All Hope Abandon This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 23, 2012
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Somewhere, on the coast of a lonely island, stands a lighthouse. No one has ever been brave enough to climb up the steep rocks to see it up close. Legend has it that no one has been on this island in thousands of years.
Every legend has a grain of truth to it, and the same goes for this one. Every night as sailors pass by, they wonder who could be lighting the lamp that guides their journey if the island is uninhabited.
One evening, there was a storm. The sea was wild, and the air was foul. More disturbing than the storm was that the lighthouse was dark. The light had never gone out, but tonight the only light came from the glow of the moon, heavily obscured by clouds that threatened to release torrents of rain.
A single ship named The Wanderer had the ill fortune to pass the island that night. Though the name was anything but frightening, the ship was feared for its horrors. It was a pirate ship.
Deep below the main deck, there was a small girl. The pirates had thrown her in the bilge: the lowest level of the ship. The inky darkness felt like a living being, and the girl felt as though it would swallow her. Her teeth chattered, her dress was soaked with sludgy water and she could sense rats nearby.
On higher decks, the girl’s whimpers could not be heard above the storm and the drunken shouts of the pirates, who were celebrating their recent exploits.
“We got ‘er!” a very unkempt pirate yelled. “We’ll die…rich men!”
There were cries of “Aye!” as the men raised their cups, spilled most of it, drank what was left, and then drunkenly refilled their cups.
Months ago, half of The Wanderer’s crew had been killed when they attacked a trade ship. The sailors had fought back valiantly, and the pirates could not steal their cargo. The remaining pirates vowed to get revenge. They created and executed a plan to kidnap a princess from the land of the sailors. Once they had her for a few days, they would send word to the king demanding double the amount of goods they tried to get. In fact, the pirates realized they could ask for half the kingdom and it would be given to them. The plan was teeming with revenge and hatred, and it was clear that it would be the princess who would pay dearly if the pirates did not get what they wanted.
The pirates were so drunk on rum and victory they hardly noticed the terrible storm brewing until it was too late.
“AVAST!” cried a pirate from the crow’s nest. Barely visible in the twilight were high rocks that would soon be their demise.
“The Wanderer has seen her last days!” a pirate shouted. “We shall drown in the depths of the sea!”
They turned the steering wheel with all their might, but The Wanderer was a large vessel that could not make sharp turns. They threw down an anchor, but the chain broke as if it was made of brittle wood. The darkened lighthouse stood by calmly.
“Alas!” cried the captain. “I shall go down with this ship.”
The Wanderer hit the rocky shore with an earthshaking crash and shattered to bits. A wave swept the pirates into the raging sea. The pirate ship sank to be reunited with her evil crew.
Only the girl survived. Pieces of the ship broke away, and then she was no longer prisoner of the bilge. She was in the frigid sea, frantically swimming up. Then the waves carried her unconscious body to a safe area of the shore.
Finally, the beam of light came back, illuminating the waves. The lighthouse was older than time, some said. It held secrets. Actually, it held one little boy.
There was a window that the boy could have squeezed through, but he was too high up. He did not know how long he had been there, but it didn’t matter. Every night, he faithfully kept the lamp shining. The light represented hope, for him and the sailors passing by. He liked that he alone could save countless sailors’ lives.

“I’m happy here.” The words echoed off the stone bricks and disappeared. The chilly wind penetrated his lighthouse and for the first time, he felt lonely. So, he had left the lamp unlit, hoping that a ship would get help.
Outside, the wet girl stirred. Her beloved mama and papa would be looking for her by now. Maybe there were kind people here who would help. Obviously, she had not heard the legends.
The vast, shadowy island scared her, but she climbed the shore. She frequently slipped on the wet rocks, but finally, she reached the top, and was greeted by the sight of a lighthouse.
She came across a tattered sign that read, All hope abandon, ye who enter here. She could not read, but she perceived the general feeling of it. As she walked she began to sing, for her voice kept her company.
The boy had not seen the girl get swept onto the shore, and when he heard the singing, he wondered if it was some kind of spirit. He had not seen the ship sink, but he heard the sickening crash and guessed what had happened. He felt horribly, selfishly responsible.
The whole island seemed to hold its breath as the sweet music echoed through the trees. The boy stood staring at the walls, listening.

The girl got closer to the lighthouse, and her voice wavered when she thought she heard another voice lost in the wind.

“Help me…” The boy was overcome with loneliness and he screamed above the storm, “HELP ME!”


“Who’s there?”

The boy’s face appeared, high up in the window. “Please help me.”

“I’ll get you out,” the girl said calmly. She walked around the lighthouse looking or a way to get him out. There wasn’t one. “I’m terribly sorry. I just don’t know what to do. I should leave.”
“No, no please don’t go!” But he could sense that he was alone. The wind ripped through the trees. The boy’s heart broke. Finally, the heavens opened and rain poured down in thick sheets.
The boy leaned out the window and felt dizzy. If climbing out of the window seemed dangerous before, now it was absolutely crazy. The rain had made the stones slippery. He’d fall to his death. He stood for a while, unsure of what to do. The world was overwhelming and huge, and the rain blinded him.
The girl began to sing again.
He pulled himself up so that he could stand on the windowsill, and lowered himself onto the slippery wall. The stone bricks wouldn’t have made good footholds in the best of times, and now he almost fell with every movement. But he was determined to find the owner of that voice. The song gave him the strength to keep going. After what seemed like a thousand miserable hours, he made it. He ran to the middle of the field where the girl was standing. The boy took the girl’s hands and they stood like that in the downpour.


Her hair fluttered in the wind. She looked at him, like she knew he wanted to say something.


“Were you on that ship? I should have lit the lamp but I was hoping to be rescued. Did I really kill the sailors?”

“Pirates,” said the girl, not trying to hide her disdain. “They stole me away from my home. They got what they deserved. You saved me.”


“No, you saved me.”


She pointed behind him to the lighthouse. “It’s our only hope. If we climb back inside, we’ll be able to use a flickering lamp to send a message to passing ships.”

The boy had freedom on a small scale. He escaped the lighthouse, but he was still trapped on the island. He could feel her looking at him intently, and he could feel the glow of her smile.


The storm cleared, the sun rose, and shades of pink, purple and orange seeped into the sky. Within seconds, it was bright enough to see clearly.


Sunlight outlined the girl’s face. She’s beautiful, the boy thought. He looked over his shoulder to the lighthouse. “We’ll can find vines to make a rope so we can come and go as we please,” he said.



He felt the girl’s cold fingers slipping out of his grasp, and by the time he turned around, she was running into the sunrise. Her hair fluttered behind her like a flag. She looked back when she reached the forest, and called out, “Come on then,” before disappearing.

The boy was enthralled by this girl and would follow her anywhere. He was excited to escape. They were marooned, but not without hope.

Without another second thought or backward glance, the boy ran into the forest. He thought he heard an echo of music.





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