I originally wrote this story with a positive ending. I had just finished reading The Paris Wife and I was angry that any woman would put up with so much. I was happy with the story I wrote, but it didn’t ring true to me, so I wrote the alternate ending. John Wiswell had a post a few weeks ago where he debated the merits of happy endings versus realism. This week, I’ll let you decide. Only the last 70 words are different in this story. When you get to the end, read both endings and let me know which one you prefer.
She looked into his eyes and knew the truth, so plain to see now that she knew what to look for. It had stared her in the face for months, maybe longer. She’d felt the desperation in his kisses; clinging to her as though at any moment she might slip from his hands. When it was really she who was solid, and he who was slipping away.
Mistaking it for passion; she saw what she wanted to see.
It was painfully clear now. Snapped into focus with a twist of the lens. Nausea rolled through her gut. Her head swam. She dropped her bag and clutched the door frame. He was beside her, words pouring from his lips. But she couldn’t hear over the rushing sound in her head.
She flinched, pulling away from his touch. He jerked back, the sting of her rejection plain on his face. She would have laughed if it hadn’t hurt so much.
Even as tears stung her eyes, a spark of relief flared to life. There had been doubts all along. She’d ignored the signs, burying them in the name of foolishness and jealousy. But she was only a fool for not having seen it all sooner—the playful wink, the brushing of a hand, the whispers, the laughter—all at her expense. She’d stood by, huddled in her cloak of denial, watching it all slip away.
Anger ignited in her chest. At him. At her. At herself.
He was still talking, soothing, explaining. Her hand flew. The sound of flesh on flesh echoed through the room. Her palm stung as a red imprint flared to life on his cheek.
So tell me, dear readers, which ending suits the story best?