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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Hope is a Many Splendored and Cursed Thing
By Steve Uppendahl
05/09/06


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“…Hope is a good thing…maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

I’ve always loved that quote and that story. Though, to be honest, I don’t agree with it 100%. Good things, good people, die every day. Their souls may have gone to Glory, but what was once good down here, is gone. I’ve seen that too often, though I suppose we all have. Through the countless lives cut so tragically short, through the glut of shattered families and loved ones left behind, there is one thing that I know to be true; hope can make all the difference in the world. Hope can be the force that gets you out of bed in the morning, or it can bring your world crashing down upon you.

Lacey Wilkerson is missing. Her parents, Seth and Mia, are beside themselves with worry, yet there is still hope. They have hope that their daughter will be found alive. Odds are that won’t happen. Most of us who know of the case figure that not only is Lacey dead, but she went through something tragic beforehand. It’s hard to think about and impossible not to talk about.

I can’t say I know what they’re going through. But, like many others I watch and read all that I can. Who wouldn’t be interested and worried and horrified? And hopeful? I’ve been saying prayers for Lacey and her family daily, knowing full well that with every passing night the chances of finding Lacey alive dwindle even more.

Every time a case like this hits the airwaves people become obsessed. Every little rumor or fact is spread like butter, cautiously perhaps, but spread nonetheless. Before long conversations about the same topic are being discussed all over the city, if not the country.

“Have you heard about the Wilkerson girl?”

Closed eyes and the sigh of sympathy,
“That poor girl. That poor family.”

“I bet it’s the father.”

“What? Why?”

“It’s always the father. Or the sex offender who no one knew about living down the street.”

“What does it matter? You know she’s dead. It’s been what, three weeks? Come on.”

“What about Elizabeth Smart? Ten months or whatever it was, and she was found alive.”

Ah, yes. There’s always a life preserver. No matter how small, or old, or thin, there’s always something to feed that light of hope. No matter what your dream or hope may be there’s always some story of success and of dreams coming true.

Take the lottery, for example. We all know the odds of winning on any normal week are something along the lines of one in two million. Yet, there are people who play every week hoping their life will change for the better, drastically and instantly. There are those who resist, of course. But then the jackpot gets to that magic number that makes us all say, “What the hell, I’ll give it a shot”.

We jump eagerly on that crowded bandwagon knowing full well that the odds are now much worse, but we jump on with a smile anyway. Why is that? We know the odds of winning have just worsened greatly, yet visions of grandeur frolic in our minds like sugarplums. So, why do we spend our hard earned money on six numbers and a needle in a haystack? Simple. Someone has to win it. Why can’t it be me?

Why can’t Lacey Wilkerson be found alive? Why can’t I win the lottery? Why can’t I meet Lindsay Lohan and we fall madly in love? There’s always hope. But, what happens when we don’t win those millions, when Lindsay marries someone else, when Lacey is found dead?

Does hope die with Lacey? What about those parents of missing children who are never found? I’ve always wondered about those parents whose hearts jump in their throats when the remains of an identified child are found. Are they hoping it’s not their baby, or are they hoping it is? Are they hoping for closure at long last, or is there continued hope for their child to still be alive?

I can’t imagine that pain. I don’t think anyone is capable of imagining such torture until it happens. I hope I never have to find out. I hope no one does. Maybe that’s the answer. No matter how good or bad things get, there is always hope. For something better. For all of us.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter05/14/06
Interesting piece. I'm left hoping the girl you are speaking of is fictional, because I wouldn't feel comfortable with the speculations you made otherwise. Assuming that is so, this is a thought-provoking piece, nicely written.
Steve Uppendahl 05/15/06
You are correct--I meant to place a note at the end of my piece, but forgot. I apologize.

Lacey, and her parents, Seth and Mia, were characters from a previous writing challenge story(Inner Strength--An Eye for an Eye?)