“You sure you wanna stay here alone?” Simon glances at the sun just rising behind her. It was too early in the morning, but that’s how Faith preferred it. She wanted to get out of the house before any cops, or worse journalists, came by.
“Yeah. I’ll come home in a few hours. Don’t worry.” she hugs herself and exhales, taking in the lake before her. After a few more minutes, Simon finally leaves. He wants to stay with her, comfort her, but he can't – he has to answer all those annoying questions, comply with the officials, stay with them throughout the search. But that was alright, as long as they find her. Her. Hope.
Her arms go taut as she hugs herself tighter. The sun has risen now, but that doesn’t help with the chilly weather. Not that it matters much anyways– Faith was used to the cold by now, just not physically. She stares at the yellow orb, dominating the blue stage, and wonders why it exists. It was too synonymous with happiness, with warmth, with a fuzzy ball of love, with her own beautiful daughter mewling and kicking the blankets away from her face, just as the Sun tries to kick away the clouds.
Hope. Hope, where are you? She asks in vain, cursing both her own neglect and the emotionless abductor. Faith stares and stares at the lemon floating in the sea of clouds, as if her glare would transform it into her daughter. Maybe it would. But if all the maybes in the world were to be the truth, she wouldn’t have been standing here, on a pier, clutching the pillar to steady herself. She can feel water glazing her eyes, but she doesn’t allow them to fall. Her thoughts filled with annoyance at herself, surrounded her, and in a way, sheltered the tears from falling.
Simon’s voice resonated in her mind. She knew Simon for five years, enough to know that he won’t stop till he found Hope. His words were what they call, temporary console – he could try as much as he wanted, but what if he never found her?
She squeezes her eyes shut, unable to watch the sun any longer. But the black canvas behind her eyes is restless. It threatens to paint the cherished images of the past one year. Sure, she had promised herself to never forget those moments, but she hadn’t predicted this turn of events. Right now, it was torture to remember the part of her soul, lost forever. No, not forever, Simon would have said if he were here. We will find her, Fay. Even if it’s the last thing I do.
She opens her eyes and takes a deep breath. The lake shimmers and twinkles like the stars. Her stomach rumbles and her throat is parched, but these humane needs are pressed towards the back of her head. For all she knew, Hope hasn’t eaten anything in days. She exhales, shakily. Was that possible? Would they be so cruel enough to not feed her?
She shakes her head. These thoughts aren’t helping her. She came here to clear her head, to free herself from the panic-stricken environment of her house, filled with cops, and well-wishers, but the tranquillity isn’t as calming as she thought. The calmth of the surroundings is successful only to stir the voices she's been running away from.
It’s all your fault, they say.
Are you a mother?!
You’ve sentenced a child to her death! They shriek.
You left her alone, abandoned her!
“No!” She shouts back. A moment late, she realises that she spoke aloud, but she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about anyone, or anything but Hope. Her Hope. “I didn’t mean to” she whispers, convincing who? she knows not. “I love her. Of course I didn’t -” But words are exhausting. Each sound, each letter is forced out of her mouth. It chokes her, but it’s a welcome distraction.
She squats on the wooden floor, and places her head in between the knees. Her chest tightens for a minute and then loosens up as she gets up again. But standing makes her feel dizzy and her throat also feels dried up. She sits down again, this time swinging her legs, above the surface of the lake. The trees dance and whisper, the wind sings in harmony to the birds, but she doesn't notice it. Her ears fall deaf to all sounds, except one.
The one voice she yearns to hear. She knows, it's in her head and yet, out of hopeless desire, Faith whips her head up, eyes searching for a little girl in blue, like the picture in her purse –A doll-like little girl barely able to stand properly, smiling that wide three-toothed smile, her velvety brown hair caressing the skull, a few locks speaking with the wind. But her eyes disappoint her. They don’t find her smile, or the locks, or her. Once again, her thoughts have deluded her.
Have courage. But for how long can she keep up the charade?
This time she can’t stop it – she watches as small droplets disturb the still lake, creating ripples such as those in her heart. She lets them fall freely as her whole-body shakes, taking in the weight of the past two days.
She doesn’t bother to wipe the tracks the leave, she was too tired for that. Too tired for anything. Still sobbing silently, she leans against the pillar, her eyes fluttering close.
* * * *
“Faith. Fay, wake up.”
She stirs and seeing Simon leaning over her, she jumps. Looking around herself, she sees that it’s twilight. Her eyes widen as she realises that Simon was probably scared for her, scared that she too might have gone…
“Simon! I’m so sorry. I-”
“It’s alright. You needed the sleep. Been two days since you last closed an eye.”
