Hopeless (A Short Story)

An old man sat in a park feeding a few birds and reading the newspaper as was his morning prerogative to do. It was a particularly warm autumn day, the kind the old man loved most of all, and he passed his time in silent bliss until the watch on his wrist chirped the time of 12:40. He struggled only a moment to get to his feet and he began moving to another part of the park.

The bag on his should sway slightly with each step, and the old man could have sworn it had gotten heavier over the years. He found his usually table and began to set up his chess set, and cheerfully hummed a song to himself as he went about his simple work. He sat quietly waiting. Another man came running down the path and spotting the old man and dashed for him. At precisely 1:17 he sat down and mumbled an apology for his tardiness. The old man laughed, this had become a tradition for them, but said nothing lest his offended his young friend or motivate him to change his comical pattern in anyway.

Now the young man is a professor at a nearby college whom had spent a rather frustrating amount of time attempting to educate his young students on the versatility of singular words. He explained as much to the old man as the game unfolded.

“I truly thought it was a very simple exercise. But none of my pupils seemed to grasp it. All they had to do was pick a word and write a singular body of work to portray themselves using that single word. But no one was able to accomplish the rather simple goal…” the professor exclaimed with a huff of frustration.

The old man sat for a second and pondered the thought. “Hopeless is probably what I would have gone with” he finally said.

The young professor sat a little straighter. A serious look crossed his face, followed quickly by concern. “Oh no my friend you are not hopeless! You are a magnificent individual with exceptional qualities! And that’s the thesis of the day exercise! I want my students to see that within themselves!”

The old man laughed and began to explain, “I thought pretty careful about it my boy, and hopeless is the perfect word for me.”

“What could possibly make you think such a think my friend!” The professor exclaimed with no small amount of concern.

The old man took off his hat and set it on his knee, scratching his head as he did so, then he began to speak, “Well when I was a boy my poor mother could barely keep track of me for how often I wandered away, it would scare her near to death. When she would find me again she would throw her arms around me and tell me not to get so hopelessly lost. And when I was in high school I met my wife and fell hopelessly in love with her the first time I saw her smile at me. And then when my first child was born well… I knew from the moment I held that little girl my life would be all about making hers better from then on, with no hope of a change in path.”

He cleared his throat and made his second to last move. The professor whom had been silent for all of this was awestruck. He gazed down on the board and made a move of his own. The old man began to speak again.

“And now I am old, retired, all of my children have moved away and are happy. They have children of there own. My wife and I live in the same house we raised them in and every other Sunday the laughter of our beautiful grandchild can be heard anywhere in the old place. We aren’t rich in money, but I’m the richest man I know when it comes to being happy and how could I possibly hope for more then that?”