The hope in hopelessness

The gloomy figure sat motionless with pale wary eyes, huddled beneath the hollow stairwell. A faint sparkle trailed down the grim silhouette of his pale face. Lurid tears swelled like the melting wax of a dying candle. Hope rotted like the infested bud of a withered flower. Through the depths of his despair, there was nothing but languished hope and shattered dreams, Reckless with misery and bemused by sorrow, like the tormented core of dying soul. Ripe with beleaguered agony and hideous regret. His hollow and faded eyes were cast blankly ahead as he recounted the sadist anguish that plagued his memories and the hideous terrors that has consumed him.

He had once lived a luxurious and wealthy life. He had been destined for the precious throne. Wherever he went, his people had humbly bowed and submissively scraped before him. Never did he hear the murderous comments they muttered behind his backs, never did he recognize the putrid corruption that lurked among his deceptional kingdom and never did he realize the perished liberty that rotted in his reign. His childhood was carefree and naive; his beliefs were ripe with ignorance and arrogance, oblivious of poverty or even of its existence. When finally he learnt of the slums and backstreets of his city, he barely spared the thought a moment. The beggars and inhabitants of the ghettoes were, after all, lower than him. Until finally, a brutal and savage mutiny rose up against the ruthless tyrants and nefarious officials, confused and terrified he desperately fled. Now helplessly perused by his rigorous tormentors, he lived among the ranks of those who he once despised and loathed. Through the vanquished past of his eminence, there was nothing left now but broken lives and fractured promises.

As the vague and faded tears tickles down his insipid and pale chin it left a trail of sunken misery and consumed adversity. A dark shadow loomed over the huddled figure as he gazed up to confront a towering stranger. The solitary visitor stared back through his enigmatic cloak. Aghast panic processed his wretched form and delirious mind. Was this another one of those parties sent to capture him? When will his tormentors relent in their merciless crusade to further degrade and torture him? With a final cry of agony he roared, “Why won’t you abominations just leave me alone, you have already captured the throne. Just please spare my life, I am already tormented enough!”

The uninvited visitor removed his mangled cloak to reveal a dark and emaciated face extensively scarred by the ordeal of famine and engraved by the captions of hardship. The only fragment of life that lingered were the burning sparkles that illuminated his hopeful eyes which twinkled like flaming demon pearls when plunged into an abyss of darkness and sorrow. His mouth firm and his twisted fingers clutched, the old man was covered by tattered and worn Fabrics that hung on his anorexic figure like the worn cloths that dangle from the tawny and twisted arms of an erect scarecrow. Yet He stood beaten but determined, like a lonely pine in a forest of despair scourged by fires of torment and agony. With great effort he attempted to bow his twig like body into a hearty gesture of respect but instead helplessly collapsed onto the cold hard floor which was the only thing that obstructed him from falling into depths of his torment. With the last grasps of life he faintly managed to mutter “Hear I young one, I hath drunk to the cup o’ people’s kindness of my ‘hole life, takin’ what change they spared, now my ol’ age it ought to end. To god I give myself back, you take tis’ and give back to the world what I own.”

As the old man perished with the loss of leaking hope, With his last lines his fist released to reveal two shiny silver coins that lay in his over stretched palm. The two silver coins stared at him like boggled eye balls, at the sight of these coins, new hope inflamed within him as he rose. He gave the corpse of the old man nothing but an indifferent glance of disgust for after all; he was but a filthy beggar.

He departed the abandoned dwelling which has over time become infested with lush vegetation that peppered the stonework like green moss that cover the slippery round rocks which surround the placid flowing creeks, roots that flooded the creases like the slippery tentacles of a startled octopus. This dwelling was inhabited by the homeless but diligent labors that backed a corrupt social hierarchy where the rich leeched off some worthless trash called the blood and sweat of the poor and oppressed.

Exiting his desolated refuge as he turned to confront the city a rigid array of cold, dark mountains of bricks and steel loomed over the city. They greeted him with their stormy stares; the only thing colder is the melancholy expressions of the feeble beggars that litter the streets. Chilled by the frosty winter surges, their helplessly exposed bodies were pitilessly lashed by its icy grasps as they helplessly struggled for the faintest cover that their relentless tormentors can spare. As darkness dawns the luminous copper coin clung desperately to the sinking horizon as its final dying smile waned before being consumed by the haunting darkness of its absence. As the beggars stare through the deceptively thin glass into the vividly dancing fires of the rich people’s dwelling, they tediously gazed with blaring envy and pouring loss for what their hardships and endeavors deserve.