Two days. Sighing, Faith looks away. She can feel the slight burn in her eyes – sleep does that to her, makes her emotionally sensitive. She exhales through the mouth, and collecting herself, tries her best to speak evenly.
“Any news? Did they find something? Anything?” Her voice breaks after all. His face drops to the ground as he shakes his head. Yet another day has passed, and they still haven’t been able to find her Hope. Their Hope.
She didn’t want to pressurize him, but could anyone blame her? She was a mother, and was eager to see the round, bubbly face of her daughter – safe, secure and in her arms. But for now, she rests somewhere else, in someone else’s rough hands. Safe, maybe, but for how long? No-one knows.
Simon takes her hand in his and squeezes reassuringly. “Faith.” She looks over at him, already knowing what he was going to say.
The words echoed in her own mind a million times, convincing a restless mind that cannot be convinced enough. His eyes were looking over the lake, taking in the serenity.
Faith vows to visit this place again, if she finds Hope. She winces mentally and corrects herself. When she finds Hope.
Have courage, she thinks and leans her head against Simon’s legs.
“Fay, we will find Hope, won’t we?” she was surprised. More than surprised, she was shocked. Simon, who had stayed strong, who had assured her innumerable times that they would find her, was now breaking?
She stands matching his height, and looks at the swans dotting the lake. She wanted to repay his kindness, tell him that yes, they would find her. But she couldn’t tell him something she herself believed only half-heartedly.
Have courage, she could say and that would be that. Have courage, she could intone and he would understand. Have courage, she could say and they would go back to their house, to the cops, and the hypocrites who claim to be well-wishers, but all they care about is gossip.
She could have even remained silent, and just let it go. But she knew, it was haunting him. She knew better than to chant a mantra, especially one she barely believed. She lies her head on his shoulder and squeezes his hand. “I dunno. It hurts me to say, heck, even think about it, but I don't know if we can. But we have to try, Simon, we have to find her.” He puts an arm around her and nods his head, both of them in a moment of silent acceptance.
Neither knows what the coming days will bring, but they know that they won’t give up. They haven’t given up in a long time, and weren’t planning to either. Hope wasn’t a random name they chose for their daughter after all. Their baby girl was a representative of all the hope they had, have, and would ever need in their life, and what better name to signify the light of their lives, right?
She stays there for a long time, and he stays with her. They stay there long enough, to watch the sun sink under the horizon, to watch the moon shine through the darkness. Simon had his eyes shut, but she knew he wasn’t asleep – Faith could feel tears running along her hair, slowly trickling down. For the first time that day, they weren’t her own. But she didn’t say anything, just glanced off to the side, at the reflection of the moon, wavering with each tear that falls. She didn’t say anything, but she knew what both of them were thinking. Two words, along with the face of a brown haired, green-eyed, one-year-old that shone in their minds. The two words, incessantly playing like a tape recorder in their minds, while the face was fixed permanently.
Have courage, Hope. Your parents will find you.
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Beautiful story! =)
Hi Neha! After that awesome comment you wrote for my latest story, I just had to come check this one out. I'm so glad I did! Your stories manage to pull emotions from such specific places. It's almost like, "wait, I don't have a kidnapped child, do I?" cause some of the time reading this story it felt like I almost did. And usually I don't like stories like this (i.e The Shack) because they creep me out, but yours had such a hopeful and reassuring twist that it was one of the nicer stories I've read in general. Thank you for writing!
Thank you so much, Rhondalise! Initially, I was going for a different ending, one a bit more darker than this. However, it didn't seem very satisfactory. So, I ended up changing the plot. I wasn't sure if it seemed just as good though, but all the comments have been really encouraging — including yours. Once again, thank you so much for reading!
You haven't written anything in a while, judging by the prompt, but I hope you'll come back on and write some more soon! Love this story. You did amazing. Emmie :)
I have been on a break from writing for a couple of weeks, yes, however I'm back now; hopefully, I'll be able to submit one (or maybe two) this week. But thanks for checking my stories out, it means a lot to me! :)
You're welcome! And thank you for submitting such amazing things!
What a beautiful haunting story. I felt like I was right there feeling the emotions with Faith. I also loved the open ending. It gave your story the ability to reach readers on a personal and individual level, and that the ending for me may feel different than another reader’s ending (does that make sense?) I look forward to reading more of your writing!
