Why don't you ever write happy endings she asked, looking up at him from her side of the bed. She was prostrate, her head propped up on one elbow the other arm akimbo, the latest issue of Marie Claire open beside her.
"Happiness isn't interesting, Nadine. Nothing happens to characters who are content."
"Oh," she replied. "Still, it's always so bleak, so hopeless."
"That's what makes compelling reading," he said, putting down the manuscript he'd been editing to look at her over the rim of his glasses. Normally she would have been wearing flimsier night clothes. Something chiffon with spaghetti straps or a nightshirt enticingly unbuttoned. But this spring and early summer had been punctuated by cold nights and she was dressed accordingly.
"Would people show up at an air show if there wasn't the possibility of a crash?"
She looked at him sideways and sighed. "Isn't there a middle ground, somewhere between boring and plane crash?"
"There is, he said, "but it's where we already live. All of us. We're waiting for the plane crash but the most exciting things get for most of us is a trash can knocked over by a raccoon, or even better, the neighbor's trash can."
He waxed on, as he was prone to do, there was nothing he enjoyed more than talking, which was unusual for a writer.
"You see Nadine, only teenagers and senior citizens want happy endings. The former because they think that's the way things should be and the latter because experience has taught them it's the way things aren't."
How can I be with someone who doesn't comprehend the basics of good fiction he wondered. Someone who will never understand. She had gone back to her magazine, as if discussion of his life's work and her complete ignorance of it was just a passing thought to her, something to consider while flipping from the table of contents to this month's feature stories. He closed his eyes and saw the years stretching out ahead of him, endless taxiing down a runway with no hope of ever taking off.
The two of them in a workable but tasteless relationship, getting along but not getting what they ultimately need. And yet here they were and he wasn't sure he had the energy to change things. Happy endings were neither fact nor fiction. Maybe that was their appeal - and their repulsion.
Outside a dog, misunderstood or neglected, barked to be let in.