Hope11 mins 129 11 mins 129
Grace looked out of the window and pressed her face against the cold glass, it is mid-November and she was finally moving out of the city and was about to get her first experience of living among nature. It wasn’t the worst situation, quite frankly it could have been much worse, the city was polluted, loud, busy and it could put quite a toll on someone. She glanced down at her folder for her new boarding school, right there in big bold letters read GRACE BROWN, GRADE 9. The school was located on the outskirts of Vermont. It was quite isolated and the school had many restrictions, a whole page in the folder was dedicated to do’s and dont’s, they had written in big bold lettering DO NOT LEAVE THE BUILDING WITHOUT SUPERVISION, which is something Grace most definitely intended to do.
After a long and tiresome drive from the bus stop after saying goodbye to her parents, she got off and eyed the large campus. There were a bunch of old buildings from the 1800s and 1900s, at the large entrance, there were 4 girls and boys standing like statues with fake grins plastered across their faces. Grace honestly thought she wasn’t the most friendly person but after promising her mom that she would be more social, she walked towards them and plastered a fake smile of her own and tried her best to greet them in an upbeat tone, “Hi, I am Grace. I am so glad to come to this prestigious academy, I hope we can be great friends!” She held her breath to see how they would respond and sighed in relief when they all smiled back, except for this one girl who was eyeing her oddly.
After going on a long tour and getting introduced to a way to many people for Grace’s liking she could finally go back to her dorm room, where she met her roommate, the girl who didn’t smile back at her introduction. She got up and said,
“You really did not have to try so hard with your introduction, it was quite obvious that it was forceful, try being yourself. I’m Annie and I think that we have a lot in common.”
Grace looked at the girl in front of her and instantly felt a weight was lifting off of her, she felt a connection with Annie and they clicked, “Hey Annie, let me introduce myself again, I am Grace, I don’t like being social and I am quite typically known for being a loner, however, I would like to change that.”
They talked the whole night and knew that they were bound to be friends, Grace and Annie both had a great fascination for old places and that was one of the reasons they were here, they wanted to know the history of this two-century-old settlement. They knew the basics that it was built as an escape from the war, where many people had come and stayed here for many reasons. The floors, walls, bathrooms, kitchen and many other places held secrets. They were surrounded by age-old ripe history, history waiting to be uncovered, secrets waiting to be revealed.
A week was over and it was finally Saturday, Grace just wanted to curl up in bed and eat junk food while watching TV with Annie unfortunately, that did not happen. They woke up at 4:00 am and did yoga, they went to the garden and ate raw fruits and vegetables and ate near the waterfall, where it was freezing cold. At around 6:00 am they were said to embrace nature and spend the whole day out as they locked up the dorms. Grace wanted to strangle the teachers as the teachers sipped on their hot chocolate while the kids were stuck with raw kale juice.
“Grace, we have the whole day to ourselves why don’t we do something?” Annie asked
“Like what?” Grace muttered
Suddenly an idea dawned in Grace’s mind, they were on an ex-rest home that hosted more than a million people. They had only entered the academic building, the cafeteria, the dorm and the library leaving five more buildings, which were supposedly off-limits, which just increased her curiosity more. Grace looked at Annie, and Annie looked back with a sudden light in her eyes, they both had the same idea.
“How is this going to work?” Annie asked
“Well the last building has not been visited in almost eighty years according to the security guard, so that's probably the main building,” Grace replied
“Shall we then?” Annie offered
They escaped the eye of the teachers and finally entered the building which had gripped their curiosity. The door opened easily leading them to a grand lobby which then leads to several rooms.
“Let's go into the rooms!” Annie exclaimed
“No, this lobby seated everyone, from royals to peasants. If we are going to find anything it's going to be here. But if you want to go to the rooms go ahead, I will be here.” Grace explained
Annie scurried over to the rooms while Grace imagined herself as if she was part of the scene. She imagined herself walking in as a pregnant lady, a lone soldier, a widower or widow, an abandoned child, a mother or father, a family in need of help, a king under attack or even a stray dog. She sat on the dusty satin sofas, she leaned against the reception as many before he would have done, she pretended to be a random person in need for shelter and basic necessities.
