I like ending stories on an ambivalent note. (Song arrangements, too. You can’t beat finishing on a major seventh.) I like to leave a little (or a lot) of doubt about what the future holds for the characters, and the reader wondering whether the ending is ‘happy’, or if tragedy is about to fall.
I think one of my best endings (by my own – highly suspect, of course – judgement) was in the teen novel, Footprints (Breakwater/Jesperson 2008).
(I’m tempted to ponder what I mean by a ‘teen novel’, but that’s a topic for another time.)
Here’s the end of Footprints:
Harper watches his friends from the corner of his eye. They are holding hands. Drumgold is saying something about worldwide injustice and oppression. He talks like that all the time.
Isora gazes at the sea. Harper wishes she’d pirouette in the sand, the way she used to. She’s not listening to Drumgold. She’s wearing the outfit she wore the day she set the bomb. She doesn’t talk much, and when she does, it’s of revenge for Dexter and George.
Droopy and Diamond Head are at the iron gate. They wave and smile. Drumgold and Isora ignore them.
Harper, glancing at his friends again, wonders which of them he fears the most.