Sleeping Hope — Open your eyes. Close them. And remember that he loves you. One-shot.
Dedicated to: Why, you, of course. :p
"The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
Allan K. Chalmers
The first time I saw her, she was asleep.
3rd of July, and her friends and my friends got together to barbecue. She thought it was stupid that we weren't celebrating our country's independence on the fourth like everybody else; I thought it was ingenious. We avoided the crowd, the drunken low-lives, and the ill-prepared losers who would come up to ask us for extra firewood. It was my idea . . . and it was brilliant.
But the first time I saw her, she was asleep.
"What kind of person would fall asleep at a beach party anyway?" I wondered aloud. I decided I wanted to be her personal lifeguard, saving her from her otherwise so-boring-she-could-drool life, and more yelled the question than asked it. I stood over her lifeless body with a finger to my chin.
She didn't even flinch.
. . . Which sucked. So I repeated my question in a louder voice, debating over whether or not I should empty the contents of my soda can over the inanimate heap of Stranger.
Fortunately, I was saved from doing so.
"People who don't want to be at parties sleep at parties," she told me, winking a drowsy eye open.
She-Stranger rolled her eyes. "And people who quite happily go beddy-bye at idiotically-scheduled barbecues they don't want to be at usually do not want to be woken up by obnoxiously loud voices because the reason they fall asleep is to eschew the party itself."
I was shocked.
She should've been glad I saved her from that daunting ocean of drool. Well, she wasn't drooling yet, but I was positively sure she would have started soon. Ungrateful twit.
I stared at her evenly. "Were you asleep?" I asked, kicking sand at her face in all innocence.
She sat up and glared, spitting out the offensive grains disgustedly. "No." She sighed, and ran a hand through her tangled mass of red curls. "But I would've been alseep had it not been for some loud-mouthed idiot who talked — screamed — to himself in sincere deliberation over whether or not he should 'waste' his Pepsi on me. I mean, what is that?" She looked up at me, and then down at the sand spitefully, tracing unwholesome insults into the earth with a pale finger.
I paused, thinking and staring. Mostly staring.
"So you do want to be at this party," I told her triumphantly after a moment or four.
She looked up sharply, eyebrows creased in surprised indignance. "No," she said. "I don't."
"But you weren't asleep," I pointed out.
She-Stranger just stared. "So?" she finally asked, tugging at her ear in frustration.
I answered her readily, tone teetering on the edge of turgidity. "Well, if you were asleep, then that would elucidate your un-desire to be here, like you said. But you weren't, so that means—"
"That I do want to be here," she cut me off with a roll of her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. You kind of suck, you know."
I smirked. "Jeremiah," I introduced, taking my hand out of my pocket to offer to her.
And she pretended to fall asleep.
The second time I met her, she was singing.
With my best friend. On karaoke. Her voice was surprisingly pleasant, save for the occasional pallid-sounding cough, but Tyler pretty much ruined any chance they had at sounding good. Sometimes she touched her fingers to her head and closed her eyes for just a second, almost as if his singing was just too much for her—but then, almost like something a bit different. And then Tyler's voice would do something disgusting and she would shake it off and laugh. And she didn't seem to mind his lack of talent at all as she turned her grinning blue-green eyes to him and sang the final words to "A Whole New World" as he attempted the harmony. She didn't strike me as the on-stage-karaoke-Aladdin-loving type. But the second time I met her, she was singing.
Her name was Hope.
I dug that information out of her…wallet since she refused to tell me.
Her name was Hope, she had three hamsters, two brothers, a collection of glow-in-the-dark stickers, an obsession with Cheez-its and tiger-lilies, and, as I had just learned, a sweet singing voice. This information I hadn't obtained via brown leather wallet.
I met up with her after she jumped off the pseudo-stage, bowing exaggeratedly and saluting happily in response to the laughs and cheers.
Then she saw me and her eyes widened. She looked down at her shoes, pivoted, and walked briskly in the opposite direction.
"Heeeey, Hope," I greeted, and with tense shoulders, she spun around slowly.
"Oh, umm, hey. Jeremiah. Didn't see ya there," she laughed uncomfortably.
"Oh?" I asked.
I saw a familiar defiance creeping into her eyes, and I bit back a grin. "Yeah. No. Umm. Yeah. I didn't see you," she said, narrowing her eyes as the tips of her ears reddened.
"Okay," I replied. "Well, nice singing up there, Jasmine," I smiled goofily at her.
I didn't think she wanted me to know about that particular talent of hers.
