The Epilogue

In a recent post, I wrote about the Prolog and its usefulness. I gave you several examples in the way I use it. As a reminder, I want to make sure you understand I do not use the Prolog in a typical or traditional sense. Today, I want to tackle the Epilogue and how I use it in my writing.

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, think back to the last movie. Harry killed Voldemort and the forces of evil, if not defeated, were at least shoved back into the shadows. But at the end of Deathly Hallows, Part II, J. K. Rowling, the author of the series, and David Yates, the director, gave us a picture of what happened to the characters in the future, several years after the last battle. Harry is married to Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger is married to Ron Weasley, and both couples have children of their own. The last scene presented to us is at the train station, and their children are boarding the train to Hogwarts. The scene isn’t long. There isn’t much action. But it gives the viewers a glimpse of what life might be like for the three principal actors. This is one cinematic version of an epilogue.

MasterClass defines an epilogue this way. In fiction writing, an epilogue is a literary device that functions as a supplemental, but separate, part of the main story. It is often used to reveal the fates of the characters in a story and wrap up any loose ends. An epilogue is always set at some point in the future, after the main events of the story have taken place. Sometimes, particularly in genre fiction, it is also used to hint at the next installment in a series of works.” You saw this at work as I described it in the Harry Potter movie.

I use the epilogue to tie up loose ends, but also to give a hint to the reader of what might come next. This is exactly how MasterClass defined it. I use it to let the reader know how the characters are doing now. I use the epilogue to let the reader know that something else might be forthcoming.

For example, in the Splintered Lives, the last book of the Lives Trilogy, the epilogue takes place on Labor Day weekend, a little more than a month after all the action. The kids are safe. The bad guys have either been killed or are in prison waiting for trial and sentencing. But there were relationships that developed in the trilogy and prequel, and I wanted the reader to know where and how those relationships were headed. I wanted to reassure the reader that while there were many scars, physically and emotionally, the kids were safe and protected, loved and cared for. It also hints at some developing relationships between some of the principal characters, as well as a couple of relationships coming to an end. Because of the fast pace of the books and the dark subject matter, I felt it was important for the reader to know this.

In Betrayed, I use the epilogue differently. Yes, it ties up loose ends. Yes, it gives a hint how Brian and the other boys are feeling. The action of this particular epilogue takes place only two or three days after the battle on the mesa, and after a brief hospital stay for one of the characters. For Brian, the struggle, both physically and emotionally, is real. It will be a process, but he is a tough kid. Sensitive, but strong.

The action I will give you is upon the return of the boys back home. They are greeted by their parents, Jeremy and Vicky, and the rest of the boys. Papa and Momma are dogs, half-wolf, half-dog. Jasper and Jasmine are the pups.

Part of the epilogue:

Brett and George recognized that Brian grew quieter, more inward. He had always been quiet, but even more so since the fight on the mesa. No amount of coaxing or joking could snap him out of it.

            They landed in Milwaukee. Because of the extra body and the extra bag Michael had brought with him, Eiselmann met them at the airport. As if it were prearranged, O’Connor drove Brian, Brett, and Papa, while the others drove to Jeremy’s in Eiselmann’s car.

            O’Connor didn’t talk much. Brett didn’t bother with the radio. Brian dozed off with Papa’s head in his lap. By the time he woke up, they had pulled to a stop in the driveway.

            Jeremy, Vicky, and the twins came out of the house to greet them, curious to meet Michael, anxious to assess Brian’s injuries. Bobby hung back on the porch with his hands in his pockets.

            Handshakes and hugs for Michael. Lots of “Happy to meet you!” and “You look just like George!”

            Papa, Momma, Jasmine, and Jasper wrestled on the lawn like they had known each other forever. Perhaps they did.

            While it made Brian happy, it also made him sad. He didn’t feel like he belonged.

            Billy was the first to speak to him.

            “Rrrrr, where’s the treasure, Mate?” he said in his best pirate’s voice.

            Brian smiled.

            “You okay?” Randy asked.

            Brian shrugged and said, “Pretty much. Just sore and tired.”

            “Your eye going to be okay?” Billy asked. “I mean, for football and soccer?”

            Brian shrugged and said, “The doctor thinks so. I’m supposed to wear the patch for a couple more days.”

            “Let me take a look, Bri,” Vicky said after a big hug and a kiss on each cheek. Brian didn’t hug her back, but held onto his duffle and his backpack.

            She lifted off the patch and gasped.

            He had a shiner, and blood had seeped into the white of his eye. His brow and the area below his eye were an ugly blue-black and badly swollen.

            “Oh, Honey!” She turned to Jeremy and said, “We need to get him in tomorrow.”

            “Gees, Brian!” Jeremy said. “I’ll call first thing in the morning.”

            “It’s not that bad,” Brian said.

            “Yeah, it’s bad,” Randy said.

            Brian saw the shock on Randy’s face.

            “How are you feeling?” Vicky asked.

            “Tired and sore.” Because he didn’t want to talk to them much, he said, “I think I’m going to go lay down. I’ll take care of the rifles and Glocks later, if that’s okay.”

            “Michael and I will take care of them,” George said.

            Brian didn’t argue. He picked up his bags, climbed the two steps, and without making any eye contact with Bobby, walked into the house.

            He walked up the stairs, entered his room, and shut the door. He tossed his bags on the floor by the side of the bed, kicked off his shoes, and plopped down on his back.

            He wept. He had never felt this alone. Lost. At some point, he fell asleep, but the tears still fell.

There is a lot going on in that brief passage. There are several important points. There is more that I chose not to put in this post because I didn’t want to give away too much. There was more before that passage, and there is more after. There is a discussion, a reconciliation of sorts between Jeremy, Vicky, and Brian. It is painful. It is a struggle. As painful as it is to read, you are in that bedroom as a silent witness to what is going on and being said. To be sure, the struggle will continue. But here is how the epilogue ends:

They got up from the bed and left Brian’s room, shutting the door behind them.

Slowly, he swung his feet over the side of the bed and sat there. He didn’t know for how long. Whether he was gathering his thoughts or his courage, he didn’t know. Probably both.

He had to go downstairs and into the kitchen where everyone was. Where Bobby was. Where Brett was. All eyes would be on him. Each of them would have their thoughts. Each of them would watch his and Bobby’s reaction.

Brian shrugged to no one.

He took a deep breath, stood up, and stretched. He wiped his good eye one more time, and made sure the patch covered the other. And then he left the room, leaving his door open behind him.

There is imagery I gave you, the reader, purposefully. Reread it.

I am sure you have questions. I can picture you reading this with a furrowed brow. While it doesn’t provide you, the reader, with a clear picture of what is about to take place, does it cause you to want to know what had happened in Arizona and up on that mesa? Where are these relationships between Brian, Brett, Bobby, and their parents, Jeremy and Vicky, headed?

That was my intention, my purpose in ending the story this way. It is intentionally ambiguous. Pointing you in a direction, but giving away nothing. As one reader puts it, “You left quite a bit unresolved. Will there be a resolution coming?” The answer to him and to you is yes, resolution is coming. Specifically, in my newest book, Blaze In, Blaze Out which will be available on or before January 6, 2022.

Splintered Lives by Joseph Lewis

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