Flash Fiction Challenge: Hope In The Face Of Hopelessness

Today’s challenge is as apt as you want it to be — the theme of your as-yet-unwritten story must be, we need hope in the face of of hopelessness. It’s a bit dramatic-sounding, but themes are rarely served by a soft touch. So, that’s your task. Tackle a short piece of flash fiction that deals with that as its central theme: why we need hope in the face of its opposite.

You’ve got, mmm, let’s say 2000 words for this one.

Due by Friday, January 27th, noon EST.

Post online, give us a link below, etc.

57 responses to “Flash Fiction Challenge: Hope In The Face Of Hopelessness”

    • Good stuff. It has an epic feel despite the short length. I could feel the weight of history pressing forward despite the efforts to burn it down..

      • Thanks! I’ve been practicing a lot of drabble recently. I know the premise behind the story is a little cliché, and I could’ve taken a lot more words to flesh out the story with characters and plot, but I thought it wasn’t entirely necessary, as it was more the theme of hope that I wanted to encapsulate. Glad you liked it!

  1. So. I guess I’m kicking this off? Kinda hope someone else posts before I hit POST COMMENT.

    Anyway, this is a piece that’s about hope in unexpected places, which I’ve been tinkering with for a while. It seems to really fit the this week’s theme.

    “An ‘Okay’ New Year”: http://archiveofourown.org/works/3104516
    Rating: Teen/PG-13
    Blurb: Homeless, alone, and on the very fringes of society–the very fringes of hope–the last little bit of light goes out during the darkest night of Darshan O’Keefe’s short life. Good thing for him the dawn isn’t terribly far off.

    • Awww, I just wanna give Darshan a big hug and a hot meal. I’m glad he got a sympathetic ear to keep him company during the New Year celebrations. I hope he and Pietr manage to find Keely.

  2. When I read the theme yesterday, I didn’t like it. No sir. I’m not American, and this just made me think of the new President and… it’s not a favourite topic for my thoughts these days (hard to help it, though). So I thought I wouldn’t write anything. And then this morning I wrote 1,900 words without taking a break. I guess I can’t let a good challenge go by unanswered: How humbling. Thank you for that.

    (Story under intro in French. Not edited much, pretty much a first draft. Attempt at a male perspective.)

    • I have twin nieces and the youngest one struggled for that first breath. Your story brought me back to those scary and confusing moments in the delivery room. Oh, and I love the picture you included!

    • That sounds like a Reddit problem. You’ll probably need to consult the Reddit FAQ or help manual or whatever they have floating around for technical advice. Never used Reddit myself, but there will be something out there. Alternatively, you seem to have a Blogspot; why not just post it on that? If you’re thinking about posting a lot more fiction, you might want to consider a WordPress. It’s very user-friendly.

  3. This is difficult, and people may not feel up to it – especially with the 2000 word target. This Friday is Flashback Friday, so I have a get-out clause.
    After reading something on how right-wing leaders manipulate people (and the press) by feeding them obvious lies to start with, then carrying on with ones more difficult to prove, until people get too apathetic to care…. I know if we don’t all hone our skills at writing subversive fiction, we will be letting down all those writers who have shown us how to oppose oppression since writing began.
    Give us more subversive ideas, please, Chuck.

    • I see the 2000 words as I see the the speed signs on roads; not as a *target*, but a *limit*. I can’t speak for all followers of Chuck’s Friday Flash Fiction challenges, but I really enjoyed this one, and I thought it was a very apt theme.

      My comment with my story link back is, as I suspect many others are, stuck in the moderation queue. My theory is that recent events have driven Chuck to an alcohol-fuelled nude protest during the Inauguration. After being chased for several miles by the CIA, he was forced to take refuge in a comfortable and conveniently placed barn, where he later passed out until sobering up and procuring new clothes three days later. Hopefully he’ll have his camera with him, so that we can relive his adventures in macro during his weekly Macro Monday update.

  4. Hope is arrogant. It has an element of, “Glad it’s not me,” and it implies doubt.
    When you say to someone, “I hope your surgery goes well,” or, “I have every hope that your surgery will go well,” it implies it could go either way. Using the word “hope” gets you off the hook in case it doesn’t go well.
    I witness this five days and two evenings a week. I’m a hospice nurse. I call it Hope and Helper’s Disease.
    I serve dying people and their troupe of caregivers. I’ve watched the seventy-year-old yoga wife impatiently force organic supplements into her saliva-less husband’s mouth while she tells him to not give up hope and how dare he not try harder. I’ve cared for many young fathers who just want their daughters to see that Dad will fight for her happiness until his very last breath. These guys weren’t giving up hope; they were ferocious and determined. They had love as their coach.

    A few weeks ago, I loved-up and covered the ears of twin nine-year-old sons of a young mother named Julie who was trying her best to stay alive, while the fucking Monsignor read the bullshit Sacrament of the Sick (aka Last Rites).
    I followed the Monsignor to his car after he gave the sacrament.
    “Father, I want to ask you if you believe in what you just said.”
    “Why wouldn’t I?” He was put off by my directness, but when you have a job where you work with the dying, lots of wordiness doesn’t work.
    “The part where you want them to have the fortitude to resist temptation in the face of death and grace to prepare for death, so she may meet God in hope rather than in fear. She’s a young mother and wife. She didn’t request this. Her uber-Catholic mother did. How dare you?”
    “I’m not here for an argument. Maybe you should take this up in the morning and not at three a.m. like this.”
    “I’m just frustrated. Why don’t you just rewrite that prayer? Make it real; honors the delicacy of being human. My God she’s been through the ringer. I love her. She just misses her kids and her husband. If you want to witness and learn about love, you can spend a day with them. And now you come to her with your ‘Mass voice’ and tell her how much she’s sinned. C’mon.”
    I leaned against his car and cried. He gave me his ironed cotton handkerchief that smelled like incense. I blew my nose in it then tucked it in my sweater pocket.
    “What do you want, Nina?”
    “I just want everyone to stop trying to fix each other. We’re missing the magic. Stop the talking and listen. Just be. Speak the truth. You know; Julie has a friend who simply shows up and tells Julie how sad and scared she is. She’s honest and real. Julie appreciates it. The dying have huge insincerity detectors. And now that she can’t speak any longer, that friend is here day after tedious day. She’s honest, scared, sad, devastated and funny as hell. And still gets all the work around their house done.” Then I saw the look in this dude’s eyes and got the vibe that he may report me to my wonderful boss.
    “I’m sorry. I’ll leave you alone.” Then I waved backward as I walked inside. “Have a good sleep.”

    • Nina, I get what you are saying, sort of. Hope lies in the future, we can not do anything “in the Future”. Dealing with what/who is in front of us, or not, is how the future is shaped. It is like hanging a sign on a burger stand that reads, “Free Burgers Tomorrow”. Of course there are no free burgers, because tomorrow is always in the future. My fiction story this week addresses this. I may or may no post it. I was encouraged to see that others also have trouble with the idea of hope. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to say that those who personally have hope are in the wrong, it just isn’t what I strive for. That being said, I never play the lotto thinking, ‘hey there is no chance’, because there is a chance, small but still there. Maybe there is a better word for this and I am unaware, even optimism doesn’t really work here. Just as the man you spoke of may not have known what the woman needed, it is not my place to say what is right for others. Not being critical here, just thought you would like to know someone gets it.

  5. “We need hope in the face of hopelessness.” Barack Obama ran for President in 2008 under a sign that said HOPE in giant capital letters. Donald Trump ran in 2016 with language that painted the nation and the world as a place of hopelessness. Where is the middle ground? Is that even what this is supposed to be about?

    The choices for writing it seem obvious, but at the same time, it can be hard to express without sounding trite or clichéd. I’m not sure if I succeeded, but I tried my best. This one was hard. 1,504 words about a dog. Please to enjoy, and please, let me know how I did.


  6. Gosh, my creative mind doesn’t do hope well. I started a piece that my husband described as “bleak as fuck,” so I tabled it for a story of true hope. It’s about racism and homophobia in rural Pennsylvania, things that happened in my teenage years, and how things turned out fifteen years later. As per the subject matter, this contains offensive hateful language. But, these events are one of the things that makes my heart light. Makes me hope we can create a better future.


  7. This gives me more hope than just about anything else I’ve read here. It’s real. I got chills. Seriously.

  8. Hello Chuck. I think you should say what you like in your blog. As you said, it is your space. If I need a break from that “monkey dance” I will skip it. The titles/first line is all I need to read and… “Hey look! Flash Fiction! Awesome!”

    • Your site really doesn’t seem to like me trying to comment on it (I have the problem with a few other Blogger sites, too) so here it is!:

      Excellent way of both responding to the prompt, and standing it on its head. How very disheartening, to be subjected to a slow, lonely death of which hope makes a mockery. Glad you re-used this one, as I missed it the first time around.

      • Thanks. I’m not sure why you have trouble commenting. I’ve tried to set the comments to the most liberal setting, but I’ll mess around some more. Thanks for letting me know, and for the kind words.

  9. Hello, I did post my story this morning right after EGUW posted his. Or maybe I didn’t press the post comment button afhttps://wordpress.com/post/kim153.wordpress.com/1589ter pasting my link. So here it is again.

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