There are four different endings (some with variations). I’ve reached three of them but seem unable to reach the last one.
The three I reached are:
Epilogue 1: Being Cain., reached by studying hard at every opportunity and reaching the nationals.
You could accept – maybe – the coming in second place. Maybe it just means that you’re not good enough. The way Cain’s sacrifice just wasn’t as good as Abel’s, and he should have made peace with the fact, rather than striking his brother down.
But then you hear Mother at church bragging to folk about how you came in second at National, and something slips.
A. What about how your striving for perfection was your gift to God?
B. What about the importance of fulfilling your vocation?
C. What about how you were going to win in the name of all home-schoolers?
D. How can second place possibly be acceptable to them?
That’s why you leave. That’s why you walk out of the church building before Sunday School starts and no one knows to look for you until a couple of hours have gone by.
That’s why you sit on a park bench all alone.
Sometime soon you are going to have to make up your mind whether to go home again. If it’s okay to fail there, then what’s the point?
Epilogue 2: Down the corridor of years., reached by don’t studying and fail in every competition.
So you go back home and start the process of living with this failure. Some days it’s worse than other days. In the end…
A. You gave up too easily. You should have tried harder, done more.
Who can say how else it might have come out? What level you might have reached, if you’d been more dedicated.
B. You spent too long chasing something you were never going to get.
Who can say how else it might have come out? What other things you might have done with that part of your childhood?
C. You were supposed to prove something about the status of home-schoolers. And you didn’t.
Mrs. Perry is starting work on a new crop of potentials already. She works on new candidates every year.
“That’s how we win in the end,” she says to your mother. “Be persistent long enough to get our prodigy.”
Mother meets your eye. You can’t read whether she’s upset for herself or for you, or only thinking of her shopping list.
D. The competition wasn’t the point.
‘Thesaurus’ means treasure-house, and that’s what you have: a store of knowledge all of your own, a huge and echoing habitation of the mind.
And when the world is too hot, too cold, too dull, you can choose to be elsewhere. Afloat in the euphotic zones of the ocean, or hardened and resistant in a sclerophyll forest. (Deciduous, coniferous, mangrove, playa and campo, tundra and fen…)
Inward is a direction. Away is a direction.
Epilogue 3: The far side of childhood., reached by feeling miserable and lonely and running away when the opportunitfy arise.
So you go back home; but you go back home with a difference. The difference is that you can see other lives you might lead, other futures you might have. The spelling bee and the homeschooling are your right now, but they are not your eternity. When you think about the numbers, they’re not very many years of your life at all. You could live to be eighty, or a hundred, or a hundred and two.
It still feels like a horribly long sentence to serve from this side. But there will be a time when it doesn’t.
Later, when you’re older.
I can’t reach the last one (And you’re allowed to choose for yourself.) that should have this text:
So you go to public school, and you don’t go to Nationals.
Language arts classes are never up to your level. Listening to other kids read aloud badly is a special kind of pain.
Science class is more interesting than you expected, and you get to cut up a frog.
Lettice stays home and works with Mother. She gets her own art tutor. She does illustrations for different story books she reads. Suddenly she’s the talented one. She hardly remembers to hate you at all.
It hurts for a while, and then it stops hurting. And one day Mother and Father say you’ve come a long way and you don’t have to stay in public school if you don’t want to.