We said goodbye in the U-Haul parking lot the tactophobe and I. I didn’t think he really cared about kissing me goodbye, but we’d taken that turn and it seemed required. Perhaps he’d finally kissed me in first place to prove something. I didn’t know if he thought we ought to wait for each other while we were away or if we ought to even write. I didn’t know if he liked me.
The habit of not asking may have started when I was 4 and my mother left for a summer of doctors and electric shock treatment. The habit may have cemented itself when I didn’t ask where J, my step-mother had disappeared to–or why she was back. Asking didn’t change anything. Did it?
The kiss was quick, and relieved I turned to my U-Haul truck. I don’t remember the joke he made, but I waved without quite looking back.
Characters change at the end of a story, but the groundwork has to be there–and certain changes aren’t possible. You’ve got to take their history into account. People love to repeat their mistakes–how many people actually learn from them? But characters aren’t real people. They just have to look like real people. How far can you push this one or that one? How radical a change can be believed by the reader? You can surprise them, but you can’t break that spell of suspended disbelief. Push, push, push, until right about…here.
Where exactly is here anyway? If I don’t find it, I could always pack all the characters onto a moving truck and go somewhere else.