The International Writers Magazine
: Movie Endings

How It Will End?
Wendell R. Mangibin

t was several years before you were born—before your mother and I got engaged. It was the year I was sick. I had no sense of time--only pillows, a thousand pounds of blankets and the light from the tiny television. My life was that long stretch between sleep and being abruptly awakened for another heparin shot in the stomach. It was the year I couldn’t stop shivering.

One day your mother somehow got me in my street clothes to see a movie, an independent flick I’d mentioned months prior that I couldn’t wait to see. I was the only one in the audience swaddled in a comforter. My face burned in the dark and it hurt to move my eyes. But I felt porous, taking in the dialogue like water. Before I knew what happened—the arc of the story or the plot—I was back in the hospital, listening to the beeping I.V. drip.

Later, I would wake to the rattling windowsill, where your mother sat, prepping for her master’s thesis in Organizational Psych. After my continuous pleas to tell me what happened, she put down that mammoth textbook. I was in and out a few times, but each time, she took my hand and told me an ending--a different one for every time I woke from my delirium:

"Oh yeah, in the last scene, they just slow danced so the record wouldn’t skip. Then she told him she was pregnant! Finis!"

"...Then it’s a close-up on Melora. Her appealing lisp slowly disappeared as she spoke. Portishead came on. And then she just smiled. She kept smiling and smiling until…Fade out."

"...So, he rolled up in his truck with a Raggedy Ann doll to see Melora and that adorable puppy waiting on the steps while the screen door banged in the wind. Credits roll."

I failed to recall the other endings, all of which were fiction. (Years later, I caught the movie edited for television. It ended like I expected—the hero, dressed in black, staring at himself in a mirror across the bar.) Somehow, in that hospital bed, her endings endured and morphed into my countless dreams, each one impossibly upbeat and sunny.

I remember dreaming of you, grown, like you are now, in command of a circus menagerie. You looked lost and you were sweating. Your brow was like a piece of burnished wood. You pointed to Gustavas the Great, maintaining his balance on the trapeze stand and rubbing the arm he broke only a month ago. Despite your concern, your voice had this profound baritone that sailed from the megaphone and across the tents, bringing everyone’s attention to trapeze. The drum roll commenced. Heads turned as the spotlight flashed on Gustavas--the children turned with their mouths agape, the elephants glanced while balancing on one foot, the girl twirling by her hair, the lions in mid-yawn—everyone waiting for Gustavas and his famous quadruple twist/somersault.

Somehow, amidst all this, you managed to catch a glimpse of us in the audience. Your mother was waving frantically. She pulled her loose hair back and curled her fingers around her mouth. She was shouting something you couldn’t hear. And suddenly, you snorted as you held back a laugh. You rolled your eyes because you knew. You knew exactly what she was shouting.

© Wendell R. Mangibin November 2005
Wendell is a graphic designer in Northport, New York

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