The following short story "Suzy" was written for The Red Dress Club's prompt:
The happy ending.
It's what we all hope for, isn't it? We all want everything to be neatly tied up in a bow.
In fiction, this can be, well, a little boring. Or predictable.
This week, we'd like you to write a scene that includes a happy ending - it doesn't have to be the actual END of your story, if you're working on continuations, but it should include at least one challenge for your hero to overcome.
Surprise us. Don't give us what we expect.
If you are writing non-fiction, you can use the same parameters. Or you can even change the way something happened to give it the happy ending you wanted.
When he got the call, all he could think of was Katie. As he grabbed up his keys and flew out of the office to his truck, he imagined her sitting in school, counting the seconds down until the bell would ring, hating it there with a passion and just wanting to return home. He didn't tell anyone he was leaving; he didn't even think to. He only thought of her, and he prayed.
The drive to the pasture was a relatively short one, but on that particular day, with a million thoughts racing in his mind and his daughter's heart in limbo, it seemed to take forever. On his drive, he remembered a similar day years ago. He remembered how his heart had broken when she had cried and cried.
That day, all those years ago, she had been gone to a friend's house. Little Heather Anne, a natural Southern Belle if there'd ever been one. The complete opposite of his own tom boyish, perpetually dirty daughter, and yet, somehow they just fit. They had played and played all afternoon, and when Katie had come home, he and her Mama had told her the tragic news. While she'd been having a tea party and making mud pies, Coco the cat had broken into Chip the squirrel's cage and helped himself to an afternoon snack. Poor Chip, an orphan until he'd found Katie, an impromptu gift from Daddy himself, a bi-product of working in a sawmill. Even though he was just days old and without his mother, Katie had nursed him with a tiny dropper until he'd grown strong enough to eat on his own. He had been a dearly beloved pet, and when told the news of his death, Katie had broken a little inside.
And now it was happening all over again. Sure, she was older now; she might be able to handle the death of a pet a little easier, but Suzy was hardly just a pet. Katie loved that horse with a fierce kind of passion, had a bond with it that was unique and mysterious to him. He wasn't sure where Katie had gotten her nearly overwhelming love for animals. Neither he nor her Mama were animal people, and yet, Katie seemed touched not only with a love for them but with a gift that allowed her to connect with them in an amazing way. And her love for horses transcended everything. Bad days at school. Exceptionally low self-esteem. The nearly constant attempt to "fit in."
How would he tell her if Suzy died? How would this affect her already fragile adolescent heart?
He wheeled the truck into the drive that led to the pasture. The crunch of the gravel under his wheels sounded much louder than usual, as he pulled up amongst the other cars already parked near the big red barn.
From that point on, everything happened in slow motion. Getting out of the truck, approaching the barn, seeing his daughter's beautiful filly collapsed on her side, her lovely head resting in the lap of the vet. It was unnatural for Suzy to ever be in a state of rest. She was always moving, graceful, full of life and spunk. He watched her sides rise rapidly, her breathing shallow and difficult. The stark white bandage over her shoulder blade provided a sickening contrast against her sorrel coat that was now dulled with mud and matted blood.
The vet spoke, and he heard her as if she was a million miles away. Her voice was barely audible against the rushing of his thoughts. "She was shot. We've stopped the bleeding. Thankfully, the bullet just grazed her flesh. She'll be okay."
She'll be okay. His relief was palatable; his little girl wouldn't have to cry today.
Author's Note: As you can imagine from the purpose of this prompt, Suzy was not okay. By the time my Daddy arrived, she'd lost too much blood. The vet did everything she possibly could. My Daddy made sure of that. But Suzy died that day with her head in his lap and her blood on his clothes. Mama ended up telling me. Daddy had stood just behind her with regret-filled eyes. I think he blamed himself somehow, but there was nothing he could do. A hunter had shot her. Mistakenly, we always hoped. We never found out who did it. I wish I could say I'd forgiven them for that, but I hate whoever it was to this day.
I struggled with this prompt as I'm not really a happy-ending kind of girl. I didn't even think of what I would write on until this morning, and then I thought of Suzy.