I tried. Not once. Not twice. More than I am capable of counting really. Why? Hope. The promise of hope. I thought I had it, and maybe I do, but I don’t have hope in you. Maybe I lost hope when I started thinking about it, what it should be, or where it wasn’t. My investigation – my thinking – made me wonder who or what was to blame for losing it. I am alone, so there is only one person to point the finger to, but I can’t even do that, even if I hate you most.

The mirror laughs now at the ugliness of a reflection. The torment never goes away. This person who stole my life, and wears this clueless look on her face at all times, is always there. Her eyes – they are dark now and cynical. Her brown hair is as lifeless as her eyes. Weight loss only highlights the negatives as age and time are no longer covered. So, I cover the mirror with a towel just to make her go away. It’s the only way she exists you know. This ghostly shell of a person roaming around the living. Well – Not in my house! I tried, remember? She just wouldn’t learn so banishing her is the only way. Occasionally a reflection in a window gives me a glimpse of her, but I am quick to look away. I refuse to give her life elsewhere. Be gone! Please be gone.

“Hope? Are you okay?” A voice jolts me back to reality.

“Sssory Grace. My mind was blank for a moment. I am having one of those days I guess.” I tried to laugh off my embarrassment while feeling annoyed she was there.

“No worries! We all have those days” she offered while holding open the library door. I found her smile and niceness irritating.

Grace was always graceful. Annoyingly graceful. She never left anyone the fool even when a fool was needed for the story. She was nice to everybody. It’s hard to feel special that way. I guess it beats being the one person she isn’t graceful to. Her bright red hair, naturally rosy cheeks, bright blue eyes and bubbly personality prove life can be inside a person. Can I have an ounce of your grace please? Surely that would make me a more tolerant person.

I left Grace and started looking around in the library. The building was beautiful from floor to ceiling, but the bookshelves had seen better days. The shelves used to be full of books, but now space was more obvious. Are we forgetting to read books you can hold now? You lose half the experience reading stories on a screen. Newspapers and new books will eventually be reduced to candle scents for us to have the smells at all. Somehow vanilla and lavender are the top candle scents to buy, but like anything else, it will change – eventually.

Destiny was watching me as I looked for a book to read. Her eyes were sure and unforgiving. She didn’t break her stare when you looked back at her either. She wanted you to know she was watching you. But why? Its irritating.

Distracted by Destiny I didn’t realize I had moved to a section of books I would never read. They were all business and self-help books. These are the books that belong on a screen! No need to own or hold one of these guys. Rolling my eyes I looked up only to find Destiny was no longer watching me. I guess she doesn’t like these books either. Only me. Lucky me.

Looking back at the shelf my eyes found a small book titled “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. M.D. I guess the good doctor wrote something too long for an article, and too short for a real-sized book, so he stuffed in a child-sized book instead. Curiosity, and not wanting to change aisles only to find Destiny watching me, made choosing to read the book my only option. I found it funny that it was much easier to find a chair to sit and read in this section. Go figure!

Well, it started with 2 mice and 2 little people with the names of Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw who were searching for cheese. Seriously! I don’t understand how is this book not in the children’s section? It was a short read but long too because it made me think about things I didn’t want to think about. One page said “When you stop being afraid, you feel good!” It made me think about covering the mirror with a towel to keep “her” away. I didn’t think I feared her. Now I am wondering if I do.

“Sometimes losing something to change means also gaining something better from change.” Okay – this line is absolute crap and clearly makes this book belong in the fairytale section. I lost my parents when I was 17. That was a change. You want to know what came from it? Nothing better I can assure you. Just years of misery followed that change as it left a young girl very lost.

I finished the book and chuckled a little when I noticed Destiny was watching me put the book away. I guess curiosity gets the best of her too. She should read this book. That will take care of that! Walking toward her I decided to end the staring contest with conversation.

“I guess I am too interesting for you to find a book to read yourself?”

“What are you talking about? I look for inspiration here just like everyone else.”

“Come on. I saw you watching me until I got to the boring book section. You should read what I was reading – it will make you laugh and want to bang your head against the wall at the same time.”

Destiny shook her head slowly and said “I was just doing my job.”

She looked at me with disappointment when I clearly didn’t get her point. She walked away and didn’t look back. I should feel happy about her not needing to watch me but it bothered me instead. What the hell was wrong with me? And why was that stupid book still in my head? I haven’t lost my cheese. Life – sure! But not the need to hunt for cheese.

The library was starting to feel like the twilight zone and I needed to get out. My one safe place made me feel out of place. What else could go wrong?

I left the library with nowhere to go, and I didn’t want to go back home where “she” was lurking. I needed to get a book, but the little people stole that idea.

I decided to take the light rail train downtown and watch people roaming around the 16th Street Mall. I will be the watcher for once. It will keep my mind off of my own lack of life anyway.

