Fiction from Lillie E. Franks

Old, leather bound book on a dark background

Photo: Danika Perkinson

The Encyclopedia of Endings

– And they lived happily ever after.
– And she returned to her old town and her old life, where she finally realized that, wide as the world is, sometimes the grass is greenest right where you started off.
– So he skipped away, jumping from one planet to another planet, until he disappeared into the heavens where he’s still having adventures today.
– And she never said, “Thank you!” to a cat again!
– But she died.
– But both of them died.
– But in time, they all died.
– And they lived happily, at first.
– The ending is always the thing that matters. There is nothing to anything but the finish. Each wave is broken and forgotten, but the last wave, and only the last wave, leaves itself sculpted into the land forever. Tell me the ending only, and don’t bother me with the rest.
– But when he awoke, he realized it had all been just a dream.
– And that is the reason that, to this day, people keep forks on one side of the plate and knives on the other.
– But when she fell asleep, she realized it had all been just a life.
– And though they never saw each other again, they remembered each other all their lives.
– And though they never saw each other again, they remembered how they seemed to each other for what seemed to them forever.
– Every moment is the last moment, fed into transformation. Every moment is fed to the next, which is finally fed to the ending. Even I am real, and I will end, and my ending will make me real.
– But the only thing in the whole house was a single pot made of clay, with a small, triangular chip missing from the corner of the rim.
– So she retraced her steps over the cool, evening sand, and the ocean bid her goodnight.
– And yet, he knew in his heart that something had been lost, something that would never be found again.
– The difference is, there is no waiting in endings. I am always waiting, until the ending, and then, finally then, I only am.
– And some people say that her head is still in the forest to this day, weeping for her lost family.
– So the bloodied sword fell to the ground, singing out with a sound that was almost music.
– And they were remembered in this story, which I have now told to you.
– And if you think I’m telling a lie, just ask the moon. She was there, and she saw the whole thing.
– But every thought is an ending. It is an end to thinking, which is simply waiting with an open mind. I am ending over and over. I am always returned to reality.
– Outside, snow fell over the streets and the people of the city; it was a gentle, soft snow, which laid them all under a silent curtain of smooth white.
– And none of them ever knew the truth, except for the old man in the cabin, who told no one.
– But it was already too late.
– But she didn’t quite make it.
– But he had never had a chance at all.
– There is always waiting. Even an ending is just waiting for the next beginning. Even I am nothing but a waiting.
– And it all was, ever after.
– For every true ending, there are a thousand false endings. Every long wait, and even some short ones, pretend to be eternal. They are simple moments, but they put on the cloak of ending to awe us into silence, which is waiting.
– The bullet flew across the room towards her, until it had crossed half the distance, exactly half.
– The waves rose, higher and higher, over the dam, but they did not spill back down. They just kept rising, up and up and up.
– So the tyrant was deposed, and a new and just king sat on the throne, to stand victorious forever.
– And the stars shone, as they always shine. The stars shine forever.
– There is an eternal state of things, a kind of waiting that goes on forever and will never be abandoned. To wait like this is to escape false endings.
– I cannot wait eternally.
– “But no one cares about what came before,” he said. “All that matters is who wins in the end.”
– False endings are held together by two things: art and power. And art is surrounded by power.
– And they lived, ending to ending to ending to ending.
– So justice was done, and the miscreants who sought to destroy the peace of our world were foiled, once again.
– Because our government is imperfect, but it can only get better the more we dedicate ourselves to it.
– We all know false endings so well. We have all been surrounded with them, and one piece of us must wish to know the rest of the story.
– However, a judge rejected the family’s civil lawsuit.
– But that’s just the way some people are. You couldn’t help them, even if you tried.
– The board of executives did not respond to requests for comment.
– Because where there are no true endings, there are also no fake endings. There is only quiet, uneasy waiting.
– She walked the road slowly, going, with each step, not forward, but away.
– But though he never saw her face again, it was neither his last time fighting a monster nor saving a village.
– But she had waited long enough; it was time to try again.
– If I must do one thing, it is to sift the true endings from the false endings. I must believe that there are true endings, because I must believe that there is something other than waiting.
– And the throngs celebrated long into the night, that they had won over those who would oppress them, and that no one would, ever again, stand over anybody else and call themself master.
– Far away, the guns and tanks rusted, because the people did not need them anymore. They needed only each other, face to face and person to person.
– The doubters called this utopia; but the people answered, “Yes, because we all must die, and only utopia is worth dying for.”
– And I am happy, not just in this moment, but for all moments. Happiness is a condition, not a feeling, and I have reached it.
– So why am I surrounded by the rotting odor of fake endings? I know this scent too well to ignore it, but why? Why does the truth still not free me from waiting? Is there nothing besides waiting?
– And one day, the sun will grow large, and it will swallow the Earth inside of itself.
– And one day, the sun, with the Earth inside it, will burn out and grow as cold and dark as the space around it.
– And the sun will not be the first star to burn out, nor the last, but there will be a last, and after it, there will be no more stars.
– And then, in the cold and silence, there will be waiting.
– But even this is not an ending.
– But there was never a true ending.
– So he repeated, “Tomorrow is another day,” and for once it meant something to him that it had never meant before.
– But endings are more than trickery.
– But that was as far as she would go, she decided, because she was better than that, and because it was time that she acted like she was better than it.
– But there is something other than waiting.
– And so although all the universe was dark, one star came together and shone; it was the last star, and there was nothing in the universe to dim its light.
– But there is beginning.
– “But a law is not justice,” the voice cried to the people who gathered around. “Only justice is justice, and nothing must stop us from seeking it.”
– Because I am not made of one ending but every ending, and I have brought myself to an end a hundred times. Every moment that I stand fully in this moment and see that everything I was has already been consumed, I come to an end. An ending is beginning, which is a reaching forward, away from what has ended and into what is possible. I am always ending and beginning, beginning and ending, and every ending is as real and as fake as every other ending. Ending to ending to ending to beginning.
– And I live.
– And you live.
– And we live.
– And the stars shine over us.
– And we live.
– And we begin.

Lillie E. Franks is a trans author and eccentric who lives in Chicago, Illinois with the best cats. You can read her work at places like Always Crashing, Poemeleon, and Drunk Monkeys or follow her on Twitter at @onyxaminedlife. She loves anything that is not the way it should be.

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