This is the ending I've written for my novel, Est Machina
. I'd like to see some feedback on what sort of emotion it evokes, and what improvements could be made, particularly regarding dialogue and clarity. Be as specific or general as you wish.
Context: The two characters, Gant and Itou, are both mercenaries who had teamed at the start of the story. Although they weren't friendly at first at first, they've grown on each other, and possibly even fallen in love. This scene takes place after they won the battle that gives them peaceful retirement in a country where they'll be war heroes and respected. Gant is about to explain why he cannot stay, having decided it on the way to Itou.
“I need to speak to you, Isako.” There was no emotion in my voice. Emotion was more dangerous than the claws that carved me open moments ago.
“Of course,” she said, jumping up from her seat. They had finished bandaging her already, half her coat hanging in shreds on her body, showing the bright white of field dressings. “Looking forward to being a hero again?” she joked with one of her luminescent smiles that wished no harm.
It was odd how shells mulching my flesh bought less pain than a few simple words. I choked, my throat burning as I waved for her to follow. I was glad that I could not weep, could only feel the dry heaves wrenching my gut and shaking my entire body in convulsive jerks.
“So what is it?” she asks. “You’re unusually tense after the fight. Lighten up, we’re alive and there’s nothing but sunlight ahead.”
“I will not be a hero to them.” Revealing this is supposed to take a load off my shoulders. But all I felt was the shiver worsening, and even more darkness crushing my back. I must forsake this place. I must.
“Just because you’re not the most popular-” Itou began.
“Not that.” For the first time, I faced her. I do not want to see this face contorted in pain, but it is necessary. It tells me every reason for my departure. “Look at this. It is peaceful, quiet for at least a little while, for however long you can hold it.” She was quiet. “It is no place for me. War is magnetic, Itou. It follows me, and I have no choice but to draw myself into it. I cannot face a quiet death.”
“You’re leaving,” she said, in the same blank tone. “Can I convince you to stay?” We both know the answer. We are never wrong, and it is not in our power to alter such an ancient doctrine.
The moments of pain ring out in tune with the pain that shakes me. “I am sorry,” I said at last. “I cannot say that you will understand, but only that it will pass.” That is life: we were cast in separate molds, and to them we would go.
“I never thought this was how it would end.” Like me, Itou looked away. Just like a machine, she constructed a shell to hide herself. It was a pity, for one with so much to hide it from herself.
“You showed me many things, Isako,” I said. “And you gave me more than you should have, more than should be wasted on scrap metal. Thank you, Isako, for everything.”
“You took more from me than I had to give,” she said. “Get out, you son of a bitch.” A sob caught the last word, and I saw tears writing lines down her cheek.
I departed with what few scraps of dignity I could muster. And when the door closed, I ran. I ran until the city vanished, until my feel sank in soft earth, green in the leaf-filtered sun. I fell to my knees, wracked by silent tears that still would not come. It was over, spent, through. Not a story of love or joy. Just heartbreak.
EDIT: Paragraph breaks added where they should be.
edited 30th Sep '10 9:40:39 PM by Morgulion
This is this.