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Drama Inspirational Fiction

A piece of paper, crumpled and tattered, blew past her feet, fetching up against a leg of the park bench where she sat. She looked down, pulling her attention away from her laptop screen. The bit of paper rattled against the rusty metal, making her think of some poor, forlorn thing, desperately seeking any shelter it could find. Then she spotted the writing on it.

“What’s this?” she murmured to herself, bending over to pick up the scrap.

She smoothed it out, to find that it looked like a letter someone had started, just a greeting and a single line of hand-written words.

“To Whoever,” she read the words aloud. “I hope you’ll write something here—a wish, a dream, a hope—and give your words to the wind.”

A little smile curled the corners of her mouth. She glanced back at her laptop, and the half-written essay displayed there. She really had to finish this paper; half her grade rested on it. But it wasn’t coming easy, and on top of all her other classes, and everything she had to deal with…

She glanced again at the paper. She hoped she’d finish the essay, hoped she’d get a good grade. But that seemed so small, so trivial, compared to what she was being asked. What did she really hope?

Fishing in her backpack, she pulled out a pen.

“I hope to use what I’m learning, to never forget it, and somehow make the world a better place with it.”

Capping the pen, she felt a breeze stirring her hair. Smile widening, she held up the piece of paper, seeing it flutter as the wind caught it. She opened her hand, and let it go…


The man angled the shopping cart through the slowly widening doorway of the grocery store with one hand, trying to keep a hold of his son with the other. The little boy wanted to run off, not with any purpose or destination in mind, but simply because he’d been told to stay close. At the same time, the man was worried about his hearing, being so close to his infant daughter, whose powerful little lungs were fully engaged in a something’s-wrong-but-I-can’t-tell-you-what crying storm.

Teeth gritted firmly together, he pushed the cart, fighting against its sticky wheels, across the heaved asphalt of the parking lot to his minivan. He had to brace the basket against his hip while he opened the door; now that he wasn’t holding onto it, the stupid thing wanted to roll freely away.

Then came the tricky task of getting everything from the cart to the car. He started with his daughter, which had the curious effect of making her cries louder, a deafening siren’s wail inches from his ear while he fumbled with the complicated straps of her safety seat.

He turned his attention back to the cart, to see that his son was ambling away, chasing after a bit of paper scuttling across the pavement on an errant breeze.

“Hey!” he shouted, a little louder than he intended. “Get back here!”

The boy looked up with a guilty start, then snatched up the paper and hurried back to his father. “Daddy, daddy! Look what I found!”

“Yay,” the man said in bored tone. “A bit of trash. Wonderful.” He plucked the paper from his son’s hand. “Now get in your seat and use some hand sanitizer.”

Muttering under his breath, the boy complied. The man shook his head, and was about to toss the scrap aside, when he noticed the writing on it.

He read the lines written there once, then again. Weird. But kinda… deep. He looked back at the van, where his son was now making faces at his sister, turning her wails to giggles, the tears in her eyes glittering like jewels. With a smile, the father pulled a pen out of his pocket.

“I hope my family knows how much I love them, and always loves me back.”

Lightly balling up the note, he tossed it back to the ground. The skirling breeze immediately picked it up and carried it away…


“I don’t care what he says,” the woman said, her voice rising as she spoke into the phone pressed to the side of her head. “We need to reschedule. If we don’t get on top of this right away, we could lose the entire account. I won’t let that happen.”

She strode across the plaza, headed for the glass and steel façade of the high-rise housing her firm. Her heels clacked loudly against the paving stones, a machine gun cadence telegraphing her anxiety. She’d built this place up from practically nothing, and it was a constant struggle to keep it from going under.

The voice on the other end said something she didn’t want to hear, and an angry sigh escaped her lips.

“Look, just tell him to be there.” She listened for a second. “Just. Tell. Him.” She ended the call, stabbing at the screen with her thumb. It was already almost ten, she hadn’t had any breakfast, just a cup of bad coffee, and it was looking to be another long, hard day. Sometimes she just didn’t know why she bothered.

Her left shoe came down on a bit of windblown trash, a crumpled piece of paper, the heel spearing the sheet. With a muttered curse, she lifted her foot, tried to shake off the trash, but it was stuck. Bending over, she plucked the paper away, ready to toss it away.

That was when she saw the writing on it.

Pausing, she read the few lines scribbled there, clearly written by different people. She straightened, her gaze going to the building before her. Hopes. What hopes did she have? Everything she had was tied up in her business… but more than that, in the people who worked for her, who counted on her.

Snapping open her handbag, she pulled out a pen.

“I hope I can hold my business together, create something that will last, that will always be there to care for the people who rely on me.”

As she returned the pen to her purse, the breeze rose, snatching the paper out of her hand and lifting it to the sky, and away…


He leaned against the railing, shooting a furtive look left and right, down the length of the bridge span. It was late at night, or early in the morning; he wasn’t sure. The point was that the place was deserted, no one in sight. No traffic rolled down the road; there was no one to see what he was about to do.

No one to stop him.

He leaned over, looking down at the black water flowing past, at least a hundred feet below him. Once he jumped, it would be over in minutes, or faster. Even if he survived the fall, the cold of the water would kill him, freeze him to death. He’d heard it wasn’t a bad way to go, just feeling sleepier and sleepier until you lost consciousness, and slipped away.