She walked over to an array of glass shelves and displays opposite the sofas and started to look through that. Grace saw many pictures, artifacts but one thing caught her attention. It was a glass vase which was sealed shut with wax, and a thick coating of dust with a rusty lock. ‘Why would a vase be locked and sealed? There must be something important about it?’ She thought as she picked up the vase and shook it, there were a metallic rustling and a slight shuffle of a light object inside it. She eyed the clock and noticed the thick cover of rust and pulled on it with all of her force. The lock snapped in half and the chain fell to her feet. The wax was also crumbly so with a few tugs the top came out to reveal an intricate key and a small strip of yellowing paper.
Grace carefully unrolled the paper and slowly read out what was on the paper.
‘The strangest thing about this strange journey is that it began with a word,
The morning sun was blurred as only one word could be heard,
“Hope,” my mother said as she was fading away,
“Hope,” my father said as he was turning old and gray,
“Hope” was all I heard as I gather my belongings to escape,
“Hope” was all I heard at I eyed the bloody landscape’
Grace’s mind spun with possibilities, who was this? What was his reason? What's his backstory? Suddenly she remembered the key pressed in her palm. She looked at it and had a gut feeling that the key and note had a connection and she quickly went to find Annie.
"Hold up, so ur telling me that this note and key are related?" Annie questioned in shock
"Yes, and I need your help in finding this room," Grace answered
"I think I already know what room this key belongs to, I literally went through every room in this house and there was the only one which was locked and it had a similar shape of the keyhole." Annie said
The two girls ran over and saw the huge oak wood door and slid the key in the hole and they heard a faint click and the door creaked open. Inside the room was a set of black expensive-looking leather sofas and a wooden desk. Behind was a wall surrounded by trophies and medals. The whole room was well decorated and looked like it was quite expensive, designer furniture and while Annie was jumping around the room Grace walked over to the desk and sat on the cracked but well-maintained seat and looked at it from the point of view of the previous occupant. She felt a sense of responsibility looming in the air and imagined a well-dressed man in his 30's holding a meeting or writing some official documents.
Suddenly she saw a small drawer and pulled on it, she sighed in relief as it smoothly slid open and revealed alone photograph. The photograph was of a man and a woman holding a small baby. Grace gasped when she saw writing behind the photograph, in elegant calligraphy, she read, 'George, Emily and baby Hope, a happy family.' The baby's name was Hope, Grace hastily pulled out the riddle and set them next to each other. The man who wrote the riddle and was present in the photograph was the same, their handwriting matched and so did their thoughts. That meant that this room belonged to him. As Grace was closing the drawer she saw another paper, she picked it up and saw an address which was a small town located around two miles from here.
The photo was old, so she was pretty sure that George and Emily were dead, however, Hope may not be. She could be extremely old but not dead. Grace felt a weight on her heart and she knew what she had to do, she knew it was the right thing.
"Annie, I have something to tell you," Grace said
"Yeah?" Annie answered
"The photograph is the person whose room this belonged to and the person who wrote the riddle. The lady, Emily is his wife and that little baby, her name is Hope. Hope as in what this man kept on telling himself through hard times, Hope as in his daughter now. Annie, she might not be dead yet. There might be a chance she is alive and I know we would regret it if we miss out on this opportunity to not meet her and tell her. We have to meet her, her parents probably sacrificed a lot for her and I know this would mean the world to her. She doesn't even live that far, Annie can we go please?"
Annie looked at the photograph and back to Grace, "Yes, we will go."
That sentence made them feel overwhelming happiness and they both smiled and imagined their beautiful cozy little family before disaster hit because no matter what happens disaster always hits.
The girls took one day off and started heading towards the little town and followed the address and knocked on the door. After a short pause, an old lady with a wrinkled face and a hunched body opened the door and asked
"Who are you?"
"I'm Grace and this is Annie, are you Hope?" Grace stammered while her heart raced
"Yes I am Hope, how can I help you?" She answered
"We have to talk to you, can we come in please?" Annie questioned
Soon, the three sat down and while Grace and Annie narrated their story, Hope sat still and silent. Grace showed her the picture, key and riddle and Hope looked at them and started silently crying.
"Ma'am, are you ok? I know this is overwhelming." Grace muttered also getting emotional
Grace and Annie grabbed Hope's hand and waited for her to understand and absorb all of the information she received. Finally, she looked at them and said,
"Thank you, girls, thank you so much. I have not felt this happy in over 80 years. Thank you"
Grace and Annie understood and could see the gratitude in her eyes, they were just happy that they could bring happiness and peacefulness into someone's life. They were happy that even though all the residents and citizens at that time went through pain, loss, and heartbreak they never gave up hope.