Creative Exercise #10

Endings Exercise: Read the following short story. The ending has been purposely left out. Create your own ending. It can be as long or as short as it needs to be: a sentence, a paragraph, a page. It’s entirely up to you.  (I'll email you the author's ending at the end of the week!).

The Wig

By Brady Udall

My eight-year-old son found a wig in the garbage dumpster this morning. I walked into the kitchen, highly irritated that I couldn't make a respectable knot in my green paisley tie, and there he was at the table, eating cereal and reading the funnies, the wig pulled tightly over his hair like a football helmet. The wig was a dirty bush of curly blonde hair, the kind you might see on a prostitute or someone who is trying to imitate Marilyn Monroe.

I asked him where he got the wig and he told me, his mouth full of cereal. When I advised him that we do not wear things we find in the garbage, he simply continued eating and reading as if he didn't hear me. I wanted him to take that wig off, but I couldn't ask him to do it. I forgot all about my tie and going to work. I looked out the window where a mist fell slowly on the street. I paced into the living room and back, trying hard not to look at my son. He ignored me. I could hear him munching cereal and rustling paper. There was a picture--or a memory, real or imagined, that I couldn't get out of my mind. Last spring, before the accident, my wife was sitting in the chair where now my son always sits. She was reading the paper, to see how the Blackhawks did the night before, and her sleep-mussed hair was only slightly longer and darker than the hair of my son's wig.

I wondered whether my son had a similar picture in his head or if he had a picture at all. I watched him and he finally looked up at me . . .

22 thoughts on “Creative Exercise #10

  1. nmfleming

    “Dad do you ever think about mom?”
    “All the time son. Why do you ask?”
    “Well… I don’t think about her often because it makes me sad. Sad that she’s not here to come with us on all the adventures. Until I saw this in the garage, I started thinking about her.” He said with tears in his eyes.
    “Is that why you are wearing that wig?”
    “Yes, dad!” At this moment he started to cry. The tears streamed down his face like a rive going down a mountain side.
    I rushed to his side giving him a big hug, calming him done.
    “How about this, lets stay home and watch some home movies and look at pictures of mom?”
    He wipes his eyes and nods with approval. We get up from the kitchen table head into the living room. We put in an old VHS into the player and the black and white fuzzies appear. But before the movie even starts I hear my son say,
    He gets up off the couch, takes the wig off and puts in on the T.V.
    “Now that’s better.” He says as he backs away from the T.V. while admiring his work.

    1. Delaney E Reece

      I like that the ending although the rest is still sad shows that the two are bonding and being a little silly which each other.

    1. Tometria Jackson

      Wow! That one statement tells me so much and so little. I have so many questions…does his father blame him for the loss of his mother? Did the father always reject his son? Did she die in childbirth? I definitely want to know how this story ends.

      1. Benjamin Hayward

        I figured dad was in depression from losing his wife, so he was doing the minimum to move along in life. The son feels distant so he is looking for attention. Make sense. A son is an only child, then a sister comes along, get attention, so the son adopts female attribute to get the love and attention he is missing. That leads to gender identity disorder.

    2. Jess Young

      Ouch. That summed up everything that we needed to know in one sentence. Good work.

  2. Tometria Jackson

    “Because I need to.” His gray eyes were solemn and he put his spoon down. He finished chewing, and continued to hold my gaze.

    “You need to?” I asked tentatively, hoping to keep him talking to me. He swallowed once, and then again. His eyes pooled with unshed tears. “Hey buddy,” I said, reaching out a hand to touch his cheek. His face crumpled, and he began to cry uncontrollably. I sank down to my knees by his chair and pulled him into my arms. I held him for several minutes while his small body was wracked with tears. When the storm had subsided, I hesitantly asked, “Does the wig remind you of mom?”

    He nodded his head and hiccupped, “She’s gone…and I never said good-bye.”

    “I know, buddy. I miss her too.” I didn’t know what else to say, and I was relieved that my son had finally broken the many months of silence following his mother’s tragic car accident. The child psychologist had told me that grief is expressed in different ways, and to allow my son to grieve for his mother in his own way.

    After a few more quiet moments my son asked, “Why did that other driver drink too much?”

    I shook my head slowly, “I don’t know buddy, maybe she had a sad life, and drinking made her feel better.”

    “Is she sorry for killing mom?” He asked directly.

    “I think so…she’s in a lot of trouble and she will probably go to jail.” I wasn’t sure how much information to give my son, but I wanted him to know that she would be punished.

    “Good.” He said simply. With that, my son freed himself from my embrace and sat back down in his chair. He picked up his spoon and resumed his breakfast. I stood up and watched him for a while, marveling at our brief conversation. Wearing that wig seemed to unlock something in his heart. It armored him and give him the courage to ask the questions that had been preying on his mind. In that moment, I knew that he would discard the ridiculous wig when he was ready, but for now, he needed to wear it.

  3. Lilia Lundquist

    “I bet mom would think this is pretty funny huh” he said
    “I don’t think she would like you sitting at the dinner table with that thing” I replied
    “but there would be two of her, instead of none”
    That comment made me lose it, I couldn’t hold back my tears. Here I was letting myself drown in her absence and my child had learned to accept her fate. He could even make light of it.
    When he saw my face he took the wig off and pressed his small body to mine in an embrace. “I’m sorry dad, I didn’t mean to make you sad. Mom just liked to laugh and I thought that might make you happy”
    “That did buddy, thank you, I think I just sometimes forget how to handle her being gone”
    I could feel his hug get stronger
    “me too, but laughing helps a lot”

    1. Kelsey

      I loved your dialogue! I liked that your ending was mostly conversation, and it was easy to see it happening as a real conservation. As someone who struggles with dialogue, I really appreciated it!

