Believe In Hope

By Cally Hunt

The forgotten, dirt road cut through the rolling hills, stretching out as far as the eye could see until it disappeared down into a dip beyond the distant horizon. Waning golden rays of light reached down towards this still and silent slice of earth giving off a last bit of warmth as the fiery sun prepared to set. The summer had been a hot one; the thick air sticky and damp. But the nights were now turning cooler as September drew nearer.

Suddenly, the suffocating silence was broken as a lively breeze blew in, setting the leaves to rustle and the tall grasses to swish back and forth, whispering unknown secrets. Along with this sudden breeze came the soft, muffled sound of footfalls upon the dusty road. This road was no longer forgotten; left to spend the rest of its days in a quiet loneliness, for along its length shuffled a tall, thin figure.

She dragged her sandal-clad feet stirring up clouds of dust. Her arms swung limply at her sides. Despite the apparent weakness of her fine-boned arms, her small, delicate hands were clenched into two tight fists, a sure sign that determination was the only thing keeping her going. A ratty pair of worn denim shorts left her long legs bare. With porcelain skin as brilliantly white as the first snowflake of winter, and deep-set eyes, as dark a blue as the churning ocean in the middle of a storm she had the appearance of an angel, cursed to walk upon earth. This image was completed by her mane of long, curling ringlets that, in the fading light, formed a golden halo about her head. Her nose arched proudly, lending character to an otherwise inhuman beauty.

It was easy to look at this girl and see only what made her lovely. But if anyone took the time to look more closely, they would be able to see the sadness and pain that was hidden beneath the surface of her face. They would see the downwards quirk to her mouth, and the dark purple smudges underneath her pain-filled eyes, all contributing to her haunted expression.

The gentle breeze picked up suddenly, sending a shiver down her spine. She pulled the sleeves of her dark gray shirt down and around her wrists for warmth. With a sigh, she hitched her backpack higher upon her shoulders, her exhaustion showing in every step. She fiddled with the fine gold chain that hung around her neck, eyes fixed, unblinking, upon that exact spot on the horizon where the road disappeared. That was where she was headed at such a relentless pace. What pulled her there she did not know. Perhaps it was the mystery of what lay beyond the bend that kept her going, or perhaps the hope that whatever lay there was a better place than from which she had come.

Finally, the sun sank completely, taking its vivid colours with it, and leaving behind a blackness broken only by the faint, silvery pinpricks of light of the distant stars. The gentle breeze turned into a wind that blew in colder air. And still, throughout the dark and ominous night, the girl continued on. But she could not go for much longer as her entire body ached with each step forward. Despite her determination to finish what she had started her exhaustion won out. Her legs buckled beneath her, and down she fell, amidst the tall grasses. She managed to shrug her backpack off of her shoulders and roll onto her back. Up she stared, at the shining stars in the dark sky. Out here, where nobody roamed, the stars were beautiful. Untamed and untouchable, they shone down upon the world, watching over this lost and lonely girl. A single tear rolled down her striking face as she stared up at these stars. With a shaking hand, she pulled the golden chain that hung around her neck up and out from under her shirt. She closed her hand around the golden heart necklace, and placed it over top of her own heart.

"Oh," she choked out, "how I wish you were here". With that one murmur of desperation, she turned onto her side, salty tears streaming down her face as she cried herself into a restless sleep.

She awoke to the harsh morning sun beating down upon her. Momentarily blinded, she blinked herself awake. Her sleep had done little to alleviate her exhaustion. Stiffly she reached for her backpack and pulled out a near-empty water bottle. With desperation she realized that she was running out of water. Taking only the smallest of sips, she put her water away. That would have to do for now, she thought mournfully, her throat bone dry from breathing in dust all night long. There was a renewed fire in her intense eyes as she started to walk, conveying her determination to get to that spot on the horizon. Each step she took brought her one step closer to the top of the hill.

As the day wore on, the sun beat down heavily upon her, but she wouldn't allow herself to stop for a drink. It was as though she were being chased by some sort of ghost- if she stopped, she would be caught. It was what kept her going towards that dip in the road.

Again, the scorching sun slipped down, splashing the sky with rich, beautiful paints, and leaving it stained with their brilliant colours. It was a breath-taking sight that managed to make her pause for a moment. But her rest was not for long, because as soon as the radiant colours faded, she resumed her journey. Upwards, she climbed, as the sky darkened and the stars peeked out from where they hid all day. Upwards she walked, until she reached the top of the hill. She had reached her spot on the horizon. Finally, she saw where the road went. Standing at the top of this hill, the girl stared down, tears shining in her eyes. She had reached her goal. But for some reason, she did not feel fully satisfied. There was still an emptiness in her heart. Despite making it to this hill, she had not truly made it anywhere at all. Still she had no water, no food, no clothes, and nowhere to go. Still she had nothing. Making it to the hill had not fixed her life, as she had foolishly believed it would. She had started her journey worth nothing, with nothing, and she had ended her journey with nothing, worth nothing still.

Suddenly she was filled with anger for believing that everything would be okay once she reached the top of this hill. How stupid had she been? Why had she even left home? Had her life had been that bad? Or was she just too scared to face it? Why had she done this? She screamed, all her frustrations spilling out of her. Ripping off her backpack, she flung it down the hill, its meager contents spilling out. She kicked off her shoes, sending them flying down the hill. With nothing left to throw, she reached for the heart necklace and ripped it off. She pulled her arm back, getting ready to hurl her only treasure away, when a memory surfaced.

She was the ten year old Hope again, and her mother was dying. Hope sat next to her mother's hospital bed, trying not to cry. Her mother reached out, thin arm shaking, and brushed a strand of hair off of Hope's face; tucking it gently behind her little ear.

"Here," her mother whispered softly, "I've been saving this for you". Hope reached forward, taking the small box into her little hands. Slowly, she opened it up to find a perfect heart shaped necklace.

"Read the inscription" her mother instructed. ‘Believe in Hope' it read. Hope looked up at her mother, confused.

"Why does hope have a capitol?" she queried, unable to make sense of it. Her mother smiled tiredly.

"Because it's you".

Jerking back into the present, she was seventeen again and still alone. She lowered her arm and gazed at that same necklace. Believe in Hope. Finally she grasped what her mother had meant. She had to believe in herself, believe in the decisions she made, believe in all that she was capable of. She shouldn't have believed that running away to the top of the hill would make things better. She should have believed instead that she could make things better. She had lost hope the day her mother died, but now she had found hope again, buried deep within herself. Hope had found hope.

With a brilliant smile that rivaled the sun, she flung out her arms and took off down the hill, running so fast she felt as though she was flying. Believe in Hope. For the first time, she let her heart fly free. For the first time, she let herself believe.

Did You Know

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