So remember how I said that I was trying to challenge myself to write shorter stuff? Well, this is my trying again.
It's kind of a companion piece to A Broken Hallelujah. (I really, really need to stop listening to that song…) I was thinking over the ending and wondered just when Hanna's last hug could have been. Then I remembered this video I had watched on YouTube – set to 'Hallelujah' of course – of these people holding up "Free Hugs" signs. No one would come near them at first. Hello, inspiration…
For the Gods' sakes, someone get me off this kick.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hanna is Not a Boy's Name, nor any of the characters/ locations therein. I do, however, own the story.
She was there every week, twice a week, for two months straight. He had seen her standing on the street corner; sign in hand, looking sad and dejected. He had wanted to go over to her, to see why she looked so lonely. But he had always been too busy dashing off to work to really have much of a chance. He could never see what the sign read, just her. She was never there when he came back by in the evenings.
Two months. Each time he saw her, he swore to himself that he would go visit her, someday.
Then, finally, just at the end of that second month, he had been let off early. As he made his way home, sun just beginning to touch the horizon, he stopped at a crosswalk to wait for the light. By chance, he looked over at the opposite side of the street. There she stood. He looked both ways, noting that no cars were coming. Squaring his shoulders, he marched across the pavement to where she was.
She appeared to be getting ready to head home for the night, the sign tucked under her arm and a backpack hanging from her hands. She stopped when she saw him approach. At first she just looked at him. Then a hopeful smile tugged at her mouth and she pulled the rectangle of poster board free to hold it up in front of her.
The words were written clumsily in black marker, nothing but ink on paper. But they held a kind of power; a promise of goodness left in the world, and it brought a grin creeping up his face at the sight of them.
Her own smile transformed, lighting up her features like the dawn. She took a step in his direction, silently asking. He nodded. She threw her arms around him, letting out a soft hum as he pulled her close.
The embrace was long and serene, neither person in any hurry to let go. He breathed deeply, savoring the feeling of peace, of human contact. He couldn't remember when he had last experienced it, and he wanted to hold on as long as he could before it left him.
When they finally parted, he felt something shift in his chest. Almost like some little part of a barrier had been chipped away. His grin melted into a tranquil smile. A genuine one; the likes of which he hadn't used for years. It matched hers perfectly.
"Thank you," she whispered. "You're the first one…"
And then she was gone, disappearing across the street into the falling December snow.
For years afterward, whenever he passed by that corner he would look for her. But he never saw her again.
When I started writing this, I couldn't decide whether or not I wanted the ending to stay on a happy note. I had two scenarios in mind, and I love them both. So I wrote two versions; this one and one with an alternate ending. I'll have the second one available to read if anyone so chooses.
Musical Muse: Alexadra Burke - Hallelujah