Boarding the train at the Parker Station I was surprised to find the train was full. 10:15a on a Wednesday should have offered a practically empty train. I could only find one empty seat and it was next to an interesting young woman. She had beautiful straight black hair, olive toned skin and no makeup that I could see. She was dressed in a dress that looked like something a mom would make for a young girl pattern wise. It had bright orange and yellow sunflowers against a stiffer white material. She smiled while I was looking at her and motioned for me to take the seat.

“Thank you” I said. “I was surprised to see the train so full. Is there an event happening somewhere that I don’t know about?”

“I’m not sure. I’m just going to work but I never work at the same place, so I didn’t know if this was a normal crowd or not. My name is Hayati. What’s yours?”

“That’s an interesting name.”

“It comes from my Indian heritage. Its meaning is Life Presence.”

She spoke with kindness and in a soft whisper which was weird. I was at ease and super uncomfortable all at the same time. Her quiet voice was somehow perfectly clear in the crowded car. I guess the twilight zone is following me!

“My name is Hope” I finally offered. “My parents were comedians.”

My sarcasm confused her and she was quiet after and just stared out the window. I wanted to run away. Her presence made me feel out of place even if she was the one who looked it. I wished I was more like her even if I didn’t know what that would mean. Stupid thoughts – go away!

We reached 16th and California Station quickly which helped to end the uncomfortable silence that had monopolized the trip. I was disappointed to see she was also getting off here. Stepping off the train I decided to break the silence. I was on a role with that today.

“Do you work on the strip?”

“Sometimes. I work all over but today I was assigned here.”

“So, what is it you do exactly?”

“It’s hard to explain. I help people I guess you could say. I would like to walk around with you for a while. Would that be okay?”

“Are you thinking I’m the one who needs help?” I asked feeling a bit offended.

“I was just looking for company” she replied reassuringly.

“Ummm sure. Okay then. I didn’t have anywhere particular to go. I just wanted to come watch people for a while.”

“Why?” she asked with genuine curiosity.

“Long story short – I couldn’t find a book in the library today.”

She smiled like she understood and we just started walking. The universe was offering a very strange day. Is there a full moon bringing all these strange women into my life? What was I doing to deserve their company?

“Why did you say your parents were comedians?”

Her question startled my thoughts. “Oh, just because of my name. They weren’t really comedians. They named me Hope and that is the one thing missing from most of my life. I try to laugh about it until I remember I am the joke – and then suddenly its less funny.”

“I see. I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t feel hopeless around you if that helps.”

We kept walking but I could tell by her face she had more to say. She did seem to enjoy watching the people down here too. The 16th Street Mall is an interesting place. People range from business professionals, casual workers, hot dog stand owners, aspiring artists and many homeless. I wondered if she would want to have a hot dog with me. She doesn’t look like the type to purposely eat one though. Instead I found an open bench close to a young girl playing guitar and decided it would be a good place to take a rest.

“What do you want to happen in your life? What trust is missing?” she finally asked.

“Those are some odd questions, Hayati. Did I mention anything about missing trust?”

“You said you have no hope in your life. I am just trying to understand why.”

“I don’t think about what I want anymore. It just leads to disappointment. I am 32 years old and the only consistent thing in my life is I keep getting older without purpose. I don’t have hope because I don’t have a purpose and that bothers me a lot. When I come down here I enjoy watching people because I see both people with purpose and people who are lost. It’s nice to know I am not alone, but I wonder why some have hope and others don’t. Life is unforgiving for some I guess.”

“So who has purpose here? Those wearing a suit or nice tennis shoes? The hopeless are the homeless? What do you see exactly?”

“It doesn’t take a suit to have purpose. It doesn’t take not having a home to be hopeless. It takes knowing where you want to be and the ability to smile. The smile is hope and knowing where to go is purpose. Some are homeless here but playing an instrument with passion. They are not hopeless – just lost. I have a home but no purpose or hope. The face tells all you know.”

“Okay. Interesting. Do you have faith?”

“Faith?” I laughed. “Faith and hope tend to go hand-in-hand you know?”

She nodded in agreement.

” No, I don’t. My life was stolen and broken when I was 17. I have had 15 straight years of stumbling and disappointment. So, no, I don’t have faith because it takes hope to have it.”
“Hope – I am sorry you lost so much years ago. Life gives you choices, but it also gives you things that are not your choice. Somehow people have to navigate the barriers to reach what they were looking for. It sounds like the barriers stopped your navigation, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.”

She paused and I debated screaming at her.
“My time is almost up, but I have a gift to give you before I leave” she said while pulling a small book out of a large pocket in her dress.

“The Energy Bus?” I asked confused.

