by Steve Heron OAM

“Hope is wings in the wind.”

In my third novel of the Bayside Blues series, Busted Curse, (yet to be published), a group of friends discover a box in a secret cellar of an old (haunted) house they are exploring. Before opening the box, Maddy jokingly says that the box might contain a curse like Pandora’s Box. It creates concern among her friends.

“Like … open it,” Tiana says.
“You open it. We’ve got no idea what’s in there,” Jason says, taking a step back.
“Yeah, it could be like Pandora’s box,” Maddy smirks.
“Whose box?” Mitch scratches the side of his head.
“Pandora, it’s from Greek Mythology. She received a box, actually a jar, as a gift and was told not to open it.”
“That’s just daft. Why would you give someone a gift and tell them not to open it?” Mitch throws up his hands.
“I dunno, but curiosity got the better of her, and she opened it,” Maddy sounds mysterious.
“What was inside?” Coby rubs his hands in excitement.
“The seven deadly sins.” She moves her torch under her chin as Ryan did earlier.
“What? Sims? As in Sim City?” Jason says.
“No. Sins. S I N S. All the evil stuff in the world.”
“That’s pretty intense. It sounds like it was a curse,” Ryan says.
“It was a curse,” Maddy makes her voice sound scarier.
“Aren’t curses just superstition?” Mitch asks. “You told me you don’t believe in superstition.”
Maddy laughs an evil laugh. “Mwha ha ha ha!”
“Stop! Just stop mucking around.” Jason steps further back. “I … I … I don’t think we should open it.”
Maddy hands her torch to me. “Here, hold this.”
“Wait,” Coby says as he puts his dust mask and goggles back on. We all follow suit.
Maddy is full of drama as she lifts the lid. Creeeeeek! Jason takes another step back. We shine our torches inside. It’s empty, except for a small black velvet pouch.
“What do you reckon’s in the pouch?” Mitch asks.
“Gold,” says Coby rubbing his hands.
“Probably just some old coins,” Jason looks over our shoulders.
“Deadly sins,” Maddy jokes.
“An evil curse,” Ryan says in a spooky voice.

This conversation is the precursor for Jason to believe he has released a curse. Jason then assigns every bad thing that happens to him to this release of the curse. There is nothing like a curse to evaporate any sense of hope. Jason has many reasons to lack hope. He broke his arm playing his beloved football; his dad ran out on the family six months earlier; and his friend Tiana is concussed when she falls on him from a ladder he is standing under. Bad things happen.

I worked with children for over forty years of my life. Over that time, I estimate that I spent 15,000 hours listening to children talk about the highs and lows of their lives. Nothing is more gut-wrenching than seeing the diminishing flickering of the candle of hope in a child convinced that bad things keep happening to them.

One such child was Rachel (not her real name). When Rachel was new at school, she was desperate to make friends. Life in her previous country of residence could have been a lot happier. She witnessed domestic violence when her parent’s marriage broke down, and she shifted away from her old school friends when she moved to Australia. Unfortunately, Rachael found it challenging to fit in. Her desperation to make friends was thwarted by her lack of social confidence and an uncanny habit of speaking about others behind their backs, therefore sabotaging trust.

Like Jason in my novel, Rachel believed she was cursed. Her mother was in a new relationship. She didn’t like the new partner or the partner’s child who moved into her bedroom. Rachel showed early signs of suicidal ideation. Because of this, I referred her for professional help and continued supporting her.

I was once called a hooligan of hope by a colleague, and I wanted to see Rachel’s candle of hope reinvigorated. On one occasion, she kept saying she wished things were back to when mum and dad were not fighting before they broke up. I told her something I had learnt from Harry, an amazing eight-year-old. He told me, “Hope is more powerful than a wish.” I told her that a wish is something we long for, that we know will not happen, and hope is something we know can happen, something we have some degree of power over.

In my novel “One Thousand Snapshots”, Maddy and her mother discuss this.

‘I wish Dad was still here.’ I grab Mum’s arms and wrap them tighter around me, and we sit in a comforting embrace.
Mum whispers, ‘I used to have that wish too.’
‘What do you mean used to?’
‘Are you able to make Dad come back?’ she asks.
‘Oh, course not.’
‘Then aren’t you wasting your wish?’
‘What?’ I say, wondering where she is taking this.
‘When I last went to my counsellor, the conversation was useful.’
‘Well, it helped me to realise that if you wish for something that can’t happen, then it’s a waste of a wish?’
‘Mum, that’s the whole idea of a wish.’
She strokes my cheek. ‘Who has the power in a wish?’
‘Well, the person who grants wishes.’ I shrug.
‘Who’s that?’
‘I don’t know, the wish fairy, I suppose.’
‘So, you don’t have the power?’
‘No, not really.’ I’m not sure where Mum is going with all this until—
‘There is something more powerful than a wish.’ Mum has a glimmer in her eye.
I give her my best quizzical expression.
‘Hope,’ Mum adds.
‘Hope?’ My eyebrows try to meet in the middle.
‘Hope is more powerful than a wish.’ She has a satisfied smile on her face.
I let it sink in for a while.
Mum adds, ‘A wish is something you long for that may never happen, and hope is something you know can happen. You have the power.’
‘So, I should change my wish into hope?’ I ask.
‘Difficult to do, but it will make a world of difference when you do.’

I saw a glimmer in Rachel’s eyes when I talked about hope like this. Not long after this conversation, Rachel went back to her country of origin on holiday. On her return, she said she had a gift for me.

The small package contained a necklace with a pendant. The word ‘HOPE’ was engraved on it. The saying on the card read, “She chose hope, so anything’s possible.”

The emotion juice welled in my eyes. The glimmer of hope in Rachel’s eyes becoming a glowing flame.

There’s always hope. A texting conversation between Tiana and Maddy toward the end of “Busted Curse” reads:

Tiana: Thanks. Hey u know how u told us about Pandora’s box?

Maddy: Yeah

Tiana: Well I looked it up

Maddy: And?

Tiana: She did let out some bad stuff but the last thing in the box was hope, but she didn’t let it out

Maddy: Is that good or bad?

Tiana: Good—I think—like – hope remains

Maddy: Yeah – there’s always hope

Inside every adult with depression may be an inner child
whose sense of hope was somehow depleted as a child.
Inside every genuinely happy adult may be an inner child
whose sense of hope was nurtured when they were a child.
Inside every adult with a stress-related illness may be an inner child
whose sense of hope was somehow depleted as a child.
Inside every adult who is content with who they are may be an inner child
whose sense of hope was nurtured as a child.
Inside every convicted adult criminal may be an inner child
whose sense of hope was somehow diminished as a child.
Hope is a powerful potion. Children should be natural vessels of hope.

  • Children with hope have a positive future and a clue about who they are and where they are going.
  • Children with hope can live with the complexities that life dishes up and can bounce back after disappointments and problems.
  • Children with hope don’t need to escape into the world of drugs and antisocial behaviour.
  • Children with hope treasure life and therefore have no place for thoughts of suicide.
  • Children with hope have respect for themselves and others and a sense of connectedness in their community.
  • All children should have hope.

Glimmer of Hope
If only I could give you the gift of hope,
but hope is not mine to give,
it is something inside of you,
waiting to pierce the darkness.
When all appears dark and lost, search in the stardust.
Inside you will find a surprise or two.
May this be a reminder of the hope that is inside of you.
Sometimes it is hard to see, but it is always there.
Hope is finding a glimmer in the dust.
Hope is stronger than fear.
Hope is an open heart.
Hope is an anchor for the soul.
Hope is more powerful than a wish.

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