Still, he hesitated, his thoughts going over the reasoning behind this decision. He was tired. So tired. His lousy job was a dead end. There was no one he was close to, no real friends. His apartment could hardly be called a home, just some lousy converted basement. His prospects for improving anything were about nil. He lived a life that wasn’t worth it, and it was comforting to think that maybe, just maybe, there was nothing else to existence. He could just end it… and it would all end.

At least, that was what he was counting on.

The wind skirled around him, and a small scrap of paper blew up against his leg.

Some part of his mind, a part that wasn’t entirely sold on the whole jump-off-a-bridge thing, latched onto the distraction. He picked up the paper, plucking it away from his pants.

And saw the writing on it.

He read the lines, then read them once more. A derisive snort cut the still air. This was ridiculous. Hopes. People writing them down on a piece of trash. Stupid. But, hey, at least someone, somewhere, still had hope. He didn’t. Not a one.

Well, he kinda had hoped that there would be someone here to stop him. To convince him not to do this. He thought of the fall, of the cold water, closing over his head, stealing the breath from his lungs and the warmth from his body. He’d hoped it would be quick, but now it just sounded awful.

He drew a shuddering breath. He couldn’t do this. He needed… help. He needed to fix things. Somehow.

Patting his pockets, he turned up the stub of a pencil. Flattening the paper against the metal railing, he wrote.

“I hope I can get the help I need. I hope I can fix what’s wrong with my life.”

He held up the paper, watched it flutter in the wind, and let it go…


“We’ll get married in Paris,” the young man said, swinging his arm as he walked, holding tight to the hand of the young woman next to him. A bright band of gold, set with a small diamond, winked on her finger. “Then we’ll travel across the rest of France, from Bordeaux to Marseilles, seeing the sights, drinking the wine, and annoying the locals by taking pictures of everything.”

“Nah, too cliched,” she said, her tone teasingly indifferent. “We’ll get married in Rio, at Carnival time. We’ll walk the crowded streets, take in all the spectacle, and buy lots of tourist junk from the shops and street hustlers.”

He laughed at that, at how completely unlikely their imaginings were. Neither of them had ever been outside of Ohio, they didn’t have enough spare money to buy one plane ticket, and if they were able to get one whole day off from their jobs to get hitched, it would be a miracle. But none of that mattered; she’d said yes, they were going to be together forever, and everything was right with the world.

The wind coming off the river picked up, and she pressed close against him. He wrapped his arm around her, somehow managing the trick without releasing her hand. They came to a stop, staring across the water as the sun sank toward the horizon.

A bit of paper blew toward them, carried on the evening breeze. It caught his gaze as it wove this way and that, before coming to rest on the ground right beside them.

“What’s that?” the woman asked, peering at the scrap of trash.

The man grunted in reply, bent down and picked it up gingerly. “Just some garbage,” he said.

Then he saw the writing.

“Hey, look at this.” He held the paper out for her, and the two of them read it in silence.

“That’s…” she said, searching for words. “That’s… pretty amazing.”

“I’ll say. Look how many people have added to it. It’s like a… a,” he snapped his fingers, trying to recall the word. “A… chain letter! You know, one of those old things people used to do.”

“Yeah, only it’s not some stupid scam or mean-spirited threat. Do you have a pen?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah.” He fished around in his cheap suit jacket, pulled out an old Bic.

She took it, paused for a second. He looked over her shoulder as she wrote.

“I hope our love will last our whole lives, and touch everyone we ever meet.”

“Aww, that’s real nice,” he said with smile, genuinely moved.

“Ain’t it? Well, time for you to move on, little list of hopes.” She held the paper up, and let the wind take it away…


It travelled on, carried by the wind. It crossed towns and cities, lakes and rivers. It followed the wind, letting itself be taken across continents and oceans, and around the world.

Happy and sad, rich and poor, lucky and downtrodden, so many people found it, read it, and added to it. A compendium of the hopes of so many. They wrote new lines on every inch of space, until the little piece of paper was heavy with ink and graphite, and little empty space remained.

It touched so many lives, changed so many minds, helped so many find the hopes in their worlds.

And still the wind carried it on…


The old man sat in his wheelchair, on the balcony outside his room at the assisted-living center. The tank mounted to the back of the chair fed him oxygen through the canula inserted into his nostrils, helping him to draw each labored breath. But the sun was warm, and drifted in and out of a light doze.

He knew he didn’t have much time left. Knew that the end was approaching. He’d lived a long life, done as much as anyone could have done with it. Maybe more.

He was… content. At peace. Ready.

Even so, he still had hopes.

When the scrap of paper blew into his lap, it came as no surprise. A hand, bones frail, skin wrinkled and age-spotted, gently picked it up, held it close to his failing eyes. It was so thickly covered in writing that it was a challenge to pick out individual lines. But one word stood out, over and over and over again.


Thin, cracked lips curved in a smile, and a weak laugh wheezed out.

“Now, that’s what I’m talking about,” he said.

Reaching over to a small table beside him, the old man drew out a fresh sheet of paper and a pen.

“To Whoever,” he wrote. “I hope you’ll write something here—a wish, a dream, a hope—and give your words to the wind.”

Then he held up both sheets of paper, and released them, letting the wind carry them away…

March 08, 2024 15:16

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1 comment

Paul Simpkin
08:37 Mar 19, 2024

Very good idea. I liked the style of writing. It held my attention as I tried to work out how the story would be resolved. The ending was very satisfying. Well done.


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