The Story of Hope: A Short Story

This short story is in response to the Five Minute Friday prompt: Work. The rules are: write for 5 minutes and no editing (although I can’t stop myself a little. I am an editor after all). I’ll see you on the other side. Hope you enjoy it.


Her name is Hope, and she sits bowed in the corner, pouring herself into a painting. A cord sprouts from the base of her enormous earphones and tethers her still…at least for the moment.

Voices leak through the music, and she swats them away.

Not real. Right? They’re not real.

She glances from the angel emerging from her canvas to the community room, expecting it to be empty. Instead, a woman glances up from her sketchpad, breaks in a sunrise smile, and then returns to her sketch.

Hope knows what most everyone sees when they look at her—crooked glasses, hair so bleached it’s broken uneven, sharp uncontrollable movements that make even the most compassionate volunteer nervous.

But this woman smiled.

Curious, Hope sets down her brush, and wipes paint spatters onto her grubby jeans. Hope twitches against the shadow man always lurking behind her. He’s whispering something about not getting her hopes up and giggling about how she can never even have her own name.

It isn’t anything new, but it makes her stop. Angry now at the woman. Her parents for cursing her with the constant reminder of all that she’s lost.

Hope snatches the paintbrush gouging it into the black paint, dripping now on the floor.  A single spatter catches the angel across the face like a slap.

But most of it, most of it slings across the hand of the woman now standing in front of Hope still smiling as black paint drips from her worn fingertips.

And the woman’s voice is smooth as the creek back home admiring, accepting. Hope touches the black paint smeared into the knuckles. Real. She’s real.

Mama always said angels were real.


 

While this story is not based on any real person, my mom long ago befriended a woman diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Her struggles have always touched a deep fear in me. Her story always reminding me that not one of us is immune to a debilitating chemical imbalance that can snatch reality from our closed fists.

Through a series of events involving my daughter’s soft heart and artistic abilities, I have begun volunteering with a group in our inner city that has an open art studio for area residents*.

I see Hope in many of these homeless folks, desperate for acceptance, yet never wanting pity. And when they find genuine compassion, they’re at a loss, bending over backward to share whatever little they have. Gifting me and my kids with mints, drawings, stickers, secrets to their own artistic stylings.

I wish I had had more than 5 minutes to explore Hope and the mystery woman. Perhaps I’ll have the chance in real life.

Wishing you a blessed weekend.

*Heartside Ministries is in downtown Grand Rpiads. They’re an ArtPrize venue and also have an unofficial installation down by Mel Trotter. I’d encourage you to come and check out the amazing work of some of these fabulous individuals. You’ll also see my daughter and my work on display.

12 thoughts on “The Story of Hope: A Short Story

  1. Loved the post, Janyre! I, too, have a friend who is schizophrenic and have been blessed by her friendship, but now she has moved away.

    Please explore Hope and the mystery woman more – I look forward to reading a new post about them.

    1. Hope caught me totally off guard. She might end up morphing into another character I’ve just barely started putting together. We’ll see where it goes.

  2. I hope to read more of Hope and the mystery woman. I’ve never encountered a person with schizophrenia although my husaband is a psych nurse assistant and does have many stories to share when he comes home. Bless what you do. Your open arms and heart toward your community is astounding. It inspires more in me. Glad I read this post today. I’m hopeful. xx

    1. I don’t feel like I’m much help to the ministry, yet. But I’m willing and I suppose that counts for something 🙂

  3. Janyre, I’m not the first but I’ll add my voice to the vote to continue exploring Hope. Just got together this week with a friend who struggles with schizophrenia. Appreciate your writing so much.

  4. Yesssss! I love it. Take us back there again. You are such a gifted wordsmith. Thank you for connecting with us and inspiring us to explore, dream, create, and become friends with the characters inside us. It’s midnight and I may just dream of Hope now. 😄

    1. You’re so sweet. Thank you! There’s a character I’m beginning to develop that I originally saw as having dementia, but she might have something more along these lines. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll end up with an entirely new character and that’s always fun 🙂

  5. As I began reading I wondered if that was where you were heading. And you did. In the early years of my marriage I worked in the mental health field and had many friends with schizophrenia. Some of the most precious souls I’ve ever known.

    Your volunteer work also reminds me of the time (again many years ago) that I spent in Memphis. In the inner city. Many of them never wanted pity either. They were my friends too. Friends that taught me so much!

    I’m glad I ran across your blog. Like the others, I too hope that we’ll read more about Hope.

    I linked up behind you on the FMF Facebook page.

    1. Thank you, Christy. There might be a time when I need a reader to help me be sure I’m being accurate in my portrayals. Once I get there (it might be a year or two), might you be willing to help me with the accuracy?

    1. Staying alive is definitely a higher priority. Don’t worry about the delay. I have two of the books you recommended so I’ve PLENTY of reading material.

      Hope might end up being from the book AFTER Sam. I’d originally thought her to just have dementia, but it might end up being more. We’ll see.

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