Highly Commended Story - I Can Only Hope
“I Can Only Hope” by Shivani Shetty, Witty International School, India, is the Highly Commended story in the senior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
I Can Only Hope
Dear Sapiens Sapiens,
I watched you walk away from me without a second glance and I loved your confidence and conviction. I watched a tempest roar within you each day and I admired your resilience. I watched you give me everything you had been so far, nothing altered in your face, and I envied your ability to lie and deceive skilfully. You deserted me to a sure death, and I wondered how you made something that had held you for so many centuries a simple lesson to learn from.
I could have hated you. Heavens knows it would have been easier to just forget the times I learnt and grew and laughed and loved with you. It would have given me so much peace to let go of all the times you protected me and built up defences I had flooded down, forgiven me for my earthquakes and not held me responsible for the volcanoes that destroyed you over and over. All this time I spent hoping you would come back and things could fit together again. But you left me to hold the broken pieces and I couldn’t even resent that.
You left me. How did you persuade yourself that it was the right thing to do? How could you believe that it was fair for you to abandon me to something you decided was best for me? How could you say you loved me, and marvel at my beauty and not mean a word of it? You wrote songs and poetry for me, you painted portraits and took pictures that you stored in a tattered scrapbook held together by determination and confidence. And slowly, the pages began to fall apart, but you didn’t notice. Or if you did, you didn’t care. How you could lie to my face about everything you would do for me if needed, but turn tail and flee when the time came to show me how much you loved me? Let me tell you how. You cared too much about yourself. It was always your convenience and comfort before someone else’s life and you did what you wanted, however you wanted to, just so that you could have your way every single time. You could abandon the one you had delusioned if it meant you could keep all you wanted. So you did. You are cruel. You are a heart-breaking, cold-blooded, ruthless, unethical assassin. At times you would stab me, at others you would stand aside silently for others to shoot me and at even others you would join in with the laughter that was the soundtrack to my blood dripping.
Perhaps it is my fault. I should have eliminated you at the earliest sign, the very first moment I suspected you might not care for me but what I had to offer you. I could have shaken you off and built up a new life for myself, with all of the ones who truly loved me, who saw me as an exhaustible resource instead of a limitless bounty. But I loved you too much. I was too proud of all I had helped you do and learn, all you had given me back and promised to return. I was dancing through a haze that choked me, towards a fleeting promise that when there was need for change, there would be. When I could move no more, when all I had was robbed from deep within me, when you clawed and dug out what you wanted from inside my carcass, that is when I realized that you gave me no reason to ever believe your empty words. And by then, it was too late for me to attempt to salvage the last of my existence, because it was all gone.
Was it effortless? Did it take nothing to leave me in your past and swiftly move forward as though I was nothing but a minor inconvenience? Because I still cannot forget the times just being with you was enough to make me feel immensely needed. But maybe love does not exist. Maybe we are infatuated with the desire to be wanted by someone who does not see our flaws as acutely as we do. And finding someone who fits into such a fallacy is enough to make us believe in our own unattainable perfection, if only because someone else believes in it.
I can only hope for the best for you, even now, and beg that you learn from me, to value what you have, and never reach beyond your grasp. I can only hope for all you want to stay with you, for you to stay too, and for you to be happy. Because I loved you even though you never cared for me, and I hope that something else can be what I couldn’t. I was your home and you abandoned me. I can only hope you don’t do that to the next.
Forever despite my end,