The Unfinished Stories in Your Life
What are the unfinished stories in your life?
I know, it might seem like an odd question, but let me attempt to explain what I mean…
Recently, while driving at night, I noticed new skid marks on a road I travel frequently for my job. The tire marks started in the middle of the street and veered sharply off into a wooded area along the side of the road. I slowed, flipped on my brights, and spotted a car slammed sideways against a couple of trees about 20-30 feet off the road. The impact had not only caved in the driver’s side, but had also raised the car at an angle so that both driver’s side tires were a couple of feet off the ground. I stopped, called 911 and got out to see if anyone was hurt. While speaking to the police dispatcher, I was able to get close enough to the car to see that the vehicle appeared to be empty. Perhaps they already knew about this accident and had already dealt with it? No. Within minutes, a number of officers showed up and they began searching the nearby woods for the driver. One of the officers took down my information, thanked me for calling the accident in, and sent me on my way. That was fine, I was working and still had a number of deliveries to make before the end of my shift, but I realized later I had no idea how this event ended. Being a writer with a creative imagination, I wondered first if the driver was drunk and had fled the scene after smashing up his or her car…
Okay…that scenario doesn’t take a lot of imagination but it seemed a logical placed to start…
I also wondered since I’ve dodged quite a few deer in the area if the driver had simply attempted to avoid an animal and had ended up in the trees. But then, why leave the car? Did they not have a cell phone? Were they hurt and disoriented and looking for help? Were they just out of sight, lying in the weeds slowly bleeding out due to their injuries?
I don’t know. I checked the papers the following day but didn’t see any mention of the accident. I suppose I could have called the police department and asked…but since I used to be a police, fire, 911 emergency dispatcher, I know how busy they can be and I didn’t feel like troubling them just to fulfill my curiosity.
So…most likely, that will remain another unfinished story in my life.
Like so many others.
As I said above, I used to be a police, fire, 911 emergency dispatcher. For roughly five years I took hundreds of disturbing calls — home invasions, domestic disputes, shots fired, suicide attempts, accidents with injuries, serious health issues–heart attacks, choking, pregnancy complications etc and for the most part, I never learned how these events resolved themselves. Sure, I knew when arrests were made and occasionally I’d hear of a person who didn’t make it en route to the hospital, but aside from that, the stories never felt complete. I never learned the ‘ending’. I mean, it’s like going into a book store, picking up a book, reading an exciting chapter somewhere between the middle and the climax and then putting the book down and never learning the resolution. Except you do that for every book in the store. And then, as I said, occasionally I would hear of at least part of an end of a story. Like the fourteen year old pregnant girl whose father raced into the station to tell us his daughter was outside in the car and feeling ill. We dispatched the fire department and they immediately transported her to the hospital. When the EMT called for their times and number for their report, I asked how the girl was doing. She’d died. I was stunned. There was nothing more we could have done, but I still remember feeling helpless at that moment.
That was seventeen years ago and for some reason I still remember that call.
There are hundreds of other events I handled though where I don’t know even part of an ‘ending’. Missing children…were they ever found? I don’t know. Family murdered…was the killer ever located? I don’t know.
And it’s not just because of the jobs I had either. Do you watch the news on TV? How many times will you hear a story but never learn its resolution?
Another unfinished story in your life…
Now, perhaps I’m just an idiot for even remembering some of these unfinished stories but try as I may some of these stories just won’t go away. It’s rather difficult to actively ‘forget’ something. In fact, it usually seems like quite the opposite–forgetting seems to be an involuntary act.
It was while I was driving tonight that I wondered, are these unfinished stories one of the reasons why I and so many other authors write? To attempt in part to make sense of at least…something? To provide closure of a kind? To give our minds and the minds of our readers the satisfaction of knowing ‘the end’. An ending. Any ending because so often in life we don’t get that satisfaction.
And then I wondered, is that the collective reason why we’re all so drawn to writing, reading, movies etc? The chaos of life does not provide an ‘ending’ even in death, because one person’s death is the beginning of a new chapter in another’s life. And perhaps we all just crave the satisfaction of knowing how the story not only goes, but how it will finish.
Or maybe I have it all wrong and it really is all just about