We recently published Jared Povanda’s gorgeous “Season Finale Cliffhanger.”

Here, we ask him two questions about his story:

1) I love the difference between solid endings and uncertain ones here, the difference between a mouse being devoured and escaping, between a thick curtain and a thin one. What kind of endings do you prefer?

I think it all depends on where I am in life. Because of the pandemic, I’m a little tired of uncertainty. I do love solid endings, especially if they’re happy. That’s the key, though. Happiness. Lock me into happiness. There were many moments growing up where I prayed for mutability. I wanted to be able to dream myself into a future that looked different from where I was. This is what I wanted to channel in this story. The homeless girl, so young and so afraid, wants the mouse’s fight to continue. She wants the fight to keep going because she wants to keep going. Going, active. I don’t think she can envision a conclusive ending that’s good—only bad. So uncertainty is very attractive to her, and I think it will be attractive to me again whenever I’m in a situation that feels endlessly bleak. Uncertainty can be scary, paralyzing, but it can also be a wish on a shooting star. A chance for something better to reveal itself beyond what’s currently looming ahead. 

2. The homeless girl, here, seems to think of her fate as hopeless, as predetermined. Do you think there is a glimmer of uncertainty for her that she, perhaps, can’t see? Or is she right to feel so pessimistic?

I think that glimmer is there, for sure, but when I imagine myself at twelve or thirteen, I know I felt similar to the homeless girl. I was never homeless, but I was bullied ceaselessly. When you’re a kid, you already have very little (or no) agency, and when the bullies pressed on my vulnerabilities day after day, it was easy for me to think, “This is the way it’s always going to be.” Predetermined is a perfect word. The clips those TVs play are on a constant loop, 24/7. Always the same. From a much higher vantage point, when the girl becomes a woman, when she’s in a healthier and safer position, I know she’s going to realize the ending presented in front of her on that very lonely day was as solid as mist. She never sees the mouse survive, but she will survive. She will. We all will, I hope. No matter how caging the dark, no matter how suffocating and seemingly finite the current moment is, you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. In this small slice of story, she can only feel pessimistic. But if all of the TVs suddenly went black, if the power went out and the girl stared into nothingness, finally able to construct a new ending for the mouse, I think she’d have the first inkling that permanence lies.