I didn't think she wanted me to know anything about her, but that wasn't stopping me.
She scratched her cheek, and I heard the question in her voice. "Jasm—," she paused. "Oh. Jasmine. Aladdin. I get it. Well, you are just too funny, my friend."
I grinned slowly. "Great! We're friends now! Oh, how exciting! Just think about all the things we could do together—"
She started. "No, that's not what I meant!" she exclaimed, but I ignored her.
"We could go scuba-diving, and watch the little fishies sw—"
"It's, like, an expression or something,you idiot! My brother says it all the time! I didn't—"
"Or camping! We could start a campfire group—"
"I mean, haven't you ever heard anyone say that bef—"
"And bowling! Bowling is fun, right? Don't you li—"
She stared at me. "I hate bowling," she said with a haughty upturn of her nose.
I smiled hugely. "But you like scuba-diving and campfires, right?" I didn't wait for her answer. "Great!" I said, ruffling her hair.
"This could be the start of a beautiful friendship," I told her.
She smacked her forehead.
The 26th of July, and already, I was beginning to like the girl.
The third time I saw her, she was crying. It was August the 2nd, a cloudy day at the local park. She was sitting alone on a bench. And she was crying.
She was crying, and I had no idea why. But she was beautiful.
She was. Maybe her nose was too red, her eyes too forlorn, but the third time I saw her, that was what I realized. And I wondered why someone so beautiful appeared so broken.
So I asked her.
She shook her head, looked down at her hands and sniffled. Watching as she reached up to rub her temples, I thought about how embarrassed she must have been — strong girl she was, caught teary-eyed by the aggravating guy she hardly knew.
So I nodded my head and leaned back into the bench, looking down at my own hands.
And then up at her. And then the trees. I listened to the low whistle of the wind, and closed my eyes.
We could've sat there for minutes, or hours, perfectly quiet. Just thinking, staring, sitting, wondering…being.
And then she spoke quietly. "My family—" she said, and she told me about her eldest brother leaving for war, and the complete chaos that was her home. She talked about the way her mom only cleaned and cried, blaming anyone and everyone for her son's departure. She told me that she was hurting so much inside, and that her big brother was everything to her. She said that all she wanted was to be accepted into the college of her choice, and not have to deal with all those problems. And she confessed that sometimes, she wished she could just be a kid again.
And I listened. When her voice would crack, and the tears threatened to fall once again, I waited. When I saw her eyes squeezed shut, and felt the tiredness of her body, I squeezed her hand. When she looked up at me, so lost and afraid, my heart broke.
And when she was finished, I held her close. Her skin was cold, and she was shivering miserably. I stroked her hair, and I felt hot tears soaking my shirt.
"Thank you," she whispered, and I smiled into her neck.
That's what friends were for.
I doubt I could count the number of meetings I'd had with her after that. Somewhere between our hundredth and thousandth encounter, though, I'd dragged her to the bowling alley.
"Hope-ee, Hope-ee, Bo-bo-pee, banana-nana—,"
"Quit it, you insolent turd," she interrupted without looking up from her book. Her chemistry book…and it was a school night. Who studied on school nights?
"We're going bowling!" I exclaimed, bouncing on the heels of my feet.
She looked at me sharply, but the effect was dulled by the tiredness in her eyes. "No," she said, and turned back to her studying.
I made a face, but she didn't see. Kill-joy, I sing-songed in my head. "Why not?" I whined pathetically.
"It's a school night. I hate bowling. Do the math," she said (obviously forgetting I didn't do math on school nights).
But somewhere between our hundredth and thousandth encounter, I'd dragged her to the bowling alley.
"Let go of me, you weasel-bopping butt-cake-eating chicken-poop-smelling—" she rattled off nonsensically. I was immune to those sorts of stinging insults by then.
But I was not unaware of the angry kicks to my chest, as I carried her over my shoulder through the entrance of the bowling place.
She had fun, anyways. Three strikes and a spare. No match for me, of course, but still decent. So I asked her why she hated bowling so much.
That night, I found out Hope had an extreme fear of rented shoes.
And that night, somewhere between our hundredth and thousandth encounter, she told me another secret. Each night, every night, before she went to sleep, she prayed a Thank You: "God, thank you for giving me my best friend."
"Cheesy, huh?" she asked, and her cheeks were a deep shade of pink.
I just grinned, and shook my head.
That night, I kissed her.
On our first date, the 28th of November, I was nervous.
