable to maintain blood flow. She crumples onto the kitchen tile. Whether she’s dead or not is a matter of semantics. Loss of a heartbeat results in being brain dead soon enough . . . . Twisting toward noir, a steady market.
  1. Lizzie is sitting passively, crying at Theo’s deceit, the lipstick not even on his collar, but on his neck, folks! She will NOT wait for him to beat her to the punch. No, Lizzie owns a nine-millimeter, one she bought three years ago to give her gun scenes credibility. A silencer is foolish—something stupid that Theo would do, not her. The purchase would raise red flags, and she’s already going to be a prime suspect. That’s why she isn’t going to wait for Theo to enter the bungalow—strolling or sneaking. She’ll pop him when he’s leaving the brokerage from the alley across the street. She’ll don a generic floppy hat and walk there via the back streets, avoiding street cams. She’ll aim for center mass as she was taught, and if she puts a hole in his heart, that will be poetic justice . . . . There’s appreciation for true crime.

~ fin ~


The day after high school graduation, Vinnie Hansen fled the howling winds of South Dakota and headed for the California coast. There the subversive clutches of college dragged her into the insanity of writing. A two-time Claymore Award finalist, she’s the author of the Carol Sabala mystery series, the novel Lostart Street, and numerous short stories.