In Language Arts, we wrote endings to a short story called, “The Lady or The Tiger”. This is my ending:
The youth, muscles tense, heart pounding like a hungry guest knocking on the door at a tavern, walked carefully towards the door on the right-hand side, as if one misstep would result in death. Before opening it, he smiled calmly at the princess as if he was controlling the entire affair. He steeled his mind, and confidently pulled the latch off of the door and pushed it open. He had faith that the princess would lead him to the door behind which the lady stood, that the princess wanted to see him well and alive. He saw not a lady, but a bolt of orange streaking at him. Tears fell out of his eyes when he realized that the princess did not love him enough to see him with some other maiden and be alive and well rather than having him die.
But he had come prepared. The quick pass of a ten piece coin to a guard had ensured him a non-inspected entry to the prison and the amphitheater. He sidestepped the tiger’s charge and pulled a short woodcutting axe out of his tunic. Realizing what he would have to do, he blinked the tears out of his eyes and raised the axe up. The tiger bit at the youth’s arm, and his dagger-sized fang scored a cut on the sleeve of his tunic. The man staggered backward, grasping it in pain. During the brief cessation of his tears, the tiger had wounded him. He ran at the tiger, axe at the ready, and swung at the tiger. He saw the hard iron blade cut into the tiger’s flesh. Madly screaming, wildly swinging, the man hurled his axe into the beast’s gaping, blood-caked maw, killing it instantly. There was an excited hubbub of conversation in the audience as neighbor turned to neighbor, pointing and chattering.
“STOP!” Roared the king, red-faced, in absolute fury. The princess snarled in a most barbaric way, with the same flaming ire as her father. He motioned for some guards to grab the man and drag him out. The man pulled the axe out of the tiger’s massive jaw and whacked the first guard with the flat of the blade, knocking him unconscious. He tumbled to the ground. The youth ran past the others and wrenched the axe into the bolt on the main door and ran to freedom. The clang of those doors was a heart-wrenching sound, like the doors to the man’s former life closing.
The youth felt hot, stinging tears coming to his eyes. The princess, whom he had thought loved him, did not love him enough to see him happy and with the lady. He ran into the forest surrounding the amphitheater on the path. The crunching noises echoed throughout the forest, just like the grinding of the metal grate leading into the arena from the prison. He ran through the forest for what seemed like hours. Finally, he heard noises and smelled familiar sounds. He found a village. He had lost everything, but it didn’t matter. He was free.
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