Call me sentimental, but I like happy endings.
There are countless movies that, through their poignant or even tragic endings, reveal profound truths about life. These movies, experts tell us, are true masterpieces.
These are the movies that truly matter.
These are the movies that leave you red-eyed and sniveling, groping frantically for a tissue,
trying to blow your nose quietly enough so that no one else notices what a soft-hearted sucker you are.
I'm always the one groping for tissues.
Perhaps the plugs responsible for staunching water leaks in my body have a mysterious defect.
Perhaps I'm allergic to tragic endings the way some are allergic to pizza or chocolate-covered peanuts. Or perhaps, as I often assure myself, my soppiness is a sign of a tender, sensitive heart.
But whatever the reason, sad endings always send me into a downward spiral of tears and tissues.
The DVD had been resting on the table innocently enough, with its boring black casing and title stamped across the front in bold text.
The title contained none of the warning signs I had come to recognize over the years.
So when my little sister shoved the DVD into the player and collapsed into the armchair, I didn't leave the room,
even though I could feel the tension emanating from her tightened muscles and clenched jaw. My sister doesn't like being in a room with me.
Most days, she stalks right past the living room and storms up to her room. Maybe it's one of those stages moody teenagers go through.
But the mysterious movie intrigued me. She would have to endure my company for a few hours. I sprawled out on the couch, resting my head in the crook of my arm.
An impatient sigh came from the other side of the room. Ignoring her, I snatched a box of Twinkies from the shelf behind me, selected one, and tore the wrapper open with zest.
By the end of the film, the Twinkie wrappers beside me had multiplied into a towering mound, my nose was blotchy, my eyes felt as if they had been wrung through a washing machine,
and I had dissolved into blubbering mass of jelly.
Briefly, I considered the possibility that my sister had brought this movie home on purpose to watch me dissolve into tears and then triumph in my humiliation.
Big sisters like to maintain an appearance of careless superiority in front of their younger siblings, but my mask had slipped. I had to find someone to blame.
But I knew my sister would never go to so much trouble on my account. After all, she had done her best to cut me out of her life.
She no longer crept under my covers at four in the morning so she could tell me about a rampant dinosaur that had invaded her dreams,
or checked my bowl of cereal to make sure she was eating the same kind. She no longer gazed at me with fervent admiration when I explained why rain fell or what made leaves green.
Sometimes I longed to whack her on the head.
Who was this cold stranger who ended every sentence with an exasperated sigh, or rolled her eyes impatiently whenever my parents asked her about her friends or lunch?
Other times I wished that I could throw my arms around the sister I had once known and never let go.
In reality, I had already let go. Once my sister began to treat me with less reverence, I, too, started to withdraw.
Dinners were now punctuated only by the scrape of a spoon or the creak of a chair - pride forbade me from speaking to a person who would only answer with a roll of the eye or a brusque nod.
When was the last time we discussed her new crush or giggled over the latest gossip?
My tears had now mingled with the half-chewed Twinkie in my mouth, and my tongue tingled with a bizarre sweet-and-salty tang.
With an enormous yawn, I began blinking furiously, as though I was simply trying to remove a particularly stubborn eyelash.
Then I peeked across the room. She was sitting at an awkward angle, her legs draped over one arm of the chair, her body pressed into the seat, her face turned away. Good.
She hadn't seen me with tears and snot smeared all over my face.
I rubbed my soggy eyes and reached for the shelf, fingers searching desperately for the box of tissues I had placed there the day before.
The tissues were gone.
And then I saw it, resting on the table beside her, tantalizingly close yet unreachably far. I tried to stem the flood that blurred my eyes, but it was no use.
I would have to get my hands on that tissue box. Inching slyly along the couch, I reached - and then she shifted. My arms hastily stretched toward the ceiling instead. Another theatrical yawn.
The snot flowed backward, and my graceful yawn ended in a hacking cough.
She twisted around, and I prepared to fend off any insult with a sharp retort. Yet, she remained silent.
She had a puzzled look on her face, and looked more relaxed, more vulnerable than I had seen her in a long time. The perpetual frown was gone.
As I watched, a tear trickled down her nose.
We stared at each other in embarrassed silence, both faces washed clean of expression, though sticky with tears. No mask of superior indifference or inexplicable annoyance.
Just me and my sister, peering at one another through newly adjusted lenses.
And I knew that underneath the eye-rolling and sarcastic comments, she was still there. I just had to dig a little deeper.
Whether a story will end happily ever after is something beyond our control. The most we can do is grasp the opportunities we are given. I decided to take the first step.
"Pass the tissues, please."