“Yes. I think you should read it. If you find it helpful give it to someone else. Just give it a try. You did say you were looking for a book earlier, and maybe you didn’t find one because I had the one you were supposed to read.”

“So your job is to judge strangers and then give books to them?” I asked while wondering if my face was as red as it felt.

“My job is to be present. I am not judging you. I am just present in the moment you shared, and then I trust things happen exactly as they should. Just like you getting on that train, and the only seat available was the one next to me. I do have to go now. Enjoy the book!”

She walked away and I was confused. I wanted to throw it in the trash because this nice women just judged the crap out of my life, and she didn’t even know me. She also acted like she cared about someone she didn’t know, and that was a new experience for me. I didn’t throw it away even with the urge to do so. It was the first gift I had been given in many years, and I figured if I can read about mice and cheese… I can read a book about an energy bus too. Maybe it will help me write a story about living in the twilight zone.

I got home and started reading The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. I had to admit the first chapter made me laugh. The bus driver’s name was Joy and she was full of happiness and energy. She was the last thing George wanted that day, and her name being Joy irritated him further. It made me think of Grace and Destiny and how their names mirroring their presence annoyed me. Hayati’s name and meeting her was okay. Her name means Life Presence, but it isn’t as flagrant as Grace, Destiny, or dare I say – Hope. I am happy that I don’t have a Joy in my life though. That just might send me over the edge as I am not strong enough to handle that one!

“God keeps breaking your heart until it opens” is a quote from the book that got me. What if your heart breaks until it’s just broken? Then what? Demons and ugliness followed my brokenness. Now my sanity was being tested further by my day today. Why did Hayati give this book to me? Luck of the draw? Or curse?

I forced myself to finish the book since it is the first gift I have been given in a long time. The book is almost 160 pages, but the pages are small so it didn’t take long to read. I was disappointed with myself for reading it when it was over. What a waste of time. There are 10 rules taught in the book, and number 10 was “Have fun and enjoy the ride.” Right! I am not sure when I last enjoyed anything. I guess that makes me the energy stealing person the book talked about. But how would Hayati know that? Why would Destiny keep watching me until I found Who Moved My Cheese? Why is Grace always there when I am the least Graceful? Why is my name the very thing that was stolen from me life?

“The heart acts as an emotional conductor with an energy field that can be detected 5 to 10 feet away” was another quote from the book. Maybe that is why Hayati gave me the book. I am radiating negativity and misery. But I didn’t put it there! Shouldn’t that matter?

*knock, knock, knock*

What the hell? No one ever knocks on my door? Walking softly toward the door I found no one on the other side from the peep hole. I had no choice but to open the door and check, but all that was on the other side was a small box on the ground with a note taped on the top.

You have been missing this for some time now… and I think you are ready to have it back. I am returning it in better shape than the day you let it go.

No signature and no soul around to know who could have dropped it off. Peeling away the brown paper wrapping I found a plain wooden box inside. Opening the box I found a heart shaped crystal that looked just like the one my mother gave to me years before she died. It broke into many pieces the day her and my dad died in a car accident, and I threw it away when that happened. Now somehow, someway, it was put together again in two solid pieces. The heart laid open, side by side, in the box.

The next day I went back to the library. Grace was eating in the café and Destiny was standing at the stairs on the second floor. Both had their eyes on me the second I walked through the door. Both smiled and nodded in my direction. I returned the smile which was a different response for me.

“Hello Hope! Back again to find what you didn’t find yesterday?”

“Hi Grace. No. Not Exactly. I came to talk to you and Destiny.”

Grace turned toward the stairs and motioned for Destiny to come down.

“You look better today, Hope. I’m sorry if I bothered you yesterday.”

“You did bother me but only because I didn’t understand your purpose. I think I get it now. That is what I wanted to talk to the two of you about.”

Both waited for me to continue…

“Thank You! Yesterday was an odd day, but now I know it was exactly as it should have been. Grace – you brought me back to reality but in the nicest way possible which lead me to Destiny. Destiny – you watching me helped me find a very strange book. It turned out it’s a great book once you get the point of it. That book opened me up just enough, even if I didn’t realize it at the time, to meeting Hayati. She was a kind lady I met on the train yesterday. Somehow she knew to join me downtown and gave me a new book to read called The Energy Bus. A book that made me feel resentful, but after getting my heart back yesterday, is now a book I know I needed to read. You fulfilled your purpose and my life was the benefit. I just cannot thank you enough.”

“That’s great!” Grace said.

“An now you have filled yours” Destiny replied.

“What purpose is that?” I asked confused.

“You gave us Hope” they offered in unison.

I smiled. I could feel it. I was proud of it. I just need to hold onto it this time so that I can share what these 3 ladies did for me. I guess I could write a small book. After all . . . they seem to work wonders!