Hope & Despair – A Short Story

One of the few stories I wrote decades ago that I still like. You can see parts of my writing style in here – the use of repetition, beats and tone. Also, you can see where I’m still lacking – descriptions, use of senses, etc.

Anyway, thought I’d post this as a fun little addition. Tell me what you think!


Once Upon A Time, in a small town far, far away a child was born.  And he was named Despair and they named him true.  For he had an old soul and a tired soul.  And while other children would reconcile themselves to the tragedy of birth soon enough, Despair never did.

Where others woke to see the morning, he would see the coming night.  And where he walked, the shadows seemed darker.  As he grew, he would carry that shadow with him.  While other children took dares and risks, knowing they were invincible, he would stand and caution, knowing they were not.  No surprise then that he lived a lonely life for a dozen years.  For no one desires to be shown a fool, child or adult.

For a dozen years, he walked alone, to the white porch of his home.  And each evening, he would stand there on that porch alone, staring as the sun set.  And when asked of what he looked for, he would say “Nothing” and smile that sad old smile of his.  The one that broke his mother’s heart each time she saw it.  And no more would he say and no more would they ask

For a dozen years, the routine never changed.  And if he was happy or if he was sad, no one could tell.  Not even him.

For a dozen years… and one day it all changed as life will.  A family moved in down the road, some say from the big city, some say from another country.   In the end, it doesn’t matter to this story.  What does matter is that they with them they brought Hope.  And she was a bright young thing, always with a laugh and a smile for everyone, always with a grand new plan and an eye on the next hill.  Wherever she went, she brought a ray of sunshine and many would compare her to a spring day.

Perhaps you will not be surprised, for all stories turn this way.  The hero met the heroine, and both knew in each other a part that they had always missed.  Perhaps you might not be surprised but the townspeople were.  Light and darkness, morning and night were these two and their friendship a puzzlement to all.

For where she would run and laugh, he would walk stolidly along.  Where she always dared, always looked for the next hill to climb and river to cross, he would pause and hesitate, murmuring that the next rise was the same as the one before and that rivers just got feet wet.

For two glorious summers these two were inseperable, journeying from school to home, between hill and dale. Searching for adventure and time and place.  But all things change as change they must.  And one day, even Hope walked bowed and closed and scared.

They told her it was curable.  That it was no big deal.  They told her that she’d be perfectly fine and the medicines that they asked her to take would take care of it all.  They told her that the move was temporary.

But we never tell children the whole truth do we? And children being children, know that we lie.  And play along.  And so they tell us adults the truths that we wish to hear. And between themselves, they tell the truth.  Of their fears, their dreams and their nightmares.


In the beginning, the letters flowed frequently, crossing one another in the deepest part of the night.  Each written as its author’s nature dictated.  But as all these things do, the letters became less and less frequent.  Hope moved often, each time to seek a new doctor, a new drug, a new miracle.  And with each move, the letters grew less frequent.  Till one day, they stopped


Once upon a time, far, far away from here a child was born and he was named Despair and he was named true.  And if you go by that small town and approach a small house as the sun sets, you might catch a glimpse of the child, still staring into the sunset.  And if you ask him what he is looking for, he will turn to you.  And smile.  And say