Hopes and Dreams
I remember waking up early on summer mornings, when the day was still cool
and the light still soft. Every summer Hope would tend her own garden in her
backyard. She would be up early ever morning, sometimes before first light,
to work in it. And while she worked, she would sing. I would open my window
the night before when I went to bed just so I could wake to her sweet
singing. I’d lay in bed, wrapped in my sheets, and listen. She was always
there, like the morning birds, their song saying that the night was over and
another day was here. Eventually my mother would call me down for breakfast
and I’d get up and ready and dressed and go down stairs to eat, though I
would never want to leave before she was done. I would always go when called
I’d see her at church. I’d see her walking with her family; mom and dad and
sisters Faith and Charity on the tree lined sidewalk. Hope and her sisters
where not like most other kids. Me and my brothers would goof off and horse
around in the back seat of the family car as we drove the short way to
church. Often, during the service we’d let our minds wander, the words of
the preacher becoming a soft drone. Hope and Faith and Charity however
always acted so reserved and quiet. They never seemed to play the fool like
we did. During the sermon they always sat straight up, eyes on the preacher.
You knew no word was passing them by.
I’d pass by Hope’s house sometimes in the early evening, heading back from
the park or woods where me and my friends would play. She’d be sitting by
herself under a big old tree in her front yard. Her eyes would sometimes be
closed, and only her long brown hair stirred in the gentle breeze. Other
times her eyes would be open, and it would be as if she were seeing
everything in the twilight; the ants climbing the blades of grass, the
insects buzzing through the air and the bats that would swoop down to devour
them. It’s was if, like her God, she saw everthything all at once, and like
her God she lived all of it without reservation. We lived on the same street
in the same neighborhood in the same city, but we were really from two
different worlds. We were aliens to each other.
I remember the Valentine’s Day of my eigth grade year. I was in middle
school, and that day was just another school day unless you had a boy or
girl friend. No more parties for us where we exchanged pre-bought cards in
little envolopes, to be but in shoe boxes we had spent the day before
decorating. No, it was just another day. I had no one I was dating at the
time, so I wasn’t expecting any presents or cards. But Hope surprised me.
After the last class of the day I was headed to my locker, and I saw her
standing in front of it. She had her books hugged to her chest. She was
wearing a plain white dress. Her eyes were on her feet. Her long brown hair
fell over her face. I walked up to her.
“Hello.” I said.
She looked up at me. Her hair slid away from to reveal her pretty face. She
looked me in the eye. Her eyes were bright like stars, and as full of light.
Then she smiled, and I saw something in it I had never seen, something I
couldn’t put my finger on.
“Hello.” She replied, and held out her hand. In it was a homemade card with
my name on it. I took it from here, stunned by this turn of events. I didn’t
know she ever took notice of me.
“Happy Valentines Day.” She said, still looking me right in the eye, still
with that strange something in her smile. Then she turned away and walked
towards the buses. I watched her go for a moment and then opened the card.
We met once after that. She had stayed after school for chorus and was
waiting for her mom to come pick her up. I had also stayed late for
rehearsals for the school play. I saw her sitting in on one of the concrete
benches that lined the front of the school. She was looking up at the big
blue sky, not a care in the world. I just watched her for a moment, as
always amazed by her. She was so in tune to something I just couldn’t know,
some other better place. After a moment I walked to the bench where she was
sitting and sat down beside her. She looked away from the sky and then at
me, that strange smile once more on her lips.
“Hello.” She said.
“No.” She said. “You don’t.”
There was a sad look in her eye, as if she knew where she went I could not
“Thanks for the card.” I said.
“You’re very welcome.” She said, her eyes lighting up again.
“It was very nice of you to go through all the trouble of hand making it.”
I told her.
“Well, anyone can buy something. It takes real love to make something for
I must of blushed. She giggled, then looked back to the sky.
“It’s an amazing world, despite everything we do to it, or to each other.”
She said. “Do you ever think about it? What all we have here? What all we’ve
“Uhhm, well…..” Was all I managed. Again that sad look was in her eye.
“Most people are like that. They don’t think about it.” She said, and then
turned back to me. She looked me in the eye, and I felt as if something
where piercing my heart. It was like she could see right into it.
“You’re like most of the people here. Thoughtless. Aimless. Wasting your
time.” She said. “Still though, there’s something more to you. No one else
sees it. Not even you see it. It’s there though, and it shines bright.”
Hope reached over and squeezed my hand. She never looked away from my eyes.
I felt at once hungry for and fearful of her gaze. Either way, I didn’t want
her to turn away from me. Then there was the honk of a car horn; her mom was
here. She stayed for a beat longer, then gathered up her book bag and then
got into the car. As they drove away, she looked back and gave me one last
I never got to talk to her like that again. Once again we went to our
seperate worlds. We grew up. We moved away. We lived our lives. Still, she
is often in my thoughts. I always hope she was right about me, that there is
a light shining bright within me. I often doubt how well I’ve lived up to
that. I’d like to think that if she could still see me she would be proud of
me. She is still in my heart. In that way she has never left me. Through all
the years and all that’s been done, part of me can still hear her singing.