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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)

TITLE: Hope Deferred (i)
By Alice Lewis


Lilli only wanted the nice things in life. She always sought for the good things, always pretended to be greater, and more important than she really was. She was never happy with the circumstances that life handed her.

Lilli and her husband lived in a small, and stuffy upstairs apartment in the run-down part of town. The stairs to their apartment were dark, and creaked with every step. Everything smelled musty and old.

But her dreams took her far away from this place. In her dreams she was a princess. She had a staff of servants at her disposal. Her palace was a huge country estate with the finest Dresden china in her cupboards. In fact, she had several sets of dishes. The Dresden china was reserved for important banquets. For everyday use she had good quality earthenware. But the servants ate their meals of off Melmalene dishes. This was her dream, her delusion.

It would have been better if she had just left this as an impossible dream, and lived in the reality that was herís. But she could not do that. She brought that dream princess into her everyday reality.

Ronny climbed the rickety stairs to Lillyís apartment, and tried not to breathe the dusty, moldy air on her ascent, but that was not possible. Lilli was hosting a party, and Ronny reluctantly accepted. The apartment was hot. Ronny was wishing for more air. However, the only source of fresh air was a small ceiling vent, which opened directly to the outside, and let in more flies than fresh air. A wooden freestanding cupboard in the kitchen sported a curtain instead of doors. But the table was formally set with fine linen, and high quality china. Silver candlesticks graced the center of the table.

Lilli had determined to live out part of her dream, even in these surroundings. But the food was very simple. The menu consisted of fresh whole wheat bread, butter and jam, cottage cheese, and coffee. Ronny looked around at the incongruity of it all: linen napkins, knives, forks, and spoons, in all their proper positions, the whole formal set-up as though they were rich people, in such a dismal apartment.

Years passed. With much effort and hard work, Lilly finally got a house of her own. She sent pictures of all that she had accomplished to everyone she knew. She had a nice house now with which to impress friends, and neighbors. But mostly, that house bolstered her ego, her dream.

As misfortune would have it, the following spring a dam on a nearby river broke, and flooded the whole neighborhood. Lilliís house was flooded up to the eaves. Once again she had to live in miserable circumstances. She had to depend on friends and relatives. But she had insurance. When the waters abated, she was able to re-build even better than before. Again, she was happy, and sent pictures to everyone she knew.

But that was not the end. Life continues to happen. Her husband became seriously ill with epilepsy. Lilly could not longer continue her quest of social climbing. In time, with medication, her husband slowly got better. But Lilly sank further and further into depression. She cried constantly. She could no longer do even the simple household chores. ďWhatís the use, she said. Everything I try comes to ruin. I canít do it anymore.Ē

With a sad heart, her husband had to commit her into a mental institution.

Hope deferred (or unrelenting disappointments) makes the heart sick. Proverbs 13:12

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This article has been read 917 times
Member Comments
Member Date
dub W05/11/06
Watch out not to tire a reader with compounding details. Although it works for effect in the short essay, it becomes a nuisance to a reader or a listener.
Lynda Schultz 05/12/06
A good illustration of what happens when one puts his hope in the wrong places.
Jessica Schmit05/13/06
What a sad story. This could be seen as an allegory. I did find afew spelling mistakes, but other than that you did a good job!
Sherry Wendling05/16/06
Creative take on the topic of hope! You handle words well and write succinctly. Now what you want to work on is the principle, "Show, Don't Tell." Rather than telling the reader, "Lilli only wanted the nice things in life...always pretended to be...more important than she really was," you can strengthen your writing by simply playing a movie with words. Let us hear some haughty dialogue, or see the toss of her head, or watch her spending hours perusing "House Beautiful" magazine. You've got a good start. Keep writing!
Edy T Johnson 05/17/06
Lilli is a complex character. I thought it quite touching that she tried to make the best of her limited circumstances: inviting her friend to a simple meal, but doing her best to set a beautiful table. I think you've told an interesting story, within the word limits. God bless you!