A novel ends. It’s time to say goodbye.

Downtown street in Henderson in the 1920s.
Downtown street in Henderson.

It’s time to say goodbye. The day always comes, especially for writers.

At about nine thirty-four last night, I typed in the final period at the end of the final sentence of another novel.

Deadline News, for better or worse, is in the books.

I never dread the moment until it happens.

It’s like a life is ending.

Characters I’ve lived with day and night for weeks on end are packing up and leaving the comfortable little recesses of my mind, a place where they had taken up permanent residence until I kicked them out last night.

Some have places to go.

I’m sure of it.

Others I worry about.

Cooper Bridges has another newspaper to publish. He still has his eye on the pretty young lady who sells train tickets at the railroad terminal. His daughter is trapped in the most awkward stage of all. She is suddenly realizing she may be a girl but has decided it’s more fun to wear overalls and be a boy.

The Sheriff runs Henderson on his own terms. He makes the rules. He breaks the rules. But he keeps peace and order in a town that’s on the threshold of being a lot more rowdy than it’s ever been.

A gusher of oil on Daisy Bradford’s farm has touched the sky.

Doc didn’t ask for it. But he has a second chance at life. He’s never sure it’ worth the trouble. Then again, he’s not sure it isn’t either.

The honorable Jefferson Wright, esquire, is the only man in town who knows for sure that he has steady work. If two men live within the same vicinity, the odds are real good that one will need an attorney before the week’s out. For a fee, Jefferson will find someone guilty or innocent. It doesn’t matter to him.

Herb Smooley is serving up bacon and eggs, cooked in last week’s grease, along with coffee to wash the food down, and it usually needs washing down. Willie Tolliver will still do anything for a bottle of whiskey if he can remember what it was he had to do when or if he wakes up. And Maizie Thompson has an establishment filled with girls looking for husbands and husbands looking for girls. In Maizie’s, the twain meets a lot.

But whatever they’re doing, they’re all doing it without me this morning.

I guess, in reality, they didn’t pack up and move away.

I did.

I’m the one who wrote The End.

So I hugged the ladies of Henderson.

I kissed the children.

And I shook the men’s hands.

Goodbye, I told them.

They nodded.

I’ll miss you, I said.

The Sheriff shrugged and bit the end off a two-bit cigar.

“We’ll be back,” he said.

It may have been a threat.

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  • Anyone who has spent his/her life in small towns (and likes it) knows all of these people.
    As it says on the mysterious and all-knowing Ouija board, “Goodbye.” I, for one, will miss every one of them.

    • I miss them already, and they’re not yet out of sight.

  • jack43

    Strange as it may seem, my fictional characters are as real to me (in my memory) as those I’ve actually met and known. I bore them in pain and held their hands through triumphs and defeats. I’m beginning to understand that they will live in me as much as my mother who passed in 1968.

    • I agree with you, Jack. Characters remind me of friends I know in a town before I move to another. I may not seen them ever again, but I don’t forget them either. When I start sending Christmas cards to my old characters, you can put me away for good.

  • Christina Carson

    What a privilege as a writer to create the world as you choose, characters as you want them to be, and stories that end how you bid them and when. How could we not miss leaving that world for one that often proves so wanting. That is indeed why we sit down that evening or the next day and begin again. Lucky us.

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