  4. Jess Young

    I watched him and he finally looked up at me, his blue eyes the perfect mirror of hers. I had to stop to catch my breath, the resemblance was uncanny and I was winded by the sudden devastation I felt. The grief of the last year fell on me like a ton of bricks and I sank to the floor showing the first sign of weakness since I received the phone call fourteen months ago. My son stopped eating, set his book down, and let out a long heavy sigh.

    “It’s not your fault,” he whispered as he walked over to me, “She was sick for so long.”

    “I’m so sorry,” I tried to hold my hands still as they trembled. He didn’t need to see me like this. He had seen enough.

    “We’re going to be okay. I’ll take care of you,” his eyes, as blue as the sea, washed over me, strength beyond his years shining through.

    “She would be so proud of you.”

    “She’s proud of both of us, Dad.”

    1. Courtney Kisner

      Wow, I loved how poetic this sounded. The imagery was great, I really liked the part where you describe his eyes washing over you. Nice ending to the story!

  5. Courtney Kisner

    “What? It’s not dirty or anything,” he dryly muttered through his bites of cereal.
    “As long as you don’t wear it to school, it’s okay I guess. For now,” I planned to throw it away once he skipped off onto the bus, bury it under trash or something.
    “But daddy, I’ve always wanted a wig. Mom used to let me try them on at Halloween time.”
    I looked at him for a long second before I could think of something to say. He was thinking of her, but not in the way I had expected.
    “I wish you hadn’t thrown all of her things away, dad…” he says as I stand there in shock and in sadness. She might come back.
    “Mommy told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. Some days I want to dress like she did,” he kept going, as if he was getting this off of his chest.
    We are going to have to bring this up to the counselor, I thought. Maybe it’s his way of coping with the accident. The accident left her in a coma, badly injured, it was a huge shock when they found a pulse and were able to stabilize her. I wouldn’t let my son see her for weeks, until she looked less mangled, bandaged and bruised.

    1. Benjamin Hayward

      I like this twist. Instead of the wife being dead and gone, simply in the hospital. Good read.

      1. nmfleming

        I definitely like the twist of her being the hospital instead of being dead I didn’t think of that the only thing I would think of was that she either died or left them. Good job.

  6. Delaney E Reece

    “Yes?” he said questioningly in a fake high pitched voice. His face was strained as though he was trying his very hardest not to smile, with his eyebrows raised as far up his little face as he could make them go. There was a very long pause, as he looked at me seriously 100% committed to this joke. The sad tense moment dispersed instantly, and I snorted taking a breath before laughing hysterically. At the same moment, he broke down as well, unable to contain himself over the hilarity of himself.

  7. Kelsey

    He crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue at me and we both cracked up in laughter. It had been a long time since we laughed together, but too soon the laughter turned to muted smiles and nostalgic glances at the floor as the third laughing was so loudly absent. Every time we get a few minutes of happy, there is a sharp pang of reality that hits and the screaming sadness sets back in. However, my son is here, crossing his eyes and trying to make me laugh, and I would be a fool if I didn’t cherish that and learn to live in this new world without my wife.

  8. Angela Rodriguez

    “Before mommy got sick, she would sit with me and eat breakfast in the morning y’know? When she got sick, it was like she just stopped eating and I could only see her in bed.” He was tearing up and I could see how he recalled the memory of his dead mother.
    I squeezed him tight and gave him a kiss on the head. “You know she loved you? Even though it was hard to tell before she left, she loved you so so much.” I was starting to cry and my voice was shaking.
    “I know daddy,” he said with a smirk, “She still loves me to, I can feel it in my heart.”
    We both sat at the table mourning the loss of my wife. I was already going to be late for work, but I still stayed until the bus came and picked him up for school. I know that my time with him is a gift, and I will not take any of that time for granted.

  9. Brenden Couch

    Tears were in his eyes and my heart sank, I knew what he was thinking, my suspicions were confirmed. I went over and sat beside him, I gently apologized for not thinking and for insisting he take it off. While my need for cleanliness was strong I knew this was how he was coping with changes in our lives, I suggested that he wash it but did not suggest for him to throw it back as I had intended.

    1. Shana Waring

      Simple, yet complete. This was a great choice of ending. A bit of a ball formed in my throat, the emotion was palpable between the characters. The scene was vivid and the calmness was a relief.

  10. Shana Waring

    It immediately hit me, that look was the same I used to receive from my wife. I never allowed for enough time in the morning and the sound of my feet must have given away my rush to get out the door. I never had enough hands to hold my toast, coffee, and tie the knot in my tie. My wife would simply look above her paper, give me an eye glistening smile and stand to reach for my tie. Somehow this always put me at ease, I never forgot to kiss my wife goodbye or tossed my son’s hair on my way out the door. At that moment, it hit me I no longer tossed his hair. I was so busy trying to start the day I was generally barking orders his way. This stupid garbage wig had suddenly brought back to life what we were suddenly missing so much. The right start to the day, the appreciation, and love we have for one another embracing the room without the single utter of a word.

  11. Draven

    “When is mom coming back?” he asked.
    I had never actually told him the truth of his mother’s death. Right now he’s probably imagining his mother riding a train threw southern Europe, or maybe his picturing her standing at the top of the Eiffel tower.
    “She’ll be back soon kiddo.” I tell him, knowing that will never happen.
    It’s been six years since that happened, and my son has grown a lot since then. So maybe, just maybe I’ll tell him.
    It was a Saturday, the sky was bright and sunny, and birds were singing in the trees, and I took him to see the gravestone. When we arrived, I told him everything will be alright.
    “This is your mother.” I told him, but when he looked at me, he didn’t look sad.
    “Dad, I know. I found her two years ago.” He said in a calm tone.
    I look at him, and realize I wasn’t protecting him from her death, I was protecting myself.

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