Generation Four: Hope: Part One
“Stop it,” Hope Standish said playfully to her boyfriend as they sat on the sofa in the living room after school one afternoon, a pile of books on her lap, “Now I said stop! We need to concentrate.”
“I am concentrating,” Hope’s longtime steady Ripp Grunt said, pushing aside Hope’s long dark hair and making a beeline for her neck. “… and I really think I need to focus on this. Oh yes, this definitely needs some attention.”
Hope giggled. “I meant on the math homework, you animal!” She teasingly pushed him away, and he came right back for her, pulling the math textbook from her hands and tossing it on the floor.
Realizing a lost cause when she saw it, Hope laughed and finally gave up trying to get her romantic boyfriend interested in schoolwork when they were sitting on a perfectly good couch just begging to be put to better use.
Hope loved Ripp so much. She couldn’t get enough of him, and she knew she would miss him when she became of age and would need to start thinking about her future.
A future that, regrettably, could not include him.
A girl had to think along the lines of who she was going to marry at some point, and the simple truth of it was that Ripp Grunt was not good husband material for Hope.
It wasn’t that he seemed as though he was interested in nothing but sex... oh, no, that part of him she could handle very well. In fact, she thought she’d completely enjoy keeping up with him in that respect and he would never have cause to regret getting married to her.
No, what kept her from seeing Ripp as a potential future mate was simply his lack of monetary reserves.
Ripp had moved to Viper Canyon from Strangetown, and lived in a small house on Fang Road with his two brothers, and he didn’t talk much about his life before he came to town.
All Hope knew was the minute Ripp’s older brother, Tank, came of age, he packed up Ripp and their younger brother, Buck, and moved them away from Strangetown with him in order to escape their tyrannical father.
Tank was struggling hard to make ends meet by working a low-paying job in the military, all the while supporting his two younger siblings and worrying over how he would send them to college. The result was that the Grunt family was unfortunately very poor, and there wasn’t a lot for Ripp to bring to a marriage.
Financially, at least.
Hope wanted to marry a rich husband. She couldn’t explain exactly why she felt it was so important, but it was. As much as she loved Ripp, and felt, in spite of their differences, they could have a happy life together and a fun, passion-filled marriage one day, she sadly knew it wasn’t meant to be.
At least I can be with him now, she thought, closing her eyes as his body pressed hungrily against hers. I should enjoy it while I can...
If someone were to have asked Ripp Grunt what he wanted from life, he would have said, without skipping a beat, that he wanted romance. A lot of romance and a lot of sex. However, had he searched deep within himself, he would have discovered that wasn’t entirely correct.
Without realizing it, what Ripp truly craved was love. Simple, unconditional love. Not dozens of romances, not to be a ladies’ man... just to love and be loved in return. Yet how could he understand the difference between true romantic love and physical lust? How could he know? How could he possibly realize what he truly wanted was the passion of a devoted spouse and the security of a family, when he had not ever experienced that in his life?
His mother had left the family when Ripp was only a child, and his father was stern, judgmental, and critical; neither were good examples for an impressionable young man to model. As a result, Ripp was on a constant search for love and approval, trying to get it any way he could, and when he found it with Hope, he didn’t feel a need to search any longer.
When she told him she would go steady with him, it had made Ripp the happiest guy on earth. He didn’t ever want to be without her. She meant the world to him.
All he wanted was to be next to her, to hold her close, and not ever let her go.
“Hope, please tell me we’ll stay together once we go to college,” Ripp whispered, holding her hands between his. “I don’t ever want to lose you.”
“Oh, Ripp...” Hope sighed. She wrapped her arms around him and painfully closed her eyes. She couldn’t answer him, either yes or no.
Not fair, it’s just not fair...
She didn’t want to make promises to him that she couldn’t keep. Yet she loved him so deeply, almost desperately. She hated to think of a life without him, but she couldn’t stay with him! Much as she wanted to, she couldn’t!
“Just hold me, Ripp,” she whispered. “Please... I can’t talk about that now. I don’t want to think about going to college.”
Ripp held her, wondering why it was so difficult for Hope to talk about going away to Sim State. He was really looking forward to being able to take their relationship to the next level, and he thought she would be, too. He sighed. Maybe she was just upset about leaving home... he knew she was extremely close to her parents.
He stroked her long dark hair gently. It doesn’t matter, Hope. We’re meant for each other, you and me... and no matter what happens or where you end up, I’ll be two steps behind.
That's a promise.
“Hope, hon? Are you all packed for school?” The voice of Hope’s father came drifting through the open door to her room. “The taxi will be here any minute.”
“Almost, Daddy,” Hope answered. She took one last look around her bedroom to be sure she hadn’t forgotten anything, and sighed. She’d really miss this room.
Hope was the third generation of Standish girls to use this bedroom. Before her, her mother had slept here, and before that, her great-aunts Kayla and Kate. The room had remained virtually unchanged throughout all its occupants, and Hope actually took comfort in knowing they had all been here, right where she was, at the same age she was now. It was almost as though the spirits of the teenage girls they had once been still remained, giving her strength.
She really needed that strength now.
Hope’s grandfather Kevin had died in the Goth Asylum when Hope was still a child, having never fully recovered from his mental instability. Hope had visited him at the institution several times, however, and he had always seemed glad to see her. In fact, the two of them had become very close.
In his later years, Kevin had begun to see life in a different way, wanting more interaction with his family members than he ever had before. As a result, even though he still claimed he was haunted by the ghost of Hope’s grandmother and wasn’t able to function in society, Kevin’s spirit was actually more at peace when he died than it had been at any time prior in his life.
Alaina had requested her father’s grave be moved to the family home to rest near his mother and father, and the family had held a small memorial service for him.
Hope had watched her mother and father together at her grandfather’s graveside, and was touched by how much her father seemed to be her mother’s source of strength.
It had always been that way.
Hope knew her parents were very close, and it gave her much joy when she was a child to watch them together. She often wondered if she would ever find someone with whom she could share such a bond, and then, when she had started high school, she had met Ripp.
He was the new kid in town, and eventually had girls falling all over him, but he seemed to be interested in only her. Instantly, there had been something between them that she could not put a name to, but felt throughout her very soul.
What’s more, she knew he felt it too.
She buried her head in her hands. She had that bond she’d been searching for! She knew she did, and now that she was coming of age and could start looking for a future husband, she had to throw it away. It was so unfair!
She sat down at her desk, pulled out a sheet of stationery and a pen and began to write...
I hope you will understand, but I can’t be with you any longer. I have to look for someone else, and believe me when I say it’s not you... it’s me. I don’t know why I feel the need to marry a wealthy man. I just know it’s something I have to do. You and I can never be, and as much as it kills me to end it between us, I must. I will always love you, Ripp...please believe that.
Hope sat at her desk for a long time, staring at what she had just written.
“Hope!” her father urgently shouted from below. “The taxi’s here! Come on!”
“Coming, Daddy!” Hope called in reply, and stood up, still staring at her letter to Ripp laying on the surface of the desk.
She picked up the tear-splotched page and held it for only a moment before crumpling the creamy white paper into a tight ball and tossing it in the bin.
To Be Continued...