When the end is the beginning

Yesterday, I left my romance writers’ meeting and hoped I’d get back home in time for the drop-in celebrating my dear friends’ 50th wedding anniversary.

As I drove, I thought about the many romances that end with the couple still dewy-eyed and flush with first love. Maybe it’s a chaste kiss, or maybe it takes the reader into a more intimate setting, but they all follow that age-old plot: Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. And once she’s got, the story is over, we close the covers (or power off the e-reader) with a satisfied sigh.

Not that I don’t enjoy such stories, but at my age, I know they don’t stop there. The story continues after the glass slipper is rightfully restored, the kiss awakens the sleeper, and the beauty realizes the beast isn’t so ugly after all.

There is something to be said for the romance that continues, regardless of bumps in the road, for fifty years. Cinderella might be wearing orthopedic shoes and her Prince might need a hearing aid. Snow White may have needed all fifty years to come to terms with her Prince’s yearning for an apple pie. And the Beast may wonder if his Beauty is ever going get her nose out of a book and cook a pot roast the way he likes it.

What of our sassy heroines and brawny heroes? Are their stories any less interesting as they get older, the wrinkles and gray hair appear, and their steps begin to falter?

It’s the pursuit and capture that grabs our imaginations. To young readers, everything after that goes downhill.

Older readers know better. The same pursuit and capture replay themselves over and over. The story never ends with the first, heated kiss.

It only begins.

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