We were just going to the ice-cream parlor for a cone or two — something we'd done together countless times before. But on our first date, (the 28th of November), I was nervous.
She was meeting me there…and she was late.
Looking at the clock, I remembered that Hope wasn't one known for punctuality. And so I waited. I looked at the door every time the bell would jingle, and back at the clock every time it would chime. One hour. Two hours. Three hours. Four —
And then I saw a familiar head of red hair.
Only to realize that it wasn't Hope's hair, and that no, she did not get a hair-cut, but according to her date, she was "just on time," and "wow," the Hope-impersonator's "hair was getting really long."
I rolled my eyes. And I waited until my eyes got tired of flicking towards the door, and my ears got tired of listening to the tinkling of the bell.
And I waited until the old man behind the counter shook his head sadly, as if he knew what was going on, and said, "Sorry, son. But I've got to close up now."
I nodded and thanked him, picking up the tiger-lily (her favorite) from my table and headed toward the door.
He continued. "You didn't order anything though. Would you perhaps like a scoop—?" he asked, brow wrinkling in father-like concern.
I gave him a wry smile. "I'm fine, sir. Thank you."
He didn't seem convinced, but he let me go anyway. "Have a good night," he said, and I echoed the good-bye as the door bell clinked unhappily.
I went home that night and flopped down on my bed. I knew Hope had to have a good reason for not coming. So after our first date (which she happened to be absent from), I called her.
And smiled weakly as I heard her voicemail message. "Hey, losers. This is Hope, and I'm obviously not there right now, so jus—Jeremiah! Would you quit making those weird noises? Yes, the faces, too. No, you cannot be a part of this message. Nope, not even if you give me a foot massage. Would you jus—Beeeeeeeeeepp."
I cleared my throat. "Hey, Hope. It's Jeremiah. Just wondering where you were tonight…and I just wanted to let you know that you tore my fragile heart to shreds. Yeah, that's it. And I think you owe me a foot massage. Alright, see you later, I guess."
I heard the shrill ringing of my phone about a minute later, and jumped.
"Hello?" I answered quickly, hoping I didn't sound too eager.
"Good evening, sir. Is Jeremiah Bristol available?" a female voice questioned. Great. Telemarketer. Just what I needed.
"This is he," I sighed in agitation. "May I ask who's calling?"
"Samantha Lumley, from Lobdale Memorial. I understand you know Hope—"
"Yes, Hope. She's my, umm. . . friend. Girlfriend. Person. What's wrong?" I asked, running a hand through my hair quickly.
A pause. "Well, your friend-girlfriend-person—," she chuckled a little. I didn't.
She cleared her throat. "Well, actually, Hope's been having a series of very serious migraines for quite a while now, and just recently, she—"
"I'm coming," I interrupted forcefully.
"But visiting hours are—"
I hung up and grabbed my keys.
When I walked into the room, she was asleep.
I fiddled with the pinkish-orange petals of the tiger-lily, praying she would just open her eyes.
She did, and I was met with the most curiously brilliant blue-green I'd ever seen.
She smiled softly. "Hey," she whispered. "You came."
I grinned ruefully, and my fingers reached out to play with the soft tendrils of her hair. "Couldn't miss our first date."
She laughed, and bit her lip as I handed her the flower. "Thanks," she said. "I knew there was a reason I liked you."
I could only stare. She was so full of life, strength, and beauty, and I knew there was no way she'd leave me. "I love you," I said suddenly.
Her eyes widened, and she grinned weakly. "I love you, too."
November 28th, best day of my life.
The last time I saw Hope, she was sleeping.
She was sleeping, but I knew that I'd never be able to wake her up. So I lay one last tiger-lily in front of her resting body, and even though she'd never wake up again, I knew that she made my life a dream.
I still Love her.
"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge — myth is more potent than history — dreams are more powerful than facts — hope always triumphs over experience — laughter is the cure for grief — love is stronger than death."
author's note. .heh. cheesy, huh? i seriously have no idea where this came from. i started it late last night and finished early this morning… and i haven't re-read it, so sorry if it sucks or makes no sense…or…sucks..a lot. and sorry Hope had to...uhh, go bye-bye, but i had no idea how to end it..."if you don't know how to finish a story, kill off a main character!" kay, i just made that up.
i've got writer's block for my ongoing story, which is probably the reason i wrote this in the first place. so to those who are reading YAE (no, that's not a variation of "yay," you sillies)….
….(-runs back to remind you to review this-) hehe. thanks for reading!