OMAM Creative Writing

By Gianna Viarengo

Of Mice and Men is a timeless classic almost every high schooler has been forced to read in English class. Some love it, some hate it, and some are just indifferent to the whole story. No matter where your critique or praises lie however, almost anyone who’s read the novella can recall its ending. Spoiler warnings now, I don’t want to ruin the book’s ending and I don’t want the end to disuade anyone from venturing into the wonderful journey that is Of Mice and Men.

Okay so veterans of OMAM remember Lennie’s death right? If you know you know, the sugarcoating ended in the previous paragraph. His death was a very strong choice by the novel’s author John Steinbeck. And a tragic one at that. The novel is a poignant message of the consequences society befalls on the people it considers “abnormal”, and the people we’ve had no sympathy for in our history. The book ends on a sad but realistic note. No happy endings, no Superman type character to save the day, it’s just real-world actions having possible real-world consequences. Lennie’s death has made many a reader cry, myself included, but what if the author had went in a different direction. Not by erasing Lennie’s death, as that gives the story its point, I’m taking about watching the characters’ lives going forward. Their grief, their turmoil, and how the friendships of the surviving characters have shifted. All very realistic things that everyone encounters with the loss of a loved one. He never dived into that aspect and sadly Steinbeck isn’t around anymore to add a final chapter. Well I’d like to add one more. Down below, I’ve written my own version of an epilogue to Of Mice and Men, to explore the themes I mentioned for myself. And visit these amazing characters one last time.

(No Copyright Intended-Of Mice and Men and all characters belong to John Steinbeck and his publishers. This story was written for my own whimsy, I receive no profit.)

Of Mice and Men

Epilogue: Three Months Later

The sun rose slowly over the abyss, stretching its golden arms through cracks in windows and under doorways, reaching to rest upon the sleeping forms of all under its magnificent glow. Cautiously, gently, it stirred throughout the ranch and roused each farmhand and livestock animal it contained, like a mother’s tender arms lightly caressing her children before telling them it’s time to get dressed for school. One by one, like waves spilling over shore sand, the farm’s residents awakened. Candy lifted his wrinkled brows, groggy eyes slightly clouded over with sleep, before squinting and rolling over, as if silently praying night would fall once more and sleep would reclaim him. Slim and Carlson sat up in their bunks with more energy, but even Slim, who typically rose before anyone else to check on his horses, seemed weaker. From his tattered room, Crooks was reading a book while simultaneously using his ears to pick up any sounds he could, hoping the combined sound of crickets and the words in his mind would battle out the otherwise crushing silence.

  From his home the boss completely ignored the sun’s golden rays, dramatically lifting his lavish bed covers over his head to sleep into the late hours of the morning, snoring loudly, making his room an area of offset balance from the tranquil peace of the morning throughout the rest of the farm. Even the clacking of hooves from the cows seemed more graceful, as if they were respecting a reverent power they could sense in the air and in the cracks of their grass-bed feet. Curley could be seen slouched on the headboard of his moderately sized bed in the cottage at the far side of the ranch. His face was slack, he looked totally at peace, and all the anger and resentment he’d harbored over the last three months seemed to dissipate, but even sleep could not take all his restlessness forever, and his eyes began darting to and fro behind his short lashes. There were opened bottles lying on the floor. His arm reaching down from his side of the bed almost as if he was ready to take another swig of whiskey, even in slumber, with a red-haired woman equally as exhausted beside him, filling out Curley’s wife’s dent in the bed, shifting its shape to accommodate her new form.

Only one man was fully awake, had been the whole night, and was sitting out on a rock formation at the base of the ranch, straw hat pulled over the rim of his eyes so he could watch the sunrise without the painful blinding. George had always been a strong-willed man, tough-as-nails his father once said, but in the sobering glow of the morning light, his mind unwillingly wandered to the person this warmth reminded him of most, the person he’d been trying to come to terms with never seeing again. Lennie. George stopped, his face turning down, the freckles on his face bouncing with the effort of keeping any possible tears off his serious face. Almost every morn had been like this since Lennie and the broad’s death, he thought. He got in no legal trouble of course, no one could argue with his actions of shooting a criminal, at least that’s what the local police force had said. Curley, the boss, and Carlson had all been keeping their distance, but even they had no reason to kick George out. He was a hardworking man and work was work no matter who it came from. As George looked at the horizon, purposely keeping his gaze away from the direction of the creek, he fell into a trance of introspection, wondering if he’d made the right choice for his friend, if he’d had the right to do what he’d done. But before another wave of melancholy could faze him, George heard footsteps coming up his beaten path.

George turned his head and could see Slim and Candy walking up to him, a strange carrier in Candy’s single hand, with Crooks looking on from the barn doorframe, as the boys had been inviting him more and more each week. George stood to meet them.

“George!” Slim called out, “Me an’ Candy found ya something, thought ya might want a take a look.”

George sighed, not really in the mood for pity presents, but decided they were only trying to be courteous under the circumstances, so he greeted them best he could muster.

“Morning gents. What’s this about? My official ticket to the county jail come through?” He remarked sarcastically, wanting to breathe out a chuckle but finding it impossible.

The men were two feet away now and George saw the carrier better.

Somethin’ to hold animals”, he thought, “Was it one of the bitch’s pups?”

“We…” Candy started, but Slim cut him off with a gesture off the hand and took the carrier.

“We found this in the brush last night when you were at Suzy’s,” Slim said, a tone George couldn’t recognize between carefulness and hopefulness. “Thought you’d like to see him and decide if he’s worth keepin’.”

George took the carrier with slight hesitance, and when he looked up at the two men, they gave curt nods and had apprehensive smiles on their otherwise gruff features. George opened the carrier slowly and when he did something furry could be seen writhing under the sun that had invaded its darkened space. It was a spotted rabbit.

George felt his heart stop for a moment, but before any emotion could surface, Candy’s old voice chimed in. “He’s quite tame and seems to like people. Me, Slim, an’ Crooks thought if we were to give him a name, you should have final say,” Candy’s weary voice said.  

George thought for a good minute. Thought long and hard, a stoic expression on his countenance.

“If you don’t like him,” Candy started, “We could always…”

“Lennie,” George interrupted, voice flat for fear if he didn’t keep his body tight the world would crumble. “His name’s gonna be Lennie, Lennie the rabbit, and we’re gonna tend him now on,” George said, experimentally stroking the animal’s ear for a second, so fast the two men didn’t notice.

A pause followed.

“Alright son,” Candy said with a lightening smile. He and Slim made their ascent back to the barn house, not wanting to gauge George’s mood anymore. George watched them, then sat back on the rocks facing the enlarging sun, and for a moment, with the small bunny in his arms, George wondered if maybe his friend was doing the same thing. Somewhere behind that golden sun, in a shimmering meadow instead of a dusty ranch, feeding a hundred rabbits just like the one in his lap, using alfalfa and doing all the other things he’d promised.

George’s lungs filled with breath for what felt like the first time in three months, nature filling every patch of skin that wasn’t covered by cloth.

“I wonder, Lennie,” George said, a tickle in his throat, stroking the brown-blackish fur of the hare, still in his holder, “I wonder.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *