What Is Hope?

Entry by: jaguar

23rd January 2019
At first it’s just a feeling, she can’t be sure. Her nerves are strung out so thin they twang with tension. Many times she’s mistaken those tremors for change. For the better or worse it didn’t seem to matter now. All Lucy thought about was getting out of this space, this mindset, this rigidity.
If the tunnel had been either smaller or larger it might have helped. She had been squatting all night, her head forced at an angle against the rock ceiling, her body suspended just above the water. Every so often a drop of something landed on her face. It smelt of oil but she had no idea why. It was too dark to see what colour the liquid was.
When she’d scurried in here it was already night, the sky black, no moon relief outside. The further she’d pushed down this tunnel the more solid the darkness, in and outside her head. Every furtive step, every attempt to conceal herself more had loosened her grip on hope.
Lucy shifts position, to give her screaming muscles ease. No good, there’s no comfort in the few centimetres of space around her. She senses other creatures breathing somewhere in the tunnel. Her biggest fear at the beginning was something following her in, trapping her. Now she’s equally afraid of something deeper wanting to get out.
She can’t remember what she was running from anyway. Angry shouting, a man but he keeps his back to her, she hasn’t seen his face. Why had she been so sure he would wait for her outside? It must have been hours and hours, it’s cold, he would have frozen out there.
Would anybody miss her, raise an alarm? She couldn’t picture where she lived or with whom. Her sense of self is missing as if it had been scraped off by this rough tunnel, her petrified mind dumping everything in her flight. Why was she here?
There! She’s not imagining it, something is changing, it feels as if all the occupants of this tunnel are holding their breath. The silence is so pure Lucy finds she’s crying. She is a child again, waiting for Father Christmas to come. She’s a teenager who believes she will find the other half of her whole, that some rough boy will complete her.
She lets her body fall into the thin stream that runs along the tunnel floor. Somehow it’s colder still and her body emits a series of silent screams at the shock. Inch by inch Lucy tries to turn round so she’s facing back out of the tunnel. It takes what seems like hours and she’s panting by the time she gets back on all fours, her hands and knees braced each side of the stream on slippery narrow ledges.
Whatever’s behind her or out on the hilltop knows she’s there now. She laughs out loud because they probably always knew, she was kidding herself that staying silent would fool them and keep her safe. She’d been mad to think hiding away was a good plan. Instead she’d probably got hypothermia and she’d invalidated herself.
Lucy looked at her fingers before she realised it was no longer pitch dark. She could just make out her hands clenched into fists within her thermal gloves. She should go out there roaring. She shunted her arms forward, walking like an ape and the activity loosened her fear. It dropped behind her in the tunnel forming a barricade between her and whatever might follow.