Stories and music performances have this in common: With a good beginning and a good ending – you can get away with rubbish in the middle.
Not true, of course. But a good beginning and ending certainly help disguise a few shortcomings in between.
With this in mind – i.e. the importance of beginnings and endings – I thought from time to time I’d share some of my favourites from my stories.
So here’s the end of Out of Sight (James Lorimer & Co. 2011). In the story, Brunswick Valley School soccer team’s fantastic goalkeeper, Flyin’ Brian (Flyin’ because of how he throws himself around his goal making amazing saves) is losing his eyesight to Lieber’s Disease. His friend and teammate, Linh-Mai, watches helplessly as he goes through stages of disbelief, rage, and despair. By the end of the story he can see very little. He’s just played his last game in goal, and Linh-Mai is watching anxiously as he trails after the rest of the team, who are setting off for end-of-season pizza. Mr. Price, Brian’s father, is watching, too.
… Brian was on the other side of the schoolyard, walking slowly with his head down. As Linh-Mai looked back, she noticed Mr. Price close by in the shadows at the foot of the steps by the main door.
He murmured, “Will he be all right? Does he need me to stay and look out for him?”
Linh-Mai, not knowing how to answer, not even sure whether he was talking to himself or to her, hovered uncertainly.
Mr. Price seemed suddenly to become aware of her and muttered, “You’ll see he gets to the pizza place, will you? And see he gets home safely?”
She stepped into the shadows beside him and whispered, “Yes,” as Brian approached.
“You’ll take care of him, eh?”
“Yes.” Another whisper.
Mr. Price murmured, “I don’t want him to know I’m worrying about him. He doesn’t want that.” He loped up the steps, eased the door open, and slipped stealthily inside.
Brian peered into the shadows where Linh-Mai waited. “Who’s that?”
She moved into the light. “It’s me.”
“What are you doing?”
“Waiting for you. I thought we could walk to Pizza Café together.”
“I don’t need looking after.”
“So why are you waiting?”
“Because we’re friends. Come on. Let’s catch up with the others.” Linh-Mai jogged forward.
Brian said, “Wait. I … I can’t see too much when it’s dark like this.”
She held her hand toward him.
He hesitated, took it, and they set off together.