By David Flin
On the Sea Lion Press Forums, we run a monthly Vignette Challenge. Contributors are invited to write vignettes on a specific theme (changed monthly).
The theme for the 21st contest was Hope
The Long Wait
She had been waiting for a long time. She’d rather lost track of how long, but in the end, it didn’t matter. It would take however long it took, and there was no hurry.
In this place, there was never any hurry. There was a sense that there was all the time in the world. There was no urgency, and there was time to simply enjoy the journey.
Not that she was going anywhere, not yet. She was waiting. This was the spot, and it wasn’t as though waiting was boring. People came through the arrivals gate, and they were often confused. The journey here was often disorientating, and it often scared people, and she spoke with them, and put their minds at ease, and showed them where they needed to go and where things were, and how things worked.
Sometimes they would ask here to go with them, to go further into the new land, but she was going to wait here. This was her spot. They’d sometimes call her an angel for directing and calming them, and pointing the way, and then they would go on, and she’d stay here, waiting.
She’d lost track of the days, but still she waited. It wasn’t hope, it was certainty. Hope was when there was doubt, and she had no doubt. This wasn’t a place for doubts.
Sometimes people asked her what it was like, over the horizon. She would shrug. She didn’t know. She would know when she got there, but she couldn’t go there until her wait was over.
Day after day. She wasn’t bored. There were so many people passing who needed a bit of guidance, and she gave them that guidance.
“Is this heaven?” a child had asked her.
It might have been. She didn’t really know. “It’s over there. You’ll find out when you get there. It’ll be interesting.”
Old people and young people came and moved on.
“Why are you waiting?” they asked.
“I’ve a job to do.” She’d said that in the other place. She’d been told then that she was an angel, and she had scoffed. She’d just been doing her job. That had turned out well, in the end.
“Are you hoping for something to turn up?”
“Hope is when you don’t know. I’m here for a reason.”
The days passed. Maybe a month, maybe a year, maybe a decade, maybe longer. Time wasn’t important here. There were always people coming. She waited and helped, and watched each of them carefully.
More days passed, and sometimes she wondered what was happening in the other place. When her time her was finished, she would find out, and there was no hurry.
Then, one day, people arrived, but she didn’t see them. She didn’t see them because she only saw one person, and her wait was over. She spoke with him.
“You’ve taken your time,” she said.
“Well, one of us had to be late. I thought it should be my turn.”
“Aye, well, I hope you’ve got some tales to tell.”
“Maybe. Just one thing. Is this heaven?”
She smiled with the warmth of a summer’s day, and took his arm. “It is now.”
David Flin is the author of the SLP books How to Write Alternate History, Six East End Boys, Tales from Section D, The Return of King Arthur and Other Alternate Myths, and Bring Me My Bow