‘Hope’ dedicated to Linda Madden
Sarah knew that it was a funny and fickle thing. The difference between hope and faith was almost like dealing with the differences of black and white. When evil had bared its teeth, gnashing and clawing like some abomination she had tried to run. Sarah understood the inherent beauty of running, the philosophy that one didn’t have to be the fastest, just faster than the one next to them. Sarah was alone.
She had been alone a long time now, hiding, taking in the thoughts of the times and the days of which she sorely missed. Darkness was an envelope sealed tightly with wax, something that would adhere the lid shut better than glue ever could. When she was younger the world had shone brightly.
The family would awake with sunlight beaming through moth eaten drapes, they were not poor their father was just a miser. If it wasn’t broken he wasn’t going to fix it and if it was broken a patch would be its gift until, in her father’s words, “The Spirits came a callin’.”
Mother and Father, Parents and Guardians the former she would love forever, it was the latter she was having a hard time forgiving. Intense eyes watched everything but were never noticed, screams gone unheard as she cried out into the black, the only response the crack of a door. She was told that whenever a door closed, God would open a window, but the only window that Sarah could see had been long boarded shut, a miserable irony as it was meant to be a vent.
She vaguely remembered what it felt like to walk on sandy beaches, warmth that would permeate her soles and safeguard her soul. She craved the sounds of contagious laughter, cracked cans, and smoked meats. Family barbeques were some of Sarah’s favorite memories though now they felt distant and vaporous, always on the edge of being grasped by her mind’s eye and never fully realized.
Time was just a concept, seconds to hours to days to months to years fluctuated and rocked back and forth like too small of a ship on too large of a sea. How she yearned to rest though her perpetual state felt in a coma. When the monster showed his true face and bared his fangs, beware said she for as he giveth he may taketh. Age and wisdom were not interchangeable like gears in a clock, each tick offered understanding, while each tock stripped away innocence.
Clouds long forgotten offered Sarah their silver lining, towers spiraling into the heavens and sliding guardians back to her reality. Finally new pictures, new scenes, a new family lit up her dark world with warm backyard fires, scenes from their television, and games played with friends. Sarah was cautious, afraid of being noticed as she was fearful of the pain that may come, afraid of being invisible and the soul wrenching solitude that anchored her. A foghorn and a lighthouse, the painful realization that some of the things meant to guide you are some of the very same things that can hurt you.
Breathing, a vice she had taken for granted, the vacuum of despair would place its mouth upon hers and deprive her of oxygen she desperately craved. Drowning though she lacked the water, bruises were her eternal reminder, dirty, disheveled, unclean Sarah was desecrated and unforgiven. Eternity, a theory truly exasperating and unobtainable even while lived every day. Was it she who was unforgiven or had she misplaced her resentment? Sarah could smell the darkness, the evil that had defaced her, yet lingering questions in her mind wondered if it were truly to blame.
The reprieve offered through leaning, through sleep, and through prayer was off limits to one such as her. This box held her in isolation, senses deprived, muted, and misunderstood. How disconnected was she from the strings of fate that once held her high, boldly proclaiming purpose and being, limited by nothing but her own will. Painful realizations exaggerated by painful existences, it was will that drove and destroyed, and the freedom that all sought was sometimes the restraint that prevented closure. Sarah’s life was lacking closure, with the exception of her envelope of darkness, her muted box, her isolation.
Yet here was the tragic comedy that the bard used to love to play, as she mourned they laughed, as she hid they revealed, as she screamed they slept. What she wouldn’t give to reach out and touch faith, to be heard once again by someone or something, to release her from the shackles of the gloomy and unconsecrated walls. So she screamed, and she let her heart wrench, and she clawed at her despondent reality tearing open a hole that once bled and found a way to once more. Sarah tried to feel, unfolding the black envelope, desperately attempting to break chains that tethered her.
The difference between hope and faith seemed clear to her now, it was not a lack of faith that kept her, but a lack of hope. When the light pierced the darkness, and the door opened once more, she saw the smiling face of a girl maybe not unlike herself in the past. She dug deeply, and now she would have this girl dig for her as well, her story would be heard, and she would be set free. The monster that had choked her body had not succeeded in choking her soul. Light pierced the attic, fresh air filled the abandoned space, and Sarah’s restraints had been released. Though the girl should have felt threatened by the spirit before her she had faith it wanted peace. Sarah, for the first time since the monster had sharpened its claws, finally saw the silver lining. The light that pierced the darkness allowed her to realize that the despair had removed her from the only thing she had ever needed. It was the only thing that could set her free, she smiled once more full of hope.