She was walking alone. The crest of the hiking trail ended at the ocean cliff. She let out a yelp and sat down hard in a patch of grass, dizzy. How could it be? There was no up or down. The sky was the sky but also the earth and the earth was the earth but also the sky. She is waiting for the non-existent horizon, the place where it ends, the place where we go, the direction in which to head. The End.
“What? That’s the end of your story?” she said.
“What do you mean, ‘For now’? Is there more? How can it be the end? We never to get to find out what happened! What kind of ending is that?” she said.
“The story is different for everyone.”
“What?! But you said you’ve told that same story thousands of times!” she said.
“I have. I used to say the exact same words every time, but it didn’t matter, every person heard it differently. So, now I just tell the story that I know they will hear.”
“How is a story with no end in sight a story that I will hear?!” she said.
“You tell me.”
“What?” she said, faltering.
“How would you end the story?”
“I don’t know! I was waiting for you to tell me that!” she said stubbornly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she said, indignantly.
“It means it is your story to end! What will it be?”
“Well, I don’t know! How are you supposed to end a story when it gets confusing with the sky being both the sky and the earth and vice versa? What’s that supposed to mean anyway?” she said.
“Only you know!”
“But I don’t know!” she said.
“Then decide what it means and let me know. Then we might just have the end of the story.”
“You are impossible!” she said.
“What’s impossible is the end of this story, unless you decide what it’s going to be!”
“Oh my gosh! Let’s just forget this whole story.” she said.
It was quiet for a long time.
“I can’t do it! Its just bugging me too much, its too unfinished! I can’t just let the story go! ” she said.
“And why not?”
“Because I can’t! It will haunt me without an ending.” she said.
“So, I’ll come up with some ending and you’ll tell me if its right.” she said.
“I can’t tell you if its right! You would never be satisfied. Only you can decide the ending.”
“Why me? What about the author? What if I don’t like it? Or, what if its not clever enough? What if it doesn’t feel right?” she asked.
“It doesn’t always have to feel right, it doesn’t even have to feel satisfying, it just has to be complete.”
“Could you be any less clear?” she said sarcastically.
“You are wasting your time. Decide!”
It was quiet.
“I hate this! I don’t know! I can’t think of anything good!” she said miserably.
“By not ending this story, you are creating your own misery that will never end. Its not your business if you like it, its just your business to end it!”
It was quiet for a long time.
“Oh, I see.” she said slowly.
“And what is that?”
“Its not so much that this story doesn’t have an ending. The story is about finding one.” she said.
“And its about indecision. Its about making a decision rather than living an existence that that is neither this nor that. Its about how the freedom of choices can become a burden of our own creation. Its about knowing where you are going and where it will end!” she said.
“The story is about me! Its about how the earth and the sky have become so convoluted that we can’t tell which is which because we failed to decide which way was up or down, by keeping all of our options open all of the time. One mirrors the other and we can no longer tell where one ends and the other begins. This is about you too! Because you are also me and I am really just talking to myself!” she said.
“So how does it end?!”
“But what if it isn’t good? What if I think of a better ending later?” she asked.
“Can’t you see yet? Its not the end of the world! You just write another story!”
“That’s it?” she asked.
“That’s it. Let it go. It is not yours anyway, its just your job to get it out.”
“Well, then …”
Still dizzy and confused, she let herself lie back in the patch of grass and closed her eyes. She felt the sun on her face and breathed in the scent of dirt and crushed grass. “How’s it going to end?” she whispered.
“Well, whatever it is, it better end soon so I can get you off my back!” she heard her own muffled voice coming from underneath her. Her eyes flew open, but she was still staring up at the strange sky with the sun and clouds and waves. She jumped up and saw herself lying face down on the grass. “What the …?” she started.
“That’s right, this whole stupid mirror image world you created, you somehow worked your own self into it!” said her mirror self. “And I can’t take it anymore! Its killing my back! So you better think of something soon.”
She started to laugh. “Let’s go!” she said, as she made her way back toward the trail.
“So, you decided how its going to end?” asked her mirror self, now walking with her down the trail.
“Yup! But first, tell me a story.” she said, smiling. Her mirror self looked at her quizzically, then recognition spread across her face and she smiled too.
“Got it! I’ve told this story a thousand times, but here it goes. ‘She was walking alone. The crest of the hiking trail ended at the ocean cliff. She let out a yelp…'”
I’ve always been thinking of writing a novel under that heading