A firm knock shattered the uncanny silence that processed the night. He knocked confidently again on the bitterly frigid doorframe that towered over his puny figure like a deserted fish trapped by an unbroken swarm colossal Sea Serpents. As the door gradually cracked open like the waxing crescent of a flourishing moon as its widening smile grew meekly to reveal the full eminence of its mesmerizing beauty. From these small cracks flowed a trail of exquisite and wondrous odors that capered with the paramount excitement and desperate hunger of him. Compulsion drove him to peek through the cracks to discover oversized plate of extravagant food next to their equally oversized bottles of vivid wine. Suddenly the door swung open and there confronting him stood a pompous and corpulent aristocrat as warm firelight shone on his fat, vigorous face. Immediately a look of utter revulsion and hideous disgust crossed his bloated face as it shrunk into an expression of a dried plum, this emotion soon transcended into pure rage. His bloodshot eyes burned with raging fury like a frenzied pyro maniac. Outraged he roared, “you filthy scum, scurry back to the stinkin’ holes you crawled out of!”

With these reckless remarks, the hefty boar picked up a rotten apple and casted it at him. Though the murky lamps that portrayed the gloomy alleyways, he strode casually devoid of all hopes and striped of all emotions but despair. He was hunted, hated and loathed by the very people who lived amongst before he was torn from his hollow and meaningless throne; he was but a petty frog at the bottom of an abysmal well, seeing only the faint opening above heads, oblivious to the ominous expanses that linger beyond his vision. As he continued down the backstreet and slums he spotted a poster, it was a wanted poster, his face and name printed largely and imposing, the text lined like neat array of marching soldier, staring at him with their cold blooded captions. Suddenly, grasped by the horror of the danger that he is subjected to, he decided to flee the city.

At the city gates crowds of people gathered at the imposing gates that towered over the landscape like twisted dead branches that stemmed from busy ground with colonies of hays ants. The hordes of people were peasants who came to the cities seeking for opportunities and riches, yet they only manage to fill the bottom gaps of the structure which supported the rich as they ruled at the top. Among the men were also women, one especially caught his eye. In her arms, huddled a sick infant. Oceans of tears flooded his pale, colorless cheeks leaving faded trails marked by the streams of melting tears. His weak chest heaved with every desperate gasp like the gentle swaying of light green reeds with the even flowing breeze. The desperate mother was powerless in tempering the agony of her dying infant, she held him with loving compassion, her arms weak with fatigue and her figure shaking from the bleak and unforgiving harshness of winter. Her eyes faded of all luster being plagued by helpless grieving.  He remembered the death of the old man and his final words, now he disposed himself for the indifference which he had given to the faithful loss of cherished companion. He had been blinded by his own arrogance and pride. He removed a silver coin and passed it to the feeble mother who received it with overwhelming gratitude.

As he traveled further into the wilderness a forest loomed in the distance like a castle in the wild. Starvation tormented him as he frantically searched for food, he reached for the apple, and he devoured it hungrily and tossed the remains absently aside. An amazing expanse of lush green foliage greeted the unaware explorer into the mist, tangled and twisted fingers beckoned him to join them, murky and gloomy smog reign the mystifying landscape. Utter and complete silence engulfed the massive vastness. In the distance is a billowing curtain that moves with the whispering wind. A tattered hut lay in the distance, poking the delicate tip of its chestnut head through the lively shrubs that danced with the heaving breeze, its owner toiled effortlessly on his thriving crops. The sweat of longing tickled down his sun baked forehead, the breaths of endeavour heaved with his fatigued figure and the tears of aspiration rolled past the dimpled craters of his cheeks. He approached the old farmer pleading for refuge, expecting further degradation. However kindly farmer took him in, offered him food and provided him shelter. Together they worked, their sweat and efforts ripened into satisfaction and happiness, now he lived among the ranks of those who he once ruled and exploited. It was a simple life, devoid of the deception, corrupt politics and the hollow concept of noblity.

The tender sweat of toil caressed him gentlely past his tawny skin, in its startled trail lingered the trickles of hope and contentment. He paced through the carpet of pine needles, scattered sunlight hitting his sun-baken skin. There stood a single apple tree among the battalions of gallant pines. On the lonely apple tree stemmed countless vibrant, round apples that resembled giant boggled eyeballs winking back at him with their bright crimson hue. He paced freely towards the ocean, each step firmer than the last. The ocean had previously only been a theatre for his commissioned arks of death and greed, like a stage, to be manipulated and controlled from above his ivory tower. He had never witnessed the pure joy and ecstasy of the ocean, free to laugh and play like energetic children left to wonder and explore.

He reached the edge of the ocean, the frenzied tumults of the ravaged winds were but the cries of a lively infant compared to the savage uproar of the hungry waves. Their overstretched arms waved with the beating wind. The chilled and piercing winds whipped the landscape like the wild slashes of a vanquished horseman. He gazed into the mystifying vastness lit by the inferno horizon. He thought about the footprints of corruption which his reign had scared the kingdom, he thought of the suffering caused by his indifference, he thought about the decaying moral fabrics of his society. However he now had a new beginning, he now, finally felt sympathy for the ranks of those unfortunates. He reached into his pocket and took out the one remaining silver coin which he had kept for so long. He threw the last handful of glitter into the sea.

By Zhao Feng(Felix) Liu 10C

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