Thank you so much, Beth! Yes, it makes complete sense, and it was exactly the thing I was going for — each reader may have different creative visualisations, which sometimes are better than the author. ;) Thank you, once again, and I look forward to more of yours too!
I was so glad it ended with the possibility remaining of the child being found safe and alive rather than something tragic. When I considered trying to write something for this prompt, it never occurred to me to have the whole story take place at that lake. That was very imaginative thinking, and you handled it like a pro with all the narrative about what was going through Faith's mind.
I'm rather new to narratives, especially emotional ones, so it's really gratifying to know that I've "handled it like a pro". :) Thank you so much, Gip!
Hi, Neha, I’m sorry I’m a bit late to reading this, but it’s a beautiful story! There were a few spots where I got a little distracted with tenses or how something was described, but the ending was perfect! It manages to still feel like a resolution even without knowing whether Hope is found or not. I really enjoyed reading it! Well done!!
Hello, Marissa, It's not a problem, really, I'm just happy knowing that you've read my story. Yes, just as another author commented, I've been trying to fix my tenses lately. Unfortunately, I'm rather unable to edit this story, but in the future, hopefully, I'll be extra careful about them. :) As for the descriptions, If you don't mind, could you please point out which ones looked hard to understand? Though, I won't be able to change them now, I'll try to avoid them in the future. And thank you, for reading and commenting!
Hi, Neha! Yeah, tense discrepancies can be really difficult. They have a tendency to sneak in and hide from you haha. Of course! And this may just be me personally, so if you disagree please don’t read too much into it. I felt like the way you described the sun as synonymous with happiness and everything following was beautiful, and I really liked it. But the other descriptions of it, like a lemon, or a yellow orb dominating a blue stage, set me apart from the story a bit. I think it may be because they’re more physical descriptions instead ...
Haha yes, indeed. Tenses do seem very much stubborn, at least to me. Oh, no, your opinions do make sense — I did intend to create a completely emotional story, so I suppose it would have been better to phrase the 'yellow orb" in a better way. Perhaps a similarity to Hope's hair, or clothes and how the MC misses seeing it. And as for that floor, I actually noticed that myself. (it does tend to stick out quite prominently, doesn't it?) However, by the time I noticed it, my story was already approved and I couldn't change it. Nevertheless, ...
I think that would’ve been a great direction to go with the descriptions! It definitely helps to realize and think about, even after the fact, for next time. You’re welcome, and thank you!
I love the somewhat despondent tone you pushed throughout the story. It helped us to understand what the mother was feeling and brought us into the sadness of her situation. I love the imagery here, too. The lake, the water, the sunlight, and the moonlight. You described them all so well! And the admission that she didn't fully believe they would be able to get Hope back, that's such a difficult and horrible thought to form. But I love that she takes that thought and thinks it so profoundly that she realizes she HAS to continue having courag...
It's always nice to know that something you intended to write, and convey, came through well, so thank you so much, Molly!! Ah, the tenses. I meant to write everything in present tense, but it seems that I have a much greater inclination towards the pluperfect. Hopefully, at least my next story would be void of tense related issues :) Thank you, once again, for reading and commenting!!
Ohhh, that's a strong ending! I enjoyed this one, it was really suspenseful and gripping. Great job!
Thank you so much! I'm glad the ending came through well.
Neha, This was a sad touching, emotional, story. I just loved how you protrayed the emotions of the parents. I don't think I have read many stories where their child was kidnapped but anyways this one did not disappoint. I just enjoyed how you wrote it, you showed each emotion they went through, struggling between hope and giving up. I really loved this, and it was so saddd! I also liked how you ended it. Though I would love to know if they found Hope or not, I also think this was a really nice way to end off the story. Great job an...
Thank you so much, Ugochi! Haha, well, I meant to keep the ending open to the readers. My aim, as concerns this story, was just to call out the feelings of both parents, give them a break from all the searching, make them realise that it's a 50-50 possibility of finding their daughter and come to peace with those conditions. So, I'm really glad that the struggle came out well, thanks for letting me know! As for Hope, well I suppose if there's a good prompt in the future, I might write a sequel. Then again, I'm not really sure – some readers ...
Of course! And yes that was veryyy interesting, I liked that you stayed right in the middle you know 50-50! Okay just tell me when you do!! Of course!! And I wrote a new story, if you have time could you check it out??
Okay, I'll let you know :) Oh, I've actually already read your story and dropped a like earlier today. I was planning to comment a little later - I'll be there as soon as I can!
Oh alright, looking forward to your comment! But no rush!