Hope Springs Eternal
Hello, and a belated Happy New Year to you and yours. I have to imagine that by now many of you are thigh-deep in New Year’s resolutions (and that just as many of you have decided to toss them out the window), and I wish you luck (or peace of mind) with that. I, for one, although I am writing this in the past, can say with the utmost assurance that I have made no such resolution. I found out a long time ago that I can’t do it, and I’m too old and tired to beat myself up over that anymore.
Kelly: And what fun is there in beating yourself up?
True enough. But what I do tell myself every year at this time is: on to bigger and better things. While I won’t resolve to do more, strive harder, think clearer, I will hope for it. For as Alexander Pope has been quoted to say, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”
Kelly: Are you sure you just don’t like typing the word ‘breast’?
No. I’m not sure of that at all.
My point being, that hope… well, it’s one of those things that I just can’t seem to get enough of. Never mind what the gods might have planned for us or what our most-important-they-that-are might wish for us, if we don’t hope for ourselves then nothing that anyone else wants for us will matter.
Hope was the story behind one of my earlier novels, Forty-two Stairs. If you haven’t read it, Forty-two Stairs is about a recovering alcoholic who (as many recovering addicts have) lost anything and everything that was important to him before he finally got a handle on the fact that he was killing himself slowly but efficiently. There are a thousand reasons as to why people fall, but I like to believe that is hope that makes us stand again. ‘One day at a time’ is just another way of saying, “I hope I make it through today, and I hope that making it through today will help me make it through tomorrow.”
It’s easy to give up on… hope. At the risk of running too high up on the sands of ‘preachyhood,’…
Kelly: Oh, boy. Here we go
… I recall being much younger than I am now…
Kelly: So, think way, way, way back into the void beyond space and time…
*chuckling* … and reading a verse (that I had to look up to get the actual quote right) that went, “My endurance has expired; I have lost all hope of deliverance.” Wow. I mean, no wonder the book that rested in was Lamentations. I’d be lamenting myself. Hell, just reading that made me lament. What seems more broken than having lost ALL hope? However, the cool thing about hope is that you rarely hear ‘hope’ get anything but ‘lost’.
“I have lost all hope.”
“Hope is lost.”
And one of the best: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Because that which is lost… can usually be found. If we try, right?
All right, all right, I’m pulling back now. Reversing the rudders, so to speak. Getting away from the podium before you start imagining me in a dark suit with a notched collar.
Kelly: Why? It’s a good look.
Thank you, my friend.
But as for the rest of this, I just wanted to say that I hope that you hope that 2016 is going to be a fantastic year. I hope that you are all well, and happy, and things get progressively better and you feel increasingly stronger.
I hope for the best. We deserve it. It was a tough year… and when the going gets tough, hope is all we have.
Forty-two Stairs – Excerpt
He was another three trips in, panting and wheezing like a dog left in the backseat of a sealed-up sedan, when Dennis met him on the staircase. “Did you know someone’s sitting on your couch down there?”
Owen nodded, using the break to set his ass down on the stairs and wrestle with heartbeat. “Baba. Apparently. He’s watching my stuff.”
“I’m not sure I’d trust some purple-haired freak—”
“There’s nothing left to steal, Dennis,” Owen said, exhaustion weighting the words as though the act of
speech was even too much to take. “The good shit’s been sold, the mediocre shit’s already been carried up, and I can’t see a guy the size of a pixie walking away with my couch.”
“Pixie’s have fairy dust.” Dennis smirked and wiggled his fingers like his hand had become a five-legged insect. “Makes things fly.”
“Fairy dust,” Owen huffed and hauled himself upright, doing his best to grin at his brother but more than sure the expression failed from pure fatigue. He felt like his legs were going to give out and his chest explode. “Let’s hope so.”
Dennis rolled his eyes and Owen’s need to laugh won out over body shutdown.
“What?” Owen asked with a shrug. “He’s cute.”
“What’s wrong with purple?”
“As a shirt? Nothing. As hair …”
“I love it.”
Owen laughed. “Different is cool. Sexy even. But it doesn’t matter anyway. For one, I have no idea if he’s
Dennis lifted an eyebrow, and Owen grinned at the similarities the two of them always managed between their expressions. “Well, I don’t!”
Dennis only mouthed his reply, over-exaggerating each syllable with lip movement. Purple.
“That doesn’t mean shit.”
Purple was mouthed yet again.
When Owen parted his lips to try once more, Dennis cut him off with a repeat of the dramatic, silent process. Owen tsk’d soundly, and waved him off. “Besides …” Owen nodded. “No relationships. I’m supposed to know I can stay sober before I risk someone else’s heart. Healthy me, healthy them, that kind of thing.”
“Fuck that!” Dennis laughed. “Are they trying to kill you?”
“Nope.” Owen dropped a hand on his brother’s shoulder and started down the stairs. “I tried to do that to myself. Come on. It’s just the big stuff left, and Mom’s still upstairs putting everything where she thinks it needs to be. Let’s get this done so I can get her the hell out.”
The street and sidewalk seethed with heat, the afternoon sun creating an environment that would drive
sane men into northern-migrating animals. Not a spot on Owen’s body was dry. Chaffing was impossible to avoid, itching had taken on new meaning, and at that point in time Owen was more than sure someone very high up was doing their deity-powered best to make him pay, pay, pay.
The loveseat was a bitch to manoeuvre; the couch was a nightmare. The TV should have been easy but by that time every step was a journey into agony. It got to the point where Owen was counting each stair, and if Dennis’s face was any indication—grey lips, white skin, splotches of red—he was doing the same. So when Sebastian (his post at the furniture obviously forgotten), skipped past them for the third time, tripping up the stairs as easily as he bopped down, with rags and cleaning products for God could only know what purpose, both Owen and Dennis stopped and glared as though their eyes could launch
Sebastian simply bowed his head and continued past them. “Don’t worry. They’re only stairs.” He stopped at the landing, cocked his head and gave Owen a sideways glance that was both angelically sweet, and mischievously flirtatious. “You’ll get used to them.”
Copyright © 2014, A.F. Henley
Get your copy of Forty-two Stairs at:
Happy New Year, my friends.
Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and
the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica. A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly publishing with Less Than Three Press since 2012, and has been writing like mad ever since—an indentured servant to the belief that romance and true love can mend the most broken soul. Even when presented in prose.
Henley’s newest release, Wolf, WY hit the market on October 21st and is now available at your favourite online book retailer.
For more information, please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com.