Chair Stacks by Samantha Friedman

I had been thinking about endings as this year’s first semester came to a close. I was relieved, but not satisfied. It was the last period of the last day and I stood in the center of the Creative Writing room, desks sloppily pushed together and a sole candle quivering in the corner of a windowsill. I thought I would have written more, written better. I wished my grades were higher. There was enough left of my list of wants that I wasn’t ready to move onto the next chapter of my freshman year.

For my last story for the Fiction Unit, Heather and I discussed that I needed a different ending. At my computer I cried and screamed. I can’t do endings, I decided. I don’t want to write endings, or experience them, or think about them. Ever. My first semester went by so fast that the memories don’t feel like my own. It’s almost that I wasn’t fully present in the moments I can recall and the lack of awareness and appreciation makes them not count. I didn’t utilize the resources to improve my writing and I backed down from challenges. Looking back on that now, from after the end, is hard.

What makes an ending bearable? It’s not a steadfast finish. The world doesn’t topple over from its axis. There’s always more to come. On the last day of school I promised that in Creative Writing I’d learn from my regrets. I realized good things could come from an end. Our Artist in Residence, Carson Beker had the class listen to When it Ends, He Catches Her by Eugie Foster. Foster wrote this story while ill, and used her ending to create something beautiful. Foster’s short story’s ending had something mine never had, a satisfying ending.

So on the last day before Winter Break, Creative Writing never started. The students were dismissed. We cleaned the room one more time, wiping tables and erasing the whiteboard. I brought the last chair to its appointed stack. Looking around the room one more time, I plopped the chair on top.

Samantha Friedman, class of 2020

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