“Every story has a happy ending, right Mom?”
How – and how quickly – I answer is pivotal. An obnoxiously large snake is threatening the very existence of our hero Harry in the second installment of the boy wizard franchise. Five more movies were made and the grand finale is looming, so we know he makes it out unscathed. But my kids are double checking, just in case someone has played a dirty trick on Harry.
“Yes, every story has a happy ending.”
My kids look relieved but they – and I – will be happier when it slithers off screen. I felt the same way when Arnold’s Conan the Barbarian was trapped with James Earl Jones’ slithery alter ego. (Amazingly, I felt the same way decades later hearing about Arnie’s reptilian behavior. I wonder if Maria had been hoping that snake was close by.) There is just something about snakes. They are silent, sinister and slippery. And at this scale – looming on the outlandishly large TV screen my husband insisted was critical to his happiness – they are nightmarish. But that’s the point. Harry’s nemesis needs to be overwhelmingly evil so that good’s triumph is that much more impressive. I really don’t know if Harry gets a happy ending when the end finally comes, but it’s this or none of us sleep tonight.
Every story has a happy ending. It was meant to be. Everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason for everything. It’s all part of the plan. His will. There’s a higher power at work.
I’ve heard them all. Well intentioned and genuine, it is not without a hint of irony that these sage and clichéd sayings are usually delivered by those who still have their stories intact. The ones who don’t? They’re imagining the reaction if they actually said out loud what they really thought of happy endings and higher powers. I know I have.
Real life is not the stuff of fairytales, and not every story has a happy ending. Ours was abrupt and messy. Some are downright nasty. Or sort-of happy and sort-of not. Or there isn’t just one ending. There’s the first and then the second. Sometimes a third. Not everyone is successful in their pursuit of happyness and even if hearts do go on, there’s always residual bruising. But angry bruises fade, leaving memories that remind you that loss is only possible when there is something to lose.
So, whether it’s three crones wielding shears or an almighty force pulling our collective strings let’s just say that I’m not pleased with the adjustments that were made to my happy ending.
The first one, that is.