At the secret core of many stories lies the promise of a happy ending. And they all lived happily ever after. I call this the pastoral promise — it’s a promise of a world set beyond the action that gripped us as we read. Once these words are written those tensions that have maintained the story, the ones that propelled us along, have dissipated. A curtain descends and we are to learn nothing more of our heroes. The prince and the princess have wed, the wolf is dead, the evil witch perishes, the children are restored to their parents, and all is well with the world. In perpetuity. Never-ending happiness, impossible in our everyday lives, though we may crave it, exists as a private world beyond the limits of the page, even in the best of stories. Can we ever be happy?