Autumn Leaves is a story I've been working on since my sophomore year of high school when it was suggested I turn to pen and paper as a coping mechanism; strangely enough, it worked. And here I am, four years later, getting oh so close to the finish. I wrote this epilogue a while ago (though it's been tweaked since), because even though I didn't know every little thing, I knew how the story had to end. The rest of the story is in 1st person even though this chapter is in 3rd; the novel is a story Autumn Sumners wrote about her own life. The epilogue is set two years after the events of the novel. Without giving too much away about the details of the story, I'll give you a taste of it with this short chapter:
She closes her laptop when she hears her alarm clock go off. Sighing, she knows she is done writing her story. If only happy endings were true. Picturesque, fairy tale romances didn't happen for people like her. Jake was great but deep down, she knows she made a mistake sleeping with him two years ago. She rushed into it, the intimacy was forced, and she had not been ready to open herself up fully to anyone, let alone a man. They still remained friends, but they knew that when they broke up it was for the best.
She is a sophomore now at Northwestern, majoring in Sociology. She finally called Dr. Paula Franks her freshman year and is beginning to take her therapy seriously, understanding now that the road to recovery is a lot longer than she anticipated.
Looking in the mirror, she lets her long strawberry blonde hair fall to her shoulders. Her reflection smiles sleepily back. She wonders, "Do I like what I see?" She sighs again knowing the answer: no. Nevertheless, Autumn has hope, hope that someday she will look in the mirror and see someone beautiful instead of someone tainted and broken. Someday, she will no longer be the girl who was raped, the girl who was shot, the girl who was the hero. Someday, she will be Autumn.
She grabs her backpack and flings it over her shoulder. She thinks about Jake momentarily, as she does from time to time, and scoffs at her thought. Then she pauses and reconsiders, "Can we ever be together again?" "Maybe," her therapist always says to her, "Maybe."
Eventually, she makes her way out onto campus and into the sunshine. It's so bright that it blinds her. Maybe someday, this too will no longer be a burden. Someday, she knows she will be free. And with that she travels down the streets of campus and is consumed by the glorious autumn sun.