I Am Hope By Karen Lankford-Carnes
From the day I met her, I knew she was different. Not in a bad way, but just...different. She carried herself with a certain sort of grace. She fairly glided rather than walked. Tori was envious. Tori was always envious. She never dared believe that she would amount to much. Her step-father made sure she knew she was useless, hopeless and in the way. Tori never knew her real, as in biological, father. He was a painter, and he fell from a ladder while working. By the time anyone found him, he'd bled out. How gruesome. Tori had nightmares about it. He was handsome,and Tori favored him far more than her mother. She would inherit his smile, chin and eyes. Her step-father loathed her for reminding him that her real father an abundance of something that he himself did not have. Good looks, a good paying job, and her mother's heart. Tori shuddered when she thought of the reasons why her mother may have and actually did marry this man. Who was so cruel, so vulgar and always so drunk. Her mother had become pregnant with his child. Gross mom. Ew. How drunk were you? That's how that happened. She didn't want to know the details. Her little brother, Rory,(ikr?),was eight years younger than she and loved by everyone. The parents, the teachers, no one had a bad word to say about him. With Tori, no one had any words at all to say about her. Or to her for that matter. When Hope arrived at school, as the "new kid", she was instantly popular. Ugh. We need more populars in our school, right? But there was something about Hope that attracted her. It wasn't a physical attraction;although she was quite attractive in a "plain" sort of way, if that makes any sense. She dressed modestly. She exuded self-confidence. Her laugh was genuine and conversation, easy. I wish I were like Hope. I wish I was her friend. Day after day Tori would pass Hope in the hallway, thinking she may get the courage to say "Hi" quickly and then disappear. After one particularly drunk evening, and a particularly vicious verbal assault from her step-father, Tori, "accidentally" missed the bus and was on the way to the park to spend the day. First, she had to stop at the bakery to stock up on the snacks that would help her recover from the attack. I mean I know I'm not perfect, but… "Hi. Did you miss the bus, too?" Tori fumbled "Um, well, kinda." Hope understood, "Accidentally on purpose? " Tori laughed. "Bingo! You want some goodies?" Tori offered Hope some of her comfort food. "Oh, no thank you." I don't really eat. very. much. It's kind of a problem." Tori understood from a different point of view. "I get it, Hope. My eating is also 'kind of a problem'...only the other way." Was she really opening up about her eating disorder to Hope? And was Hope really sharing this about herself? Hope asked Tori, "Personal Day off, or something else?" Tori replied, "Oh it's always 'personal'. It's always unyielding ferocity. For an ignorant hick, he sure knows how to make someone feel worthless." Hope's mouth opened in shock, then she said, "Who's your live-in psycho?" "My step-father. He got extra drunk and extra spiteful last night. " "Tori I can't believe it. Well I can, actually. I have a bum of an uncle who lives with us. He does the same thing to me. He tries to do other things to me, but my neighbor is a cop." "I never met my real dad." said Tori. "I feel like this whole day happened for a reason. I've been praying so hard for a real friend. Someone I could talk to. Someone who understands." This peaked Tori's interest. "Praying? How does that work?" "Oh I go to a youth group on Wednesdays, do you want to come with me? It's a lot of fun. We play games and stuff. It's not all phony churchy-church." "Yeah! I do want to!" Tori surprised herself by the enthusiasm. She only ever heard about how crazy and hypocritical "church people" were. But if Hope thought it was cool, maybe she'd like it too. On Wednesday, Tori and Hope met up and walked together to the church where the youth group was meeting. Tori hadn't felt so comfortable in a group of people since she couldn't remember when. Hope was right, they weren't like the TV "YeeVainJealous", or the polyester preachers that she'd been exposed to. There was honesty and passion she felt amongst the group. Tori wondered what it was. The youth pastor shared a short message using some verses from the Bible. Tori never paid attention to those kinds of things. It was all just so confusing, not to mention boring. This time was different. This time she understood. With Hope by her side, Tori walked forward after the message toanother question. one of the young women waiting to share more with her. Walking home, Tori and Hope talked about how much they had in common. The good. The bad. Hope talked to Tori spoke of her own father. He was alive, he wanted nothing to do with his children and lived on the other side of the country. "Stupid question, but does that bother you?" asked Tori. "Nah.Why would it? You and me are royalty! We're daughters of the King! Isn't that cool?" Tori was taken aback. "Wow. I didn't think about it like that." Hope replied,"Well start thinking about it like that. No one can make us feel worthless as long as we remember who we are! Amen?" Tori repeated Hope's sentiment, "Amen! Is that how you do it then?" Asked Tori. "Do what?" asked; she had a habit of answering questions with another question. "Is this how you're so confident and happy?" "Well gosh. If you believe what people say about you, and they're miserable people,you'll be miserable too. If you read what Jesus thinks about you, you'll have confidence. And about the 'happy' thing? Happy is an emotion that doesn't last very long Joyful is a few state of mind." "Okay, your highness. I'll see you tomorrow at school!" Tori laughed. Hope said, "Oh we should totally do that at school! Everyone would totally freak out!"