Each week over at Creative Construction they have a contest. The prompt this week was "hope." To tell the truth, I kind of got tied up in some other things and didn't remember it until she posted the reminder today. So I submitted this little story that I wrote - quickly, mind you, but nevertheless, a submission.
Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a happy ending. She had heard it her whole life, especially from her mother. After three failed marriages and one husband who died, she could agree with her mother that there wasn’t much hope. But that didn’t stop her from trying to believe.
Her first hope was that she would get out of this town. That hadn’t happened, what with the abusive boyfriend and lack of schooling. She supposed, really, that her first hope had been to finish high school and go to college in another town. There. That was a much better clarification of her hope. The school thing hadn’t worked out too well – she ended up spending all of her time with the boyfriend, which in turn, led to a failed relationship and failing out of school. And yet she was still in the same small town, alone.
Her second hope was to give her mother a sense of happiness. The poor woman had been through so much, the husbands, the divorces, the death…. What’s a girl to do to help her mother cope with something like that? That had failed too. Her mother had fallen into a deep depression and was reduced to taking medication to get through the day.
Her third hope was to be an artist. She tried, really, she did. She attempted lovely landscapes on napkins, spare newspapers, bits of paper she could find anywhere. A severe lack of money didn’t exactly lend itself to art. When the landscapes didn’t work, she tried people, buildings, individual flowers. All failures.
So she moved on. Her fourth hope was to learn the history of her family. Where did they come from? What did their odd sounding names mean? Could she find more ancestors of her own – other family members, other than her battered, depressed mother? She questioned her mother, who knew nothing. Her own mother had abandoned her to a nearby family when she was four. She could no longer even recall her own mother’s name. The name of the family? Her mother didn’t remember them either, she was gone from their home by the age of twelve, on the street to fend for herself. Any other relatives, then? No, none that she knew of. What of her father? A vicious snort from her mother. Look at your birth certificate, child. I have no idea who he was. No maternal relatives, no paternal name to trace. Hope number four was dashed.
She hoped to take the money her mother had given her and make it stretch far enough to buy food for the two of them. Enough to last the week, at least. So she took the money and walked to the grocery store, closely tallying what she added to her basket. Like every other week, she came up short, even purchasing the cheapest brands of foods, the most cost efficient packages. She went to the register to pay for her meager collection, another hope ruined. They would be hungry at the end of the week.
Walking back home, it began to sprinkle and she thought of her mother’s words – no happy ending. Hope after hope…. all failed. She looked up at the sky to see if the rain was going to get harder before she made it home. A rainbow gleamed down at her, reminding her that there was always hope, and it never hurt to stop hoping for something better.