As I ventured back to Indiana from California yesterday, I sat next to a middle aged gentleman on my flight from San Diego to Detroit. He was a chatty son of a gun, asking me questions that, in the moment, I had no desire to talk about. He told me about his job, his upbringing in Virginia, his son. There were breaks in the conversation and then, somehow, the conversation shifted to books.
“What was the last good book you read?” I asked my new friend. He sat and pondered for a moment. If I’m being honest, I don’t remember his response. Oh wait, I do! It was a Stephen King book but he couldn’t remember the title. Ah-ha! I do listen sometimes.
He asked me the last one I read and I gestured towards my copy of Love Does that was stuffed in the seat pocket in front of me. I mentioned I had just read, The Road Back to You. I explained it was a book about the different enneagram personalities. I began to pay him back for chatting my ear off earlier in the flight by detailing my personality and the reasons as to why I love this book as much as I do.
I could tell I lost him when I mentioned that it had a basis of faith within it. I watched his eyes dart to my wrist, where I display my cross tattoo. My passionate rant about the book was followed by a brief silence, likely my chatty friend waiting for me to shove the Bible down his throat.
Oh, but my chatty friend could not keep quiet long. He asked more about the book and that caused us to branch into a new conversation, still about books. He said he accidentally happened upon a spoiler for this like, seven book series he was in the middle of. He had mentioned he tries to compartmentalize and forget the ending, but it’s tucked in the back of his mind as things unfold throughout the story.
“I read the last page of every book I read,” I told Mr. Chatty Pants. I was met with a laugh and a puzzled look. I nodded. “When I get a book, I read the last page before I ever begin the book.” Ah, Mr. Chatty Pants was now Mr. Puzzled Pants.
“You what? I’ve…I’ve never heard of that.” He sat there, quietly, for a glorious moment. “Why?” He finally asked, grinning in the anticipation of what weird answer I had for him.
I shrugged and went on to explain that it was something I had done for as long as I could remember. To be honest, I don’t remember when or why it started. Maybe it started with my Nancy Drew books or maybe it was Holes in the fifth grade. I’m not sure.
I could tell he was not fully satisfied by this answer and wanted to know more. Most people do when I tell them this quirk of mine. “Okay,” he said as he shifted in his seat to face me. “Now, what if it’s just a sentence on the last page or you only get part of the paragraph? Do you turn back another page?” I shook my head. “So truly just the last page. That’s all you read.” I nodded. “Huh,” my puzzled friend said, staring ahead of him. “Well, I respect that. Only the last page. Not necessarily the ending, just the last page. With all books? Fiction? Non-fiction?” I awkwardly smiled, nodding my head and shrugging, knowing I was being fully psychoanalyzed by this stranger.
After the longest silence we had on the flight thus far, I turned to him and said, “I wonder if I do this with books because I can’t do this with my own life.” He silently turned to me, his eyebrows raising as I gave him yet another odd thought to chew on. He liked that comment. I could tell by the simple look of satisfaction on his face, almost like this comment answered all of the questions he had. He then suggested I read a book from the final chapter to the first chapter and my last page quirk was never spoken of again.
Though I was done talking with my 4-hour friend whose name I never learned, I continued to think about this last page realization of mine. I had come to quite the conclusion that I had never made previously. I desperately want to know the last page of my book. I don’t need to know what the exact ending is; I just need to know that there’s something.
What I told him is true: I don’t care to know all of the events that take place at the end of the book. It’s the final sentence I care for. It typically doesn’t make sense at the time but it’s tucked in the back of my mind as I read the book. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of everything coming together as I approach that final page, that last sentence. That sentence will finally be seen within the context of the whole book that precedes it. That sentence will finally make sense.
Oh, but life. On my flight from Detroit to Indianapolis, I was feeling mopey. I was missing my family already and headed back to the quiet of my small little town, having to face some not-so-fun realities of life right now. In my mind, I turned the pages of this time to that final sentence. I had my moody, acoustic music on and I leaned my head against the window, snuggled under my jacket. What is my last sentence? I took a deep breath, trying to quiet this brain of mine.
She continued to live boldly and was filled with joy, popped into my head. Huh. Ya know, bold isn’t necessarily a word I’d use to describe myself. Joy is something I’m constantly seeking so that one made sense, but bold? What the heck?
Ah, Dani. Just like in the novels I read, often times the final sentence doesn’t make sense until we have more context. I don’t know what bold will look like for me. I honestly am a bit peeved at the moment that this is the word that’s coming to mind when I think of my last sentence because I haven’t the slightest clue what that looks like. That being said, maybe it’s time to figure that out.
Now, I’m curious. If you take a deep breath, take a moment, and think about your last sentence, what does it look like?