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Last Lines

Use one of the last lines from one of the miniature narratives in Joyce Carol Oates text Telling Stories (pages 7-66), and write your own miniature narrative that ends with that last line. Remember you don't need to fully develop your characters.  You don't have time to do that.  But you do need to navigate the reader to that last line of your story as swiftly and gracefully as possible.  Remember we love twists and turns in a story, so don't be afraid to lead us in one direction, only to direct us in the opposite direction as we return home to that last line. 

"And life seemed enchanting, miraculous, imbued with exalted significance."  --"The Student" by Anton Chekhov

"They could not help it if their laments sounded so beautiful."   --"The Sirens" by Franz Kafka

"She had been on the defensive before but now she attacked.  Tried to get off her father's lap and fly at me while tears of defeat blinded her eyes."   --"The Use of Force" by William Carlos Williams

"The wind--the wind."    --"The Wind Blows" by Katherine Mansfield

"Although boiled and shedding his legs on the way, with his remaining strength he had dragged himself somewhere to begin a homeless wandering, and we never saw him again."   --"Father's Last Escape" by Bruno Schulz

"That was the time she knew."   --"I Used to Live Here Once" by Jean Rhys

"They call it the house of the crime."  --"The House of the Crime" by Alberto Moravia

"But the following day, when we were again driven to work, a 'Muslimized' Jew from Estonia who was helping me haul steel bars tried to convince me all day that human brains are, in fact, so tender you can eat them absolutely raw."   --"The Supper" by Tadeusz Borowski

"And I also thought: 'This means the beyond is not happy.'"  --"Cities and the Dead" by Italo Calvino

"She turned away from the gate and went down the road slowly, like an invalid, beginning to pick the blackjacks from her stockings."  --"Is There Nowhere Else Where We Can Meet?" by Nadine Gordimer

"So much air left, so much sunlight, and still he is gone."  --"The Turtle Overnight" by James Wright

"I have to move, or die."  --"Regret for a Spider Web" by James Wright

"Terrible dreams too disgusting to write."  --"Harriet Feigenbaum is a Sculptor" by Phyllis Koestenbaum

"But, Mother, I say, I am dying . . . ."  --"Distance from Loved Ones" by James Tate

"Fat, half grown, with a glossy dark back, he stops short in his headlong rush and tries a few other moves almost simultaneously, a bumper-car jolting in place on the white drainboard."   --"Cockroaches in Autumn" by Lydia Davis

"And before I left we made love with considerable nostalgia, as if this last act were itself an act of memory recalled late in the dead of some night years and an age later, the book put aside, the cups of coffee cooling, just out of reach."  --"Coffee" by Daniel Halpern

"As long as you find that unexpected something, or even if you don't."  --"Advice to Young Writers" by Ron Padgett

"Watching this last performance it is difficult to imagine how this man stirred such emotions in the hearts of those who saw him."   --"The Last Days of a Famous Mime" by Peter Carey

"'And her breath would smell like your milk, and it's kind of a bittersweet smell, if you want to know the truth.'"  --"No One's a Mystery" by Elizabeth Tallent

"Most guys are washed up by seventeen."  --"Death of the Right Fielder" by Stuart Dybek

"A yellow brush."  --Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman

"I have many fears, but none is more terrible than my fear of getting too lost in the city of my birth and never being heard from again."  --"La Cortada" by Ruth Behar