This weekend, I sobbed at the bookstore. If that sounds ridiculous to you, don’t worry. It was completely ridiculously ridiculous. There, in the middle of the New Fiction aisle, my eyes welled with tears and I choked back an involuntary sob. It was pitiful. It’s also what I deserve for reading the ends of books first.
Yes, I’m a book cheater! Rare is the novel I buy, without first checking to see how it ends. I’ve done this for years, scandalizing the hell out of our dear Mae, who believes in preserving the integrity of intended story structure. I’m all for story structure, but I’m also all for not being surprised by the narrator getting boiled alive in the school showers halfway through the book. Spoiler alert: I may have been traumatized by R.L. Stine’s Cheerleader series. As a late 90’s tween, I vowed never to be caught off guard by charred pep squad captains again! So, I cheat.
Which is what I was doing Monday afternoon, when I took my little sister on a celebratory “We don’t have school today!” bookstore adventure. Perusing the new releases, I picked up a book that received great buzz in the UK last year. The plot was intriguing, but had the potential for tragedy: woman is hired by man, man is training to hunt man-eating wolves in a forest, man and woman fall in love, despite danger of wolf attacks*. So, I flipped to the back of the book and read the end. Surprise! The man totally goes into the forest and gets eaten alive by wolves, after the woman begs him not to go. He tells her he loves her, kisses her, then nobly marches to his doom.
Y’all, I lost it. All I could think about was Professor McGregor choosing to do the same thing. In reality, were we ever endangered by lupine warriors, he’d hire someone else to do the hunting or construct a clever trap that would keep him from becoming wolf vittles. Also—let’s be real—we live in Texas. A person is much more likely to be bitten by a snake, than to be eaten alive by anything. Logic was beyond me, however. I was overwhelmed by the realization that forever, that word that had so terrified me in past months, is not really forever. Barring miraculous advancements in modern medicine, we are not immortal.
Yes, that’s a morbid thought. It’s also one that needs to be dealt with…in a way that I feel completely at a loss to grasp. Love on screen is a lot of smiling and pining, which is certainly involved, but my variety also contains equal parts worry and protectiveness. Part of loving Professor McGregor is wanting to see him safe and happy, always. But there are things in this world – wolves and snakes and diseases that no gun can reason with – that threaten us.
Working in hospitals, I’m reminded of human frailty everyday. It’s just now, that I have a person who is mine, that the full impact of that hits me. For the first time, I’m jealous of Bella Swan. It’s not because she’s a spineless twit who made two supernaturals fall in love with her, but because—no matter how she might wish it otherwise, once she realizes how annoying Edward’s whining is—their love is actually forever.
Which brings me back to the wolf book. I’ve always been an empathetic person, quick to see myself in characters and situations, but suddenly my reactions are more violent. It was easier to read stories of love not conquering all, when I was neither in love nor desirous of its presence. So, am I just going to cry a lot now? Will the rest of my life be spent with tissues and waterproof mascara close at hand? That sucks. Y’all, I don’t want my days to feel like Nicholas Sparks marathons. Puffy, splotchy wimp is not my chosen aesthetic! Hell, I’m super embarrassed to even be writing this post. Walking around so vulnerable/drippy would mortify me!
I’m not marrying a vampire. Surely, I will get used to that fact eventually and stop being so damned emotional. You know…unless we have kids and I start crying over children, instead. I may have to institute a stronger Happy endings only! rule in my reading material. One can only bawl in Barnes and Noble so many times, before they ask you to stop shopping there. That would really make me sad.
*This is not the actual plot, but just in case you want to read the book I picked up, I invented a storyline to keep you from being spoiled. You’re welcome. Unless there is a book about wolf wars on the shelves now and I just spoiled that one. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry and, also, what a coincidence!